Deeper on the Rapture

Part 1


Recently I posted an article on this forum which was mainly an exhortation not to mix Scriptures which pertain to the Rapture with those which do not, as someone had recently done in the forum.


I received a complaint, via email, that wished I had specifically said more about the Rapture itself, its nature, meaning to us, etc. This is a response to that request: a study on the Rapture, itself.


In writing any such thing, it is a major problem to decide, "where do I begin?"  That is what the effectiveness of the whole thing will depend on --- with today's normal attention span, you will lose approximately 116% of your audience with your first line, if you err on this.  Your choice is between saying essentially nothing in the first line, like a typical commentator, and losing all those like in Acts 17:21 --- or saying something True and interesting, and losing all the others, who either don't understand, or who disagree (or both, which is most often the case).


For better or for worse, I have decided to begin with the Scripture in which "Rapture" (or its equivalent) occurs, and branch out into the context and parallel passages to which it naturally leads.


That Scripture Passage is 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18, in what is probably the first Book of the Apostle Paul.  It reads:


13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep[1], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope[2].

14 For if we believe that Jesus[3] died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus[4].

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord,[5] that we who are alive and remain until the coming[6] of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep[7].

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout[8], with the voice of an[9] archangel, and with the trumpet[10] of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.[11]

17 Then we who are alive and remain[12] shall be caught up[13] together with them in the clouds[14] to meet the Lord in the air[15]. And thus[16] we shall always be with the Lord.

18 Therefore comfort[17] one another with these words.


The word, "comfort" is better rendered "exhort."


I have avidly and prayerfully studied, taught, and debated this subject for over 50 years. We need it!  Our outcome before the coming Judgment Seat of Christ is going to partly be a result of having learned these subjects and ministered them, in this world. And "living the Christian life" depends on having this knowledge fully in our hearts. 


That is why 1 John 3:3 states "Every man that hath this Hope in himself purifieth himself, even as He is pure."


This concludes Part 1.  In Part 2, I plan to continue with a summary of this passage, and a look at many other Scriptures it points to, some of which have already been mentioned.


And with a listing of Passages which DO NOT refer to the Rapture, and why.


You cannot understand the Rapture fully without an understanding of The Mystery. Nor of its opposite and counter part: Bible Prophecy

(Romans 16:25)


Please see, for a bit of this background:



Christ Died to Save You



[1]             have fallen asleep = have died.  Gr.kekoimhmenwn,which is usually referent to the body --- that is, to death.  The other word for sleep, upnou, always refers to literal sleep.  Thomas misunderstood the distinction, explained in John 11:11-13. The subject here is comforting knowledge concerning those who have died --- of which there were many during this time among the Thessalonians.


[2]             who have no hope.  That is, those who regard death as the end of everything.  The unsaved are probably mainly referred to; but sadly, Christians are often wallowing in the same attitude.  And God does not want His Children wallowing in, or displaying the attitudes that characterize the world (the view of  "under the sun" as is repeated in Ecclesiastes). When they do, they are displaying open atheism, and thereby blaspheming God as a byproduct. Thus, the whole point and purpose of this passage on the Rapture is for Christians to be looking toward "that blessed Hope" (Titus 2:11), and thereby living and acting to forward the Glory of God, and salvation to their hearers.


[3]             When men of today use this Name, it is invariably blasphemous.  When Scripture uses it it is an emphatic pointing to His humiliation (His incarnation). --- cp Php 2:1- and Sir Robert Anderson's "The Honor of His Name," etc. Cp also John 13:13. It was never used in Scripture narratives by any Believer (except directly under the control of the Holy Spirit) (the couple's use of it on the road to Emmaus is a case in point; they were pointedly, at that moment, in Unbelief).


[4]             sleep in Jesus = partly, "died in the Lord." Or, as vs 16.


[5]               Theologically among the most important statements of this passage. Paul is here stating that he did not get this from the Scriptures, nor from men. This event, the Rapture, had been kept secret (Grk musterion, or "mystery," as it is translated) throughout all the ages until revealed to the Apostle Paul (cp Ephesians 3:1-6, 1 Corinthians 15:58, etc, which we will come to.  THIS SUBJECT IS NOT FOUND, THEREFORE, IN THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS (nor, for a different reason, in Revelation).


[6]             coming.  Grk parousia, or "presence." A word characteristic of the Rapture passages, although also used of the "2nd Advent" (a completely different Event) in a few passages. It does not occur in Revelation.


[7]             asleep.  Again, "have died," as is obvious by the analytical tool called contrast.


[8]             This always reminds me of the Lord's command to Lazarus in the grave, although the word is not the same.  Also similar is John 5:28-29 (cf Daniel 12:1-3); but none of these are the Rapture.  Because, among greater reasons, the Rapture was revealed to Paul as something that was previously kept secret, as discussed above. And as we will see, the timing of the events is totally different.


[9]             an archangel.  This is the correct ellipsis.  The KJV (I'm using NKJV) inserts "the archangel," which would mean that it must refer to Michael. Could be; but giving that impression by inserting a definite article into the Scripture is falsehood. For the same reason, "an" is also wrong, since there is no indefinite article in the Greek.  The JWs go completely dishonest on this point at John 1:1, in order to deny the Deity of Christ, in their NWT.


[10]           This trumpet is the same as in 1 Corinthians 15:52; and not any other trumpet mentioned in the Bible. This point is made clear by looking at the contexts.


[11]           dead in Christ shall rise first.  This passage does not prove that the Southern Baptists will go first!


[12]           we. It turns out, of course, that this didn't include Paul.  However, his word "we," used in reference to the Event, shows that it COULD HAVE INCLUDED HIM. This is an important point about the Rapture, always ignored or belittled by its attackers.  We who Believe say that, from this, THE RAPTURE IS IMMINENT. That is, there is no other event that must precede it, unlike the 2nd Advent, which will be preceded by numerous spectacular signs. Also see Titus 2:11 and similar passages which logically point out its imminence. This is one of the unanswerable arguments for the "Pre-Tribulation Rapture Position."  More on this argument later.


[13]           caught up.  And here is from whence the word "Rapture" comes; it DOES occur in the Bible as much as any other English word, such as "heaven," "hell," "Christ," etc do.  It is the Grkharpazo, and in the Latin Vulgate Translation, the word, rapiemur (our English word "rape" is a derivative of it) is used to translate it. And our English invented word to refer to it is "Rapture," which is also derived from rapiemur.


[14]           in the clouds.  No one on the earth will see us.  (And a good thing, for them!  The sight would kill them if they did see it).  "We shall be like Him (Whom no one can see, and live --- what a study we have coming up on this!  From manyScriptures) BECAUSE WE SHALL SEE HIM: AS HE IS!!" No eye has ever seen; no ear has ever heard, neither hath any man ever even imagined, the things that God has prepared for them the love Him. "For our citizenship is in Heaven.  From which we look for the Saviour, Who will fashion our lowly bodies to become like His own Body of Glory." Dozens more!

These passages are what the Rapture is about. 

[15]           in the air.  Refers to "the atmosphere."  We're going to be sitting here one moment, and in a tiny fraction of a second ("the twinkling of an eye") we're going to be there, seeing Him as He is.  An average distance of 12000 miles? covered by every Believer in a split second at that moment!  The inertia involved in this would disintegrate any material we know of. No wonder we are first made to be like Him.  And so would the sight, alone, of Him, as He is.  No wonder we are first made to be like Him. Although this whole event is an utter impossibility, to one whose view is "under the sun" (Ecclesiastes) we do have ample evidence; similar things have happened and been observed and recorded. For one, the transportation of the boat, in John 6:20- over 4 miles of water in an instant; and it is a matter of many both visual and radar observations of objects in the air making starts, stops, and right angle turns at unbelievable speeds.  The famous Tunguska catastrophe involved such a thing, apparently.


We are told in Isaiah 66 of all the world going to "Sabbath School," in Jerusalem, each week. And then returning home for 6 days labor.  "Isaiah, you're nuts! That's IMPOSSIBLE! Don't you know that all the 747s of all history could never begin to carry out a fraction of a task like that?"  No; Isaiah was not nuts; he was simply reporting on what God is promising in the future.  Isaiah was very fully aware of known distances from Jerusalem well over a thousand miles away; and he knew that such transportation was just as impossible then as we know it is today. That is, from anything we know about "under the sun."  But after all, we don't really know very much.  I remember my Dad telling me, when I was a child, "we don't even know what water really  is, or what iron really is."  And any scientist knows he was right; that remains a fact even today.

[16]           thus.  Or, in that state: that is, in the new bodies we will have in the Rapture.  Please see on Spiros Zhodiates' study of 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 regarding those bodies.  Posted on recently.

[17]           comfort.  Or, exhort one another.