Thy Kingdom Come – The Sovereignty Of The Rapture – Part 1
I. Introduction. We have finished a study on the events of the Church that follow the Rapture, which entailed The Judgment Seat Of Christ and The Marriage Of The Lamb. We will now begin a study that details the events of Scripture that discuss the Rapture, as well as the church fathers who discussed the Rapture in their writings, and other writers from their time forward until current date. In that God takes up people from earth to heaven is a fact that has been shown in Old and New Testament Scriptures. The pre-tribulation rapture is an event that the saints of Christ (all believers in Christ) have as great encouragement. In each Scripture reference to the Rapture, the purposes of God are manifest, thereby showing the Sovereignty of God in the Rapture.
II. 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).
III. Rapture Scripture In Chronological Order.
A. Genesis 5:24. Enoch. The date of Enoch being taken to heaven is uncertain, but we have some information about his place in history. The Bible teaches that Enoch, the seventh from Adam (4004 B.C.), was translated to heaven without seeing death. “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). Enoch was the only antediluvian believer not to see death. “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah” (Genesis 5:21). “After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years” (verse 22).
B. 2 Kings 2:11. Elijah. 896 B.C. “As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.”
In one of the most dramatic scenes in the Bible, heaven opened, a fiery chariot with fiery horses appeared, a whirlwind blew, and the prophet of God vanished alive into heaven. The fire associated with the chariot and the horses indicate the presence of God, much as the fiery angels do that Isaiah saw stationed around the throne of God (see Isaiah 6:2).
C. Isaiah. Isaiah. 758 B.C. 6:1. In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 6:2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 6:3. And one called out to another and said Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory. 6:5. Then I said, My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
1. Isaiah was returned to Earth after his view of God in heaven, but consider the great significance of Isaiah being caught up to heaven. He was given a glimpse of that which will be present in the Kingdom age (the millennial reign of Christ), which will follow the Tribulation. Consider that which will be fully visible to those who will be present in the kingdom.
2. There will be the manifestation of the glory associated with the deity of the
Lord Jesus Christ. His omniscience is recognized (Isa. 66:15-18). His omnipotence is that which sustains throughout the age (Isa. 41:10, 17-18; Ps. 46:1, 5). He receives worship as God (Ps. 45:6; Isa. 66:23; Ps. 86:9; Zech. 14:16-19). Righteousness will be fully manifested (Ps. 45:4, 7; 98:2; Dan. 9:24; Isa. 1:27; 10:22; 28:17; 60:21; 63:1; Mal. 4:2). There will be a full display of divine mercy (Isa. 63:7-19; 54:7-10; 40:10-13; Hos. 2:23; Ps. 89:3). Divine goodness will also be displayed through Him (Jer. 33:9, 15; Zech. 9:17; Isa. 52:7). The will of God will be fully revealed through the Messiah (Matt. 6:10) and will be accomplished on the earth. The holiness of God will be manifested through
Messiah (Isa. 6:1-3; Rev. 15:4; Ezek. 36:20-23; Isa. 4:3, 4; 35:8-10; Ezek. 45:1-5; Joel 3:17; Zech. 2:12). There will be a glorious manifestation of divine truth through the King (Messiah, Jesus) (Micah 7:20; Isa. 25:1; 61:8). Thus, through the King, there will be a full display of the divine attributes, so that Christ might be glorified as God.
D. John 14:2-3. 33 A.D. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
1. This Scripture comes from the upper room discourse (John 13-17) on the night before the crucifixion of Jesus.
2. In relation to the eternal destiny of the church saints, it is to be observed that their destiny primarily is related to the Person, rather than to the place. While the place looms with importance, the place is overshadowed by the Person into whose presence the believer is taken. It is the Person who is emphasized in all the passages dealing with the expectation of the church, rather than the place to which they are taken.
3. It has been demonstrated from such passages as Rev 21:3 that the Lord Jesus Christ will be dwelling with men on the new earth in the eternal kingdom (eternal state). Since Scripture reveals that the church will be with Christ, it is concluded that the eternal abode of the church will likewise be in the new earth, in that heavenly city, New Jerusalem, that has been especially prepared by God for the saints (believers).
E. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. 54 A.D. Paul’s letter to the Church in Thessalonica.
“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 and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
Paul had taught in Thessalonica during his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-11, 53 A.D.), where he spoke for three weeks to Jews in the synagogue, and possibly six months following among Gentiles. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was an answer to their letter to him about the subject of the catching up of living believers (v 17), at the time of the Rapture, and the resurrection of those who had died “the dead in Christ (v 16),” prior to the time of the Rapture.
F. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. 59 A.D. Paul’s first letter to the Church in Corinth.
“51 Behold, I tell 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.”
The Gospel was first preached in Corinth by Paul on his second missionary journey (50 A.D.). After leaving, Paul wrote this letter of explanation about the resurrection of deceased believers (v 51-52) and the rapture of believers (vs 51-52).
G. 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. 60 A.D. Paul’s second letter to the Church in Corinth.
“2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.”
1. The Apostle Paul was taken up to the Presence of God.
2. Paul was so overwhelmed by his heavenly vision that he did not know the precise details. However, whether he was caught up bodily into heaven (like Enoch, Elijah, and Isaiah, or his spirit was temporarily separated from his body, was not important.
3. Because the words were for him alone, Paul was forbidden to repeat them, even if he could have expressed them coherently. Paul resumed his ministry. Paul’s letter was written to defend his apostolic authority.
H. Titus 2:13. 65 A.D. Paul’s letter to Titus. “13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Paul’s letter of instruction was of encouragement to look forward to the return of Christ to take them to heaven (John 14:2-3), as opposed to those who will be left behind on earth from the Rapture, and will be alive at the end of the Tribulation to Jesus returning to earth from Heaven for judgment (Matt 24:29-32; 25:31-40, 41-46).
IV. 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 not 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).
V. 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.