God, through His chosen servant and apostle Paul clarifies for us the necessity of the rapture in 1 Corinthians chapter fifteen. A one-time world-wide supernatural event that involves only believers in Jesus Christ is prophesied to take place during the last days. These believers, both living and dead, who make up the New Testament fellowship of followers of Christ are being prepared not only to spend eternity with God but also for their sacred duty given to them by God during Christ’s Second coming when He will judge the world in righteousness.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body….50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, by steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 & 50-58
Paul writes about this catching up of believers, dead and living, again in 1 Thessalonians chapters four and five. These passages of Scripture about Christ’s coming for His own, those who have died and those who are still alive, and their being caught up together with Him in the air, is given the name of the rapture. The passages from 1 Thessalonians chapter five reveal the rapture takes place before Christ’s Second Coming to judge this world in righteousness.
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
This passage coupled with the passage out of 1 Corinthians gives no hint of the rapture taking place during the seven year tribulation period. These passages speak about the necessity of the rapture so that the fallen body is exchanged for the new glorified body made fit to spend eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ and in the presence of God our Father. It is amazing to meditate upon the glory that awaits us as those who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. The verses that come after this passage out of 1 Thessalonians refers to those who are judged by the Lord Jesus Christ, and not those who are His beloved brethren through faith in His name and trust in His shed blood. The verses do, however, show that there is proximity in time between the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ.
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
God has not appointed His beloved children to wrath, because they are of the day and are sons of the light. Therefore, we are saved from the wrath that is to come upon the whole world by our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us that whether we die before the rapture or are alive at His coming for us, we will always be with the Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father. The rapture will occur before the tribulation period, because the tribulation is the righteous expression of God’s just wrath upon an evil, vile fallen world that has descended to the depravity of glorifying evil and despising good and godliness. We, as God’s beloved children, are protected by our faith and love, and hold fast to the hope of salvation as we meditate upon Christ and His merciful propitiatory death upon the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and His glorious resurrection from the dead giving us eternal life. We can look expectantly for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we see the Day approaching and the evil and chaos growing. We can anticipate the glorious day that we will accompany our awesome Lord and Savior when He returns to judge this earth with God’s perfect justice. In the next post I will write about our service to Christ during this terrible, but awesome, day of God’s wrath.
28 “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28