In “Rapture Redux” we will continue our quest to see if we can find that ever-so-elusive “Shortcut to Paradise” by next delving into the New Testament.
One of the major proofs offered in the New Testament for a rapture of saved individuals off the earth sans death is contained in 1 Thessalonians:
But I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have been put to sleep, that you are not grieved, even as also the rest (of mankind) who have no hope. For if we trust that Yahushua died and rose again, and likewise, those who have fallen asleep by means of Yahushua, the deity will gather with him (Yahushua). For this we say to you in the word of the sovereign, that we the living who remain unto the coming of the sovereign will in no way precede in time those who have fallen asleep; because the sovereign himself with a shout of command, with an archangel’s voice, and with a trumpet of the deity, will descend from the heavens and the dead in the messiah will rise first. Afterward, we the living who remain, together with them, will be caught up in clouds for the meeting of the sovereign in the air; and in this way, we will always be with the sovereign. So encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)
To any Rapture advocate (pre, mid, or post) these verses are the mother lode that can and will induce Rapture nirvana!
What is going to be demonstrated in 1 Thessalonians is that there are two completely different time periods being referred to: 1. the coming of Yahushua at the First Resurrection, and 2. the coming of father Yahweh at the end of the 8th-Millennial Judgment Day.
All Shall Be Quickened
The first order of business is the gathering of the required scriptural evidence to arrive a proper conclusion, so we will start with the words of Paul:
For as in Adam all die, so also in the messiah ALL SHALL BE QUICKENED, BUT EACH IN HIS OWN RANK: messiah the first-fruit, after that those of messiah with his coming. Afterward, the telos (end), when he shall have given up the kingdom to him who is deity and father. (1 Corinthians 15:22-24)
It is apparent that the following points are made:
1. Quickening can only occur after one’s death (1 Cor. 15:35-36). Therefore, the messiah was quickened after he was resurrected from the dead.
2. The elect shall be quickened after the return of the messiah. First, the dead in the messiah shall rise from the dead in the First Resurrection (see Rev. 20:4-6). Second, their resurrected bodies will be quickened several days later at Pentecost.
3. Finally comes the great quickening of all those saved at the telos (end) of the world-age when father Yahweh arrives to the earth.
The “telos (end)” spoken of in the above quote from Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:24, cannot refer to the event of the Second Resurrection, for that event takes place during the early part of the 8th-Millennial Judgment Day to allow enough time for the human harvest to grow (2 Pet. 3:3-13).
Further, the passage in 1 Corinthians continues by describing this “end” as, “when he shall have annulled all rule and all authority and power. For it behooves him to reign, until he shall have put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy annulled is death.”
Death does not end until the second death, when “death and sheol are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:13-15, 22:7-8).” This end, therefore, is a reference to the end of the world-age when father Yahweh appears.
The Two Quickenings
This data from 1 Corinthians must now be compared with the statements made in the book of Hebrews. After discussing numerous followers of Yahweh from Abel, the son of Adam, down until the persecutions of the followers of Yahushua, Scriptures reports:
And these all, having been borne witness to through trust, did not receive the promise, the deity having foreseen something better for us, THAT NOT APART FROM US THEY (those of the First Resurrection) SHOULD BE MADE PERFECT. (Hebrews 11:39-40)
Mentioned among “they” in this above passage are Abraham, Isaak, Jacob, Moses, and others who clearly are part of the First Resurrection (Heb. 11:1-38). Therefore, the two quickenings of the saved (the elect and those quickened at the end), which take place millenniums apart, are different events from the simultaneous perfecting of both groups that occurs at one and the same time.
The Last Trumpet
This information leads us to the next alleged pro-Rapture reference from Scriptures:
Behold, a mystery I tell you: All (the saved) shall not fall asleep (in the messiah), BUT ALL allagesometha (SHALL BE TRANSFORMED), in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last salpiggi (trumpet), for a trumpet shall sound. …(1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Those who have fallen asleep are those who have fallen asleep through the messiah, i.e., those of the First Resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15:18-20; 1 Thes. 4:14-15; 2 Pet. 3:4). For them the second death has no authority (Rev. 20:6), because they have already been quickened into immortal beings (1 Cor. 15:23).
Nevertheless, “ALL shall be transformed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMPET.”
The transformation of all the saved—those quickened after the First Resurrection and those still alive at the end of the 8th-Millennial Judgment Day—occurs, “at the last salpiggi (trumpet).” The Hebrew word behind salpiggi (trumpet) is shofar (ram’s horn).
The sentence in 1 Corinthians, 15:52 is properly divided immediately after the phrase, “for a trumpet shall sound.”
The next word, kai (and),” begins the next thought:
AND the dead shall be raised incorruptible . . .
The Greek word kai is often used to begin a new sentence (see lines 15:37, 40) and is the best formation of Paul’s thoughts based on the evidence from Zephaniah.
The merger of these two sentences has created an unwarranted confusion in many translations, forcing together events that actually occur far apart. The resurrection, for example, occurs long before the transformation.
Day of the Shofar
A clarification of just when the last trumpet sounds, and therefore when the great transformation takes place, is found in Zephaniah. While speaking of the “great day of Yahweh,” Zephaniah clarifies the timing of the last salpiggi = shofar (ram’s horn, compare LXX) by stating:
That day is a day of wrath, a day of adversity and distress, a day of waste and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A DAY OF THE SHOFAR(RAM’S HORN) and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers. (Zephaniah 1:15-16)
In place of the word shofar, the LXX version has salpiggos (trumpet). The passage in Zephaniah then continues by stating:
And I will bring distress to man, and they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against Yahweh. And their blood shall be poured out as (one pours out) dust, and their flesh as (one pours out) dung. Also their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of Yahweh. AND BY THE FIRE OF HIS ZEALOUSNESS SHALL ALL THE EARTH BE CONSUMED. For a full and speedy end he shall make of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Zephaniah 1:17-18)
The saved at this time will rise up off the earth to meet father Yahweh in the air (1 Thes. 4:17). The wicked, as Malachi points out, shall be consumed by the fire (Mal. 4:1-3). Paul continues in 1 Corinthians, stating:
… And the dead will be raised incorruptible, AND WE (those remaining alive who shall be saved) allagesometha (SHALL BE TRANSFORMED). For it behooves this corruption to put on incorruptibility AND this mortal to put on immortality. But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruptibility AND this mortal shall have put on immortality, tote (AT THAT TIME) shall come to pass the word that has been written: Death was swallowed up in victory. Where is your sting, Death? Where is your victory, sheol? (1 Corinthians 15:52-55)
Three Stages for Eternal Life
What Paul is trying to communicate is the fact that there are three stages for the saved of mankind to experience:
1. Corruption must put on incorruptibility; that is our present corruptible bodies must be raised with incorruptible bodies.
2. This mortal must put on immortality. In short, our mortal incorruptible bodies must be quickened into immortal beings.
3. At that time, being the time when “we (i.e., Paul and those remaining alive)” have put on immortality, then ALL (= all those from both the First and Second Resurrections who have been quickened) shall be transformed.
This verse further clarifies this transformation by separating events into three categories:
A. The dead (corruptible) will be raised incorruptible (i.e., Second Resurrection after the beginning of the 8th-Millennial Judgment Day).
B. The mortal shall put on immortality (i.e., be quickened). The last group quickened occurs at the very end of the 8th-Millennial Judgment Day. (1Cor. 15:23-24)
C. When immortality is put on by the last of those who are being saved, THEN death and sheol are finished, which event occurs with the Gehenna fire (see Rev. 20:14-15, 21:7-8).
It is with this final stage, when death and sheol are destroyed by fire, that all the saved are transformed in an instant, and all who are saved become permanently perfected (Heb. 11:39-40).
The transformation, accordingly, occurs at the time of the great end-time fire that engulfs the earth at father Yahweh’s arrival.
1 Thessalonians Reexamined
Looks like it’s time to reexamine the passage in 1 Thessalonians where we began.
The important fact to take notice of is that there are basically two groups of people being discussed in the passage: 1. the dead in messiah or those who are fallen asleep, and 2. we the living who remain with them.
Let us now look at the following verses very closely:
v. 15 For this we say to you in the word of the sovereign (Yahushua), that we the living (those of Second Resurrection) who remain unto the coming of the sovereign (father Yahweh) will in no way precede in time (the perfection) those who have fallen asleep (elect of the First Resurrection).
v. 16 Because the sovereign (Yahushua) himself with a shout of command, with an archangel’s voice, and with a trumpet of the deity, will descend from the heavens and the dead in the messiah will rise first (elect rise in First Resurrection).
v. 17 Afterward, we the living who remain (those of Second Resurrection), together with them (elect of the First Resurrection), will be caught up in clouds for the meeting of the sovereign (father Yahweh) in the air; and in this way, we will always be with the sovereign (father Yahweh).
It is important to recognize there are two different persons in the above verses called “sovereign.” This problem occurred first because the Jewish scribes were in the habit of rendering both the sacred name Yahweh and the title adon (sovereign) into Greek as kurios (sovereign).
Historical evidence also demonstrates that the earliest and best biblical texts written in Greek, both Old Testament and New Testament, retained the sacred name Yahweh. Nevertheless, due to the ineffable name doctrine that infected early Christianity, the Greek scribes followed the Jewish example and changed Yahweh to sovereign.
Next, just as all the saved will do at the end of the world-age when they meet father Yahweh, those of the First Resurrection will also rise up in the clouds to meet Yahushua the messiah at his second coming occurring at the beginning of the 7th millennium (Rev. 11:1-13, esp. v. 12).
Yet, those who point to this fact fail to mention that the messiah continues after this gathering to come down to the earth in a cloud (Act 1:9-11), proceeding into his Sabbath millennium reign emanating from Jerusalem (See Heb. 3:7–4:11; Rev. 20:4–8).
Likewise, at the end of the 8th-Millennial Judgment Day, father Yahweh will himself come to the earth to live, bringing Renewed Jerusalem, or Paradise, with him.
All that verse 17 reports is that those saved will “meet” the sovereign (father Yahweh) “in the air” at his coming. After this meeting, they join father Yahweh when he takes up residency upon the earth (Rev. 21:1-22:6).
So what about that “Shortcut to Paradise” by means of a “Rapture”whereby we can circumvent death?
Unfortunately for the Rapture advocates the answer is found in Scriptures:
FOR AS IN ADAM ALL DIE, so also in the messiah all shall be quickened. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
And just as IT IS APPOINTED FOR MEN TO DIE ONCE, and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
Scriptures are quite clear. Everyone has got to suffer death caused by the original sin of Adam, the progenitor of all mankind.