Mysteries of the Bible
I Cor. 15:51-58, 1 Thess. 4:13-18

    INTRODUCTION: The Rapture of the Body of Christ (1) is not found in the Old Testament for the obvious reason that the institution of the local church was not revealed until the New Testament.    The Old Testament deals with God working with the nation of Israel. The teaching of the resurrection was well established in the Scriptures before the New Testament period, but this was the resurrection of the Old Testament saints.    The Rapture is also not found in the Gospels, and again the reason being the Gospels primarily deal with Israel and not the churches.(2)    This the catching up of Christians is a different resurrection (the Rapture), than that of Restored Israel, which was a mystery not revealed to the Jews in the Old Testament.    God used the Apostle Paul to explain how that believers in the church age have a different relationship with Christ and also a different resurrection.


    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."

        a. The word "rapture" is not found in Scripture. It is derived from the Latin word "rapere", which means to be "transported from one place to another." It is a good word to describe the events of the "catching 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."

      B. Who are the participants in the Rapture?

        1. Jesus, The Lord Himself. 1 Thess. 4:16 He will descend to the earth remaining in the air and call up all believers both alive and dead.

        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.

          (a) Past Events.

            Birth of Christ. (Matt. 1)
            Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ. (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
            The Ascension, Jesus return to Heaven. (Acts 1:9-11)
            The Church Established. (Acts 1:4-8, 2:1-47)

          (b) Future Prophetic Events in Order of their happening.

            The Rapture of the Body of Christ
            The Revelation of the Anti-Christ
            The Great Tribulation
            The Battle of Armageddon
            The Second Coming of Christ
            The Binding of Satan, judging of nations.
            The Millennial Kingdom of Christ
            The Final Rebellion Against God
            The Great White Throne Judgment
            The New Heavens and Earth

        D. When will the Rapture occur in time?

          1. Scripture presents it as the next prophetic event and as being imminent.

          2. There is no teaching or prophecy in the Bible of any intervening event before the Rapture.

            a. See John 14:3. Christ in the Upper Room just before His death, told His disciples that He would leave and "go prepare a place for you."
            b. He then promised to return for He said "I come again, to receive you unto myself that where I am, there ye may be also."
            c. Three events are mentioned.

              (1) He would leave
              (2) He will prepare a place
              (3) He will return

          3. Contrast the Rapture with the Second Coming as recorded in Matthew 24:15-22 and note the differences.

          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.

      E. The Second Coming and the Rapture are different events.

        1. The Rapture takes place before the Great Tribulation. In theological terms of this view is called, Premillennial, Pretribulational Rapture. It simply means that the Great Tribulation is yet a future event and that the Christian will be "raptured" before the Great Tribulation, thus not going through it.

          a. Note that in the Rapture the Lord does not actually come to the ground, but comes somewhere in the upper atmosphere. (See section II. A.2 of these notes) I Cor. 15:52
          b. Believers are "caught up," to be with him.

        2. The Second Coming is recorded in many passages of the Bible.

          a. See the following Scriptures. Rev. 11:15, Rev. 19:11-16
          b. Note in Matthew 24:29, that it specifically states the Second Coming of Christ will take place after the Tribulation. Also note the signs in the heavens and earth preceding His Coming. See Luke 21:25,26.
          c. Read Matthew 24:30, II Thess. 1:7, Rev. 1:7, and Rev.19:11. Each verse teaches the heavens will open and Jesus will come forth.
          d. Note that in Zechariah 14:4-8, the Old Testament says Christ will touch down on earth at the Mount of Olives. Isaiah 34:6; 63:1, tell us that Jesus will then go to Petra and Bozrah, two chief cites in Edom.
          e. According to Daniel 12:11-12, that Christ will return at the end of the 490 years, or Daniel's 70 weeks. God's time clock is now stopped at 483 years, with seven to go. God starts the clock again, after the rapture and begins the Great Tribulation. Then after the seven years of the Tribulation, Jesus returns at the Second Coming to set up His Millennial Kingdom.

        3. It is paramount to note the differences in the events of ."1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 which refer to the 'rapture and the many Scriptures dealing with the Second Coming. They are different events, happening at different times.

        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.


      A. Hal Lindsey in his book "The Late Great Planet Earth", says that while driving on the freeway at the time of the Rapture, suddenly "the place went going in all directions, ....and not one of them had a driver." Even though Mr. Lindsey is a little optimistic as to the number of Christians on our roads, his description of what happens may be accurate.

        1. 1 Corinthians 15:52. The event is described as taking place "In the moment, in the twinkling of the eye." In other words "instantly." One moment the Christian is on earth going about his normal life, and in next moment he is in the presence of the Lord.

        2. Where are we "caught up" to?

          Paul used the Greek word "aer" (not misspelled!), which means the area which is the lower denser atmosphere below the tops of the mountains. There are two Greek words for the English word "air", and both refer to different places. The other word is "aither", and means the upper rareified atmosphere above the mountains. Using the word "aer," Paul is saying Christ at the Rapture will return to a point below the mountain tops of Earth.

      B. The Changing of the Body.

        1. Philippians 3:20-21. Our present or "vile" body will be changed into a glorious body, the same as Christ's glorified body after His resurrection.

        2. Christ post- resurrectional appearances in His glorified body.

          See John 20, Matthew 28, Luke 24:12, 1 Cor. 15:5, Luke 24:13, John 20:19, and many others.
          Jesus appeared in many numerous and varied times and places. It is clear that when he appeared people saw him, not as a spirit, but as a man having a 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)

        3. His body functions were that of a man. He walked (Luke 24:13), talked (Acts 1:3), and ate (Luke 24:43, John. 21:15, & Acts 1:4)

        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)

      C. The Believer's new body.

        1. It will be identical with earth bodies. The "corruptible must put on incorruption."
        2. The body will be a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:44-49)
        3. We will not be "clones", but each be different as we are now. (1 Cor. 15:40-42)
        4. We will recognize each other. (1 Cor. 13:12)

      D. The Challenge of Christ's Coming at the Rapture to the Christians.

        1. We are to be Looking. (Phil 3:20) - The blessed hope (Titus 2:11-14)
        2. We are to be Loving. (2 Tim. 4:8) - The Purifying Hope (1`John 3:3) 3. We are to be Longing. (Rev. 22:20) - The Evangelistic Hope (Rev. 22:17)
        4. More Challenges from the Scripture concerning the Rapture.

          a. Attend Church. Hebrews 10:25 .".as ye see the day approaching."
          b. Remembrance at the Lord's Supper. 1 Corinthians 11:26 "ye do show the Lord's death till he come."
          c. Love the brethren and all men. (1 Thess. 3:12-13)
          d. Be patient. (James 5:8)
          e. Live a separate life from sin. (1 John. 3:2-3, Titus 2:12-13, 1 John. 2:28)
          f. Judge not others. (1 Cor. 4:5)
          g. Preach the Word. (2 Tim. 4:1-2, 1 Peter 5:2-4)
          h. Comfort the bereaved. (1 Thess. 4:16-18)
          i. Win souls to Christ. (Jude 21-23)
          j. Seek the things of heaven. (Col. 3:1-4)

      End Notes

      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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