You are walking down the street and all of a sudden you see persons all about you floating up into the sky to “meet the Lord in the air.” What is this?
This is the “Rapture” teaching that is prevalently taught within the Church-systems of the world. Is this something that Scripture teaches or has someone down the line allowed themselves to have an active imagination or has someone attempted to explain away something more complex in a simplistic way?
First, it should be understood that the word Rapture appears nowhere in Scripture. It was given birth in the early 1800s based on what is written at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. This is more than 1800 years after Christ ascended into heaven! Thus, it is a teaching that was unknown to Christ’s contemporaries and his disciples with him and after him. Actually, the teaching of the Rapture did not really take root and become popular until the mid-1970’s. In other words, it is a modern teaching.
To properly understand what the Apostle Paul was explaining, the entire Scripture must be considered. Here it is:
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
What was Paul speaking about here? He was speaking about the persons back then among them who had died. Paul was explaining to those individuals that they should not be grieving over those persons who had died like other persons do who have no hope and who do not believe that they will see their loved ones again.
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. (1 Thess 4:13)
Paul was explaining that Christ’s followers were to be different: to have hope. They were to believe that if Jesus died and was resurrected from the dead, so shall his followers be resurrected. This is the hope they were to have. So what was Paul speaking about here? The Resurrection Hope. Not some rapture. That is how the discussion should flow.
Being Caught Up. How?
According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
Next, at 1 Thessalonians 4:15, Paul said that those who would be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air are faithful ones who are left till the coming of the Lord. In other words, these are persons who are still alive at the time of Christs approaching.
Obviously, Paul will have been long dead in his grave by the time the Lord is seen coming. Yet, Paul said that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. What did Paul mean by this? He was referring to the future body of fellow believers who will be alive at the coming of the Lord.
Since Paul was speaking of the resurrection hope, these fellow future believers who are alive at the time of Jesus’ coming must die; but are instantly resurrected. There is no way they can gain heavenly life without first dying.
Also of these persons, Scripture says that they will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. In other words, their resurrection from the dead will not come before those who had already died.
So persons who had already died (fallen asleep) by the time Lord descends, will be resurrected first. Then those remaining and who are alive at the approaching of the Lord, will die and be instantly resurrected from the dead.
There is much more here. That Scripture makes reference to the Lord coming, it is not the same as the Lord has arrived. He is seen coming. This is the mistake many Bible readers make. They assume that Jesus will have arrived. In fact, Scripture at Matthew 24:30 actually speaks of a time period when the nations will see him coming or approaching – not having arrived.
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
Actually, Matthew 24:30 is speaking about the subject matter within 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.
So, there will a span of time that must transpire before Jesus actually arrives and brings God’s Kingdom. That time period sits in between when his sign is seen in heaven, his approaching (Matthew 24:30) and his actual arrival to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. Even 1 Thessalonians 4:17 states that one will meet the Lord in the air. That Jesus has to be met, implies he has not arrived but is seen approaching.
It is also interesting how Matthew 24:31 fits perfectly with 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Both of these Scriptures mention the Lord coming down from heaven with a loud command (an announcement) and with the voice of an angel and with trumpet calls to gather someone. Who? Those who died in Christ first.
That is why the Apostle Paul says that those who are alive when Christ is seen approaching, will not be resurrected first. How could they? They are alive. One has to die before one is resurrected.
So those in Christ who died prior to his coming will be resurrected from the dead first. This event is to occur after the Great Tribulation mentioned at Matthew 24:29 and when the Lord’s sign is seen in heaven at Matthew 24:30-31. The gathering mentioned at Matthew 24:31 is the actual resurrection of all persons who had already died in Christ. Their resurrection from the dead will be unseen and unheard by those living in those days. Why? Because it is the location from which they are gathered. According to Matthew 24: 31:
And they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Their gathering is from or to the heavens, not to or from the earth. This means that select and chosen persons who had died, have a resurrection to heaven. This would include the apostles that Jesus promised he would come back for.
They are resurrected to be with the Lord as Jesus promised. But there are others like them who are chosen and will not have died yet when Jesus is seen coming. They have to die first – either by natural means or by being killed – before they can be resurrected and join their comrades who are already with Jesus.
That means a span of time must transpire until they die. When they die – in turn – they do not wait in a grave for many thousands of years like their already resurrected Brothers – when they die, they are instantly resurrected and join their Brothers who had already been resurrected. There would be no reason for those alive when Jesus is seen coming and who eventually die to wait in a grave, Jesus has already come back for them. Jesus and those who he has already gathered to him will be waiting for these others – “underneath the altar” to die and afterward be gathered to Jesus. (Revelation 6:9)
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
So what Paul is explaining here is the gathering of the Chosen Ones in Christ; those who existed in two different time periods. Those who died in Christ before his coming and those who will die in him after he is seen coming. They are all the same group.
This chosen group do not make up all of the Christian congregation. These persons were chosen by God long ago and there will others living now and in the future that God will choose to be with Christ. For what purpose?
They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
They will be priests of God and Christ and will reign with Christ for 1000 years. This bears a little thinking.
If these persons who had died and who will die and are resurrected to be with Christ and to reign with him for 1000 years, there have to be subjects on earth over which they will have rulership over. Believe it or not, the Book of Revelation calls these Chosen Ones The Kings of the Earth.
The Apostle John expected to be one of those chosen kings and he calls Jesus their ruler.
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Revelation 1:5)
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)
These chosen ones who will be finally gathered from the dead at the coming or approaching of the Lord is for a grand purpose: To have a temporary 1000 year rulership over the earth with Christ. It is not as those who talk of a rapture and all Christians go to heaven and the world is destroyed. That is not what Scripture teaches.
Other events on earth must have fulfillment before there is any removal of all vestiges of human rulership over men.
Satan must be locked up or abyssed for 1000 years during this 1000 year rulership over the earth by Jesus and his Chosen Ones who will already be in their kingly positions in heaven. Satan will not be destroyed at that time, just locked up and unable to interfere and influence the wonderful things that will occur during that 1000 year rulership on earth by Jesus and his Chosen Ones from heaven.
Since Jesus will have already come to gather to himself his co-kings or Chosen Ones, there are others who have died – non-Chosen Ones in Christ and all of those who were ever born who had died before Jesus was sent, that have to be considered. Also, the alien residents who were not believers who had died; And all who will have yet to die. They all are must be considered.
Since Jesus promised a resurrection of all persons (John 5:28 and Acts 24:15), that would mean that before any person can qualify or fall under the benefits of that 1000 year rulership, they must be resurrected. If they are alive when that rulership is about to begin, they must die and then be given a new life by resurrection into that 1000 year reign.
This is sobering because it means that all of mankind must literally die and be given a new life into that 1000 year reign by Christ and his co-rulers. There is no way around it. If Jesus died and was resurrected so must all persons.
It is too bad that Church-system teaching does not grasp this. They make it all so simple: Accept Christ and go to heaven or do not accept him and perish in a fiery hell. They ignore the resurrection of all persons, the 1000 years and what happens after that 1000 years when Satan is released, and they ignore what happens to the billions of persons who had died long ago in the past died who never knew Christ as Christ had not been sent back then. Their view is a selfish view and an unscriptural one.
This made up rapture teaching is a cop out and counterfeit teaching and a bag of rotten garbage being pushed upon billions by the so-called Church-system. It requires no thinking among those who believe it. They refuse to see a much bigger and wonderful fulfillment.
They will be sorely disappointed when the Great Tribulation comes upon Christs followers and they are still here on earth. Christ did not say that the Great Tribulation would come upon the world but upon his followers. In fact, the world will be the source of their tribulation.
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. (Matthew 24:9)
For then there will be great tribulation,such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. (Matthew 24:21)
So in answer to the title of this post, the answer is no. There will be no rapture. It is one of the biggest lies being propagated today. It is all designed to mislead and keep persons in the dark and ignorant of the truth: That what many call the rapture is simply a gathering of God’s Chosen Ones from the earth who will have died prior to Christs coming and are resurrected and those who are alive at the coming of Christ who will eventually die and join their fellow Chosen Ones in heaven.
All for the purpose of taking their positions as Kings with Christ over the earth for 1000 years. The resurrection of the Chosen Ones will not be seen or heard by humans on earth since their gathering is from the heavens.
The rest of mankind who have ever lived and died – believers and non-believers – will have a promised resurrection. (John 5:28). Jesus promised a condemned man who was not his follower new life.
Those persons who are alive when Christ is seen coming and are not of the Chosen group – who will have already been gathered to heaven – will eventually die and then be resurrected to a new life.