Thursday, July 22, 2021

After the Tribulation the Great Multitude?

A while ago I expressed some thoughts about the Great Multitude (GM) and the 144,000 of Revelation. In one of these I noted how Covenant Theology tries to morph these groups together when they are plainly distinct. But it drew attention because I questioned the view of how the GM arrives in heaven. I didn't write with the intention of being divisive. Part of my article received attention in a non-pretrib prophecy group, though it wasn't linked to. 

I asked how the (allegedly raptured) GM could be said to be coming out of the Great Tribulation (GT) if the "rapture" at Matt 24:31 occurs after the tribulation and after the cosmic signs etc. Am I being woodenly literal? Predictably, part of the response involved arguing that, because the GM was in the GT at one point, it can somehow be said to have come out of problem. 

I noted that some scholars (e.g., Robertson) consider the grammar to be indicating continuous action. In The Sign, Van Kampen stated that even Robert L Thomas supported a completed action. Van Kampen was wrong about Thomas and for various reasons I don't consider him to have been a careful researcher.  

I'm no Greek geek but, interestingly, the ESV translates it this way:

I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Rev 7:14 

Responses often resort to "context." If context involves asserting the GM must have arrived in a completed action on the assumption of the correctness of a rapture timing view, it ceases to be that. A case in point is sliding the resurrection event of Rev 20:4 back into Rev 7 because it fits the expectation that the GM is the raptured church along with resurrected saints (including GT martyrs). This conveniently places a resurrection in Rev 7 where it isn't mentioned. 

Speaking of the latter, can all resurrected saints be said to have come out of the GT? 

Remember that they (Rev 20:4) are resurrected after the tribulation. Matt 24:31 does not cut the tribulation short. The elder doesn't tell John that some of the GM comes out of the GT. You'd have to divide the group into two sections, which John doesn't do. The resurrection event preceding the rapture (should) include saints from church history who never experience the GT. Think about the order of magnitude. 

I remain unconvinced of this view.


Alan said...

This is easily answered. You are functioning from an outdated understanding of the Greek verb tense-form that assumes that the kind of action is encoded in the tense-form. It is not. Rather, the kind of action occurs in the lexeme and the context. Here is more of a summary:

Alan Kurschner

Alf Cengia said...

Thanks for dropping by, Alan. You give me too much credit in presuming I understand Greek grammar nuances, let alone your article.

I acknowledge the tense at Rev 7:14 is contested. You mention Fanning. In his Revelation commentary he sides with the "various exits" view rather than one completed action - contra Hultberg. See page 270, Footnote 74.

It's difficult to not see a chronological sequence following the tribulation here:

"But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

31 "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

I do not share your "easily answered" optimism.

LookingUp said...

I am wondering if verse 31 above is referring to the gathering of remnant Jews after the Tribulation and their national repentance and salvation. The wording of 4 winds is so similar to what is found in Isaiah 11:11-12 and Isaiah 27:12-13.

Alf Cengia said...

I agree. I discussed some of the issues here:

I might add that Mike Vlach's new book The Old in the New also touches on this.