Skip to comments.Why Didn't The Lord Mention The Rapture? (Dispensational Caucus)
Posted on 03/11/2012 4:58:39 AM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta
In 51 AD, almost 20 years after the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul became the first to reveal the incredible secret that would become known as the Rapture of the Church. He did this in his earliest written communication, his first letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), repeating it four years later in a letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:51). In doing so, Paul finally identified the group mentioned in Matthew 24:31 who would be in Heaven waiting to return with the Lord at his 2nd coming.
From Thessalonians we know that, at the Rapture, the dead in Christ will rise first to be followed immediately by believers who are left and still alive. Concerning living believers, Paul's letter to the Corinthians explains that in the twinkling of an eye, we'll be changed from mortal to immortal, bypassing death altogether. Either way, in less than an instant we'll all arrive together in Heaven. Because everyone who believes in the Rapture of the Church agrees it will take place sometime before the 2nd coming, the group in Heaven that the Lord sends His angels to gather up in Matthew 24:31 has to include resurrected and raptured church age believers.
As an aside, those who dispute this doctrine claim that the word rapture doesn't appear in the English translation of either of Paul's letters cited above (nor anywhere else in scripture for that matter) and of course they're correct. The original Greek word Paul used to describe the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is harpazo, usually rendered "caught up" in English translations.
Because of the growing dominance of the Roman Empire in Biblical times, Latin was fast replacing Greek as the world's common language and so about 400 AD the Bible was translated from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. Harpazo became raptus, the Latin root of the English word rapture. It means "the transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven." So it's the Latin version that gave the event its name. Our current English translations are taken directly from the earlier Greek texts, and that's why the word rapture doesn't appear in them.
Why The Delay?
But why didn't the Lord announce the whole issue of salvation for the Gentiles including the Rapture of the Church during his time here? Two reasons. First, Israel had to receive a bona fide offer of the Kingdom. His commitment to them was clear. The first time He sent the disciples out to minister, He told them, "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. (Matthew 10:5) And later when the disciples asked Him to respond to a Gentile woman whose daughter needed healing, He at first declined saying, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." (Matthew 15:23-24) Before He could expand His ministry to the Gentiles, He had to fulfill His promise to Israel.
So just as he had offered reconciliation to the Amorites in Abraham's time, knowing in advance that they would reject Him, (Gen 15:16) the Lord extended His offer of a Kingdom to Israel. And of course Israel did reject His offer by attributing the power behind His miracles to Satan, (Matthew 12:22-37) and eventually accusing Him of blasphemy (Matthew 26:25). This rejection was confirmed to them in the parable of the tenants (Matthew 21:13-44). But the pre-determined order of first the Jew then the Gentile (Romans 1:16) had to be observed. (Prophetic Scriptures tell us Israel will get another chance, and the next time they'll accept.)
Second, knowing before history began that the Jews would reject Him the first time, the Lord had always planned to extend His offer of salvation to the Gentiles, and that meant something really dramatic had to happen. Gentiles were even worse sinners than Jews, who at least made periodic attempts to obey. But for 4000 years the Lord had demonstrated through His people that no level of excellence in human behavior could ever meet His requirements for salvation. And even with the most complex religious system ever devised, the most expensive house of worship ever built, the most detail conscious people ever created, and the most aggressive sacrifice of innocent blood ever undertaken, the final score at the end of the Dispensation of Law was zero souls saved through religious works. (Romans 3:20)
At Least Somebody's Listening
Well, He didn't convince them but He did convince Satan, who believed that eventually all of humanity would wind up with him in the lost column of the ledger, Jew and Gentile alike. Surely then the Lord would have to rescind his judgment against Satan (Isaiah 14:16-21). Ater all, was he any worse than sinful mankind? Hadn't they also rebelled, tried to set up their own kingdoms, and even tried to become their own God? The God Who is Love couldn't stand by and let all his precious children go to hell just to punish Satan, could He? And if He bent the rules for them, He'd have to bend for Satan.
But no one knew what the Lord had cooked up to solve this problem. Having known from the beginning that we couldn't save ourselves by our works, He had determined in advance that He would save us by our faith. That meant someone qualified to do so would have to step up and pay the penalty for our sins for us. Then God could promise us that if we accepted this substitution in faith, we would be saved.
Of course the only One qualified to do this for us was God Himself. So He did. He Who had no sin was made a sin offering for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21) And as a special blessing for "believing though we have not seen" (John 20:29) He even went so far as to make His Church a separate classification of humanity, (Eph. 2:15) giving us a pre-imminent place in His Kingdom, and promising to take us out of this world to be with Him forever in a secret, sudden departure we now call the Rapture. And though we can look back and see hints of His plan all through the Old Testament, (Isaiah 49:6, for example) neither Satan, the leaders of Israel, nor even the Lord's closest disciples realized that His death on the cross was intended to accomplish all this.
"None of the rulers of this age understood it," Paul wrote, "For if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." (1 Cor. 2:8)
Implicit in the phrase "rulers of this age" is a reference to Satan, whom Paul called "the god of this age" in 2 Cor. 4:4). If Satan had known that his efforts to defeat the Lord by killing Him would result in his own total defeat, he would have done anything he could to prevent it.
I've Got A Secret
For these reasons the Rapture of a largely Gentile Church had to be kept secret. It was part of God's secret wisdom, Paul said, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began (1 Cor. 2:7). Paul was not authorized to reveal this until nearly 20 years after the Lord's death, when it was too late for anyone to do anything about it, but it's what he meant when he wrote to the Colossians, "And having disarmed the powers and authorities (by paying the penalty for our sins) He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." (Col. 2:15). (It's easy to forget that up until Peter's vision and subsequent visit to the home of Cornelius detailed in Acts 10, most believers had come from among the Jews. The acceptance of Gentiles into the Church didn't become official policy until the council at Jerusalem 13 years after that in Acts 15.)
What was to have been Satan's great victory has resulted in his total defeat. Now the only ones on his side of the ledger will be those who choose to be there by rejecting God's offer of pardon. Their choice relieves God of the responsibility. He still grieves over them, but can't override their sovereign right to choose their own destiny. And since they've chosen to join him, Satan can't use them as leverage to get a better deal for himself.
The enormity of God's Gift of Grace, made available to Jew and Gentile alike and sealed with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, is something so unbelievable that neither Paul nor any other Apostle was ever able to adequately describe it. The best Paul could do was to borrow a passage from Isaiah, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9). Amen to that.
And so one day soon, with no prior warning and at a time when the world least expects Him, 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. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) There is no precedent condition, nothing that must happen first, except that if you want to be included you have to give your heart to Him who's coming before the trumpet call sounds. Better do it right away, for if you listen carefully you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
Great post about our living hope in the rapture.
Thanks for posting.
let’s get it on gang
Interesting analysis of the Crucifixion with regards to Satan and his attempts to use humanity as leverage against God. Never thought of it like that before....
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” — 1 COR 15:50-51
“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.” — 1 THESS 4:15-16
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
“And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their 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 on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
“The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.
“Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
“When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,
“and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.
“And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” — REV 20:1-10
Just so I didn’t confuse anyone... The caucus flag went up between when I read the article, and when I going to post commentary. If anyone wants to delete the scripture verses, as well, feel free to; they might be confusing since Rev 20 doesn’t deal with the rapture.
The Scripture you posted just reiterates the fact that the dead unsaved will not be resurrected until the end of the Millennial Kingdom and that is when they will be judged and that simply clarifies that the Rapture will be for those "in Christ" only.
Thanks for your post!
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”
Why did you change the order of these verses?
Anyway, I would provide you with inargurable evidence that you are wrong, but I am at a different computer and don't have my bookmarks.
Suffice it to say, the myth that John Darby wrote prophetic Scriptures in the 19th century has been discredited thoroughly and is dead beyond any hope of resurrection. There is proof that the early church believed, based on the word of God, that Jesus Christ Himself will come and take His bride off the scene before He sends judgment.
Oh, and you may want to read the article. You'll find the explanation of how the word "rapture" came into common usage.
And one last thing - no matter how difficult, please attempt to respect the caucus designation.
Understanding that there are a huge number of Freepers who are Catholic, and in other denominations that dont focus heavily on end-time prophecy, I know I put myself out on a limb when I discuss my belief in a rapture here on FR.
That being said, Im no theologian or expert on the order of events in prophecy, but Ive always took the line in scripture the dead in Christ will rise first, to mean that when a Christian dies their Spirit will be lifted up to heaven at the time of death to be in the Presence of Jesus. And at the Rapture, the living Christians will join them. And most who believe in the Rapture believes this happens at the beginning of the 7-year Tribulation.
I do believe in the pre-Tribulation Rapture, mainly because the Tribulation period is seven years, and there is allot that needs to happen in just the first 3 ½ years of it. It would take Global Chaos for one man, the Antichrist to enter the Worlds stage and deceive nearly everyone LEFT on the planet, (all the peoples of the World in all religions) in such a short period of time. The only type of Global Disaster I could think of on that scale would be for 200 or 300 million Christians to just vanish. And the whole point for the belief in the Rapture is we dont believe Jesus meant for the Saved to have to suffer through the horrors that will happen to the planet during those seven years. And because he loves us so much and does not wish that any shall parish into eternal Hell, he knows it will take a great shake-up of those left to finally get them to listen. The tough love that so many of us fathers are familiar with. That we believe is the whole point of the Tribulation. Many will be saved during this time but they will be persecuted horribly, much like the first Church was, with public executions and torture, only to be ended with the physical return of Christ.
Their spirits do go to be with Christ, but at the Rapture, their bodies will be translated into inmortality, fit for eternity, and they will be reunited with their spirits which are already with Christ.
the rapture, as famously predicted, already happened last June. three old Italian men in the Alps were seen to have transformed into light and ascended to the heavens
the rest of us ... are screwed
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Not once throughout all of time have those who are faithful to Him been subjected to His wrath. Still some would try to convince us that we who are faithful will one day be included in the number of those who will clearly suffer the wrath of God. Would those same people punish their children even though they have been faithful to them?
Will you please state the source for this statement? I would love to get more into the topic. Anything that Cotton Mather wrote is well worth examining. Thank you.
The ones to be persecuted are not “we” the Church that has been removed. They are ones who have come to Christ after the Church has departed for Heaven. They are the ones who will be martyred, whose souls will cry out, “How long, O Lord?” They will go through hell-on-earth. My pastor once said we should begin now to pray for those who become saved during the Tribulation. That group will include both Jews and Gentiles. They are often called the Tribulation saints in popular literature. I don’t think they can properly be called The Church. God bless, Friend.
Happened to hear a recording of this presentation recently. It’s a defense of John 14:1-4 as a Rapture passage:
Jesus and the Rapture
by Dr. Andy Woods
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have not hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lords 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." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)
"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality." (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:3)
Are those Scriptures true or are they false?
Thanks for the thread. This is another great one.
This article very wonderfully explains this. Thank you, Giovannna!
I have no idea what you’re talking about.
I think I agree with you entirely theologically, but I *did* post the quotes that I selected in order. By the time I was ready to adding commentary, I noticed the Dispensational Caucus flag had gone up; my commentary challenged Dispensationalism so I let it be.
Are you considering that Christ is the first resurrection? Perhaps the first resurrection is physical and the second is spiritual.
"Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection."
Me neither! Very interesting, indeed.