Comparing Paul’s ‘Hope’ Before and After Acts 28:28


By Arthur J Licursi

The 2 “Hopes’ of the New Testament are 1) Israel’s kingdom on earth and, 2) the “blessed hope” of “the church, which is His body,” which is destined to “appear with Him in [heaven’s] glory.” We will summarize and distinguish between these in this relatively short paper.

In Act 9 Paul was save on the road to Damascus, then received the revelations that caused him to write of his Hope to be among the living at the time of the so-called ‘resurrection (rapture); to be “changed” and “to meet the Lord in the air [Grk. aer, the atmosphere, the air we breathe]” as seen in 1Thes. 4:17.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [dead].

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel [Michael. Israel’s Prince, cf. Dan. 12:1], and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air [Grk. aer, the atmosphere, the air we breathe]:” and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (KJV)

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery [secret]; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (7th Trumpet of Revelation 8:6-11:19): for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [the living] shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (KJV)

What is the meaning of the sounding of the ‘seventh trumpet,’ which is “last trumpet” of 1Cor 15:52?

The sounding of the ‘seventh trumpet’ which is ‘last trumpet’ to sound signals Israel’s long-awaited arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth. This trumpet, which is also called the third “woe” (cf. Revelation 9:12; 11:14), will be one of the most important announcements in human history. The establishment of Israel’s Kingdom of God on earth as promised to Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies recorded throughout the Bible.

Michael is Israel’s ‘prince’ as seen here; “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince [archangel] which standeth for the children of thy people [Israel]: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people [Israel] shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” Daniel 12:1 (KJV).

This is related to the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Recall that God through the prophet Daniel revealed that eventually a kingdom would arise that would destroy all the human governments that preceded it. Most important, God said this kingdom “shall never be destroyed … and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).

Note in 1Thes. 4 that Paul is speaking “by the word of the Lord” in 1Thes. 4:17 concerning a resurrection to “the air,” but note that there is no mention of Heaven as the destiny of these resurrected [i.e., raptured] ones. Yet most folks read these verses and wrongly assume this refers to ‘raptured folks going to heaven,’ without any mention of the heaven of heavens.” As we know there are three heavens in the Bible, one is the air that we call the sky or atmosphere. Then there is ‘outer-space’ and then the highest “third heaven” (2Cor. 12:2).

Above we have Paul’s Act’s Period “hope” of rapture to “meet the Lord in the air.”  

QUESTION: Was Paul’s hope and eternal destiny AFTER Acts 28:28 still for the so-called ‘rapture’ resurrection as seen in his Acts-Period epistles of 1Thes. 4 and 1Cor. 15? The question’s answer is NO!

Whereas during the Acts Period, “Salvation is of the Jews (cf. Jn. 4:22), we now note this change found in Acts 28:28 with Paul setting Israel aside as he turned to the Gentile “body of Christ” as His focus.

26 Saying, Go unto this people [Israel], and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people [Israel] is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28 BE IT KNOWN THEREFORE UNTO YOU [ISRAEL], that The SALVATION OF GOD IS SENT UNTO THE GENTILES, and that They Will Hear It.

With Paul’s declaration, Israel and ‘her hope’ of the kingdom was set aside for now, as God through Paul turned to the Gentiles. When the Acts Period ended Paul had already received a further ‘New’ Revelation which he then passed to us as members of the Gentile “body of Christ.” In Paul’s Romans 16:25 POST-SCRIPT, we find Paul’s bridge to the NEW ‘dispensation’ concerning “the Mystery [secret]” of Eph. 3:1-8.

25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my [Paul’s] gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery [secret], which was kept secret since the world began, Rom. 16:25 (KJV)

Romans 16:25 as A PostScript is explined here:

We see this new dispensation’s details laid out in Paul’s POST-Acts Prison Epistles, mainly in Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians… as they reveal the “heaven” “far above” as our eternal destiny.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who Hath Blessed Us With All Spiritual Blessings In Heavenly Places In Christ: Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)
21 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: Ephesians 1:21 (KJV)

Note that the word ‘rapture’ is never used in 1Thes. 4, but it does refer to a “Resurrection” and “Gathering Together” (cf. 2 Thes. 2:1) of Israel’s Messianic Kingdom gospel believers. Paul had held this same Hope all during the Acts period, as did every Jew and Gentile Christian Messianic Kingdom believer, up to the time of Acts 28:28. Paul then turned from Israel to the Gentile “body of Christ” based upon “the revelation of the Mystery [Grk. musterion, secret] that had been hid in God” (Eph. 3:7-12), kept secret(Col. 1:26) til then.

Unbelieving Israel was then considered “enemies” of the Cross as Paul explains of what has happened to Israel.

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery [secret], lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that Blindness In Part Is Happened To Israel, UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

26 And so [yet] all Israel shall [eventually] be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

28 As concerning the gospel, they [unbelieving, Israel] are ENEMIES for your sakes [you Gentiles]: (see Rom. 11:11)

but as touching the election [the ‘chosen’ faithful of Israel], they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [secure, unchanged]. 30 For as ye [Gentiles] in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their [Israel’s] unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, [so] that he might have mercy upon all [to include you Gentiles]. Romans 11:25-32 (KJV)

The terms “Resurrection” to a “Gathering Together” as seen in Paul’s 1Thes. 4 and 1Cor. 15 were at that time applicable only for Israel as “the Children Of Promise (Gal. 4:28). Believing Israel consisted primarily of believing Jews, and some believing Gentiles of The Acts-period who believed Jesus’ gospel of the Kingdom” and joined Israel, but NOT as equals with the Jews. These Gentiles were saved aschildren of Abraham’ by like-faith [cf. Rom. 4:13-16). Gentiles during Acts could only be saved aswhosoevers’ unto the “everlasting life” per John 3:16 until Paul’s gospel offered salvation to all men as Gentiles (after Acts 15) under the gospel of the grace of Godbased upon faith in the cross-work of Christ (1Cor 15:3-4, below).

“For I [Paul] delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (KJV)

Now let’s see the key events related to Acts 28:28 and after.

  • With Acts 28:28 declaration, The Gentile “Dispensation of ‘The Mystery’ began based on the new revelation Paul received for us Gentile members of “the body of Christ” as seen in his POST-ACTS epistles.
  • The Earthly kingdom ‘hope’ of “the children of promise” (Israel) will be fulfilled when today’s Gentile ‘Dispensation of The Mystery’ concludes, when “the fulness of the Gentiles is achieved (cf. Rom. 11:25). We of “His body” will then simply and quietly Appear With Christ In [heaven’s] Glory (Col. 3:4). With that our blessed hope will be fulfilled. Until then we are;

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13 (KJV)

  • With “the body of Christ” removed from planet earth, Israel’s ‘Dispensation of Promise’ will recommence for all the Jewish, and the Gentile proselytes Christians who stand with Israel in their Hope Of Resurrection to meet the Lord in the air [atmosphere, sky]” … only To Return To Earth With Him In this 2nd Coming of Christ.

The Acts periodHope of Israel that Paul had held (cf. Acts 28:20) while going “to the Jew first” had to do with the Kingdom to come On The Earth soon after their Gathering Together in a short trip upto meet the Lord in the Air” (not the heaven far above]. The “air” extends as far as our atmosphere in which they will meet the Lord as He comes withclouds of angels’ at His 2nd coming To Earth. These angels will execute Judgment upon the Tribulation rebels (cf. Mat. 13:30) as He proceeds to set up His Millennial Kingdom, wherein He will be ‘seated on the throne of David.’

We see in Paul’s POST-ACTS epistles No Longer held the Hope and destiny of the “Kingdom come ON EARTH as he once did during the Acts period. Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers who also had til then held to Paul’s Acts period doctrine of the 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thes. 4 Rapture to heaven. Now, in Ephesians, Paul makes astounding statements, as seen here below, now expressing his new HEAVENLY’ HOPE which clearly is not Israel’s Hope of the Kingdom to come ON EARTH.

16[I Paul] 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 EnlightenedTHAT 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 1:16-22

The above verse helps us understand the scope of Ephesians 1:3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath [already] blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)

This above is Paul’s POST-ACTS Hope and Calling for all “the church, which is His body. This concerns the formerly hidden Mystery [secret]” that includes our home “In The HEAVENLY Places in Christ … Far Above all.” So, Paul’s Hope Did Change from, the ‘Kingdom to come On Earth,’ to …the Kingdom of His dear Son(Col. 1:13) “In The Heavenly Places” in union with Christ “the head.” Thus Paul wrote of a newly revealed resurrection for the Gentile “body of Christhaving its eternal destiny In The Heavenly Places,” (Eph. 1:3) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world [Gk. kosmos, heaven and earth arrangement] but also in that which is to come: (Eph. 1:21).

One day we shall “appear with Him” in heaven “far above,” “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also Appear With Him In [Heaven’s] Glory.” Colossians 3:4 (KJV