Q. Thanks so very much for your thoughtful help with scripture. I guess my question has something to do with the rapture. In 1 Thessalonians 3: 13 Paul is asking the LORD to increase the Thessalonian believers love so that HE may establish their hearts blameless in holiness before the FATHER at the coming of our LORD JESUS CHRIST with all HIS saints. It sounds to me as though Paul wants them to be ready for the comming of JESUS with all HIS saints rather being one of the arriving saints.
Doesn’t JESUS return for all HIS saints well before HE returns with all HIS saints? Im kind of a cement head and I guess I need you to make this clear. Why are they still here at what sounds like the second comming? If they are already with HIM than its a bit late to establish your hearts. Shouldn’t you be about as established as you can get at that point?
A. In my opinion the NIV has a rendering of 1 Thes. 3:13 that’s consistent with the original, but easier to understand than the KJV. It says,
May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
The Greek word translated “before” in the KJV and “in the presence of” in the NIV denotes location. In effect Paul is praying that they will already be in the presence of the Lord when the time comes for Jesus to return to Earth at the 2nd Coming. Since Paul’s letters were intended to be relevant through out the entire Church age, 1 Thes. 3:13 means already in Heaven as it pertains to the generations who would die before the 2nd Coming, or already have been taken in the Rapture, as it pertains to the one still alive as the time of His coming approaches. It’s another promise of a Pre-Trib Rapture for believers.