Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative [Part-1]

Chapter 13 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Reclaiming the 1st Thessalonians Rapture Narrative [Part-1]

Paul stated in First Corinthians 15; Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – 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. 1 Cor. 15:51, 52 This passage on the resurrection and “change” is the big sister to the rapture narrative found in First Thessalonians Chapter Four. 

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. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 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. 

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. 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 Thess. 4:13-18. 

This passage is proof of the rapture. But the details of these verses have, unfortunately, been overlooked by Pre-Tribulation rapture theologians, authors, and movie-makers. 

In accordance with basic (inductive) Bible interpretation guidelines, the very first step in determining the meaning of this passage is to establish its single main theme. If these verses above were to be bound as a stand-alone booklet, what would it be called? What was Paul’s primary motive for conveying these thoughts? 

The first and last verses are focused on giving comfort to those who had lost their loved ones. The first verse also implies that the bereaved would be less grieved and more hopeful if they were more informed about the things that Paul is about to share with them. Paul didn’t want those who had lost their loved ones to think that they had perished and would miss out on the Lord’s return. It also brings to mind the remorse of Mary and Martha; “Lord, if you had been here, our brother Lazarus would not have died.” The overall objective of the Thessalonians citation is comfort. Comfort through education. An appropriate title might be something like, “Paul’s Words of Comfort to the Bereaved.” 

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 1 Thess. 4:13 

This verse takes the form of an “if – then” statement. “If” we believe that Jesus died and rose again; then (even so), or (thus) – “God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” The independent conditional statement is that “one believes in the death and resurrection of Jesus.” If we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, even so we should also believe what Jesus has promised to His followers; “because I live, you will live also.” John 5:25 says, “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.” The dead will hear the voice of Jesus and rise. First Thessalonians 4:14 ties these two resurrections together. We believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus; and even so, we believe that God will raise those who have fallen asleep. 

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. 1 Thess. 4:15 

“by the word of the Lord.” 

We have already demonstrated by citing numerous Scriptures (the word of the Lord) that the resurrection will precede the gathering. According to Paul’s statement, the resurrection of the dead must occur before the rapture of the living. Stated from the other perspective, the rapture cannot occur before the resurrection. 

“By no means” is formed by two negative Greek words. In English this would be a double negative. But in the Greek it has the meaning, “It absolutely won’t happen.” This fact, expressed in the Greek’s most emphatic negative expression, implies that the living cannot possibly experience the rapture at the Lord’s return in advance of the resurrection of the dead. 

The Coming of the Lord 

“Until the coming of the Lord.” 

Notice that it does not say, “Until a calling from the Lord.” This distinction will be amplified further in the next verse. 

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. 1 Thess. 4:16 

This verse contains so many important elements that we need to examine each phrase individually. The first phrase identifies three different arguments which would persuade the Thessalonians that Paul was describing the second coming of Christ. 

“For the Lord Himself” 

There is an additional Greek word in the original texts. The Greek word – hoti51 (that) appears before “Himself.” The Online Interlinear translation of this verse captures the meaning of this phrase as, “For that same Lord.”52 Another good translation would be, “For that self-same Lord.” By using these words, anyone familiar with the Book of Acts would tend to associate them with “that same Jesus” from Luke’s record of the ascension in Acts 1:9-11. 

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” 

Because Paul has just mentioned “the coming of the Lord,” it would appear that Paul is deliberately calling to mind the mental image of the Lord’s bodily return. Although this may not provide conclusive evidence that this “coming” is the bodily second coming of Christ; please consider the next two phrases as further supporting evidence. 

“Will descend” 

The Lord – that same Lord, will descend; katabesetai53 (will descend). This exact word is used in Romans 10:7 asking the question, “Who will descend into the abyss?” Katabas54 is usually translated “come down,” as in the Gospel of John where Jesus referred to Himself as the one who “comes down from heaven,” and, “the bread that came down from heaven.” Paul first referred to this event as “the coming of the Lord” in verse 15. Verse 16 reinforces the fact that Jesus is “coming,” and that He’s “coming down” – “descending.” 

“From heaven” 

Here the operative word is “from.” This is a common word in the Greek pronounced “apa.”55 The point in examining this word is to differentiate what this preposition is not saying. It does not mean “in,” or “near,” or “around.” The Greek has other words that mean those things. Apa (from), conveys a separation between two positions. Just like its use in English, “from” generally implies departure and distance. An object was there, and now is here; the object came from its former position. 

This study seems mundane except that it is necessary in order to express the precision of the original Greek text. “From heaven” means that Jesus has distanced Himself from heaven. He was in heaven, and now he has separated Himself from heaven. He’s not merely coming in heaven, or descending in heaven. He’s going to descend from heaven. He’s not going to get up from His throne and walk a few steps – and call to the church. No. He is, once again, going to depart from His place in heaven and descend

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven.” 

What Paul has written affirms that the same Jesus who has ascended will also come down from heaven – “in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” “In like manner” means that the same processes will recur; except that they will occur in a reverse manner. When Jesus was taken up to heaven he ascended from the earth. When Jesus returns from heaven, he will descend to earth. When Jesus ascended into heaven he disappeared from sight. When Jesus descends He will reappear; and this is the blessed hope. Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13 

Let’s put this all together now. From verse 15: “the coming of the Lord.” From verse 16: “the self-same Lord,” “will come down,” “from heaven.” Let’s take a closer look at these observations about the station of Lord Jesus: 

  1. He is coming / will come down. 
  1. He is the same Lord. (Himself, or self-same) 
  1. He is descending. 

He is coming. He is no longer seated in heaven – He is not merely calling or commanding the saints to rise and join Him in heaven. He is coming. 

For the Lord Himself. Paul is not being redundant. Jesus is, “the self-same Lord.” Once again this points to a physical second coming, as foretold by the angels in the Book of Acts. As He ascended, He will descend. In what manner? In bodily form. 

He is Descending. Jesus cannot be sitting and descending at the same time. He is either sitting at the Father’s right hand or He is descending. Paul says He is descending. 

“With a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” 

The Bible describes a truly glorious appearing at Christ’s return – which every eye will witness. This celebration, once again, lends itself to the conclusion that Paul is describing the bodily return of Jesus. 

These verses are primarily given as counsel to the living regarding their dead. They’re going to burst forth from their graves. They’re not going to miss out on anything. So you don’t have to sorrow as those who have no hope. Isn’t it interesting that verse 17 (the part about the rapture) is presented in books and movies without a depiction of the resurrection of the dead? Images portray the saints as though they were ascending straight into heaven with no appearing of the Lord. In most cases there are no voices, no trumpets, and no descending Christ; and certainly no graphic imagery of the resurrection of the dead. The authors and screenwriters have studied these verses. They know exactly what they’re doing. But they don’t want the audience to think about the fact that the resurrection of the dead occurs first – even though that information is presented in the text three times. 

This concealment is most certainly made because the Bible places the resurrection of the dead at the end of the age, after the time of the Great Tribulation. People who are trying to force the idea of the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the church either can’t use this verse (which is the only verse in the English Bible that actually refers to this meeting in the air as the rapture); or, they must strip it of its context and show the rapture scene by itself. If they present the rapture verse in its context, it becomes obvious that it’s not a Pre- Tribulation rapture at all. It’s a rapture following the resurrection of the dead. 

And the dead in Christ will rise first 

The dead in Christ will include all who have died in faith. There is only one faith. Whether these who died in Christ were baptized in the name of the Trinity, baptized in the sea, or baptized into that Rock which was Christ; there is only one baptism. As stated earlier, and based on Paul’s qualification here, this resurrection immediately preceding the rapture appears to be what is called the resurrection of the righteous, also known as the resurrection of the just. 

Now we come to verse 17 of First  Thessalonians Four – the rapture verse. Here we will slow down and take a word-by-word approach based on our hypothesis that the rapture is comprised of three distinct events; the resurrection, the rapture, and the gathering. 

The precision of the Greek words used by Paul will allow us to examine the rapture sequence on the microscopic level. This will also provide the opportunity to apply all of the ontological concepts employed by Paul in his other epistles. 

There are no textual variants in verse 17 in any of the Greek texts from which major English Bible versions are translated. Each Greek letter of each word is consistent throughout the sea of ancient Greek manuscripts. The words are identical in the Byzantine, Alexandrian, Western, and majority text-types. The Greek words presented below are used as the base text in the King James56, New King James57, New International58, American Standard(s)59, and other modern paraphrased versions. The reader may be completely unfamiliar with the Greek language. Nevertheless, it is beneficial to view the 2,000 year-old Greek with one’s own eyes. 

The Veil – Vignette

Chapter 12 of Reclaiming The Rapture : The Veil – Vignette

Ben and Kristiana saw Michael, Gabriel and all of the Angels surrounding the Garden watching tensely to see how Adonai would resolve the crisis of degeneration which had 

been triggered. 

Adonai looked tenderly at his son Adam; grief overwhelmed him because of the words he had to utter that would activate what Adam put in motion. They had lost Adonai’s breath and the glow from his light was fading quickly. Soon they would not be able to endure his presence whatsoever. “The adamáh will now degenerate and decay,” Adonai said. “In time, because you are adamáh and were taken from it, to adamáh you will return because of what you have done.” 

Immediately there was a deep rumble, like the groaning of a million voices at the point of death, which reached a climax. All at once, a burst, a pulse of radiation emitted from the atoms of every tree, from every flower, from every blade of grass, from every rock and from the very soil itself. It started in the dirt under Adam’s feet and then spread throughout the whole planet and eventually the entire cosmos. The complete composition of everything had changed. The earth and material cosmos started decaying, wearing out and finally fell. Everything began decaying and dying from the invisible world of cells and DNA to all animals, birds, and fish which Adonai had formed out of the adamáh. They shared the fate of Adam and the adamáh. Even the rocks became degenerative from the release of alpha particles leaving them slightly radioactive. Degeneration and corruption ensnared all things, permeating the entire creation. The principle of rust entered the world where only a moment before, no such oxidation was ever known; metals and every material would have remained intact forever. 

Adam sighed looking at the ground, and kneeling down, he took some dirt into his hands and stared at it for several moments. “I am made from the dust of the adamáh and to it I shall return,” he whispered finally realizing how when Adonai formed him from the adamáh, he made him the living, federal head of all created matter. He then let the dirt slip through his fingers, contemplating the relationship he had with it. “We are one and our fates are one. My fate determines the fate of everything in the material cosmos; the vitality of everything is linked and dependent on my life.” 

“Father!” Adam sobbed as he and Eve looked back with tears in their eyes at the Garden of Eden and at Adonai as it all began to disappear before their eyes like a scroll being unrolled before them; they were unaware that it was the last time in their lives they would be face to face with their father. As it unrolled, the domain of Adonai and all the Angels, those good and evil, disappeared from their vision forever; everything of that domain was completely cloaked from their sight. Like a great curtain closing in front of them, the world behind it was blocked from their sight like a one-way mirror, transparent on one side and opaque on the other; those behind it could still see through to the other side. Spatially, they were practically on top of one another, but were separated dimensionally by a wall or veil, like a membrane, barring passage between the domains. 

“Oh for the day when the Promised One comes, destroys Lucifer who beguiled us, and restores Adonai’s spirit and the glorious light that flowed from us,” Adam sighed longingly. 

“How will the Promised One,” Eve asked in tears, “have the power to restore us when the corruption now touches every fiber of our being and that of our sons?” Adonai’s promise of the one who would crush the head of Lucifer lingered in Adam’s mind because freedom from death was his heart’s desire. “I don’t know,” he answered despondently. “I don’t know. Yet maybe there is hope after all.” 

Lucifer and the rebellious Angels watched everything happening on the other side of the veil. “Let them languish in their pain!” Lucifer scoffed. “Though we have been stripped of our beauty and fire, they are now cast out from Adonai’s presence forever!” Lucifer turned around smiling deviously at the others who were intently staring at his disfiguration as well as their own. “We are free! We are free from the oppression of Adonai and free from serving the little worm he created,” he said relishing in his victory against Adonai. 

“Your ingenious plan to cause Adam to murder himself was a great success,” one of the rebel Angels, later called Watchers, praised him. 

“Now we will never be required to serve the speck of dust that he is,” Lucifer answered. “There is no hope for Adam or any sons that come after him for none will by any means be able to repurchase a brother, nor give to Adonai a ransom for that brother, for the redemption of their souls is costly. None will continue to live eternally, and not see the Abyss,” he exclaimed. “I was also right in my assessment that causing Adam to defy the directive of Adonai would force Adonai into a self-imposed exile lest his consuming fire, which is like a stream of brimstone, destroy the earth and everything on it. I calculated that Adonai, in all of his compassion, would sooner divorce himself from the earth rather than utterly destroy everything by his fiery-lightning presence. I have successfully separated the abode of Adonai from the abode of Adam. The earth is ours forever!” 

“That is not true, the earth and all its fullness will forever be Adonai’s!” The same Watcher countered. “How can you suggest that it is ours?” 

“The answer is simple, brother,” Lucifer said haughtily. “Because Adonai cannot touch the earth and because Adam, the true benefactor, has forfeited his right of dominion over the earth, I have become the de-facto ruler of this world. You are correct, however, that it shall always ‘technically’ be Adonai’s but he will never be able to possess it, nor can Adam ever regain his dominion over it. We have adversely taken possession of the earth which was created by Adonai and benefited to Adam. I rightly deduced that once death entered into Adam, then he and his descendants would necessarily forfeit their possession and Adonai could not have it either because his glory would destroy it, which he clearly would never allow. It is just too much for any degenerative mortal to endure. It will be ours forever because Adam cannot undo death, no matter what, and so there will never be any one of his sons authorized, acceptable or legitimate who can undo Adam’s action. Hence I will remain the ruler of the world indefinitely and you all shall possess part of it.” 

“Yet for all that, we are left disfigured and barren,” one of the rebel Watchers snarled viciously motioning to his body. “I am here because I share your conviction that we should not be subservient to Dusty, yet now we are left desolate. You apparently did not foresee that Adonai could remove his fire from all of us. Even now I feel the drain of power in myself,” he said feeling the need to consume something for the very first time. “What have we gained if we are never satiated?” he continued. “The removal of Adonai’s fire and power has left us disconnected from the source of life, leaving me craving a life-essence that I can devour!” the Watcher bellowed greedily with a look in his eyes like a hungry lion. “Adam is still able to derive energy and food from the earth and though he is dying, when he is hungry he simply needs to take of the produce of the adamáh. Even in its state of degeneration the adamáh will still produce enough to nourish him until his death because he was taken from it. Even the animals might be eaten since they too were derived from it, too. What can I consume to placate the ravenous void inside me?” 

“You are correct that unlike Adam,” Lucifer stated, “we cannot gain any energy from the adamáh, for our bodies are trans- dimensional and hence will never fail like Adam’s, yet we still need an input of energy. Adonai has already instituted what we need: the creature which Adonai caused to come up out of the adamáh, whose blood, life-force was given in exchange for Adam, Eve and their progeny to be in close proximity to him, cannot actually reverse the effect of the treason committed. The Covering is nothing more than a force field, a shield of energy which covers a person or object from the fiery-lightning of Adonai. Because it will last only one year and will have to be continually repeated, we can take our nourishment from the life-force of any creature, including the sons of Dusty himself.” He smiled slyly. “The life-force is of a trans-dimensional nature and does nothing for the terrestrial bodies of Adam and Eve but will sustain us quite nicely,” he said smugly. 

“And how do you propose that we obtain blood since we are on this side of the veil?” yet another Angel inquired, sensing the futility of Lucifer’s suggestion. “Have you not seen that an impassable barrier has been placed between the domain of Adam and the domain we exist in? Do you think that we can just pass over it without any retaliation from Adonai?” 

“Here is what we will do,” Lucifer responded coolly to the rebel Angel which had snickered. 

“Though we despise the Adamites, they will willingly offer up blood of another creature in our honor and then we will receive nourishment from the life-force in the blood. However, because Adonai created Adam in his image, they are therefore of greater value than animals, and hence they will be more delectable treats. Let me explain how we will now rule the earth and be energized at the same time. Adam and Eve had a limited understanding of the City of Adonai, which is now cloaked behind the veil,” Lucifer said. “You must realize the incredible power our knowledge of those things ‘above’ give us over the Adamites living ‘below’ on the other side of the veil. Our secrets of the world behind the veil will make us into gods! We shall use it to exploit the Adamites who will have a deep yet unconscious yearning to return to the Mountain-City of Adonai. We will exploit this longing for restoration to entice them to commit even greater acts of evil than their father Adam has committed.” 

“We will distract them with empty promises,” one of the rebel Watchers interjected, “so that rather than seeking to commune with Adonai by way of the Covering, the rebellion against Adonai will only increase and will become so bad that even calling on his name will be profaned. Instead of calling on his name as a blessing, it will become a curse and Adonai will further distance himself from men until he is grieved that he even created them.” 

“And as their memory fades with each passing day,” Lucifer continued, “the sons of Dirt will be more easily convinced that we are in fact ‘gods’ and they must earn our favor by giving blood, the life-force of another,” he said excitedly, and then transformed himself once again into a glorious Angel. “We shall convince them to practice every sort of abomination that Adonai hates.” 

“Since we are hidden behind the veil,” another Watcher said, “consulting our knowledge will be known as divination because they will believe we are divine and our powers will be considered sorcery. Through war and murder and horrors   of   great magnitude committed by the Adamites in our honor we shall be completely satisfied.” 

“Finally, brothers,” Lucifer said, regaining control of the disclosure of the big idea, “there is one more delight that we shall partake of; you shall be satiated when we convince the Adamites to do something utterly repugnant, something which Adonai never commanded nor did it even come into his mind! We shall seduce them to offer up their sons and daughters in fire; and we shall do so until they are slaughtering their children to us under every spreading tree, in the ravines, and under the clefts of the rocks. When this occurs, then your hunger shall be abated and you shall be satisfied in the most delectable way.” 

“What about the Promised One who Adonai said would crush your head and ours too?” another Watcher questioned anxiously. “How do you propose to overcome that?” 

“When the time is right,” Lucifer responded, “then some of you will mingle yourselves with the seed of Adam and corrupt the ways of all flesh on the earth. When Adam was created there was no death, decay or degeneration whatsoever in him. When they have offspring, then the degeneration, the record of the event of the Fall, will be passed virtually identically from Adam to all of his sons perpetual transmission of death, inherent in the seed, from generation to generation. Hence, when our seed is mingled with theirs, then our seed will be passed from generation to generation. Then the Promised One will be one of us and if he is one of us then he cannot be the one to restore Adam.” 

The rebels cheered in shrill voices at the even more insidious intentions of their leader. 

 

The Veil Between Heaven and Earth 

Chapter 11 of Reclaiming the Rapture : The Veil Between Heaven and Earth 

The transformation known as the rapture will occur, as we are told by Paul in First Thessalonians Chapter Four, at the time of Christ’s coming/descending. We have already established 

from our study of the unmysterious verses relating the rapture/gathering to the Second Coming, the day of the rapture will also be the day when God will rend the heavens and come down. The return of Jesus from heaven is in fact the Day of the Lord. God will come down as the Son of God in His glory. This is His glorious appearing. But what does it mean to “rend the heavens?” This chapter will explore what the Bible says about this supernatural process and when it will occur. 

When Do the Heavens Pass Away? 

The question of, “When do the new heavens come about?” has to do with “When do the current (old) heavens pass away?” According to Revelation 6:14, the sky, the heavens (in Greek “sky” and “heavens” are the same word – ouranos) will roll up one day like a scroll. 

Then the sky [ouranos οὐρανὸς] receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Rev. 6:14 

That event takes place in the context of the tribulation and not after the thousand year reign of Jesus. Those inside the event, who are witnessing it, claim that it is the day of the Lord. 

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev. 6:15-17 

Peter also mentioned the monumental event of the heavens passing away, which he says will occur in the day of the Lord, in the context of the tribulation, not after the thousand year reign of Jesus. 

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 2 Pet. 3:10 

We will consider the question, “What is the day of the Lord?,” which comes as a thief in the night, in a later chapter. However we will note here that it is in that day that the heavens pass away. According to Peter the heavens will pass away with a great noise in conjunction with the return of Jesus, not after the thousand years. God first revealed what the passing away of the heavens would look like in the book of Isaiah; 

the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll. Isa. 34:4 He also said; The heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished. Isa. 51:6 

The timing of the heavens vanishing away like smoke is when the earth dwellers die – a reference to the tribulation when massive deaths will occur, not after the thousand years of peace and righteousness. Commentators have by and large been unable to appreciate this because, in some cases, they have interpreted the Bible allegorically; or they have been persuaded that the book of Revelation is a chronologically arranged book. The thematic arrangement of the Revelation is examined in another chapter. Adam Clark, for example, allegorizes it to mean pagan worship: “The whole system of pagan and idolatrous worship, with all its spiritual, secular, and superstitious influence, was blasted, shriveled up, and rendered null and void, as a parchment scroll when exposed to the action of a strong fire.”46 (emphasis mine) Albert Barnes, who is a fairly conservative scholar, interprets the passage in the same fashion. He stated that the passing of the heavens is nothing more than symbolic phraseology and cannot be interpreted literally of the physical realm: 

“This, too, is a symbol, and we are not to suppose that it will literally occur. Indeed it never can literally occur; and we are not, therefore, to look for the fulfillment of this in any physical fact that would correspond with what is here said. The plain meaning is, that there would be changes as if such an event would happen; that is, that revolutions would occur in the high places of the earth,  and among those in power, as if the stars should fall, and the very heavens were swept away.”47 Theologian Harry Ironside, conservative commentator on the Scriptures of last century, likewise interprets the passing away of the heavens in a figurative sense. He says that “the heavens, symbolizing the ecclesiastical powers of every description, will depart as a scroll when it is rolled up. The whole fabric of Christendom will be wound up as something obsolete and out of date.”48 The passing away of the heavens is clearly described in graphic detail. And yet, as we have seen from this small sampling of mainline commentators, it is commonly and unfortunately explained away as being figurative language. Once we shift our focus then it becomes apparent that the sixth seal of Revelation is the event of the passing away of the heavens, which happens at the end of the tribulation, the day that Jesus returns. 

Heaven and Earth Fled Away 

As careful students of the Bible, we must consider a passage that would seemingly contradict our entire thesis that the heavens and earth passing away would come at the beginning of the Millennium. In his visions of heavenly things to come, John saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. Rev. 20:11 This passage comes right after John sees the vision of Satan cast into the Abyss for one thousand years, and his subsequent release and final destruction when the fire comes down from heaven and destroys him. John said; and I saw a great white throne… The One on the throne judges the nations and then even Hades and death are done away with. Immediately following this vision, John says that he saw a new heavens and new earth. Therefore, it would appear obvious that the new heavens and new earth must come after the thousand year reign of Jesus. How can we reconcile our new paradigm with this verse? We need to take another look at it Revelation 20:11. 

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. Rev. 20:11 

This verse has been generally interpreted that the earth and heaven will flee away at that moment, after the thousand year reign of Jesus and just before the final judgment, followed by the eternal state. In other words, that would mean that John saw the heavens and earth flee away at that moment that he looked at the One on the throne. However, it is better understood as an adjectival-parenthetical statement, that is, the statement is adjectival and not verbal. It describes a significant feature of the person and not an action that happened at the moment. John is not describing the passing of the earth and heavens at the moment, but describing the one sitting on the throne. Thus, the one on the throne is the one from whose face heaven and earth fled away. 

The word “flee” [ephugen ἔφυγεν] is the aorist indicative which means that it happened in the past. The aorist tense in Greek is past tense with no aspect assigned. There is another past tense (imperfect) that does include aspect. We use aspect all the time in English to explain not the time of an event, but the event happened. For example, “I studied,” is in the simply (aorist) past. “I was studying,” is imperfect. There are variations of this as well. It is also possible for the aorist to act as (the English equivalent of) the pluperfect. The Aorist Indicative is frequently used in narrative passages of a past event which precedes another past event mentioned or implied in the context. “The Greek Pluperfect (Aorist) is used of any past event which is conceived of simply as an event (or as entered upon, or as accomplished), regardless alike of the existence or non-existence of an interval between itself and the moment of speaking, and of the question whether it precedes or not some other past action. It affirms nothing respecting existing result.”49 

Imagine that you saw Neil Armstrong at the mall one day and you wanted to tell a friend but couldn’t remember Neil’s name. You would say: “I saw the astronaut who walked on the moon today.” It would be obvious to both of you that Neil Armstrong did not walk on the moon at the time you saw him. You were simply using his most salient feature to describe him. So, too, when John says that he “saw a big white throne and the One sitting on it (from whose face the earth and the heaven fled and for them no place was found)” (Rev. 20:11, translation mine). 

The words in parentheses in my translation serve as the predicate. The predicate says something about the subject, which in this case is the “the one sitting.” John is giving a long description of who is the one sitting on the throne; and he is not saying what action was happening at that very moment. We already know when the earth and heaven fled – at the second coming of Jesus. That is when the heavens receded like a scroll with a great noise. That was the time that God tore the heavens and came down and startled the nations. Thus, Revelation 20:11 cannot be used to prove that the timing of the new heavens and earth comes after the thousand years. The phrase is being used to describe just exactly who is sitting on the big throne and what makes Him so special as compared to the other thrones and those who sat on them to whom judgment was committed (Rev. 20:4). 

There is a Veil Between Heaven and Earth 

The passing away of the heavens will be very much like the tearing of the veil in the temple. In fact, Isaiah yearns for the day when God would cause the heavens to pass. Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence. Isa. 64:1 The notion that the heavens will pass away is difficult to comprehend. What did both Isaiah and John see so that caused them to write that the heavens rolled up like a scroll? What did Peter intend when he revealed that the heavens would pass away with a great noise? What did Jesus mean when He said the heavens and earth would pass away? The answers to these questions lie in the reality of the veil between heaven and earth. 

There is a veil between heaven and earth that God will one day tear open and come down. Isaiah stated that when God does this, the mountains will quake at [His] presence—just as fire sets twigs ablaze and the fire causes water to boil. Isa. 64:1, 2 The ultimate effect would be to make known your name to your enemies, yes, to your enemies before you, so that the nations might quake at your presence!” Isa. 64:2 ISV He was literally calling for God to break, or tear, the heavens and come down. He may have yearned for that based on God’s revelation to him earlier in his book: And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. Isa. 25:7 

The opening of the veil is referred to as the heavens opening. There were several times when the veil was pulled back, allowing some to see behind it. As Stephen was being stoned, he “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God… and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened [the veil] and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” Acts 7:55-56 Ezekiel had a similar experience as he was sitting among the captives in Babylon by the Chebar River. He said, the heavens were opened [the veil] and I saw visions of God. Ezek. 1:1 At the immersion (baptism) of Jesus, the heavens were opened [the veil] to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove. Matt. 3:16 John also saw heaven opened. Rev. 19:11 

It is like there is a giant stage curtain between the domain of heaven and the domain of earth. All humanity is the audience waiting for the show to start. Occasionally a few people have been able to look through the crack between the curtains and see backstage. The return of Jesus will be the time when the curtains open once and for all. 

The word “revealed” in Greek is apo-kalypsis [Ἀποκάλυψις apokalypsis]. It literally means to unveil or uncover. The book of Revelation is not simply a book that reveals secrets of the future. It is more precisely the book of the unveiling of the Lord Jesus. We could call it ‘the disclosure of Jesus’. That reality is demonstrated by Paul’s statement in Second Thessalonians One; 

when the Lord Jesus is revealed [ἀποκαλύψει apokalypsei] from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess. 1:7, 8 

Several other Scriptures demonstrate that Jesus will be unveiled, uncovered [apokalypsei] at His second coming. 

  • … that the genuineness of your faith…may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation [ἀποκαλύψει apokalypsei] of Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. 1:7 
  • …that when His glory is revealed [ἀποκαλύψει apokalypsei], you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 1 Pet. 4:13 
  • …eagerly waiting for the revelation [ἀποκάλυψιν apokalypsin] of our Lord Jesus Christ… 1 Cor. 1:7 

First John 3:2 provides the same description yet with another word which underscores the manifestation, or disclosure, of Jesus; 

…when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2 In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) we see this  as  well;  Then  the  glory  of  the  Lord  will  be  revealed  [ְִש   ְִ ְף ִה venigla], and all humanity will see it at once…” Isa. 40:5 ISV The Hebrew word “gala” means to uncover something. Thus the heavens receding like a scroll is literally the moment when Jesus is uncovered, unveiled. That is to say, when the veil between heaven and earth is removed. When this happens there will no longer be any atheists on the earth. All who had convinced themselves that there was no God will be rudely awakened to the reality that there is a God. In fact, they will see Him coming down to the planet in His fiery-lightning glory. 

Then the kings of the earth, the important people, the generals, the rich, the powerful, and all the slaves and free people concealed themselves in caves and among the rocks in the mountains. They told the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to endure it?” Rev. 6:15-17 ISV 

When the veil is removed there will no longer be any doubts about Jesus. There will no longer be any doubts about who is the King. The removal of the veil which was protecting them from God’s fiery-lightning presence will leave everyone exposed to His power. They will suddenly realize that they are not able to endure it, which is why they run into the caves and call for the rocks to fall upon them. The veil, which was the very thing making man’s arrogance possible, will finally be removed the day Jesus comes back. At that time, “The haughty looks of mankind will be brought low, the lofty pride of human beings will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted at that time.” Isa. 2:11 ISV The heavens passing away, therefore, is not the destruction of the sun, moon, and stars; or even the entire universe passing away (because they are eternal), but is the protective barrier between heaven and earth being removed once and for all. 

The Two Veils 

The veil between heaven and earth was even modeled for us by the tabernacle and its two veils. The tabernacle, we must remember, was the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Heb. 8:5 The first veil was the gate or main door to the entire compound of the tabernacle. Behind the second curtain [veil] was the part of the tent called the Most Holy Place. Heb. 9:3 ISV In other words, the second veil was the inner most veil inside the structure where the Ark of the Covenant was. Therefore, there are two veils above. One is the general veil between the two realms just like the first veil or door to the entire tabernacle compound. The other is the inside veil to the Holy of Holies (not the acacia-gold-covered doors of the structure itself). At the death of Jesus the outer most veil in front of the temple tore in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, rocks were split open, Matt. 27:51 ISV indicating the beginning of the return to the unveiled relationship between the two realms. 

This had been part of God’s secret plan that He set forth in the Messiah to usher in the fullness of the times and to bring together in the Messiah all things in heaven and on earth… Eph. 1:9, 10 ISV 

Doing the work necessary on the cross was in large part to reconcile the two realms which Paul states in Colossians; 

Through the Son, God also reconciled all things to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, thereby making peace through the blood of his cross. Col. 1:20 That was the hope, firm and secure like an anchor for our souls, [which] reaches behind the curtain. Heb. 6:19 ISV 

Therefore, just as there were two veils in the earthly tabernacle, so too there are two veils in the spiritual realm. In conjunction with the return of Jesus to the earth, the temple/tabernacle of God in Heaven will be opened. 

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Rev. 11:19 The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. Rev. 15:8 

The opening of the temple/tabernacle of God in heaven is the inner veil. Jesus tearing the veil between heaven and earth is the outer veil of the tabernacle. When those two are opened, then the fiery-lightning presence of God will be revealed (unveiled) for all mankind to see. The response to that event will be nothing short of terror for those who dwell on the earth for the heavens/sky/veil will disappear and Jesus will be unveiled as He returns in flaming fire (2 Thess. 1:7, 8). 

Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev. 6:14-17 

The veil in the tabernacle was a copy of the things in heaven (Heb. 8:5). The tearing of the first veil (not in the Holy of Holies) is a picture of the literal veil that will be torn (Isa. 64:1) and rolled up (Isa. 34:4; 2 Pet. 3:10) at Jesus’ return. 

We Are Like the Boy in the Bubble 

Many of us have heard the story of David Vetter, better known as the boy in the plastic bubble, who had to live his entire twelve years of life in a bubble to protect him from the germs of the outside world because his immune system did not work properly. We can think of ourselves as that boy and God. Our loving Father is outside the bubble, longingly looking in. Parents can easily imagine the grief that David’s parents must have felt looking through the protective plastic veil between them and their son. On the one hand, the plastic barrier between them meant that their son could live. 

On the other hand, it meant that they could not be intimate with their dear and precious child. The only hope was that someday his body could be healed, and they could all be in the same space without the bubble. 

This is essentially the relationship that we currently have with our Father. Like the plastic between David and his parents, the veil between God’s domain and ours (inside the bubble) is what protects us from Him. Due to our infirmity, caused by the eating of the forbidden fruit, we and our Father cannot be together. We have a problem of compatibility. Before the fall of Adam and Eve there was no problem and no need for a veil between heaven and earth. The veil came about as a result of the fall. God used to come to the Garden of Eden and walk there. The first thing that Adam and Eve feel compelled to do after eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is to cover themselves. In my book, Corrupting the Image50, I demonstrate how Adam and Eve were covered in light prior to the fall, and as such were compatible with the fiery-lightning presence of God. 

Adam and the Adamáh 

The big event was nothing other than the Fall of Adam. God created Adam from the “adamáh” (earth, the dirt, the soil). Adam was literally the earth-man. We could actually call him Mr. Dirt, or Dusty, for short. He was the federal head of all creation. In Genesis 1:2 we learn that the earth was temporarily in a liquid, amorphous state. From that material (water), God formed the earth, the ball of dirt that we are standing on today. The heavens and planet in the beginning were perfect; there was no corruption, no decay, etc. When Adam ate from the fruit, thereby committing evil, he entered into a state of degeneration and decay because he was physically linked to the adamáh. Then it had to endure the same fate. 

At the sentencing of Adam in the Garden, God declared, and appears to have activated, the degenerative, decay-death reaction that Adam triggered (Gen. 2:17). The earth and material cosmos started to decay, wear out, and eventually fall apart. Things were going from a higher state of order to a lower state of order; such as the process we see when a piece of metal becomes oxidized, rusted (Rom 8:20, 21). 

Everything began decaying and dying, from the invisible world of cells and DNA, to all the animals, birds, and fish which God had formed out of the adamáh. They shared the fate of Adam and the adamáh. Degeneration and corruption ensnared everything, permeating the entire creation. The principle of rust entered the world where only a moment before, no such oxidation was ever known. Metals, and every material, would have remained intact forever. Even the rocks became degenerative from the release of alpha particles leaving them slightly radioactive. This is something students of the earth are only recently discovering. The discovery of the alpha particles is testimony to ruin at the Fall, when the Earth became corrupted. 

The Earth is now longing to be liberated (not destroyed) into the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-22), which will come about in conjunction with the resurrection and the return of Jesus, when the sons of God (believers) receive their new bodies. The decay (corruption) latent in the earth will be reversed so that we will live on the same ball of dirt as God created in the beginning. 

Paul’s Two Scheme Dimensional System [Part-2]

The Rapture in Technical Terms – 1st Corinthians 15 

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 

Paul states that a death – a destruction of some sort – is necessary in the resurrection process. This requirement is a mystery in the same sense that God’s vicarious sacrificial system also required the death of the offering. We could infer from Peter’s statement that death is required in order to take on spiritual form. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit. 1 Pet. 3:18. And Jesus’ example of the seed was both a prophecy about the fruitfulness of His crucifixion and a statement that resurrected life requires a foregoing death. But Jesus answered them, saying, The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” John 12:23, 24 

In the following verses Paul explains “How?” and “What body?” because it is ultimately stated that we will all be changed. Presumably, all means all; both the living and the resurrected dead must be changed. This assumption will also prove to be in agreement with First Thessalonians 4:17, which says that the dead in Christ which have been resurrected will be changed together with the living to meet the Lord in the air. 

1 Cor. 15:38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 

Paul demonstrates in preceding verses that God is able to create different life forms and various celestial objects with unique bodily forms. These examples provide support in the following verses that God is the creator of both the natural (mortal) body, and the spiritual (immortal) body. 

1 Cor. 15:42 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. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body (σῶμα ψυχικόν – soma psuchikon), it is raised a spiritual body (σῶμα πνευματικόν – soma pneumatikon). There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body… 

The existence of the soma psuchikon, the natural body, is self- evident. Paul expects the reader to concede the existence of the soma pneumatikon based on the existence of the natural body and based upon faith in what is not seen by his redundant assertion that there is both a natural body and a spiritual body in this passage. This argument is strikingly similar to Paul’s assertion in First Thessalonians 4:14 If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who are alive and remain at His coming. Paul states what is known to be fact, and then what we as Christians should believe by faith also to be true. 

1 Cor. 15:45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual (pneumatikon) is not first, but the natural (psuchikon), and afterward the spiritual (pneumatikon). 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as 

we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 

Just as flesh and blood cannot withstand the consuming fire of God’s glory, in order to lay “physical” hold on the more enduring possession we must be transformed into the spiritual state. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:6; That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit

  1. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… 

Only some people will be left alive at Christ’s coming, but all, whether previously dead or alive, must be changed. (This point has been well established above.) 

  1. in a moment (ἐν ἀτόμῳ – en atoma)… in the twinkling of an eye… 

The Greek word, “tom” means “to cut.” Therefore, a-tom means “un-cuttable.” This word is meant to imply the smallest indivisible particle. When referring to time, ἐν ἀτόμῳ describes a segment of time that cannot be measured – an instant. 

52 Continued… at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 

Because this study will develop by logic its own witness for the timing of the rapture, we will not investigate the rapture in relationship to the sounding of the trumpet at this time. 

At this point we must take note of how many times in Chapter 15 Paul has reiterated that we all must be changed. This change encompasses every aspect of man’s mortality: 

Death to Life – from the temporal to the eternal 

Corruption to Incorruption – from the degenerative to permanence, from entropy to indestructibility 

Dishonor to Glory – from what is shameful, dark and dull to what is glorious, illuminated, and brilliant 

Weakness to Power – from tiredness and fatigue to inexhaustible ability 

Natural to Spiritual – we do not yet know what we shall be or how we will appear 

Earthly to Heavenly – from dust, born of flesh and blood, to the regenerated heavenly form 

Image of Adam to Image of Christ – from the image of the first man, to appear as Jesus appears, for we shall be like Him 

  1. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 

Here Paul reiterates his argument from verse 50. That is, the necessity, whether once dead or alive, for the soma psuchikon to be destroyed and replaced by the soma pneumatikon

  1. 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.” 

The Greek word for “swallow” in the original language is katapino, literally, “to drink down.” Katesthio and kataphagein can be literally translated, “to eat down,” and are used extensively in the Greek Septuagint to mean, “devour” or “destroy.” 

In the same epiphany in which it was revealed to Job that he would see his Redeemer, it was also revealed that Job’s natural body would be destroyed by force. But then, in some type of resurrected body, Job would see his Redeemer. 

Job 19:24-27 Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed . . . this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! 

Job didn’t describe the destruction of his flesh as a natural process. The word Job used to depict the destruction of his flesh is 

Strong’s 5362, ֙נ_ ף nâqaph, naw-kaf’; a primitive root; to strike with 

more or less violence (beat, fell, corrode); by implication (of attack) to knock together, i.e. surround or circulate:—compass about, cut down, destroy, go round (about).45 

It appears that Job anticipated a sudden, violent attack upon his bodily remains; followed by a reconstitution of his body which would enable him to behold his Redeemer with his own eyes. In fact, such a supernatural “redemption of the body” would be entirely dependent upon the existence of a Redeemer. Job’s was under the conviction that God was able, and would indeed raise Job from the grave in some type of body; and that Job himself would behold the One responsible for his regeneration – who would Himself be standing on the earth in some type of bodily form. Paul echoed a similar observation when he asked the rhetorical question; Who will deliver me from this body of death? To which Paul acknowledges the Redeemer who is able to accomplish this supernatural feat; I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

Paul expounds further in Second Corinthians 5:1-5; that because God’s plan for man includes such a supernatural transition, God has also prepared us to undergo this change. 

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent (the soma psuchikon), is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (the soma pneumatikon). For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed… 

We don’t want to be found naked; that is, we don’t long to become disembodied spirits. We want to be further clothed; to have an even more enduring body. And God has not prepared us to be mentally comfortable with the prospect of life outside the mortal body. That was never God’s plan for the ultimate glorification of man. Instead, death will be the process by which the saints will become further clothed. . . that mortality may be swallowed up (devoured, destroyed) by life. 

…Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 

What is “this very thing” that has been guaranteed? For which our earthly tent must be destroyed? Once again, this thing is the destruction of the natural body, and its replacement with the spiritual body. We have the Spirit as a guarantee that this replacement process will be completed at some time in the future. 

Job 19 made a direct connection between the Redeemer and the resurrection of Job’s body. Paul’s discourse on the restoration of the creation in Romans Chapter Eight also describes this glorification of “we ourselves” as the redemption of the body. Here, the first fruits of the Spirit stand as our guarantee. 

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. Rom. 8:22, 23 

We who have the first fruits of the Spirit know that our spirits have already been redeemed, because we “have received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out Abba, Father.” Rom. 8:15 We are, nonetheless, still waiting for the redemption of the body. From Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, we derive that this event, this thing that has been guaranteed by the Spirit, consists of the ablation of the soma psuchikon and the creation of habitation from heaven (the soma pneumatikon). And, He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 

In Ephesians Chapter One, Paul adds further assurance of the coming redemption of the body; stating that the Spirit is, Himself, both a promise and a guarantee of the coming redemption. 

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Eph. 1:13, 14 

Paul’s most concise statement on the future glorification guaranteed by the indwelling Spirit is given in Colossians 1:27; 

Christ in you, the hope of glory. The hope of a ransom from sin was realized when Jesus laid down his life for the sins of the world. This hope has already been realized in the forgiveness of sins, the deliverance from judgment, and Christ’s righteousness imputed to those who believe. But there is another hope which has not yet been realized, the hope of glory. This unrealized hope in a future transformation into the glorious state of existence is part of the knowledge of our salvation. 

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Rom. 8:24, 25 

The Indwelling Spirit Promising the Redemption of the Body 
Passage Indwelling, Spirit Sealing, Promise, Guarantee Redemption, Glory 
Rom 8:22,23 we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit  eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body 
2 Cor 5:1-5 who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God 
Eph 1:13,14 with the Holy Spirit you were sealed…of promise…who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession 
Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption 
Col 1:27 Christ in you  the hope of glory 

Paul concludes his discourse on the transformation from death and mortality to life and immortality, by quoting two Old Testament prophets. He begins with Isaiah 25:8; Death is swallowed up in victory. And then he alludes to Hosea by asking; O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? 

Hosea 13:14 reads; 

I will ransom them from the power of the grave I will redeem them from death. 

O Death, I will be your plagues! 

O Grave, I will be your destruction! 

This verse implies that both death and the power of death will be conquered. The bodies of the dead will be raised from the grave, and the bodies of the living will not go down to the grave. This comprehensive verse covers the altruism that we will all be changed and that there are two distinct groups that will experience the Thessalonians resurrection/rapture – the dead in Christ and the living, respectively. 

In conclusion, Paul’s First Thessalonians rapture will be a dimensional change with the meeting/gathering to follow. The rapture will be the physical realization of putting off the old man and putting on the new man. When “this tent” is destroyed (notice: not when we die, or breathe our last breath) we will immediately be clothed with our heavenly habitation which has been prepared for us, and for which we have been prepared. 

Paul’s Two Scheme Dimensional System 

Chapter 10 of Reclaiming The Rapture : Paul’s Two Scheme Dimensional System 

Paul provides enough information throughout his epistles to understand the technical aspects of the rapture and to explain why he chose the Greek word which has been translated as 

“rapture.” The authors reject the proposition that the rapture was something first revealed to the Apostle of the Gentiles. Nevertheless, a wisdom was given to Paul by revelation about how the spiritual realm operates. Peter admitted that some of Paul’s teachings were hard to understand. But we need to understand some of his deeper insights in order to view the rapture from Paul’s perspective. Spiritual concepts are not necessarily complex; but they are contrary to worldly thinking, so that certain definitions and rules we might be accustomed to using could need to be redefined. 

Paul’s concepts of material and spiritual existence were far different from the Dualistic ideas made popular by the Greek Philosophers. To appreciate the weight of the Greek influence upon first century Christians, just remember that Paul’s epistles were originally written in Greek. The rapture is easier to visualize once we realize that Paul described the same dimensional system throughout his writings. When Paul commented on different forms of existence, he was sharing his knowledge of ontology. According to Wikipedia, “Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.”44 

The Apostle John made an ontological observation in his statement on what “we shall be” in his first letter. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2 

This verse contrasts two forms of appearance. Both of these forms have, or will be, seen. “Appear”, by definition, means that something is observable. Because Jesus will appear in glory, we understand that these appearances represent existence in both the natural realm, and in a form beyond the natural realm. 

Although the word “metaphysics” has taken on a negative aspect through association with religious spiritualism and existential philosophy, metaphysics examines the form and substance of objects that exist beyond the physical world. We might say – outside of this dimension. This is the very sort of ontological discussion we need to become familiar with in order to recognize and interpret dozens of New Testament verses dealing with the seen and unseen; the natural and the spiritual. Appearances, forms, and schemes are mentioned throughout the gospels and epistles. 

The resurrection – the reconstruction and resuscitation of decayed and scattered molecules – is a miracle. But the rapture involves the transition from one state of existence to another. From the natural (physical, material), to the spiritual (glorious) state of existence; nevertheless, retaining some type of metaphysical bodily form. 

When the Bible speaks of a spiritual body, it does not mean to imply that the spirit will escape from bodily form and become a disembodied spirit. Platonism, Gnosticism, and Dualism all pit a theoretical perfect spirit against the imperfect elements (matter). Within these philosophies, spirit is nothing more than the opposite of matter. The Gnostics insist that the spirit is real and that the material is less than real. Whereas, modern humanists believe matter to be real, and the spiritual realm to be nothing more than superstition – something that is a matter of personal choice. But the living God of the Bible is Spirit, and He is infinitely more than the opposite of matter. 

When we think of body, soul, and spirit, it is logical to contrast the human body, which has form, with the human spirit, which has no visible form. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Rom. 8:16 Only a few times in the Bible does the Holy Spirit appear to take on a representative form; such as smoke, flames of fire, or the dove at Jesus’ Baptism. But generally, when we think of spirit, we have no form or image associated with either the Spirit of the Godhead or the spiritual component of man. So a spiritual body would seem to be an oxymoron. 

But spiritual form, or embodiment, is the very concept that the Apostle Paul was expressing when he wrote about the spiritual bodies that we will receive in the instant of the rapture. 

Spiritual bodies are heavenly objects, possessing real substance. This spiritual substance is (usually) unseen to the physical eye but is just as real, and even more substantial, than the substance of material things. The spiritual form has an appearance, a form that can be manifested into the material world. Jesus began to manifest His glorified (spiritual) body at the time of the transformation. Yet He showed Himself in a more natural form to a select few after his resurrection. 

Now that we have established the biblical concept of spiritual form, we should address some of the errant philosophies plaguing the Christian church today. The spiritual realm is not merely a nebulous World of Souls dwelling in some ethereal cloud. The heavenly state consists of some type of media or substance. Dimensionality of some type will define our heavenly habitat. Otherwise, how might beings in the spiritual realm know where their identity ends and another person or object begins? How would they communicate or have community? Heaven must have dimensionality or else Moses could not have been shown the pattern of the heavenly tabernacle – the heavenly realities. 

Carrying this logic further, for activity to occur in heaven, something must move or change. Some recognition of time over which change can be observed is necessary to recognize that something has happened. Life without measurable activity would resemble our definition of death, not the abundant life promised by Christ. 

Chapter 15 of First Corinthians devotes several verses to contrasting natural and spiritual bodies. The spiritual form is the more substantial, more enduring, appearance of things. 

Schemes, Forms, and Appearances 

In the following verses Paul described the natural world as a “scheme.” The first verse refers to a future transformation of the world – from the natural scheme into another appearance. The second verse comments on the humility of Christ when He took on the scheme of this world. 

For the form (Gr. σχῆμα, schēma) of this world is passing away. 1 Cor. 7:31b; (also interpreted as; the world in its present form is passing away.) 

And being found in appearance (σχήματι, schēmati) as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Phil. 2:8 

The appearance (form) of Jesus was changed from His original glorious appearance, to the form of a bondservant (natural man). Jesus took on the scheme of nature. The natural and spiritual schemes are both very real and apparent forms of embodiment. 

In the verses above Paul referred to the present natural form of existence as the scheme of this world. Both examples describe a change in outward appearance based on the assumption there is more than one scheme of existence. 

Paul also used another term that can be interpreted as “form” or “appearance”. It is the Greek word morphē. Morph is the root of the English word, metamorphosis; “to change in form or appearance.” Both Matthew and Mark use the word μετεμορφώθη (metemorphōthē) to describe Jesus’ transfiguration. This expression for one of Paul’s two schemes of existence is also found in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. 

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form μορφῇ (morphē) of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. Phil. 2:5-7 

This passage, through the end of the third chapter, is a key section for understanding Paul’s schemes of existence. We will see shortly that this passage even contains the Greek word which has been interpreted into English as “caught up!” 

Mark also used the Greek stem “morph” in his account of the road to Emmaus encounter. After that, He (Jesus) appeared in another form ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ (hetera morphē) to two of them as they walked and went into the country. Mark 16:12 

Now we can look at schēmati and morphē used together to describe our transformation into the spiritual scheme of Jesus’ glorified body. Paul calls this a “trans-schematic” transformation. 

Who will transform μετασχηματίσει (metaschēmatisei) our lowly body that it may be conformed σύμμορφον (symmorphon) to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Phil. 3:21 

Not to belabor the reader with exhaustive Greek studies, please consider the significance of just one more word used prolifically in the New Testament. In the preceding verse we read, “He appeared in another form…” The Greek word for “appeared” is ἐφανερώθη (ephanerōthē). The root word, “phan,” is where we get the word “phantom.” In English we are used to thinking of a phantom as an apparition – something less than real – perhaps like a vision. 

But in the nine occurrences of “appeared” (ἐφανερώθη) below, every single one of them relates to a very real transformation between the spiritual and the natural forms of bodily existence. 

Mark 16:14 Afterward He appeared (ephanerōthē) to the eleven John 21:14 that Jesus was manifested (ephanerōthē) to the disciples 

Col. 1:26 but has now been manifested (ephanerōthē) to His saints 

1 Tim. 3:16 God was manifest (ephanerōthē) in the flesh 

1 John 1:2 and the life was manifested (ephanerōthē), and we have seen 

1 John 1:2 was with the Father and was manifested (ephanerōthē) to us 

1 John 3:5 You know that He appeared (ephanerōthē) in order 1 John 3:8 Son of God was manifested (ephanerōthē), that 

  1. John 4:9 In this was manifested (ephanerōthē) the love of God 

To conclude this preliminary study of bridging the dimensions, we must not neglect the most famous references to Christ’s appearing to the material world; stated below as “appearing” ἐπιφάνειαν (epiphaneian). (Obviously, this is where we get the word “epiphany”.) 

  1. Tim. 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing (epiphaneian) and His kingdom 

2 Tim. 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (epiphaneian). 

Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing (epiphaneian) of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Above we looked at the two forms of appearance, and the transition from glory into the physical state. Now we will begin to look at the essence of the rapture. We could call the rapture our “transfiguration” into glory; or our transition into the glorious state. 

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Col. 3:4 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Rom. 8:18 

Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Rom. 8:30 

Power, Resurrection, and Subjection 

What kind of power will be asserted by God when He transforms corrupted matter from a state of entropy – the fallen state – to the state of glorious immortality? This power to manipulate the very fabric of the universe was the most powerful force imaginable in Bible times, and is still being pursued by scientists today. The prophets and Apostles referred to God’s exceeding great power as the force by which He would overcome and subdue both the fallen creation and the waywardness of men and angels. 

Tethered to the power of the resurrection and the rapture is the power of God to assert His authority over areas of creation that have had, or were perceived to have had, free-wheeling autonomy. Just as decay and mortality will be subdued, that is to say, conformed to its perfect state; God’s creatures and creation will be subdued and submit to God’s will. This is the very thing we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done – on earth, as it is in heaven. Matt. 6:10 

The chart below shows the obvious connection between the revealing of God’s mighty power, the resurrection/rapture, and the establishment of God’s government on the earth. Our corrupted mortal bodies will be subdued under the same divine power. The fact that these three factors appear repeatedly within adjacent passages would also support the conclusion that they occur at the same time; or at least during the same event. The left and center columns are the focus of this chapter on the presence of God’s power during the time of the resurrection and rapture. 

Correlation of: God’s Power, The Resurrection, and Subjection to God’s Authority 
Passage Power / Working / Ability Resurrection / Transformation Subjection / Authority 
Rom. 1:4 declared to be the Son of God with power …by the resurrection from the dead  
1 Cor. 6:14 …by His power God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up  
1 Cor. 15:4-58  resurrection… He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power… till He has put all enemies under His feet… Now when all things are made subject to Him… 
Eph. 1:19-22 what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us… according to the working of His mighty power which He worked …in Christ when He raised Him from the dead… …far above all principality and power and might and dominion… He put all things under His feet 
Passage Power / Working / Ability Resurrection / Transformation Subjection / Authority 
Phil. 3:10-21 that I may know Him and the power… … according to the working by which He is able of His resurrection… I may attain to the resurrection from the dead… who will transform our lowly body… conformed to His glorious body …even to subdue all things to Himself 
Col. 2:12 through faith in the working of God …in which you also were raised with Him … who raised Him from the dead  
Rev. 11:17 You have taken Your great power  and have begun to reign 
Rev. 12:10 Now the salvation, and the power  the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come 

Several of these verses apply to the resurrection, but Phil. 3:20, 21 refer expressly to the transformation of our lowly bodies – the very transformation of our bodies that will take place at the resurrection/rapture. 

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. 

For those who are in Christ, the forfeiting of the mortality in order to be conformed to the image of Christ has only positive connotations. But verse 21 above indicates that from Jesus’ perspective, the process involves power and authority going forth from Him in order to subdue our lowly bodies. 

We are reminded here of the healing of the woman with the issue of blood by whom Jesus perceived that power had gone out from Him. God’s subduing of all of His enemies means rectifying all that was damaged because of sin. The corrupted mortal body of sin must be overcome/subdued by the power of God. 

The book of Revelation describes the destructive forces that God will bring upon the earth before its restoration. The appearance of the glory of the Lord will be accompanied by destructive forces such as the world has not known since the beginning. In Romans Chapter Eight, Paul says that creation has been in subjected in the hope of being restored. But even though creation has been corrupted by the fall of man into sin, the world must still undergo a final contortion before its regeneration. The plundering of the planet prior to the Second Coming was prophesied in the 24th Chapter of Isaiah. 

24:1 Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface… 

24:3 The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, for the Lord has spoken this word. 

24:6 Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. 

Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left. 

24:19 The earth is violently broken, The earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly. 

24:20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; 

Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again. 

If we equate this time with Revelation’s bowls of wrath, it would appear that this plundering is more of a process then an event. But in Chapter 15 of First Corinthians, Paul describes a similarly destructive process which seems to be required as the natural body is exchanged or transformed into the spiritual body. Transformation into the spiritual body demands that whatever remains of the natural body undergo the death of mortality itself – the swallowing up of death. 

The destructive element in this dimensional change, from the physical state to the spiritual, will be discussed further when we study First Corinthians 15:54 near the end of this chapter. 

Just as Psalms 22 and Isaiah 53 expound upon the events during Christ’s crucifixion, First Corinthians Chapter 15 gives the details about the resurrection and the rapture which are only mentioned briefly in First Thessalonians Chapter Four. In the latter half of the 15th chapter, Paul ventures beyond his own hypothetical question of “How are the dead raised up?” in order to discuss the technical details of the glorification process. We might ask today, “What is the rapture in technical terms?” Or in our common vernacular, “What will it look like?” 

[PART-2] To be continued in the next post.

Revelation is Thematic – Not Chronological 

Chapter 9 of Reclaiming the Rapture : Revelation is Thematic – Not Chronological 

Part of the challenge of understanding the day of the Lord and its timing is due to a tendency to interpret the book of Revelation chronologically rather than thematically. Though 

there is some chronology in the book, it is primarily laid out thematically. What that means is that rather than view the seals, trumpets and bowls as chronological events that come one after the other in future time, they represent the order in which the future judgments were communicated to John. John was shown in a series of visions events that “were, are, and will be”. The order they are placed in the book is the order that they were communicated to him and not necessarily the order in which they will actually play out in the world. 

Imagine John being given a tour of a television control room. Before him there are dozens of screens. All the scenes of a particular show are being shot at the same time. For the sake of illustration, let’s imagine that the show has five distinct scenes. Each scene has separate cameras and cameraman to capture it. John merely sees the video feed. Each scene is complex and requires varying camera angles to appreciate the complexity. Some cameras are placed above the set to get a wide angle – top-down approach. Other cameras are zoomed in on the faces of the main characters. Finally, other cameras are constantly panning to give the greater comprehension. 

The book of Revelation is essentially laid out in such a fashion. There are a certain number of events that take place, but with several different camera angles we, the readers, can get several perspectives. 

All the Mountains and Islands Flee Away 

As evidence of these different camera angles, we turn to Revelation 16:20: Every island vanished, and the mountains could no longer be found. Rev. 16:20 ISV 

Imagine the kind of destruction that planet earth is going to experience when every island and every mountain vanish and disappear! When even just one earthquake happens on one part of the earth, there is incredible damage to buildings and great loss of life. The 9.0 earthquake that happened in the spring of 2011 in Japan caused phenomenal damage (mostly from the tsunami that followed). What will happen when every island and mountain is moved from its place? This is clearly an extinction level event that is coming upon the planet 

– that is to say, it will not be repeated. The mini-apocalypse in Isaiah 24 describes how earth will be completely rocked to such an extent that it will “fall and not rise again.” 

The earth is utterly shattered, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies so heavy upon it, that it falls, never to rise again. Isa. 24:19, 20 ISV 

Given the absolute finality of the parallel language of these two passages we must conclude that they are referring to the same event. The earthquake spoken of in Isaiah is so massive that the earth is down for the count, “never to rise again.” We must conclude that the Isaiah 24 event is the same as the Revelation 16 event where there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Rev. 16:18 Certainly all of the islands and all of the mountains disappearing would qualify for that event. 

However, Revelation 6 also says, every mountain and island was moved from its place. Rev. 6:14 ISV How could it be that every mountain and island can be moved twice? If we think that they can, then we are not truly considering the enormity of such an event. Imagine all of the mountains crumbling around your home! If you live on an island, imagine it falling into the ocean! Once that happens, then it cannot happen again. Therefore we see how Revelation 16:20, which is at the end of the tribulation, is the same event as Revelation 6:14. 

The word “every” in the case of ‘every island and mountain’ precludes the event from happening twice. The fact that it says “every” means that once it happens there will be no repeat. Therefore, Revelation 6:14, Revelation 16:20 and Isaiah 24 are the same event. 

There are, in fact, many passages that speak of the complete and utter shaking of the mountains in a way that will only happen once. 

  • For the day of the LORD of hosts Shall come upon everything proud and lofty, Upon everything lifted up– And it shall be brought low– against all the high mountains, and against all the lofty hills; Isa. 2:12-14 ISV 
  • He stood up and shook the land; with his stare he startled the nations. The age-old mountains were shattered, and the ancient hilltops bowed down. His ways are eternal. Hab. 3:6 ISV 
  • Mountains melt like wax in the Lord’s presence— in the presence of the Lord of all the earth. Psa. 97:5 ISV 
  • I looked at the mountains; they were quaking, and all the hills moved back and forth. I looked, and no people were there. All the birds of the sky had gone. Jer. 4:24, 25 ISV 
  • Every island vanished, and the mountains could no longer be found. Rev. 16:20 ISV 

Therefore, Revelation 6:14 is identical to the many descriptions of the ultimate shaking that will take place on planet earth – which will happen in the day that Jesus startles the nations. If we hope to take Revelation 6:14 even remotely literally, as we ought to, then it is impossible that the timing of the passage should be placed anywhere but at the day Jesus comes back – at the very end. 

According to the passage, everyone on earth understands that their end has come. The rich, poor, powerful, and slaves – everyone who is on the earth will recognize it, and they call it the day of the Lord – as revealed by the Lord to John. 

Then the kings of the earth, the important people, the generals, the rich, the powerful, and all the slaves and free people concealed themselves in caves and among the rocks in the mountains. They told the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to endure it?” Rev. 6:15-17 ISV 

Keep in mind that in Revelation 16 the same people are marching against Jerusalem ostentatiously, attempting to make war against Jesus (Rev. 16:14). 

For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Rev. 16:14 

They undoubtedly do not understand what they are truly getting into in Revelation 16. However, in Revelation 6, reality quickly becomes apparent – so much so that they go running into the caves, for the rocks to fall on them, and readily admit, “For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to endure it?” Rev. 6:15-17 ISV 

Are we to believe that the mighty men of the earth are throwing in the towel in Revelation Six and fully admit that the day of Jesus’ wrath has come, but in chapter 16 they think that they can actually defeat him? The simple answer is that the book of Revelation is thematically arranged so that the chronology of events is not in conflict with the order in which these events occur in the book. 

Commentator Thomas Constable has suggested that Revelation 6 is simply hyperbole, in other words, exaggeration. He suggests that the men on the earth supposed the end of the world to have come though it really hadn’t. 

“Evidently the sky will appear to split and roll back in two opposite directions (cf. Isa. 34:4). The universe will seem to be coming apart. Apparently the opening of the sky will give earth- dwellers a glimpse into the throne-room of heaven (v. 16). Probably the earthquake (v. 12) will cause mountains and islands to rise and fall (cf. Nah. 1:6). The reaction of every category of humanity all over the world is amazing. It indicates that people’s perception of God and the Lamb in heaven will be far more terrifying to them than the physical consequences of this judgment.   Literal interpretation does not rule out the use of hyperbole, which appears at this point. If all the mountains moved out of their places, there would be no places for people to seek to hide. This “great day of their wrath” is the Tribulation, Daniel’s seventieth week (cf. Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Joel 2:2; Matt. 24:21). These people will not turn to God in repentance but from Him in terror (cf. Isa. 2:19, 21; Hos. 10:8; Luke 23:30). By the end of the sixth seal judgment, they will know that what they are experiencing is the outpouring of His wrath. This is the first part of the judgment phase of the day of the Lord (cf. Joel 2:11, 30-31; Isa. 2:10-11, 19-21; 13:8-13; 26:17-19; 34:4, 8; 66:7-9; Jer. 30:6-8; 

Ezek. 32:7-8; Hos. 10:8; Mic. 4:9-10; Matt. 24:8; 1 Thess. 5:3).”38 

(emphasis mine) 

Though Thomas Constable is an excellent commentator, his predisposition to interpreting the book of Revelation chronologically rather than thematically has not allowed him to see the parallels as we have studied. To suggest that hyperbole is being used is complete speculation. John faithfully recorded what the men in the Tribulation will say and do. If they say that it is the day of the Lord, who are we to disagree? If the sky has rolled up, who are we to suggest that it just appears so? If all of the mountains and islands move out of their place, who are we to say it only seems so? 

Zephaniah One and Two underscore the conclusion that Revelation 6:14-17, the day of the Lord, is the Second Advent itself; when there will be a great sacrifice of kings and mighty men, when the nations have gathered together and the whole land shall be devoured by fire very suddenly. 

It will come about during the Lord’s sacrifice that I’ll punish the officials, the royal descendants, and all who wear foreign clothing. The great Day of the Lord approaches— How it comes, hurrying faster and faster! The sound of the Day of the Lord there includes the bitter cry of the mighty soldier. That day will be filled with wrath, a day of trouble and tribulation; a day of desolation and devastation, a day of doom and gloom, a day of clouds and shadows…. a day of trumpet and battle cry against fortified cites and watch towers. And I’ll bring so much distress to people that they will walk around like the blind. Because they have sinned against the Lord, their blood will be poured out like dust and their intestines will spill out like manure. Neither their silver nor their gold will deliver them in the Day of the Lord’s wrath; but the entire land will be consumed by the fire of his jealousy, for he will bring the inhabitants of the land to a sudden end. Gather together! Yes, indeed, gather together, you shameless nation! Before the decree is carried out, before the day flies away like chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord visits you, before the Day of the Lord’s wrath surprises you seek the Lord, all you humble people of the land, who do what he commands. Seek righteousness! Seek humility! Maybe you will be protected in the Day of the Lord’s anger. Zeph. 1:8, 14-18, 2:1-3 ISV 

Angels are Stars 

Further demonstration of the book of Revelation being thematically arranged is found in the events of Satan being cast out of heaven in Revelation 12. The dragon taking stars with its tail is the same as the dragon and his angels being cast to the earth. 

  • A huge red dragon… its tail swept away one-third of the stars 

in the sky and knocked them down to the earth. Rev.12: 3, ISV 

  • The huge dragon was hurled down. That ancient serpent, called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, was hurled down to the earth, along with its angels. Rev.12: 7-9 ISV 

There is no question that there are many symbols in the book of Revelation. However, once we have the key to unlock them, the interpretation follows incredibly literally. The term “stars” is actually a fairly common reference to angels in Scripture. Though we don’t know exactly why they are referred to as such, we could speculate it is because they are literally shinning, as when the angels shone down on the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. Nevertheless, the internal of use of stars in the book of Revelation firmly establishes that “stars” is a reference to angels. 

The secret meaning of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lamp stands is this: the seven stars are the messengers [angeloi ἄγγελοι] of the seven churches, and the seven lamp stands are the seven churches. Rev.1:20 ISV 

That meaning is further underscored in the book of Job where the sons of God (benei ha’elohim) are also called stars. While the morning stars sang together and all the divine beings shouted joyfully? Job 38:7 ISV 

With the secret meaning revealed to us, we can properly understand the rest of the references to stars as actually being angels in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 9:1 we read of a star that had fallen to earth from the sky. Rev.9:1 ISV 

This star cannot simply be a meteorite or asteroid that has fallen to the earth because in the second part of the verse we read that the star was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. Rev.9:1 ISV 

Unless an asteroid can be given a key, then it must be a reference to an angel. Just a few verses earlier we hear of a great star burning like a torch that falls upon the earth. The star even has a name – Wormwood. 

A huge star blazing like a torch fell from heaven. It fell on one- third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood… Rev.8:10, 11 ISV 

The star in question, or Wormwood by name, is the same star that “had fallen” in Revelation 9:1 which was given the key to the Abyss. We notice that it was a great star and not just a common star – in Revelation 12 the dragon threw his stars to the earth and in verse nine it is the dragon, Satan, and his angels. Essentially, we have two different camera angles recorded for us. In Chapter 12 the camera angle is from above watching as Satan and his angels fall to the earth. We could almost imagine Michael or one of the angels getting out his camera to film the event. In Chapter Eight the camera angle is on the planet surface with the inhabitants of the earth watching as Satan falls to the earth. To them he looks like a huge star blazing like a torch fell from heaven. Rev.8:10 ISV They are the same event but from different vantage points. 

The casting out of Satan’s angels (stars) in Chapter 12 is referenced in Chapter Six and also in Isaiah 34: 

  • The stars in the sky fell to the earth like a fig tree drops its fruit when it is shaken by a strong wind. Rev.6:13 ISV 
  • And all the host of heaven [זְב א ה ש מ רִ ם [shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. Isa. 34:4

The stars falling to the ground like figs in Revelation are referred to as the host of heaven falling down in Isaiah. We see that many other places in Scripture the term tzevah hashamaim is talking about the armies of heaven. The following scene from First Kings demonstrates the literal meaning this term: 

…I saw the Lord, sitting on his throne, and the entire Heavenly 

Army [ְבז א_¨ שה רמ,   ִם ] was standing around him on his right hand and on 

his left hand. “The Lord asked, ‘Who will tempt King Ahab of Israel to attack Ramoth-gilead, so that he will die there?’ 

And one was saying one thing and one was saying another. But then a spirit approached, stood in front of the Lord, and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “And the Lord asked him, ‘How?’ “‘I will go,’ he announced, ‘and I will be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all of his prophets!’ So the Lord said, ‘You’re just the one to deceive him. You will be successful. Go and do it.’” 1 Kings 22:19-22 ISV 

Though the phrase “host of heaven / heavenly army” does not always refer to the angelic army, there are many examples that demonstrate that the phrase is commonly referring to angels. In Jeremiah 19 the hosts of heaven are equated with “gods”. 

…because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned 

incense unto all the host of heaven [ְבז א_¨ שה רמ,   ִם ], and have poured out 

drink offerings unto other gods. Jer. 19:13 KJV 

Those “gods,” “host of heaven” or “fallen angels” are also referred to as the armies of exalted ones in the heavens in Isaiah 24 which happens at “that time” – a reference to the day of the Lord. 

And it will come about at that time, the Lord will punish the armies tzevah [מ רִ ם [of the exalted ones in the heavens [זְב א ה ש ,[and the rulers of the earth on earth. Isa. 24:21 ISV
Paul writing to the Ephesians makes reference to the reality of the cosmic powers (κοσμοκράτορας cosmokratoras). Those cosmic powers, which are all around us, are part of the spiritual forces which
are in the heavenly realm, which is a reference to angels and not to balls of gas in outer space.
For our struggle is not against human opponents, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in the darkness around us, and evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm. Eph. 6:12 ISV
Now we are prepared to understand what Jesus meant when He said that the powers of heaven will be shaken loose. Matt. 24:29 ISV

He was not referring to the sun, moon, and stars going away. Rather He was referring to the end of the kingdom of Satan.

“For The Great Day Of His Wrath Has Come, And Who Is Able To Stand?” (Rev. 6:17) And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become [the kingdoms] of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15) (Rev. 11:17) The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Rev. 11:18) …They go to the kings of the whole earth and gather them for the war of the great Day of God Almighty. (Rev. 16:14) “See, I am coming like a thief. How blessed is the person who remains alert and keeps his clothes on! He won’t have to go naked and let others see his shame.” (Rev. 16:15) [day of the Lord = thief in night] Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” (Rev. 16:17) 

There are other examples which point to fact that the book of Revelation is arranged thematically rather than chronologically. In Revelation 16 we read that God remembered Babylon and judged her. It seems so brief, and would be almost understated if chapters 17 and 18 did not give fuller details. 

“And” versus “Then” in Revelation 

We first need to discover that the word “then” which begins the verse in the New King James Version39, New English Translation40, and many other translations, is not actually in the underlying Greek text. The New English Translation Bible notes that “Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence within the narrative.” Though the difference is subtle, it does make a difference in how we read the book of Revelation. John is seeing a lot of visions that he connects, not necessarily in a sequence (with the word “then”), but rather with the word “and”. The difference is that he is simply telling us the things he saw. He is not suggesting anything about the order in which the events will necessarily occur. 

The word “then” implies that first comes A, then comes B, and then comes C, etc. Whereas, “and” simply suggests he saw A and B and C, and the order in which they would come to pass is not stated. The Greek word καί means “and, even, also” – which carry the same meaning. There is, therefore, no justification for translating the word “kai” in Revelation, where it begins a sentence, with the word “then” rather than “and.” 

The Greek word is kai [Καὶ] which simply means “and.” Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, defines the word as “and, also, even, indeed, but”41. According to the Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon of Classical Greek, it is defined as kai as “καί,” Conjunction, copulative, joining words and sentences, ‘and, also’ Adv., ‘even, also, just’”42 (emphasis mine). The word is almost always translated as “and” in the many other passages where it appears. 

  • And [Καὶ] he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. Luke 1:16 
  • And [Καὶ] Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and [καὶ] my wife is well advanced in years.” Luke 1:18 
  • And [Καὶ] the Word became flesh and [καὶ] dwelt among us, and [καὶ] we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and [καὶ] truth. John 1:14 
  • And [Καὶ] He found in the temple those who sold oxen and [καὶ] sheep and [καὶ] doves, and [καὶ] the money changers doing business. John 2:14 

The Greek word kai “and” is used all together 5,222 times in the New Testament with the majority occurring in Luke (850 times, 16%), followed by Matthew (720 times 14%), and the book of John coming in fifth place (545 times 10%). 

There is another word for “then.” If John had wanted to indicate “then” he could have used the word tote [Τότε] “Then; at that time,” which is used 155 times in the Greek New Testament. It is the simplest way to indicate the transition from one event to another. Out of those 155 times, 89 times the word appears in the book of Matthew, which is 57% of all the New Testament uses. 

  • Then [Τότε] Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. Matt. 2:7 
  • But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then [τότε] he allowed Him. Matt. 3:15 
  • And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then [καὶ τότε] they will fast. Matt. 9:15 

The abundance of “then” in Matthew is fairly significant. According to the Fragments of Papias, “Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.”43 

In Hebrew, the use of the word “and” (Hebrew “ve” written the letter vav/waw) is very common; therefore, so is the word “and.” The question, then is, why didn’t the translators render καί as “and” if that is the translation? 

First Century Expectations of the End of the Age

Chapter 8 of Reclaiming the Rapture : First Century Expectations of the End of the Age ( by Chris Steinle)

The Hope of the Pharisees

What were the end time events anticipated by the God fearing people in the time of Christ? Ancient Hebrew studies scholar Emil Schürer noted eleven elements of 

Jewish eschatology from the Second Temple Period through the Apostolic Age. These elements are listed below in roughly the order in which they occur in the pseudepigraphical books of this time period 

– especially the Fourth Book of Ezra29, the Apocalypse of Baruch30, and the Assumption of Moses31

  1. The last tribulation and perplexity. 
  1. Elijah as the forerunner. 
  1. The appearing of the Messiah. 
  1. The last attack of the hostile powers. 
  1. Destruction of the hostile powers. 
  1. Renovation of Jerusalem. 
  1. Gathering of the dispersed. 
  1. The kingdom of glory in Palestine. 
  1. Renovation of the world. 
  1. The general resurrection. 
  1. The last judgment – Eternal salvation and condemnation. 

It is important to note, especially in studying the rapture (which is not mentioned above), that a resurrection of the righteous, or resurrection of the just, was expected to occur around the time of the gathering of the dispersed.32 

All of these events could be said to represent the pieces of the great end time puzzle. The goal for students of eschatology is to assemble these events so that the overall picture agrees with Bible prophecy. Most students of biblical eschatology agree that the resurrection is the first event anticipated after the time of tribulation. The Apostle Paul states very clearly that the rapture will not precede the resurrection of those who have fallen asleep

Pre-Tribulation proponents often assert the imminence of Christ’s return as a primary reason why a recognizable Great Tribulation could not precede the Second Coming. But up until the twentieth century an imminent return could not work in the Pre-Tribulation model either. The Jewish presence (or control) of Jerusalem was a logical prerequisite within the Pre-Tribulation rapture doctrine. These Pre- Tribulation doctrinal assumptions being: 

  1. The end time events contained in Revelation occur after the rapture; and, 
  1. The end time events described in Revelation occur within a seven-year time span; and, 
  1. The Antichrist will enter the Temple 3 1/2 years after the rapture. 

Therefore, the Jews must have either taken control of the Temple Mount or be so close to gaining control of Jerusalem that the rapture might commence at any moment. 

According to this typical Pre-Tribulation interpretation of Revelation, the rapture was not imminent between the years 70 AD and 1800 AD. The rapture could not have happened during that time because the Jews did not control the land of Israel. Thus, a Temple could not have been built during that time. Furthermore, the procurement of the Temple real estate, planning, and construction of the Temple, are still unlikely to be accomplished within a 3 1/2 year period – making an imminent rapture unrealistic until such time as the Temple project is nearly or actually under construction. 

But finally, in the early 1800’s, at the hope of the formation of a Jewish nation, some Christians began to expect an imminent return of the Lord prior to the time of tribulation. This may sound strange, but up until that point in time, the Church strongly rejected the idea that Jesus would return before the tribulation. Consider the following quote from John Calvin’s Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

Begin quote – “On the other hand, those false prophets whom Paul expenses, while they ought to have kept men’s minds in suspense, bid them feel assured of his speedy advent, that they might not be wearied out with the irksomeness of delay.” “Let no man deceive you.” That they may not groundlessly promise themselves the arrival in so short a time of the joyful day of redemption, he presents to them a melancholy prediction as to the future scattering of the Church. This discourse entirely corresponds with that which Christ held in the presence of his disciples, when they had asked him respecting the end of the world. For he exhorts them to prepare themselves for enduring hard conflicts, (Matt. 24:6) and after he has discoursed of the most grievous and previously unheard of calamities, by which the earth was to be reduced almost to a desert, he adds, that the “end is not yet”, but that “these things are the beginnings of sorrows”. In the same way, Paul declares that believers must exercise warfare for a long period, before gaining a triumph.”33 – end quote 

Few references occur in the writings of the Church Fathers to a Pre-Tribulation rapture. In fact, the idea was always quickly dropped. And a Pre-Tribulation rapture never became a source of debate among church leaders, never surfaced in any of the great councils, nor did it make its way into any creed or statement of faith – prior to the late 20th century. The reason why these infrequent references to a Pre-Tribulation rapture were often quickly contradicted by the Fathers themselves is that the imminence of the tribulation was recognized as an essential element of the Second Coming. 

There is a good case to be made that the first resurrection is not the general resurrection of the dead which will immediately precede that last judgment – the Great White Throne Judgment. Paul specifically mentions the glorification of those left alive who are in Christ. Only those will be transformed, together with the resurrected dead. It would then stand to reason that only the just would likewise be raised in this resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming. The reality of a first and second resurrection is verified by Revelation Chapter 

20. The second death will have no power over those who have been glorified immediately after the first resurrection. 

Because the scope of this book only covers the time up until the onset of the Millennium, it is this first resurrection (presumably the resurrection of the just) which we will discuss in some detail. We will also build the case throughout this study that the meeting in the air at the time of the rapture is the gathering of the dispersed

Furthermore, we will submit that the kingdom of glory in Palestine and the Renovation of the world also take place at this same time and are not separated by a gap in time. Nor do they involve two separate groups of people, except that some have been resurrected and some will have remained alive until the time of the rapture. The authors believe the Bible supports the conclusion that these remaining events will transpire in the same Day of the Lord. 

Christ’s First Coming marked the beginning of the Messianic Age, prompting the Apostles to expect the supernatural appearing of the eighth event on the list above, the kingdom of glory in Palestine. Jesus gave the parable of the Minas because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Just prior to Christ’s ascension the Disciples asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” The Jews of the first century didn’t foresee the events of the last days unfolding in a long, drawn out manner. These unfulfilled pieces of the Messianic puzzle were not only presumed to be supernatural and apocalyptic; they were also expected to appear suddenly, quickly. The authors will demonstrate that the Bible calls for a number of these end time events to occur/appear on a literal Day of the Lord – the Day of the Lord’s Second Coming. 

Saul, who was called Paul, was a Pharisee before he was a Christian. 

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, (which they themselves also accept), that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. Acts 24:14, 15 

On more than one occasion, Paul defended himself against the Jewish authorities by stating his hope in the resurrection of the dead. 

But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Acts 23:6-8 

In both of these passages above, Paul stated that the hope of the Pharisees was their hope in the resurrection of the dead. But what did the Pharisees expect the resurrection to entail? Can we know when the resurrection would occur and who would be involved? In fact, the Sadducees’ position died out and became more or less irrelevant after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Today’s Judaism is predominantly based on the Pharisaic view and has been passed down in the writings of the rabbis. From these writings, and by the teaching of leading rabbis of today, we can understand the concepts of the Pharisees in the time of Christ. 

These Jewish sources teach that the purpose of the resurrection is to provide a setting for man to be judged for sins committed in his mortal state. This belief springs from the opinion that the body and soul cannot be adequately judged independently and, therefore, must be reunited; which requires the resurrection of the body.34 

Of note: 

  • A resurrection straight into the World of Souls without providing a time on the earth was not expected, and would not accomplish the intended purpose of a second season of mortality according to the rabbis. 
  • The resurrection of the body, only to leave the earth immediately thereafter, likewise, would not provide the time of bodily judgment anticipated by the rabbis. 
  • To the contrary, the resurrection prophesied by Paul is immediately followed by the change to immortality – into the image of Christ’s glorified body, which is immutable and therefore could not be punished according to the rabbis’ expectations. 

Chapter 10 of Sanhedrin, Mishnah One, reads, “All Israel will have a portion in the world to come, for it says, “Your people, all of them righteous, shall possess the land for ever; They are the shoot that I planted, my handiwork in which I glory” (Isaiah 60:21).35 Mishna 2,2a even goes so far as to say that, “He who maintains that resurrection is not a biblical doctrine…[will] have no portion in the world to come.”36 

Traditional Judaism continues to refer to the afterlife as the World to Come (Olam HaBa). 

The Afterlife in Modern Jewish Thought 

For the sake of understanding the hope of first century Pharisees and how it compares to the Christian hope, it is helpful to know what is taught by today’s Jewish rabbis. 

Using the terms generally employed by the Modern Jewish community: When a person dies it takes some time for the soul to disengage from their mortal body. The soul might hover in close proximity to their dead body for days as it (re)adjusts to its spiritual (disembodied) state. As time goes by the soul feels more accustomed to the spiritual state and ventures evermore heavenward. (This appears to be contradiction because the soul is also supposed to be in Gehenna during this time. See below) The bereaved are encouraged to pray for their beloved departed to adjust quickly to the new environment. 

In the meantime, the departed soul remembers what life was like in the World of Souls before it was united with a body. Souls are thought to exist before birth because they contain the essence of God, and therefore must be immortal like God. 

Simultaneously with the soul’s departure, the soul is thought to be bound for a time in Gehenna – a kind of holding tank for departed souls. Not the Christian idea of Hell, but a type of purgatory where the soul is purged of its mortal inclinations. It is said that most souls only require twelve months to be purified and then go on to Gan Eden, some kind of non-physical paradise (Garden of Eden). 

The bereaved are encouraged to pray for the souls of the departed, for a quick cleansing from the soul’s defilement while on earth. These prayers are to end after eleven months because it would be shameful to assume that any soul was so wicked as to require more than eleven months in Gehenna. Particularly evil souls, who indulged in especially vile sins while on earth, remain stuck in Gehenna. This is thought to concern only the worst of souls who refused to repent or who were disqualified from Gan Eden by expressly transgressing a few conditions established by the rabbis. 

Since the belief in the immortality of the soul opens the door to reincarnation, some rabbis teach that people might be made to come back into this world to correct misbehavior or omissions from their previous life. For instance, if someone needed to overcome a particular sin; or, if they had not been given the opportunity to be challenged in a certain area of life (e.g. someone died too young to prove themselves.) 

At some time in the future, known only to God, the dead are required to rejoin their bodies at the resurrection of the dead. As stated above, this is only for the purpose of judgment. The soul would never choose to leave its spiritual state because it is perfectly happy in Gan Eden. After the resurrection, the soul will leave the body and spend eternity in the World of Souls. 

It can be seen at once that these Jewish beliefs about life after death share components of Dualism and Catholicism. The former undoubtedly affected first century Jewish thought in the time of Christ and beyond. The Dualistic aspect of the late Second Temple era will be discussed later in chapters. 

If Modern Judaism was indeed formulated before the time of the Talmudic writings, then Catholicism’s adoption of purgatory was yet subsequent to the Pharisaic notion of Gehenna. The fact that the Book to the Hebrews specifically uses the Jewish term, World to Come, adds credence that these notions about the afterlife were indeed present at the time of Christ. For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. Heb. 2:5. 

But as an Apostle, Paul was given the mind of Christ to understand the true wisdom of God. The Pauline epistles contain several passages correcting and refuting Gnostic and Pharisaical thought. Below are just a few of Paul’s arguments against his former Pharisaic position. 

  • The spiritual is not first, but the natural – in opposition to the notion of the pre-existence of the soul. 
  • We will not be found naked but further clothed – in opposition to an ethereal or nebulous spiritual existence (disembodied spirits, or World of Souls).37 
  • To be absent from the body is to present with the Lord – in opposition to spending a season in Gehenna before entering into Gan Eden. 

As we will see when studying Paul’s philosophy about the spiritual realm, he believed that spiritual bodies and a glorified earth would both possess some enduring form. Whereas, the notion of the World of Souls seems quite similar to the Eastern Mystical idea of elevated consciousness – a spiritual realm without form and void. Paul, indeed believed along with Pharisees in the hope of the resurrection, but rejected any such ethereal concept of a bodiless soul existing only in the mind of God, with no dimensional definition. 

The hope of a ransom from sin was realized when Jesus laid down his life for the sins of the world. This hope has already been realized in the forgiveness of sins, the deliverance from judgment, and Christ’s righteousness imputed to those who believe. But there is another hope which has not yet been realized, the hope of glory. This unrealized hope in a future transformation into the glorious state of existence is part of the knowledge of our salvation. 

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Rom. 8:24, 25 

Surely God’s people should understand what they are hoping for in order to eagerly wait for this future glorification. The Apostles each acknowledged that our position and fellowship with Christ is already established. These are realized blessings and part of the grace which we have already received. In this sense, Christians are already partakers of every spiritual blessing in Christ. Nevertheless we don’t yet see ourselves, or the world, fully conformed to the image of Christ or creation restored. It is an unscriptural and sad position to deny that the earth will be restored as the Bible states. It is tantamount to denying the resurrection because they are both correlated with Christ’s appearing. 

Furthermore, Paul spends a great deal of time detailing the resurrection, the rapture, and the restoration of all things. Paul is the fountainhead of apostolic knowledge of the coming glorification, giving the most detailed account of the glorification process in his letter to the Corinthians. Reclaiming the Rapture examines most of the fifteenth chapter, along with commentary exploring Paul’s discourse on the resurrection and transformation of the body. 

Paul wrote most prolifically about our justification by faith and Christ’s imputed life and righteousness. But he was also very excited about the Second Coming and the restoration. This restoration consisted of the redemption of the physical body, the redemption of the body of Christ, that is, the Commonwealth of Israel, and the restoration of all things. 

The best way to study these supernatural events is to follow the flow of thought within Paul’s longest discourse on the subject of the dimensional transformation. This study begins below, laying the foundation for the Bible’s own multidimensional adventure; which, along with Christ’s appearing should be the object of every Christian’s hope. 

In keeping with his upbringing as a PK (Pharisee’s kid) Paul rebuked those who denied a future resurrection in Chapter 15 of his first letter to the Corinthians. 

Christian Belief in the Resurrection 

The opening verses of First Corinthians Chapter 15 constitute a certification of Christ’s resurrection. The verses that follow firmly establish that believing in God’s ability to perform a bodily resurrection is essential to Christian doctrine; that in fact, the dead do rise; and that, in fact, Jesus was raised in a glorified body. 

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 

20. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 

Paul begins his change of focus from Jesus’ resurrection to the resurrection of the dead by making a distinction between the two. This is necessary from a technical standpoint in order to prove that Christ’s resurrection did not fully satisfy what Paul is about to designate “the last enemy” – death. Even though Christ had risen, the last enemy has still not been defeated with regard to “those who are asleep.” Thus, the need to make the distinction that this last enemy remains undefeated, even after Christ’s own resurrection. Verses 21 through 23 meticulously differentiate these two resurrections. This distinction is initially made by calling Christ’s resurrection the “first fruits” and classifying it separately from the resurrection of the rest of the dead – “those who are asleep” in the language of Second Thessalonians Chapter Four. 

  1. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 

Paul points out that Christ has been given the power and honor of being the initiator of the resurrection of the dead. Jesus said, “Because I live, you shall live also.” Jesus also declared in John Chapter Five; 

“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. 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 5:25-29 

  1. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 

The fuller development of Paul’s thought on this subject is found in Romans 5:23-29. 

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 

(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” 

  1. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 

Paul adds a further distinction by placing these two resurrections in sequence; “first” – and then “after.” Notice Paul’s use of the term “first fruits” rather than referring to the “first resurrection” and “second resurrection.” Paul is careful not to call Christ’s resurrection the first resurrection because, technically, the first resurrection is the resurrection of the dead which occurs in First Thessalonians. (Recall from study of first century expectation above that this first resurrection was expected to be the resurrection of the God’s people – the just.) The second resurrection (Revelation 20:5) is what was designated by Schürer (above) to be the general resurrection before the last judgment. 

It is also important to note that Paul’s order only consists of two categories; Christ, and those who are Christ’s at His coming. This would infer that the resurrection of many seen in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion was not considered to be one of the two major resurrections which are the subject of Old Testament prophecy. They were not raised from the dead at His coming, but at His crucifixion. 

This point is made in response to those who would use this passage as proof of multiple resurrections beyond the two specifically mentioned. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pet. 1:3-5 

That coming salvation is that same future salvation that Paul said we eagerly await. We were saved in the hope of the restoration of all things. 

Unmysterious Rapture Timing Verses 

Chapter 7 of Reclaiming the Rapture : Unmysterious Rapture Timing Verses 

In contrast to the Bible’s lack of verses supporting a secret Pre- Tribulation rapture, there are so many verses confirming the timing of the Second Coming rapture/gathering that they will be presented below in groups. Verses that prove that there will be a resurrection and rapture are listed first. Then, verses establishing the order of events are grouped to show: that the resurrection will happen before the rapture/gathering; the resurrection will happen at the end (last trumpet); and the resurrection, rapture, and gathering will happen 

at the time of judgment/indignation. 

Verses Affirming the Resurrection 

Isa. 26:19 Your dead shall liveAwake and sing, you who dwell in dust 

Dan. 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake… 

Psa. 17:15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. 

Isa. 25:8 He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. 

Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! 

Psa. 49:14, 15 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me. Selah. 

Job 14:12 So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep. [Rev. 6:14 Then the sky receded as a scroll…] 

Phil. 3:11, 20, 21 If, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead…for our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. 

Acts 24:15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 

Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 

Acts 23:6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” 

Luke 14:14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just. 

Luke 20:34, 35 Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage.” 

Rapture/Gathering Verses 

The terms “rapture” and “gathering” will be used interchangeably since “rapture” is used only once to describe this event. The more common term is “gathering”. Paul uses this term interchangeably with rapture in Second Thess. 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him… 

Isa. 11:12, 13 He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth…Ephraim shall not envy Judah, And Judah shall not harass Ephraim.

Deut. 30:3-6 That the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 

Ezek. 11:16-20 Therefore say, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’” Therefore say, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.’” 

Ezek. 36:24-28 “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.” 

Ezek. 28:25, 26 “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘When I have gathered the house of Israel [there were two houses: Judah and Israel] from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they will dwell safely there, 

build houses, and plant vineyards (see Isa. 65:21); yes, they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God.’” 

Isa. 49:5, 6 And now the LORD says, “Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him [referring to Jesus], so that Israel is gathered to Him” (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength), Indeed He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” 

Isa. 54:7 For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies I will gather you. 

Isa. 56:8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.” 

Jer. 23:3-6 “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the LORD. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 

Jer. 31:1, 8-12, 33 “At the same time,” says the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.” “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and the one who labors with child, together; a great throng shall return there. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.” Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, 

‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing  in the height of  Zion, streaming to the goodness  of the LORD– for wheat and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all…” “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 

Jer. 32:37-40 “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.” 

Ezek. 20:34 “I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord GOD. 

Ezek. 20:41, 42 I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers. 

Ezek. 28:25, 26 Thus says the Lord GOD: “When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they will dwell safely there, build houses, and plant vineyards 

[see Isaiah 65:21]; yes, they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God.” 

Ezek. 34:11-13, 16, 17, 23-25, 30 For thus says the Lord GOD: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.” “And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats [see Matt. 25:32].’” “I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them–My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.” “And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken. I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.” “Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord GOD. 

Ezek. 37:19-28 …say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand. And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.’” “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places 

in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God. David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.’” 

Ezek. 39:25-29 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name – after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid. When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” says the Lord GOD. 

Hos. 1:11 Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel! 

Joel 3:1 For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem. 

Mic. 2:12 I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture; they shall make a loud noise because of so many people. 

Zeph. 3:19, 20 “Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, And gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame In every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will bring you back, Even at the time I gather you; For I will give you fame and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I return your captives before your eyes,” Says the LORD. 

Zech. 10:6-10 I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them. They shall be as though I had not cast them aside; for I am the LORD their God, and I will hear them. Those of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as if with wine. Yes, their children shall see it and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD. I will whistle for them and gather them, for I will redeem them; and they shall increase as they once increased. I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries; they shall live, together with their children, and they shall return. I will also bring them back from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, until no more room is found for them. 

Matt. 13:30, 38-43, 47-49 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” 

The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! 

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, 

but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just. 

Matt. 25:32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 

Mark 13:27 And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven. 

Luke 3:17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire. 

Second Thess. 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him… 

Jer. 30:3, 4 “For behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,” says the LORD. “And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” Now these are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah. 

Jer. 30:6-11 “Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” “For it shall come to pass in that day,” says the LORD of hosts, “that I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,” says the LORD, “nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid.” “For I am with you,” says the LORD, “to save you; though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.” 

Jer. 30:18-24 Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places;