The Rapture and The Last Days
Lesson 1 w/answers1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15
As we pick up our study of Revelation I want us to spend this week looking at a doctrine that may impact how you view parts of the book of Revelation. The doctrine known as the Doctrine of the Rapture shapes many people’s view of end time prophecy and what the times will be like just prior to Christ’s return.
So before we begin studying “what will come hereafter” in Revelation, let’s take a short break and briefly examine the doctrine of the rapture. For those new to studying the Bible “doctrine” implies a key teaching.
For this week then put on your research hats, get some good biblical resources or web sites you trust and let’s consider both sides of the argument – is there going to be a rapture and if so when?
Answer the following:
- Find a definition for the word “rapture” and write it here.
- ANSWER: To be “caught up”, it can also mean to snatch or be snatched up.
- Read 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4:13-18. What are the issues Paul is addressing with these verses?.
- ANSWER 1: If we already lost loved ones through death we should not worry, it is not a requirement to be alive when Christ returns in order to be saved and to spend an eternity with him. One reason this is so is that preceding Christ’s return he will raise all of the dead in Christ to resurrected bodies.
- ANSWER 2: That when these events occur there will be “those who are still alive” and they as well will be “caught up” raptured if you will, to be with Christ forever.
- ANSWER 3: That just as Christ died and was raised again, so it will be also for those who die in Christ.
- ANSWER 4: It will be the Lord himself who will call us, who will catch us up to be with Him forever.
- ANSWER 5: We are to “encourage” on another. Christ reveals this truth to us for encouragement – so that we will take hope and not be concerned about death, the resurrection of our bodies, or his coming – it’s sufficient that we know these things will occur.
- Specifically in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 what is he telling the Thessalonians and us?
- ANSWER: Not to worry about those who have died already or be concerned about those of us still living. When its time Christ will call us all to our resurrected bodies at the same time, the dead first then those still alive at the time.
- The doctrine of the rapture begins with the Latin translation of the bible called the Vulgate. Can you find out why in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that translation resulted in us referring to this verse as the “rapture”?
- ANSWER: From the word “rapiemur” and originally translated “we shall be caught up” from the original Greek word “harpagesometha”…you’ll remember that the vulgate was a Latin translation of the Greek manuscripts.
- Now read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, what is Paul telling us in these verses? (If you’d like to learn a lot more about our resurrected body read the entire chapter it has much to say about our resurrection.) In verses 50-58 what is Paul telling us that might have relevance to the doctrine of the rapture?
- ANSWER 1: First that it’s your spirit that inherits the kingdom of God – not your flesh and blood.
- ANSWER 2: Second, that a decaying body – the kind we have now – cannot inherit a body that will endure eternally and we are meant to inhabit a body. This is important for us to know. We will inherit the kingdom of God because Christ paid the price for our sins, but once we do we will need an eternal body – not a perishable one.
- ANSWER 3: Just as he wrote earlier, not all of us will be dead when the resurrection of our heavenly eternal bodies occurs.
- ANSWER 4: It will happen in an instant, in a flash, in the “twinkling of an eye” – wow, lightening fast!
- ANSWER 5: Once we have inherited eternal life and our eternal bodies then death will have no more power over us, it will be “swallowed up in victory” the victory Christ gives us over death. We will be in our new bodies, free of sin eternally, no wonder they’ll be imperishable!
- ANSWER 6: Because Christ has told us these things we are to “stand firm” and not be moved by false doctrine, false teaching, fear of death, or hopelessness. And with this news we are to invest ourselves fully in God’s work, knowing the rewards that await us at the “last trump”.
- If someone holds a “pre-millennial” view, what does that person believe about the second coming of Christ?
- ANSWER: That the Tribulation period will occur sometime prior, or “pre” to the literal 1,000 year reign, the millennial reign of Christ. In this view at the end of Tribulation period Christ returns, saves the world from the absolute brink of destruction, sets up his kingdom on earth and rules with a rod of iron for a thousand years.
- Within the pre-millennial view define what is meant by Pre-Tribulationist, Mid-Tribulationist and Post-Tribulationist in reference to the rapture.
- ANSWER 1: Pre-Tribulationist – believe that the Tribulation will be preceded by the rapture, many in fact believe the seven year period begins the moment the rapture occurs – others simply believe that sometime prior to the seven year Tribulation period the rapture will have occurred.
- ANSWER 2: Mid-Tribulationist – believe that exactly at the three and a half year point within the seven year tribulation period the rapture will occur, this is the period that begins with the Anti-Christ breaking his peace treaty with the nation of Israel, and severe judgments begin to come upon the earth, getting progressively worse as the end of the Tribulation period nears.
- ANSWER 3: Post-Tribulationist – believe that at the end of the seven year tribulation period, just as Christ is coming in the air to stop the great tribulation and set up His earthly kingdom, He will resurrect all those who have died or are still alive in Christ at his return.
- If you were a critic of the doctrine and did not believe in the rapture, what would your counter arguments be? See if you can think of some points of rebuttal – or do a little research and see if you can find counter arguments – briefly list some here:
- ANSWER 1: Critics say:
- It’s based on only a few verses
- The main stream protestant churches do not hold to this doctrine
- If it actually occurred as people believe it would then seeing it for real would cause the whole world to see Christ as the true Messiah and the entire world would repent and be saved – making invalid all the end time prophecy in the Bible.
- ANSWER 2: Counter Argument:
- Time and space does not allow for a thorough discussion of the pros and cons – in the end each of us will need to make our own assessments. In my view it’s clear from the verses we studied today that something very dramatic is going to occur, it will occur in an instant, we who are in Christ will be changed instantly, and it will happen while Christians remain on the earth. The timing, numbers involved, etc in my view are all up to God and His plan, not my understanding.
- ANSWER 1: Critics say:
Some additional food for thought – Christ was physically taken up into heaven in a physical resurrected body so that many could see the event, as was at least Enoch and perhaps others in the Bible. Additionally, in the parable about Lazarus the beggar and the rich man, the rich man is told that even if people were allowed to return from the dead to warn others that what Christ told them was true they would not be believed.
I don’t believe for a second that if the rapture happened in broad daylight – as it did with Christ and Enoch and perhaps others, that it would change a hardened heart. I would also point out, as others have, that all of the very visible miracles God did with the Nation of Israel, including showing himself in the Pillars of fire and smoke, still did not convince them-Secondly, consider this – if we believe the Ladociean church – the church that is lukewarm and that Christ spits out – is the church in existence when the tribulation period begins and the rapture takes place, is it possible by then that so few actual born again Christians exist, that no one even knows a rapture occurred?
In the end Christ put these verses here for us to be encouraged, to be strengthened and to make sure we were not swayed by false teaching and false doctrines – something that is always around us, and something that will be prevalent more so as His second coming approaches. Regardless of your position on the rapture, read those verses and KNOW that you will be getting an eternal body at the resurrection of the saints, and that you WILL be spending forever with Christ!
I hope this study has encouraged you and brought you hope and joy.
May God bless each of you as you continue to study with us.
Have a great week everyone!
Yours in Christ