Pro and Con 1034

Posted 7-14-03

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Incoming e-mail, Re: Support for authenticity of book of Matthew comes from an unlikely place

This is a fascinating article buried in the back pages of the Kansas City Star. Here's the lead to the article, and a link follows:
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By NEIL ALTMAN, Kansas City Star, 6-7-03
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/entertainment/6014126.htm

Buried in ancient texts of Jewish historical works are fragments of evidence that appear to show the first book of the New Testament actually was written by one of Jesus' apostles....

Israel J. Yuval of Jerusalem's Hebrew University reported a find in the Talmud that appears to show Matthew could have been written earlier than some scholars contend.

Yuval wrote that a leading rabbinical scholar of the time was "considered to have authored a sophisticated parody of the Gospel according to Matthew."

The parody, written by a rabbi known as Gamaliel, is believed by some well-respected liberal Christian scholars to have been written about A.D. 73 or earlier.

The fact the parody exists and the date when it was believed to be written "would undercut badly (biblical critics') claims of a late date of A.D. 85-90 or later," said Bob Newman, professor of New Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.

"That is very significant and very important," said Tim Skinner, associate professor of Bible and theology at Luther Rise Seminary in Georgia, because that validates the legitimacy of Matthew's Gospel...it confirms the truthfulness of the biblical account in Matthew and confirms the truth of what Jesus did."

Blomberg said a close study of the parody's wording indicates it was based on an existing text. If that text was Matthew, the Gospel existed much earlier than some scholars believe....

Among the challenges to Christianity was the charge that Jews had rejected Jesus and that no Jewish leaders or scholars ever accepted Jesus as the Messiah. But even one of the most revered Jewish texts, the Talmud, a collection of rabbinical writings from 100 B.C. to A.D. 500, suggests otherwise.

In the second century A.D., Rabbi Judah Ha Nasi (A.D. 135-200) purged the Mishnah, part of the Talmud, of many references to Christianity and those who adhered to it. But not everything was edited out.

In his classic work, The History of the Talmud, Jewish Talmudic scholar Michael L. Rodkinson wrote: "There were passages in the Mishnayoth concerning Jesus and his teaching...the Messianists...(were) many and considerable persons and in close alliance with their colleagues the Pharisees during the (first) two centuries."...

The TALMUD MENTIONS THAT THE ROMANS HANGED JESUS FROM A TREE, while in another text section the Talmud does something done nowhere else but the New Testament -- MENTIONS JESUS' BIRTH.

English scholar R. Travers Herford, in his book Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, wrote that rabbinical writings mention that Jesus' mother, Mary, was "descended from princes and rulers."

Despite the noble lineage, Herford noted, the TALMUDIC TEXT REFERRED TO JESUS AS "BEN PANDIRA," ROUGHLY TRANSLATED AS "SON OF A VIRGIN," which was considered an epithet....

Incoming email, Re: Exodus Case

I was wondering if you had heard about the Exodus case? It seems someone has found some Pharoah's chariots at the bottom of the red sea? Any related info that you might know about this subject would be appreciated. Also, does this event, if confirmed, have any connection with the rapture? God bless.
http://www.prophecyinthenews.com/articledetail.asp?Article_ID=103

THE EXODUS CASE, by J. R. Church
Dr. Lennart Möller Explains THE EXODUS CASE

Dr. Lennart Möller, professor in medical research at the Karolinska University, Stockholm, Sweden, and author of the blockbuster book, The Exodus Case...told us about his fascinating trips to Israel and the Red Sea area, and his filming of the chariot wheels at the bottom of the newly discovered crossing site.

His companion video, The Exodus Revealed, records his trip to the bottom of the Red Sea, and shows chariot wheels and skeletal remains of humans, horses and cattle — all on the sea bed.

I asked him to tell us about some of the things he discovered:

Möller: Diving there was a strange experience. We found coral that had the appearance of wheels, the remains of chariots, human bones, skeletons of horses and cattle, and they are sometimes twisted into one another. Coral had grown on these objects and then the coral had died, keeping the shape of the things they were growing on.

We found a bone that looked like a femur — the upper part of the leg. I took it to a scientist, not telling him where I found it. I asked, "What is this?" He examined it, measured it, and using several characteristics, he said it looked like a human femur...

Gary Stearman: Why do you believe that the Gulf of Aqaba is the Red Sea, rather than the Gulf of Suez?

Möller: The term, "Red Sea," comes from the Hebrew, Yam Suph. The Greek text called it the Red Sea. The fourth-century Latin translation followed the Greek text and called it the Red Sea. However, knowledge of locations was very limited in the early centuries. To find Yam Suph, you have to search 35 places in the Bible that speak of it. Most refer to a big sea, strong forces, big waves — nothing you would find in a small lake. But the most important reference says that King Solomon had his fleet of ships in Eziongeber on Yam Suph. This is the modern Elat. These are reference points for the northern shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. Also, Yam Suph is given as a border point for the land of Israel. This could not be an Egyptian lake.

J. R.: Tell us about your experience there — the currents, the depth of the water, your divers, etc.

Möller: These were shark infested waters with strong currents. We had no surface support — no boat, except for the one time we rented the boat from a Bedouin, the one seen in the video presentation. We were guarded by policemen sitting on the beach. We had the coast guard circling around us. The Bedouin who helped us with his small boat was fined.

Our divers were equipped with a lot of heavy equipment. We had to surface swim a half mile or more, go down to the sea bed, spend 10 or 15 minutes, surface again, then swim back. We could only do this twice a day. It was extremely tiring.

On one occasion, two of our divers found a bronze chariot wheel lying on the sea floor, partially sticking out of the sand. They struggled to raise it, but eventually ran out of air, and had to surface without it....

J. R.: How did you establish the route across the wilderness?

Möller: First, we started at the Delta region of the Nile River. We determined that the Israelites set out to journey east, from there....

J. R.: Explain your map on page 166.

Möller: We know they were at Succoth, in the Nile Delta, at the Egyptian border. The Israelites passed the border in one day. They should have gone in the direction towards a wilderness. They were aiming for the land of Midian.

According to the biblical text, they were not allowed to take the northern route, which would be close to today’s Gaza Strip. That leaves us with few alternatives.... Moses knew the geography and took them straight east, across a well-established trade route toward Midian.

They didn’t walk over desert sand dunes. It would not have been possible. I’ve been there. The land straight east is hard ground and as flat as North Dakota.

They did not cross the Gulf of Suez. That would have been too close to Egypt. They went to Nuweiba, on the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba.

Gary: Some would say that the Egyptian Army could have easily attacked the Israelites. The land is flat. There is no protection.

Möller: It is impossible to race with horses across a wilderness environment. Horses require a great deal of water and food. You must walk a horse across this wilderness, not ride. Furthermore, Egypt had just lost all their firstborn sons. Bear in mind, the firstborn had a special education and treatment. They held high positions. All of these senior administrators and officers were dead.

To mobilize an army is a big thing. You can’t take an army on a long journey on a moments notice. They couldn’t do it in a week. It takes a lot of planning. In this case, they needed to provide for men, horses, and equipment. But they were in a country that had been struck by 10 plagues.

THEY WAITED FOR THREE DAYS TO SEE IF THE ISRAELITES WOULD RETURN as promised. Pharaoh probably had spies. They took a couple of days to return with the news that the slaves were not returning. The Egyptian Army could never catch up to the Hebrews until they decided to camp.

When the Israelites left the trade route and turned south, the Egyptians knew they were trapped. If the Israelites turned south into the Sinai peninsula, they had only one choice, to end up at the Nuweiba peninsula. They followed a dry riverbed that led them to the western shore of Yam Suph, today’s Gulf of Aqaba.

J. R.: Where is Midian? It is important to know its location.

Möller: Because Mt. Sinai is there. Most old maps show Midian on the East coast of Aqaba. I went to London and looked through antique stores for old maps. On every map I saw, some dating back 500 years, Midian is located in Arabia, east of the Gulf of Aqaba....

J. R.: On pages 125-127, there are some ancient maps. Tell us about them.

Möller: One map, dating from 1719, shows Midian on the East coast. It shows the caves of Jethro as well. The mountain range is called, "Hagar." Galatians 4:25 says that "Hagar is Mt. Sinai in Arabia." This entire mountain range is actually called "Hagar" on the ancient map....

This is just a sampling of the many things we talked about. His book and video documents the most fascinating discovery in recent history. Think of it! Most scholars and theologians do not yet know about this amazing discovery. When they find out, it will rock the world of scholarship!

My reply

I don't believe that Mt. Sinai is in Saudi Arabia. (I think it is Jebel Helal in the wilderness [midbar, from dabar, in the sense of driving, pasture, open field where cattle are driven, desert]).

Besides the information below, please read my Pro and Cons 962, 1000 and 1028.

No matter what they found in the Gulf of Aqaba, the Bible shows that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea at the border of Egypt. There was no time to travel to the Gulf of Aqaba.

Nu. 33:8 says, "they departed from before Pihahiroth (in Egypt), and passed through the midst of the sea (Red Sea, Gulf of Suez, border of Egypt) into the wilderness, and went THREE DAYS' JOURNEY IN THE WILDERNESS OF ETHAM, and pitched in Marah." During those first three days, they stayed in the wilderness of Etham, which stretched eastward from Etham, near Egypt's border.

Nu. 33:6 tells us where Etham was. It says, "they departed from Succoth, and pitched in ETHAM, WHICH IS IN THE EDGE OF THE WILDERNESS."

The wilderness of Etham was the western section of the larger wilderness of Shur, along the Way to Shur, which was in the Negev.

Ex. 15:22 is enough to convince me. It says, "Moses brought Israel FROM THE RED SEA, and THEY WENT OUT INTO THE WILDERNESS OF SHUR (shuwr, "a region of the desert," Strong)" I haven't heard anyone say that the wilderness of Shur leads to Saudi Arabia. That would never stick. The wilderness of Shur follows along the trail called the Way to Shur that went across the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula to Canaan.

In the accounts of their journey, I found out that they didn't leave the wilderness (midbar, pasture or desert) until they arrived at Mt. Sinai. They didn't go into mountainous areas or wadis prior to entering the wilderness of Sinai. They were in the wilderness of Etham (which means boundary of the sea, i.e., the Red Sea), the wilderness of Shur, the wilderness of Sin, and the wilderness of Sinai, all in a wide band across the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

The midbar, wilderness, desert or pasture, is flat land. In those days, the midbar was pasture for the flocks. In years when there is enough water, grass grows there. This year, Jerry Golden took pictures of the Negev, which is adjacent to the Sinai Peninsula. The Negev was covered with wild flowers and grass because this was a year with abundant rain. We know that during the 40 years the Israelites were in the wilderness, the Lord sent dew at night so there would be grass and shrubs for the flocks to eat. Nu. 11:9 says, "when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it."

Joel 2:22 says, "Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for THE PASTURES OF THE WILDERNESS (midbar) do spring."

When Moses went to Mt. Horeb, or Sinai, there was grass and a bush. Ex. 3:1,2 says, "Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert (midbar, wilderness, pasture), and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush."

let's look at Ex. 15:22 again. It says, "Moses brought Israel FROM THE RED SEA (where they crossed to leave Egypt), AND THEY WENT OUT INTO THE WILDERNESS (midbar) OF SHUR." They went to Marah (v. 23), then to ELIM (v. 27), where there were 12 wells of water and 60 palm trees, to camp.

Now look at Ex. 16:1. It says, "they took their journey from ELIM, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto THE WILDERNESS OF SIN (Heb., Ciyn), WHICH IS BETWEEN ELIM AND SINAI (Ciynay), on the fifteenth day of the second month (Iyar) after their departing out of the land of Egypt" (at Passover, mid-month of Nisan). They had not left the wilderness area across the northern section of the Sinai Peninsula for the whole first month. They arrived at Mt. Sinai two weeks later, on the first day of the 3rd month, Sivan (Ex. 19:1). It took 1.5 months to get from the Red Sea on Egypt's border to Mt. Sinai, and they were in the midbar, wilderness, desert, or pasture area the whole time.

Ex. 19:1-3 says, "In the third month (Sivan 1, for chodesh means both 'month' and 'new moon,' which is the 1st of the month), when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day (Sivan 1) came they into THE WILDERNESS OF SINAI. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to THE DESERT OF SINAI, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount."

I think the northern Mt. Jebel Helal is Mt. Sinai. Only the northern location could be called "the DESERT of Sinai," which was "in the wilderness."

Num 10:12 says, "the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran." The Wilderness of Paran is in the middle of the Sinai Peninsula, not in Saudi Arabia.

Ex. 13:18 says, "God led the people about, through the way of the WILDERNESS OF THE RED SEA: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt." They left Egypt when the Red Sea (Gulf of Suez) parted and entered the wilderness of the Red Sea on the border of Egypt.

> > the most important reference says that King Solomon had his fleet of ships in Eziongeber on Yam Suph.

Moller seems to have forgotten that both the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba are part of the Red Sea.

> > To mobilize an army is a big thing. You can’t take an army on a long journey on a moments notice. They couldn’t do it in a week. It takes a lot of planning. In this case, they needed to provide for men, horses, and equipment....
> > They waited for three days to see if the Israelites would return as promised. Pharaoh probably had spies. They took a couple of days to return with the news that the slaves were not returning. The Egyptian Army could never catch up to the Hebrews until they decided to camp.

There was no week to prepare Pharaoh's army, not even three days to see if the Israelites would come back. Ex. 12:42,43,51 says of the Passover, "It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the PASSOVER :...AND IT CAME TO PASS THE SELFSAME DAY, THAT THE LORD DID BRING THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT. "

Ex. 13:3,4 says, "Moses said unto the people, REMEMBER THIS DAY (PASSOVER), IN WHICH YE CAME OUT FROM EGYPT, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. This day came ye out in the month Abib (Aviv, Nisan)."

The Sinai Peninsula was not part of Egypt then, because they "came out from Egypt." Mt. Sinai was in Arabia Petrea, which is now the Sinai Peninsula. On page 1166, Unger's Bible Dictionary says that the wilderness wandering was in "that portion of Arabia called Arabia Petraea (or rocky Arabia), from its rocky and rugged character."

Nu. 33:1-8 fills in some more details. It says, "Num 33:1 These are the journeys of the children of Israel, which WENT FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT with their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron. And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the LORD: and these are their journeys according to their goings out. And they departed from Rameses (in Egypt) in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments. And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth (in Egypt). And they departed from Succoth, and pitched in ETHAM, WHICH IS IN THE EDGE OF THE WILDERNESS (by the Red Sea/ Gulf of Suez). And they removed from Etham, and turned again unto Pihahiroth (in Egypt), which is before Baalzephon (in Egypt): and they pitched before Migdol (in Egypt). And they departed from before Pihahiroth (in Egypt), and passed through the midst of the sea (the Red Sea on the border of Egypt) into the wilderness (of the Red Sea and the wilderness of Etham), and went three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah."

They crossed the Red Sea as they came out of Egypt. Then they TRAVELED THREE DAYS IN THE WILDERNESS OF ETHAM that started at the Red Sea/Gulf of Suez. There is no way they could have crossed Arabia Petrea (the Sinai Peninsula) to the Gulf of Aqaba to leave Egypt and then suddenly ended up back in the wilderness of Etham, which is on the border of Egypt that is near the Nile River Delta.

Look at this sequence. Nu. 33:6-8 says, "they departed from Succoth, and pitched in ETHAM, WHICH IS IN THE EDGE OF THE WILDERNESS. And they removed from Etham, and turned again unto Pihahiroth (in Egypt), which is before Baalzephon (in Egypt): and they pitched before Migdol (in Egypt). And THEY DEPARTED FROM BEFORE PIHAHIROTH (in Egypt), AND PASSED THROUGH THE MIDST OF THE SEA (Red Sea/Gulf of Suez) into the wilderness, AND WENT THREE DAYS' JOURNEY IN THE WILDERNESS OF ETHAM." Agape

Interesting info: "First journey - Egypt to Mount Sinai"

By Maralyn Dyck
http://www.geocities.com/biblemaps/jour_one.html

The "Wall of the Princes"
During the 430 years that the Hebrews were in Egypt, an earlier Pharaoh, Amenemhati I, possibly built all or at least part of what has been called "The Wall of the Princes" and more recently "The Berlin Wall of Ancient Egypt." It is possible that the Hebrews worked on this wall, as well as building the two cities. This was a wall of defense that was built along the route of the lakes and canals connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. The waterways were then filled with crocodiles. People coming and going from Egypt had to cross through the wall and over the waterways or canals by way of a large bridge. Their purpose was to keep out marauding tribes who liked to pasture their flocks in Egypt, plus it helped keep other tribes from conquering Egypt. It also served to keep the Israelites from leaving Egypt, even if they had wanted to do so.

Along this wall migdols were built. These were fortification towers mainly for observation purposes.

This wall was the end of Egypt's domain at this time in history. Once through the gates you were in the WILDERNESS OF THE RED SEA.

Incoming email

The article below was posted on 5 Doves. I pray it isn't true. Would you please comment on what Brian Donoghue proposes. Thanks much.

"Hope for pre-trib rapture has been dashed"
By Brian Donoghue 7-4-03
http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/july2003/briand74.htm

Until a week ago, my beliefs about the timing of the Rapture could be stated as: "Pre-wrath is the position best supported by Scripture, but I HOPE it's pre-trib." That hope has been dashed by further study.

Looking at First Thessalonians 4:15-17, we see that the dead saints rise from the dead [immediately] before the rapture. First Corinthians 15:51-52 agrees, saying the "dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed."

Therefore, the Rapture is simply the Resurrection, but for those who are living at the time. They occur at the same time. So it is best to refer the event as the Rapture/Resurrection.

Now look at Revelation 20:4-6. We are told that ones who were martyred for refusing the mark participate in the FIRST resurrection. The only way that can happen is if the Rapture/Resurrection occurs AFTER saints are martyred for refusing the mark. Thus, we will see the mark of the beast implemented and saints martyred before we see the Rapture/Resurrection.

My reply

> > Looking at First Thessalonians 4:15-17, we see that the dead saints rise from the dead [immediately] before the rapture. First Corinthians 15:51-52 agrees, saying the "dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed."

There is more to it than that. The two passages are not alike. The thing that puts everything in place is to realize that there are two Raptures, Pre-Trib for the Bride of Christ and Pre-Wrath for the Tribulation saints.

I Thess. 4:13-18 tells about the Pre-Trib Rapture. Because these will be the ones "accounted worthy to ESCAPE all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (in Heaven) (Luke 21:36), they are to "comfort one another with these words" (I Thess. 4:18).

There are two trumps of God, and both are separate from the 7 trumpet judgments that are sounded by angels, not by God. The first "trump of God" sounds to call the Bride of Christ up to Heaven in I Thess. 4:16. The "last trump" of God sounds to call the Tribulation saints up to Heaven in I Cor. 15:51,52.

The first group resurrected will be raised incorruptible. I Cor. 15:42,44 says, "the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption...It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body."

Nothing is said about anyone being "changed" in I Thess. 4:13-18. However, I Cor. 15:51-54 mentions that "we shall be changed," not at the first trump, but at "the last trump." It says, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep (die in Christ), but WE SHALL ALL (both resurrected and living raptured saints) BE CHANGED, IN A MOMENT, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, AT THE LAST TRUMP (i.e., after the first trump sounds): 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 (on the day of the last trump of God, the first day of the millennial Day of the Lord) shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."

The two trumps of God are prefigured by the TWO SILVER TRUMPETS Moses made. Nu. 10:1-4 says, "the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Make thee TWO TRUMPETS OF SILVER; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly (as in Heb. 12:23), and for the journeying of the camps (i.e., as in the two Raptures). And when they shall blow with them (both), ALL THE ASSEMBLY shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (this is the general assembly in Heaven of Heb. 12:23). And if they blow but with ONE TRUMPET, then the princes (i.e., 24 elders of Rev. 4:4. the 12 patriarchs and 12 apostles of Israel, including John), which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee" (at the Pre-Trib Rapture, Rev. 4:1-4).

At the Pre-Trib Rapture, "ONE TRUMPET" will sound. On the day of the Pre-Wrath Rapture, BOTH TRUMPETS will sound. One trumpet will call those that went to Heaven in the Pre-Trib Rapture to the general assembly in Heaven. Mt. 24:31 says, "he shall send his angels with a great sound of a TRUMPET, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of HEAVEN to the other."

When the second trumpet sounds, the Tribulation saints are caught up to Heaven in the Pre-Wrath Rapture. Mark 13:27 says, "then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the EARTH (the Pre-Wrath Rapture) to the uttermost part of HEAVEN" (those caught up previously in the Pre-Trib Rapture.

Heb. 12:22-24 says, "ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels, To THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and TO THE SPIRITS OF JUST MEN MADE PERFECT, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant."

> > Now look at Revelation 20:4-6. We are told that ones who were martyred for refusing the mark participate in the first resurrection. The only way that can happen is if the Rapture/Resurrection occurs AFTER saints are martyred for refusing the mark. Thus, we will see the mark of the beast implemented and saints martyred before we see the Rapture/Resurrection.

Rev. 20:4-6 says, "I saw thrones, and they (the saints) sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them:" In I Cor. 6:2,3, Paul said, "Do ye not know that THE SAINTS shall judge the world?....Know ye not that WE shall judge angels?"

Continuing in Rev. 20, it says, "and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus (like John the Baptist), and for the word of God, and which (as the martyrs of the Tribulation) had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they (martyrs for their faith in Jesus) lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be PRIESTS of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

Who will reign with Christ? Rev. 5:9,10 says, "saints. And they (the saints of the Pre-Trib Rapture) sung a NEW SONG, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us (saints of the Pre-Trib Rapture) to God by thy blood out of EVERY kindred, and tongue, and people, and NATION; And hast made us (the saints of the Pre-Trib Rapture, not just the elders who are all of Israel) unto our God KINGS AND PRIESTS: and we shall reign on (epi, over) the earth."

The First Resurrection includes all the saved that have died and the living that are raptured, from Adam to the Pre-Wrath Rapture. These are raised in ranks. 1Co 15:20 says, "now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

1Co 15:22,23 (LITV) says, "as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order (tagmati, rank): Christ, the firstfruit; afterward those of Christ at His coming."

1st rank - Christ and some Old Testament saints, probably including Abel, Noah, Abraham and Sarah (Heb. 11:4-16)
2nd rank - the firstfruit (the wise-virgin types, from Adam to the Pre-Trib Rapture)
3rd rank - all the rest of the saved at the Pre-Wrath Rapture

Mt. 27:52 says, "the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Jesus took these and the rest of the saints in Paradise to Heaven on Resurrection Sunday.

On that Resurrection Day, John 20:17 said that "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." Eph 4:8 explains more. It says, "he (Jesus) saith, When he ascended up on high (on Resurrection Day), he led captivity captive (i.e., took the saints in Paradise to Heaven), and gave gifts unto men."

The Old Testament saints are not made perfect without us. Heb 11:40 says, "God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should NOT BE MADE PERFECT."

It looks like all the saints will be made perfect at the same time, at the arrival of the last of the ranks in which they are taken to Heaven. In Heb 12:23, the saints ARE MADE PERFECT. It says, "To the GENERAL ASSEMBLY and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men MADE PERFECT."

Jam 1:18 shows that we are firstfruits. It says, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

In Rev 14:4, we can see that the 144,000 Israelites are also firstfruits. It says, "These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." In Rev. 5:9, the Bride of Christ sing a new song. In Rev. 14:3,4, no one can sing "as it were a new song" but the 144,000. They are added to the Bride of Christ group, because "they are virgins...firstfruits...without fault before the throne of God."

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