Teaching Paper 017The Rapture

Introduction

Jesus is returning for His bride for a heavenly spiritual (and physical) marriage. The Bride of Christ is collectively formed of every believer ‘in Jesus’ since the time that Jesus allowed Himself to be killed by the Jews (via the Romans) in AD 33, until the event of the Rapture.

Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jesus promised that he would return for His bride and bring her to His Father’s house:

John 14:2-3 In 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. 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.

This return of Jesus for His bride is the event called the Rapture.

The Bride of Christ

The Bride of Christ is unique in history as she is baptised by the Holy Spirit into one spiritual body called the Body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

The Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ are the same. The Apostle Paul clarifies this when he speaks of the marriage union of Adam and Eve (Paul quotes Genesis 2:23-24) as symbolic of the marriage relationship between Christ and His church.

Ephesians 5:30-32 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Genesis 2:23-24 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of Man.” 24. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Earlier in Ephesians 5:26, Paul uses the feminine pronoun (‘her’) in reference to the church. In other words, Christ is preparing His bride for the nuptial meeting, by way of sanctification or purification by the word.

Ephesians 5:26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus Himself, referred to Christ as the Bridegroom. These references were not allegorical, metaphorical or symbolic but rather Jesus was and is a literal Bridegroom.

John 3:29-30 …He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice…

Mark 2:19-20 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends (lit. sons of the bridechamber) of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”

If there is a ‘bridegroom’, then there must be a bride!

Finally, the Apostle Paul teaches directly of the marriage of the Body of Christ to ‘Him who was raised from the dead’, in other words, ‘Jesus’, in Romans 7:4.

Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

Distinction Between ‘Israel’ and Bride of Christ

The Bible distinguishes between Israel and the Bride of Christ.

Romans 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Why did Jesus only preach to Jews?

Matthew 15:24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The answer is because He went to the Jews first and they rejected Him as Messiah, but God is not done with Israel (see Romans 11:1 above!). Replacement theology incorrectly says all the promises of God to Israel are now for the church but this is not what the Bible teaches.

Origin of the Word ‘Rapture’

The English word ‘Rapture’ is derived from the Latin (Vulgate) translation of the verb ‘to catch up’, ‘seize’ or ‘snatch away’ (Greek harpazó, Strong’s Number 726) in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then 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.

The actual word in the Latin (Vulgate) translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is ‘rapiemur’ which is the 1st person plural future indicative passive form of the verb ‘rapio’.

https://bible.org/question/where-did-term-8216rapture%E2%80%99-come

The Staged Rapture and New Bodies

At the Rapture, believers who have already died physically (known as the dead in Christ), will be raised first. Afterwards, those who are physically alive (at the time of the Rapture) will be ‘caught up’ to meet Jesus in the clouds and to join the already raised ‘dead in Christ’.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 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 by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For 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. 17 Then 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Note that the Greek word for ‘then’, at the beginning of verse 17, may be translated as ‘afterwards’.

At the time of the Rapture, all believers will receive their physical resurrection bodies which are immortal and incorruptible:

1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed 52 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. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Do not confuse the ‘mystery’ of 1 Corinthians 15:51 as being the ‘Rapture’, rather, the mystery is the instantaneous transformation (‘in the twinkling of an eye’) of our bodies being changed from corruptible to incorruptible.

The Rapture event cannot take place in the ‘twinkling of an eye’ because it is in two stages. First the dead in Christ and afterwards (‘then’ of 1 Thessalonians 4:17) those who remain and are physically alive.

When Does the Rapture Occur?

The Bible teaches that the Rapture occurs before the ‘Day of the Lord’, also known as ‘The Tribulation’ or ‘Wrath’ or the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ (Jeremiah 30:7) or ‘hour of trial’ (Revelation 3:10).

In speaking to the Thessalonian church, the Apostle Paul states that the church was not appointed to wrath and that Jesus would deliver them from the wrath to come – a strong indication that the church will not go through the Tribulation or wrath.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Thessalonians 1:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul clarifies the timing of the ‘gathering together to Him’ (namely the Rapture) as being before the ‘Day’ which is a reference to the ‘Day of the Lord’ or ‘The Tribulation’ or ‘Wrath’.

The word ‘falling away’ (in 2 Thessalonians 2:3) is a mistranslation and would be better translated ‘a leaving’ or ‘departure’ (Greek apostasia, Strong’s Number 646). The word ‘falling away’, therefore is a reference to the Rapture. This is strongly debated but the evidence stacks in favour of this position - see the excellent YouTube video by Dr. Andy Woods on this subject.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away [departure] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

In other words, the Tribulation (the Day of the Lord) will not begin until the Rapture has occurred, and the ‘man of sin’ (the anti-Christ) is revealed.

The ‘Restrainer’ – The Holy Spirit

The following verses (in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12) confirm this meaning of ‘apostasia’ because Paul states the reason why the ‘apostasia’ must come first. The reason is because the ‘Restrainer’, who currently restrains the ‘mystery of lawlessness’, must be taken out of the way! Therefore, while the ‘Restrainer’ (who is the Holy Spirit) is present on the earth, the mystery of lawlessness is restrained and unable to reach full effect. Given that the Body of Christ is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is therefore present on earth until the Body of Christ is taken to heaven at the Rapture. It makes sense!

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

2 Thessalonians 2:6-12 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Hebrew Wedding Format

The Rapture fits well with the traditional Hebrew marriage. The following four stages of a Hebrew wedding are a beautiful picture of the biblical provision promised by Messiah to the Bride of Christ:

 


Difference Between Rapture and Second Coming

The Rapture is different to the second coming of Christ (SCC). The arrival of Messiah to collect His bride (at the Rapture) and the SCC, are biblically two separate events.

In the Rapture, believers are called to meet Christ in the air.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then 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.

In the SCC, however, Christ returns to the earth with angels and thousands upon thousands of His holy ones.

Zechariah 14:4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.

Revelation 19:14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

At the Rapture, the Body of Christ travels to heaven, having been transformed, however at the SCC, the Body of Christ comes out of heaven and returns to earth with Jesus. This understanding (from Revelation 19:7-19) is based on the description of Jesus’ wife as clothed in fine linen, clean and bright (white) which perfectly matches the description of the armies in heaven who follow Jesus at the SCC.

Revelation 19:7-14 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

The timing of the Rapture is before the Tribulation (‘hour of trial’) whereas the SCC is after the Tribulation and will be visible to the whole earth:

Matthew 24:21-22 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened….

Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Matthew 24:30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Jesus Distinguishes Between The Dead and Living To Martha

At the death and resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus had a conversation with Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus (who has just died) and Jesus made two statements that the dead will live and then curiously that the living (who believe in Jesus) shall never die! How can it be that those who live and believe will never die? Nearly 2000 years have passed since Jesus and yet all believers since then have been subject to physical death?

John 11:20-27 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

So, what was Jesus saying to Martha as He was clearly speaking of physical death given the context of Lazarus’ physical resurrection?

One compelling explanation of Jesus’ anomalous statement is that Jesus was describing the physical resurrection of the church – when Jesus returns for His corporate Body – the Bride of Christ. Jesus was making a distinction between those who had died and those who remain and are live at Jesus’ arrival. This fits very well with a statement by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, where Paul describes the events for both the dead in Christ and the alive in Christ.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV) For 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. 17 Then 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.

This fits perfectly with the statement of Jesus to Martha: ‘Though he may die, he shall live’ may be a reference to the dead in Christ at the resurrection of the church and ‘whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die’ a reference to those who remain and are alive at the resurrection of the church.

Following this stated truth, Jesus makes an emphatic statement to Martha: “Do you believe this?”.

Is Jesus asking the same question to the church today – “do you believe that the dead in Christ and the living in Christ will be physically resurrected?”

Biblical ‘Types’ of the Rapture

Daniel Not in The Furnace of Wrath

Where was Daniel when his three colleagues were ordered into the furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar? Daniel was not present, just as the church will not be present during the Tribulation – having been raptured!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were bound and cast into the burning fire which had been stoked up to seven times its normal heat – a tribulation associated with a ‘seven’ (just like the seven-year Tribulation) – and Daniel was nowhere to be seen!

Daniel 3:19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.

‘Come up Here’

The Apostle John, in the Book of Revelation, is invited to “come up here” after the text concludes Jesus’ messages to the seven churches. The churches are not referred to after this. This invitation speaks of the ascension of the church to heaven at the Rapture.

Revelation 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

Note that a voice like a trumpet is present – trumpets being a characteristic of the Rapture.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For 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.

Methuselah and 969

The age of Methuselah was 969 years – the longest life of all men (and women) recorded in scripture. Methuselah’s longevity speaks of ‘life’ and his father Enoch was the first man to be taken to heaven without physically dying:

Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Genesis 5:27 And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.

Not only did Methuselah live the longest life but when he died there was a major biblical event, the judgement of Noah’s Flood. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life the Flood came (Genesis 7:11). Methuselah aged 187, had a son called Lamech (Genesis 5:25). Lamech aged 182, had a son called Noah (Genesis 5:28-29). Therefore, Methuselah was 187 + 182 years older than Noah, which is 369 years. When Noah was 600 years old, Methuselah was therefore 969 years old. Given that Methuselah lived to 969 years, the Flood started in the year that Methuselah died.

As such, the symbolism of Methuselah prefigures an extraordinary manifestation of ‘life’ (Methuselah’s longevity) followed by divine judgement. The dramatic fulfilment of this symbolism will be the Rapture of the Body of Christ (just as Noah’s Ark was lifted up – Genesis 7:17) followed by the global judgement of the Tribulation.

The Hebrew name ‘Methuselah’ means ‘His death shall bring’. In this way, Methuselah’s name is embedded with a prophecy of the judgement of Noah’s Flood which occurred in the year of his death. (Please listen to audio study four in the series https://books.jrhill.com/audio/primefulfilment).

Furthermore, Jesus taught that these days of Noah, the final days of Methuselah, would be replayed before the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:37-39 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

The closure of the long life of Methuselah (in the same year as the rescue of Noah from the Flood), typifies the point of rescue for the church at the Rapture.

Methuselah was the eighth from Adam and the number eight has the meaning of resurrection (because of the eight personal resurrections listed in the Bible – not including the resurrection of Jesus – see https://books.jrhill.com/special-teaching/006)

The Doctrine of Imminency is Not Biblical

There is a teaching in the church under the title of ‘Imminency’ which states that Messiah may return at any time for His body at the Rapture. In other words, His return is, or has been, ‘imminent’ or continually in a state of ‘about to occur’ throughout the entire Christian Dispensation.

Whilst there is much virtue in the Body of Christ being prepared for the Rapture at any moment (as opposed to ‘sleeping’), does ‘Imminency’ fit well with the full witness of scripture?

For anyone who has fed on the whole truth of the living Word and has ‘consumed’ (understood in their heart) the Hebrew form and structure of scripture, there can be no doubt as to the intention of the Lord with regards to ‘time’. God’s structure, in relation to time, is majestic and perfectly patterned for His creation.

It is always the Lord’s desire for His children to ‘measure the pattern’; not least to convict believers of sin because of His perfect structural design. This notion was wonderfully expressed to the prophet Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 43:10 “Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern.”

The pattern of seven days (7000 Bible Years) is the grand framework of the Lord with regards to the ‘sufficiency’ of time.

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The first four days of creation (4000 bible years) are accounted for by the Feast of Passover, which required the ‘lamb’ to be set aside four days before sacrifice (Exodus 12:3-8). In fulfilment of Passover, Jesus presented Himself as the Lamb of God at 4000 bible years (four days), having been ‘set aside’ in the Garden of Eden, at the fall of Adam.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.

The seventh day of creation, which typifies the Sabbath day rest of the Millennial Kingdom, represents the last day of the pattern.

Clearly, this leaves the pattern (of seven days) with two unaccounted days (2000 bible years). The Sabbath day ‘rest’ cannot happen until the six days of creation (6000 bible) years have completed and therefore, the two days of Christendom (2000 bible years) elegantly fill the gap.

A doctrine, however, which states the Christian Dispensation could be a variable length and usher in (following the Tribulation) the seventh day of the Millennial Kingdom at any time (as ‘Imminency’ does), breaks God’s pattern and is therefore unbiblical.

Now that the 2000 bible years of Christendom have completed, we are in what is called ‘the consummation of the age’:

Matthew 24:3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the consummation of the age?”

We are seeing all the signs of the consummation of the age come to pass, namely wars and rumours of wars, famines, pestilences (Covid) and earthquakes. (Matthew 24:7) It is therefore important to watch and examine the Bible for signs.