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Sermon No: 574-The Rapture - Pre



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SERMON TOPIC: The Rapture - Pre, Mid or Post-Trib

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 10 October 2010

Topic Groups: RAPTURE, PROPHECY

Sermon synopsis: 'Raptus' is Jerome’s translation of the Koine Greek word harpazo, which means ‘caught up’ or ‘taken away.’
‘Harpazo’ is also used in Acts 8:39 where it describes the transporting of Philip suddenly from Gaza to Azotus.
Acts 8:39 'When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took (harpazo) Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again…'
Harpazo is used of Paul being caught up to the third heaven:
1 Cor 12:2 'I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up (harpazo) to the third heaven.'
And again harpazo is used of the man-child being caught up to the throne of God:
Rev 12:5 '… And her child was snatched up (harpazo) to God and to his throne.'
In similar fashion, 1 Thess 4:17 tells us that we who are still alive at the time of Jesus’ coming will be “caught up” (harpazo) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
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The Rapture

IMPORTANCE: 2nd COMING

Some people feel that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to doctrines like the Second Coming because it is too controversial or divisive. So we shouldn’t attempt to correct doctrinal errors in this regard.

If this approach is correct, one might wonder why Paul wrote the 2 epistles to the Thessalonians primarily to correct false doctrine on the Second Coming. Why not just let it go for the sake of unity?

IMPORTANCE: 2nd COMING

We know from Acts 17:1-2 that Paul’s stay in Thessalonica was only 3 to 4 weeks. 1

2 Thess 2:1-5 indicates that in this short period Paul had taken the time to teach them about the Second Coming and about the antichrist. 2 Clearly Paul was not of the opinion that this was an unimportant doctrinal side-issue.

1 Acts 17:1-2 … they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures…

2 2 Thess 2:1-5 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction… Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?

1 Thess 4:15-18 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

THE RAPTURE

Some critics of the doctrine of the Rapture allege that the word ‘rapture’ is not used in the Bible. While this is true in the English Bible, it is certainly not true of the Scriptures in Latin.

‘Rapture’, in the context of eschatology, is an English word derived from the Latin verb rapio, found in the Vulgate (i.e. Jerome’s) rendering of 1 Thess 4:17. 1

1 ...deinde nos qui vivimus qui relinquimur simul rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Domino in aera et sic semper cum Domino erimus. (NOTE: The root for the Latin word ‘rapiemur’ is ‘rapio’.)

DEFINITION

Statue of Jerome at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

Raptus 1 is Jerome’s translation of the Koine Greek word harpazō, which means ‘caught up’ or ‘taken away.’

‘Harpazō’ is also used in Acts 8:39 where it describes the transporting of Philip suddenly from Gaza to Azotus.

Acts 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took (harpazō) Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again…

1 ‘Raptus’ is the past participle of ‘rapio’. According to Wikipedia, “The Oxford English Dictionary provides two pages describing the history of usage of the word ‘rapture’ in English. From the 17th century onwards, the word is attested as rapture with similar senses to the older form rapt. The OED provides the etymology as from Latin rapere: to seize, especially abduct; it likens the words capture and rapture. Of particular note are the various distinctions involving either literal or figurative transport of body or emotions to heaven or from one place to another on earth.”

HARPAZŌ

HARPAZŌ

Harpazō is used of Paul being caught up to the third heaven:

1 Cor 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up (harpazō) to the third heaven.

And again harpazō is used of the man-child being caught up to the throne of God:

Rev 12:5 … And her child was snatched up (harpazō) to God and to his throne.

In similar fashion, 1 Thess 4:17 tells us that we who are still alive at the time of Jesus’ coming will be “caught up” (harpazō) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

In the Amillennial and Postmillennial views, as well as in the Post-Tribulation Premillennial position, there are no distinctions in the timing of the rapture. These views regard the Rapture as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 as either identical to the Second Coming of Jesus as described in Matthew 24:29-31, or as a meeting in the air with Jesus that immediately precedes his Second Coming to the earth. Within Premillennialism, the Pre-Tribulation position is the predominant view that distinguishes between the Rapture and Second Coming as two events. There are also two minor positions within Premillennialism that differ with regard to the timing of the rapture, the Mid-Tribulation view and the Partial Rapture view. 1

1 Wikipedia

TIMING OF THE RAPTURE

Premillennialists hold 3 main views on the timing on the Rapture (Jesus’ coming for His church)

Pre-tribulation rapture

Mid-tribulation rapture

Post-tribulation rapture

TIMING OF THE RAPTURE

TIMING OF RAPTURE

POST-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

Millennium

Present age

7-year Tribulation

2nd Advent

Rapture

PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

Present age

Rapture

MID-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

Millennium

Present age

Rapture

3½ year Tribulation

2nd Advent

3½ year Tribulation

As we have seen previously, in it’s first 3 centuries of existence the church held clear Premillennial views, and expected an impending apocalypse along with the return of Jesus. Amillennialism was popularised by Augustine in the 5th century and subsequently became the predominant view.

However some of the writings of the early Church Fathers 1 indicate that they believed that the Church (rather than Israel) would suffer the wrath of the Antichrist.

It must be remembered though that the Jews of Jesus’ time (including the disciples) didn’t yet even differentiate between the First and Second Coming of Jesus until they received further clarification by Jesus. Hence the apostles ask Jesus just before his ascension, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

1 e.g. Hippolytus of Rome

A RECENT DOCTRINE?

Irenaeus shows that he understood the Rapture to precede the Tribulation when he writes, “And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, ‘There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.’ ” 1

1 Irenaeus: “Against Heresies Book III Chapter XXIX v. 1”. Irenaeus however, like some other Church fathers, saw the Church as first experiencing some persecution by the antichrist. This is because they failed to see “the saints” whom the little horn of Daniel makes war on, as being a restored Israel, but assumed that it was also a reference to the Church.

A RECENT DOCTRINE?

Irenaeus (2nd Cent – c. 202 AD )

Some critics of Pre-Trib Rapture view maintain that the belief is a recent doctrinal development and that the doctrine or any semblance of it was unknown before the early 19th century and the writings of John Nelson Darby.

However there is an explicit extra-Biblical reference to the Pre-Trib rapture in a document (Pseudo-Ephraem) dated between 374-627 A.D. “For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.”

This statement does not prove the Pre-Trib position, only the Bible can do that, but it should change many people’s historical views on the matter. 1

1 The Rapture in Pseudo-Ephraem: Thomas Ice

A RECENT DOCTRINE?

The rise in belief in the ‘Pre-Tribulation’ rapture is often wrongly attributed to a 15-year old Scottish-Irish girl named Margaret McDonald (a follower of Edward Irving), who in 1830 had a vision of the end times which describes a Post-Tribulation view of the Rapture that was first published in 1840. It was published again in 1861 but two important sentences demonstrating Post-Tribulation were removed… The two removed sentences were, “This is the fiery trial which is to try us. - It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus” and “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept”. 1

1 Wikipedia (Rapture) citing “Margaret MacDonald’s Complete Vision” (http:// www.bibleprophesy.org/ vision.htm)

19TH CENTURY ORIGIN?

17TH - 18TH CENTURY

The concept of the Rapture, in connection with Premillennialism, was expressed by the American Puritan father and son Increase 1 and Cotton Mather. They held to the idea that believers would be caught up in the air, followed by judgments on the earth and then the Millennium. 2 & 3

Cotton Mather (1663-1728)

1 1639–1723 2 Richard G Kyle (1998) “The Last Days Are Here Again: A History of the End Times” 3 Paul Boyer (1992) “When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture”

The term ‘Rapture’ was used by Philip Doddridge (1738) 1 and John Gill (1748) 2 in their NT commentaries, with the idea that believers would be caught up prior to judgment on the earth and Jesus’ Second Coming. 3

1 An English Nonconformist leader, educator and hymnwriter. 2 An English Baptist and biblical scholar. 3 SOURCE: Wikipedia (Rapture)

18TH CENTURY

Philip Doddridge (1702–1751)

John Gill (1697–1771)

18TH CENTURY

The concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture was articulated by the Welsh Baptist Morgan Edwards in an essay published in 1788 in Philadelphia. 1

Scottish minister, Edward Irving (1792–1834) 2 taught a two-phase return of Christ, the first phase being a secret rapture prior to the rise of the Antichrist. 3

1 Wikipedia (Rapture) quoting Frank Marotta “Morgan Edwards: An Eighteenth Century Pretribulationist” (1995) 2 Irving is generally regarded as the main figure behind the foundation of the Catholic Apostolic Church. 3 SOURCE: Wikipedia (Rapture)

Edward Irving (1792-1834)

DISPENSATIONALISM

John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren, is regarded by many as the father of modern Dispensationalism. This view holds to a very literal interpretation of Scripture and a rigorous distinction between God’s program for Israel and for the Church.

Darby’s view of a Pre-Tribulation rapture was accepted among many other Plymouth Brethren in England. The Brethren Movement impacted American Christianity, primarily through their writings. 1

1 Ibid

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

DISPENSATIONALISM

Influences included the Bible Conference Movement, starting in 1878 with the Niagara Bible Conference. These conferences led to an increasing acceptance of futurist Premillennial views and the Pre- Tribulation rapture especially among Presbyterian, Baptist and Congregational members. 1

Popular books also contributed to acceptance of the Pre-Tribulation rapture, including William Eugene Blackstone’s 2 book “Jesus is Coming” published in 1878 and which sold more than 1.3 million copies. 1

1 Ibid 2 Blackstone was an American evangelist and Christian Zionist influenced by D. L. Moody.

William Eugene Blackstone (1841–1935)

DISPENSATIONALISM

Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952)

C.I. Scofield (1843-1921)

In the U.S. Dispensationalism was propagated on the popular level largely through the Scofield Reference Bible (first published in 1909) and on the academic level with Lewis Sperry Chafer’s 8- volume ‘Systematic Theology’.

DISPENSATIONALISM

In the early 20th century Clarence Larkin published many books and charts illustrating Dispensational Millennialism views.

In the 20th century, Dispensationalism became the most popular eschatological perspective in the U.S. Along with Dispensationalism came the belief in a Pre-Tribulation rapture.

Clarence Larkin (1850-1924)

In 1957, John Walvoord, a theologian at Dallas Theological Seminary, authored a book, “The Rapture Question”, that gave theological support to the Pre-Tribulation rapture; this book eventually sold over 65,000 copies. 1

Dr. J. F. Walvoord (1910-2002)

J. Dwight Pentecost (1915-2014)

DISPENSATIONALISM

In 1958, J. Dwight Pentecost authored another book supporting the Pre-Tribulation rapture, “Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology”, which sold 215,000 copies. 1

1 Wikipedia (Rapture)

Another popular proponent of Dispensational Premillennialism is Charles Ryrie (in the notes for the Ryrie Study Bible). Other well-known proponents of the Pre-Trib Rapture include Charles Feinberg, J. Vernon McGee, Chuck Smith, Chuck Missler, Jack Van Impe, Grant Jeffrey, and David Jeremiah.

DISPENSATIONALISM

Dr. Charles Ryrie (1925-2016)

J. Vernon McGee (1904-88)

Chuck Smith (1927-2013)

Jack Van Impe (1931-)

In the South African Assemblies of God movement, A/ G pioneer James Mullan was an ardent Pre-Trib Rapture adherent, as was former Congo missionary Harold Berry and preacher and teacher Warren Paynter.

DISPENSATIONALISM

James Mullan

Harold Berry

Warren Paynter

including “The Late Great Planet Earth”, which has reportedly sold between 15 and 35 million copies, and by the movie “A Thief in the Night”. 1

From 1995 until present, the doctrine of the Pre-Trib rapture was further popularized by Tim LaHaye’s and Jerry Jenkins “Left Behind” book series, which sold over 65 million copies in series and was made into several movies.

1 Ibid

Lahaye & Jenkins

Hal Lindsey

During the 1970s, the Pre-Trib rapture viewpoint became popular in wider circles, in part due to the books of Hal Lindsey,

WHY PRE-TRIB?

Why do we believe that the Rapture and the Second Advent are 2 separate events and that the Rapture will take place before the 7 year Tribulation?

Can there be 2 Second Comings?

Does the church experience God’s wrath?

Is the day known or unknown?

Where is the church in the Revelation?

What is the “blessed hope”?

Who populates the Millennial earth?

Righteous removed or wicked removed?

The Lord himself or with the angels?

(1) 2 SECOND COMINGS?

It is often contended that Pretribulationists teach a first ‘Second Coming’ and a second ‘Second Coming’.

But remember that there were two phases to the First Coming.

Jesus Christ ministered to all until his death.

After his resurrection he appeared again, but now only to believers.

The 2 phases of the First Coming were separated by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

1st Coming

Phase 1

Appears to all

Phase 2

Appears only to believers

As with his First Coming we believe that there will be 2 phases to his Second Coming.

The Rapture - when Jesus appears only to believers.

The Second Advent - when he appears to all and comes as judge (7 years after the Rapture).

(1) 2 SECOND COMINGS?

1st Coming

Phase 1

Appears to all

Phase 2

Appears only to believers

2nd Coming

Phase 1

Appears only to believers

Phase 2

Appears to all

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Another accusation launched against Pre-Tribulationists is that their motivation for wanting to miss the Tribulation is because they do not want to suffer.

The Bible plainly teaches that Christians will suffer in this present age. However we need to differentiate between man’s (or Satan’s) wrath - and God’s wrath. The Tribulation is God’s wrath on sinful man, not Satan’s wrath in the form of persecution.

In the context of the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5 we are told that “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath”.

1 Thess 5:4,9 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief… For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Tribulation (or “Day of the Lord”) is not man’s wrath - it is God’s wrath and judgment on man.

Rev 6:16-17 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Christians will be kept from the “hour of trial”.

Rev 3:10-11 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

1 Thess 1:9-10… They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Jesus compares His coming to both the judgment of the Flood and of Sodom.

Luke 17:26-28 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man… It was the same in the days of Lot…”

Now Noah did not go through the Flood (God’s judgment). He and his family were removed by being placed in the ark.

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Likewise Lot and his family were spared the judgment on Sodom by being removed from the city. In fact the angel told Lot with regards to fleeing to Zoar, “But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (Gen 19:22)

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Abraham said to God when ‘negotiating’ about Sodom, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?... Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen 18:23-25)

Like the Flood and the destruction of Sodom, the Tribulation is God’s judgment on unrepentant men.

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

Thus it is Scripturally consistent to believe that the righteous are removed before the judgment of God.

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

PRESENT AGE

AGE TO COME

Rapture

MAN’S WRATH

GOD’S WRATH

(2) ESCAPE GOD’S WRATH

END

OF

AGE

Q: WHEN IS JESUS COMING?

A: No-one knows

Matt 24:36 No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

(3) A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

Q: So will 2012 mark the end of the world?

A: Jesus said that no-one (including the incarnate Jesus) knew the day.

2012 is not even derived from any Christian prophecies but from pagan Mayan sources. 1

In any event, the world cannot end in 2012 because there still needs to be a 7 year tribulation.

The world doesn’t end after the Tribulation. The Second Advent marks the end of the ‘age’. The earth continues for another 1000 years before it is destroyed and recreated.

1 … 2012 is the year when the so-called Long Count b’ak’tun cycle of the Mayan Calendar ends (on December 21 or possibly December 23). While it's unclear what the end of that period meant to the Mayas, many interpret the period end as The End, perhaps of civilization as we know it due to a major catastrophe… (SOURCE: http:// www.escapeallthesethings.com/ 2012.htm)

2012?

Jesus will return unexpectedly

Matt 24:43-44 “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

(3) A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

1 Thess 5:2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

In Rev 16:15 Jesus said “Behold, I come like a thief!”

A thief does not announce the time of his coming, but instead comes when he is least expected.

But if the Rapture occurs at the end or the middle of the 7 year Tribulation, then how will it be unexpected? We know that there are 2 sets of 1260 days (3 ½ years) which comprise the Tribulation so anyone could work it out.

2 Pet 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.

If Jesus comes at the end or the middle of a known 7-year Tribulation period, what possible sense would the previous passage and one like this make?

Luke 12:46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

(3) A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

PRESENT AGE

AGE TO COME

Rapture

AN UNKNOWN DAY

A KNOWN DAY

(3) A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

(4) REVELATION

Pre-Trib adherents generally place the Rapture either between Revelation 3 & 4 or in chapter 6 (6th seal).

You find no mention of the Church in Revelation after chapter 3 until you get to Rev 22:16. There is however mention of Israel (with the 144,000 in Rev 7 and the woman in Rev 12). Also Jerusalem as well as the Temple are featured prominently (Rev 11).

Surely if the Church is present during the Tribulation they should merit some mention? This is circumstantial evidence that the church is not present and that God is once again dealing with Israel. This period is referred to in the OT as the time of “Jacob’s trouble”. 1

1 Jacob was renamed Israel by God and he was the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.

(4) REVELATION

Some try dismiss Israel and say that God has finished working with her. They try and apply all scripture in the NT concerning Israel to the Church.

However the NT clearly teaches the restoration of Israel and clearly differentiates between Israel and the Gentile elect:

Rom 11:25-26 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.”

GOLDEN AGE FOR JEW & GENTILE

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

PRESENT AGE

AGE TO COME

Rapture

TIME OF THE GENTILES

JACOB’S TROUBLE

I SRAEL

RESTORED

GENTILE CHURCH REMOVED

Israel are told that they should not long for the Day of the Lord (which we identify with the 7-year tribulation).

Amos 5:18-20 Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?

Indeed Jesus says of this time, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matt 24:21-22)

(5) THE “BLESSED HOPE”

(5) THE “BLESSED HOPE”

The appearing of the Lord for the Church is called “the blessed hope”. (Titus 2:13) The appearing of the Lord, should it come after the Great Tribulation, as far as the Church is concerned, would be no blessed hope, rather, the blessed hope of church saints would be to die before the coming of the Lord should they have to go through the Great Tribulation. 1

1 Warren Paynter: “The Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church”

(5) THE “BLESSED HOPE”

However for Israel, who are present during the Tribulation, this period (the Day of the Lord) is known as “JACOB’S TROUBLE”):

Jer 30:7 How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.

If Jesus returns after the Tribulation then his return is not a “blessed hope” for the Church. Instead like Israel, the Church should be told “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! ” (Amos 5:18)

(6) THE MILLENNIUM

If the Rapture comes after the Great Tribulation, then all the saints, including the Jews, will be glorified, and all the wicked will be slain. 1

The question is then, who is left to repopulate the earth during the Millennium?

This causes Post- Tribulationists like Robert Gundry to place the judgment of the nations after the Millennium and, indeed, has turned many to embrace Amillennialism. 1

1 Ibid

(7) RIGHTEOUS REMOVED

The Bible speaks of an event where the righteous are removed and an event when the wicked are removed:

RIGHTEOUS REMOVED (Rapture):

2 Thess 2:1-2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him…

WICKED REMOVED (2nd Advent):

Matt 13:41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

(8) THE LORD HIMSELF

The Bible speaks of an event where Jesus comes alone and an event when he comes with his angels:

COMES ALONE (Rapture): There is no need for angelic assistance because we shall be equal to the angels.

1 Thess 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven... we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

WITH HIS ANGELS (2nd Advent): The angels are required to gather the wicked for judgment.

Matt 13:41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

(8) THE LORD HIMSELF

Expanding on 1 Thess 4:16:

The Lord himself shall descend from heaven: Here the word translated himself (autos) is emphatic. It means “he himself and none other.” 1

With the voice of the archangel: This is better rendered “with a voice of an archangel.” In other words “with an archangel’s voice.” Thus this statement does not teach that Christ will be accompanied by an archangel but that the sound of his voice, as he summons the dead in Christ from their graves, and summons them together with the living saints to meet him in the air, is like the voice of an archangel. 1

1 Ibid

(8) THE LORD HIMSELF

Paul makes it clear that the resurrection (of the righteous) and the Rapture take place at one and the same time. He writes, “The dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor 15:52) Again, “the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them.” (1 Thess 4:16-17). Now the Lord Jesus tells us something very important about this event in Luke 20:34-36, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage; for they can die no more, for they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” 1

1 Ibid

(8) THE LORD HIMSELF

The Greek word translated “like angels” is the word ‘isangelos’. The prefix comes from the Greek word ‘isos’ which means ‘equal’. 2 Thus Jesus said that, when the resurrection takes place, those who are resurrected, and, we know from the epistles of Paul, those who are alive at his coming, are so changed that they are now equal to angels being sons of the resurrection. 1

Thus if we are equal to angels at the resurrection, there is no need for angelic assistance to be gathered to the Lord. However the unrighteous at the Second Advent need to be gathered by the angels.

1 Ibid 2 In English an isosceles triangle is a triangle with two sides which are equal. The first part of the word ‘isos’ is the Greek word for equal.

RAPTURE & 2ND ADVENT

If we note these differences between the Rapture and the Second Advent, we can see it clearly in the different parables. The term “end of the age” is only applied to the 2nd Advent.

Rapture

Second Advent

Before the Day of the Lord (i.e. Tribulation)

End of Tribulation (i.e. End of Age)

Jesus comes alone

Jesus sends out His angels

Righteous are removed

Wicked are removed

END

OF

AGE

Millennium

2nd Advent

7-year Tribulation

PRESENT AGE

Before the Day of the Lord

Righteous are removed

Jesus comes alone

End of Age

Wicked are removed

Jesus sends out His angels

RAPTURE & 2ND ADVENT

AGE TO COME

Rapture

MAN’S WRATH

GOD’S WRATH

GOLDEN AGE OF PEACE

WHEAT & TARES: This refers to the Second Advent because the term “end of the age” is used. Also the angels remove the wicked.

Matt 13:39-42 …The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace…

2ND ADVENT

THE NET: refers to the Second Advent because the term “end of the age” is used. Also the angels remove the wicked.

Matt 13:48-50 “When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace…”

2ND ADVENT

THE TEN VIRGINS: This refers to the Rapture because the groom comes unexpectedly to take only those wise virgins who are waiting for him.

Matt 25:2-13 “Five of them were foolish and five were wise… At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom!’ … The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet… Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

RAPTURE

Matt 24:37-42 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

Some have debated whether the above passage actually refers to the Second Advent. However people are shown as being caught up in their day to day business when an unexpected return of Jesus occurs.

RAPTURE

HOW THEN SHOULD WE LIVE?

1 Thess 5:1-6, 23 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled… May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture taken from The Message (www.biblegateway.com/ versions/ Message-MSG-Bible)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

17TH - 18TH CENTURY

The concept of the Rapture, in connection with Premillennialism, was expressed by the American Puritan father and son Increase and Cotton Mather. They held to the idea that believers would be caught up in the air, followed by judgments on the earth and then the Millennium. 1

Cotton Mather (1663-1728)

1 Richard G Kyle (1998) “The Last Days Are Here Again: A History of the End Times” & Paul Boyer (1992) “When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture”

Increase Mather (1639–1723)

The term ‘Rapture’ was used by Philip Doddridge (1738) 1 in his NT commentary, with the idea that believers would be caught up prior to judgment on the earth and Jesus’ Second Coming. 3

1 An English Nonconformist leader, educator and hymnwriter. 3 SOURCE: Wikipedia (Rapture)

18TH CENTURY

Philip Doddridge (1702–1751)

The concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture was articulated by the Welsh Baptist Morgan Edwards in an essay published in 1788 in Philadelphia. 1

Scottish minister, Edward Irving (1792–1834) 2 taught a two-phase return of Christ, the first phase being a secret rapture prior to the rise of the Antichrist. 3

1 Wikipedia (Rapture) quoting Frank Marotta “Morgan Edwards: An Eighteenth Century Pretribulationist” (1995) 2 Irving is generally regarded as the main figure behind the foundation of the Catholic Apostolic Church. 3 SOURCE: Wikipedia (Rapture)

Edward Irving (1792-1834)

18TH CENTURY

the RAPTURE of the CHURCH

This statement is the report of the committee to study the rapture of the Church. The report was adopted by the Assemblies of God General Presbytery, August 14, 1979.

Under the section “The Blessed Hope” in the Statement of Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God, is the following statement:

“The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Romans 8:23; Titus 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:51,52).”

Jesus taught that He will return to earth. He was careful to warn His disciples tobe constantly prepared for this (Matthew 24:42-51; 25:1-13; Mark 13:37; Luke 12:37).

They understood that the present age will end with His coming (Matthew 24:3).The assurance of His return was one of the truths with which He comforted His followers before His death (John 14:2, 3).

At the time of Christ’s ascension two angels came to the group of watching disciples to repeat the promise that He will return. They declared it would be in the same manner as He went away (Acts 1:11). This clearly means His second coming will be literal, physical, and visible.

The New Testament Epistles refer often to the Second Coming, and the theme of imminence runs through all the passages of Scripture dealing with this subject. Though there would be a period of time between the first and second comings (Luke 19:11), thewhole body of teaching concerning the return of the Lord emphasizes that it will happen suddenly without warning; that believers should be in a state of continual readiness(Philippians 4:5; Hebrews 10:37; James 5:8, 9; Revelation 22:10).

Believers in the early days of the Church lived in this state of expectancy (1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10). Paul’s “we” in 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 1Thessalonians 4:17 shows that he maintained the hope he would be alive when Jesus comes back.

A comparison of passages of Scripture relating to the Second Coming shows that some speak of a visible event seen by all mankind and involving the judgment of sinners.Others describe a coming known only to believers and resulting in their deliverance from earth.

The latter is referred to among evangelicals as the Rapture. This word is not in the English Bible, but has been used so widely that one of the definitions of “rapture” in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary Unabridged is: “Christ’s raising up of His true church and its members to a realm above the earth where the whole company will enjoy celestial bliss with its Lord.” The word raptured could well be used to translate the expression “caught up” of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Jesus said His coming will result in one individual being taken from a location while another is left. This indicates a sudden removal of believers from the earth with unbelievers left to face tribulation (Matthew 24:36-42).

Jesus spoke of His return as a time when the nations of the earth shall mourn as they see Him (Matthew 24:30). The apostle Paul spoke of the Lord’s return as a time of judgment and wrath upon the wicked (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, he considered a different aspect of the Second Coming. This brief passage is the most direct and clear teaching on the Rapture in the New Testament. It speaks only of believers, living and dead. Nothing is said about the wicked seeing Christ at this time. Paul described Jesus as coming in the air, but nothing is said about His feet touching the earth, as we are told elsewhere they will at His return (Zechariah 14:4). It is the moment when 1 John 3:2 will be fulfilled, and we shall be like Him.

The same Greek word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 for “caught up” is used in Acts 8:39 to describe Philip’s being “caught away” after baptizing the Ethiopian. The latter verse states that the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away—identifying the source of the power that will remove believers from earth at the Rapture.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:1 Paul called the Rapture “our gathering together unto him.” The Greek word for “gathering” is the same as the one used for “assembling” in Hebrews 10:25, referring to the assembling of Christians for worship. It is a picture of the saints congregating around Christ at His coming for them.

The supernatural removal of godly individuals from earth is not unknown in Scripture. The outstanding event in the life of Enoch was his miraculous disappearance from earth after years of walking with God (Genesis 5:21-24). The author of Hebrews called this experience a translation, bypassing death (Hebrews 11:5).

Although some aspects of Elijah’s translation differed from Enoch’s, it also involved the sudden removal of a believer from the world without experiencing death (2 Kings 2:1-13).

First Corinthians 15:51-54 deals with the same event as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Here also Paul spoke of the changes that will take place in both living and dead believers at the Rapture. He called this a mystery (1 Corinthians 15:51), a truth previously unrevealed but made known to him by the Holy Spirit.

In Philippians 3:21 Paul connected the Lord’s coming to the time when “our vile body” will be changed—another reference to the Rapture.

Passages which pertain to the Rapture describe the coming of the Lord for His people. Passages which refer to the revelation of Christ describe the coming of the Lord with His saints. Colossians 3:4 speaks of believers appearing with Christ at His coming.Jude 14 also foresees the Lord’s return with His people to execute the judgment referred to in many other passages relating to His public appearing.

Since Scripture does not contradict itself, it seems reasonable to conclude that the passages describing Christ’s coming for the saints and with the saints indicate two phases of His coming. We believe it is scripturally correct to assume that the intervening period between the two is the time when the world will experience the Great Tribulation,involving the reign of Antichrist and the outpouring of God’s wrath on the wicked (Daniel 12:1, 2, 10-13; Matthew 24:15-31; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

Although God’s people may endure severe trials before the Lord comes, the Church will be raptured before the period called the Great Tribulation.

In 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul indicated certain things must take place before the Day of the Lord (of which the Great Tribulation is a part) can begin. An individual called the man of sin (Antichrist) will appear. The mystery of iniquity has been at work since Paul’s time but is being restrained by the power of the Spirit working through the true Church. Only when the Church is removed from earth by the Rapture can this man come forward publicly.

In 1 Thessalonians 5, following the passage on the Rapture in chapter 4, Paul taught about the Day of the Lord. He warned of the destruction it will bring to the wicked(vv. 2, 3). He was quick to assure Christians that those who abide in Christ will not be overtaken by it (v. 4).

Still speaking of the Day of the Lord Paul wrote: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 9). It seems clear that he meant the deliverance of believers from the judgments of the Day of the Lord, including the Great Tribulation.

Christians are told repeatedly in the New Testament to be watchful for the Lord’s appearing. Never are they taught to watch for the Great Tribulation or the appearance of Antichrist. To expect that such things must happen before the Rapture destroys the teaching of imminence with which the New Testament is replete.

Believers are told to wait “for his Son from heaven,” not the Great Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:10). When the signs of the end of the age are evident, they are to look up and lift up their heads in expectation of their redemption, not the Great Tribulation (Luke 21:28).

The signs of the Lord’s coming will be fulfilled before His public appearing, but they do not have to be fulfilled before the Rapture. Any teaching that certain events must transpire before the Rapture is out of harmony with the doctrine of imminence.

It is consistent with God’s dealings with His people in the Old Testament to believe that the Church will be removed from the world before the Great Tribulation. God did not send the Flood until Noah and his family were safe in the ark. He did not destroy Sodom until Lot was taken out.

The weight of Scripture supports a pre-Tribulation Rapture. Wherever teaching about the Second Coming occurs in the New Testament, imminence is underscored. To interpose other events before the Rapture does violence to such teaching.

While Christians are looking forward to the coming of the Lord, it is well to remind themselves of Paul’s words to Titus: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

https:// ag.org/ Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ The-Rapture-of-the-Church

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