The rapture paradigm taught in Protestant American churches has two main premises:
The rapture happens before the Great Tribulation.
The rapture takes all living and dead Christians.
The Bible knows nothing of either premise. These premises cannot be reached without extra-Biblical help. This help comes in the form of the Bible commentaries upon which American Christianity so heavily relies for its theology.
I have written extensively on this website about how the pre-trib rapture is nowhere in the Bible; and how I have asked my pre-trib brothers and sisters to show me the pre-trib rapture in the Bible and not a single one of them has done it; and how Christians make statements like, “the Bible says the church will be raptured before the Great Tribulation,” and then move on without ever citing the verse in which the Bible supposedly says this; and for the people who don’t believe me, I have told them that even if they go listen to a thousand online sermons by their favorite pre-trib pastors, they will never hear one of those pastors cite the verse that says the church will be raptured before the Great Tribulation, because no such verse exists. I have already asserted all of that and more. But now I will address another unbiblical premise about the rapture– the idea that all living and dead Christians will experience it before the thousand-year reign of Christ.
The “Dead In Christ”
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 4:16-17
I have always been taught that the “dead in Christ” includes all dead Christians. But does the Bible say this? Absolutely not.
Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus [Christian martyrs] and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they [Christian martyrs] lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. [Read that again! Only Christian martyrs rise from the dead at the 2nd Coming of Christ. Everyone else rises after the thousand-year reign of Christ.] ~ Revelation 20:4-5
“After That” We Who Are Still Alive
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 [But exactly how long after that?], we who are still alive and are left [living Christians] 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. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The idea that all Christians alive at the 2nd Coming of Christ will have already been given glorified bodies and raptured (whether seven years before the 2nd Coming, or at the 2nd Coming) cannot be supported by Scripture. There will be a rapture of living Christians. And it will be post-tribulation– just not immediately post-tribulation. So, exactly how much time is represented by the word “post” in “post-tribulation”? As usual, the Bible has the answers.
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 15:50-54
When is this “last trumpet”? It is after the thousand-year reign of Christ.
But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet [This is the last trumpet in the Bible.], the mystery [Here is the word “mystery” again, just as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 in the same sentence as the “last trumpet.”] of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. ~ Revelation 10:7
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet [This is the trumpet referred to in the verse you just read, Revelation 10:7. It is the last trumpet in the Bible], and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord [God the Father] and of his Christ [Jesus], and he [God the Father] will reign for ever and ever [God the Father and his Christ do not reign together on the earth until after the thousand-year reign of Christ.]…” The time has come for judging the dead [The dead are judged in Revelation 20:7-15, which happens after the thousand-year reign of Christ], and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great — and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” ~ Revelation 11:15-18
So, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 tells us that living Christians will be raptured “after that.” And 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 and Revelation 10:7, 11:15-18 define exactly how long the term “after that” represents– one thousand years. There is a one-thousand year jump between these two sentences:
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. [—– 1,000 years —–] 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. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Such time jumps are not unusual in Scripture.
The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary [This destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple happened in 70 A.D.]. [—– 1,915 years and counting —–] The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” ~ Daniel 9:26-27
“They [the Jewish people in Israel] will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations [70 A.D., the worldwide Jewish diaspora]. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled [The “times of the Gentiles” ends when Jesus Christ returns to save the Jewish people, destroy their enemies, and secure their land once and for all.]. [This next sentence marks the end of the “times of the Gentiles.” Jesus goes from speaking about the 70 A.D. Jewish diaspora, to his 2nd Coming, in a span of just two sentences– a time leap of at least 1,950 years.] “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming [2nd Coming of Christ] in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” ~ Luke 21:24-28
Again, we must not take 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, or any other verse, in a vacuum. We cannot assume unbroken time continuity between verses. We must use the Bible to interpret the Bible. As such, 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 explains 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.
The Rapture: A Summary
- No Christians (alive or dead) get raptured seven years before Christ’s 2nd Coming.
- Christian martyrs (the “dead in Christ”) get raptured at Christ’s 2nd Coming.
- Non-martyred dead Christians are raptured at the end of Christ’s Millenial Reign on earth.
- Living Christians are raptured at the end of Christ’s Millenial Reign on earth.
Jesus taught us to pray, “thy Kingdom come,” not “rapture us out of here.” Living Christians will enter Christ’s Millenial Kingdom in human form.
The Bible is always proven true.
For a continuation of this subject, see One Will Be Taken, And The Other Left on alwaysproventrue.com.
Categories: Millenial (Thousand-Year) Reign of Christ