I suppose I intended to move on from this topic, my post about the timing of the rapture has by far been the most viewed (and it seemed the most scorned) within the series I’ve been writing on the latter days (a bit ironic, as I think certain others in the series are far more controversial. The preliminaries for the series started here, and the series, itself here.). What I said in it is a little hard to swallow for most Christians, and I believe, require further discussion.
In this post I am going to do something I don’t often do. I am going to challenge theologians and ministers who believe, and teach the rapture to refute me with scripture. This may get nowhere, but I’d like to be convinced by the Word of God that there is a pre-tribulation rapture – if nothing else the exercise may sharpen your point, and understanding of what you believe.
I’d like to ask Christians reading this to share it – specifically with lay, and professional ministers, and see if someone can supply plain teachings from scripture which clearly declare that there is a separate event preceding the resurrection of the dead in which saints are caught up with Christ BEFORE the resurrection of the dead, which we could label the ‘rapture.’
I will, here, reiterate three passages of scripture, which I believe, conclusively refute the rapture doctrine; I could easily use others (for a fuller view of my perspective, read the two preceeding postsWHEN Comes the Return of Christ, and The Rapture?; How shall Christ Return?, but these three verses are the ‘heart of my arguement’. My thesis is this: That just as the Catholics invented the doctrine of purgatory, so evangelicals have unscripturally invented the doctrine of the ‘rapture.’ I’d like you to refute these points by showing me the plain biblical basis for teaching the rapture doctrine from scripture.
I remind common readers that this is not an issue of when we WANT to be delivered from the world, but when the bible declares we can expect to be. Thinking that we can change the timing of something God has set eternally in His Word through prayer is fruitless, and a railing against the Truth. The bible declares of the last days that those who recieve not the love of the Truth shall be decieved, and damned (2 Thess 2:10-12). What God’s Word says is True, not what we WANT to believe. If we believe only those who tell us what we want to hear, we have heaped to ourselves teachers, having itching ears.
2 Tim 4:3
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears.
Okay, now for my three verses (please refute them, and show me wrong, I too, want to be raptured before the tribulation):
In 1 Thess 4:14 – 5:11 (that ye may read the full context) Paul is plainly speaking of the resurrection of the dead (or the ‘rapture’ as many say). At the end of verse 16 Paul declares these words: AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST.
This is my first (and I believe most conclusive) verse as to whether there is an event seperate from the resurrection, which we could call the ‘rapture.’
Here Paul says PLAINLY – there is no question as to what he says here, the words and the phrasing are not ambiguous (and he affirms it in the following verse) – that the DEAD rise FIRST. That is, before ANY OTHER PERSON, OR PEOPLE TO BE CAUGHT UP TO HEAVEN, FIRST will be the DEAD in Christ.
If there remains ANY confusion on this point, Paul clarifies it in the proceeding verse:
‘THEN [that is AFTER the dead] we which are alive, and remain shall be caught up together WITH THEM [with whom? With those who were dead in Christ, and preceded the living] in the clouds to, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.’
Now, as the plain statement of scripture unambiguously declares that the DEAD will be the FIRST to rise, how and where can we find a loophole in scripture to deny this statement, and teach that living Christians will be caught up in a pre-resurrection ‘rapture’?
In the light of this one statement, I can see no possible way that we could teach there will be a pre-resurrection event – or any event separate from the resurrection of the dead – in which LIVING Christians in the earth are caught up BEFORE the dead.
This is my first doctrinal challenge, I want a direct response to this question: ‘Does Paul, here, leave any loophole in which we could argue that living saints will be ‘caught up’ BEFORE the resurrection of the dead?’
From my perspective of the plain statement of scripture I do not believe that there is any way we could claim that there is a seperate event which precedes the resurrection of the dead that we could call the ‘rapture.’ I believe that to do so would be an outright denial of the plain, clearly stated Word of God – HERESY. (Theologians, please refute me, I am convinced – correct me so that I have time to repent of my false teaching.)
Having established that the dead rise first, and there is no preceeding event of living souls caught up to Christ before the resurrection of the dead, let’s set our sights on the timing of the resurrection of the dead. Is it before the tribulation, during, or after?
Again, I will reference the plain statement of Paul to the Thessalonians; this time SECOND Thessalonians. Now, if you read (or are familiar with) the full context of the passage I just quoted (1 Thess 4:14-5:11), you will notice that at the begining of chapter 5, Paul does not addresses the timing of this resurrection event. In fact, he says he has no reason to address that topic because that time comes as a ‘thief in the night,’ (1 Thess. 5:1 & 2) meaning – as Jesus had sad – ‘no man knows the day, or the hour’ (Matt 24:36; Mark 13:32).
Regardless of the fact that Paul refuses to address the timing of the resurrection IN THIS passage, some of the weightiest pro-rapture arguments come from the beginning of 1 Thess 5 (ironic as we’ve already established from chapter 4 that he is speaking of the resurrection of the dead, not some separate ‘rapture’ event).
People often use 1 Thess 5 to teach the ‘imminent return’ of Christ (that is the teaching that the ‘rapture’ could happen at any moment) – however, this is due to a misunderstanding of what he is saying (which I will show in a momment). If we read the passage without understanding, or with a pre-conceived ‘rapture’ bias it would (I think) be easy to believe that Paul may be advocating belief in the ‘imminent return.’
My next passage of scripture, is 2 Thessalonians chapter 2.
In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul points out that the Thessalonians had come to believe in the ‘imminent return’ doctrine, which may even have been due to his previous letter, as he points out. He corrects the doctrine in no uncertain terms:
2 Thess 2
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by  the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and  by our gathering together unto him [What is Paul talking about? He defines it: 1. the coming of Jesus Christ, 2. our gathering together unto Him. Here Paul is PLAINLY speaking of the resurrection of the dead. If not, what other interpretation can there be? Please show me, ministers – I yearn not to fall short of the Truth of God!],
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us [Paul references that they may even have misinterpretted something he said, or wrote – perhaps 1 Thessalonians 5], AS THAT THE DAY OF CHRIST IS AT HAND. [Paul clearly defines, and negates the faulty doctrine: the idea that the day of Christ is ‘at hand,’ i.e. ‘within grasp’ ‘immediate’ – that it could happen at any moment. Paul is directly speaking to the ‘imminent return’ doctrine, which the Thessalonians had come to believe, whether by misinterpreting his own writings, or by false report.]
3 LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU BY ANY MEANS: for THAT DAY SHALL NOT COME, except there come  a falling away first, and  that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Here is plain statement of scripture regarding the timing of the resurrection of the dead. Paul speaks in EMPHATIC language – he seems to clearly believe that the ‘imminent return’ is a DANGEROUS doctrine for the Thessalonians to believe, and admonishes them sternly not to be decieved by anyone who would advocate such an heresy:
LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU BY ANY MEANS: for THAT DAY SHALL NOT COME, except there come  a falling away first, and  that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Now, this writing is Paul, the apostle to the gentiles. He has been caught up to the third heaven, and heard spiritual secrets unlawful to be uttered among men. Has he emphatically, and straitly charged the Church of God NOT TO BELIEVE in a resurrection that comes PRIOR to the revealing of the antichrist, or am I misinterpretting the plain statement of scripture? What theological loophole can we find to dodge the straight command of God’s anointed apostle to the gentiles?
Paul goes on to say – regarding the return of Christ in 2 Thess 2:6
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
He says, now that I have explained it you know why the return of the Lord tarries – because – as he had said there must first be 1) a great falling away, and 2) the antichrist be revealed (v.3). (By all means, read the full chapter of 2 Thess. 2, and correct my misinterpretations.)
These plain statement of Paul declaring Christ’s coming and the resurrection of the dead affirms the word that Jesus Christ, Himself, had already declared regarding His return and the resurrection of the dead.
My third passage of scripture regarding the timing of the resurrection of the dead is the plain teaching of Jesus Christ on the topic from Matthew 24. In verses 4-14, Jesus describes the ‘beginning sorrows,’ or ‘birth pain’ period of the latter days, THEN in verses 15-25 He describes what He calls the ‘LAST DAYS’ which begin with the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not (I cover the passage in greater detail in my first post on the subject.) In verses 27 and 28, Jesus gives two parables, declaring that His return will be blatantly obvious, and apparent to the whole world (thus again – there can be no ‘secret’ return of Christ wherein only saved living saints see Him, and are ‘raptured’ up to Him – EVERY eye will see Him (Rev 1:7). <- That’s not one of my verses, but no charge for the extra point ;))
Then Jesus describes plainly His return, and the resurrection of the dead:
29 IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRIBULATION of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And THEN [AFTER the tribulation] shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now, according to Paul the resurrection of the dead takes place AFTER the great falling away, and the rise of the antichrist (in fact if you read the context of the entire chapter (2 Thess. 2) you will see that Paul speaks not only of the RISE of antichrist preceding the resurrection, but the full reign of the antichrist because he describes the Lord’s return (which correlates with the resurrection) as destroying the antichrist.
In the first known full teaching from the mouth of Jesus Christ regarding the latter days, Jesus, Himself, gives no indication that there will be a ‘catching up’ of living saints in the earth throughout the tribulation. He declared that AFTER THE TRIBULATION He would return and call the saints together unto Himself from the ‘four winds.’
If Jesus Christ declares that His return, and the resurrection take place AFTER the tribulation (and Paul confirms this in 2 Thess. 2), how can anyone continue to teach a pre-tribulation resurrection? That is a direct denial of the words of Jesus Christ.
Here is my final summary (please correct me theologians and ministers for surely many have greater wisdom than I):
- No one will be raised, or caught up before the resurrection of the dead for: ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first.’ (1 Thess. 4:16 & 17) There is therefore no event of living saints being caught up prior to the resurrection of the dead which we could independently label the ‘rapture.’
- The return of Christ, and the resurrection of the dead happens AFTER the ‘falling away,’ the ‘rise of antichrist,’ (2 Thess. 2:3) AND the full tribulation (or ‘last days’ as Jesus puts it) period (Matt. 24:29-31) as verified by both Paul the apostle to the gentiles, and Jesus Christ the living Word of God.
Once again: I would like to hear BIBLICAL evidence that refutes the scriptures that I have presented here. It will have to be plain statements from scripture as I used, not ambiguous passages accompanied with amorphous logic to prove the point.
Interesting conversation on someone else’s site – David asks: ‘Is it possible there could be multiple resurrection events?’
‘Excellent question. According to scripture there are [ONLY] TWO resurrections. This point can be found in Revelation 20 (specifically v. 5 & 6).
Here, according to John, the apostle Jesus Christ returns AT THE END OF THE TRIBULATION – His coming marks the destruction of the beast from the sea (the antichrist kingdom) and the false prophet (the antichrist person), himself. John declares that the resurrection of the dead, which marks Christ’s return, and the end of antichrist’s reign specifically as the FIRST resurrection:
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION.
The first resurrection BEGINS the millineal reign (which is evidently post-trib). The FIRST resurrection is also called ‘the resurrection of the just.’ (Luke 14:14)
But there will also be a resurrection of the UNJUST (Acts 24:15 & Dan 12:2). THAT is the SECOND resurrection, wherein is the final judgment (Rev 20:5-6 & 11-15).
So, yes there are TWO resurrections I suppose that constitutes ‘multiple events,’ but they both take place AFTER the tribulation (one before, and one after the millennial reign).’
I would think that the first resurrection would have been that of Jesus and those who rose from the dead in his resurrection. The two witnesses would have to be another. (Anyway). The first resurrection (Rev 20:5) appears to only be those who were beheaded or martyred during the tribulation, then the second is for the unjust after the 1000 yrs. So the question is the when is the timing of the resurrection that Paul speaks of, because it doesn’t really fit the description of 1st or the 2nd?
I no longer debate the Rapture, but pre-trib says the anti-Christ is revealed at the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel as he sign the covenant or some break the week in half where the Great-trib starts were the A/C sits in the temple ( a mid-pre-trib , where he breaks the covenant .) Then there is where the whole week is called the tribulation and (mid-trib starts near the middle of the week.) or there is the pre-wrath rapture, where the rapture takes place just before the pouring out of God’s wrath about three-quarter of the way into the week.
I take it that you are post-trib. I lean to the pre-trib, but my faith is not in the timing of the rapture/resurrection, but in Christ. The problem I have in these debates, is someone can’t just be wrong in their theory, but rather they find themselves being a heretic or some kind of outcast. The Love of God is often lost in these debates.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Cor 5:10)”
This verse, plus Rom 14:10 speaks of the judgment before Christ’s throne. Most theologians believe this takes place after the resurrection, where we believers receive our rewards. (Why is this importanr?)
“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. (Rev 4:4)”
Who are these Elders and why are they wearing crowns? (The crowns signify that they have already received their rewards (or been before the Judgment seat of Christ, meaning the/a resurrection has taken place before John has been called up.
This is one of the reasons pre-tribber’s believe the resurrection takes place at the beginning of the 70th week
“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 Cor 15:52)”
How fast will it all happen? As lightening travels across the sky or a twinkling of the eye, every believer in the whole world will be resurrected or changed in a blinding moment to meet him in the clouds! This doesn’t sound like the same moment where every eye will be able to see him or us change. (Or at least to those who believe in the rapture.) Where are these clouds, over Israel or where? How will every eye (the whole world) see him if we meet him say over Israel? Paul called it a mystery or a secret.
Thanks for the thoughts! The issue as it comes to this topic, is in addressing the resurrection of the dead. The resurrection of the dead is one of the principal doctrines of our faith, which all believers ought to understand (Heb 6:1 & 2); it is a principal/ primary (=essential) doctrine – that is the ‘resurrection,’ not the ‘rapture.’
As a principal doctrine of the faith, the resurrection of the dead actually has an astounding amount of scripturally recorded information. As there is a great body of information about the resurrection – as with all scriptural doctrines we have to interpret any ‘ambiguous’ elements by the ‘plain statements’ of scripture on the topic.
Plain statements become the pillars of our understanding on any topic – God’s Word is infallibly True. An ambiguous assumption cannot be the author of a doctrine. There are [at least] three specific ‘plain statements’ that I have extracted on the topic in this discourse regarding the timing of the resurrection:
1) Jesus Christ – Matt 24:29-31 – says it occurs ‘immediately after the tribulation’ of the last days.
2) Paul adamantly charges the Thessalonians NOT to be deceived into believing it comes before the reign of antichrist – 2 Thess 2
3) John the Apostle calls the FIRST resurrection the event which coincides with the destruction of antichrist, and the commencement of the millinial reign – Rev 19 & 20
These plain statements are full contrary to ambiguous interpretations. If there are similarly plain statements which declare there will be a preceding event, then we must consider the possibility. Instead people use scriptures pertaining to the resurrection, and claim they are speaking about a different event called the ‘rapture’ (although neither Christ, nor the apostles taught the rapture – only the resurrection). If that isn’t a fabricated (added) doctrine I don’t know what is. Not only is a belief in an additional event an added supposition, but the insertion of the additional event is plainly contradictory teachings on the resurrection (as I pointed out – the dead in Christ rise first, there will be no calling up of saints prior to the resurrection; ‘imminent return’ is negated by Paul’s 2 Thess 2 statements, etc. There is not even enough fringe, ambiguous information to merit any such supposition (I call it heresy not to demean or belittle anyone, but because I love the Truth, and heresy is, indeed, what it is – if I be mistaken show it by the plain word of scripture)). (Belief in the ‘rapture’ had its basis in a prophecy made by a girl in Europe, not by biblical study. C.I. Scoffield believed it, which is why it became widely taught throughout Christianity – at this point most mainline Evangelical Pentecostal denominations will actually EXCOMMUNICATE ministers for teaching contrary to the rapture, although they cannot substantiate it using any plain statements of scripture (if I am wrong, show me where the rapture was plainly taught in the Word) – I must admit I see the appeal, who wants to live through the tribulation? But we can’t base our beliefs on our preferences).
True doctrine can also be seen by its fruit (‘wisdom is justified of her children’) – the rapture as a doctrine is surrounded by complete confusion. I grew up believing it, but I never could understand how the conclusion was drawn through scripture (I see now it is because it can’t). People believe in the rapture not because they found it from the Word (indeed, the doctrine did not exist in the entire of Christendom until the 1800s) – as many come to believe in the miraculous, or other things because of the Word – but because there are adamant teachers of it.
I have also found that there are a number True doctrines that it negates (I will be talking about more of these in following posts, but for one example, see: ‘How to prepare for the tribulation, pt. 1’ – assuming I have not lost you over this).
Also the other two posts I wrote on the subject – ‘When comes the Lord’s return’ & ‘How shall Christ return’ should shed additional light. (I really would prefer to talk about the resurrection outside of the rapture misnomer, but it is too prevalent in modern Christian thought to do so without addressing).
But then, I see that I did not address these objections in my response (sorry – not meaning to spam ya ;)). I see these points (correct me if I am not getting at your objection):
1) The Elders wearing crowns seems to indicate that these have received their rewards prior to the unfolding of events of revelation
2) The changing of believers occurs within the twinkling of an eye
The first of these is your more convincing point, though unless it were explained by the author in detail, or we understand it in the wider frame of the context it is (I think) dangerous to make a doctrine out of something so intangible. Here’s an example of what I mean by that: the Jehovah’s Witnesses [really] believe that the bible ‘teaches’ that they should not have birthday parties. Where did they get this ‘doctrine’? There are only two birthday parties described in the bible (Pharaoh in the time of Joseph, and Herod) – at both someone is killed. Now, we could not go so far as to say that their supposition is not biblical, could we? They are correct, every birthday party in the bible includes an execution! But then, to most reasoning individuals that certainly does not constitute a doctrine about not having birthday parties!
Now, I don’t mean to compare your point to that silly example (which is hyperbolic of what I mean) – I do think it is a well considered thought but I think it lacks enough information to make it a teaching about when saints receive the judgment of their souls (we could add the thought to 2 Tim 4:8 & 1 Peter 5:4, which speak in the same typology of rewards given at the appearing of the Lord – however that ‘appearing’ of the Lord still speaks expressly of the visible return of the Lord at the first resurrection).
In the book of Zechariah the same ‘crowning’ typology is used of the – still living – Joshua, standing before the Lord with Satan on his right hand to resist him (Zech 3:1-7). This is a clear ‘judgment’ typology in which Joshua was redeemed and had a ‘fair mitre’ (we could call a ‘priestly crown) set upon his head. I believe that the elders in heaven apply to this picture:
Thus saith the Lord of hosts; IF THOU WILT WALK IN MY WAYS, AND IF THOU WILT KEEP MY CHARGE, THEN THOU SHALT ALSO JUDGE MY HOUSE, and shalt also keep my courts, AND I WILL GIVE THEE PLACES TO WALK AMONG THESE THAT STAND BY.
Now, Zechariah was seeing (at least in type) the heavenlies, as John was in Revelation. Joshua was at the time the high priest in Israel, yet Zechariah saw his True spiritual condition in the Lord, and his redemption. Further the above promise came from the mouth of the Lord. I believe that in like form the four, and twenty elders are living saints in priestly capacity who sit before the Lord (apostles & prophets whom only the Lord [& those seeing them in the Spirit] knows), and it was such elders that the Lord referred to as ‘these that stand by’ (even as Paul declared that we saints are ALREADY seated with Christ in ‘heavenly places,’ or in the ‘heavenly sphere’ (depending on your translation) (Eph. 2:6))
On the second objection see my post: ‘How shall Christ return?’ I think I address that. One thing that I did not address there, however, which I would like to address with regards to the visibility of the Lord’s coming is this:
While I believe that the Lord will return physically (if the spiritual ‘resurrection body’ could be called a ‘physical’ return (1 Cor 15:44) – I believe this because the angel’s at His ascension told His disciples that He would return the same way they saw Him leave (Acts 1:9-11)), I do not believe that ‘every eye will see Him’ due to His Physical return.
Rev. 1:7 says that EVERY EYE will see Him, and quote: ‘they, also, which pierced Him.’ Wow! That’s an interesting thought! Every eye will see Him, even the eyes of those who killed Him… but then according to Revelation 20 the wicked – those that pierced Him – will not rise until AFTER the millennial reign in the SECOND resurrection!
Now… what can we conclude from that? I refer back to the spirit of man – every eye WILL see Him, but not every PHYSICAL eye necessarily. The return of Christ will be the prophetic event of the age – the spiritual eyes of every living whether saved or not saved – whether they have ever had a prophetic dream, vision, or revelation or not – EVERY SPIRITUAL EYE WILL BE OPEN AND SEE HIS RETURN. The collective consciousness of humanity will KNOW. Even those in hell will look up behold the Lord at His return – even those who pierced Him.
Anyhow – thanks for responding, hope you don’t feel like I spammed you. Did I satisfactorily respond to your thoughts, sell you short, or…? Thoughts? (I actually may use this (or pieces of it) as a post..)
Has the rapture ever been taught prior to the late 1800’s; that all depends on what translation one uses. The Greek word harpazō used in 1 Thess 4:17 is translated “caught up” in most English translations, but the first translation of the Greek scriptures is believed to have been Latin, because of the Roman influence of the known world. Eventually the Latin translation “The Vulgate” became the popular translation: therefore, when anyone taught on 1 Thess 4:17, they used the word “rapere”; which is where the English term “rapture” comes from. So, it is not really actuate to say that the “catching away” or the Rapture was never taught before the 1800’s. (True it may not have been taught to the degree or maybe in the way it is today, but “rapere” was certainly taught from an early point in the church when speaking about the resurrection.) I don’t believe you can separate the two events, the resurrection and the catching up are tied together. But, Paul did mention a temporary harpazō (rapture) to the 3rd heaven without an resurrection.
Zechariah saw Joshua’s spiritual condition, but John was told that he was seeing “things which must come to pass hereafter” (Rev 4:1); therefore, I see the Elder’s (their thrones and crowns not as merely their spiritual condition, but as a people who are in the future heaven who have already stood before the Judgment seat of Christ.) So, we’ll just have to disagree here.
As a person I can count;
1st resurrection: Christ and those who rose from the dead (they too were all taken up)
2nd: The two witnesses (they too were taken up).
The resurrection in Rev. 20 isn’t the very first resurrection. The Greek word “prōtos” translated “first” doesn’t necessarily mean the first in order or in a sequence, but rather it can show a quantitative position or high rank, which shows what The Lord thinks about his martyrs or that this is special to the Lord. (No mention of something called a 2nd resurrection, only that others would not live until after the 1000 years). This group described by John are those who were killed during the tribulation, there is nothing mentioned of this being a general resurrection for all believers, nor can you find a resurrection for all believers in Revelation, (nor in Matthew 24, only his return; this 24th chapter, many even believes happened in 70AD, or that part of it may a duel fulfilment.)
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deu 29:29)”
The bible is a progressive revelation and The Lord decides when to reveal more of his secrets, (he doesn’t try to reveal it all at once). Paul says very clearly that it was given to him to declare the “mystery or secrets”. (We can see throughout his teachings, much more details than what was revealed in the Gospels or by anyone else.) One of those secrets is about the resurrection (and our bodily change.) Paul has Jesus coming in the air, but nothing about the ground; therefore, this coming may only be for the gathering of his saints and not for the conclusion of the tribulation.
The term “the last day or last days”, is used in many places in the scriptures; The writer of Hebrews and others speaks as if they were already in the last days in some places and it often mean a period of time that can cover years, not just a 24-hour period. So, there is nothing that actually fixes the resurrection to the end of the tribulation, only what many call his 2nd coming or coming as the victorious/conquering King.
Of course, this is why there are so many different interpretations when speaking about eschatology; some spiritualize some verses, while others apply actual physical events to them. Some see many scriptures being fulfilled in 70AD, while others see them as something that is yet to come. What I do believe, is there is an actual physical resurrection (or bodily change) that is yet to happen and that one does not need to know the actual timing of it, but they should have faith in Christ, that when it happens, they will be part of it.
Many believe that the 1000 years in Revelation is the 7th day and that Christ died at the end of the 4th day (4000 yrs.) and that we are in the last days of the 6th day; from Christ resurrection until now has been nearly 1983 years, that’s 17 years short of finishing the 6th day.
My prediction is, that if something doesn’t happen by the end of the this next 17 or so years, then many in the Church will be forced to change much of what they teach in eschatology! Nothing says that Christ must come within this time frame, I’m only saying, that if something doesn’t happen, many will have to change what they teach.
You can respond to this if you like, but like I said before, “I no longer debate the Rapture or eschatology, I will explain what I and others believe, that’s why I responded to your challenge. You already have your mind set and I accept you as a brother in Christ. I see no reason to carry this any father in detail.
No argument, you’ve generally (I believe) seen my point, and my intention always is to let the Word of God speak for itself. (I disagree, though I do find this to be an interesting conversation, and don’t feel myself to be in contention with you.) I believe in secrets and mysteries of scripture, through which we can attain further revelation (The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him), but I also don’t believe God has made His word so convoluted that it cannot be understood by the plain statement (the wayfaring men, though fools shall not err in the way (Is 35:8).). (I have listened to too many ‘prophets’ whose interpretation alone is valid among those they teach though their conclusions can only be reached through prophecy, and extra-biblical readings. Hmm… nope, don’t follow those ones (been disillusioned by one or two, though, LOL!). That said, I do believe that if we are going to teach anything from the Word it must be substantiated by plain statements of scripture (which I have still yet to see regarding the rapture).)
When I speak of the ‘rapture’ in the common vernacular, I do generally mean the entire thesis of belief that comes with it. It is indeed a foundational doctrine upon which much hangs (see my latest post ‘rapture misnomers’ to see what I mean by that). Of course, I have no problem with the usage of the term to define the resurrection of the dead save for the fact that so many false assumptions are carried with it – it is why I make the distinction between ‘rapture’ and resurrection of the dead.
Regarding the elders, I also understand your perspective on the timing of the Revelation, and nearly broached the different perspectives of timing in that earlier response, but decided not to go there. I, personally, believe whether it shows past, future, or present tense, that God has elect ministers before the throne – ‘…for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He hath set the world upon them.’ (1 Sam 2:8) Nevertheless 😉
I am a bit confused by a statement you made in your countings of the resurrections:
‘As a person I can count;
1st resurrection: Christ and those who rose from the dead (they too were all taken up)
2nd: The two witnesses (they too were taken up).’
You mention 1st Christ, and those who rose from the dead. I believe you mean those who rose when Christ died (Matt 27:52 & 53)?
I see that they were raised from the dead, but where is the text that says they were ‘taken up’? (There were plenty of others raised from the dead – Jesus IS the resurrection, and raised a few in addition to those who raised at His own resurrection – yet the Word calls Him the firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18). I believe that means (among other things) that He is was the first permanent resurrection over whom death no longer has hold – i.e. Lazarus was raised, but no doubt died again between the gospel’s writing, and today.)
The two witnesses were (rather, will be), indeed, taken up – I would add to your list Enoch and Elijah. Also, one could argue that Philip’s ‘translation’ experience was akin to a ‘rapture.’ In fact, my belief on the matter would not bar certain individuals experiencing similar things (the fact that this occurred twice in the Old Testament (as mentioned Enoch, and Elijah) means something – out of the mouths of two or three witnesses). Nevertheless, it is clear to me that a widespread, secret rapture of saints is unbiblical and the church cannot expect it (one of the greatest dangers of the doctrine as I see it, is the damage of false hope) the resurrection at the second coming of Christ is the only event wherein any wide-scale event is described.
I also take your point about Paul’s being ‘caught up’ to the third heaven, though the same word for ‘caught up’ being used for this vision (indeed, he knew not himself whether it was in, or out of body) may just as well make my point on the confusion of the vocabulary used: ‘rapture’ vs. resurrection of the dead. As mentioned of Enoch and Elijah, I don’t bar the idea of such experiences on individual level, even if it be akin to resurrection – what Paul describes may have been the same as what John the Apostle, Isaiah, Ezekiel, or others experienced in some of their visions.
Please, take no offense to my responding (though I don’t think that’s what you meant near the end of your response), again, I hold no contention toward you, nor mean to belittle by reply.