Hebrews 9:27And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
When studying the Judgment day and the Rapture doctrine it is necessary to study them within the context of biblical teaching about the end times or eschatology.
I. The rapture (doctrine) / resurrection
A. An overview of the doctrine…
1. When Jesus comes He will resurrect only the righteous dead, change the righteous ones who are alive, and then “rapture” them together.
a. Those who believe this doctrine portray it as a secret, mysterious rapture; suddenly many will disappear.
b. Slogans, bumper stickers and book titles present the idea: “Are you rapture ready?” “Left behind” “Warning: In case of rapture this car will not have a driver.”
2. Those who believe some form of the rapture doctrine are not united on every point. For example:
a. It will occur before, during or after a seven year period of tribulation.
b. These differences forcefully demonstrate that the Scriptures do not teach this doctrine.
c. “Date setters” are legion and their false prophecies are exposed.
1) With every new uprising in the Middle East comes another wave of eschatology mania. “The end is coming, again!”
2) False prophets adjust their calculations, decide on a new “catchy” title, and publish another best seller.
3) Even with their never ending list of failed prophecies, many folks rush out and buy the garbage, again.
4) The online encyclopedia Wikipedia lists several attempts at date setting.
1. 1792 – Shakers calculated this date
2. 1843 – March 21 1843 predicted by William Miller founder of the Millerites, the failure of Jesus to appear on this date after his followers had sold all their possessions was referred to as The Great Disappointment
3. 1981 – Chuck Smith undogmatically predicted that Jesus would likely return by 1981
4. 1988 – Publication of 88 Reasons why the Rapture is in 1988, by Edgar C. Whisenant
5. 1989 – Publication of The final shout: Rapture report 1989, by Edgar Whisenant – More predictions by this author appeared for 1992, 1995, and other years.
6. 1992 – Korean group “Mission for the Coming Days” predicted October 28, 1992.
7. 1993 – Seven years before the year 2000. The rapture would have to start to allow for seven years of the Tribulation before the Return in 2000. Multiple predictions.
8. 1994 – Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church in Los Angeles predicted June 9, 1994. Radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted September 27, 1994.
9. 1997 – Stan Johnson of the Prophecy Club predicted September 12, 1997.
10. 1998 – Marilyn Agee, in The End of the Age, predicted May 31, 1998.
11. 2000 – Many “millennial” predictions.
12. 2006 – Many predictions for June 06, or 06/06/06
5) One author chided “date-setters” by challenging them to sign a contract turning over all their assets to him on the day after they claim the Rapture is to occur.
B. Etymology: Since the word is not found in our English Bibles one could wonder how it became so widely used in the religious field.
1. It comes from the Latin word “raptus” or “raeptius,” which is used in the Vulgate to translate the Greek word, “harpazo – to seize, snatch, plunder, gain control of.”
2. The Greek word appears in several verses. Here are some examples.
a. “To take by force”
Matthew 11:12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
John 6:15Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
Acts 23:10Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
b. “To snatch away”
Matthew 13:19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.
John 10:28-29And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
c. “To catch away or up”
Acts 8:39Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.
2 Corinthians 12:2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.
2 Corinthians 12:4how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
1 Thessalonians 4:17Then 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.
Jude 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Revelation 12:5She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.
C. Proof texts: Although the proponents of this doctrine use many Scriptures to support their views, there are two passages that are vital.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-1813 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 with 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.
Pulpit: “Some suppose that the reference here is to the first resurrection; that the righteous, “the dead in Christ,” shall rise before the wicked, “the dead not in Christ;” and that a thousand years, or the millennium, will intervene between the first and second resurrections (Rev. 20:4, 5). But this is an entirely erroneous supposition. All that is here asserted is that the dead in Christ shall rise before the living in Christ shall be changed; there is no contrast between the dead in Christ and the dead not in Christ, nor any allusion to the resurrection of the wicked.”
McGarvey or Pendleton: “Some, mistaking the spiritual resurrection mentioned at Rev. 20:4,5, for a literal one, have thought that there are two resurrections, one for the righteous (the first resurrection) and one for the wicked (the second resurrection). …Those who hold this theory appeal to this passage in proof of it, reading it thus: “The dead in Christ shall rise first, and the dead out of Christ shall rise second.”
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1. Notice the purpose of this passage: to comfort the living saints regarding their dead loved ones, those who died in Christ.
2. This passage does not allow for a secret or silent rapture.
3. This passage does not teach two resurrections.
4. This passage allows those outside of Christ to be “caught up” also, at a general resurrection.
5. Therefore, this passage does not support the rapture doctrine.
Revelation 20:4-64 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
1. It is a mistake to take the rules of interpretation for regular texts and apply them to apocalyptic texts.
A. T. Robertson quotes “Swete” in his Word Pictures: “To infer from this statement, as many expositors have done, that the ἐζησαν [ezēsan] of v. 4 must be understood of bodily resuscitation, is to interpret apocalyptic prophecy by methods of exegesis which are proper to ordinary narrative” (Swete). Then Robertson adds, “I sympathize wholly with that comment…”
2. Those who believe the rapture doctrine must find “two literal, bodily resurrections.”
a. This is the only passage in the Bible that implies some type of a second resurrection.
b. The first resurrection is obviously spiritual, symbolic of something.
c. One must violate sound hermeneutics to take this passage literally.
d. No one wants to take it all literally, contrary to their claim.
Foy E. Wallace, Jr.: “The text says, they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The pronoun we is a personal pronoun of first person, but they is a personal pronoun of the third person; the verbs lived and reigned are verbs of past tense; but shall live and reign are verbs of future tense. No man can claim the right to change the sentence of this text from the third personal pronoun they to the first personal pronoun we, nor to change the verbs lived and reigned of the past tense to shall live and reign of the future tense. That is too much change for any man to make who has an ounce of respect for the word of God.”
And (Concerning the 1000 years):
“If the expression denotes time, then when the reign is over, and they cease to reign; the living would be over and they would cease to live.”
Adam Clarke (although he is a premillennialist, admits: “I am satisfied that this period should not be taken literally.”
Pulpit: “But it must be remembered that the ‘thousand years’ do not express a period of time, but the quality of completeness.”
“This ‘first resurrection’ is the spiritual rising with Christ, which is a consequence of his redeeming work. It is to be noticed that St. John nowhere makes use of the phrase, ‘second resurrection,’ though he does use the words, ‘second death.’ Both the ‘first resurrection’ and the ‘second death’ are spiritual operations.”
(After briefly describing the premillennial view, it lists six objections to it.) The sixth one states, “The teaching of the Bible elsewhere not only negatively fails to support this view, but is in positive opposition to it…”
3. If this passage fails to support the rapture doctrine of two literal, bodily resurrections (and it does), the doctrine falls.
D. The simple passages on the resurrection deny the rapture doctrine.
1. When was the resurrection to take place?
a. The last day
John 11:24Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
1) How did she know?
2) She had heard Jesus say so.
John 6:39-40This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:44No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:54Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
1) “Raise up”
2) Make stand – ἀνίστημι – cause to stand up
b. The last hour
John 5:28-29Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice andcome forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
1) Jesus had just spoken of a spiritual resurrection.
John 5:24-27“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
Ephesians 2:5even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Colossians 2:13And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
a) This obviously refers to the time that they obeyed the gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:1-4; 2 Thess. 1.7-9)
b) Paul tied this explicitly to baptism. (Rom. 6:1-6)
c) This spiritual resurrection was only for those who had “heard His word and believed.”
2) He then distinguished the spiritual resurrection from the bodily resurrection of the last day.
John 5:28-29Do 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.
2. What Jesus said harmonizes with what Paul said in 1 Cor. 15.
1 Corinthians 15:24-26Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
a. Jesus said, “The last day…,” Paul said, “Then comes the end.”
b. Not at the beginning of His reigning, but at the end.
c. When? When “He has put all enemies under His feet.”
d. What is the last enemy? Death.
e. When will death be destroyed? At the bodily resurrection and judgment.
E. The Bible does teach a rapture, a catching away, but it does not teach the rapture doctrine.
1. It will not be silent.
a. There will be a shout
b. There will be the voice of the archangel
c. There will be the trumpet of God
2. The concept of a secret rapture, separate and apart from the resurrection of the wicked simply is not taught in the Bible.