Evaluating Eis Apantēsin & Eschatological Hope

Paul's ConversIn Rapture or No-Rapture, That is the Question, I presented two different understanding of what Paul meant by the idea that Christians will be reunited again in the clouds to meet their returning Lord and King Jesus in the air ( 1 Thessalonians 4:17). Scholars who understand Paul as not teaching rapture, the idea that Christians will ascend to the sky to meet their Lord, have argued that eis apantēsin (“to meet”) ought to be understood as a technical term. Eis apantēsin, thus, connote the idea of meeting a visiting honorable dignitary.  In ancient Hellenistic Greek, the citizens of a particular city would often go outside their city to meet a visiting dignitary. These citizens will then joyously accompany him back to the city (Cameron 1922: 116; Gundry 1973; 104; Marshall 1983: 131; Elias 1995: 178-9; Martin 1995: 153; Green 2002:226; Wright 2004: 125).

Revisiting Erick Peterson’s work¹ , which I believe chiefly contributed to no-rapture reading, Michael R. Cosby explained that it is not always the case that eis apantēsin is used as a technical term to describing a Hellenistic Greek formal receptions. Cosby explained that “[s]ometimes ἀπάντησις describes a formal greeting of a dignitary, but often it does not. And some descriptions of such receptions do not use ἀπάντησις or ὑπάντησις (or the verb forms of these words)”(Cosby 1994: 20). The evidenced supporting “eis apantēsin” as a technical term for the formal reception of visiting dignitary is, thus, inconclusive (Weatherly 1996)

F. F. Bruce was, thus, very correct in stating that, “there is nothing in the word apantēsis or in this context which demands this interpretation; it cannot be determined from what is said here whether the Lord (with his people) continues his journey to earth or returns to heaven.”(Bruce 1983: 102-3 emp. orig.). Paul have apparently left us, the reader, on suspense. 1 Thessalonian 4:17 does not provide any detail for or against the idea of rapture. What is crystal clear, according to Ernest Best , is that Christians will be with the Lord forever (Best 1986: 200).

 Next: Concise Exposition of 1 Thessalonian 4:18-5:11

[1] Erik Peterson (1930) “Die Einholung des Kyrios,” ZST 1: 682-702

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3 thoughts on “Evaluating Eis Apantēsin & Eschatological Hope

  1. Pingback: Rapture or No-Rapture, That is the Question | With All I Am

  2. As a person curious about changing cultures over time, I can see the added difficulty in gaining the intended meaning from an old script from a culture we cannot visit today. Though our own words have a precise meaning today, we can find so many examples of how the words meant something different in the past. It is a testament to your dedication to truth that you take the time to consider every piece of information that you can use to inform your knowledge.

  3. Some professing Christians dismiss the doctrine of the rapture as a fallacy of fundamentalism for various reasons, one being the word rapture is not found in scripture, but neither is the word Trinity, yet most accept the doctrine of the Trinity as a valid scriptural teaching without any reservation. It is not crucial to sound Christian doctrine that the word defining it is not in Scripture. What is crucial is that the doctrine itself stresses its authority in Scripture. Both the doctrines of the Trinity and the rapture stress their authority in Scripture.

    The rapture signifies the end of the Church age as well as the end of this dispensation, and every professing Christian needs to know about it.

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