Are you ready for something that won’t happen? That’s what I hear when people ask, “are you ready for the rapture?”
Ready for the what?
If you search your English Bible, you won’t find the word “rapture” anywhere. The typical defensive response to that fact is the claim that “rapture” literally means “caught up” — which it does — and is what Paul is talking about in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
It is true that Paul refers to being “caught up” in that verse, but it is not at all true — not even close — that Paul is talking about the Premillennialist doctrine that “The Rapture” refers to.
“The Rapture” doctrine doesn’t just mean that when Christ comes back His people will be “caught up” to be with Him. If that’s all it taught there wouldn’t be any problem with it.
That is exactly what Paul said, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17, NKJV).
The problem with “The Rapture” is that it teaches that the wicked will be left here on earth for a period of seven years to experience “The Great Tribulation” before Christ will come again to establish an earthly kingdom. Such an idea simply contradicts biblical teaching about The Second Coming.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul is specifically referring to the resurrection of the righteous. In the context of that statement he doesn’t have any consideration of the wicked at all.
So, to look at this verse and conclude that there will be separation of years between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked is completely ignoring the context. In other passages of The Second Coming, it is very clear that everyone will be raised at the same time and separated according to their personal accountability to Christ.
God has appointed “a day” to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30, 31). And it isn’t just referred to as “a day” but an hour of a day!
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” (John 5:28–29, NKJV)
So, when Paul says that the dead in Christ will be raised first and then those who are Christ’s at His coming will be “caught up” to be with Him in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17), he is describing what will happen at the same time that the wicked will be cast into outer darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).
Paul is only looking at the sheep on the right side of judgment, but it happens at the same time as the goats being cast out into everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46).
When so-called theologians twist passages to fit with their preconceived notions they cause contradictions and confusion. By misapplying passages that refer to the church and the Christian Age to try and justify a false doctrine, Premillennialism causes all manner of contradictions throughout the Bible.
The Bible is perfect and free from contradiction. It is false doctrine that is contradictory.
You can’t be ready for something that isn’t going to happen! What is going to happen is that Christ is going to return to receive His faithful to Himself (John 14:1-3). At the same time, He is going execute “vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8).
“These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:9–10, NKJV).
No one knows when that day and hour will be (Matt. 24:36). The only way to be ready for that day and hour is to “watch and pray” (Mark 13:32–33). That means to live daily for Christ so that no matter when He comes, you’ll be ready.
If you would like a free Bible Correspondence Course by mail or an in-home Bible study, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Norm Fields is the minister for the Church of Christ Northside meeting at 1101 Hogansville Road in LaGrange. He may be reached at 706-812-9950 or [email protected]Reach