The Rapture of the Church
What the Bible Says About... | The Rapture of the Church
Two primary scriptures refer to what is known as the rapture:
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
The word "rapture", though not mentioned in the Bible, is the term used to describe the events in the scriptures above. It is derived from the Latin word "raptus", which means "caught away", and is equivalent to the Greek word "harpazo". It is this Greek word that is translated as "caught up" in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and refers to the catching away of the faithful Christians from the earth to meet the Lord in the air. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye", millions of believers will instantly disappear from the earth as they go to be with Christ, along with all faithful believers who have died throughout the New Testament age. No doubt, this will leave the inhabitants of the earth in a time of great chaos and confusion. It will open the door for the Antichrist to come in and establish a temporary world peace, and bring a semblance of order back to this chaotic world as it prepares to enter the period of Great Tribulation.
While there are many scriptures which speak of events which must occur before Christ's Second Coming at the end of the seven-year tribulation period, there are no events which must happen before the Rapture, and it could happen at any moment. It is this possibility of His return at an unknown time which, the Bible teaches, should influence our daily lives and behavior. It also gives us assurance that our labors for Christ, no matter how seemingly insignificant, are not in vain. The apostle John writes, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3; see also 2 Peter 3:11-13; Titus 2:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).
When the Rapture occurs, several events will occur at the trumpet's sound:
(1) The "dead in Christ" will be resurrected.
(2) Believers who are alive upon the earth will be changed, and their bodies will put on immortality, and "we shall be like Him."
(3) Then the changed believers will be caught up together with the resurrected believers "in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
It will no doubt be a great time of joy and celebration as we are united with our loved ones. We will finally see our Savior face to face, and our bodies of sin will be changed in His glorious likeness!
Therefore, we see the five-fold purpose for the Rapture of the Church: (1) to unite all Christians, living and dead, with Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17); (2) to change our bodies like unto His glorious body (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; Philippians 3:20-21); (3) to reward and judge believers at Christ's judgment seat (1 Corinthians 3:13-15; Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1,7-8); (4) to remove us from the earth that we may escape the wrath of God during the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10); (5) and to remove the hinderer of lawlessness (or the Church), and pave the way for the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:1-10).
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