Dr. Kurschner examines whether 1 Corinthians 11:26 (‘until he comes’) refers to an imminent return for his church:“For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
Some pretribulationists think this verse indicates an imminent rapture since Paul does not mention any event that happens before Jesus’ coming. For example, Gerald B. Stanton writes, “We must ‘occupy’ till He comes, even as in the Lord’s Supper, we ‘do shew the Lord’s death till he come’ (1 Cor. 11:26). These expressions emphasize the imminency of the return of Christ, rather than denying it” (emphasis his). This is another example of reading into Paul’s message a colossal assumption of imminence. It ignores Paul’s purpose that he “received from the Lord what I also passed on to you” (1 Cor 11:23). He is concerned about the believer’s proper behavior and attitude behind the participation of Lord’s supper, where the eating the bread and drinking the cup functions to be an ongoing proclamation of the believer’s allegiance to the Lord for what he did for us on the cross. Believers are to examine their lives in light of who they are in Christ, and “in remembrance” of Jesus’ death they should look back to the cross and its meaning in their life continually until the Lord himself returns. The eschatological note to Jesus’s Parousia reminds believers that the sacramental consummate goal awaits the Supper of the Lamb.
There is no hint from Paul being concerned about making an imminence statement. To read imminence theology wholesale into Paul’s statement is first rank eisegesis. Paul’s purpose in this passage is not to discuss whether certain prophesied events will occur before the Lord’s coming or what they are, as he does elsewhere (2 Thess 2:1–4). To make this into an imminence proof text is to hijack Paul’s sacramental message for one’s preconceived theology.