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I Corinthians 2:5- "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."
 
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The Timing of the Rapture of the Church continued

copyright by Arthur Manning, 2002


Luke

Luke 12:35-48 also deals with end-time events. In verse 36 Jesus told His disciples to be "...like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding...." Some may consider this to indicate that in the last days there will be Jews who convert to faith in Christ (after the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church) who must wait for Christ to return with His raptured Church. In this scenario the pre-tribulation raptured Church is considered to be the wife of Christ portrayed in Revelation 19:7-9. After this, in Revelation 19:11-21, Christ returns to earth executing the wrath of God. There is no exact statement as to the amount of time between "...the marriage supper of the Lamb..." (verse 9) and the wrath of God described in verses 11-21. However, the statement that "...the marriage of the Lamb is come..." (Verse7) comes after verses two and three which declare that the "great whore" has been judged. The great whore is dealt with in Revelation chapters 17 and18. Chapter 16 deals with the wrath of God, so it seems rather safe to assume that chapters 17 and 18, the judgment of the whore, takes place about the time of the wrath of God, not three and one-half or seven years earlier. So if the judgment of the whore is about the time of the wrath of God and the marriage of the Lamb occurs after the whore's judgment, then the marriage of the Lamb cannot be a pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation event. In addition, Revelation 17:16 tells us that ten horns (ten kings - cf. verse 12) shall be associated with the beast and shall devastate the whore. The beast is in authority the last three and one-half years of the last seven years (Revelation 13:5), so it seems most likely that the whore will be devastated in the last three and one-half years. Since the marriage of the Lamb apparently takes place after the judgment of the whore, it seems unwarranted to assign the marriage of the Lamb to a pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation time period. At any rate, there is no indication that the marriage of the Lamb comes before the last seven or before the last three and one-half years. Perhaps the Church is raptured 1260 days (three and one-half years) after the abomination of desolation (which occurs in the middle of the last seven years), then Christ and His Church enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb for 30 days or 75 days, and then return to earth to finish up the wrath of God at 1290 days (1260 + 30) or 1335 days (1260 + 75) ( see Daniel 12: 11, 12).

Finally, back to Luke 12: 36. First of all, it is not clearly stated that this is in reference to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Second, if it does refer to the marriage supper of the Lamb, it gives no indication of when that supper begins.

Luke 12:38 is interesting in that it states the possibility of the Lord coming in the "second watch" or the "third watch". Could this be an analogy to Christ's possible coming after 1290 days or after 1335 days? The remainder of Luke 12:35 - 48 consists of exhortations and warnings to watch, to be ready, and to be faithful and wise stewards; as well as reminders that Christ's return will come when we do not expect it.

Luke 17:24-37 is another discourse in this gospel regarding end times. Verses 26 and 27 compare Christ's return to the time of Noah, as in Matthew 24. But verses 28 through 30 also compare our Lord's coming to the time of Lot. Notice in verse 29 that "...the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all." Christ tells us that His coming will be "...as it was in the days of Lot." (Verse 28). Lot was rescued just before the wrath of God came down. As we have clearly seen in Matthew 24, the wrath of God occurs "...immediately after the tribulation." Since Lot was rescued the same day that God's wrath occurred and our Lord uses this account to let us know what His coming will be like, the most reasonable of the three rapture possibilities would have to be the post-tribulation, pre-wrath rapture.

In verses 34 through 36 of Luke 17 we find an expansion of Christ's description of His coming in Matthew 24:40-41. In Matthew 24 we read about two in the field, one of which is taken, and the other left; and two grinding, one of which is taken and the other left. In Luke 17 both of these cases are mentioned, plus a third: "...in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left" (verse 34). This is a fascinating addition. The first two activities (being in the field and grinding) usually take place during the day. However, the additional activity, mentioned in Luke 17, usually takes place at night. When the instantaneous rapture occurs half of the world will be in daytime and the other half in nighttime. It is doubtful that Luke, the writer of this gospel, would have imagined that the world was round and that people live all around it. Here we see an indication of divine inspiration of the Scriptures.

The final passage in Luke dealing with the end times is in chapter 21. Verses 6 through 24 include general information about end time conditions and the destruction of Jerusalem. Verses 25 and 26 describe fearful conditions, then verse 27 describes our Lord's return in glory. Prior to this there is no mention of any rapture. Verses 28 and 31 are not specific in regard to timing, but they tell us that we can tell when Christ's return draws near. Verses 34 and 35 relate how "...that day..." shall come unexpectedly. In the context, our Lord must be referring to the day of His glorious return (verse 27) which comes, according to Matthew 24, "immediately after the tribulation...." Verse 36 tells us to watch and pray "...that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." This verse may be interpreted to imply a pre-tribulation rapture, but the means of escape is not mentioned; so we do not know that the rapture is the means of escape. That is only an assumption. Perhaps the means of escape is what is described in Revelation chapter 12 where we read about a woman who "...fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days" (Revelation 12:6). This is equal to three and one-half years, the amount of time from the beginning of the great tribulation to the wrath of God, as has already been discussed. Revelation 12:14-16 also describes this woman in the wilderness. Another possible means of escape from great suffering is mentioned in Isaiah 57:1 : "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart : and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come." Doubtless, many will escape the intense suffering of the great tribulation by means of death. Revelation 7:9-17 describes "a great multitude" "...before the throne, and before the Lamb..." "...which came out of great tribulation." If these people did not die in the tribulation then how did they get before God's throne? Certainly not by a pre-tribulation rapture.

John

The Gospel of John does not include Christ's discourse on the end times recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Nevertheless, there are references to Christ's return in this gospel also. Four times in John chapter six Jesus tells us that He will raise up His believers "...at the last day" (verses 39, 40, 44, and 54). This term, "last day' could possibly apply to a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation rapture; but, perhaps it is easiest to apply to a post-tribulation, pre-wrath rapture. In I Thessalonians 5:2 Paul told the Thessalonians that they knew that "...the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." How did they know this? Quite possibly through their having read or heard Matthew chapter 24 in which Christ compares His coming to that of a thief (verses 42-44). As has already been discussed, this comparison refers, in the context of Matthew chapter 24, to Christ's post-tribulation coming. So since Paul tells us that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night and in Matthew chapter 24, Christ's post-tribulation coming is compared to the coming of a thief, then His post-tribulation coming must be the day of the Lord. Since the day of Christ comes at His post-tribulation return, then that day will also be the last day of Satan's rule of this world. The following is an example to clarify this reasoning. If Christ would come and gather His elect on Thursday at 3:00 p.m., eastern time, then that same day would be the last day of Satan's rule over earth. In this sense "the last day" of Satan's rule would be the day of Christ's gathering of His elect referred to four times in John, chapter six; and would occur, according to Matthew 24, after the tribulation.

Jesus discussed the resurrection in John chapter 5, verses 25, 28, and 29, but gave no indication of a time reference. Also, in John 14:3 He prophesied His departure and return, but again made no statements indicating the time frame.

I Corinthians

In I Corinthians 1:7 Paul states that the Corinthians were "...waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The word translated "coming" in this passage is the Greek term, apokalupsis, meaning revelation. It is translated as "appearing" in I Peter 1:7. There it refers to the appearing of Jesus Christ. Further on, in I Peter 1:13, it is translated as "revelation" of Jesus Christ. However, there is no indication of the time of that appearing / revelation in the context of these verses in I Peter. If Christ's appearance is at the same time as His mid-tribulation "coming" (see Matthew 24:30), then the Corinthians(1:7) waiting for His appearing are waiting for a post-tribulation event. Adherents to the pre-tribulation view, therefore, separate His appearing and His coming by the last seven years. This seems to be a rather strange thing to do. In normal experience when someone comes to a place, that is when they appear. An exception to this would be if someone is far away and may be seen before he actually arrives at his destination. Adherents to the pre-tribulation view often refer to the rapture as a time when Christ only appears to His believers. So, according to this view, the Church meets the Lord in the air, and then the Lord and the Church depart to heaven for seven years after which the Lord returns to earth with His Church. It seems rather strange to call this scenario the appearance of Christ. Actually what supposedly happens is the disappearance of the Church from earth and the appearance of the Church in the presence of the Lord at which time the Lord appears to the Church. This seems to be a rather strange usage of the word appearance. It would seem more reasonable that Christ's appearance would take place when "...all the tribes of the earth...shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven..." (Matthew 24:30). This happens "...immediately after the tribulation of those days..." (Matthew 24:29). In addition, II Thessalonians 1:7 tells us about "...when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed...." The word "revealed" is the same Greek word, apokalupsis, that is translated "coming" in I Corinthians 1:7 and "appearing" in I Peter 1:7. In the II Thessalonians 1:7 passage it goes on to say "...when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." This usage of apokalupsis sounds very different from the appearance of Christ only to His Church in heaven advocated by those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. This sounds more like "...the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he (anyone who worships the beast ) shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:" (Revelation 14:10). As has already been explained, the wrath of God comes after the great tribulation. If apokalupsis is used in II Thessalonaians 1:7 to describe what is apparently the post-tribulation wrath of God, then it seems reasonable that in I Corinthians the term also applies to the post-tribulation wrath of God and concurrent gathering of His elect. So the appearing (apokalupsis) of our Lord that the Corinthians were waiting for apparently occurs after the great tribulation, when everyone sees Him, when He gathers His elect, and when He pours out His wrath (Matthew 24:29-31). At any rate, there is no indication from the context of I Corinthians 1:7 concerning when the "apokalupsis" occurs. In addition, there is certainly no indication that it is a separate event, seven years or three and one-half years before His actual return.

The main passage in I Corinthians treating the rapture is found in chapter fifteen. The first part of the chapter deals with Christ's resurrection and the future resurrection of believers. Verse 23 indicates (see context of verses 21 and 22) that those who belong to Christ will be resurrected at "...his coming". The Greek term here rendered "coming" is "parousia" which, as has already been stated, does not automatically indicate an event distinct from His "coming" (erchomai) which, we are told in Matthew 24:29-31, occurs after the tribulation. This is the case since "parousia", as used in II Thessalonians 2:8, evidently refers to the post-tribulation destruction of the beast (and/or false prophet). So in I Corinthians 15:23 we are told that the resurrection of believers will occur at Christ's "coming", a term that is used in II Thessalonians 2:8 in reference to an event that occurs after the tribulation.

I Corinthians 15:51-54 is one of the major biblical descriptions of the rapture. First of all, verse 51 assures us that we shall all be changed, not only spiritual Christians (I Corinthians 2:15), but the carnal (I Corinthians 3:1) as well. This is evident since Paul is writing this letter to the Corinthians, who seemed to have quite a problem with carnality (I Corinthians 3:3). Verse 52 describes the suddenness of the resurrection: " In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye...." Then this verse tells us when this shall occur: "...at the last trump...." The rest of the verse reinforces this statement: "...for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." This is an obvious reference to the resurrection of the dead Christians and the rapture of the living Christians. When shall this occur? "At the last trump...." The Greek term here for "last" denotes final. In other words, there will be no more trumpet calls after the one that takes place at the time of the rapture. Yet, according to Matthew 24:31, Christ's elect are gathered together unto Him "...with a great sound of a trumpet...." This occurs, according to Matthew 24:29, "...immediately after the tribulation of those days...." Since the rapture happens at the time of the last trumpet call and a trumpet call occurs after the tribulation, the rapture must take place after the tribulation.

In addition, the book of Revelation describes seven trumpet calls. Six of these are dealt with in Revelation 8:2 through 9:21. The seventh trumpet call is dealt with in Revelation 10:7 and 11:15-19. This final trumpet heralds the wrath of God (Revelation 11:18). Since the trumpet in Matthew 24:31 also heralds God's wrath, as has already been explained, it is certain that these two trumpet calls are the same. So the Matthew 24:31 trumpet call that occurs "...immediately after the tribulation of those days..." (Matthew 24:29), is the same as the last of the seven Revelation trumpet calls. Therefore the Revelation seventh trumpet call takes place "...immediately after the tribulation of those days..." (Matthew 24:29).

If the last trumpet call which coincides with the rapture (I Corinthians 15:52), comes before the tribulation, then it comes before the trumpet call which occurs after the tribulation, and would therefore not be the last trumpet call. It is more reasonable to identify the last trumpet call of I Corinthians 15:52 with the trumpet call of Matthew 24:31 (and also with the Revelation seventh trumpet call), which occurs after the tribulation.

Colossians

The next New Testament passage which gives an indication of the time of the rapture is Colossians 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." Most would understand our appearance with Christ in glory to be the rapture. This shall happen when Christ appears. The question is: is Christ's appearance before, during, or after the tribulation? This verse gives no definite statement in this regard. However, when Christ comes after the tribulation He shall be seen by "...all the tribes of the earth..." (Matthew 24:30). This is certainly an appearance, and would easily qualify as a prime candidate for the time. Those who believe in a pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation rapture must believe that Christ will appear twice, once at the rapture and a second time at His coming after the tribulation. However, the Scriptures give no statements about Him appearing twice. The statement, "...when he shall appear..." is most easily understood to mean a one-time event. If the Author wanted us to understand that Christ is to appear twice (once at the rapture and again at His return), then perhaps this verse would have been worded in such a way as this: "the next time Christ appears." This would give the impression that there is more than one appearance in the future. In addition, advocates of the pre- and mid- tribulation rapture views usually describe the rapture as a time when all Christians disappear from earth. If that is the case perhaps this verse would have been better worded as, "When we shall disappear, we shall also appear to Christ in glory." The pre- and mid- tribulation rapture advocates usually explain the rapture as a disappearance of Christians on the earth, with those who are left behind wondering where the Christians went, since they saw nothing. According to this thinking, the Church disappears at the rapture and then re-appears with Christ at His return. So, in this scenario, at the rapture Christ does not appear to the world, but only to His raptured Church. And the raptured Church does not appear to the world, only to our Lord in heaven. If this is the case, this verse would be better rendered, "When we shall appear before the Lord, then he also shall appear to us." However, the actual verse contains no qualifiers about to whom the appearance is made. In addition, the actual verse states that "...ye shall appear with him...." If the rapture were an event not seen by the world, then the more reasonable wording would be "ye shall appear to him." Since Christians are to appear "with" Christ at the rapture it seems unreasonable that no one would witness this appearance, as advocated by those of the pre- and mid- tribulation rapture persuasion.

I Thessalonians

In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians he refers to the coming of the Lord in 2:19, 3:13, 5:23, and in a major passage of scripture: 4:13 through 5:11. In each case the word "coming" is used, and in each case the Greek word is "parousia." In 3:13 we read of "...the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." The adherents to pre- and mid- tribulation rapture views speak of Christ's coming "for" His saints at the rapture and a subsequent coming "with" His saints when He returns to earth. I Thessalonians 3:13 must refer to the post-tribulation event of Christ's return since it is worded "with" all His saints, not "for" all His saints.
In I Thessalonians 5:23 Paul prays for the Thessalonians to be "...preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." This word, "coming", is the same as that used in 3:13. Since the 3:13 "coming" is definitely a post-tribulation event, it seems reasonable that the 5:23 "coming" is a post-tribulation event, as well. But if the Church gets raptured seven or three and one-half years earlier, then there would seem to be no need for prayer for preservation up to the time of Christ's return to earth. One would think that if the rapture takes place before Christ's post-tribulation return that Paul's prayer would be worded similar to the following: "...be preserved blameless unto the resurrection." If there is a need for the Church to be "...preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ", then it seems unlikely for the rapture to occur before that post-tribulation coming.

I Thessalonians 4:13 through 5:11 is the main passage in this letter which deals with the rapture. The word "coming" in 4:15 is from the same Greek word, "parousia", which is also translated "coming" in 3:13. The 3:13 passage is definitely a post-tribulation event since it is a coming "with all his saints", not "for all his saints". Therefore there is good reason to believe that the 4:15 "coming" is also a post-tribulation event. Verse 16 tells of the Lord descending from heaven. This certainly sounds like His return to earth. However, those who believe that this passage describes a pre- or mid- tribulation rapture have to add to this account that after Christ descends to the atmosphere He calls the Church to Himself and then re-ascends back to heaven with His Church. This scenario is not described in this passage nor any where else in the Bible. It is an assumption made by those who hold to a pre- or mid- tribulation rapture. Verse 16 mentions the trump of God. This, as has been shown in the discussion of I Corinthians 15, is indicative of a post-tribulation event. In verse 16 the "...dead in Christ..." are resurrected and in verse 17 the living Christians are "...caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air...." This mention of clouds is reminiscent of Matthew 24:30, when the Lord comes "...in the clouds of heaven...", after the tribulation. So, according to Matthew 24:29-31, after the tribulation Christ will return in the clouds of heaven with the sound of a trumpet and gather together His elect; and, according to I Thessalonians 4:16, 17, the Lord shall return in the clouds, with the sound of a trumpet and meet His saints. These two passages certainly seem to be describing the same event, which , according to Matthew 24, occurs after the tribulation. In addition, it seems rather curious that, according to the adherents of the pre- and mid-tribulation rapture, the resurrection of the dead in Christ into their glorified bodies and the change of the living in Christ to their glorified bodies shall take place in the atmosphere where they meet the Lord; yet, apparently no one on earth will notice this. Perhaps there will be too many clouds or perhaps it will happen so quickly that the Lord and His saints go from the air to heaven before anyone notices them. If the Lord wanted to take His Church to heaven without anyone else noticing it, why would He not just call them directly up to Heaven, similar to what happened to Elijah? Why would He come to the atmosphere to meet them just to turn around so quickly and go back where He came from before anyone would notice Him? Perhaps the most likely reason that no one on earth will notice this event is that it is not the way things will happen.

After describing the resurrection and rapture in I Thessalonians 4:16 and 17, Paul tells us to "...comfort one another with these words" (verse 18). In the next verses (5:1,2) Paul states, "But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." In the context, the "...times and seasons..." must refer to the timing of the previously described resurrection and rapture. Then the next sentence, beginning with "For", also relates to the previous verses. So the resurrection and rapture will take place "...as a thief in the night." This is how Christ describes His coming in Matthew 24:43, referring back to His previously described post-tribulation coming. This is further evidence that the rapture occurs after the tribulation. In the verse following Paul's description in 5:2 of Christ's coming "...as a thief in the night..." he states, "For when they shall say, Peace and Safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape" (5:3). The first word, "For", in this sentence does not appear in the Greek, nevertheless there is an implied relationship to the previous statement ( the analogy of the "thief in the night" in verse two is carried forth with the "sudden destruction" mentioned in verse three). So when Christ comes there will not only be a resurrection and rapture of Christians, but a destruction of sinners. Continuing in this passage we find that the destruction of the sinners is called the wrath of God in verse nine. So this entire passage ties in the resurrection/ rapture with the Lord's coming in wrath, just as we see in Matthew chapter 24. This is contrary to the pre- and mid-tribulation rapture views in which God's wrath follows the rapture by three and one-half or seven years. Perhaps this is why some Bible students consider the tribulation to be synonymous with God's wrath. The inadequacy of this interpretation has already been discussed. In addition, God's wrath in this passage results in sudden, inescapable destruction. This is not the nature of tribulation. Even the pre- and mid-tribulation proponents typically speak of many people getting saved during the tribulation. That does not sound like what will be happening, however, in the coming time of sudden, inescapable destruction. Also, it should be emphasized that "...God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (5:9).

The Timing of the Rapture of the Church part one
The Timing of the Rapture of the Church continued


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