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