You are hereThe Rapture
by Duncan McKenzie
According to the OT, the grapevine of the Land (Rev. 14:18) was the nation of Israel, God’s vineyard (Is 5:7; cf. Matt. 21:33-43). This is why the Temple had golden grapevines with a huge cluster of grapes (the size of a man) above its entrance (Josephus The Jewish War, 5,5,4). By the way the grapes hung right above the huge curtain that covered the entrance to the sanctuary; not coincidently, the colors of this Babylonian tapestry (blue, scarlet, purple and fine linen) are the colors of harlot Babylon (Rev. 17:4; 18:16).According to the OT, the grapevine of the Land (Rev. 14:18) was the nation of Israel, God’s vineyard (Is 5:7; cf. Matt. 21:33-43). This is why the Temple had golden grapevines with a huge cluster of grapes (the size of a man) above its entrance (Josephus The Jewish War, 5,5,4). By the way the grapes hung right above the huge curtain that covered the entrance to the sanctuary; not coincidently, the colors of this Babylonian tapestry (blue, scarlet, purple and fine linen) are the colors of harlot Babylon (Rev. 17:4; 18:16).Is the Gathering of the Saints in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 and Matthew 24:29-34 the Same as the “Rapture” of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18?
The following is from a forthcoming book (in 2006) entitled The Antichrist and the Second Coming.
Paul begins 2 Thessalonians 2 by referring to the gathering of God’s people that was to happen at Jesus’ Second Coming.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
1. Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
2. not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
3. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
4. Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
In the Olivet Discourse Jesus had said that this gathering was to happen before the generation that was listening to Him had passed away.
And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other….Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Matt. 24:31,34
Gentry said the following about this gathering together of God’s people that was to happen at AD 70.
The “gathering together to Him” of 2 Thessalonians 2:1 picks up on the Lord’s reference in Matthew 24:31. The word translated “gather together” here is… (episunagoge). We find this word elsewhere only in Hebrews 10:25, where it speaks of a worship assembly. But its cognate verb form appears in Matthew 24:31, where the gathering relates to “this generation” (Matt. 24:34). There it signifies calling the elect into the church by the trumpeting of the archetypical Great Jubilee (cf. 2 Thess. 1:1; 2:14). Here it functions the same way: with the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, from that point on Christians will be “gathered together” in a separate and distinct “assembly”… episunagoge- the Church is called a... (sunagoge) in James 2:2. After Jerusalem’s destruction God no longer tolerates Temple worship- indeed, he (sic) makes it impossible. 
The question arises at this point as to whether the gathering of the saints in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 and Matthew 24:31 that was to happen in the lifetime of Jesus’ hearers is the same as the saints being caught up (a.k.a. the rapture) that Paul talks of in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ sill rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
A partial preterist (such as Gentry) would say that the gathering in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, because it speaks of the resurrection (vs. 16), is talking about a future Second Coming. He distinguishes the AD 70 gathering of the saints (at what he sees as the AD 70 judgment coming of Jesus on Israel) that 2 Thessalonians 2:1 speaks of from the rapture of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Preston correctly counters this mistaken notion that the gathering of the saints of Matthew 24: 31 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1 is different from the saints being caught up of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. He wrote,
I want you to focus on the opening line of Paul’s comments [in 1 Thess. 4:15-18]: “According to the Lord’s own word.” Paul is letting us know that what he says in these verses is straight from Jesus’ own teaching. So, here is the question: where in Jesus’ discourses do we find the prediction of his coming that fits the language of 1 Thessalonians 4? Where in Jesus’ teachings could Paul have found the very words and descriptions that he repeats here in Thessalonians? Where in Jesus’ teachings do we find every constituent element listed by Paul? The answer to that question is very simple, in the Olivet Discourse, and specifically Matthew 24:29-34. 
Here is Matthew 24:29-34
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with the great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When it s branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near-at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
Preston provides the following chart for comparison of Matthew 24:29-34 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. (Good stuff Don) 
|Matthew 24:29-34||1 Thessalonians 4:13-18|
|Words of Jesus||“According to the Lord’s own word”|
|The Coming of the Lord Jesus||The Coming of the Lord Jesus|
|On the Clouds||In the air|
|With the angels||With the angels [cf. 2 Thess. 1:7]|
|With the sound of a trumpet||With the sound of a trumpet|
|The gathering of the elect||The gathering of the elect|
|This generation shall not pass until it all fulfilled||“We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord.”|
The “word of the Lord” that Paul is drawing from in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 comes from the Olivet discourse. Quoting Preston again, “Keep in mind that Paul emphatically tells us that what he says in Thessalonians is directly from the words of Jesus. Further, keep in mind that the only place in all of Jesus’ teachings where we find every one of the elements listed by Paul is in Matthew 24:29-34.” 
Clearly the AD 70 gathering of the saints in Matthew 24:31 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1 is the same as the rapture of the saints 1 Thessalonians 4:17. All are talking about the same gathering, not two different gatherings thousands of years apart. Jesus in Matthew 24:15-34 is talking about the time of the great tribulation (Matt 24:21) and then in Matthew 25:15-46 the judgment (and thus the resurrection). The rapture of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is also talking about this time of the tribulation (“the wrath to come,” 1 Thess. 1:10; cf Dan.11:36, 44-45) and the resurrection (1 Thess. 4:16). Daniel 12:1-2 connects these two events and ties them to the AD 70 destruction of the Jewish nation (Dan. 12:7).
Daniel 12:1-2, 7
At that time [the time of the king of the North’s attack on the Temple in Jerusalem, Dan. 11:45] Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation , even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt...it shall be for a time, times and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.
By the way, in his discussion of the man of lawlessness (the one “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God” 2 Thess. 2:4), Paul is expounding on the king of the North of Daniel 11:36-45 (the one who would “exalt and magnify himself above every god.” Dan. 11:36). Both are vanquished by the Second Coming (2 Thess. 2:8; Dan. 11:45). Daniel doesn’t actually show the Second Coming, but shows events that are associated with the Second Coming (the great tribulation and resurrection) as happening at that time (Dan. 12:1-2). This is Antichrist, the opponent of Jesus that appears at the end of the old covenant age (1 John 2:18) and is defeated by the Second Coming in AD 70 (cf. Dan. 7:21-22; Rev. 19:11-21).
In Matthew 24 Jesus gives the same sequence as the book of Daniel. He talks about the coming of Antichrist and the great tribulation (Matt. 24:15-21) and that immediately after that tribulation period the gathering of the saints would happen (Matt. 24:29-31). This is what Daniel 11:36-12:13 shows. The Antichrist (the king of the North) comes and attacks the Holy Land (Dan. 11:41, 45); this results in the great tribulation (Dan. 12:1). Immediately after this the resurrection happens (Dan. 12:2; cf. Rev. 20:4). It should be noted that the resurrection is a continuing process from AD 70 on, as believers in Jesus put on their resurrection bodies at death from that time on. Heaven is not still populated with souls (which would by now number in the millions) waiting for the resurrection (as it was during the time period of AD 30-70; cf. Rev. 6:9-11).
This same sequence for the gathering/rapture is shown in Revelation 11:7-18. The Antichrist (the beast) has his reign of terror (the tribulation) as he overcomes the saints in v. 7 (“When they [the two witnesses] finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them and overcome them and kill them”). Right after this the two witnesses (symbolic of God’s people, the saints cf. Rev. 13:7)  are caught up to heaven (vv. 11-12). The resurrection happens at this time as the dead are judged (v. 18). This all happens at the time that God destroys those who were destroying the Land, the AD 70 destruction of the Jewish nation.
The gathering of God’s people at the AD 70 destruction of the Jewish nation is also shown in Revelation 14. Revelation 14 shows Jesus, the Son of Man, gathering the harvest of the Land (vv. 14-16); immediately after this the grapes of the Land (which are the focus of God’s wrath, are gathered and destroyed (vv. 18-19. See Matt 13:24-30, 36-43; and 22:1-14 for more symbolic representations of this AD 70 gathering). This happens at the time the Antichrist (the beast) destroys unfaithful Israel (harlot Babylon, Rev. 14:5-11; 17:16-17). According to the OT, the grapevine of the Land (Rev. 14:18) was the nation of Israel, God’s vineyard (Is 5:7; cf. Matt. 21:33-43). This is why the Temple had golden grapevines with a huge cluster of grapes (the size of a man) above its entrance (Josephus The Jewish War, 5,5,4). By the way the grapes hung right above the huge curtain that covered the entrance to the sanctuary; not coincidently, the colors of this Babylonian tapestry (blue, scarlet, purple and fine linen) are the colors of harlot Babylon (Rev. 17:4; 18:16).
My interpretation here is confirmed by the area that the blood covers in Revelation 14:19-20. The blood spreads out over an area of “one thousand six hundred furlongs” (about 184 miles). This was the length (north to south) of the Holy Land. Ladd wrote the following on this.
“The metaphor suddenly changes from the treading of grapes to a military slaughter. The flow of blood is incredible, literally conceived; one thousand six hundred stadia is a distance of about a hundred and eighty-four miles- the entire length of Palestine. The entire land is pictured as being inundated in blood to a depth of about four feet” emphasis in the original. 
The gathering of God’s people took place at the AD 70 destruction of the Jewish nation. Seeing as how the festivals of Passover and Pentecost were fulfilled at the time of those feasts, it is probable that the ingathering of God’s people took place around the time of the feast of Tabernacles (which is also known as the Feast of Ingathering Ex. 23:14-17). The Feast of Tabernacles/Ingathering takes place in autumn (Sept/Oct). It concludes the yearly cycle of religious festivals for Israel and celebrates the final gathering of the harvest.
Whether the gathering together/rapture in AD 70 was a spiritual gathering of the living saints (into the new covenant) or involved a physical gathering of them (a physical rapture) as J.S. Russell,  and more recently Stevens,  and Harding  have proposed, I do not know. I tend to think it was a spiritual gathering, that it fulfilled the prophecy concerning Jesus, that He “would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11:52). The important point for me, however, is that Jesus said that the gathering/rapture of the saints (whatever it involved) was to happen before the generation listening to him passed away (Matt. 24:31, 34).
1. Kenneth Gentry, Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana, AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999), 101.
2. Kenneth Gentry, Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana, AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999), 100-102.
3. Don Preston “The Second Coming: Why We Should Still be Waiting – A Response to Dr. Russ Jurek (Part 3)” Accessed 10-01-2005, http://planetpreterist.com/news-2554.html.
4. Don Preston “The Second Coming: Why We Should Still be Waiting – A Response to Dr. Russ Jurek (Part 3)” Accessed 10-01-2005, http://planetpreterist.com/news-2554.html.
5. Don Preston “The Second Coming: Why We Should Still be Waiting – A Response to Dr. Russ Jurek (Part 3)” Accessed 10-01-2005, http://planetpreterist.com/news-2554.html.
6. Beale (Revelation, 574-575) gives a number of reasons to support the idea that the two witnesses are used as a symbol of the new covenant community. Essentially they are the following. 1.) In Revelation 11:4 the witnesses are said to be “two lampstands”; in Revelation 1:20 lampstands are used as a symbol for the seven churches which were representative of the whole of God’s church. That there are two lampstands in Revelation 11 (as opposed to seven) may be due to two being the required number for legal witnesses (Deut. 19:15) as well as referring to the Jewish and Gentile components to the church (Eph. 2:14-16. 2.) The beast is said to make war with the two witnesses and overcome them (v. 7); this is what was said in Daniel 7 about what the little horn would do to the community of the saints (Dan. 7:21). 3.) The 2 witnesses prophesy for 1260 days, which is the same length of time that the new covenant community (the new covenant “mother,” Gal 4:24-26. and her children) spend in the wilderness (Rev. 12:6, 17). 4.) The two witnesses are said to give “testimony” (Rev. 11:7), elsewhere in Revelation it is the community of believers that gives testimony to Jesus (Rev. 6:9; 12:11, 17; 19:10; 20:4). 5.) Finally the two witnesses are prophetic twins, that is, the powers of Moses and Elijah are attributed equally to both the witness, not divided among them.
7. George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 202.
8. James Stuart Russell, The Parousia, New Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983) Preface to the New Edition; Originally published in London by T. Fisher Unwin in 1887. See also pages 165-169.
9. Edward Stevens, Expectations Demand a Rapture (Bradford, Pennsylvania: International Preterist Association, 2002).
10. Ian D. Harding, Taken to Heaven in AD 70 (Bradford, Pennsylvania: International Preterist Association, 2005).