The Rapture and the Return of Jesus
I. Introduction to this this article’s video speaker. Dr. Mark Hitchcock. Jun 25, 2014. 100huntley.
A. In the opening video, Dr. Mark Hitchcock talks a little about the end of the tribulation period. He distinguishes the difference between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. In our previous article, we discussed the conditions of the Tribulation. In this article we will discuss the Rapture, as to when it will happen, how it will happen, and those will be caught up in the rapture. Credentials for Dr. Hitchcock, can be found in the following paragraph.
B. “The one biblical truth that has affected my Christian life more than any other is the rapture of the church—the belief that Jesus could come at any moment to take His people away to be with Him. It deeply affects how I view my life, this world, and how I live each day. I have always wanted to write a book that clearly explains the truth of the any-moment rapture and how it should affect our daily lives. I’m grateful that the good people at Multnomah have given me the opportunity to share my passion for this blessed hope with others.” — Mark Hitchcock
1. Hitchcock Education (J.D.,Th.M., Ph.D.) https://www.dts.edu/employee/mark-hitchcock/
2. Hitchcock Education Details. BS, Oklahoma State University, 1981; JD, Oklahoma City University School of Law, 1984; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1991; PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary, 2005.
3. Hitchcock Accomplishments. Mark Hitchcock http://marklhitchcock.com/about/
Mark Hitchcock is a leading Bible prophecy expert, prolific author who has penned over 20 books on the end times, senior pastor, and adjunct faculty member of the Dallas Theological Seminary.
4. Hitchcock Books. https://www.thriftbooks.com/a/mark-hitchcock/227833/
II. Article Objectives.
A. In our previous article, we discussed the conditions of the Tribulation.
B. In this article we will discuss the Rapture, as to how it will happen, and those who will and will not be caught up in the rapture. We will also discuss a Godly accomplishment which will precede the occurrence of the rapture.
C. We will be referring to the word, or place, called Heaven. We must address:
Revelation 4:1 – New American Standard Bible 2020 Update.
Scene in Heaven
4 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
2. New Heaven.
Revelation 21:1-3 – New American Standard Bible 2020 Update
The New Heaven and Earth
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
III. Where did the term ‘rapture’ come from? https://bible.org/question/where-did-term-8216rapture%E2%80%99-come
A. Regarding the term rapture and its use in theology, the following should answer your questions. It is taken from Ryrie’s Basic Theology, Electronic Media from Parsons Technology.
B. Our modern understanding of rapture appears to have little or no connection with the eschatological event. However, the word is properly used of that event. Rapture is a state or experience of being carried away. The English word comes from a Latin word, rapio, which means to seize or snatch in relation to an ecstasy of spirit or the actual removal from one place to another. In other words, it means to be carried away in spirit or in body. The Rapture of the church means the carrying away of the church from earth to heaven.
C. The Greek word from this term “rapture” is derived appears in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, translated “caught up.” The Latin translation of this verse used the word rapturo. The Greek word it translates is harpazo, which means to snatch or take away. Elsewhere it is used to describe how the Spirit caught up Philip near Gaza and brought him to Caesarea (Acts 8:39) and to describe Paul’s experience of being caught up into the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Thus there can be no doubt that the word is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to indicate the actual removal of people from earth to heaven.
1. Ryrie Education. (A.B., Th.M., Th.D., Ph. D.)
2. Ryrie Education Details. Charles C. Ryrie. (A.B., Haverford College; Th.M. and Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary; Ph.D., University of Edinburgh; Litt.D., Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary).
3. Ryrie Accomplishments. https://voice.dts.edu/article/dr-charles-c-ryrie-1925-2016-tribute/
Dr. Ryrie taught Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary before serving as dean of doctoral studies for more than two decades until his retirement in 1983. He passed away at 12:37 a.m. on Tuesday, February 16, 2016.
4. Ryrie Books. Charles Ryrie Ryrie Study Bible
5. Ryrie Lifespan (March 2, 1925-February 16, 2016).
IV. The Rapture In Verses (NASB 2020 Update).
A. John 14:2,3,6 (33 A.D.). “2 In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be. 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Note: Christ will come from Heaven and take His believers back with him. We can not get to Heaven by any other way, or by anyone else.)
B. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (54 A.D.). “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as indeed the rest of mankind do, who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. 15 For we say this to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” (Note: Deceased and living believers in Christ will be taken to heaven by Christ. We will meet Christ in he air; He will not set foot on earth. Caught up in English is used for rapture, harpazo, and rapturo.).
C. 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 (59 A.D.). “50 Now I say this, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I am telling you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (Note: We can not enter heaven or the eternal state in our mortal bodies; we must be changed to be immortal. This change was unknown until Paul spoke these words. The change will occur quickly. Not all believers will die, but all believers will be changed to be immortal/imperishable. Dead believers will be raised and made imperishable. Living believers will be changed and made imperishable. We will never die, or suffer from sickness again.).
V. Purposes Of The Rapture. https://bible.org/seriespage/4-translation-church
A. Explanation Of The Rapture. In Chapter 14 of John, in the very shadow of the cross, Christ reveals an amazing new revelation which He had not tried to teach them before, that is, that there was another purpose of God to be fulfilled first before bringing in the millennial kingdom. Christ told the disciples that He was going to leave them and go to heaven, that He would prepare a place for them in heaven, and that He would come back to receive them unto Himself. In other words, He revealed to them that before He fulfilled His purpose to bring in a kingdom on earth He was going to take them home to glory first. He would come back for them and take them to dwell with Him in the Father’s house in heaven before His return to the earth (Dr. John F. Walvoord).
B. The Coming Of Christ Details (Walvoord Commentary, 1-2 Thessalonians, pg 113).
1. Comes in the air (1 Thes 4:16-17).
2. Comes for His saints (1 Thes 4:16-17).
3. Believers depart the earth (1 Thes 4:16-17).
4. Christ returns to earth with His bride to establish His Kingdom (2 Thes 1:10).
5. Christ gathers His own (1 Thes 4:16-17).
6. Christ comes to reward (1 Thes 4:17).
7. Not in the Old Testament (1 Cor 15:51).
8. There are no signs; it is imminent (1 Thes 5:1-3).
9. It is a time of blessing and comfort (1 Thes 4:18).
10. Involves believers only (John 14:1-3; 1 Cor 15:51-55; 1 Thes 4:13-18).
11. Will occur in a moment, in the time it takes to blink. Only His own will see Him (1 Cor 15:51-52).
12. Tribulation begins (Rev 6).
13. Christ comes as the bright morning star (Rev 22:16).
C. Walvoord Particulars.
1. Walvoord Education (B.A., M.A., Th.M., Th.D., D.D., Litt.D.).
2. Walvoord Education Details. Attended Wheaton College in Illinois. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1931. Entered Dallas Seminary, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s of theology (Th.B., Th.M.) degrees, magna cum laude, in 1934 and doctorate in theology (Th.D.) in 1936. He went on to receive an M.A. in philosophy from Texas Christian University in 1945. Wheaton College awarded him a doctor of divinity (D.D.) in 1960; Liberty University conferred the Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.) on him in 1984.
3. Walvoord Books. https://www.thriftbooks.com/a/john-f-walvoord/203232/
4. Walvoord Accomplishments. https://walvoord.com/about-dr-john-walvoord
John was a member of the Dallas Theological Seminary faculty for 50 years, from 1936 to 1986. He served as president of Dallas Seminary from 1952 to 1986, and as chancellor until 2001. He continued to teach and preach until a few weeks before his death at the age of 92.
5. Walvoord Lifespan (May 1, 1910-December 20, 2002).
VI. Considering Rapture Distinctions.
A. The Nature Of The Church. There is a distinction between the true church and true or spiritual Israel. Prior to Pentecost, there were saved individuals, but there was no church, and they were a part of spiritual Israel, not the church. After the day of Pentecost, and until the rapture, we find the church which is His (Christ’s, mine) body, but no spiritual Israel. After the rapture we find no church, but a true or spiritual Israel again. These distinctions must be kept clearly in mind. The rapture will remove, not all who make a profession of faith in Christ, but only those who have been born again, and have received His life. The unbelieving portion of the visible church, together with unbelievers in the nation Israel, will go into the tribulation period.
B. The Doctrine Of Imminence. Many signs were given to the nation Israel, which would precede the second advent, so that the nation might be living in expectancy when the time of His coming should draw nigh. Although Israel could not know the day nor the hour when the Lord will come, yet they can know that their redemption draweth nigh through the fulfillment of these signs (prophetic signs, mine). To the church no such signs were ever given. The church was told to live in the light of the imminent coming of the Lord to translate them in His presence (John 14:2-3; Acts 1:11; 1 Cor 15:51-52; Phil 3:20; Col 3:4; 1 Thes 1:10; 1 Tim 6:14; Jas 5:8; 1 Pet 3:3-4). Such passages as 1 Thes 5:6; Tit 2:13; Rev 3:3 all warn the believer to be watching for the Lord Himself, not for signs that would precede His coming. It is true that the events of the seventieth week (the 70 weeks of Daniel; Dan 9:1-27; mine) will cast an adumbration before the rapture, but the object of the believer’s attention is always directed to Christ, never to these portents (signs, mine) (J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, pg 202-203).
1. Pentecost Education. B.A., Th.M., Th.D.
2. Pentecost Education Details. Pentecost was Distinguished Professor of Bible Exposition, Emeritus, at Dallas Theological Seminary, one of only two so honored. He held a B.A. from Hampden-Sydney College (1937), in addition to Th.M. (1941) and Th.D. (1956) degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary. During his academic career he taught biblical subjects for over 60 years (Philadelphia College of Bible, 1948–55; Dallas Theological Seminary, 1955-2014).
3. Pentecost Books. https://www.thriftbooks.com/a/j-dwight-pentecost/202850/
4. Pentecost Accomplishments. https://voice.dts.edu/article/an-enduring-ministry-the-life-and-times-of-j-dwight-pentecost-karen-giesen/
DTS president John Walvoord invited Dr. Pentecost to teach in three departments—theology, Greek, and Bible exposition—while he completed his Th.D. This year marks Dr. P.’s fiftieth on the Dallas Seminary faculty. (Dr. Pentecost is now deceased).
5. Pentecost Lifespan (April 24, 1915-April 28 2014).
VII. Preceding The Rapture. The Fullness Of The Gentiles.
A. Romans 11:25, New American Standard Bible 2020 Update.
25 For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
1. Ryrie Study Bible, Rom 11:25. “This mystery.” A definition of a scriptural mystery: something unknown in times past but revealed in the NT ( Ryrie Study Bible, Rom 16:25). See other “mystery” verses: Eph 3:3, 5:32, 6:19; Col 1:27,2:2, 4:3; 2 Thes 2:7; 1 Tim 3:16; Rev 1:20. Keep in mind that the mysteries that were revealed in the NT were things of scripture that were not revealed anywhere in the OT.
2. Ryrie Study Bible, Rom 11:25. “Israel’s hardening” is partial (Jews are being saved today) and temporary (“until” they acknowledge Jesus at His second coming). “the fullness of the Gentiles,” i.e., the full number of Gentiles who will be saved (Acts 15:14). After that, God will turn again to the Jews and will save “all Israel” at the Lord’s return (vs 26).
3. John Walvoord, Every Prophecy Of The Bible, pg 454. The background of this (The Promise of Israel’s Restoration, pg 453, Rom 11:25-27), is the NT doctrine of the Rapture of the church. When the church is taken out of the world in fulfillment of Gods purpose for the church, Israel’s present experience of hardening will also be removed, and revival will come to Israel (vs 25). Their early conversion to the Gospel will help spread the Gospel throughout the world after the Rapture of the church, as there are Israelites in every major nation who already know the languages and the people.
4. J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, pg 298. It is to be noted that the remnant of Rom 11:26 is not converted until the second advent of Christ and the 144,000 are ministering as sealed witnesses immediately after the church has been raptured.
5. MacArthur Study Bible, Rom 11:25 comment. “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” “Until” refers to a specific point in time; “fullness” refers to completion; “has come in” translates a Gr. verb often used to speak of coming to salvation (cf. Matt. 5:20; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; John 3:5; Acts 14:22). Israel’s spiritual hardening (which began with rejecting Jesus as Messiah) will last until the complete number of elect Gentiles has come to salvation
C. Consider Today’s World.
1. Many things are going on in our world today, that make many people (including Christians) think that we are in the end times, or will soon find ourselves in the tribulation. But, there is nothing in scripture that tells us that rioting, the virus that began in China, or anything else is a precursor to the “last days, end times, or tribulation.” Matt 24-25 relates to the events that will take place when “left-behind Israel” finds itself in the tribulation (Matt 24:1-3). Ryrie states in his Mt 24 notes that vs 4-14 relate to the first half of the tribulation, whereas, 15-28 deal with the second half. Matt 24:36 states, “of that day and hour, no one knows.” Neither the rapture (John 14:2-6), nor the second coming of Christ (Matt 24:29-31) are events that can be tied to anything that is going on in the world today, or will take place in the future. (See Matt 24 of the Ryrie Study Bible for comments about Israel’s tribulation prophecies).
2. Consider Yesteryear.
a. Russian Civil War. 1917-1923.
(1) There were an estimated 7 to 12 million casualties during the war, mostly civilians. Russia was an Orthodox Christian nation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Russian_Orthodox_Church In 1914 in Russia, there were 55,173 Russian Orthodox churches and 29,593 chapels, 112,629 priests and deacons, 550 monasteries and 475 convents with a total of 95,259 monks and nuns.
(2) The year 1917 was a major turning point for the history of Russia, and also the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian empire was dissolved and the Tsarist government – which had granted the Church numerous privileges – was overthrown. After a few months of political turmoil, the Bolsheviks took power in October 1917 and declared a separation of church and state. The government seized all church lands. Thus the Russian Orthodox Church found itself without official state backing for the first time in its history. One of the first decrees of the new Communist government (issued in January 1918) declared freedom of “religious and anti-religious propaganda”.
(3) The mass closure of churches continued until 1939, by which time there was only a few hundred left. According to the official data of the government Commission on Rehabilitation: in 1937 136,900 Orthodox clerics were arrested, 85,300 of them were shot dead; in 1938 28,300 arrested, 21,500 of them shot dead; in 1939 1,500 arrested, 900 of them shot dead; in 1940 5,100 arrested, 1,100 of them shot dead.
(4) Because of the Christian population of Russia, it would be conceivable that some of those Christians may have thought that they were in the tribulation.
b. The Spanish Flu. 1918-1919.
(1) It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.
(2) Because of the worldwide spread of the Spanish Flu, it is also conceivable that many of the world’s population thought that the tribulation had begun.
c. The Holocaust. 1933-1945.
(1) The Holocaust (also called Ha-Shoah in Hebrew) refers to the period from January 30, 1933 – when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany – to May 8, 1945, when the war in Europe officially ended. During this time, Jews in Europe were subjected to progressively harsher persecution that ultimately led to the murder of 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jewry and one-third of all world Jewry.
(2) There may have been Jews who were alive, and who died, during the Holocaust who thought that they were present during the conditions of “Jacob’s Distress” (Jer 30:7) and “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks” (Dan 9:1-27), both of which will be the tribulation.
3. Consider History. Based on the events of history, it is obvious that we can not latch onto an event or group of events, that will let us know of God’s sovereign plan for His creation. We may ask if there is anything that we can identify as being a stimulus for the event that is described in Romans 11:25? Based on the information that is provided in the paragraph “VII. A. The Fullness Of The Gentiles,” we have learned that the tribulation will not occur until after the rapture of the church has taken place. The fullness of the Gentiles relates to a number of Gentiles coming to saving faith in Christ; such a determination of “church growth,” can only be determined, and known, by God.
4. Consider falling church growth. There is diminishing church growth in North America, and has been that way for years in Europe. Consider a report that relates to the Southern Baptist Convention: “The Southern Baptist Convention lost 2 percent of its membership last year—the largest drop in more than a century, according to its annual report.”
5. Consider Evangelical Growth Areas. If church growth is not taking place in much of “the Bible Belt” (SBC), where can the needed growth take place? Consider the following report. https://www.operationworld.org/hidden/evangelical-growth
Countries with the Fastest Growing Evangelical Population (the list is long; check the link).
Rank Country Ann Gr*
1 Iran 19.6%
2 Afghanistan 16.7%
3 Gambia, The 8.9%
4 Cambodia 8.8%
5 Greenland 8.4%
6 Algeria 8.1%
7 Somalia 8.1%
8 Mongolia 7.9%
9 Kuwait 7.3%
10 Tajikistan 6.9%
6. Consider Global Missions. When we consider Romans 11:25, it is very clear that global missions are essential to church growth. We must never forget the emphasis that our Lord placed on taking the His message to all of the world, even to the United States Of America. When I use the words, “church growth,” I am relating to lost souls coming to saving faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior.
a. Matthew 28:18-20
New American Standard Bible – 2020 Update
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
b. Acts 1:8
New American Standard Bible – 2020 Update
8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”
VIII. Consider the following video.
The World’s Largest Religious Gathering
IMB. Mar 7, 2017 .
IX. A list of my sources of information can be found on my Page, “About Sources.”
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