Summary: the thief in prophecy analyzed
THE THEORY OF ’THE THIEF’
Just as in many other theories, prophecy ’scholars’ have gone astray due to faulty interpretations of specific texts of Scripture. One of these false interpretations is ’THE THIEF’ mentioned in distinct prophetic passages of the Word of God. This word ’thief’ [kleptes]as a noun is mentioned seventeen times in the New Testament with seven of those occurrences being found in passages dealing with ’Things to Come’.
’Things to Come’ is also the title of Dwight Pentecost’s book which documents in convincing style his Pre-tribulation rapture theory. This informative work thoroughly records many of the popular prophetic positions except the relatively ’new’ Pre-wrath doctrine/position which is the one that conforms closest to the Scripture.
But, if we get right down to the bone on this matter of prophetic truth, being dogmatic on the specific p’s and q’s is a mistake, as illumination of the Bible will increase as God continues to illuminate His Truth as Daniel wrote in the last chapter of his prophecy. (Daniel 12:4, 9)
The balanced Biblical position is ’Prove all things, hold fast that which is good’ (I Thessalonians 5:21) and thereby we ’Despise not prophesyings’ (I Thessalonians 5:20) of good men who have earnestly sought the Lord by the
Spirit of God and have presented new positions by systematizing the Truth, not new Truth, but systematizing the prophetic Word of God, giving it a name, reviving the precious Truth held by God’s chosen servants for centuries! The wisdom of God according to Daniel 12 should cause us to have our prophetic position in somewhat of a ’state of flux’! God forbid, did he say fluxuation???
Yes, that’s right, when you think you have all the answers, and ’dog’ matism is your favorite pet, and there is no way what you have been teaching/preaching for decades could be faulty, you better apply the two principles mentioned above from I Thessalonians 5, and evaluate, prove, test each so-called ’new’ position that the Lord brings into your path before you soundly reject it on the basis of the opinions of other good men, institutions, and teachers/preachers authority. It must come from the Word of God, not the traditions of men based on theories founded on suppositions and the teaching of theories born a mere 170 years ago! In reference to the two millennia that have passed since the Lord ascended, 170 years is recent and new! This is exactly the position of those who hold to the notable Pre-tribulation rapture theory!
It is these prophetic occurrences that we will examine in this brief study in order to shed light on the overall doctrine of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, although in keeping with sound interpretation we must look first at what the Lord Jesus has to say concerning this word ’thief’ which He in fact used on at least one occasion in a prophetic setting, (Matthew 24:43) and also another which is not necessarily in a prophetic passage but sheds great light on our present-day conditions as the Lord used this word ’metaphorically of false teachers, John 10:8’ p.126 of ’An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words’ by W. E. Vine.
In Matthew 24:43 the Lord uses the word thief [kleptes] literally to illustrate through a parable dealing with His Second Coming. After answering the three disciples specific questions ( ’when shall these things be’ and ’what shall be the sign of Thy Coming and the end of the world’) in a deliberate chronological order, the Lord Jesus utilizes two parables to illustrate the Truth and shed additional light on His answers to these four (Andrew, Peter, James and John ’inner circle’) disciples.
This word ’thief’ [kleptes] in the prophetic context of Matthew 24 which is located in the parable of the ’Goodman’ is used in the literal sense of one who would embezzle, steal of take away something that didn’t belong to him. A perfect description of the false teachers we just discussed as many of them are doing the very same thing...only they are wolves in sheep’s clothing...now please remember, I’m a sheep in Wolfe’s clothing, I’ve been converted, saved by the Blood of the Lamb, no, I’m not a wolf in sheep’s clothing!! Hey, better get back to the message at hand, huh?
The purpose of the parable of the ’Goodman’ is to emphasize the need for those who believe to ’Watch’ the world circumstances, the political and religious scene so that we might ’be ready; for in such an hour as ye think not [If you are not watching] the Son of man cometh.’ (Matthew 24:44). The parallel passage is found in Luke 12:39, 40 where our word ’thief’ is used once again.
The Lord utilizes the parable of the fig tree teaching the Awareness of the Believer ’when ye shall see all these things, know that it [the Second Coming and the end of the age] is near, even at the doors. However, the very next section of Scripture (v. 36-41) tells us ’of that day and hour knows no man, no not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.’ So we the children of God can know the ’times and seasons’ (I Thessalonians 5:1) but we can not know the specific day and hour!