The word "rapture" is not in Scripture, but can be used without objection to describe the sudden, visible appearing of Christ in the heavens, and the catching up of His saints to be with Him at that time. Of this the Word of God speaks in I Thess. 4:15-17.
We reject as unbiblical, however, the teaching that this rapture is secret, that it takes place prior to the final great tribulation, so that God's people do not go through the tribulation, and that it comes 1000 years before the end of the world (i.e., that it is premillennial). These ideas have no support in I Thess. 4, nor in the rest of Scripture.
That this rapture is secret is very clearly not the teaching of I Thess. 4. The events described there are anything but secret! We read of a shout, of the voice of the archangel, and of the trump of God. It could safely be said, we believe, that this will be one of the noisiest and least secret events in all history.
Other passages which speak of the same event leave us with the same testimony. Matt. 24:30, 31, one of these passages, is describing the same event as I Thess. 4. Both mention angels, a trumpet, and the gathering of the elect to Christ. Matt. 24:30, 31 also tells us, however, that the tribes of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man - nothing at all secret about that.
I Cor. 15:51, 52, undoubtedly is describing the same thing as I Thess. 4:15-17, i.e., that there will be two groups of saints who will be raptured, those who have died, and those who have not. The latter are described in Corinthians as those who will not sleep, and in Thessalonians as those who are alive and remain to coming of Christ. I Cor. 15:51, 52 in describes the "rapture," shows that it is anything but secret.
These same passages make it crystal clear that this rapture takes place at the end of all things and after the final tribulation. Matt. 24:29 says, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days...." And, when we read of the tribes of the earth mourning, that mourning has reference to Christ's second coming for judgment at the end of the world, as is clear from a comparison with Rev. 1:7 and 6:12-17.
Matt. 24:37-41 and Luke 17:28-37 likewise describe this "rapture," but as something that takes place just before the last judgment. The taking and leaving of persons described in these passages is as in the days of Sodom, and as in the days of Noah, that is, those who are left, are left for judgment, judgment exactly like that of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. also Jude 6, 7) and of the world in Noah's day (cf. also II Pet. 3:3-7).
Furthermore, I Thess. 4 speaks of the resurrection of our bodies, something which Scripture everywhere says shall take place at the last day (Jn. 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24. Surely the last day is not followed by 365,000 other days. Not only that but Jn. 12:48 tells us that the last day is also the judgment day!
We look, therefore, not for a secret rapture 1000 years before the end and prior to the great tribulation, but for a public rapture of saints at the end of all things, the result of which shall be that we are ever in glory with the Lord (I Thess. 4:17).
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 16
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address317 North Park St.
State or ProvinceWA