The Rapture, Those Taken, and Those Not
Some Christian groups (although not many even know of the subject) teach that prior to the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy commencing, the Body of our Lord (i.e. true Christians) will be removed from the Earth in an instant of time (Gk. Atmos), 1Thess. 4:13-17, 1Cor. 15:23-25, 43-45 and John 5:21. They will be removed supernaturally by Christ, to HIMSELF, and will be forever with HIM. This event is called by some "The Rapture", by others "The Translation", or "Catching Away". This Body will consist of Christians who have died since the Body began, and those who are still alive at the time of the event. They will be removed to be with Christ (Greek for "Messiah") "and shall ever be with Him", (see footnote).
There are a number of questions to ask regarding the above which the following will attempt to tackle.
1) What is the Biblical authority for such a concept?
2) Does such an idea apply to Christians?
3) If 1) and 2) are considered and found to be authenticated what is the timing of such an event?
1) What is the Biblical authority for such a concept?
Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 15:51-52, "Behold I tell (show) you a mystery (secret); we shall not all sleep (in the first death), but we shall all be changed"; in verse 52, "in a moment (Greek Atmos), in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMPET: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed". Also in 1Thess. 4:13-17 in a similar way, but with the added information (verse 17) "so shall we ever (Str. 3842 Interlinear 'at all times') be with the Lord".
Paul wrote to the Corinthians of which the above is quoted in approx. AD 57, in response to a letter from the Corinthian Church group, who were being assailed by various teachers and opponents. After he had dealt with various questions and problems, he gives a rare insight into a future glorious event, which whilst obviously intended for encouragement, also culminates at the end of the Chapter in a glorious proclamation of the defeat of death and sin.
As regards Thessalonians, he wrote in approx. AD 53, as part of his ongoing building up of that group, composed mainly of Gentiles, which he had initiated with the help of Silas and Timothy.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians at a time when his efforts with the Jews was towards its end, as Synagogue after Synagogue rejected Christ as Messiah, risen and to re-appear. His concerns were turning to the long range nurturing of "Christ's Body", (Christians true) as the time of the final confrontation with the Roman Synagogue approached, in approx. AD 61.
Although the Corinthian reference is prior to the "prison epistles" (approx. AD 59-62), the proximity to the Acts 28:28 (see footnote) divide is marked, and in all probability would have been part of the ongoing revelation by Christ to Paul as part of the "latter information", which was mentioned by Christ to Paul (then Saul) at his conversion experience, (Acts 26:16), and as shown in Acts 23:11.
Our Lord had already told His disciples and others, that "had you been able to accept it", John the Baptist would have been to them Elijah, who would then have brought about the prophecy of Malachi 3:1 and 4:5, which would have ushered in "the great and dreadful day of Jehovah" (4:5). Paul and others in their ministry frequently referred to the Lord's coming again, and the context in the early days shows that they were talking near future. Had the Jews accepted as a Nation, (starting with the ruling group, The Sanhedrin), that Jesus whom they crucified was indeed their long awaited Messiah, He would indeed have returned, and the events of AD 69-70 when the Romans sacked and razed Jerusalem, would have turned into the initiation of the Day of the Lord (JEHOVAH), with totally different result. The Jews, instead of becoming LO-AMMI (not My people), would have come into the promised blessing of Gen. 15, and elsewhere. Instead of being dispersed worldwide as happened after AD 70; their borders would have been established and strengthened (Ezekiel). However, all the above is yet to be undone. The Jews are yet to be re-adopted (AMMI), to become the world's leading Nation, with Christ (Messiah) living amongst them, located in Jerusalem. This glorious state will last for 1000 years, often called "The Millennium".
Before all this can commence, there has to occur dramatic events. The Israel which the world knows now (2014), has been attempting to obtain peace and safety since they were reformed in 1948, and given International recognition by the Declaration of the League of Nations, now the United Nations (UN). They have tried unsuccessfully to achieve this by negotiation, and when necessary by defensive warfare. There will yet arise a personage (Daniel:11) of great charisma, influence, and problem solving ability, who will be trusted by the Jews to broker a peace settlement with them that they will genuinely trust. For the first time they will say "peace and safety", and will believe it. Then the words written by Paul starting at 1Thess. 5:3 become relevant to our study.
2) To Whom then did this passage which includes 1Cor. 15:51 etc. and 1Thess. 4 apply?
It was written to Christian groups made up of Jews and Gentiles, so it applies to PEOPLE OF THE TRUE BODY. The Body of the Lord was forming prior to and post Acts 28:28, but those before Acts 28 are destined for an inheritance relative to Abraham, as that was that Dispensation’s objective in God’s Plan, and was active up to Acts 28:28. Those post Acts 28:28 have an inheritance in Heaven, and are probably in special service to God/Christ in Millennial. There is the possibility that the Rapture of all Christians is at the same time, even though the Cor. and Thess. references are directed at the pre. Acts 28:28 Body, and at the time of Paul’s writing them, he was not aware that the situation was to change, see “LATTER INFORMATION” above! This possibility would seem to apply, if Christians are alive when the false Messiah is active in Israel, and assuming that the above references apply to both. (See footnote).
Charles Welch is of the opinion (and alluded by Dr. Bullinger) that the above references apply to raptured “Overcomers”, and if that is the case the following may apply, taken from revelationsmessage Chp. 12: 3b. Rev Chapter 12.
V3 (b) "Great red dragon;" is Satan. There is an opinion which needs consideration, that Satan here is threatening with annihilation the whole of the Jewish Nation (children of Israel), that are existing at the time in the whole Earth. As we know from prophecy Satan will attempt to annihilate Israel at the time of the ‘Jacob’s Trouble’. This interpretation may well be valid. Charles Welch gives support to this idea in his book ‘This Prophecy’, and he theorises that the ‘Rapture’ references of 1Cor. 15:51 and 1Thess. 4:15-17 refer to the Jews of the Acts period and latterly Revelation. This idea has to be considered as he refers it to apply to only the Overcomers who are covered by their, “washing their robes in the blood of the Lamb”, and therefore those Raptured would be fit for the presence of the Almighty. If that is the case and the Phil. 3:14 reference is valid to the Rapture concept, that would apply to the Church of the One Body, i.e. post Acts 28:28 Christians. (See footnote).
It is a fact that not all people that are members of a Church group, fellowship etc., are of the Lord's Body. Only those who sincerely in their heart have taken Christ into their lives and "are sealed in Heavenly places" Eph. 4:30, and only the Lord knows the heart (Psalm 44:21), (Nah. 1:7), (Lk. 16:15), (Acts 15:8) and (2Tim. 2:19). Usually for such people, the rest of their lives are spent wanting to know their Lord, Saviour and Friend in greater depth and breadth. Many people are involved in public worship, service and Church ritual. However, only the true Body are capable of "worshipping in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23). If it is possible, they welcome the companionship of other members of the Body, and the Bible is the center of their life on Earth. They do not criticise the Bible (but do criticise erroneous and biased translations and teaching), but know the original is the inspired work of the Holy Spirit, through men (2Tim. 3:16). They accept it without question as the "TRUTH" and Christ said of Himself "I am the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE" (John 14:6). As the Bible from beginning to end is about CHRIST, who is the second person of the Godhead, and who as the "Word become flesh", is the ONLY way of redemption from sin and death; those who are part of HIS BODY are clearly very special.
When does it apply?
Then certainly. However since then the Jews have become LO - AMMI (disowned for a period of time by God). However Christians are not in that state, and the promises made by Christ, and the work continued by Paul and others since, still apply, so the happening described by some as "The Rapture" has not yet taken place. This means that it is yet future, and that it can be looked for by Christians now, and in the future.
Why should such a concept apply to one group of people and not to others? (See footnote).
The very simple answer is that Christians (true) have responded to the Love of God in Christ, very often against considerable odds against them, and the response is simple and true. Our Lord's love and concern for Christians is clear from many statements in Scripture, and particularly so from His reply to Saul on the Damascus road, when in reply to Saul's question "Who art thou Lord", Christ replied, "I am Jesus whom thou Persecutest". Saul was killing and persecuting Christians throughout the land, and Christ said by implication that those Christians are My Body, and He was at pains to stop that persecution and at the same time to enlist and anoint Paul into His service. There is a beautiful and definite link between the individual Christians and the collective Body of Christ. This is shown in Eph. 1:4, which states that Christians are foreknown by the Almighty BEFORE the Foundation (overthrow) of the world, and which links into our Lord's prayer in John 17:24. It is interesting to note that Peter's vision of unclean things (Gentiles), and the command to reach out to them, was almost simultaneous with Paul's conversion and commission. The persecution of Christians by Saul was also at the instigation of Satan, and Saul was and would have remained a willing servant of the great Enemy. Paul was explicitly chosen and commissioned by our Lord to be the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13), for his many great qualities, but outstanding was his sincere heart before the Almighty to do only His will. During the LO-AMMI period, the Christian Church of Christ's Body is the recipient of God's love. The Church is also an example to Heavenly Creation of the working out of God's Love in Christ (Eph. 3:10), that same group of onlookers will see the removal of the Body from the Earth, as part of the blessings yet to be bestowed.
3) When? (See footnote).
This is more difficult. The Hendrickson Interlinear rendering of the timing is; (1Cor. 15:52) "in a moment, in a glance of an eye, at the last trumpet; for a trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed".
Trumpet sounds in Heaven play a crucial role in the timings of the Almighty. They are probably used in Scripture due to the fact that throughout man's history, trumpets have been used prior to the advent of modern communications to signal changes in battle, and to draw attention to declarations by civil authorities etc. It therefore follows that the Holy Spirit would use the language that most people up to this present century would understand. It is used therefore to announce an important event or change in Scripture, (ADMINISTRATION) or (DISPENSATION). There are many trumpets soundings in Scripture, in particularly relating to the "end times", and judgements of God in Revelation.
The books of the Prophets, and that of Revelation are intertwined, and as stated earlier, the 70th week of the prophecy given to Daniel is linked to the events of Revelation. The Revelation (or "Apocalypse"), relates to God's dealings with mankind prior, during, and after the appearing of Christ for the second time. The original title of the book "APOCALYPSE", means "The revealing or unveiling of Christ". The title "The Revelation of John", was given to the book at a later date by men. As Christ is to appear a second time (Deut. 30:3), and in great power and glory, it follows that His Body will be complete at that time, both in individuals, and as HIS Mystery Body. It is the opinion of some that the Rapture, or "TRANSLATION" will occur an instant prior to the Lord's return to Earth, and that they will experience 3½ years Tribulation that must yet visit the Jews, and some think much of the world. There are others that think the Body will be taken at some time prior to the 70th week commencement which is given veracity 2Thess. 2:7 & 8 which is the view favoured by the writers. Some even think many years prior.
There are hints in Scripture that the Body is not to experience the "wrath to come", which follows in logic, as it is much loved by Christ, and would be inflicting further wounds on Christ Himself. Also, the Heavenly Creation who are witnessing the Church on Earth, could easily consider further punishment on Christ's Body as unnecessary and unjust, and to what purpose? The Lord completed the redemption work on Calvary's cross. It is the opinion of the writers and others, that not all who call themselves Christians will be Raptured as described, (see: Note at end). The "Overcomers" of the Seven Churches, clearly are subject to the Tribulations described, and many "Christendom" people will probably join their ranks, (as Overcomers) and others may receive the "mark" of the Antichrist!
Unless the Body has a work to undertake in the Tribulation of the Gentiles, which it would undoubtedly willingly do, there seems no logic in such presence. The particular people mentioned who do have work to undertake (144,000 Jews) are also given special protection for the duration of that work. See: (Antichrist: Rev.13:8) (The 144'000;) (Wrath of God;) and (see footnote).
Also to be remembered from Daniel’s Prophecy, Gabriel stated in Dan. 9:24; “Seventy weeks (490 years) are determined (divided off from all other years) upon thy people (i.e. Israel), and upon thy holy city”.
The fact is that the 70th week (7 years) has not yet happened; and cannot until the “Gentile Age” has finished. It follows in this logic that “The Body” of Christ will be taken in “Rapture”; as the 70th week commences! See: “ The 490 years Prophecy given to Daniel by Gabriel ”.
Christians (Christ-ones), are by definition a product of the "Grace" period, (the AGE OR DISPENSATION, OR ADMINISTRATION OF GRACE); meaning all who will may come to Christ.
It is irrefutable that the 70th week is the continuation of the history of the Jews, and completes the 490 years of prophecy of Daniel's revelation by the angel of God. To mix together the period of Jewish prophecy and future events prophesied, with the Age of Grace, is to commit the same common error of many "teachers" of this Age, who continually confuse and mislead the genuine seekers after truth, and who are therefore easy tools of the great enemy Satan if Scripture is misunderstood. There may however be some overlap of the two periods, as seemed to be the case just prior to the LO-AMMI period (Acts 28:28). Paul again in 1Thess. 5:1-10 writes conclusively that Christ's Body is not destined for the "WRATH" (v9), in those verses he outlines the events. He shows that when THEY (Israel) say "peace and safety", (v3) that is the period in which "the Day of the Lord" is to be expected (v2). He relates that the Body is not of the night or darkness, "for God hath not appointed US to wrath", BUT TO OBTAIN SALVATION (the original Greek has Salvation in Interlinear 4991 rescue, safety) "BY OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST". So, it should read, "but to obtain rescue and safety by OUR LORD CHRIST JESUS". As already mentioned above, it is the opinion of some that the Lord's Body and the rescue of remnant Israel may be almost simultaneous, however, 2Thess. 2:7-8 argues against that view.
What may be the case, is that pre-Acts 28 Christ-ones are rescued together with "remnant Israel". The logic in this case is that pre. Acts 28:28, the Jews were first priority and still "Ammi" in God's Plan. Until the events of Revelation, Gentiles are first priority in God's Plan, but after the removal of Christ's Body; the Jews are no longer "Lo-Ammi", but "Ammi"; which could give veracity to this concept!
From examination of Revelation, much of the time is one of judgement, suffering and eventual triumph of the plan of God in Christ, and is "the Day of The Lord (Jehovah)" (Rev.1:10) on Earth! This great Day, is mentioned many times in the Prophets, and is the culmination and justification of Almighty God, and His Promises and Statements; and vindicates the whole of Scripture, and His dealings with mankind! The people specifically mentioned are "the 7 Churches", "the 144,000", "the 12 tribes of Israel", the two witnesses and "the Nations". No mention is made of CHRIST'S BODY (CHRISTIANS), although some interpret the “7 Churches” as such. However, the “7” Churches are in our opinion yet future groups (Ecclesia, = called out ones) who are intimately involved with the lead in time to the judgement of God on Earth, and whose mandate is "Overcoming"!
That the Body of Christ is not subject to "Jehovah Zebaoth's Judgement" is self-evident; as that would be Judgement of Christ Himself, Who has already completed that cycle at Calvary! Just as the "Passover Lamb" was the Jehovah "Salvation" for the Jews in Egypt (the Paschal Lamb), so Christ became, and is The Paschal Lamb of all Christ-Ones, and through Him are passed from death unto life. It is notable that Jesus became the Paschal Lamb, on the eve of the Jewish Passover! Christ-Ones are not therefore to be touched by the avenging angels of God, as shown in Revelation, which is the case for the Gentile Nations surrounding Israel and probably by extension Gentile Nations of the world. (This dealing of God on the Nations, is not to be confused with the last Satanic attack on God's people Israel, which happens prior to the Lord's return to save them). Just as the blood bought Jews were delivered from the avenging angel and Pharaoh, so the people of Christ's Body, Christ-Ones, are delivered in the marvel of the "Rapture"!
Note: there are many groups in Christendom's Churches world-wide, that teach erroneously in the view of the writers; that we are in the Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth now! How they can possibly come to such a conclusion can only mean that they do not know Scripture, are ignoring parts of Scripture that do not fit their idea; or worse, are led by the great enemy Satan.
When one tries to talk to these people about their teaching, they invariably give obtuse answers that do not bear examination against Scripture, or become angry and evasive or both! That attitude is a sure sign of insincerity or ignorance, and usually leads nowhere but to breakdown of communications, and exclusion!
The events of Prophecy regarding the period of Revelation, are fulfilling (filling full) in a very short period of time, many critical happenings which bring to completion Age related events and Promises of Almighty God; and vindicate the whole of Scripture!
This is part of the defeat of the great enemy Satan, and at that stage "every knee shall bow to Christ", Who as God Incarnate, defeated Satan on the Calvary Cross!
For misinformed or Satanic people to say that "Christ has come in our hearts, and is ruling the world through us, and we will help Him to make the world a better place", is to totally misunderstand at best, or to mislead for wrong motives at worst! Leaving aside all the detail, which they usually refuse to discuss, it demeans the power of Almighty God, and attempts to defraud Him of His yet to be overt Triumphal Glory, and His Day of Righteous Vengeance against His enemy Satan!
What these people do not seem to realise, is that they are working for Satan, but their leaders will be judged the most severely, if they have taught the errors as they carry the responsibility! See: Prophets, Prophetesses, Shepherds and Teachers and Antichrist: Rev.13:8.
It is implicit in the words of Scripture that The Lord Returns for those that are looking for Him! Such verses with that implication are; Heb. 9:28.
In the meantime, we continue to "look for Him"; MARANATHA!
The most reasonable view, in context, is that there is more than one "Rapture". Revelation is clearly a continuation of the Old Testament, Gospels and Acts; with Acts 28:28 as the change point of "Administration", (i.e. Dispensation or Age). The time from Acts 28:28 to Revelation's start is clearly as Paul states, "the Mystery Church", or Body of Christ. It therefore follows that when its time is ended and its "number is made up"; it will be removed from the Earth in what is called the "Rapture", or Translation.
The fact that Paul described this event in detail in 1Thess. 4:13-17, and 1Cor. 15:20-23, and that these writings are prior to Acts 28:28 does not detract from the facts of both events; i.e. pre-Acts 28:28 Jews and Gentiles, and post Acts 28:28 Gentiles and Jews in the pre-Revelation event.
The grouping described in Rev. 7 are clearly extracted from the "Great Tribulation", and are primarily Jews with Gentiles also, who have "washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb", v14. Their kinship and experience is similar to the Acts period Jews and Gentile Christians, and the verses of Scripture pertaining to them are: Matt. 24:40-41, Luke 17:34-36, Jer. 50:4 & Isa. 10:20-24 etc.
To summarise; the writers take the view that there are at least 2, possibly 4 "Translations".
1) Post Acts 28:28 to approx. the beginning of Revelation "Mystery Body of Christ".
2) Pre. Acts 28:28 "Body of Christ", which may or may not be simultaneous with 1), but may well be simultaneous with 3).
3) Overcomers described in Rev. 7, extracted from "the Great Tribulation", as described above; Scripture refs: Rev. 18:4, Jer. 50:4-9 and Isa. 10:20-24.
4) Post Acts 28:28, to approx. the beginning of Daniel's 70 week, (this view favoured by the writers, and given veracity by 2Thess. 2:7 & 8).
Not to be forgotten is the remarkable and miraculous raising and ascending of the special witnesses of God/Christ; Rev. 11:12.
It is noted in Scripture, that there are many references to Christ Jesus’ return to Earth in Power! Are they referring to the same, or multiple events? In the opinion of the writers, they are multiple, and some are commented on below.
Our Lord was at pains to show His disciples that “I have other sheep not of this fold”, (John 10:16).
Most teachers think the meaning of this statement means other lands, or countries; and the Missionaries in the past have worked valiantly at that endeavour in foreign lands. That reasoning is partially valid in our opinion, as God the Father wants all to be Saved if that was possible. However; we believe there is possibly a double meaning which shows in conclusion in Rev. 17:14, which shows the “chosen”, and “faithful”, are involved with “Him” in His warfare with Satan’s people of the end time of that Dispensation. The “chosen” people are probably the people of Jeshuran (ideal Israel); and the “faithful” those of the Lord’s True Body (1Cor. 12:12-25 which is described by Paul after Acts 28:28). Both groups will have experienced a resurrection and calling to Christ before then; the Jews that of Dan. 12:1-13, and the Body of Christ at 1Thess. 4:14-17!
There are other references to Christ’s return and future intervention on Earth where the terms “angels”, and “saints” describe the entities with Him; the conclusive meanings from the Greek and Hebrew (according to Interlinear and Strongs is that where “angels” are quoted in the New Testament; the meaning from the Greek is “humans” (Strongs 32) (i.e. Matt. 16:27) etc. and should therefore be translated “saints”! Each case in the New Testament should be analysed by the reader, so as to perceive the true meaning.
It is interesting to note that Jude 14 translates “saints”, and Matthew Henry comments that in his opinion it is both “saints” and “angels”.
There is considerable debate around all these descriptions (Isa. 51:11, 35:10, Matt 16:27, Acts 9:13, Rom. 8:28-30, 1Thess. 4:14-16 and Rev. 17:14 etc.) but the above possible differentiation allows clues to possible timing of the events.
However, taking one of the above references; Rev. 17:14 in context shows two entities “called”, and “chosen”, and they are FAITHFUL! The “chosen” (faithful Israel); the “called” (The true Body of Christ); with the “Lamb” in His decisive action against Satan’s forces at that time. A further probability is that the “faithful” of Rev. 17:14, is not an adjective, but a collective noun; and refers to those angels that do not follow Satan! See: Rev. 12, 2Peter 2:4, 1Tim. 5:21; and that the three groups are with Christ in Rev. 17:14!
The two main events for Christ-Ones (Christians true) to be aware of, are described by Romans 8:29-30; and 1Thess. 4:14-17 which is the calling away of Christians; not the Second Advent of Christ, and is prior to the “wrath” on Earth, 1Thess. 5:1-10; in the opinion of the writers.