The Rapture Part 2
In the first part of this short series about the rapture, we came to the conclusion that only Church age saints will be raptured, both the dead in Christ (believers since Pentecost who have died) and believers in Christ who are still physically alive at the time of the rapture. Today we focus on the actual process of the rapture event. But before focusing on the actual stages of the rapture, two brief comments about the Jewish wedding system as well as a comparison between John 14:1-3 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 will be made.
Jewish Wedding System Analogy
As discussed earlier this year, the Jewish wedding system has various stages, namely the arrangement, the preparation, the fetching of the bride, the marriage ceremony, then the marriage feast and then the final abode or home of the Bridegroom and his wife. Of relevance to the rapture is that the bride of Christ will be fetched in accordance with this Jewish wedding system. “The groom would go to the house of the bride on the wedding day to fetch her to his home” (Fruchtenbaum 2005a:5).
Comparing John 14:1-3 to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Jesus may well have referred to the rapture. Please read the texts shown below (NKJV). John 14:1-3: “1Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. “2In 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. “3And 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”.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV): ‘13But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15For 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. 16For 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. 17Then 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. 18Therefore comfort one another with these words.’
These two texts can be compared as shown in the table below:
|John 14:1-3||1 Thessalonians 4:13-18|
|trouble (verse 1)||sorrow (verse 13)|
|trouble (verse 1)||believe (verse 14)|
|God, me (verse 1)||Jesus, God (verse 14)|
|told you (verse 2)||say to you (verse 15)|
|come again (verse 3)||coming of the Lord (verse 15)|
|receive you (verse 3)||caught up (verse 17)|
|to myself (verse 3)||to meet the Lord (verse 17)|
|be where I am (verse 3)||ever be with the Lord (verse 17)|
The point is simply that Jesus may well have had the rapture in view in John 14:1-3.
The Stages of the Rapture
According to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and using Fruchtenbaum (2005b:6-8) as well, the following stages of the rapture can be identified:
- The Lord himself will descend from Heaven (vv. 16-17). Notice the text does not say that He comes to the earth, but rather that He remains in the air, in the clouds (vv. 16-17).
- With a shout (v. 16): The Chief Commander will come out of his Heavenly abode and give a shout, a command, for the resurrection and translation of Church age believers to occur.
- With the voice of the archangel (v. 16): Angels are often used to set God’s plan into motion and here the archangel Michael, as a sub-commander, will repeat the order or shout of the Commander in Chief. So Jesus Christ gives the shout or command for the program of the rapture to begin and the archangel Michael sets this program into motion.
- With the trumpet of God (v. 16). The sound of the trumpet was used as a summons either to battle or to worship. Here the trumpet sound serves as a summons for the program of the rapture to begin. This trumpet does not refer to the trumpets mentioned in Revelation. Why not? Both 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians were written decades before Revelation was written. How would the Thessalonians and Corinthians have understood this trumpet? In agreement with Fruchtenbaum (2005b:9; cf. Scholtz 2015:6-7), this trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16) or ‘last trumpet’ (1 Corinthians 15:52) refers to the long, last trumpet blast blown during the Feast of Trumpets, the tekiah gedolah. Jesus Christ will typologically fulfil the Feast of Trumpets through the rapture.
- The dead in Christ shall rise first (v. 16): This is the resurrection of all Church saints who have already died since Pentecost.
- Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up [harpazo] together with them in the clouds (v. 17): This is the translation of Church saints who are physically alive at the time of the rapture, exchanging their mortal bodies for glorified bodies in the twinkling of an eye.
- To meet the Lord in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord (v. 17): Both the resurrected ‘dead in Christ’ believers and the translated living believers in Christ will meet the Lord in the air, permanently remaining with Him and returning with Him into Heaven.
If you would like to find out more about the rapture, we suggest you read the following sources:
Fruchtenbaum, A.G., 2005a, ‘The Jewish wedding system and the Bride of the Messiah’, Tustin, Ariel Ministries.
Fruchtenbaum, A.G., 2005b, ‘The rapture of the Church’, Ariel Ministries.
Scholtz, J.J., 2015c, ‘Matthew 13 and the feasts of the LORD’, In die Skriflig 49(1), Art. #1900, 8 pages.
Share with others:
[apss_share networks='facebook, twitter, pinterest']