Thy Kingdom Come – The Events For The Church Following The Rapture – Part 1
I. Introduction. The Rapture Explained.
A. There has been much discussion on the Rapture of the church, often with a great lack of clarity. In this article an explanation of the catching up of the saints, also known as the rapture of the church, is provided with needed clarity.
B. Regarding the term rapture and its use in theology, this discussion should answer any questions about the rapture. Such a teaching is that the catching up of the church is imminent, which means that it can happen at any time. Also, there is no event, OT or NT, that can precipitate the rapture, because of imminence. Also, it is because the catching up of the church was a mystery to the OT prophets, and not known to anyone else of that time era. A definition of a scriptural mystery is something that was unknown in times past , but revealed in the NT.
C. This discussion examines the rapture 1 Thes 4:16-17, but the following scriptures tell the same story of Jesus coming in the air (not to stand on the earth) to take His born again believers to Heaven with Him, as they are seen in Rev 4-5. As an example, if believers are not caught up to Heaven, “how do they get there?” [John 14:2-3; vs 6, tells of an action of Jesus, as well as a belief in Jesus; 1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:51-54; Titus 2:13].
D. 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.
E. The Greek word from this term “rapture” is derived appears in 1 Thes 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 Thes 4:17 to indicate the actual removal of people from earth to heaven. The Latin Vulgate actually used a different form of the same verb –“Rapiemur” instead of “Rapturo,” which has the same meaning as “rapturo.” In the OT, Enoch was caught up to Heaven (Gen 5:24). Elijah was caught up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11). Isaiah was taken up to heaven (Isaiah 6:1).
F. There are two events portrayed in Scripture into which the church will be brought following the rapture which have special eschatological significance: the judgment seat of Christ and the marriage of the Lamb.
II. Article Title. The Judgment Seat Of Christ (A. The meaning of judgement seat.” B. The time of the bema of Christ. C. The place of the bema of Christ. D. The Judge of the bema of Christ. E. The subjects of the bema of Christ. F. The basis of the examination at the bema of Christ. G. The result of the bema of Christ).
A. The meaning of “judgment seat.”
1. There are two different words translated in the New Testament. The first is the word critērion as used in James 2:6; 1 Corinthians 6:2, 4. This word, according to Thayer, means “the instrument or means of trying or judging anything; the rule by which one judges” or “the place where judgment is given; the tribunal of a judge; a bench of judges.” Hence the word would refer to the standard or criterion by which judgment is meted out or the place where such judgment is meted. The second word is the word bēma, about which Thayer says: …a raised place mounted by steps; a platform, tribune; used of the official seat of a judge, Acts 18:.12, 16…of the judgment seat of Christ, Rom 14:10 …of the structure, resembling a throne, which Herod built in the theatre at Caesarea, and from which he used to view the games and make speeches to the people.
2. Concerning its meaning and usage Plummer writes: The…[bēma] is the tribunal, whether in a basilica for the praetor in a court of justice, or in a camp for the commander to administer discipline and address the troops. In either case the tribunal was a platform on which the seat (sella) of the presiding officer was placed. In LXX…[bēma] commonly means a platform or scaffold rather than a seat (Neh. 8:4…) In N.T. it seems generally to mean the seat…But in some of the passages it may mean the platform on which the seat was placed. On the Areopagus the…[bēma] was a stone platform…Fond as Paul is of military metaphors, and of comparing the Christian life to warfare, he is not likely to be thinking of a military tribunal here.
3. According to Sale-Harrison: In Grecian games in Athens, the old arena contained a raised platform on which the president or umpire of the arena sat. From here he rewarded all the contestants; and here he rewarded all winners. It was called the “bema” or “reward seat.” It was never used of a judicial bench.
Thus, associated with this word are the ideas of prominence, dignity, authority,
honor, and reward rather than the idea of justice and judgment. The word that Paul chose to describe the place before which this event takes place suggests its character.
B. The time of the bema of Christ.
The event herein described takes place immediately following the translation of the church out of this earth’s sphere. There are several considerations that support this. (1) In the first place, according to Luke 14:14, reward is associated with the resurrection. Since, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, the resurrection is an integral part of the translation, reward must be a part of that program. (2) When the Lord returns to the earth with His bride to reign, the bride is seen to be already rewarded. This is observed in Revelation 19:8, where it must be observed that the “righteousness of the saints” is plural and can not refer to the imparted righteousness of Christ, which is the believer’s portion, but the righteousnesses which have survived examination and have become the basis of reward. (3) In 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Timothy 4:8; and Revelation 22:12 the reward is associated with “that day,” that is, the day in which He comes for His own. Therefore, it must be observed that the rewarding of the church must take place between the rapture and the revelation of Christ to the earth.
C. The place of the bema of Christ.
It is scarcely necessary to point out that this examination must take place in the sphere of the heavenlies. It is said in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that we shall be caught up…in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” Since the bema follows this translation, the “air” must be the scene of it. This is further supported by 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, where Paul is describing events that take place when the believer is “absent from the body, and…present with the Lord.” Thus this event must take place in the Lord’s presence in the sphere of the “heavenlies.”
D. The Judge at the bema of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:10 makes it clear that this examination is conducted before the presence of the Son of God. John 5:22 states that all judgment has been committed into the hand of the Son. The fact that this same event is referred to in Romans 14:10 as “the judgment seat of God” would indicate that God has committed this judgment into the hand of the Son also. A part of the exaltation of Christ is the right to manifest divine authority in judgment.
E. The subjects of the bema of Christ.
There can be little doubt that the bema of Christ is concerned only with believers. The first personal pronoun occurs with too great frequency in 2 Corinthians 5:1-19 to miss this point. Only the believer could have “an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Only the believer could experience “mortality…swallowed up of life.” Only the believer could experience the working of God, “who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” Only the believer could have the confidence that “whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” Only the believer could “walk by faith, not by sight.”
F. The basis of the examination at the bema of Christ.
1. It is to be observed carefully that the issue here is not to determine whether the one judged is a believer or not. The question of salvation is not being considered. The salvation given the believer in Christ has perfectly delivered him from all judgment (Rom. 8:1; John 5:24; 1 John 4:17). To bring the believer into judgment concerning the sin question, whether his sins before his new birth, his sins since his new birth, or even his unconfessed sins since the new birth, is to deny the efficacy of the death of Christ and nullify the promise of God that “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17). Pridham writes: A saint will never again come into judgment on account of his natural or inherited iniquity, for he is already dead judicially with Christ, and is no longer known or dealt with on the footing of his natural responsibility. As a man he has been weighed and found wanting. He was born under condemnation, to a natural heritage of wrath, and nothing good has been discovered in his flesh; but his guilt has been obliterated by the blood of his Redeemer, and he is freely and justly pardoned for His Savior’s sake. Because Christ is risen from the dead, he is no longer in his sins. He is justified by faith, and is presented in the name and on the merits of the Just One before God; and of this new and ever-blessed title to acceptance the Holy Spirit is the living seal and witness. Into judgment, therefore, on his own account he cannot come.
2. This whole program is related to the glorification of God through the manifestation of His righteousness in the believer. Kelly commenting on 2 Corinthians 5:10, says: So again it is not a question of rewarding service as in 1 Corinthians 3:8, 14, but of retribution in the righteous government of God according to what each did whether good or bad. This covers all, just or unjust. It is for the divine glory that every work done by man should appear as it really is before Him who is ordained by God Judge of living and dead.
3. The word translated “appear” in 2 Corinthians 5:10 might better be rendered “to be made manifest,” so that the verse reads, “For it is necessary for all of us to be made manifest.” This suggests that the purpose of the bema is to make a public manifestation, demonstration or revelation of the essential character and motives of the individual. Plummer’s remark: “We shall not be judged en masse, or in classes, but one by one, in accordance with individual merit,”
substantiates the fact that this is an individual judgment of each believer before the Lord.
4. The believer’s works are brought into judgment, called “the things done in his body” (2 Cor. 5:10), in order that it may be determined whether they are good or bad. Concerning the word bad (phaulos), it is to be observed that Paul did not use the usual word for bad (kakos or ponēras), either of which would signify that which is ethically or morally evil, but rather the word, which, according to Trench, means: ”…evil under another aspect, not so much that either of active or passive malignity, but that rather of its good-for-nothingness, the impossibility of any true gain ever coming forth from it…This notion of worthlessness is the central notion.
5. Thus the judgment is not to determine what is ethically good or evil, but rather that which is acceptable and that which is worthless. It is not the Lord’s purpose here to chasten His child for his sins, but to reward his service for those things done in the name of the Lord.
G. The result of the examination at the bema of Christ.
1. In 1 Corinthians 3:14-15 it is declared that there will be a twofold result of this examination: a reward received or a reward lost.
2. That which determines whether one receives or loses a reward is the trial by fire, for Paul writes “Every man’s work shall be made manifest [the same word used in 2 Cor. 5:10]: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3:13). From this statement it is evident, first of all, that it is the realm of the believer’s works that is undergoing examination. Further, it is seen that the examination is not an external judgment, based on outward observation, but rather on a test that determines the inner character and motivation. The entire purpose of the trial by fire is to determine that which is destructible and that which is indestructible.
3. The apostle has affirmed that there are two classes of building materials which the “laborers together with God” may use in building the edifice upon the foundation already laid. The gold, silver, costly stones are indestructible materials. These are the work of God, which man only appropriates and uses. On the other hand, the wood, hay, and stubble are destructible materials. These are the work of men which man has produced by his own effort. The apostle is revealing the fact that the examination at the bema of Christ is to determine that which was done by God through the individual and that which the individual did in his own strength; that which was done for the glory
of God and that which was done for the glory of the flesh. It can not be determined by outward observation into which class any “work” falls, so that work must be put into the crucible in order that its true character may be proved.
a. On the basis of this test there will be two decisions. There will be loss of reward for that which is proven by the fire to be destructible. Things done in the strength and for the glory of the flesh, regardless of what the act might be, will be disapproved. Paul expresses his fear of depending on the energy of the flesh rather than the empowerment of the Spirit in the light of this fact when he writes: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (1 Cor. 9:27).” When Paul uses the word castaway (adokimos) he is not expressing fear that he will lose his salvation, but rather that which he has done shall be found to be “good-fornothing.” On this word Trench writes: In classical Greek it is the technical word for putting money to the…[dokimē] or proof, by aid of the…[dokimion] or test…that which endures this proof being… [dokimos approved], that which fails…[adokimos, disapproved or rejected]…To safeguard against the possible interpretation that to suffer loss means the loss of salvation, Paul adds “he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Cor. 3:15).
b. There will be a reward bestowed for that work that is proved to be
indestructible by the fire test. In the New Testament there are five areas in which specific mention is made of a reward: (1) an incorruptible crown for those who get mastery over the old man (1 Cor. 9:25); (2) a crown of rejoicing for the soul winners (1 Thess. 2:19); (3) a crown of life for those enduring trials (Jas. 1:12); (4) a crown of righteousness for loving his appearing (2 Tim. 4:8); and (5) a crown of glory for being willing to feed the flock of God (1 Pet. 5:4). These seem to suggest the areas in which rewards will be bestowed.
4. Something of the nature of the crowns or rewards is suggested in the word that is used for crown (stephanos). Mayor says of it that it is used: (1) For the wreath of victory in the games (1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 2:5): (2) as a festal ornament (Proverbs 1:9; 4:9; Cant. 3:11; Isa. 28:1); (3) as a public honor granted for a distinguished service or private worth, as a golden crown was granted to Demosthenes.
5. In contrasting this word with diadema Trench writes: We must not confound these words because our English “crown” stands for them both. I greatly doubt whether anywhere in classical literature…[stephanos] is used of the kingly or imperial crown…In the New Testament it is plain that the…[stephanos] whereof St Paul speaks is always the conqueror’s and not the king’s (1 Cor. 9:24-26; 2 Tim. 2:5)…The only occasion on which…[stephanos] might seem to be used of a kingly crown is Matthew 27:29; cf. Mark 15:17; John 19:2. Thus the very word Paul chooses to describe the rewards is that associated with honor and dignity bestowed on the overcomer. Although we will reign with Christ, the kingly crown is His alone. The victor’s crowns are ours.
6. In Revelation 4:10, where the elders are seen to be casting their crowns before the throne in an act of worship and adoration, it is made clear that the crowns will not be for the eternal glory of the recipient, but for the glory of the Giver. Since these crowns are not viewed as a permanent possession, the question of the nature of the rewards themselves arises. From the Scriptures it is learned that the believer was redeemed in order that he might bring glory to God (1 Cor. 6:20). This becomes his eternal destiny. The act of placing the material sign of a reward at the feet of the One who sits on the throne (Rev. 4:10) is one act in that glorification. But the believer will not then have completed his destiny to glorify God. This will continue throughout eternity. Inasmuch as reward is associated with brightness and shining in many passages of Scripture (Dan. 12:3, Matt. 13:43; 1 Cor. 15:40-41, 49), it may be that the reward given to the believer is a capacity to manifest the glory of Christ throughout eternity.
7. The greater the reward, the greater the bestowed capacity to bring glory to God. Thus in the exercise of the reward of the believer, it will be Christ and not the believer that is glorified by the reward. Capacities to radiate the glory will differ, but there will be no personal sense of lack in that each believer will be filled to the limit of his capacity to “show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
III. About This Series Of Articles.
This study is one of Bible Exposition, which extends from the first verse of Genesis through the last verse of Revelation. The key focus of the study relates to Matthew 6:10, where Jesus tells the Jews to pray for the Kingdom to Come; there was never such a prayer that was addressed to Gentiles. The kingdom did not come during the time that Jesus was on this earth, and has not come since He ascended to Heaven. The Kingdom does enter people; people will enter the Kingdom, and will be physically here on earth, which will be a prophecy that fulfills 2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16-17. The Kingdom is unconditional, and applies only to Israel; Gentiles will benefit from God’s unconditional gift of the Davidic Kingdom to Israel (Genesis 12:1-3).
IV. Article References.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Th. D. (1871-1952). J. Vernon McGee, Th. D. (1904-1988). Merrill F. Unger, Ph. D. (1909-1980). Charles L. Feinberg, Ph. D. (1909-1995). John F. Walvoord, Th. D. (1910-2002). J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D. (1915-2014). Charles C. Ryrie, Ph. D. (1925-2016). Robert L. Thomas, Th. D. (1928-2017). Stanley D. Toussaint, Th. D. (1928-2017). Robert P. Lightner, Th. D. (1931-2018). Harold W. Hoehner, Ph. D. (1935-2009). Thomas S. McCall, Th. D. (1936-2021). Edward E. Hindson, Ph. D. (1944-2022).
A. One of the most difficult and most important factors of writing an article is related to sources of information. A writer must ensure that such sources have a high degree of knowledge on the subjects that are being written, and also must have a high degree of respect from other writers. A second factor that must be considered relates to how to lawfully use material of other writers. In this web site, copyright statutes are not violated. Also, “public domain,” is to be considered. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain
B. In this article, I have chosen theologians whom have proven themselves to be highly respected by others in the Biblical doctrine of eschatology (the study of what Scripture teaches about the end times), and other doctrines of scripture. All of the references in this article have a connection with Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) as graduate or instructor. Other source of information in this article: Henry C. Thiessen.
C. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following links show information about Dallas Theological Seminary; I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Seminary. It is important to understand that DTS is not a denominational seminary, and is totally independent of such.
D. About Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS).
1. General Info. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Theological_Seminary
2. Doctrinal Statement. https://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinal-statement/
a. Mark Yarbrough. Th. M., Ph. D.
b. Professor of Bible Exposition. Author. Church Pastor/Elder.