THE RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS  


 

THE RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS

THE RAPTURE

At a certain point during the reign of the beast (after the midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel), God’s salvation program will have reached a major point in its progress. It is at that time that God will decree to amputate or cut short the tribulation and Jesus will return in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. At this time He will gather from the earth and from heaven the believers of all previous time periods and transform all of them into the promised resurrection body just like His.
This rapture of the saints will fulfill “the release of the possession” of Ephesians 1:14, which is the salvation of the BODY.
Paul mentioned this at Romans 8:23, where he describes the yearning of the church as “waiting for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”

Jesus taught about this event at Matthew 24:29-31.
But immediately after the tribulation of those days
the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken
And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky
and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn,
and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky
with power and great glory.
And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet,
and they will gather together His elect from the four winds,
from one end of the sky the other.

Luke also mentions this teaching by Jesus at Luke 21:25-36,
“And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will e shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

But Luke adds something that the other gospel writers do not include.


“But when these things begin to take place,
straighten up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption is drawing near.

Thus, when the "signs" for the return of Jesus begin to take place, those of the church who are "expectantly waiting" for Him should take courage and look to the sky in anticipation of being gathered together with Him, knowing that it is time for the redemption of their bodies.

Paul describes it at Philippians 3:21

For our citizenship is in heaven,
from where also we eagerly wait for a savior,
the Lord Jesus Christ,
Who will transform our (physical) body of humiliation
into conformity with the body of His (resurrection) glory.

Some think that this gathering mentioned in Matthew 24, refers to the gathering of the Jews into the land of Palestine at the end of the 70th week of Daniel. However, that is a gathering from earthly locations into another earthly location. To be certain that we understand that Jesus is talking about a gathering of the elect INTO THE SKY, consider the language that Mark uses at Mark 13:27,
“and then He will send forth the angels, and He will gather together His elect from the four winds (all directions), from the farthest end of the earth (a gathering FROM the earth), to the farthest end of heaven (a gathering INTO the heavens).”

The entire subject of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:32-51 is His second coming at some unknown day and hour after the midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel, and the gathering of His BELIEVING elect at that time. He uses the image of coming like a thief in the night at verses 43-44, which is an image that the apostles grab onto and repeat in their own teachings (1 Thes. 5:2-4; 2 Peter 3:10).

As a matter of fact, at no time in the gospel record did Jesus ever teach about the re-gathering of Israel back into the land. Now, this re-gathering is certainly a major prophetic theme throughout the Old Testament, but is simply not addressed by Jesus.
Therefore, it is highly unlikely that He had such a re-gathering in mind in this Matthew 24 discourse – ESPECIALLY when there is a more natural application of what He taught to the gathering and resurrection of the saints at His second coming in the clouds of the sky as taught by Paul at 1 Thes. 4:14-17.

In addition, this gathering of His elect is exactly what Jesus promised at John 14:3, “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.”

THE RECIPIENTS OF CHRIST’S TEACHINGS

Jesus chose his disciples not only to assist him in his pre-cross evangelistic ministry, but also to be the foundation builders for the new evangelistic agency, the church. As foundation builders, the disciples were recipients of information pertinent and vital to the church. Jesus did not teach his disciples as members of the nation of Israel, who would remain in the dispensation of Israel, but as those who were to be leaders in the new priestly body.

The information He taught them was pertinent to their lives when it was taught and pertinent to their lives after Jesus ascended and the church began its role as God's official evangelistic agent on the earth. It was indeed information for them and for all those who would believe in Christ through them. It was for the church and for those who would live within the time parameters of the church extending from its inception in 30 AD to "the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20) when Jesus will return and supernaturally gather his elect out from the world.

Everything that Jesus taught, not only to the disciples, but also to the people, was designed to reflect the Divine Value System and how God's people were to live on the earth. Since He was teaching Jews in the context of the national priesthood of Israel (See topic: Dispensations), some of what was said, related to the temple and Mosaic policy, but only what was specifically mentioned as such. Everything else would be standard operating procedure for God's people after Jesus left the earth and He began to build His church upon the foundation of the disciples (Ephesians 2:20). This includes the information in the Sermon on the Mount as well as the Olivet Discourse. Jesus taught in anticipation of the church age; NOT in anticipation of an earthly physical kingdom for Israel.

The term, Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven (which are used interchangeably) refer to the presence and influence of God's authority and viewpoint upon the earth in the realm of the human race. Since God's plan for the ultimate establishment of His authority and viewpoint is progressive in nature, the term can refer to any of several factors that lie within the progressive scope of that plan depending on context. The prayer request, "Let Your kingdom come" (Matthew 6:10), is not a request for the establishment of the Messiah's physical kingdom, but expresses a compliant attitude for the progressive influence of God's truth in the human realm as the divine plan advances. Although the disciples were anticipating an earthly kingdom, Jesus did not encourage this, but instead, emphasized that the kingdom of God was in their midst; that it was initiated by His birth and baptism; and that His death and resurrection would launch a new administration of kingdom viewpoint on the earth through a new priestly agent. The responsibility of the church is to take that KINGDOM OF GOD teaching from Jesus and spread it throughout the world until He comes back (Mat. 21:33-46; 28:18-20; Acts 1:3; Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:6; Eph. 5:5; Col. 4:11; 2 Thes. 1:4-5).

The common view of modern dispensationalism, that views the teachings of Jesus as "still dealing with Israel" and as anticipatory of a future earthly kingdom, is inaccurate and misleading. Dispensations does not involve HOW God deals with any particular group of people, but how God administrates the gospel to the world.

See Topic: Prewrath and Dispensations

THE DAY OF THE LORD

The arrival of the Lord at His second coming is called, “The day of the Lord” at Joel 2:31, 1Thes. 5:2, 2Thes. 2:2, 1Cor. 5:5 (or “Lord Jesus”), and 2 Peter 3:10. And that then corresponds with Luke 17:24, “His day,” and at verse 30, “the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”
And that makes the event described at Matthew 24:27-30 refer as well to “the day of the Lord.”

Based on comparing Revelation 6;12-17 with Joel 2:31; Mathew 24:29-30 and Luke 21:25-27, it is clear that the second coming of Christ (the arrival of THE DAY OF THE LORD) and the rapture will occur at the 6th seal. With the opening of the 7th seal, the 7 trumpets of divine judgment will start to be poured out on the earth dwellers. The 6th trumpet itself will last 5 months, so that gives us at least that much of a delay between the rapture and the reward seat.

At 2 Thes. 2:1-2, there occurs a juxtaposition of three terms that makes those three terms refer to the very same event.
V. 1 - The coming or our Lord Jesus Christ
V. 1 - Our gathering together to Him
V. 2 - the Day of the Lord

This "gathering together" to Him is what Paul had previously described in his first Thessalonian letter at verses 4:14-17.
“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, shall not precede those who have died (fallen asleep).
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Then we who are alive, who remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds for a meeting with the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

See: Day of the Lord Overview for more details

THE LAST DAY and RESURRECTION

Jesus said that this gathering and “raising” of the believers will happen “at the last day.” John 6:39-40, 44, 54.
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

The LAST DAY is that time period that will begin with the second coming of the Lord, at some unknown day and hour during the reign of the beast in the last half of the 70th week of Daniel. It BEGINS with the arrival of the Lord in the clouds of the sky and continues until the 2nd advent agenda of the Lord is completed (either UNTO the start of the millennium or until the end of it).

The resurrection program will NOT be completed within ONE 24-hour day. Those who become believers after the rapture will receive a resurrection body at some later time (Rev. 20:4-5).
At John 5:28-29, the resurrection is described by Jesus IN GENERAL, and includes both the righteous and the unrighteous dead. It is seen as occurring in “AN HOUR.”
But this is not literally ONE HOUR, but again, a time period; the time period known as “the last day.”

Jesus quite often used word HOUR to refer to a PERIOD OF TIME rather than a literal 60-minute hour. Mark 14:41; Luke 22:53; John 2:4; 4:21; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 16:2, 25; 17:1. And others likewise used it in that manner. 1 John 2:18; Rev. 3:10; 14:7, 15; 17:12.

We know that there is at least a 1000-year gap between the raising of the righteous and the raising of the unrighteous, and yet this GENERAL resurrection is described as occurring when “an hour is coming.”

We also know that there is a gap of time between the rapture and the one’s raised before the 1000 year kingdom. And I believe that there is a resurrection after the 1000 year kingdom so that throughout eternity, ALL believers will live in a resurrection body. This is the only way that the wonderful blessing described at Revelation 21:3-4 can be fulfilled for all humanity.
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer e any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Likewise, at Daniel 12:2, the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous is seen as occurring “at that time” (verse 12:1); i.e. the time of the end, which is the context established at verses 11:35 and 40.
”And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and a rejection of perpetuity.”
But this refers to the GENERAL time period of “the last days,” and not to a simultaneous resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous.

Accordingly, the resurrection program does not occur in ONE DAY, but over a period of time that is known as “the last day.”
This is just as Paul described it at 1Cor 15:22-23,
“For as by means of Adam all die, so also by means of Christ all shall be made alive.
But each one in his own order; Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.”

We know, then, that the gathering of the elect at the arrival of the Lord in the clouds of the sky is at the very least, the START of “the last day.” This is because it is at that time that the gathered elect will also receive a resurrection body. 1 Cor. 15:50-53; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 4:1; 1 Thes. 4:13-17.

The language at Daniel 12:13, "at the end of the age," need not refer to the exact end of the age of Israel, ie., the exact end of the 70th week. It can very easily refer to the general time period known as the end of the age, which would be the 70th week itself. Accordingly, the resurrection of Old Testament saints and their inclusion in the rapture "during" the 70th week, ie., at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus before the 70th week comes to an end, does not violate Daniel 12:13.

Nor does the resurrection of Old Testament saints with the saints of the church violate any "functional" distinctions between them in a dispensational context. In fact, Old Testament saints all looked forward to salvation and resurrection through the sin sacrifice of the Messiah.

And it is that sin sacrifice of Messiah Jesus which brought both into a covenant of peace with God (Ephesians 2:13-16). Furthermore, New Testament believers are made fellow citizens with the Old Testament saints and are joined with them into God's household (Ephesians 2:19).

"But now, In Christ Jesus, you who were far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, Who made BOTH groups into ONE . . . that IN HIMSELF He might make the TWO into ONE NEW MAN, thus establishing peace. And might reconcile them BOTH in ONE BODY to God through the cross . . . for through Him we BOTH have our access in ONE Spirit to the Father. So then YOU are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with THE SAINTS (Old Testament believers) and are of God's household.

It is clear then, that Old Testament saints are placed into union with Christ through their heavenly association with Him based on their faith in Him as the promised Messiah Savior.

In addition, Hebrews 11:39-40 suggests that the "perfection" of relationship with God in heaven (Hebrews 12:23), is shared together by both Old and New Testament believers. They both live in the same heavenly city, the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:16; 12:22).

See Topics: The Resurrection

VOCABULARY: rapture

This gathering and “raising” of the elect is called the RAPTURE of the church.
Many have protested the existence of this event because they claim that the word "rapture" does not even occur in the bible. That is true, however, as with many of our theological terms, we appeal back to the Hebrew, Greek or even the Latin to establish terminology.

This event, rapture, is so designated because of the Greek word which is translated at 1 Thes. 4:17 as "caught up."
The Greek word is harpadzo and means to seize suddenly;
to snatch or take away, as any Greek lexicon will confirm.
However, the Latin word which was used to translate harpadzo, is "rapio," and it is from this word that we establish the term, "rapture." Walvoord writes, "The word, 'rapture' is from 'rapere,' found in the expression 'caught up' in the Latin translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17."
(The Rapture Question, John F. Walvoord, page 8)

Paul tells us that the rapture; this "redemption of the body" or transformation of the body will take place at a point in time when there will exist in the church, both those who have died (fallen asleep) and those who are still alive, and yet it will happen to both groups at the same time. 1 Cor. 15:50-52; 1 Thes. 4:14-17

1 Cor. 15:51-52

Behold, I tell you a mystery;
we shall not all sleep (die)
but we shall all be changed
in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye,
at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised imperishable
(ie, resurrection body like at Phil. 3:21)
and we (our bodies) shall be changed.


1 Thes. 4.15-17

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 not precede those who have fallen asleep (died)
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven
with a shout; with the voice of the archangel
and with the trumpet of God
and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
Then we who are alive, who remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds
for a meeting with the Lord in the air,
and thus we shall always be with the Lord.


THE LAST TRUMPET

At 1Cor. 15:52, we have a term that has given rise to much misunderstanding and speculation; the last trumpet.
In the Ancient Roman games, the blowing of the trumpet announced the various stages of the proceedings. The last one, of course, would be the final notification for whatever event or action was being announced. This is Paul’s frame of reference.
Elsewhere he has taken images from the Roman games to teach spiritual truths.
1Cor.
9:24-27; 2Tim. 2:5;

The gathering of the elect, the rapture of the saints of all previous ages will occur “at the last trumpet” blast. And it will occur INSTANTANEOUSLY at that very moment.
At 1Thes. 4:16, Paul calls it “the trumpet of God,” and Jesus calls it, “a great trumpet” at Mat. 24:31.

This has nothing to do with the 7 trumpets of Revelation 8:6-9:21, nor specifically with the “seventh trumpet” of verses 10:7 and 11:15-19.
There is no gathering or resurrection at the seventh trumpet.
It is, in fact, an event that occurs AT LEAST 5 months after the second coming of Christ, which will occur at the 6th seal, because the 6th trumpet by itself will last for 5 months. The normal and natural understanding of the record is that the trumpets come AFTER, and as a result of the breaking of the 7th seal, which obviously follows the 6th seal.

In addition, we must remember that what John is seeing is simply a TEACHING AID so that he, and we, can understand these end-time events in an orderly manner. The 7 trumpets are ONLY SYMBOLS within the vision. They are not literal trumpets that will be blown when the time comes for the historical fulfillment of these judgments.

ORIENTATION TO JOHN's VISION

The specifics of the "end times" period given to John in The Revelation should be viewed as "teaching aids" and not actual historical details. Example: the beast coming up out of the sea is a symbol used as a teaching aid to communicate the specifics of the international environment at the time. But when it is time for these events to take place, there will not be a "BEAST" coming up out of the sea, but a man out from the Gentile world who controls an 8th world kingdom through the empowering of Satan. And when it is time for the 70th week to begin and the events within that week to transpire, there will not be "literal" seals that must be opened. In fact, the 3rd, 4th and 5th seals all occur together during the oppressive reign of the man of lawlessness and not chronologically. The trumpets are not literal trumpets that will be blown and the bowls are not literal bowls that will be emptied. In other words, the vision is a present reality for John about future events. The vision is not future. The symbols of the vision are not future. The events represented by the symbols are either present or future depending on the context within the vision.


THE RENOVATION OF THE UNIVERSE

At 2Peter 3:10, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief by means of which” the physical universe will be destroyed.
Once again, the image of the thief in the night is used to identify with the event that Jesus taught about in Matthew 24.
The point is to recognize that all of these passages are referring to the very same event – the gathering of the believers (the rapture) at the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky.
The event of the renovation of the universe will occur at the end of the 1000 year reign of Jesus.
See Topic: The Renovation of the Universe

The preposition, EN occurs with either the instrumental (by means of) or the locative of sphere (in the sphere of). However, since at verse 12, the same event (called there, “the day of God) is described as occurring BECAUSE OF (using the preposition, dia with the accusative case). And this would indicate that EN in verse 10 should be seen as instrumental, “by means of.”
But this does not answer the question as to the length of time involved with the day of the Lord. The idea that the renovation of the universe will occur BECAUSE OF or BY MEANS OF the Day of the Lord, simply indicates that it is THAT event that initiates the end-time events that will culminate with the renovation of the universe.


THE REWARD SEAT

Paul uses several terms to describe the arrival of Jesus FOR the believers, at which time, they will be rewarded for good works done while here on earth.
At 1 Corinthians 1:7, it is called, “the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And the believers are said to be looking for this event.
And at verse 8, it is called “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And the believers will be confirmed as blameless (positional righteousness) at this event.
“The day of our Lord Jesus” at 2Cor. 1:14 is used in connection with mutual pride and satisfaction when Paul and the Corinthians will meet together when Jesus comes back.
AT Philippians 1:6, it is called, “the day of Christ Jesus,” and refers to the preservation of the believer’s salvation up to the time that Christ returns.
At verses 10 and
2:16, “the day of Christ,” refers to the rapture and the desire that Paul has for these believers that they will have maximum righteous good works to be rewarded at that time.

We learn from 3 passages that the reward seat of Christ will occur at His coming.
1 Corinthians 4:5, “when the Lord comes.”

1 John 2:28, “at his coming (parousia).”
1 Peter 1:7, “at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

1 Pet. 5:1-4, “when he appears.”

This does not HAVE to occur immediately upon His arrival. If it can be established that “His coming” refers to both the initial arrival, and the events that follow that arrival, culminating at Armageddon, then it would be likely that the reward seat will occur just prior to the battle of Armageddon as at Revelation 19:6-9.

The word that is used the most for the second coming of Christ is parousia. Matthew uses it four times and it is used 13 additional times in the epistles - consistently for the ONE and only second coming of Jesus, which will be visible, physical and in GLORY. The word means a "being" (ousia) beside (para). Thus, the idea of both arrival and presence is in view with greater emphasis usually on the idea of ARRIVAL, thus the translation, COMING. But it can be translated as coming, arrival or presence.

According to my understanding of the chronology, it would not be until AFTER the sounding of the 7th trumpet that the reward seat would occur, as per Revelation 11:15-18. “The time came for the dead to be judged, and to give their rewards to Your bond-servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Your name.”
And, as mentioned earlier, there is at least 5 months between the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky at the 6th seal, and the sounding of the symbolic 7th trumpet.

See Chapter: The 7th Trumpet

Thus, the reward seat of Christ will occur at some time between the sounding of the 7th trumpet and the destruction of Babylon the Great, which is summarized at Revelation 18:21-24, and occurs just prior to Armageddon. And in the celebration of that victory over Babylon (Rev. 19:1-9), the saints would be seen as already rewarded at Revelation 19:6-9.
“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”


THE RESURRECTION AT REVELATION 20:4

It seems that the resurrection at Revelation 20:4 is very restrictive.
That is, it seems to apply to a very specific group of people and no one else can fit into that category.

However, before these martyrs are resurrected, we see a group of "previously" resurrected saints sitting on thrones.

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them."

It seems quite clear that there are two groups represented at verse 4: The ones who are seen sitting on the thrones and the ones who were martyred by the beast and are resurrected after Armageddon.

"And I {saw} the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for 1000 years."

There are two direct objects to the verb "saw."
I saw THRONES -
AND
(I saw) the souls.

1. I saw thrones and THEY sat upon them: these are seen as "AT THAT TIME" on thrones and having been already assigned the function of judgment.
This first group, then, refers to the raptured bride (church and Old Testament believers) who begin to administrate their promised "judgment" function as joint-heirs with Christ
(Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 6:2a, 3; Rev. 5:10)

2. The second group refers specifically to a group of martyrs, who are seen as "CAME to life." The verb, zao occurs as - edzasan (aorist active indicative) - the EXACT same form that occurs in verse 5, "the rest of the dead did not come to life. ." (except the negative is at verse 5).

This aorist tense should be seen as a "point-of-time" occurrence. Ie, "came to life."
If it was intended to emphasis the "status" of living, it would be in the present tense (present active indicative = they are living, or they live). If the intent were to say, "they HAD come to life," then the Greek would use the perfect tense.
What John sees is a group of physically DEAD martyrs (their souls - obviously in heaven), and he OBSERVES that they came to life.
(incidentally, the word group, zao, is very often used to indicate resurrection.)

There is no way to make this involve anyone other than a group of saints who were martyred via the oppressive reign of the beast. It does not include "living" believers nor does it include any who died of natural causes throughout history.
It should be clear then, that this does NOT refer to the resurrection that takes place at the rapture. It therefore must refer to those who were martyred after the rapture.
And if there is no other resurrection mentioned, then the Old Testament saints must be included in the rapture and be among those mentioned as "sitting on the thrones."

The significance of the phrase, "this is the first resurrection," is tricky.
It could refer to the idea that this BRINGS TO COMPLETION the first resurrection which embraces both the raptured bride of Christ (Old and New Testament believers), who are sitting on the thrones, and the Day of the Lord martyrs, who die for their faith after the rapture and prior to Armageddon.

But that would SEEM to exclude the millennial saints from being part of the first resurrection. Thus it might be better to see "this is" as "this is (part of) the first resurrection."
The term FIRST RESURRECTION, probably should be seen as simply the resurrection of the righteous in contrast with the resurrection of the unrighteous (at the end of the mil).
This agrees with the idea presented at Daniel 12:2; John 5:29 and Acts 24:15 - all which indicate that there are in fact TWO resurrections; the resurrection of the just and of the unjust.

Paul helps us at 1 Cor. 15:23-24 by showing us STAGES or ORDERS to the resurrection of the righteous.    "Each in his own order"
1. Christ the first fruits.
2. Those who are His at His coming: this would include not only the rapture but also those raised AFTER his second coming agenda has been completed - i.e., after Armageddon. Two groups
then can be seen as being raised "at His coming."
3. But v. 24 says, "THEN comes the end," which refers to the end of the millennial kingdom, when Jesus turns everything over to the Father.
It should be obvious that there will be BELIEVING humans alive at this time who will need to be given resurrection bodies. The language at Rev. 20:4 does not exclude these from being part of the first resurrection.
It seems that the point at Rev. 20:4, is that the martyrs seen as "coming to life" after Armageddon ARE part of the first resurrection.

THE TIMING OF THE RAPTURE

It will occur in God's perfect timing, when He decides to "cut short" the great tribulation at some unknown day and hour after the beast begins his oppressive reign.
Paul states at 1 Timothy 6:15, concerning the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
“which He (The Father) will manifest at His own time.”

Paul makes it clear that the Day of the Lord will not begin until after "The" apostasy and after the man of lawlessness is revealed. The apostasy refers to a specific and wide-spread departure of Christians from THE FAITH, which will occur in connection with the persecution mounted by the beast. This is seen in the context of Matthew 24:9-21.
“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.”

The increase of lawlessness is because the man of lawlessness will be revealed at that time, and he will break the covenant with Israel and set himself up in the Jewish temple, proclaiming that he, himself is God. 2Ths. 2:1-4

Now we request you, brethren,
with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and our gathering together to Him,
that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message
or a letter as if from us,
to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
Let no one in any way deceive you,
for {it will not come} unless
the apostasy comes first,
and the man of lawlessness is revealed,
the son of destruction,
who opposes and exalts himself above
every so-called god or object of worship,
so that he takes his seat in the temple of God,
displaying himself as being God.

According to the teachings of Jesus recorded in Matthew 24, the return of the Lord and the gathering
of the saints will occur, “immediately after the tribulation of those days,” (verse 29).
Since the tribulation will begin at the midpoint of the week with the rise of the man of lawlessness
(the beast), the “expected” duration of the beast’s reign is the remaining 1260 days of the 70th week
of Daniel.

However, that tribulation will be CUT SHORT or interrupted from its “expected” duration by the wisdom
and timing of God. Verse 22, “And unless those days are cut short, no life would be delivered; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.”

Accordingly, when Jesus amplifies His statements, He teaches that no one can know the day or hour
of the arrival and rapture. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,
nor the Son, but the Father alone,” (verse 36).

But in the parable at Matthew 24:32-34 and Luke 21:29-32, He does teach us that we can know
THE SEASON, that is, the general time frame for His return. “Behold he fig tree and all the trees;
as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near.
Even so you, too, when you see theses things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.”

The “generation” is of course, the generation that is alive at the time of the 70th week of Daniel.

It was possible for the historical setting necessary for the 70th week of Daniel to begin, to occur
in the first century. Accordingly, Paul could write to the Thessalonians that they MIGHT find relief
from their persecutions through the return of the Lord. 2Thessalonians 1:6-10.

“For after all it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you
who are afflicted and to us as well at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty
angels in flaming fire.”

And we have the many exhortations to watchfulness that indicate the possibility of Christ’s return
during the first century. However, contrary to the pre-trib belief that these exhortations teach a theory
of  PERPETUAL imminence, they teach imminence only within the context of a first-century arrival
of  the man of lawlessness and the start of Daniel’s 70th week.

THE THEORY OF IMMINENCE

The pre-trib theory of imminence teaches that Christ can come at any moment, without any warning
or signs or any necessary fulfillment of events first.

On the other hand, the Bible certainly teaches that EXPECTANCY and watchfulness should be
the attitude of the trusting believer.

1 Corinthians 1:7, “So that you are not deficient of any gift, awaiting expectantly
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Phil. 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from where also we expectantly await
the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 1:10, “And to expectantly wait for his Son from heaven, whom he
raised from the dead; Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

Titus 2:13, "Looking for that happy hope, and appearing of the glory of the great God
and our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter 3:12, “What sort of people should you be in morally unique conduct and worship,
looking for and diligently advancing the coming of the day of God.”

However these exhortations do not indicate a perpetual imminence, but an attitude of devotion and
longing for Christ’s return. And it is an attitude that understands there is a necessary historical setting
that must be in place before Christ CAN come back. That historical setting, according to what Jesus
and Paul taught, is the rise of the man of lawlessness (the beast, the antichrist). And although some
generations have seen a world environment that is more conducive to the rise of the beast than others,
the historical events necessary to produce that environment, could have occurred in any generation
after the resurrection of Christ. But the attitude of each believer should be to FURTHER the progress
of God's plan in the world through the promotion of His character; His viewpoint and policy.
As believers remain in fellowship with God and function effectively as ambassadors for Christ,
they are actively involved with ADVANCING the progress of God's plan in the world, as that
plan moves ever closer to the arrival of Jesus.
This fulfills the exhortation found at 2Peter 3:11-12.

See Articles on Imminence: Rosenthal and The 8 blows to Imminence

In conclusion then, the rapture is neither pre-trib, post-trib, or mid-trib, but PRE-WRATH
(or Post-midpoint).

It will occur at an unknown day and hour sometime after the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week,
DURING the great tribulation administered by the man of lawlessness immediately after the
decree of God cuts it short. The rapture will be "triggered" when Jesus comes in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

 
 

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©Ron Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
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