Excerpt from "Hard Rain: Common Questions About the End Times," by Willy Minnix
I'm posting this for my Facebook Friends who were interested in Enoch and the End Times.
Does Enoch Support A Pre-Trib Rapture?
In short, no, it doesn’t. We’ll get to that in a minute. First some background information would be helpful, because some readers might be wondering why we are talking about Enoch in the first place.
I have included this as an appendix to the book, because Enoch is not a book included in our Bibles, and it is also not something that we can point to with the same type of authority as we do the books of the Bible. The oldest surviving complete copy of what we call Enoch 1 is in Ethiopian Coptic, and we do not have complete original sources for this book in Hebrew, or if it really stretches all the way back to Genesis, Proto-Hebrew. It is true that a book called Enoch was quite popular in the first century, and many church fathers quoted from it. Even the Bible quotes from Enoch as well. But does it quote from the Enoch we have or was it another Enoch? We use the book we have as an incredible source of background info for the Bible, but we don’t have enough source material to lend it the credibility as we do Scripture.
The Enoch that we do have is a very important book that scholars sometimes use to shed some light on early apocalyptic literature. But it is one of several books that bear the title Book of Enoch. The book that we often call Enoch 1 is the most likely candidate of the books we have as being closest to the authentic Enoch. Enoch 1 claims that it was written by Enoch himself, the one that Genesis 5 tells us was translated or raptured by God for walking with Him. Many scholars claim that Enoch was not written by the real Enoch, but by someone in the 3rd or 4th century BC using Enoch’s name to tell a moral story, or parable.
However, we do know that Jude said, in 1:14, that Enoch was written by the very same Enoch, so if Jude was wrong and this same Enoch was not the Enoch of Genesis then Jude is fallible and should not be included in the Bible. So we know that some version of Enoch read by Jude was a reputable copy of something that predated our Ethiopic version.
I think it is also important to point out, that if Enoch was taken away by God, it is not impossible to surmise that perhaps he was returned at some point. It is not entirely far fetched to believe that he could have been returned in the years preceding the Messiah to prepare the way for his coming, as Jesus described that John the Baptist, in some way, embodied the spirit of Elijah. What that meant exactly is unclear, but perhaps whoever wrote Enoch, wrote it in the same manner that John encapsulated Elijah’s spirit.
So what we see is Enoch seems to have been an important book to the early church, some claim that it was even seen as Scripture, though we do not have that book, and we cannot be sure that our Enoch is exactly the same Enoch, and not subject to corruption. We do have some partial copies of Enoch from the Dead Sea scrolls that show that our copy is very close to the fragments that exist there. However, as I stress, there is not enough info to hang everything on Enoch, or even to use it to build foundational doctrines on.
All that being said, Enoch is useful for historical study, and for understanding the though process of the Christian and Jewish apocalyptic writers. Some Pre-Trib writers, such as J.R. Church and Gary Steerman of Prophecy in the News, television program claim that Enoch does point to a Pre-Trib rapture. So the big question as concerns this book is as we started this appendix: Does Enoch point to a Pre-Trib rapture of the church? And the answer is clearly, no. I do not disagree with Church and Steerman’s belief that Enoch is important, nor that it might definitely reflect information that might indeed date back to Genesis, but I do disagree entirely that it points to a Pre-Trib doctrine.
To investigate this further, let’s take a look at the opening portion of Enoch 1. The translation that I will be using comes from Joseph B. Lumpkin’s book “The Lost Books of the Bible,” from Fifth Estate press, published in 2009. It is a very readable version, but adheres very closely to both the Richard Laurence and the R.H. Charles manuscripts, which were the first two editions in English, but without the thees and thous found in their versions.
The Book of Enoch chapter 1
1 The words of the blessing of Enoch, with which he blessed the elect and righteous who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed.
2 And he began his story saying: Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in heaven, which the angels showed me, and I heard everything from them, and I saw and understood, but it was not for this generation, but for a remote one which is to come.
3 Concerning the elect I said, as I began my story concerning them: The Holy Great One will come out from His dwelling,
4 And the eternal God will tread on the earth, (even) on Mount Sinai, and appear in the strength of His might from heaven.
5 And all shall be afraid, And the Watchers shall shake, And great fear and trembling shall seize them to the ends of the earth.
6 And the high mountains shall be shaken, and the high hills shall be laid low, and shall melt like wax in the flame.
7 And the earth shall be wholly torn apart, and all that is on the earth shall be destroyed, And there shall be a judgment on all.
8 But with the righteous He will make peace; and will protect the elect and mercy shall be on them. And they shall all belong to God, and they shall prosper, and they shall be blessed. And the Light of God shall shine on them.
9 And behold! He comes with ten thousand of His holy ones (saints) to execute judgment on all, and to destroy all the ungodly (wicked); and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness, which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.
Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
First of all let’s examine verse 1. We see here that Enoch says the wicked are to be removed in the Tribulation. This matches up with those who use Jesus’ parable of the Tare’s to point to a Post-Trib rapture, though I do not know if using a parable is the best example to build doctrine. But this passage in Enoch appears to agree with the idea that the evil ones will be gathered and removed from earth.
We also see that the purpose of writing is for the Elect, who are going through the Tribulation. They were not raptured, and they are in the midst of the Tribulation, clearly not a Pre-Trib point of view. Also we see that Enoch is blessing the Elect by writing this, in other words, it will be something that encourages the Elect during those days, which obviously will be discouraging.
Enoch gives us some clues as to what else is happening during this “tribulation.”
In verses 2 through 4 we see that the time period these Elect live in will also be the time when Jesus is physically on the earth. Since it didn’t take place during His first visit, it must therefore take place, if Enoch is to be believed, during His second visit.
Verses 5 and 6 show us that Jesus’ coming to the earth results in a great earthquake unlike anything that has ever happened, and this lines up with Jesus’ description of His return in Matthew 24, which as we have shown earlier in this book, lines up with a Post-Trib rapture theory.
Verse 7 speaks of the earth being destroyed, which lines up with the description of what the earth looks like after the bowls of wrath are poured out in Revelation, and also it lines up with what Peter says about the earth being destroyed at the end of the world. This also points to a Post-Trib rapture, because obviously Jesus is returning at the end of all of this, or as it appears here, His return causes all of this.
Verse 8 shows us that the righteous are on the earth, and His return causes peace and mercy to abound. Again, this couldn’t be the case with a Pre-Trib rapture, because they would already be at peace and dwelling in Christ’s mercy.
And finally in verse 9, He comes with his Holy Ones to execute judgment on all and to destroy ungodly. This is the biggest passage that some people use to point to a pre-trib doctrine in Enoch, however, it doesn’t say that the Holy Ones here are glorified resurrected saints. In fact, it doesn’t tell us who the Holy Ones are. But even if the Holy Ones are the saints, and I believe Lumpkin’s point of adding the Jude passage is to show that the Greek word is often used for “saints,” it doesn’t mean that they have received their glorified bodies at that particular moment. It could mean that the Holy Ones are the spirits of those who have already died, and are coming to get their resurrected bodies, which is what everyone teaches, not just Pre-Trib teachers. This just isn’t a strong enough passage to base a claim for a pre-trib slant to Enoch.
I think in order to make sense of this we need to look at the Greek. The word used by Jude, translated here and in Enoch as “saints,” is “αγιαις,” transliterated as “agiais,” and the word used for angels in the other passages is “αγγελων,” transliterated as “aggelon.” What is most confusing about this passage in Enoch, as well as the Jude passage, is that everywhere else, the fact that Jesus returns with His holy angels is what is typically stressed. In Matthew 16:27 we see this, as well as 25:31, Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26. We also see this in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8. I believe that though the spirits of the departed will be with Him as well, it is His powerful angels that seem to be the main focus of passages like these, because His angels play a vital role in the second coming, and have many duties from the minute Jesus returns until the millennial reign begins. They separate the wheat from the chaff, they bring the wicked to destruction and bring us to Jesus, they bind the Antichrist and False Prophet, and they pour out God’s wrath on the evil ones. Though the word “saints” is used, it stems from the same root word which gives us the word “angels,” literally “holy ones.” So it is not an absolute certainty that Jude and Enoch are referring to the souls of the departed in these passages.
The one thing to keep in mind, whether in a Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib, Amillennial or Post Millennial or even Preterist, we all believe that when Jesus actually does return, He will bring with Him the spirits of those who have died who were believers. So anytime you read a passage that points to this truth, it doesn’t automatically prove any particular doctrine, it just confirms what we all agree on anyway.