1 Thessalonians 4:16
On September 12, 2020, the first-ever English language debate between a message pastor (Jesse Smith of Akron, OH) and an ex-message Christian (Rod Bergen from the Off The Shelf podcast) took place. The discussion was moderated by Jay Cox and Tim Kraus.
|What do you think? |
The statements by William Branham included in these articles are so strong, they force you to make a conclusion.
(a) Will you accept William Branham's statements and conclude that he was God himself - greater than Jesus, equal to the Holy Spirit, infallible, and above reproach?
(b) Or will you conclude that William Branahm was delusional.
There is no middle ground, because to compromise these statements requires you to deny William Branham's own words. It's time to choose: is William Branham's word Infallible, or was his message fallible?
This article is one in a series of studies on the doctrines of William Branham that pointed to himself - you are currently on the article that is in bold:
- Revelation 10:7
- The Fulfillment of Malachi 4:5
- The Laodicean Church Age Messenger
- Matthew 17:11
- Luke 17:30
- Matthew 24:28
- Zechariah 14:7
- Joel 2:25
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16
- The Importance of a Seven-Lettered Name
- The Prophet and The Eagle
- The Sign of the Messiah
- Two major prophets never ministered at the same time
- William Branham's View of Himself
- William Branham and the Nation of Israel
William Branham believed that 1 Thessalonians 4:16 was another passage that pointed to William Branham and his message.
The scriptural witness
Paul states in the first letter to the Thessalonians (KJV):
- For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first...
It is also important to read this in a more modern translation:
- For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
What does this mean?
As can be seen above, William Branham constantly pointed to himself. That should make one just a bit suspicious.
But is his interpretation of this passage correct?
Paul mentions the coming of the Lord several times in 1 Thessalonians:
- For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming?
- so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
- For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
The Greek word for coming used in these passages is "parousia" which had a long history in the Greek-speaking world as “the official term for a visit of a person of high rank, especially of kings and emperors visiting a province.
The Greek grammar of 1 Thessalonians 4:16
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Paul starts with a brief description of the nature of the Parousia itself, whose primary feature, “the Lord will come down from heaven,” can easily get lost in the surrounding sights and sounds, “sights” in the sense that Christ’s “coming down from heaven” is otherwise assumed to be visible to those who await him.
First of all, what is being described is “fanfare,” the boisterous display that the Thessalonians would recognize as that which accompanied the “coming” (= visit) of the emperor to their city. But Paul does this in part by using language from two key Old Testament texts:
- (a) the primary theophany in Exodus 19:16, where Yahweh’s “descent” (v. 18) is accompanied by a “thick cloud” and “a very loud trumpet blast”; and
- (b) Psalm 47:5, where this “coming” is rehearsed in song, but now regarding Yahweh’s “enthronement” on the temple mount in Jerusalem, whose kingship is celebrated by his people. Paul’s own language is an echo of the latter (put “literally”): “ascended God with a shout, the LORD with the ‘voice’ of a trumpet.”
Paul applies the language of the “Psalm of Ascent” to describe the coming from heaven of the truly Great King, the risen Lord, Jesus Christ, who is now seen as “descending” in a way similar to the “descent” of Yahweh at Sinai.
It is also important to note that there is an “and” between only the second and third members of this description; thus, as the ESV has it: “with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.” In ordinary English this would mean that the Coming is accompanied in three ways: a command, an archangel’s voice, and God’s trumpet. However, what is the standard English practice for a list is not the style used by a Greek writer, who would ordinarily have had two “ands” between the three phrases.
What this indicates, in Greek grammar, is that the second and third items, “with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God”, spell out how the “summons” or “cry of command” will occur at the Coming.
Thus, the Greek grammar of the passage stands over and against William Branham's narcissistic interpretation of the passage.
Quotes of William Branham
Notice: a shout, a voice, a trumpet. Let's read It now and see if that's right. See?
- For the Lord himself (16th verse) shall descend from heaven with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel, and… the trump of God...
Three things happens. A voice… A shout, a voice, a trumpet, has to happen before Jesus appears. Now, a shout… Jesus does all three of them when He's—He's—He's—He's descending. A shout, what is the shout? It's the Message going forth, first, the living Bread of Life bringing forth the Bride.
Now, it's the first thing, is the sounding. The first thing is a trumpet and a… or a voice… A shout; and then a voice; and then a trumpet. Shout: a messenger getting the people ready. The second is a voice of the resurrection: the same voice, that, a loud voice in Saint John 11:38-44, that called Lazarus from the grave. Getting the Bride together; and then the resurrection of the dead, see; to be caught up with It. Now watch the three things takes place. The next is what? Was a trumpet. A voice… A shout; a voice; a trumpet.
...Therefore, the Message calls the Bride together, see, the shout. And the trumpet… The same One, He, with a loud voice, He screamed out with that shout and a voice, and woke Lazarus. With a loud voice He cried, "Lazarus, come forth." See? And the voice wakes up—wakes up the sleeping Bride, the sleeping dead.
And the trumpet, "with the sound of a trumpet." And, when it does, it calls. Always, a trumpet called Israel to the Feast of the Trumpets. See? Which, was a pentecostal Feast, the great Feast in the sky; and the Feast of the Trumpets. And, now, a trumpet do announce a calling together, "Come to the Feast." And now that is the—the Lamb's Supper in the sky.
- The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 1 Th 4:16.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Th 4:16.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Th 2:19.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Th 3:13.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Th 4:15-17.
- Gordon D. Fee, The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009), 110, 176.
- William Branham, 65-1204 - The Rapture, para. 129-130, 152, 164-165