The passage only addresses the release of Christians living a the conclusion of the Tribulation. If that is true, why did Paul seemingly ignore the Thessalonians, who had suffered persecution and who had already died? Death was the means of release for them. Indeed, why did he not mention that avenue of release, which some of those to whom he was writing might yet experience? To be sure, the rapture of the living will bring release from persecution, but only a relatively small percentage of believers will ever experience that means of release, since most will have died prior to the Rapture. If release was Paul’s chief concern here, and if that release will come at the posttribulational Rapture, then Paul was offering that hope of release to a very small group of believers. Viewing this passage from a posttribulational slant, one must conclude that the release for Christians is connected with flaming judgment on unbelievers. It is not described in terms of meeting the Lord and forever being with Him, nor in terms of a resurrection for those who have died, as other Rapture passages describe it. Obviously if one’s enemies are punished, then there will be release from their persecution. But the point is this: where is the Rapture described in this passage at all? The judgmental aspect of the Second Coming is given the prominence, and though, according to posttribulationism, the Rapture is the initial part of the Second Coming, that initial part is entirely absent from this discussion.

Since vindication is the subject, that explains why Paul did not mention that Rapture in this passage, for the Rapture is not a time of vindication of God’s righteousness by judging the world. It is a time of release, of hope, of meeting the Lord. Some Thessalonians had found release through death even before Paul wrote. Eventually all of them found it that way. Since the first century, many persecuted Christians have found the same release through death. Some will find it at the pretribulational Rapture. But only those believers living at the end of the Tribulation will find it then, not because a Rapture takes place then, but because they successfully see the pass of judgments.

D. The Subjects of the Government The first subjects of the rule of Christ during the kingdom will be the Jews and Gentiles who survive the Tribulation and enter the kingdom in earthly bodies. At the very beginning of the Millennium all the people on earth will be redeemed, for all unredeemed will have been judged at Christ’s return. Of course, babies will be born right away so that in a few years there will be many who will be of age to decide for themselves their own spiritual relation to the King. They will have to be subject to Him at least outwardly, but whether they give heart allegiance will be a matter of personal choice. All will have to accept Him as King; some will also accept Him as personal Savior. All of these people will be living in mortal bodies. Resurrected saints will, of course, have resurrection bodies, not subject to physical limitations. This also means they will not contribute to space, food, or governmental problems during the Millennium.

Ryrie's Basic Theology, pg. 591

6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery. 7 Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come? 8 As no one has power over the wind to contain it, so no one has power over the time of their death. (Ecc 6-8:1)

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