A Premillennial View of The Tares and the Wheat

I was challenged to defend dispensationalism from the parable of the tares and the wheat, found in Matthew chapter 13. The commenter, my beloved Boilt Frog (BF), suggested that this is where dispensationalism dies. The issue is that Christ talks about the tares (weeds) being gathered up, vice the saints of the rapture. Therefore, the rapture cannot be possible because Christ doesn't say the saints (wheat) will be gathered first.

Before I begin, let me quote the parable:

To get a full rundown of the tares and the wheat, I recommend a blog by the title Bible Eschatology Blog. I enjoyed reading Dr. Waddell's observations regarding how Jesus’ discussion of the wheat and the tares left no place for a rapture. He makes a convincing argument, though not one that I think really slams the door on dispensationalism or the rapture. The biggest claim by non-dispensational writers regarding Matthew 13 is that the tares are gathered up, not the saints. Therefore, since rapture means to be gathered up (kind of), then the tares and the wheat discredit the doctrine of the rapture.

There are two problems with the idea that the parable is a rapture-killer. First, the concept of the rapture is actually in the Bible. For Dr. Waddell and others to dismiss it because of Matthew 13 is contradictory to sound hermeneutics. It would be the same as me dismissing Matthew 13 because it doesn't support the rapture. The Bible clearly teaches that the saints will be caught up (I Thess 4:17), so that's that. What we have here is one passage that seemingly denies the rapture and the other one that seemingly proves it. We'll need a comprehensive view of the Bible, and I'll get to that momentarily.

The second thing that men like Waddell do (and critical scholars in light of Daniel 9) is they throw the baby out with the bath water. What they really think is that the doctrine of the rapture can't be possible because it's not in church tradition, so it must be false. Oh look here…a passage of the Bible that seems to discredit it. See? I told you! Yet that isn't a fair assessment of the doctrine. Daniel 9 can't be talking about the future because the language doesn't match the rest of the book, even though Daniel is quoting a heavenly being for much of it. Likewise, Matthew 13 can't possibly allow for the rapture because it doesn't mention it. This takes the entirety of the Bible out of context and takes God's miraculous wonders and puts them into neat little boxes marked, “Probably didn't happen.” Thus Daniel 9 is about the Greek conquerors, Matthew 13 is about a judgment where no tribulation took place, and Revelation is about the Roman Empire.

The fact is that dispensationalists allow for Matthew 13 to really mean that there will be believers and non-believers together prior to the judgment. Specifically, premillennialists already teach that, during the Great Tribulation, there will be believers and unbelievers, post-rapture. When Christ comes back to establish his millennial throne, he will be judging both the wheat and the tares. It would actually make sense at that time to gather up the unbelievers and remove them in judgment so as to allow the millennial reign to begin. Why the arguments abound regarding the wider dispensationalist view I do not know. However, I do know that the rapture is soundly taught in the Bible and that the judgment is as well. They are not mutually exclusive. In fact, Jesus' words, coupled with the special revelation of Paul in I Thessalonians 4, support each other.  

4 comments:

Greg Cope said...

Great post. Keep up the hard work. Always biblically sound writing from you.

Dan Smith said...

Thank you. I think someday I'll be wanting a guest post from you on this subject as you see it now contrasted to how you grew up.

boilt frog said...

Thanks for the link to Waddell. He is correct in his analysis of the parable, but he is incorrect when he denies there will be a rapture. He probably means that there will not be a pre-tribulation rapture of the saints leaving the unbelievers on earth. The parable does not preclude the rapture as Waddell thinks; the wheat is gathered. The parable does preclude a pre-tribulational rapture.

The real issue with the parable is what time does it cover? The usual dispensational timeline is removal of the saints, tribulation, return of of Christ, Satan-less millennial kingdom, rebellion, last judgment, and new heavens and earth. How does the parable teach this; or better, what in the parable does not allow this?

Nor does the parable preclude any tribulation. The parable is silent on this matter. The parable is also silent about the resurrection of the dead.

What does the parable teach? When do the events mentioned in parable occur? If Paul teaches a rapture in I Thess. 4:17, does he not also teach the destruction of the wicked prior to the rapture in II Thess. 1:7-10?

You have a lot of work left to do.

best blessings,

bf, beloved

Dan Smith said...

My dear Boilt Frog,
Well, I confess that your new questions give me pause, if only slightly. My only real concern is that, with a parable that is so intensely silent on so many aspects of the end times, how can you argue that it really says anything at all?

I just don't see how it means anything really, except that at the end, which we recognize in Dispensationalism, Christ will tell those who didn't follow him to depart from him, while bringing those who did follow him into his eternal kingdom.

Will you not also admit that, due to its silence, Christ could be talking about the last judgment? Or does its silence here not mean the same as the silence you mentioned regarding the tribulation and rapture?

We also don't know if he is talking about gathering the wheat up and then sitting on it, as it were, for a while (such as a millennia) to burn it up then and gather his wheat into eternity. It's silent on too many aspects.
SDS