W. P. CLARKE
The phrase "accounted worthy", if it means anything, must mean to be "deserving" (a dictionary definition) of some special distinction, merit or reward, not attained by all. It is significant that the words are used in the Scriptures almost invariably in connection with the Coming of our Lord, or His [millennial] Kingdom. Addressing His disciples (Luke 21: 34-36) Our Lord warned them that without continued vigilance and prayer they would not be "accounted worthy" to escape the things coming to pass on the earth (the Great Tribulation), and to stand before Him. The exponents of the belief that the whole Church will escape the Tribulation finds this passage fatal to their theory, and so relegate it to the Jews only. Poor Jew! He gets all the warnings and the curses, and the blessings are reserved for the Church. How, logically, anyone, except those bent on proving a cherished idea, can say this warning was intended for the Jews only passes all understanding, when our Lord speaks of that day coming as a snare on all those that dwell on the face of the whole earth, and excepts none. It was spoken to the twelve disciples directly and personally (watch ye, and pray that ye may be accounted worthy to escape) and it would be passing strange that Apostles only, of all the Church, were included in the warning! It was addressed to them as representatives of the whole body of disciples in this dispensation: What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch; Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word.
The phrase occurs again (Luke 20: 35) in Our Lords answer to the Sadducees. They that are accounted worthy to obtain that age [the Millennial], and the resurrection [out] from among the dead [the first resurrection] are children of the resurrection, and can die no more. This cannot refer to all mankind, for unbelievers merit the second death. 1 Nor can it refer to all [regenerate] believers, as it is explicitly stated that it is only for those accounted worthy. Even if the former passage in Luke 21 is addressed to the Jew only, it is quite certain this passage cannot be so relegated, as the Apostle Paul refers to it as his great aim (Phil. 3: 11-14): If by any means I may attain [be accounted worthy] unto the resurrection [out] from among the dead - a resurrection simultaneous with the first rapture; an attainment he had not yet arrived at, and might possibly miss; and therefore, forgetting all the things which were behind, he pressed on towards the goal unto the prize of the high ["upward", R. V. margin] calling of God in Christ Jesus. If the great Apostle might possibly not be accounted worthy, it behoves all [regenerate] believers to beware lest they also be accounted unworthy and miss the prize.
Thess. 1: 5
the same Apostle writes [unto the church of the
Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the end that ye
may be accounted worthy of the
only other passage in which the phrase occurs is Acts
5: 11, when the Disciples, beaten by the Sanhedrin,
rejoiced that they
were accounted worthy
to suffer shame for His
name; and this also has some reference to the [Millennial] Kingdom, for only they
reign with Christ who suffer
for His sake (2Tim. 2: 12).
Some years ago, a
young man (the son of the writer) was turned out of a house, in the
night, by two men who had befriended him, when night fell, while he was
forest pioneering and seeking a location to commence gospel work in
God hath His best things for the few
Who dare to stand the test:
God hath his second choice for those
Who will not have his best.
It is not always open ill
That risks the promised rest;
The better often is the foe
That keeps us from the best.
A conditional promise of a selected rapture, before the Great Tribulation commences, to faithful disciples:-
"Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown." (Rev. 3: 10, 11).