My readers are well aware that I have been stressing the importance of the Thessalonian epistles; so I trust that they will excuse me If, for the present, I confine myself to what Mr. Sellers says about 1. Thess. 4:13-18. He firmly denies that this is the next great event to take place; but that is not good enough. I want proof, not inaccurate reasoning, which is all he supplies. He will have to trace the word "parousia" a long way if he wants to find that it "is an event"! And anyhow, why try to mix this passage with Matthew 24 when Paul is so extremely careful to avoid any hint of judgment in his epistle? It is astonishing how many people seem unable to see that the second epistle was written to correct this very misapprehension of the first. We cannot escape the conclusion that Paul was cruelly deceiving the Thessalonians if the Great Tribulation is to precede the fulfilment of 1. Thess. 4:13-18.
The problem Dr. Scofield fails to solve is quite artificial. Where does Scripture tell us that 1. Thess 4:13-18 marks the beginning of the final week of Daniel's seventy, or indeed the beginning of anything else in terrestrial history? For all we are told either way, a period of years, decades or even centuries may intervene between the two events. If our calling-away marks the start of the final week, then the stage will have to be completely set for that week at the instant we go, so we have only to watch world-events to know when it is about to occur. Sir Robert Anderson made this point long ago ("The Coming Prince": Appendix 3); and I would like to record my opinion that his was a first-class mind and that he was a more profound thinker than any of his associates, not even excepting Dr. Bullinger. In the study of Prophecy we can begin only where he left off.
Mr. Sellers never seems to have asked himself just how the saving-work of God is going to return to His people Israel "when His present purpose is complete" (p. 21). If God's covenant purposes are ever to be resumed, as they must: the way must be cleared for them by the withdrawal of the Evangel of the uncircumcision, an evangel which implies the complete cessation of all covenant and is therefore completely incompatible with the Evangel of the circumcision. How can the circumcision have any validity so long as Galatians 5 and 6 and Col. 3:9-11 remain present truth? It does not make sense! I have long maintained that it is impossible for those two aspects of the Evangel to hold the stage simultaneously, that they never have and never will. I intend, if God permit, to enlarge on this matter shortly; for it is of primary importance.
R. B. Withers Last updated 8.1.2006