The Forthcoming Saints Are The Lord's Holy Angels
A Study in the Apostle Paul's Revelation of the Great Mystery of Christ and the Church
By Steve Santini
About five thousand years ago Enoch prophesied that one day the saints would come. Jude, who was known as a brother of Jesus, restated this prophecy in the later years of the first century church.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, Jude 1:14
In his benediction, Jude identified the condition in which the saints would come. As Peter had written in his first letter, in contrast to the original sufferings of Christ, there would eventually be a time of the glory of Christ.Jude wrote that the time period he was referring to in his letter was when saints would come in the glory of Christ written of by Peter.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, Jude 1:24
If the saints are yet to come in glory, we as Christians should know who the saints are and what their mission will be for our sakes and the sakes of our children and our children's children.
The Apostle Paul, as a saint whose gospel fulfilled the word of God through the spirit of truth first entrusted to him, most clearly understood and once applied the ministration of the saints in the churches he founded. He, too, in a similar manner, reiterated Enoch's prophecy in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica.
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13
This study begins with the keystone of the Apostle Paul's revelation of the great mystery of Christ and the church as recorded in his epistle to the church of Ephesus.
Saints and Faithful
Paul's epistle to the church of Ephesus has been called the most divine piece of literature ever written. It was penned, like Colossians and Philippians, in the later years of the apostle's life. Ephesians was addressed to the saints and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 1:1
The saints are separated from the faithful in Christ Jesus by the conjunction and. In the Greek language from which our English versions are translated the word and is the word kai. Kai is simply a conjunction that annexes one thing to another, not one of admixture or equivalency. Paul's letter to the church of Colosse begins in a similar manner with the kai distinguishing each and joining the two.
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Colossians 1:2a
The salutation to the church at Philippi is a bit different, however it too distinguishes the saints from others by Paul's usage of the Greek preposition sun rather than the other primary preposition, meta, also translated as with.
Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Philippians 1:1
Unlike the Greek preposition meta, also translated in other verses as with, the preposition sun is not one of admixture. Sun is defined as in association with and as beside while meta implies a much closer relationship.
According to the Apostle Pauls letters to the churches he founded, there were two differing groups with divinely appointed responsibilities that converged to function as the one body of Christ that he espoused. They were and will be the saints and the faithful in Christ Jesus.
The Greek word translated as saint in the New Testament is agios. It is defined as things set apart for God's purpose or things consecrated to God that possess certain essentially divine qualities in contrast with what is human. In its adjective form it modifies spirit in holy spirit, brethren in Hebrews, prophets and apostles in Paul's Ephesian epistle, men in context of the prophecies about the second coming of the Lord in Peter's second epistle and angels in both Matthew and Mark's account of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: Matthew 25:31
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Mark 8:38
At first, these two verses stating that the Lord come with his holy angels appear to contradict Enoch's prophecy and corresponding statements made by the Apostle Paul saying that the Lord comes with his saints. However, a thoughtful study of the Lord's angels and the saints in the scope of New Testament writings reveals that saints and angels are different terms emphasizing two different states and abilities of those which are the same.
The book of Hebrews is about the second coming of Jesus Christ during which Enoch said the Lord comes with all his saints. The word angels is used eleven times in the first two chapters; far more frequently than any other section of scripture. The seventh verse of the first chapter reveals that angels can be made spirits.
And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. Hebrews 1:7
Then in the fourteenth verse the author writes that these angelic spirits are to be ministers unto the heirs of salvation.
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews 1:14
Salvation is for the souls of those who have and have had faith in the promises of God once delivered by the saints or as Peter calls them-holy men.
In the closing chapter the author again mentions angels by giving practical advice to those who believe the author writes:
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2
If one is to entertain a human unaware that he is an angel that unseen angelic reality would of necessity be spirit.
The apostle Paul, as a saint, was latently empowered from birth internally with an angel made a spirit.
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen Galatians 1:15-16a
(Notice Paul did not say that when he was called God placed his Son in him. The Son was already in Paul from his mother's womb yet God revealed it to Paul when he called Paul to exercise that spirit for his timely ministerial calling.)
As such he was an angel. Paul's used the term saint for a person gifted from birth with an angel made a spirit. In his first letter to the Corinthians he indicated this when he theoretically wrote:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1
He also indicated this as he wrote to the Roman church when he emphasized at one point that he was speaking as a man.
But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) Romans 3:5
In Acts, a quotation of Paul by Luke, his companion, appears more convincing.
But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. Acts 27:21-26
In the twenty third verse, that reads, For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, the clause whose I am begins with the genitive case of the relative Greek pronoun os meaning who, which, that, what, whom or whose. The verb in the clause is eimi meaning to be and to exist.
J. Gresham Machen footnotes in his book, New Testament Greek for Beginners, that a noun or pronoun in the genitive may stand in the predicate with the verb to be. So, this verse could be translated as For there stood by me this night the angel of God, who I am, and whom I serve,
and, according to the New Testament scope of the subject of men as angels, should be translated the angel of God who I am.
The twenty-third chapter of Exodus reveals that Moses was likewise angelically gifted.
For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off. Exodus 23:23 Luke 7:27
Jesus Christ, himself, confirmed this assertion that some were gifted with angelic spirits when he described John the Baptist in such a manner.
This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Luke 7:27
The word translated messenger in this verse is the same as the Greek word translated as angel most often in the New Testament. As a result, for the sake of clarity on the subject, this verse should be translated in this manner as it is in some versions of the bible:
This is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. Luke 7:27
The pivotal event of Jesus' ministry was his glorious transformation with Moses and Elijah's appearances on the Mount of Transfiguration. Luke's record of the event adds much to the subject of one time saintly men in later angelic form being sent forward by the Lord Jesus Christ upon his glorious second coming.
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. Luke 9:26-36
This record is literally true. It is also a prophetic prototype structured with essential elements that foreshadow those of the Lord's second coming. The first two sentences include the Lord's glory, holy angels, and some then standing with Jesus who would see the kingdom of God before they died. (The definition of this Greek word, see, means to experience in what one is seeing.) Then he took Peter, John and James up into a mountain where they saw the Lord's glory, holy angels and themselves as if they were in the kingdom of God.
Moses and Elijah represented the class named saints, or, in other words, holy angels while Peter, John and James represented the class named faithful in Christ Jesus in Paul's Ephesian letter. The heavy sleep of Peter, John and James represents the state of death for those faithful in Christ Jesus as Paul expressed in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica. And the awakening of the three represents the resurrection for those in that class. The cloud into which they entered with Jesus represents the cloud of Paul's Thessalonian letter into which the living and the resurrected are said to be gathered to be forever with the Lord.
In his last letter, when Peter wrote of the second coming of the Lord to those of like faith, this event on the Mount of Transfiguration was central in his encouragement to them.
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 2 Peter 1:16-18
The Twelve and The Seventy
Luke uniquely included two proximate post transfiguration events in his gospel by which Jesus laid a foundation for the apostle Paul's eventual revelation distinguishing the saints from the faithful. The first event is recorded in the later part of the ninth chapter in Luke's gospel.
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. Luke 9:51-56
James and John had recently seen Elias (Elijah) standing with the Lord upon the holy mount as Peter called it. It was commonly known that the heavenly angels would bring judgment by fire in the last days. Elijah had brought the fire of God's wrath down upon Ahaziah's soldiers who came to capture him twice. It appears from this record that James and John assumed they were of the same class as Elijah. But Jesus rebuked them and said they were of a different spirit than Elijah. He then referred to his role as the Son of man born of a woman implying that their spiritual role was akin to that nature. As such, the proposition would be that there was another nature of Jesus Christ to which Elijah was akin. In Luke's gospel it appears that Son of God, the other term he used for Jesus, would identify that nature.
The second proximate post transfiguration event that distinguishes those like Elijah from those like James and John is the sending out of the seventy others in contrast to the proximate pre transfiguration sending out of the twelve apostles.
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him. And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. Luke 9:1-10
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Luke 10:1-24
There are remarkable statements in Luke's record that distinguish the seventy from the twelve apostles who were sent out before Jesus', Moses', and Elijah's appearance in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration rather than after the event as were the seventy. In the introductory verse, the underlying Greek word other has the meaning of other of a different kind.
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Luke 10:1
In the third verse, Luke employs the Greek word aren that has been translated as lambs.
Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Luke10:3
Matthew's account of the commands given to the twelve seems to provide the same information.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: Matthew 10:16
However a more thorough study shows a distinction between the word sheep in Matthew's account of the twelve and the word lambs in Luke's account of the seventy. As noted in the Louw-Nida Lexicon many languages have different words for male and female sheep. And some also have different words for the young and mature in each of the two categories. The Greek word translated sheep in Matthew of the twelve is probaton. Probaton and its diminutive form probation are never used to specify male sheep in scripture or in classical Greek writings. On the other hand, the Greek word translated lambs in Luke's account of the seventy is aren. Luke's usage of the word aren is the singular biblical usage of the word. According Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, aren means rams the mature males of the flock.
The spiritual mission of the twelve is given as preaching the gospel, and healing every where, while the mission of the seventy included even the devils are subject unto us through thy name as given in their returning report to Jesus.
In contrast to Jesus' instructions to the twelve, Jesus instructed the seventy to say to those that accepted a pair of the seventy the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. Jesus also instructed the seventy to speak the same words in a different context to those who rejected a pair of the seventy.
But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Luke10:14
As Jesus had promised, James, John and Peter had actually seen the kingdom of God on the Mount of Transfiguration when they had seen the glorified Jesus, with Moses and Elijah as holy angels. Those that accepted a pair of the seventy had just come nigh to the kingdom of God not seen the kingdom of God because they had entertained human strangers unaware that they were angels one day to come again in glorified bodies.
The Greek word translated appointed in the introductory sentence of this section is revealing in this context.
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, Luke 10:1a
The word appointed includes the meaning to lift up anything on high and exhibit it for all to behold. These seventy were lifted up to spiritual maturity for a time as a prefigured prophetic shadow of the future coming of the saints. In closing the time of their appointment Jesus said:
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Luke 10:21-24
John, who like Luke, wrote in the mature period of the churches Paul founded appears to have distinguished a person who was later appointed as one of the seventy when he wrote of Jesus' initial interaction with Nathanael in the first chapter of his gospel.
The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. John 1:43-51
There are three relevant points within this record to note in this study of the saints. Jesus, first, distinguishes Nathanael from the others he was gathering to serve in his ministry by saying of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
Then Nathanael responded asking Jesus, Whence knowest thou me? After Jesus answered his question Nathanael immediately responded, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. What then was it that Jesus said to evoke such a quick change from substantial doubt to certain recognition of Jesus as the Son of God and King of Israel? Jesus had answered Nathanael's question with these words:
Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. John 1:48
The Greek word translated under is hupo. With the accusative case as its object here, hupo means motion or a period of time under. George Lamsa, an accomplish author regarding his native East writes that "under the fig tree" figuratively means a newborn in the cradle. So, Jesus appears to have been saying to him that as you were passing into this life I saw thee or before you were born I saw thee. This would be consistent with the Paul's writings regarding himself as a saint and others as saints. In either understanding, this response instantly changed Nathanael's opinion of Jesus from "can anything good come out of Nazareth" to "thou art the Son of God and the King of Israel." With only this information, we, who study and think about scriptural accounts, are left to wonder what could have previously transpired in Nathanael's soul that would have so quickly brought this recognition of Jesus as the result of Jesus' singular answer to his simple question.
Jesus further distinguished Nathanael from the others present at the conclusion of his interaction with him when he said:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. John1:51
Here Jesus is referring to the future time when he comes with is holy angels. The Greek word translated see in this verse is optanomai. It is a future tense middle voice verb. In the middle voice it means that the observer is both acting in the event and being acted upon in the event. In other words Nathanael was to be an interactive participant in the future event. Logically, Jesus was identifying Nathanael as one of the angels.
By selectively placing this record of Jesus' interaction with Nathanael at the beginning of his gospel the author uniquely established a foundational theme that runs in the background of his gospel. As he concludes his account he again mentions Nathanael by name to remind us about the angelic nature of certain ones and that day in the future when heaven will be opened and the angels of God will ascend and descend on the forthcoming Son of man.
After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. John 21:1-2
This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. John 21:24-25
The saints never die; they depart.
There are two realms. They are heaven and earth. The well-known Lord's Prayer identifies these two realms.
Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Luke 11:2
The apostle Paul wrote of these two realms often. In his Ephesian letter he wrote of the whole family both in heaven and on earth. In the same letter, he also wrote of the fullness of times when the Lord will gather together all things in one, both which are in heaven and which are on earth. In his second letter to the Corinthian church he wrote of the character of these two realms.
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
The apostle Paul, as a matured saint, had, from an earthly perspective, been entered into the unseen heavenly realm. However, from the perspective of the eternal heavenly realm, he had always been a citizen of heaven. When he wrote to other saints in his Philippian letter he said:
For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Philippians 3:20
The author of Hebrews cast Melchisedec in the same manner.
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Hebrews 7:3
Days began in the first chapter of Genesis. And human soul was made during the first chapter of Genesis just after the days were made. Melchisedec, described as one without beginning of days being accounted to him, was, like all saints, made similar to the Son of God as one gifted from birth with a preexistent angel made into a ministering spirit. And even though his flesh corrupted unto human death, his preexistent spirit with his subsequently engaged, angelically subservient soul lived on abiding as a heavenly priest under the eternal high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote of this preexistent state of the saints in his letter to the church in Ephesus.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Ephesians 1:3-4
The word holy in this verse is the translated, plural, masculine gender, Greek agious. In the Greek texts of scripture the word also appears in the neuter and the feminine genders. When it appears in the masculine gender it is rarely translated as anything other than saint or saints depending on its number. Here, in this verse it should also be translated as saints rather than holy. William Tindale recognized this when he translated his English version of the bible in 1526, eighty-five years before King James' translation.
accordynge as he had chosen vs in him before ye foudacio of ye worlde was layde that we shuld be saintes and without blame before him thorow loue. Ephesians 1:4 Tyndale Translation
In like manner, Jeremiah wrote of the Lord's words to him confirming his preexistent angelic state.
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah 1:5
Paul, as a member of this order of Melchisedec, in a similar way to the record of Melchisedec, wrote of the death of his flesh as one without the ending of his life.After his sentence of execution for societal insurrection by the Roman high court had been delivered, Paul wrote his last letter to Timothy. In it he referred to his death as a departure.
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Earlier, in the years between his first appearance before the Roman high court and his final appearance, when writing to the saints with the bishops and deacons in Philippi, he wrote of his desire to depart and be with the Lord.
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. Philippians 1:20-24
Both Elijah and Moses were manifested representatives of this deathless order of Melchisedec when they appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus Christ. It seems that the unique manner of Elijah's departure was meant to emphasize the point that saints depart to be with the Lord rather than die to await resurrection.
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 2 Kings 2:11
Likewise, the translation of Enoch appears also to have occurred as a representation in the temporal realm to emphasize the truth of the eternal realm.
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5
Son of Man-Son of God
Jesus Christ, who the author of Hebrews identified as the high priest of the order of Melchisedec, called himself the Son of Man and the Son of God. His term Son of Man defined his temporal existence with a pristine soul as uncorrupted Adam once had when he was first made a living soul. Jesus' term Son of God defined his eternal heavenly existence from whence he was the firstborn of all creation. This unification of earthly and heavenly natures is present in the name Jesus Christ. Jesus, as a living soul being born of Mary and then crucified, had a temporal existence. Christ, on the other hand, has no beginning of days or end of life. When Paul uniquely used the term Christ Jesus he was not only defining the two part harmony resident in the being of Jesus Christ but also the two part harmony of the saints and faithful of his corporate body.
The apostle Paul, when writing about Jesus Christ, addressed this unified living duality in five verses of his letter to the Colossians.
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. (creation)For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; Colossians 1:15-19
As the Son of God he is the firstborn of all creation and as the Son of Man he is the firstborn from the dead. So, in all things, both in the spiritual of heaven and the soul of earth, he has the preeminence and in him the Lord's Prayer will be universally answered.
The Best of the Lot
The author of Hebrews reveals that Jesus Christ is the firstbegotten of the angels that will come with him to minister to those who will partake of salvation.
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Hebrews 1:4-9
The period's traditional concept of inheritance expressed in by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they and God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows of this section points directly to Christ, the Son of God, being the firstborn of the angels. The word inheritance is the Greek word kleronomos meaning the acquisition of the portion allotted implying other portions to be allotted. Louw Nida's lexicon adds this: In Jewish society the rights and responsibilities of being a firstborn son resulted in considerable prestige and status. The firstborn son, for example, received twice as much in inheritance as any other offspringIts also worth noting that the Eastern first born son, in maturity, carried the authority of the father in the family and in society. The word fellows is metoxos meaning a companion that shares a portion of the enterprise.
John the Baptist employed the same concept when he said:
For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. John 3:34
The usage of giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him implies that there were others given the Spirit by measure.
What then is this particular Spirit given without measure to Jesus? Peter first identified Jesus as the Christ. In the name Jesus Christ, Christ is the spiritual, eternal, heavenly aspect while Jesus is the temporal aspect of the same.
Near the end of his life Peter recognized that there were those who had a portion of the spirit of Christ.
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 1 Peter 1: 11
The immediate context of this verse associates those endowed with the spirit of Christ with angels.
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. 1 Peter 1:11-12
The Greek word translated look into is parakupto meaning, literally, to stoop down to examine. In biblical usages it sometimes refers to stooping down to engage what is lower. This would be consistent with the context of the previously cited first chapter of Hebrews that concludes with Christ's angelic siblings being made into ministering spirits unto those in the temporal realm about to obtain salvation.
John's gospel record reinforces the truth of Christ's unique position as the firstbegotten of the angelic order in the family of God. The author utilizes the words only begotten in descriptions of Jesus four times in his gospel- two each in each of two sections. In the Greek language from which the English translations are made the word for only begotten is monogenes. The meaning of the word and the contexts of it usages in the two sections is enlightening. In common English terms, monogenes means best of the lot. By formal definitions from classical and biblical lexicons, it has these meanings: alone, as isolated from others; the only one of its kind or class; pertaining to what is unique in the sense of being the only one of the same kind or class; and single of its kind. These are the two sections in John where the word monogenes is used:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. John 1:14-20
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. John 3:16-21
The usage of this word, mongenes, in Hebrews reinforces its lexicographical definitions and the scriptural understandings they offer in regards to the angels being additionally procreated by the Father.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Hebrews 11:17
According to the Genesis records, Abraham fathered a number of sons including his first son Ishmael. Isaac, though, was the best of the lot because he was the child according to God's promise.
Sons of God
The author of Hebrews begins by reminding his readers that in times past God spoke unto the fathers by the prophets in various manners. In other words, when writing about the angels procreated after Christ, the prophets used various terms to identify them. He author of Job wrote of them as the sons of God.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. Job 1:6
David wrote of them as both sons of the mighty and saints.
And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. Psalm 89: 5- 7
Likewise, the various authors of the gospels recorded differing literal and figurative terms that Jesus used to identify these additional sons of God. When Jesus addressed the raised up seventy he called them the rams of the Father's flock. He also categorized them as those who had their names written in heaven. When the author of Hebrews brings the faithful to the finality of his treatise he lists a variety of descriptions of what they were to come unto. One of those listed is the church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven.
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 a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel. Hebrews 12:23, 24
Not only is Jesus Christ the firstborn best of the lot with the fullness of the spirit in the angelic realm, he was the best of the lot in the temporal realm of man. In contrast to the yet still inherited sinful nature of man, he, as the sinless second Adam, was generated a perfectly pure soul the lamb without spot or blemish.
Angels of the Saints
Another description of those the faithful will come unto is an innumerable company of angels.
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22
Innumerable company is the Greek word muriasin. As a singular noun it means ten thousand. It is used here as a plural adjective that means tens of thousands of angels. The same word is used of the saints in Enoch's prophesy.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, Jude 1:14
From these two verses it would appear that either the scripture contradicts itself or that there are two different groups that attend unto the Lord Jesus Christ at his coming. However, with the understanding that the word angels emphasizes this singular group's relationship to Christ of heaven while the word saints emphasizes their relationship to soul of earth this apparent difference is resolved bringing these two verses into harmony.
Shortly before Jesus took Peter, James and John to the holy mount and was transfigured with Moses and Elijah he said that his holy angels would come with him in his glory.
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26
The holy angels should be translated, the angels of the saints since the same masculine gender Greek word, agioi, translated holy here, is translated as saints most often in scripture. And, as it is in this verse, with the article, in its genitive case, plural number, masculine gender and attributive position in the Greek text, it is translated of the saints in the eighteen other scriptures where it appears.
He then said to his disciples:
But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. Luke 9:27
And, then, days later, as Jesus was on the holy mount with Peter, James and John this occured:
And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, Luke 9:30-31a
The Apostle Paul wrote of this time when Jesus Christ was to come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels, as the time when the he shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. (2 Thes. 1:7) Three verses later Paul augmented his description of the time of the mighty angels with these words:
When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. 2 Thessalonians 1:10)
These angels of the saints, or, as Paul writes, mighty angels are the same angels that will come to gather the elect of belief out of the wrath for the kingdom of God. They will come with power and in similar glory as the saints Moses and Elijah did when they appeared with Jesus on the holy mount.
Jesus Christ, himself, numbered the angels within the realm of tens of thousands. When the temple guards from the chief priests and the elders came to capture Jesus, one of his followers drew his dagger and cut off the ear of one of the temple guards. Jesus told him to put up his dagger and said:
Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?Matthew 26:53
In the times of Jesus' statement a Roman legion was comprised of five thousand to six thousand men. That means there would be between sixty thousand and seventy two thousand of the Lord's angels.
Throughout scripture there are divinely orchestrated representations where a part prophetically represents the whole. For example, upon the advice of Jethro his Midianite father-in-law, Moses chose seventy to be judges of matters while Israel was in the wilderness. This advice could have been based on Enoch's ancient prophesy about the number of saints to one day come with the Lord. Moses also sent twelve spies into the Promised Land. The twelve represented the entirety of the twelve tribes to one day enter that land. In the New Testament, the other seventy that Jesus raised up and sent out after his glorious appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration, in like manner, as a part of the future whole, appears to point towards the number to one day come with Jesus Christ being seventy thousand.
Sodom and the Angels
Jude placed the ancient prophecy of Enoch in the context of Sodom.
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 1:7
The apostle Paul also used the example of Sodom to explain the conditions during the transition from the present realities unto the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. Romans 9: 29
Peter, after writing about the second coming of the Lord being like his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, used the example of Sodom.
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 2 Peter 2:6-7
In Luke's record, Jesus used the example of Sodom twice. In his instructions to the seventy that he had raised up and sent out two by two, he told them that those who rejected them would, in the future, be dealt with in the manner of Sodom
But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Luke 10:10-12
In the seventeenth chapter of Luke's record Jesus likened the day that the Son of Man is to be revealed to Lot's rescue from Sodom by the two angels just before fire and brimstone destroyed it.
And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; Genesis 19:1ff
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Luke 17:28-29
Luke's seventeenth chapter record goes on to describe how those faithful, like Lot, are going to be rescued by the Lord's holy angels from the wrath to come.
Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Luke 17:30-36
The English word taken is a translation of the Greek word paralambano in the Greek texts. In consideration of the scope of the New Testament this particular word translated as taken in this context is enlightening. It is a prefixed word with the preposition para as the prefix. Para basically means two things beside one another. It has meanings that include definitions similar to those definitions of the Greek preposition sun that is used at times to differentiate and join the saints and the faithful, such as, to take with as an associate or companion.
Among respected lexicons like Thayer's, Liddell Scott's and Friberg's paralambano is often used, when a person is the object, as to take one's betrothed to his home and to associate with oneself as a wife or mistress or ally. It is used in Matthew, chapter one, of Joseph who took Mary as his wife.
The final coming of the Lord with his saints in scripture is many times figuratively compared to a marriage. For example, Matthew recorded that Jesus said:
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. Matthew 22:2-11
Matthew recorded another of Jesus'parables about the future kingdom of heaven on earth beginning figuratively like a wedding feast.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Matthew 25:1-13
The apostle Paul, in his Ephesus' letter to the mature saints and to the mature faithful in Christ Jesus, took this comparison further unto their existence as a complementary corporate body, comprised, both collectively, like a husband and as a wife.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:20-32
So from the scope of scripture it appears that the saints in their form as the holy angels will come to take those of faith unto this symbolic wedding feast to be united like a husband and wife as one in joint function and joint inheritance to administer the new heaven and earth as promised by the prophets of old, Jesus Christ and the New Testament saints.
Where then are the faithful to be taken for this celebratory festival? This is the question asked by Jesus' disciples after he informed them of those, one day, to be taken. Jesus responded saying,
Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together. Luke 17:37
There is a place where eagles gather more profusely than any other place on earth. It is in the Jordan River valley just north of the Dead Sea. Every year in the spring and in the fall tens of thousands migratory steppe eagles rest in this area as they travel between their summer homes on the Eurasian steppes and their wintering grounds in eastern Africa. According to the fourth chapter of Deuteronomy, this area was known as Sion. The book of Hebrews confirms this as the place to which the faithful will be taken to be the first to experience the Lord's salvation. (1 Tim. 2:3-6, 4:10)
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22
The apostle Paul also confirms this location in his letter to the church in Rome.
And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: Romans 9:26-27
Moses' last words to Israel as recorded in the thirty-first and thirty-second chapters of Deuteronomy were a stunning rebuke to the people of Israel.
Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 31:28-29
These words were prophetically delivered by Moses when Israel was camped in the area that encompassed Sion beyond the Jordan River. Afterwards Moses left the camp of Israel and disappeared on the slopes of close by Mount Nebo and the supernatural cloud that had followed Israel in the wilderness ceased. It was also here in Sion that Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind and never seen again. It was here too that Jesus was baptized and, as some believe, transfigured in the midst of the glorified Moses and Elijah.
And, by these things, Sion is identified as the place where the Gentiles grafted, by faith, into the prophetic promises once offered to only Israel and the remnant of Israel not broken off by unbelief in the prophetic promises made to them will be called the children of the living God.
The Restitution of Eden
Zechariah concluded his prophetic writings with a vision of the Lord's coming that included the area of Sion as the eastern terminus of a newly formed valley that stretched from the Dead Sea through Jerusalem unto the Mediterranean Sea. In it he described Jesus Christ with the term Lord of hosts four times in the span of the last five verses. The definition of hosts includes an army of angels. In the opening of this conclusion, in correspondence to the term Lord of hosts, he wrote of the saints that come with the Lord:
And the valley of my mountains shall be closed up, and the valley of the mountains shall be joined on to Jasod, and shall be blocked up as it was blocked up in the days of the earthquake, in the days of Ozias king of Juda; and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with him. Zechariah 14:5 (Septuagint Translation)
Joel also wrote of these glorified holy ones that come with the Lord as an army.
A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? Joel 2:2-11
Understanding who the saints are and how and what they are to accomplish refreshes hope and strengthens faith unto salvation.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah each defined this time of the coming of the Lord as a day or time of trouble. Peter defined this time as trial of faith being much more precious than gold even though it is to be tried by fire. Paul wrote of a strong delusion from the mystery of iniquity to overtake those without faith in the truth during the coming of the Lord, yet he wrote that those of faith would be moved away from the wrath. Jesus himself warned against following false Christs in that day rather than waiting to be gathered by the glorified saints.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And 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. Matthew 24:24-31
In that day, the sun will be darkened and the moon will turn blood red while the sign of the Son of Man as the edge of the clouded galactic plane, or Milky Way, is seen flashing like lightning through a thunderhead. As Jesus sent the seventy forward unto every place he would go on his way for his triumphal entry over the Mount of Olives and into Jerusalem, the holy angels will first come to gather the faithful for the appearance of the Lord. Then, as Paul's first letter to the church in Thessalonica states, the Lord himself will descend to raise the dead who once had faith in Christ. Then all will be lifted up to be with the Lord in the divine clouds of Sion's hills.
And seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own raiment: only let thy name be called upon us, and take away our reproach. And in that day God shall shine gloriously in counsel on the earth, to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel. And it shall be, that the remnant left in Sion, and the remnant left in Jerusalem, even all that are appointed to life in Jerusalem, shall be called holy. For the Lord shall wash away the filth of the sons and daughters of Sion, and shall purge out the blood from the midst of them, with the spirit of judgment, and the spirit of burning. And he shall come, and it shall be with regard to every place of mount Sion, yea, all the region round about it shall a cloud overshadow by day, and there shall be as it were the smoke and light of fire burning by night: and upon all the glory shall be a defense. And it shall be for a shadow from the heat, and as a shelter and a hiding place from inclemency of weather and from rain. Isaiah 4:1 - 6, Septuagint Translation
Understanding these things is important for the person of faith. Ephesians reveals that Paul prayed as much in his timeless prayer for the faithful in Christ.
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1:15-23
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Ephesians 1:4
1 Corinthians 6:1-3
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Know ye not that because of angels we shall judge? How much more things of this life?
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 1:1
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
The Pauline Analogies
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
1 Corinthians 11:31