Q. I have been listening to your bible studies and am learning a lot. Thank you for your ministry!
I sometimes read/listen to (a well known commentator) and ran across an interesting analysis of Paul’s use of the phrase “fullness of the Gentiles. He says, when Paul uses this phrase he is talking about a Gentile church which is going to become so rich and full in its spiritual riches that it will awaken again the envy of Israel. Do you think this is possibly what Paul meant?
A. I normally agree with (this commentator) but this time I don’t. According to my research the phrase “full number” is a nautical term that describes the number of soldiers and sailors necessary to operate a ship under sail. The ship couldn’t sail until they had the full number of crewmen. Once the full number was reached, off they went. Sometimes that meant they didn’t depart on the day people thought they would. It would have been on a date no one knew in advance.
This is a perfect description of the Rapture. Rather than happening on a specific day, it will happen when the full number of members in the church is reached. Then the Church will depart, on a day no one could know in advance, and Israel’s spiritual blindness will be lifted.
It’s the Rapture that finally arouses Israel to envy, because it fulfills the Lord’s warning to the Pharisees that “tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the Kingdom before you.” (Matt. 21:32)