The Rapture is clearly taught throughout Scripture but it is not something that the wise Christian should heatedly argue or divide over. Unfortunately, many do choose to hold their understanding of the Rapture to be the thing which most defines and characterizes themselves. We should not do so.
Paul writes, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory'” (1 Cor 15:51-54).
We will study and learn the Bible clearly teaches that the Rapture will occur ‘Pre-Tribulation.’ It will occur before the Tribulation begins.
Some believe it will occur ‘Mid-Tribulation,’ in the middle of the Tribulation, while others believe it will be ‘Post-Tribulation,’ at the end of the Tribulation, and some believe there will be no Rapture at all.
Here is why a post-Tribulational view of the Rapture could not be correct: When Jesus Christ returns at Armageddon, at the end of the Tribulation, He will bring us with Him, having been Raptured 7 years before at the beginning of the Tribulation.
When He returns at Armageddon, He will destroy all His enemies, all who have rejected Him.
If He destroys all the unbelievers… and if all of the believers are Raptured up to meet Him and given immortal glorified bodies, and then immediately turn around and accompany Him back… who is there to repopulate the Earth during the Millennium; who is there for us to rule and reign over?
The Bible teaches us that the Church will rule and reign with Him over the Earth during that 1,000 years but it also teaches that the Earth will be repopulated and filled by mortal humans: they will fill up the Earth… all the nations of the Earth. The Earth will be repopulated by all those who will have come to faith in Jesus Christ during the Tribulation but were not killed for their faith… those who live through to the end.
The believers who live through the Tribulation until the end will go into the Millennium and repopulate the Earth. All of the unbelievers who live through the Tribulation until the end will all be killed immediately upon Jesus Christ’s return at Armageddon.
Jesus Christ, Paul, Peter, John and even Moses and Isaiah all teach us the truth of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the True Church. A correct understanding of this truth is as important as any Scripture to the Child of God’s understanding of the depth of God’s love for the Bride He has chosen for His Son.
A correct understanding of the Rapture is not something upon which our salvation rests but it is important to our understanding of the relationship God has chosen to give to us, a relationship of absolute love.
We find The Rapture clearly taught in Scripture, that it can and will happen at any moment without any warning, with no other prophecy having to be fulfilled before the Rapture takes place. If we disbelieve the reality of the Rapture, all of our understanding of the End Times will be in error. It is a crucial piece of the entire puzzle of the End Times. If it is missing, the entire picture will be incomplete.
The Feasts of the Lord point to the Rapture. The Jewish Wedding points to the Rapture. Enoch points to the Rapture. The Flood of Noah points to the Rapture. The Israelites safely crossing the Red Sea points to the Rapture. Sodom and Gomorrah point to the Rapture. Isaiah points to the Rapture. Jesus Christ points to the Rapture. Matthew, John, Peter, Luke, Jude and Paul all point to the Rapture.
Paul teaches, throughout his letters, that it is coming and that it can happen at any moment. He tells us that those who believe and look for Jesus Christ’s soon coming, at any moment, will receive a special reward. Those who disbelieve the Rapture, or that it can happen at any moment, will still go up in the Rapture, but they will not gain that special reward:
Paul wrote, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim 4:8).
There is a crown of righteousness but it is not gained by living an extra righteous life. No one lives a righteous life; we are all sinners, but all true Believers are holy and righteous in God’s sight because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. Paul says a crown of righteousness is laid up for some, and here he tells us for whom… all those who love His appearing… all who are looking and waiting for Him.
There are 2 main reasons that this is so important for us, the Children of God, to know and understand… the first being that when we understand the reality of the Rapture we can, even more, begin to understand God’s love for us and the very special relationship we, the Church, the Body of Jesus Christ have with Him.
Also, as we begin to understand that we will stand before Him at any moment, we are much more apt, if we are wise, to seek to live lives that are pleasing to Him… at all times because we could very well be taken up into the clouds to meet Him before I finish my next sentence.
Not every Christian believes in the reality of the Rapture or that it will happen at any moment.
Some believe that the Church must go through tribulation to be purified… to be made holy and ready to meet Jesus Christ. However, God’s Word tells us plainly that the true Church, every born-again child of God, is already completely purified, at the Cross, by the blood of Jesus Christ. He paid the penalty for all our sin… past, present and future… forever.
“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Heb 10:12-14).
We have already been perfected and purified forever… it is an accomplished, finished act. On the Cross, Jesus said, “It is finished!”
Paul wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1).
We now stand before God, holy, perfected, righteous, in the full righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, only.
Jesus Christ does not require His Bride to be purified, something that He, Himself, has already accomplished.
Some teach that the Rapture is a new concept… that the Rapture is not even in the Bible.
True. The word Rapture isn’t in the Bible; but neither is Trinity… neither is the cross…or any other English word. The Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek, along with a little Aramaic.
Here is one of the main verses for Paul’s teaching of the Rapture:
1 Thessalonians 4:15:18 “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
The word for ‘caught up’ in the Greek, the original writing of most of the NT, is harpazo. It means to seize, to carry off by force/to snatch out and away /to seize upon/ to claim for one’s self eagerly.
The same word… snatched away/caught up… is used in Acts, when Phillip preached to the Ethiopian Eunuch. Phillip was led to him by the Holy Spirit. Phillip led him to salvation and then baptized him. Then, the Bible says, right after that, Phillip was ‘caught up’ and carried away by the Holy Spirit… same word… harpazo… he was raptured away.
“Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more” (Acts 8:39).
Same word: harpazo! Phillip was Raptured away!
We’re told when Paul was ‘caught up’ to heaven to receive revelation and instruction directly from God, he writes that he was… harpazo… he was raptured up to Heaven.
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise…” (2 Cor 12:2-4). Same word x2: harpazo! Paul was raptured up to Heaven.
Also in Acts: “Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks” (Acts 23:10). Same word: harpazo! The soldiers raptured Paul away.
No one would argue that the words, ‘caught up’ are not in the Bible… no one would ever argue that the Greek word, ‘harpazo’ is not in the Bible, but many are quick to argue that the word Rapture is not in the Bible.
If people had chosen to call the Rapture ‘the great catching away,’ those who argue could argue no more.
So where do we get the word Rapture? Though we don’t find that word in the English Bible, it is in the Latin Bible which was translated by Jerome in the early 400’s and was the main Bible of the Church until the reformation in the 1500’s; and then, shortly thereafter, we received the King James Version in English. In Latin, the Greek word harpazo was translated RAPTUS from the same root as Raptor, because that kind of snatching away is what a Raptor does to its prey. A raptor is a hawk, an eagle, an owl… they are raptors.
Have you ever seen video of an Eagle flying over a lake? He sees a fish near the surface… he dives down, claws bared… and snatches it up by force and carries it away. The fish is being raptured by the raptor. Then, from the Latin… raptus into the English becomes Rapture… the Eagle is a raptor… he does raptus the fish… he does harpazo the fish… the fish is ‘caught up’ into the heavens.
Those who disbelieve the truth of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture say, ‘When Paul writes that the Rapture will begin with the last trumpet… the trumpet of God… it really means the 7th trumpet… in Rev when 7 angels are blowing trumpets to announce God’s judgments.’
The Last Trump… 1 Cor 15:51:52 “…but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Also 1 Thess 4:16:18 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.’
What kind of ‘comfort’ would it be if Paul were referring to the 7th trumpet of Revelation, after all of those plagues?
‘You will have to go through the terrible tribulations of the Tribulation, you will be hunted down and probably beheaded for your faith, and your family will likely be killed with you… so comfort one another with these words…’ Not very comforting.
With the Trump of God… at the last Trumpet… this is not referring to the 7th Trumpet of Rev. 11:15 which is a common mistake people make.
It is the trumpet of God, not the trumpet of an angel… this is the only time it is found in Scripture… but it is probably also the same as in Exodus 19 where God tells Moses that “the Trumpet will sound…”
The 7th Trumpet of Revelation is blown by an angel in Heaven, announcing the beginning of the 2nd half of the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, and is never called the last trumpet or a trumpet of God.
Exodus 19 is the giving of the Law on Mt Sinai. These are the only 2 occurrnces of the Trumpet of God. God blew the First Trumpet of God in Exodus 19 in preparation for the giving of the Law. He will blow the Last Trumpet of God to initiate the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation.
There are 4 named trumpets in Scripture: the first trumpet, the last trumpet, the great trumpet and the trumpet of God.
As further proof of the soon-coming rapture, let’s very briefly look at the 7 feasts of the Lord.
There are 4 spring feasts… a gap of summer months… and then the final 3 feasts.
The spring feasts are: Passover; next day is Unleavened Bread; and the third day is First Fruits; and 50 days after Passover is Pentecost.
Then you have about a 4-month gap until the final 3 fall feasts: Feast of Trumpets; 10 days later the Day of Atonement; and 5 days later the Feast of Tabernacles.
You have the 4 spring feasts, fulfilled exactly… to the day… by the Lord Jesus Christ; you have a 4-month gap, followed by the 3 final feasts, which will also be fulfilled exactly by the Lord Jesus Christ.
God gave the 7 feasts in anticipation of the coming Messiah, and also as a picture of His complete work of Salvation.
The first 4 feasts were fulfilled by Jesus Christ about 1,980 years ago.
That Summer gap between the two groups of feasts represents the time we are living now… the Church Age.
The first feast after that summer gap is The Feast of Trumpets … also called the Wedding of the Messiah.
The feast of Trumpets involves a sequence of trumpet blasts, none of which have anything to do with the trumpet judgments of Rev. 11.
We will study these 7 feasts and their fulfillment another time.
The Feast of Trumpets is also called the Wedding of the Messiah. Jesus used the picture of the Jewish wedding in many of His parables and teachings, culminating with His promise to us in John 14:
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).
Does this sound like His return at Armageddon as a Warrior to destroy all His enemies?
No! It sounds like His coming to receive His Bride.
That word, receive, in the Greek is paralambano… it means, to take to, to take with one’s self, to join to one’s self… that’s the picture of the Rapture, His coming for His bride… not His return at Armageddon.
The first stage in the Jewish Wedding is the betrothal. The groom would negotiate the bride price. In our case, the price He agreed to pay for us was His crucifixion, His shed blood and death.
After the bride price was paid, she was considered married to Him. We are one with the Lord Jesus Christ now. From then on, the bride was sanctified, set apart exclusively for her groom. We have been sanctified and set apart for our groom, the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, the marriage covenant was ratified through the drinking from a cup of wine together. Our observance of communion is a continual reminder of what He has done for us… that He chose each one of us for Himself and set us apart for Himself.
Then, the groom would leave His bride at her parent’s house and go back to His Father’s house to prepare a special bridal chamber for them to share during the bridal week.
Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you”… our special bridal chamber.
At the end of the preparation time… usually 12 months… the groom would return for his bride, usually at night, to take his bride away, back with him to his father’s house. Although the bride was expecting her groom to return for her, she did not know exactly when. She was expected to be ready to meet him at all times. When he did come, he would shout, and she would be gathered unto him to accompany him back to his father’s house, to that special place he had prepared for her. They would enter the bridal chamber alone together; and there… finally… physically consummate their marriage which had already been a reality since their betrothal a year before.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3)
After consummation, all of the guests would join the bride and groom for a great wedding feast of 7 days. Our bridal week, our wedding supper of the lamb with our bridegroom… a week of years… 7 years… during which He will give us our rewards and we will all celebrate together. During that same 7 years, down here on Earth, the world will be going through the Tribulation with the Antichrist; many judgments; the mark of the beast etc.; the 7 seal judgments, the 7 trumpet judgments and the 7 bowl judgments… and finally, Jesus Christ’s physical return to Earth at Armageddon, as a Warrior, with us, His bride, accompanying Him.
God gives us a picture of the Rapture in 2 Kings 2: “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them (Elijah and Elisha); and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
The first one to clearly teach about the Rapture is Paul; he learned about the Rapture after he, himself, was raptured up into Heaven to be taught personally by the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me” (2 Cor 12:2-6). Paul was harpazo… he was raptured… caught up to the third Heaven.
The Old Testament prophets didn’t teach the Rapture; they didn’t know it. Jesus Christ taught it, but not in depth; His teaching was to the house of Israel. In Matt 15:24, “Jesus said, ‘I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'” He only touched on it for our sake. Israel is not the Bride of Christ; we are.
Remember… Jesus Christ is not walking around teaching and preaching in the New Testament… the Gospels are still the O.T. He is preaching the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom.’ Later, Paul is teaching us the ‘Gospel of Salvation,’ and the imminency (at any moment) of the Rapture is a very important part of our Salvation.
The Rapture is not a reward for the really good Christians. It is the completion of the Salvation of every Christian, every true Child of God; it is the culmination of all that Jesus Christ paid on the Cross.
Daniel saw the Tribulation and the Antichrist, etc. but God did not show him the Rapture.
But then, Paul tells us he is revealing to us a secret, a mystery… something not previously known.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed [Who is ‘we’? Us, the True Church!] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Then, in 1 Cor. 2:6-8, He tells us WHY it was kept a secret, a mystery.
“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew, for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Satan probably kicks himself every day! He slaps his head… If I had only known what crucifying Him would mean for those miserable little creatures… that they would be able to live forever, that one day they would changed, like the worms they are… into butterflies, to have a body like His… I never even had a body like His… ohh, what misery, what degradation… ohhh the unfairness of it all!!!
Jesus being crucified was God’s plan from the very beginning. Here is that secret: Without notice or warning, the Lord Jesus Christ will come down from Heaven, into our atmosphere… in the clouds… and we will immediately, in a moment… we will instantaneously be changed; our mortal bodies will become like His powerful, eternal body. We will be caught up to meet Him in the air and accompany Him back to Heaven where we will be with Him during the 7 years of the Tribulation on Earth. Those who have died in Christ, the bodies of born-again believers, will go up first; and then we who are alive will be caught up to join them all. It will happen so fast, so quickly, that it’s referred to as “in the twinkling of an eye.”
First, we will hear the shout of God, and the voice of an archangel… and the trumpet of God…not the trumpet of an angel; that’s very important.
One moment we will be eating or sleeping or driving our car… and in an instant… we will snatched away… harpazoed away… raptured away… to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds! “…and so shall we ever be with the Lord!”
In 1 Cor. 13:12 Paul said that we will ‘know’ as we are known… we will recognize Him and each other.
John said in 1 John 3:2, “…for what we will be, is not yet known, but we know that when He appears, we will be like Him!”
We don’t yet know what our eternal bodies will be, but they will be like His. I believe we will have the same abilities and capabilities as He demonstrated after His resurrection… we will be like Him! Our glorified, eternal, immortal bodies will be like His… we will be like Him!
He was not bound by time, space or distance… not even physical walls.
Let’s look at the clear references to the Rapture.
John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Jesus is not talking about coming at the battle of Armageddon to destroy all His enemies… He is referring to that very special time when He comes to receive His bride… us!
1 Thess 4:16-18 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Comfort one another with these words. How comforting would it be if we were telling each other, ‘Hang on; the Tribulation is really going to be terrible, and you and your family will probably be killed for your faith, and your body will begin to rot in the grave; But eventually, after all that, Jesus will come back. Comfort one another with these words?
Philippians 3:20-21 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body!”
Rev 3:10–11 “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly!”
The words ‘keep you from,”… in the Greek, it is tereo ek. It means, out of… away from… ‘I will keep you out of and away from the hour of testing of the whole World. It does not mean I will keep you and protect you as you go through it.
Never before has the whole World, at once, had Tribulation except the time of the Flood.
1 Thess 5:9 “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
Matt 24:40-42 “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
1 Thess 1:9b-10 “…how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
From the wrath to come. The Greek word is APO. It means ‘of a state of separation, that is of physical distance, of distance of place temporal, of distance of time.’ He will put DISTANCE between us and the wrath to come.
See all these places where God promises to keep the True Church FROM the wrath to come, the Tribulation.
I don’t see how anyone who truly wants to know truth can come up with anything different.
1 Thess 5:2-4 “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them (not US) as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”
Catch this!!! The word in that verse… that day will not overtake you… in the Greek it is katalambanō. It means ‘to lay hold of so as to make one’s own; to obtain; attain to; to take into one’s self, to appropriate or to seize to seize upon, take possession of.’ See the similarity of this word with harpazo… where the Holy Spirit will seize upon us… here the opposite… that day will not seize upon us… as it will the world… We will not be here to be seized upon by that day.
We will be raptured/captured/harpazoed/snatched away, by the Lord Jesus Christ, but the Day of the Lord will not capture us as it will the whole World.
1 Thess 5:9-11 “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep [whether we are alive or have died], we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
Comfort each other with the knowledge that we have not been appointed to Wrath.
Stay tuned for Part 2.