While you do not find the word “rapture” in the Bible, you certainly find the doctrine of the rapture. The rapture is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to receive his children saved in the church age. He comes to get his body, the church [Col 1:18, Eph 1:22-23] and take it home with him to heaven so that, after purifying the church at the judgment seat of Christ, he can marry his bride [Eph 5:24-32]. Look at the promise of his return for his people in Jn 14:1-6.
The two main passages of scripture concerning the rapture are 1 Thes 4:14-18 and 1 Cor 15:42-56. We will look at both of these passages in detail.
I Thes 4:14-18
14 – He rose so we will. Our souls are already “with him” so he returns to get our bodies.
15 – The alive and the dead both go up at the same time; they are not split into two different groups at two different times
16 – The Lord himself descends [this is an important distinction showing you that this rapture cannot be the same rapture as the rapture of the tribulation saints in Matt 24:31]
He comes with a shout – “Come up hither” Rev 4:1
He comes with the “voice” of the archangel – not with the angels as in Matt 24:31
He comes with the trump of God – in Rev 4:1 and Rev 1:10, 14 we see that this is the sound he makes when he speaks – this is not the seventh trumpet of Rev 11:15
16 – The dead rise first, but the transaction is so quick that there is virtually no time difference between their rising and our being caught up together with them [1 Cor 15:52]
17 – We which are alive and remain are those who are still alive at the time of the rapture as opposed to those who have died before his arrival and are awaiting his return in the grave – these two classes of saints are mentioned by Jesus in Jn 11:25-26, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live [these are the dead in Christ at his return]: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [These are the alive in Christ at his return].”
17 – We meet the Lord in the clouds to fulfill Acts 1:9-11 and we meet him in the air rather than on earth because he will not set foot on the earth again until he has destroyed the armies around Jerusalem and he is ready to sit on David’s throne [Zech 14].
17 – We shall ever be with the Lord from then on – this is in a physical sense – right now he is with us spiritually [Heb 13:5]
18 – We take comfort in this promise, particularly over the grave of a loved one [v. 13].
1 Cor 15:42-56
42-47 – Describe the different kinds of bodies
48-49 – We shall be like his heavenly body [Phil 3:20, 1Jn 3:1-3] – this is called a glorified body [1 Cor 15:43]
50 – Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God – our blood is bad – notice the relationship that Eve had with Adam and that we have with Christ [Gen 2:23, Eph 5:30] – we are members of his flesh and of his bones [no mention of blood] – Jesus described his resurrected body as being “flesh and bones” [Lk 24:39]
51 – Those that sleep are dead at his coming and those who are changed are alive at his coming
52 – In a moment – described as the twinkling of an eye – faster than a blink
52 – The last trump is not the trump of Rev 11:15; it is the last sound the trumpet will make when we are called to “come up hither”
52-54 – The dead raised incorruptible – the dead are the corruptible who must put on incorruption
52-54 – We shall be changed – the alive are the mortal who must put on immortality – they are changed because they never die [Jn 11:26]
54 – Death is swallowed up in victory – an indication that once the rapture takes place, those who are raised will never die again – we will have victory over death
55-56 – No more sting of death because we will never sin again – no more victory of the grave because we will never die again [Rev 21:4]
This rapture takes place before the tribulation for many reasons. Primarily, you should notice the significant differences between these details and the details of Matt 24:31, which is often used as the proof text to disprove a pre-tribulation rapture. In Matt 24:31 [in the context of the tribulation Matt 24:21], he sends his angels, there is a trumpet but there is no shout and there is no voice of the archangel and the angels gather his elect, not his children, or church, or bride.
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