Rapture not Resurrection (Part 2)

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.” (I Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV).

In Part 1, we cited what many prophecy teachers claim about the Rapture. From 1 Thessalonians 4:17, the Greek word used for what we call “the rapture” is harpazo (“snatch or seize, suddenly or vehemently, i.e. to take away”, Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, p. 107),.

In harpazo’s thirteen New Testament usages, it never applies to a physical change into a glorified body. Instead, it means a sudden forceful, carrying away. An objective reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 shows Paul teaching that saints who are asleep are the first, in order, to meet Christ in the clouds. Then, following that, we who are alive and remain will be taken up, seized or plucked to meet Christ in the air. The intended meaning portrays a gathering up by force. Conversely, if we were instantly changed into a glorified body, we would have the ability to ascend under our own power. Seizing or carrying away intimates a strong arm doing the lifting or snatching. Harpazo would not be the word Paul would choose, if Pre-Tribulation (PTR) teaching were true. Does this make you wonder why their scholars don’t consider this contradiction?

Prophecy teachers misinform and mislead when they insert the “resurrection teaching” of 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 into their teaching on the rapture. They are not identical events, but types, meaning they are similar in nature, but not the same. They are separated in time by just over 1000 years!

When one claims that believers are changed at the rapture when the last trump sounds (1 Corinthians 15:52), the logic becomes flawed. They are saying “this equals that”, but rapture is clearly rescue, not resurrection. There is no evidence that the trumpet call of God in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 is the last trumpet. Where in Scripture is “last trumpet” a reference to the snatching up in the air at Jesus’ return?

In 1 Corinthians 15:51, Paul refers to the saints’ change from mortality to immortality, as a mystery. Paul uses the Greek word for “mystery” 21 times. It is musterion (moos-tay’-ree-on, “a secret or mystery too profound for human ingenuity”, B.A.G., p.532)

The conveyed idea is that many will not understand the truth. God must reveal it. Many will be led astray by false teaching. Paul is clear as to the order of events. “Changed” occurs at the last trumpet, when the corruptible puts on incorruption. The Bible states when this transformation happens (i.e. the mortal putting on immortality), then what is written, such as Hosea 13:14, is fulfilled. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes” (NKJV).

So when is death ultimately defeated? 1 Corinthians 15:56 teaches that the sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law. While during Jesus’ 1000 year reign on earth sin will be restricted and death delayed, both will exist. The Law must also exist since not the smallest letter or least mark will disappear from the Law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:18 ).

Our answer to the question about Death and Hades’ ultimate defeat will come next time. In Part 3, we will see another major problem PTR teachers have by confusing rapture with resurrection. EJ

6 Replies to “Rapture not Resurrection (Part 2)

  1. You mention about how in Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul teaches the saints who are asleep will be first to meet Christ in the air, “then we who are alive & remain will be taken up”.

    So if by biblical definition believers & disciples like you & I are all saints, what does “asleep” mean biblically? And why would the words “alive”&”remain” be both used to describe those who are not? for if we died to ourselves in Christ when we are saved then aren’t we all “alive” in Him?

    1. Great question, Zerick, glad you asked.
      The mystery Paul refers to distinguishes between living saints (present) and living saints (past). Saints present, or those alive and left when Jesus comes, will unite in the air with saints past (those who have fallen asleep). Also, holy angels will be part of this glorious appearing (Matthew 24:31).

      Paul’s term “asleep” applies to saints who already died. The Thessalonians were mourning the death of their saints as if they had no hope. Again we are shown a distinction between those who perish, or die in their sins, and those who died but are not really dead (Luke 16:22, John 11:25).

      In sequence, saints past will meet the Lord in the clouds with the holy ones (angels). Then the last group among the saints, those who are alive and are left, will be snatched upward by the ministering spirits charged with their keeping (Hebrews 1:14). The movement is from the sky to the earth, then to Mount Zion where Christ’s throne awaits.

      Have saints past and saints present ever been together in Scripture? Yes, at least twice. On the Mount of Transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in the presence of the three disciples and, secondly, in the Holy City following the crucifixion (Matthew 27:51-53).

      Lastly, “asleep” is spoken of in the Book of Daniel with application to the Great Day of Judgment.
      “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake…” (Dan. 12:2).

      If you now scratch your head in confusion, I guess I didn’t explain very well. It comes down to grasping a Biblical understanding of death and the afterlife. In “The People of God” there is a chapter on “Saints” that cites Paul’s rapture passage and answers more in depth. Check it out.

      1. I didn’t mean to ignore your last question. If I get what you are asking, you seem to think those who precede the “alive and remain” saints are not alive. “Though they are dead, they live because they believed in Christ” (cf. John 11:25). Read 1 Thessalonians 5:10 and look at the two groups of saints. “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” Do those verses help?

        I’m really curious what Brother Elijah could add to this conversation.

  2. I think pastor John explained it very well. Zerick, your question is filled with insight because you are digging deeper. The Greek word Paul uses in the text you referenced is zao (dzah’-o) which means to live (either literally or figuratively). So when Paul says “we who are alive,” it means people who are believers (spiritually alive) in Jesus. Those who remain are the ones who are physically present when Jesus returns and thus the believer who is present(remain) will be the one caught up after the dead in Christ rise.

    The same Greek word Zao (pg 34, Greek dictionary of Strong’s Concordance) is also used in Matthew 22:32, Mark 12:27 and Luke 20:38. This is what Matthew says.
    ” I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

    Scripture is clear that those in Heaven with the Lord are alive. Jesus quoted from Exodus 3:6 and He used the present tense: I AM or God’s name Yahweh. There are other scriptures that show a consciousness of the believer’s after physical death. The Transfiguration is one example, another is the souls under the altar (Rev. 6:9-11). How about Lazarus and Abraham in Luke16:19-31?

    I can understand potential confusion when Scriptures like Revelation 20:5 say: “But the rest of the dead did not live again until after the thousand years were finished. This is the first Resurrection.” It seems like from this verse that even the believers are dead (are asleep) until the thousand years are over. However, this interpretation would conflict with the above verses that I referenced. So to discover harmony we need to know what the word “live “means in Revelation 20:5.

    It is a different Greek word. (anazao, pg 11) and it means to recover life, live again. This is in the context of the Physical Resurrection of the body. These people are spiritually alive (zao) in Heaven, but their time will come for a physical resurrection as well.

    1. Well put guys. Technically I already knew the point; “believers are all saints alive in Christ, those saints who already died physically are “asleep” and were the first to go to heaven, & anyone who dies physically before the “rapture” is a part of that group, but the moment the rapture takes place every living saint, who’s obviously not asleep, is taken so they are “next” to be with Him in the air.?

      And most importantly, your post refers to point that scripture does not say the rapture & our receiving glorified bodies happen at the same time.?

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