So now your case is that because similar language is used that implies identical events? How's that argument go? Similarity implies identity?
So the question is, does the Bible use similar language to refer to different events in other cases? Yes, Christ cleansed the temple twice, but in different ways. There is a spiritual resurrection, and a bodily one. &c.
Now, let's look at your specific case (though my points above are enough to throw the burden off myself and back on to you, I'll still proceed):
Let's quote 1 Thess 4:
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
And let's quote the relevant portion in Matt. 24:
29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
And so Exapologist says that these two events:
"1. The Lord (or Son of Man in the Gospel passages) descends with the trump of an angel.
2. The gathering of the elect. "
imply that the exact same thing is being referred to. I don’t think so. Here’s his argument for why they’re the same:
“On a natural interpretation, the sequence that Jesus lists in the Gospel passages and the sequence that Paul lists in 1 Thess. refer to the same event.”
I obviously don’t find that terribly compelling, for some odd reason.
Anyway, here’s my argument for why they’re not the same:
THE TRUMPET BLAST
1) I already showed that “heavenly body” language (e.g., stars, moons) is used over and over in the Old Testament to refer to a shift or a destruction of authority.
2) The shift in authority is that Jesus now reigns. He’s the King. This is the ending of the Old Covenant people of God. The unfaithful, whore bride, Israel. Jesus ushers in the last days.
3) I argued that “coming on the clouds” is Old Testament judgment language.
4) None of this has been dealt with.
5) Notice that some events are different, or non-existent. So why doesn’t this count against exapologist’s reading? He seems a bit arbitrary, picking and choosing.
6) Notice that the language is roughly similar, but it’s not the same:
a) The Lord descends with a loud trumpet in 1 Thess, but he sends out the messengers with a loud trumpet in Matt 24.
b) Matt 24 does not say “gathering the elect,” and so why does he assume these are the same events?
7) Thus exapologist’s argument is similar, but not identical, to Swiss Cheese.
8) Since I showed differences between the trumpet soundings in both passages, here’s my view of the trumpet sounding in Matt 24:
What’s going on here is that Christ sends his “messengers” (aggeloi should be translated messenger, as it is elsewhere) to preach the gospel, gathering in the elect. Chilton states,
“The word angels simply means messengers (cf. James 2:25), regardless of whether their origin is heavenly or earthly; it is the context which determines whether these are heavenly creatures being spoken of. The word often means preachers of the gospel (see Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; Rev. 1-3). In context, there is every reason to assume that Jesus is speaking of the worldwide evangelism and conversion of the nations which will follow upon the destruction of Israel.”
“The trumpet portrays the ultimate Jubilee of Salvation, decorated with imagery from Leviticus 25. …Christ’s messengers will go forth powerfully trumpeting the gospel of salvific liberation (Luke 4:16-21, Isa. 61:1-3; Lev. 25. 9-10)” -Ken Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p.362.
9) In 1 Thessalonians 4, the trumpet is used to announce Jesus descending. In Matt 24 it is used in reference to the sending out of messengers.
10) Once a little work is put into it we see that his reading isn’t “the natural” reading. It’s the lazy one.
THE GATHERING OF THE ELECT.
11) Exapologist’s other move is to say the events are the same because of “the gathering of the elect.”
12) Much of the same points made above can be made here:
a) Similarity does not imply identity.
b) The accounts are not even similar.
13) In my view the “gathering of the elect” in Matthew 24 is nicely summarized by David Chilton in Paradise Restored:
“Christ's use of the word gather is significant in this regard. The word, literally, is a verb meaning to synagogue; the meaning is that with the destruction of the Temple and of the Old Covenant system, the Lord sends out His messengers to gather His elect people into His New Synagogue. Jesus is actually quoting from Moses, who had promised: "If your outcasts are at the ends of heaven, from there the LORD your God will synagogue you, and from there he will take you" (Deut. 30:4, Septuagint). Neither text has anything to do with the Rapture; both are concerned with the restoration and establishment of God's House, the organized congregation of His covenant people. This becomes even more pointed when we remember what Jesus had said just before this discourse:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to synagogue your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your House is being left to you desolate! (Matt. 23:37-38).
Because Jerusalem apostatised and refused to be synagogued under Christ, her Temple would be destroyed, and a New Synagogue and Temple would be formed: the Church. The New Temple was created, of course, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit came to indwell the Church. But the fact of the new Temple's existence would only be made obvious when the scaffolding of the Old Temple and the Old Covenant system was taken away. The Christian congregations immediately began calling themselves "synagogues" (that is the word used in James 2:2), while calling the Jewish gatherings "synagogues of Satan" (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Yet they lived in anticipation of the Day of Judgment upon Jerusalem and the Old Temple, when the Church would be revealed as the true Temple and Synagogue of God. Because the Old Covenant system was "obsolete" and "ready to disappear" (Heb. 8:13), the writer to the Hebrews urged them to have hope, "not forsaking the synagoguing of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the Day approaching" (Heb. 10:25; cf. 2nd Thess. 2:1-2).
The Old Testament promise that God would "synagogue" His people undergoes one major change in the New Testament. Instead of the simple form of the word, the term used by Jesus has the Greek preposition epi prefixed to it. This is a favorite New Covenant expression, which intensifies the original word. What Jesus is saying, therefore, is that the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 will reveal Himself as having come with clouds to receive His Kingdom; and it will display His Church before the world as the full, the true, the super-Synagogue.”
14) There’s no talk of those dead and those alive “in Christ” in Matt 24.
15) There’s no talk of “the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” in 1 Thess. 4.
16) What does the four winds mean?
a) Usually over the earth, or known land: Jeremiah 49:36 I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four quarters of the heavens; I will scatter them to the four winds, and there will not be a nation where Elam's exiles do not go.
b) Likewise, “from one end of heaven to the other” implies the same.
c) Does the Bible use “whole world” language to imply known world? Put differently, does the Bible assume that the gospel has been preached to the “four winds” or “whole earth” in the sense Matt. 24 means it? I think a good case can be made:
Colossians 1:5-6 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;
Colossians 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
Romans 16:25-26 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith;
So, the Bible frequently means “known world” by “whole world.” Or, sometimes it means “Roman Empire.” Etc.
17) Matt 24 says nothing about being “caught up in the air with the Lord.”
18) Matt 24 is talking about Christ’s judgment upon Jerusalem, as well as the accompanying prophecies which occurred in the first century, 1 Thess. 4 is talking about the second advent. Believers will actually be with Jesus.
19) There are some big differences between Matt. 24 and 1 Thess. 4 The similarity = identity hermeneutic employed by Exapologist is flawed and fallacious. There are no time texts in 1 Thess. 4. The resurrection is mentioned in 1 Thess. 4, not in Matt 24. The resurrection comes at the end, after Jesus has put all His enemies under his feet (this has not happened yet).
20) Exapologist’s fine brash argument has died the death of a thousand assumptions and assertions. What started out as an argument against Christianity turns out to be an argument for Christianity. Jesus promised that not one stone would be left upon another. Because of rumors that gold may have been hidden in the stonework of the Temple, the Roman soldiers completely tore apart the Temple, fulfilling Jesus prophecy that not one stone would be left upon another.
This was a huge prophecy, yet no one in the New Testament mentions it? One would think that if the NT writers had “invented” the prophecy, and they wrote the NT after 70 AD, then they would have noted that Jesus fulfilled his prophecy. But there’s nary a word. Silence. And in my view that’s because the temple was still standing when the writers of the NT wrote their letters.
Jesus predicted it, it happened.
Kiss the Son lest ye parish in the way.