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The Israelites Leaving Egypt. David Roberts, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Different Groups of Believers Over Time. Part 1

Different Groups of Believers Video. Part 1


Paul Preaching at Athens. Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

There is only one way to salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. However believers are born at different points in history and this leads to different groups of believers. The ones I am looking at here are:


  • Old Testament Believers

  • The Church

  • Tribulation Martyrs

  • Millennial Believers


Jesus is the judge and he decides who is a believer. God decides the times and places where every individual lives on the earth. Where people once lived in ignorance of the gospel, God winked at (overlooked) their lack of understanding but after the gospel had been heard He commanded all people to repent. Paul explains this when preaching on Mars Hill in Athens.


[Act 17:26, 30 KJV] 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; ... 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:


Bosom of Abraham by Daniel Chorny (c. 1360 – 1430) a Russian monk and icon painter. No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

Old Testament believers are those who lived before the time of Christ. There are those in the old testament such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who believed in God and the Messiah to come but did not know his name. No one was able to go to heaven before the death and resurrection of Jesus because our sins had not yet been paid for. Consequently Old Testament believers went to a compartment of hell (Sheol) known as Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise. They had to wait here until the coming of Jesus. 


Luke chapter 16 gives more details of Abraham’s bosom. Those who died in unbelief went to Gehenna which is where the rich man of Luke 16 found himself. God is good so presumably all those who died before the time of Jesus but who would have accepted him if they had heard the gospel would have gone to Paradise to await the coming of the Lord.


The bible tells us that Jesus descended into the lowest parts of the earth.


[Eph 4:9 KJV] 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

We are also told that he preached to the spirits there


[1Pe 3:19-20 KJV] 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.


This seems to be a reference to the disobedient angels who are chained up in another compartment of hell, Tartarus, awaiting Judgement Day. However in chapter 4 Peter is talking about the gospel being preached to men who are dead.

Harrowing of hell (15th c., Byzantine, Hermitage). via Wikimedia Commons


Augustin Hirschvogel, The Harrowing of Hell, via Wikimedia Commons. 

[1Pe 4:6 KJV] 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.


After three days and nights in hell Jesus ascended from hell. As a result of his blood shed for us all believers could now ascend with Him. He remained on earth for forty days after his resurrection.


[Act 1:3 KJV] 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:


During this time the believers who had been released were able to roam on earth but not yet ascend to heaven.


[Mat 27:52-53 KJV] 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.


Albrecht Dürer, The Ascension, probably c. 1509-1510, via Wikimedia Commons

After forty days Jesus ascended into heaven and opened the way for all believers to gain entry into heaven. From this point on everyone who dies believing in Christ can go straight to heaven to meet the Lord.


The next group of believers is the Church or Ekklesia, a gathering of believers. The church really started at the time of Pentecost when Peter preached and three thousand souls were added to the disciples.


[Act 2:41 KJV] 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.


The church age is the age we are currently in and will continue until the great Catching Away, or Rapture when the church will be removed from the earth. The church is a work of the Holy Spirit released at Pentecost. The promise that was preached by Peter was as follows: -


[Act 2:21 KJV] 21 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

This is purely a work of God’s grace and so the church of all believers is a special and amazing “mystery” of God that does not make sense in terms of religion where we with our natural minds believe that we have to earn our salvation in some way

Different Groups of Believers Over Time. Part 2

Different Groups of Believers Over Time Video. Part 2


Apocalypse of John 1368.  Armenian manuscript. Bible of Bologna Italy, completed in Crimea. Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, 

The current Church Age ends when all believers are removed from the earth. At that moment there will be no Christians in the world but there will be many left who have read the bible and many who understand that this removal of believers was something prophesied in the bible. This will cause many who did not accept Christ previously to believe in him. However they are now in a new era. The church has gone and The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, also known as The Tribulation, has begun. 


The new believers are known as Tribulation Saints and they will suffer great persecution by the Antichrist. The Apostle John, in his vision, sees the war waged on the saints.


 [Rev 13:7 KJV] 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.


During the Church Age, Satan was unable to overcome the Saints. However during the Tribulation he will prevail against them for a time and many will be martyred. 


Cloisters Apocalypse - The beast slays the saints, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, 

These Tribulation Saints are a special group of believers. They suffer intense persecution and martyrdom at the hands of the Antichrist. So much so that they cry out to the Lord for justice. However they have to wait for the Lord’s purposes to be fulfilled before they are avenged.


[Rev 6:9-11 KJV] 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.


A new heaven and new earth. Revelation Chap. 21 v 2. Merian. Phillip Medhurst Collection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, 

At the end of the Tribulation Period Christ returns. He sets up His millennial reign on earth. Any believers who have survived The Tribulation will continue on into this period. No unbelievers will enter into it, In this sense it is the exact opposite of The Rapture. Believers will remain while all those who rejected Christ have been removed.


These Millennial Believers will repopulate the earth with their children. You can find out more about this on the web page The 1,000 Year Millennial Reign. Unfortunately man’s sin nature has not been eradicated and many of the descendants of the Millennial Believers will turn away from God over the course of the 1,000 years. Perfection will not be achieved until after Judgement Day when there will be a new heaven and earth


[Rev 21:1-2 KJV] 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.


There may be other groups of believers that I have not covered. However, at whatever point in history we live our lives we are not complete without each other. We are the living stones that make up the Body of Christ.


[1Pe 2:4-5 KJV] 4 To whom coming, [as unto] a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, [and] precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.


Hebrews 11 gives a list of people from the bible who lived by faith in God but only together with us are we all made perfect.

[Heb 11:40 KJV] 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.


It seems that the Old Testament believers and the Church will be gathered together in the air at the time of The Rapture. The Tribulation Saints will have to wait for the return of the Lord to meet Him and the Millennial Saints will know Him in person as he is ruling on earth from Jerusalem. 


We will have to wait for the end of the age to all be gathered together in what is called the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn


[Heb 12:22-23 KJV] 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

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