The Three NT Manifestations Of Christ From Heaven Typify The Three Aspects of His Second Coming - A. C. Gaebelein

Stephen is considered to be the first martyr of the Christian Church. Most bible students are familiar with the biblical account in the book of Acts chapters 6-7 describing his being dragged before the Jewish council [Acts 6:11-12], resulting in his being stoned to death for his testimony against the rulers of his own nation of Israel with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ [Acts 7:59-60]. Before that terrible act was carried out though, heaven was opened to Stephen's view and he saw the Lord Jesus Christ in glory. This was the first of three manifestations of the glorified Christ recorded in the New Testament, as pointed out by A. C. Gaebelein in these few paragraphs excerpted from his commentary on the book of Acts (linked directly below), each one of the three foreshadowing a different aspect of his promised return: first, the rapture, second, the later revelation of Himself to the "remnant" of Israel during the tribulation, and third, the actual physical bodily return to the earth at the end of the tribulation:
Excerpted from: THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - An Exposition, by A.C. Gaebelein; 1912 (ch. 7) link

Acts 7:55-56 'But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God'

Stephen had been accused of speaking against Moses and against God, also against the temple and the law [Acts 6:12-14]. These accusations he is asked to answer. What he declared before the council shows plainly that the accusations are utterly false.

Indeed his whole testimony as he rapidly speaks of past history in his great and divinely arranged retrospect, is a most powerful testimony to the nation as well as against the nation. Every word was true. The entire testimony was unimpeachable. Stiffnecked and uncircumcised, resisting the Holy Spirit, persecuting the prophets who prophesied of Christ and the murderers of the Just One [Acts 7:51-53]! This was their condition. With this the testimony of Stephen is ended; more than that the testimony to the nation is now to be closed. No longer is the offer to be made to Jerusalem.

The arrows of the truth of God carried by the power of God’s Spirit had cut to the heart and they gnashed on him with their teeth [Acts 7:54]. In their madness they were dumb. They did not find words to give vent to their burning hatred which Satan had kindled in their stubborn, unbelieving hearts. All they could do in their frenzy was to gnash with their teeth.

In the midst of this wicked crowd, no longer the council but a murderous mob, stood Stephen. Three things are said of him. He was full of the Holy Spirit; He looked steadfastly into heaven seeing there the Glory of God, He saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God [Acts 7:55].

While we read in the Epistles that the Lord sat down, on the right hand of God, the attitude which tells of His finished work, we read here that He was seen standing. This is not a contradiction. We do not think it was because He was still waiting for Israel’s repentance, ready to come back. He was seen standing because He had arisen from His seat to welcome into His own presence the faithful martyr.

This is the first manifestation of the glorified Christ, which we have on record. There are three of them only. He appeared here to Stephen. Then (oh! marvelous Grace!) He appeared unto Saul, who consented unto Stephen’s death. Saul beheld Him in that Glory, brighter than the noon-day sun and heard His voice [Acts 9:3-5]. The last time the glorified Christ manifested Himself was to John in the island of Patmos.

These three appearings of the glorified Christ present to our view the three aspects of His Second Coming.

- First He comes to welcome His own into His presence. He will arise and come into the air to meet His beloved co-heirs there. This is represented by the first appearing to Stephen, standing to receive him. [1Thes. 4:16,17]

- Then Israel will behold Him, they who pierced Him will see Him [Zech. 12:10], like Saul of Tarsus beheld the Lord. [Acts 26:13-15].

- Then He will appear as John saw Him, the One who judges the earth in righteousness. [e.g. Rev. 19:11-16].

see also: The Apostle Paul's Damascus Road Conversion A Perfect 'Type' Of The Jewish Remnant In The Tribulation - A.C. Gaebelein
Heb. 9:28 'So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation'

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Zech 12:10 "Then Israel will behold him..."

The identity of Israel is one of the most fascinating questions of our time. Answer this correctly and the 'end time script' of counterfeit political/religious events is revealed. Answer this correctly and what St Paul calls "the mystery of Israel" is revealed.