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July 24, 2021
POSTHUMOUS PERVERSIONS II:
A Gigantic Lie About John Gill
The present work is a continuation of Christian Media’s ongoing refutation of the liars who continue to claim the pretribulation rapture doctrine has been taught throughout the Christian era – with the apostasy reaching the point where media manipulators routinely name specific individuals from earlier times, claiming they taught pretrib.
These lists of alleged early “believers” in the rapture doctrine commonly include a respected 18th century pastor and author named John Gill (1697-1771).
The most notorious of these historical revisionists was the late prophecy teacher Chuck Missler -- as well as the late Grant Jeffrey — both of whom repeatedly claimed John Gill in their dubious lists of supposed early pretribbers. Although Grant and Missler have both gone on to their eternal recompense, I mention them because multiple younger writers, who were profoundly influenced by these liars, continue to perpetuate this fraud.
Unfortunately, there are significant numbers of additional proponents of the doctrine who consistently twist the statements of numerous ancient Christian commentators, in a deceitful effort to obscure the true origin of the doctrine, even as more obscure writers (mostly on the Internet) unscrupulously emulate their tactics.
In this context, we might point out the dissemination of the pretribulation rapture doctrine has been conclusively traced to the occult oriented teenager Margaret MacDonald. Her 1830 trance state facilitated an undeveloped written version of the doctrine; however, the issue has never been exclusively related to who had the doctrine first — but more specifically related to the path of its transmission.
The doctrine was popularized in America by Irish preacher John Darby, who had proven influences from her contemporary, another eclectic cleric named Edward Irving. Irving’s theological antics were widely considered to be uncouth in his day, so Darby’s biographers sought to cover up the connection for fear of smearing Darby’s more respectable credentials. It’s now been proven that both Irving and Darby had contacts with Miss MacDonald’s “study group” — a group that was known to be involved in, among other things, levitation.
However, at the time he was exposed to MacDonald’s rudimentary theory of what would now be called “partial” or progressive Rapturism (one reaches a level of spiritual maturity, then poof! they’re raptured!), Irving was already translating the work of a Spanish Roman Catholic Jesuit named Lacunza, whose ideas also anticipated pretrib.
Thus we have the Roman Catholic Lacunza’s spiritual dung entering into one ear of Irving, and the occultist Margaret MacDonald’s poison going in the other — not exactly facts the proponents of pretrib want their flocks to become aware of. Because of these embarrassing facts, the liars (who have hundreds of millions of dollars staked on the doctrine) continue to try to find links to the doctrine that precede the period in question.
Indeed, since the lengthy research showing the MacDonald/Lacunza/Irving/Darby link was originally published, another work, printed well before MacDonald’s pivotal year of 1830 by a maverick American preacher named Robert Baxter, has also surfaced. Baxter had a version of pretrib which is even closer to modern pre-trib than MacDonald’s, but there is no evidence anyone ever read it, or was influenced by it. In other words, there is no link before or after Baxter, but there is demonstrable evidence connecting MacDonald to Irving/Darby.
John Gill’s work is definitely not pretribulational, as we shall see. It should also be said that, in his day, Gill’s work was also of a minimal impact. Gill’s commentaries became greatly appreciated in later times. Conversely, massive documentation exists showing the high profile speaking tours of John Nelson Darby in the US, in which he definitively introduced “the Rapture Cult” to America’s itching ears.
Obviously, Scripture is the final arbiter of all doctrinal issues, but I’ve already written 5 books elaborating on the Scriptural truth that says Christ only returns once — and that return will occur just as Jesus said it would, “immediately after the tribulation…” (Matthew 24:29).
The following is John Gill’s Commentary on I Thessalonians 4:17 — part of his Exposition of the New Testament (9 volumes, penned from 1746–48):
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up; suddenly, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and with force and power; by the power of Christ, and by the ministry and means of the holy angels; and to which rapture will contribute, the agility which the bodies both of the raised and changed saints will have: and this rapture of the living saints will be
“together with them; with the dead in Christ, that will then be raised; so that the one will not come before the other, or the one be sooner with Christ than the other; but the one being raised and the other changed, they will be joined in one company and general assembly, and be caught up together:
“in the clouds; the same clouds perhaps in which Christ will come, will be let down to take them up; these will be the chariots, in which they will be carried up to him; and thus, as at our Lord's ascension a cloud received him, and in it he was carried up out of the sight of men, so at this time will all the saints ride up in the clouds of heaven:
“to meet the Lord in the air; whither he will descend, and will then clear the regions of the air of Satan, and his posse of devils, which now rove about there, watching all opportunities, and taking all advantages to do mischief on earth; these shall then fall like lightning from heaven, and be bound and shut up in the bottomless pit, till the thousand years are ended: here Christ will stop, and will be visible to all, and as easily discerned by all, good and bad, as the body of the sun at noonday; as yet he will not descend on earth, because it is not fit to receive him; but when that and its works are burnt up, and it is purged and purified by fire, and become a new earth, he will descend upon it, and dwell with his saints in it: and this suggests another reason why he will stay in the air, and his saints shall meet him there, and whom he will take up with him into the third heaven, till the general conflagration and burning of the world is over, and to preserve them from it; and then shall all the elect of God descend from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband, and he with them, and the tabernacle of God shall be with men; see Rev 21:1. The resurrection by the Mahometans is called "a meeting of God," or a going to meet God:
“and so shall we ever be with the Lord; now the saints are with him at times, and have communion with him, but not always; but then they shall be ever with him; wherever he is; first in the air, where they shall meet him; then in the third heaven, where they shall go up with him; then on earth, where they shall descend and reign with him a thousand years; and then in the ultimate glory to all eternity: and this will be the issue and accomplishment of the counsel and covenant of grace, of the sufferings and death of Christ, and of his preparations and prayers.” [end of Gill citation]
The first time you read these words (especially if you read them out of context), it sounds as though John Gill might indeed be preaching some kind of pretribulational rapture doctrine. However, the Rapturist teachers who cite sources such as Gill as evidence of a pretrib belief system that was supposedly intact prior to the crucial time of John Darby and Edward Irving, et al, are trained to know better. Thus, we expect better scholarship from teachers who claim to know so much about Bible prophecy.
The first thing we notice is Gill actually uses the word “rapture” in his first paragraph (he uses the word twice). Upon reviewing the larger body of Gill’s work, we see he has knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Latin — the latter being the language from which the word “rapture” is derived. Thus, he has incorporated the word in his comments as a sort of free flowing transliteration when he comments on the phrase caught up. It may very well be that Gill was the first to use this technique.
Although this tends to legitimatize the word, our objection is not to a transliteration, or even the word itself; it is to the meaning later generations have attached to the term. The term “rapture” has not come to mean “caught up” in the generic sense, it has come to mean caught up BEFORE the tribulation. It did not carry that meaning in Gill’s day, and he is utilizing the word to comment on the fact the text says the believer will be caught up — or as he put it, “raptured.”
All cults are notorious for attaching novel meanings to terms utilized by others as a way of insulating their theological captives from external reasoning processes. This is a particularly useful tactic in diminishing the corrective power of the Scriptures. Since history plainly shows us that John Gill was not a Rapture Cultist, because he lived in an era before the doctrine was developed, his use of the term rapture was obviously derived directly from the term “caught up” (in the Greek Harpazo, in the Latin Raptus, rapere, etc) — an application that never addresses timing at all.
The portion of Gill’s comments that most easily lends itself to the prophetic spin of pretrib, is the statement that, after rising to meet Christ in the air, “as yet he will not descend on earth, because it is not fit to receive him; but when that and its works are burnt up, and it is purged and purified by fire, and become a new earth, he will descend upon it….”
With this phrase, Gill appears to be opening the door to the idea of an unstated interval of time elapsing between the rising of the dead and living saints to meet Him in the air, and their collective descent. He continues with the idea of the saints being with Him in the third heaven “till the general conflagration and burning of the world is over, and to preserve them from it….”
To fully understand just what Gill meant with these statements, we should use the same technique we would use on any particular Scripture; and that is to check the context (and adjacent statements), to get a 2nd witness as to the writer’s intent. This clears things up very quickly.
For example, when we look at John Gill’s complete narratives, and examine his statements on the verses just preceding the statements included here on I Thessalonians 4:17, we see he plainly states the return of Christ is indeed the second coming, and connects that event to other passages that are all obviously post-tribulational. In his statements on verse I Thessalonians 4:15, we see the following:
“I Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord,… The apostle having something new and extraordinary to deliver, concerning the coming of Christ, the first resurrection, or the resurrection of the saints, the change of the living saints, and the rapture both of the raised and living in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, expresses himself in this manner….” [emphasis mine]
With these words, Gill has flat out stated the coming of Christ, and our gathering unto Him is the first resurrection. Since the 2nd resurrection occurs at the great white throne judgment of the wicked, this leaves no place for a supposed pretrib rapture version of the resurrection. Remember, the pretrib doctrine says the verse stating the dead in Christ rise first is supposedly not the first resurrection, as there is only ONE “resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14) — and John Gill knew this.
This goes to the heart of the doctrine’s weakness, for the doctrine of the resurrection plainly tells us there is to be only two resurrections, one for
“…they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” — John 5:29
At the end of Revelation, at the second coming, we see the precise phrase “the first resurrection,” and it clearly tells us the Gill saw this occurring at the end of the tribulation, at the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, when
“…the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast…” — Revelation 19:2
When the “beast” is taken, he’s cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years. As that happens, the same portion of Revelation says
“…and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection….” — Revelation 20:4, 6
Since Gill has stated the dead in Christ in I Thessalonians 4 are resurrected at this “rapture,” and has further stated in his commentary these dead include “all that die interested in him, and in union with him,” he is clearly tying the first resurrection to this text. In fact, in this group referenced as “the dead in Christ,” he also mentions “the martyrs that died for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel…[and] those who die in the lively exercise of faith in Christ….”
This further ties Gill’s understanding of this event to the first resurrection in Revelation, because that text also mentions the martyrs — “the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus….”
There is simply no doubt whatsoever that John Gill’s statements prove that his perception of the I Thessalonians 4 catching up of the believers was definitely the second coming. In his statements on verse 15, as he describes believers that are alive when Christ returns, he again affirms this chapter describes the second coming:
“however, from hence it appears, that there will be saints alive at Christ's second coming….” [emphasis mine]
Another way of measuring the true intent of antiquarian writers is to note what is not included in their statements. In this regard, although John Gill theorizes the believers pause in the “third heaven” with Christ before returning to the earth after the great conflagration, there is no 2nd catching up, or resurrection of the so-called “tribulation saints,” as is put forth by the Cult.
In Gill’s account, Christ returns for the believers. They rise to meet Him in the air. They then return to the earth with Him as what Gill called “the general conflagration and burning of the world” is concluded. Indeed, if this were the so-called pre trib rapture, how is it the “conflagration and burning of the world” is already in progress?
Furthermore, there is no trace, or even a suggestion that Christ then comes back again for the so-called tribulation saints — those who allegedly get saved after the rapture! In short, he only returns once, and Gill himself plainly calls this the “second coming.”
Unfortunately, vast numbers of unread (and naïve) believers have been so conditioned by the Rapture Cult, which has dominated American churches for over a century, that they’ve been programmed to ignore even basic scholarship on the subject. The propagandistic liars disseminating this Antichrist dogma continue to insist pretribulationism was taught throughout the Christian age, even as their system continues to further insulate their hapless mindslaves from Scripturally derived truth, which has been thoroughly studied over the last two millennia.
This Cult methodology has the added advantage of assigning pejorative labels to any Scripturally based analyses of the history of the doctrine. By inaccurately labeling anything but pretrib as “replacement theology,” the Cult is able to invoke the boogieman of apostasy without breaking a sweat in our sound bite driven society. Truly, the Rapture Cult is ground zero in the great falling away warned of by the Apostle Paul.
Ironically, even a very modest helping of scholarship would provide the requisite ammunition to refute the theocrims at the Cult, who would tell us the scholars of yesteryear (such as John Gill) were actually pretribulationists. Thus, the smoking gun which would incriminate the perpetrators of this fraud is denied to those who need it most.
The fact is, Gill, and most of the preachers before and after him (including Cult convert John Darby before 1830), were Historicist in perspective. Practically ALL of them held the forty-two month reign of Antichrist (“power was given unto him to continue forty and two months” – Revelation 13:5), was concurrent with the 1,260 day period of the two witnesses and Jerusalem being trodden down, even as these preachers universally held these days represented years already gone by. Thus, John Gill was one of many who believed the 3½ years of tribulation seen in the Beast passages of Revelation 13 (1,260 days) represented 1,260 years.
Furthermore, as an English preacher peering at the world through Protestant eyes, like practically every other theologian of the second millennia AD, he held the Antichrist was the Papacy. In his commentary on Revelation 13, he also indicated he believed the tribulation had already been underway for hundreds of years:
“And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies; great swelling words of vanity; calling himself by high and lofty titles, as Christ's vicar, Peter's successor, head of the church, universal bishop, &c. promising great things to his followers, riches, honours, pleasures, pardons, and heaven itself; and uttering things of a blasphemous kind, or great blasphemies, the particulars of which are mentioned in Rev 13:6; so the little horn, who is the same with the Romish antichrist, is said to have a mouth speaking great things, very great things, and his look more stout than his fellows, Dan 7:8
“And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months; to continue in being, or to continue blaspheming and speaking great things; and indeed, as long as he continues, he will continue blaspheming…The phrase rather intends his being, and the continuance and duration of it; which is the same period of time in which the holy city is trodden under foot by this beast, and the same with the 1260 days or years, in which the witnesses prophesy in sackcloth, and the woman, the church, is in the wilderness, Rev 11:22;
“for forty two months, reckoning thirty days to a month, as the eastern people did, make just 1260 days, for these things are all contemporary: hence it appears, that 1260 prophetic days, that is, years, contain the whole period of antichrist's reign and continuance; so that could we tell where they began, it might be exactly known when his reign will end; but for want of knowing the former, the best of calculators have failed in the latter: but seeing the time when he was made universal bishop by Phocas bids fair for the time of his open appearance, and the beginning of his reign, and of his blasphemy, which was in the year 859, to which, if we add 1260, the expiration of his reign will fall in the year 1866; so that he may have upwards of an hundred and twenty years yet to continue; but of this we cannot be certain; however, the conjecture is not improbable.” [end of Gill citation on Revelation 13, emphasis mine]
This is the wooden stake in the heart of the Rapture Cult Vampires who continue to inject their Satanic venom into those foolish enough to expose the lifeline of their faith to the Cult deceiver’s doctrinal fangs. In short, how could John Gill believe Christ will return for him before the tribulation when he was on record as believing the tribulation had already been underway for hundreds of years? This belief coincides with the fact that this occurred at a time when every historical account we have, plainly indicates that not one of his contemporaries ever heard of the doctrine!
The fact the belief in the pretribulational rapture defies a Scripturally balanced scrutiny is a powerful testimony as to the doctrine’s cultic nature. The historical record is accurate. A small group of Satanically inspired instigators channeled the doctrine. The key figure, Margaret MacDonald, admitted she received it while in a trance. The more “respectable” ministers, John Nelson Darby among them, recognized the powerful response the novel doctrine elicited from the masses.
By the time we reach the blind dumb dogs (Isaiah 56:20) in the so called “Church” of our time, the Cult doctrine (now polished and refined) has become a politically expedient formula from which even political and military action can be manipulated — to say nothing of the hundreds of millions of dollars the false doctrine has generated for the purveyors of the fable.
Even more ominously, once an individual has rejected the truth in favor of the modern tradition of pretrib, they have relinquished the Spiritual shield of the LORD that would protect them from the next layer of deception — and this is occurring at a point when we’re all running out of time to fully embrace the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His soon return.
-- James Lloyd
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