For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:11-13)
Titus 2:13 is the only verse in the Bible which contains the phrase “Blessed Hope”. It is also the only verse that contains the phrase “Glorious Appearing”. In most versions, as in the NKJV above, the phrases are not capitalized. However, I am willing to do so for this article, merely because some Christians make a great deal about the meaning of these phrases, and get that meaning wrong.
It is common among many churches – so many of which take a dispensational view of Scripture – to suppose that the Blessed Hope refers to the Rapture, while the Glorious Appearing refers to the public appearance of Jesus at the end of the Tribulation, bringing in His Millennial. The Rapture refers to an event spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, where believers are “caught up” to be with Jesus. The word for “caught up” in the Latin Vulgate Bible is rapiemur; hence rapture. Dispensationalists believe that this Rapture happens “secretly”, while the Glorious Appearing is public. In between these two events, they argue, comes the seven years of Tribulation.
If we allow that the Blessed Hope does refer to the Rapture, there remains a major problem with the dispensational (pre-tribulation) approach. In the Greek, the key verb is “looking for”. That verb is clearly designated, by its grammar, to take two direct objects. This is possible only if the objects refer to the same event, in two different ways. An example of this in English is if I were to start a talk by saying “I am thrilled and privileged to be able to speak to you at X church.” This does not refer to two events. It refers to the fact that I feel both thrilled and privileged about the same event. In the same way, Blessed Hope and Glorious Appearing must refer to different aspects of the same event.
So I accept that the Blessed Hope refers to Christians being “caught up” to meet Jesus in the air. but this event happens simultaneously with – or at the most just moments before – the public Glorious Appearing of Jesus. Therefore, the pre-tribulation position is in error, and we look, instead, for a post-tribulation rapture.
The corollary of this is that Christians will indeed have to go through the Great Tribulation. So Christians need to be ready for the worldwide suffering to come. It is incorrect, and irresponsible, to give Christians the false hope that they will escape the Trouble to come. We need to change our message with our eschatology – prepare for the Trouble, because you will indeed have to face it.
For more on this, get my book Letters to the Thessalonians.