important to note at the outset of this topic that
RAPTURE is not a Biblical word. Nevertheless, it is a
term adopted by a segment of Christianity to denote its
belief that at a specific time faithful Christians
suddenly will disappear from the earth. We do not find
the teachings promoted under this term to be
text most misused in regard to “rapture” is I
Thessalonians 4 and 5. A look at some of the details of
the passage will be helpful.
Thessalonian church had been the recipient of much
persecution, including death. Paul wanted to comfort
them and to explain the glorious time of the first
In 4:13 he
says (paraphrasing), “Those who have died are as if they
are asleep. They are without consciousness, awaiting
the day of Christ. We do sorrow for their loss,
but our sorrow is not like the sorrow of those who do
not share the kind of hope we have.
as Jesus rose a glorious spirit being after his time in
the grave, even we (his faithful disciples) who die and
wait in the grave will rise when it is God’s time for
Jesus’ second advent.
when Jesus returns, a good many of us (his church) will
yet be alive. Those of us then living will not go to
heaven before those who have waited in the grave.
sequence of events at that time will be thus: Jesus
will return (secretly and invisibly) during a time when
the world will be in a clamor. He will (behind the
scenes) be functioning on behalf of Israel (Daniel 12:1)
as Michael, the Archangel. He also will be directing
the message to the living church symbolically known as
the seventh or last trumpet. (Revelation 11:15-19; I
Corinthians 15:49-52) At the beginning of these events,
those disciples who have died will be raised in glory to
be with him. (John 14:1-3; I John 3:2)
during the time of these events, “from henceforth,”
(Revelation 14:13), all of us who are yet alive will be
taken one by one as we die to be together with our Lord
and the risen saints. It still will be during the time
in which society is undergoing its troubles. Clouds are
symbolic of these stormy days. (Matthew 24:21, 22)
But we will be rescued through our deaths and changed to
be part of the power of spiritual control (air) and
forever be with our Lord.
is comforting!” Paul had nothing spectacular in
mind. He was concisely explaining the events of our
day—no magical, sudden, disappearances of Christians
with their cars crashing, airplanes without pilots, or
any of the other fictitious scenarios presented to us.
adherents of the rapture scenarios also rely on a
twisted version of the chronology presented in Daniel
9:24-27. Daniel’s prophecy is treated in satisfying and
reasonable detail in Volume 3 of STUDIES IN THE
through this website. (See
Available Literature link.) The rapture concepts usually are
also tied to prophecies concerning the “Man of Sin.”
This prophetic character is treated in this website.
Please read the entry.
continues in I Thessalonians 5, he makes a few more
points worth considering. In 5:2 he explains the secret
nature of the beginning years of Jesus’ second advent.
Just as a thief doesn’t want his presence detected, so
Jesus also begins his “day” undetected. The world goes
on eating, drinking, marrying, (Luke 17:26-30), unaware
that it is “the days of the Son of man.” Paul likens
the troubles of this day (I Thessalonians 5:3) “as
travail upon a woman with child.” This comes in spasms
ever increasing in frequency and magnitude. It is
during these spasmodic times that the final living
members of the church are glorified as they die. As the
Revelator clearly shows, it is over a period of time,
gradually: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord
FROM HENCEFORTH…” (Revelation 14:13) They end their
lives of LABOR, but their works for the Lord continue
as they are “changed.” They need not wait in the grave,
as their predecessors did, but are “changed in a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye”—they shall “not sleep.” (I
Corinthians 15:51-54) Thus the Scriptural “rapture” of
those who “are alive and remain into the presence (Greek
= PAROUSIA) of the Lord” really is a slow
rapture taking decades to accomplish.
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