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The Eschatological Change
The Second Advent marked two great events for believers: The first was the resurrection of those that slept; the second was the change and translation of those that were alive when Christ returned. The two principle texts speaking to these events are I Thess. 4:13-17 and I Cor. 15:50-52.
I Cor. 15:50-52
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
I Thess. 4:13-17
But I would not you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Them Which Are Asleep
Both of the above-mentioned texts divide believers into two groups for purposes of the eschaton. The first consisted of those who were “asleep.” The second consisted of those who were alive when Christ returned. “Asleep” is a euphemism for death; a way of describing something distasteful or unpleasant by a less disagreeable term. During the period from death to the resurrection, the dead were in “hades” – a Greek term meaning the grave, but by extension the realm of the dead. Rendered “hell” in the Authorized Version (Acts 2:27; Rev. 1:18; 6:8), hades consisted of a place of comfort for the saints and a place of “torment” for the lost. (Lk. 16:119-31) The place of the saved is variously called “paradise” (Lk. 23:43; II Cor. 12:4), “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk. 16:22), and the “third heaven.” (II Cor. 12:2) The place of torment is called “tartarus.” (II Pet. 2:4) Those who were victorious in death and won the martyr’s crown are described as “reigning” in paradise with Christ. (Rev. 20:4-6; cf. II Tim. 2:12) Jesus is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8; cf. II Tim. 1:9, 10) From Abel unto the resurrection, the souls of all the saints reigned in death in hades, the blood of Christ’s cross being applied prospectively to them. Notwithstanding the prospective sprinkling of Christ’s blood, it was necessary for Jesus actually to die and to carry his blood within the heavenly tabernacle to make atonement for sin. (Heb. 9:11, 12, 24) Once this was accomplished and the atonement made legally and ceremonially complete, Christ would appear a second time to destroy his enemies, raise the dead, and bring in the eternal kingdom. (Heb. 9:27, 28; cf. 2:8)
The coming of the kingdom and the resurrection were synchronous. “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” (II Tim. 4:1) This is stated also by the Lord himself: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt. 16:27, 28) Elsewhere, Jesus tied the coming of the kingdom to the destruction of Jerusalem. “So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I ay unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Lk. 21:31, 32) Jesus’ coming was spiritual and providential, not personal and physical; it was judicial and not redemptive. (Heb. 9:27, 28) It was a coming in judgment and vengeance upon the nation of them that crucified him and marked the fulness of the kingdom’s coming in power and the resurrection of the dead. Because the resurrection would occur on the other side of eternity, in the realm of the spirit and not the flesh, like the kingdom, its coming was not with observation. (Lk. 17:20)
We Which Are Alive
Thus far the resurrection of the dead; what would be the lot of the living at Christ’s triumphal return? On this there can be no question: Jesus stated that some of the disciples would be alive at his return (Matt. 16:27, 28), that it would transpire in that very generation (Matt. 23:34-39; 24:30, 34), before the disciples had evangelized all the cities of Israel (Matt. 10:23), tying it to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. (Matt. 24:1-3) John is specifically named as one who would witness the Lord’s second coming. (Jno. 21:21, 22) Moreover, Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin would live to see the Lord’s return in judgment and vengeance. (Mk. 15:62) When led out of Jerusalem to be crucified, Jesus told the women weeping for him that they should weep for themselves, for the days were coming in which they would rather the mountains fall upon them than endure the wrath of divine visitation. (Lk. 23:27-31) The days of vengeance and visitation reduced even Jesus to tears as he contemplated Jerusalem’s fate: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now are they hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” (Lk. 19:41-14)
The visitation would not be isolated to Palestine. Jews throughout the whole ancient world perished. In Alexandria, the Jews were particularly hated and thousands had perished under Caligula. Declared public enemies upon the outbreak of war with Rome, they were now massacred “wherein no mercy was shewn to the infants, and no regard to the aged; but they went on in the slaughter of persons of every age, till all the place was overflowed with blood, and fifty thousand of them lay dead upon heaps.” Similar slaughters occurred in various quarters, the whole population of Jews in many cities being put to the sword. “It was then common to see cities filled with dead bodies, still lying unburied, and those of old men, mixed with infants all dead and scattered about together; women also lay amongst them without any covering for their nakedness: you might then see the whole province full of inexpressible calamities, while the dread of still more barbarous practices which were threatened, was everywhere greater than what had been already perpetrated.”
The war with Rome lasted from A.D. 66-70. The persecution of the church by Nero Caesar occurred from A.D. 64-68. The Jews were gathered into the furnace and burned. (Matt. 3:10; cf. 13:30; 15:30) “Vast numbers” of saints were put to death and were gathered into the kingdom by martyrdom. Speaking to this, Revelation intones: “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Rev. 14:13) Paul alludes to this time when he said, “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile…in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to may Gospel.” (Rom. 2:7-9, 16) As Paul affirmed, Gentiles that omitted to obey the truth also experienced tribulation and wrath. Rome suffered various plagues and portents heralding the disaster to come: Lightning storms of unparalleled proportion; lightning struck the gymnasium burning it to the ground, melting a statue of Nero into a shapeless lump of bronze; there were navel disasters, an uprising of gladiators, comets, earthquakes, monstrous births, animal and human, cast out in public; the plague swept through Rome, decimating the population:
“Upon this year, disgraced by so many deeds of shame, Heaven also set its mark by tempest and by disease. Campania was wasted by a whirlwind, which far and wide wrecked the farms, the fruit trees, and the crops, and carried its fury to the neighbourhood of the capital, where all classes of men were being decimated by a deadly epidemic. No outward sign of a distempered air was visible. Yet the houses were filled with lifeless bodies, the streets with funerals. Neither sex nor age gave immunity from danger; slaves and the free-born populace alike were summarily cut down, amid the laments of their wives and children, who, themselves infected while tending or mourning the victims, were often burnt upon the same pyre. Knights and senators, though they perished on all hands, were less deplored – as if, by undergoing the common lot, they were cheating the ferocity of the emperor.”
At the same time these things were happening, God was working out his redemptive and eschatological purpose. In I Cor. 15:50 Paul said, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” Because the living would be partakers of the saints in the inheritance of light (Col. 1:12), it is generally assumed that those alive at Christ’s return would be wondrously transformed, their mortal bodies of flesh and bone would be changed to immaterial bodies fitted for spiritual realms above. Read together I Thess. 4:13-17 and similar texts, it is assumed that these “changed” believers would be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and so translated to heaven. And, indeed, this is the most natural, if simplistic and undiscerning reading of the language. However, bearing in mind that Paul spoke in a mystery and that the eschaton came and went in A.D. 70 without the actual or personal translation of believers to heaven, we are compelled to give an explanation of what the language really means. What “change” did believers experience in A.D. 70, how was mortality swallowed up by life, and in what sense were they translated to meet the Lord in the air?
Dead in Contemplation of Law
One key in understanding the eschatological change of believers is the theological fact that all men are considered dead in contemplation of law. Death was the result of sin. God told Adam “in the day thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) However, the death incurred when our first ancestor ate from the forbidden tree was spiritual, not physical. When God created man he breathed into his nostrils the “breath of life.” The Hebrew word here is “neshamah.” In Job 32:28, this term is translated “inspiration.” “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration (“neshamah”) of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” Thus, more than merely animating man’s physical body, the breath of life given to man imparted divine inspiration and enabled him to partake of the divine image and likeness by elevating him above his carnal nature. (Cf. Gen. 1:26, 27) When Adam sinned, the divine image breathed into him perished and he became “carnal, sold under sin.” (Rom. 7:14) Physical death occurred later when the right to the tree of life was taken away. (Gen. 3:22-24)
Paul speaks to man’s condition of spiritual death when in Ephesians he states, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1; cf. II Cor. 5:14) To be dead in sins is to be under the law’s condemnation, in a state of moral and legal alienation from God. “Moral,” in that man’s mind is estranged from God and at enmity with him; “legal,” in that man is under the condemnation of law. Traditional teaching has it that the believer’s spiritual death terminates when he obeys the gospel of Christ; thus, “dead in sin, alive in Christ.” But that is not wholly correct. Numerous times Paul indicates that believers continued in a state of death even after obedience to the gospel. Thus, in Colossians Paul states: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3; cf. 2:20) In II Timothy, Paul says, “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.” (II Tim. 2:12) In Romans, Paul states, “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” (Rom. 6:8) Thus, Paul repeatedly affirmed that believers were “dead.”
Against these multiple affirmations that believers were dead must be balanced passages affirming that believers are made alive in Christ. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath he quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:5, 6) Therefore, according to Paul, believers continue in a state of death even while they have been “raised up” with Christ. Although it seems contradictory to say Christians are both dead and raised up, the contradiction is more apparent than real. The solution lies in the term “heavenly places.” “Heavenly places” speaks to hades paradise. The souls or spirits of the righteous dead went to paradise (Lk. 23:43); martyrs lived and reigned there with Christ there. (Rev. 20:4-6) Unlike Jairus’ daughter (Lk. 8:49-56), the only son of the widow of Nain (Lk. 7:11-18), Lazarus (Jno. 11:1-46), and others who were bodily resuscitated and raised anew to earthly life (Matt. 27:52, 53; Acts 9:36-43; 20:9-12), the raising up of believers upon obedience to the gospel is not to mundane existence. Justified from sin by identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, they were raised up and made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus - a fiction by which Christ’s death becomes the believers’ death, and Christ’s resurrection and ascension becomes the believer’s resurrection and ascension. Thus, although living upon earth in fact, they were deemed to be dead in contemplation of law, having “put off the body of sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (e.g., water baptism - Col. 2:11-13), they were “translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son" (Col. 1:13; cf. Eph. 2:1, 6; Heb. 12:22, 23), where they joined the deceased saints in hades paradise. Ephesians puts it this way: "That in the dispensation of the fulness of time he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him." (Eph. 1:10) Things "in heaven" refers to the souls in paradise; things "on earth" refers to the living church. Saints living and dead are one body in Christ; the legal condition of both is identical; that they are separated by the veil of the flesh is ignored for purposes of redemption. Jesus alluded to this when he said, “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 8:11, 12) Abraham and the patriarchs were in hades; to “sit down” with them in the kingdom is the same as to "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6) and could only mean that believers on this side of eternity were/are considered partakers with them of paradise.
The Eschatological Change
Dropped temporarily only to be picked up again in Col. 3:1-3, the fiction of the believer’s death, burial, resurrection, and translation is absent from I Cor. 15:50-52 and I Thess. 4:13-17. Let us look at Corinthians first:
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (I Cor. 15:51, 52)
“We” refers to saints on the earthly side of eternity, to those who have not yet physically died, and answers to the “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord” in I Thess. 4:15. “Sleep” speaks to the rest of the soul or spirit in hades pending the eschaton. Although already in an immaterial form answerable to the hadean spirit-realm, the souls of the deceased were still under the power of sin, death, and the grave. They were therefore still deemed to be in a state of “corruption.” “Incorruption” points to the time when they would be loosed from the power of sin, and death, hades would be destroyed, and the saints would enter into their eternal inheritance in heaven. “Changed” points to the legal and soteriological effects of the eschaton on this side of eternity. For the saints in hades, the eschaton entailed a resurrection. In keeping with the fiction of the believer’s having been “raised up” and made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6), saints on this side of eternity at the eschaton shared in this resurrection. Paul does not use the language of resurrection in the present text in referring to the living saints, for the metaphor would be too inconvenient (how does one refer to the living as being raised?). However, in Colossians he does: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear in glory.” (Col. 3:3, 4) Thus, there was a “resurrection” in contemplation of law for the living at Christ’s coming. In the present passage, however, Paul refers to this resurrection in terms of a “change.” But, unlike the dead who at the eschaton were admitted into the spatial and visible presence of God, for the living this change was merely legal and soteriological. As being “raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places with Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6) and “translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son” (Col. 1:13) entailed no physical or spatial change, but spoke only to man’s legal position and relationship before God, so the eschatological change whereby living saints would “appear in glory” (Col. 3:4) was merely legal and not spatial.
Sin separated man from God morally and legally. In the temple, this was portrayed by God’s remoteness and “unapproachableness” to man; God was separated from the worshipper by walls, guards, bars and gates, a series of courts, the buildings of the temple itself, and, finally, the great veil, behind which God was secreted in the Holy of Holies, approachable only through the blood of sprinkling and a priestly intercessor. However, in Christ’s death the veil was rent in twain (Matt. 27:51) and man is admitted anew into the presence of God. Hebrews speaks to man’s admittance into the divine presence by the blood of Christ thus: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” (Heb. 10:19-22; cf. 6:19, 20) Obviously, the readers could not enter God’s heavenly presence within the veil spatially or visibly, but they could enter his presence legally and "covenantally" through faith in the substitutionary death and atoning blood of Christ. Although entrance within the veil was prepared for by Christ’s cross, and the early church might enter prospectively, full and final legal admittance into the divine presence was not opened until the great consummation in A.D. 70 when Christ came judicially in vengeance upon the Jews, the temple was taken away, and the kingdom came in fulness and power. For “the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” (Heb. 9:8)
Death Swallowed up in Victory
The eschatological change answers to the “redemption of the purchased possession.” (Eph. 1:14) The full legal benefits of Christ’s blood did not accrue to the church until the second coming. Christ had to carry his blood within the Holy of Holies. (Heb. 9:11, 12, 24) When the atonement was legally and ceremonially complete, the saints would be freed from the bondage of corruption. In another place this is referred to as Christ presenting his bride unto himself “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:27) This seems to be the meaning of Phil. 3:21, where Paul states that Christ “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.” “Like unto his glorious body” is best taken as the equivalent of "without spot or blemish," but holy and sanctified. The time during which the church looked for its redemption is characterized as groaning in travail:
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but our selves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 9:19-23)
The “creature” is the rational creation and speaks to the collective sons of Adam. (Cf. Mk. 16:15, 16; Col. 1:23) The whole creation (every nation) was subject to vanity (death) and the bondage of corruption (sin and death). Not only the Gentiles (“they”), but the Jews (“we ourselves”) also groaned within themselves waiting for the adoption. The Jews were the “first fruits” of God’s redemptive purpose (Jm. 1:18; cf. Acts 3:26; 13:46; Eph. 1:12, 13; Rev. 14:4); Jew and Gentile groaned and travailed in pain together, looking for the glorious liberty of the children of God (redemption and sanctification) that would obtain at the Great Consummation. Jew and Gentile, living and dead, were all reconciled to God in one body by the cross (Eph. 2:15) and would receive the adoption of sonship and redemption of their collective body at Christ’s second coming. The legal effect of the adoption and redemption was to invest the saints with eternal life. This is clear from Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians:
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (I Cor. 15:52-54)
Both living and dead were clothed upon with immortality at the Great Consummation. Justified from sin by Christ’s substitutionary death and atoning blood, believers were placed in a condition of legal and conditional immortality before the throne. “Legal,” because they were still clothed with flesh as matter of fact and could not fully inherit glory until they put off the outer man in death. (II Cor. 4:16-5:10) “Conditional,” because the Biblical doctrine and reality of the possibility of apostasy, to which all of human experience doth bear witness, means that men can fall from grace and die in their sins. “The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression." (Ezek. 33:12) "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Cor. 5:10) Although Christ has vanquished the principality and power of sin and death by his triumphal cross and glorious resurrection, man must persevere in the obedience of faith. “Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (I Cor. 10:12) Notwithstanding the conditional nature of our salvation, for purposes of the eschatological change, Paul focuses upon the victory that is ours in Jesus Christ. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (II Tim. 1:9, 10) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Cor. 15:58)
Caught up Together in the Clouds
In I Thess. 4:15-17, we read:
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
The first thing we want to notice about this passage is that the resurrection of the saints in hades would not be prevented by the fact saints were still living upon earth. It is not necessary in order for the spirit of man to inherit glory that material life and realm cease. Therefore, that life on earth continues is not evidence that the resurrection has yet to occur. Next, we notice that Paul says the living would be caught up together with the resurrected saints in the clouds. Use of the term “clouds” indicates the apostle is speaking in similitude and metaphor. Clouds a common literary device among the prophets, and have ever been used to adorn their imagery. They are a poetical flourish used to describe the transcendence of God and the fearfulness of his judgments. Nahum describes the clouds as the dust of the Almighty’s feet. (Na. 1:3) The clouds are his chariot (Ps. 104:3), with which he clothes himself. (Job 22:14) Touching his coming in judgment, Isaiah said: “[T]he Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt.” (Isa. 19:1) In the destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah said: “Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! For we are spoiled.” (Jer. 4:13; cf. Ezek. 33:3; 34:12; Joel. 2:2; Zeph. 1:14, 15.) Jesus’ coming against Jerusalem would be with “clouds.” (Mk. 14:61; cf. Matt. 24:30, 34) Thus, when Paul says believers would be caught together with the risen saints in the “clouds” he is almost certainly using a figure of speech. Add to this the fact that the phrase “caught up together” is essentially identical with “raised up together” in Eph. 2:6, and it is apparent that an actual, bodily rapture was completely away from the apostle’s mind. Like language should be interpreted in like manner. If being “raised up together” entailed no spatial change, why should “caught up together?”
Concluding the language is figurative, to what does the apostle refer? The better view probably is that he refers to the saints “appearing with Christ in glory” at the consummation. (Col. 3:1, 3; cf. Heb. 12:22-28) Revelation provides a picture very similar to this where the two witnesses rise up and ascend to heaven in a cloud after being slain under the beast and their bodies left exposed three and a half days. (Rev. 11:7-12) This imagery points to the suffering, perseverance, and revival of the church following the three and a half year persecution under Nero. The church’s ascension most likely is a figure for the adoption, redemption, and the manifestation of the sons of God at Christ’s coming to destroy Jerusalem, and points to the time when they would figuratively be brought within the veil. The correspondence between these passages strengthens us in our conviction that Paul is using accommodative language in Thessalonians and that being “caught up” is just another way of describing the eschatological change. It is conceded that the early church, like many today, mistook the language of the apostle and looked for a collective, bodily rapture. Because Jesus had said that John would live until his return, it was believed that John would not “see death,” but be borne away to heaven at the Lord’s return with the rest of those who lived to see that day. However, John completely disallowed this. (Jno. 21:21-23) Jesus said that some would not taste of death until he came again and only then would they die, not that they would not see death at all. (Matt. 16:26, 27) Since death of the body was to remain a continuing reality, Thessalonians’ language of rapture is best understood as pointing to the legal restoration of the redeemed to the presence of God within the veil.
The eschatological change was redemptive and soteriological. Dead in sin but raised up in Christ Jesus and joined with the deceased in hades paradise, when Christ appeared the ransomed appeared with him in glory. Loosed from the bondage of corruption unto the glorious liberty of the children of God, the saints were brought within the veil together at Christ’s return, restored to God’s presence, and made partakers of inheritance of the saints in light. The saints are now clothed with immortality as a matter of law; may each of us, through patient continuance in well doing, one day also be clothed upon with immortality as a matter of fact.
Bimillennial Preterist Assoc.
 The Greeks believed the soul was immortal. Early on this belief gained currency in the church, but the scripture nowhere affirms the immortality of the soul, Jesus expressly declaring that the body and soul of the lost were both to be destroyed. (Matt. 10:28)
 The personal pronoun “ye” (nominative plural) points to the disciples and indicates they would see the things Jesus described.
 Josephus, Wars of the Jews, II, xviii, 8; Whiston ed.
 Josephus, Wars of the Jews, II, xviii, 2; Whiston ed.
 Tacitus, Annals, XV, xliv, Loeb ed.
 Tacitus, Annals, XV, xlvii.
 Ibid, XV, xxii.
 Ibid, XV, xlvi.
 Ibid, XIV, xxii.
 Ibid, XV, xxi.
 Ibid, XV, xlvii.
 Tacitus, Annals, XVI, xii; Loeb ed.
 In strictest terms, sitting with Christ in heavenly places (hades) has now yielded to the saints dwelling with Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem; hades being destroyed, the saints now inhabit heaven in contemplation of law. (Heb. 12:22, 28; cf. Gal. 4:21-31) The death, burial, and resurrection of the believer by which he is raised up and made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:5, 6), are the death, burial, and resurrection of baptism. “Buried with him by baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him.” (Col. 2:12; cf. 3:1, 3; Rom. 6:3-6) In baptism, Christ’s death becomes the believer’s death and Christ’s resurrection becomes the believer’s resurrection. And this has been the church’s teaching from earliest times: “Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated, we become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are made immortal.” (Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 153-193) The Instructor, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II. p. 215, 216, 217, 222.) “Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life.” (Tertullian (A.D. 145-220), On Baptism, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III. pp. 669, 674, 676.)
 What manner of bodies (if any) the saints had in hades before the eschaton, and if and how these were changed at the resurrection, the scriptures do not tell us, and therefore we do not venture to say.
 Although there is a covenantal aspect to the eschaton, this does not mean that passages such as I Cor. 15 and II Cor. 5 should be interpreted corporately – the context of both passages is the eschatological resurrection of the individual, not the corporate resurrection of the church.