THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST WILL SURPRISE UNBELIEVERS ONLY.
The advice that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will come as a thief in the night, refers exclusively to the unbelievers, not to Christians. Believers are not going to be surprised by the coming of Jesus. What is my basis for saying this?
The phrase as a thief in the night, referring to the unexpected coming of Jesus, is stated six times in all the Bible. None of them refer to Christians. Some of them clearly refer to unbelievers, especially I Thes 5: 1-5. Let's read.
1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that
I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the
Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say: Peace
and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a
woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not
in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the
children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor
of darkness. ( I Thes 5: 1-5 )
In verse 3 we read that sudden destruction will come upon them. Evidently the destruction will not come upon believers, therefore, the word them refers to unbelievers. The same can be interpreted from the phrase they shall not escape, because we Christians will escape; therefore, the word they refers to unbelievers. Consequently, those who are to be unexpectedly surprised as a thief in the night, are the unbelievers, not the Christians.
Furthermore, in verse 4 Paul says referring to Thessalonian Christians, that they are not going to be overtaken as a thief in the night by the coming of Christ. It is more than clear that Paul knew that Christians were not going to be surprised by Jesus' coming. He explicitly excludes Christians from that surprise. This would be enough to convince anyone, but there is still more.
When in Matt 24: 43 Jesus speaks about the surprise of a thief in the night, he refers to his enemies. He is referring to those who would oppose to his coming if they could; not to Christians, who never ever would oppose his return. He is referring, as Matt 24: 43 says, to those who would not have suffered their houses to be broken up, to those who would not have allowed their houses to be broken up, if they could. The same can be reasoned from Lk 12: 39.
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in
what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would
not have suffered his house to be broken up. ( Matt 24:43 )
And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known
what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have
suffered his house to be broken through. Luke 12 (:39 )
Also Peter mentions the phrase thief in the night, but as we read it, we cannot say to whom he is applying this phrase, or to whom he is not applying it to. It is logical for us to interpret this passage in light of what Paul said in I Thes 5: 1-5, which was the first passage we read, in which he excludes Christians from being taken by surprise.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the
which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements
shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are
therein shall be burned up. ( II Pet 3:10 )
In Revelation 3: 3 Jesus exhorts the angel of the Church of Sardis to repent and keep what he has received and heard, because if he does not, Jesus will come to him as a thief. From what Jesus said it is easy to conclude that if the angel repents and keeps what he received and heard, he will not be overtaken by surprise when Jesus comes again.
Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and
hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come
on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come
upon thee. ( Rev 3: 3 )
In the verse we have just read we notice that coming as a thief is not something that is going to occur to all. It depends on the attitude and behavior of the person he is referring to. If this person does not hold fast to what he received and heard, and if he does not repent, Jesus will come to him as a thief in the night; but if this person repents and does what he should, he will not suffer this surprise. Therefore, a surprising thief in the night style is not for those who are in good standing with the Lord.
In Revelation 16: 15 the phrase as a thief is mentioned again. In this case, as in Peter's, it does not say who is going to be surprised and who is not. But again we can glimpse through the words to see that those who keep their garments are not going to be taken by surprise.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and
keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
( Rev 16: 15 )
These six passages are the only ones, in the whole Scriptures, in which the phrase thief in the night is used referring to the coming of Christ. None of them apply to Christians, but on the contrary, some of them clearly exclude Christians from a surprising return. In all these passages we can see one of two: a) the passage is applied to the enemies of Jesus, or b) nothing is said about to whom it is applied. It is hard to believe that with so many signs the Bible gives, so that we may know when the Second Coming of Christ is near, Christians would still stay ignorant of its nearness.
There are those who, in order to cling to the idea of a surprising coming of Christ, have invented the hypothesis that there are two comings. One of them to occur surprisingly, being called the Rapture, in which what they call Gentile Church is raptured away from the Earth. The other is the real Second Coming, in which according to them, only those belonging to what they call Jewish Church will be caught up together, after the Great Tribulation. None of these is true. The wife of Christ does not have two bodies, one the so called Gentile Church, and another, the so called Jewish Church. Jesus nor the apostles ever divided the Church into two different ethnic groups. This is absurd. In Christ Jesus there is no man or woman, Greek or Jewish, free or slave, etc., as it is said in Gal 3: 28 and Col 3:11. There are still more reasons to back what I am saying.
If we use our common sense we will realize that the exhortation of the apostle is directed to a Thessalonian Church, a church formed by Greeks, which is to say formed by Gentiles. If Paul says in I Thes 5: 4 that they ( the Gentiles ) were not going to be taken by surprise, is because he knew that ascending into the air to meet Jesus Christ, was not going to be a surprising event for them. This means that the Gentiles were going to be aware of the nearness of this great event. It does not mean that we are going to know the day and hour, but we are going to know the nearness of the Second Coming.
If Paul said that the Gentiles at Thessalonica were not going to be taken by surprise, as a thief in the night, is because Paul knew that the surprising rapture of the so called Gentile Church does not exist. Not even inventing this absurd hypothesis of the Rapture and the absurd division of the Church into two different ethnic churches, can anyone demonstrate that like thief in the night refers to Christians.
Let's see now what new absurdity they are going to invent, in order to cling to the surprising coming of Jesus, once they realize that these passages destroy their present absurdity.