I. THE RAPTURE OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.
A. The meaning of the word, "Rapture."
1. Read I Thess. 4:13-17. This is Paul's account of the Rapture written to the Thessalonians.
2. Note the phrase in verse 17, "caught up."
b. The Greek word is "harpazo." It is used seven times in the New Testament. (Matt. 13:19, John 10:12, Acts 8:39, II Cor. 12:2,4, I Thess. 4:17, and Rev. 12:5) In each case it means something was quickly grabbed, snared or seized.
c. The actual Greek word literally can be translated, "shall be seized."
2. The Archangel (Michael, see Dan. 10:13,21; 12:1, Jude 9, Rev. 12:7) He will shout, and probably be the one to blow the trumpet.
3. Dead Christians. 1 Thess. 4:17 All deceased believers from Acts 2, until the Lord returns.
4. Living Christians. 1 Thess. 4:17 All believers on the earth who are alive when Christ returns.
2. There is no teaching or prophecy in the Bible of any intervening event before the Rapture.
4. Titus 2:13. The imminency of the Rapture is seen in that even in Paul's day, he instructed Titus to be "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
5. 1 John 3:1-3. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Believers who have the "hope" (sure hope) of the promise of the return of Christ keeps himself pure, waiting for the event, being ready to go at all times.
6. Philippians 3:20-21. Paul states our "conversation," which means "citizenship" is in heaven, and we are looking forward to the time when we will being going home. Our "vile body," or "body of humiliation will be changed like unto His (Jesus's) glorious body.
7. Phil. 4:5. "Let your moderation be know unto all men. The Lord is at hand." Moderation doesn't mean we only sin a little and is not a reference to drinking. It literally means "Let your forbearance or gentleness be evident at times", in readiness for Christ's coming for His Bride.
8. James 5:8. "Be ye also patient, stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
9. I John 2:28. "And now, little children abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming."
10. Note that in each of the above Scriptures the writer presents the coming of Christ for the church as being at any time or imminent! Also note that the imminent return of Christ is a strong reason to keep oneself from sin and unspotted before the world. In no Scripture in the New Testament, which is addressed to the Christians of the church age, are they told to look for signs which will indicate the Rapture is near. However, Israel is told to watch for the signs as recorded in Matt. 24, which will indicate the Second Coming is near.
4. Many of the differences of the many denominations of churches and of persons holding so many views as to these events could be ended by a simple reading and understanding of the above truths. God did not make it complicated, man has done that. God is not the author of confusion, and all the confusion on the matter makes is evident that man's carnal, "off the mark," (which is the definition of sin) is at the bottom of the misunderstandings on the subject.
2. Where are we "caught up" to?
2. Christ post- resurrectional appearances in His glorified body.
They saw Him. 1 John 1:1-2
They heard Him. Acts 1:3
They touched Him. John 20:17
Jesus asked Thomas to touch His wounded side and hands. (John. 20:27)
Some women held Him by the feet. (Matt. 28:9)
4. His ascension body is the same as His post-resurrection body. (Luke 24:50 - compare this verse with Rev. 5:6)
5. His descension body was the same as His ascension body. (Acts 1:9-11, Zech. 13:6)
6. His body was different, but identical. His mobility was different and physically unrestricted. (Luke 24:31, John. 20:19)
1. The rapture is often incorrectly referred to as the Rapture of the Church. However, the Greek word ekklesia translated in our English Bibles church refers to a local congregation meeting in a particular geographical area and is not used in a universal sense in the Bible. Therefore, it is Body of Christ who will be raptured which is made up of all believers past, present and future, not a Universal church which is an unbiblical concept. (Click this line to read an article addressing "The Biblical Basis of the New Testament Church" for a more detailed explanation )
2. Some in error teach that Matthew 24:40-44 is a reference to the Rapture of the church. However, the context of the passage unmistakenly shows that these who are "taken" are the lost at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus at the end of the Tribulation. The saved who remain are those that endured the Great Tribulation and were alive at the Second Coming and subsequently go into the Millennium in their natural bodies. Click this line to read an article titled "Is the Church in the Olivet Discourse.
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