The rapture is the transformation of our bodies to be like Christ’s resurrected body. The everlasting nature of the rapture can be compared to our current condition. We will explore how we are spiritually risen with Christ today and how this differs from a physical resurrection in the future. The latter event is firmly placed during the second advent.

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Is this a physical transformation or spiritual? The entire faith of Christianity hinges upon a physical, bodily resurrection from death at the second advent. This is the foundation of the afterlife belief in the Bible. Paul makes this very clear in 1 Corinthians 15.

Verses 3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Verses 12-14 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

Verses 17-19 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Verses 50-53 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

There are cases we looked at in Chapter 7 about spiritual resurrections termed as “raising” or “lifting” types of root words that differ from the Greek word anastasis. Certainly, we are “raised” with Christ today in a spiritual sense, but this is not the entire gospel. There is the paradox that we are saved and not yet saved. Misunderstanding of the paradox has created problems of interpreting Revelation 20 that has split the Church into amillennial  and premillennial beliefs of eschatology.

Revelation 20:4I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Spiritualizing the first resurrection of Revelation 20:4 and Revelation 20:6 is an issue. If to “live again” means to be baptized or born again by the Spirit (“saved”), the people mentioned in the text must have been spiritually dead in their sins. The problem is that one group mentioned specifically was martyred (physical death is implied as martyrdom by beheading is a poor metaphor for spiritual death).

This brings up a conflict that the dead of Revelation 20 are physically dead but then resurrected to be spiritually alive under the amillennial view. This is not consistent use of literal or figurative language, even if a spirit only resurrection (not a bodily resurrection) is believed to be consciously reigning with Christ in His kingdom today. The viewpoint of the passage is on earth when they are resurrected. We should not utilize a hybrid mixing of literal and figurative language.

The text in Revelation 20 forces full mysticism or full bodily resurrection language, not a hybrid. Resurrections in the N.T. with a Greek anastasis root word meaning to “stand up” (such as John 11:23-24) are not used as spirit resurrections in other passages, so this would be the first usage. Revelation 20 would have stated other available Greek terms if a spiritual resurrection was intended.

2 Timothy 2:18 helps clarify bodily resurrection as a single future event from when Paul wrote his epistle. 1 John 3:2 also states that His appearing is in the future when we will be transformed. Prior to this, verse 1 John 2:28 correlates Christ’s physical appearing with His coming (Parousia). The second coming (Parousia) and “appearing” are synonymous in second advent passages mentioned herein. The resurrection occurs when Christ physically comes again.

Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Now we are saved based on the first advent stated in verse 11. We are not yet ultimately saved until the blessed hope mentioned in verse 13 comes at the second advent. The blessed hope is Christ’s appearing, which is His physical return in the future tense. Seen with eyes = second advent = Parousia.

The implications here draw us into an inescapable paradox. Now we are saved, and we are not yet saved. We need to understand this “now and not yet” concept if we are to understand the rapture. People have trouble with paradoxes, but the Bible has its share of them. Salvation is another example that God uses paradoxes throughout scripture. There are many passages that suggest a physical salvation message of the resurrection, others speak to spiritual salvation, and thankfully some speak of both to make it clearer.

Bodily resurrection language at His coming to this realm where eyes can see His return (as in Matthew 24:30) is throughout scripture such as Job 19:25-27. “Appearing” is used in the future tense in second advent passages mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 2 Timothy 4:8, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 9:28, 1 Peter 5:4, 1 John 3:2 and Colossians 3 also states what happens when Christ appears.

Colossians 3:1-4 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.(v.6 also has a Day of the Lord reference)

Paul explains the paradox in Colossians when he used figurative language of the metaphor “raised” in the past tense, but it describes an actual event that took place when the believer was baptized / born again. Being raised with Christ references a spiritual lifting event (the second birth mentioned by Christ to Nicodemus in John 3:3-7). The passage then moves on to the appearing (second coming) in the future tense. Appendix 2 has more information about the verb tenses of salvation.

Is the Rapture Before, During or After the Great Tribulation Period?

Why bother with the warnings from Daniel, Christ, Paul, and John if the Holy Spirit is the restrainer, and the Church is absent during the Great Tribulation period when the antichrist will be revealed? There are clear warnings not to take the mark of the beast, so this would not really be necessary to warn unbelievers only. Not to mention that there are believers who go into captivity during this period and those who are killed for not taking the mark of the beast, because these are specially mentioned and rewarded in Revelation 20:4 to enter the kingdom’s reign period.

A pretribulation rapture is only possible within the interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 if the Holy Spirit is the restrainer. If the Holy Spirit is not the restrainer mentioned, then the pretribulation rapture theory falls apart completely. We also need to remember that ultimate salvation is granted at the second advent, since we are not “completely saved” now or in the past tense. We are sealed (Ephesians 1:13-14) for the future to be spared from God’s wrath and finally granted eternal life at the second advent.

The texts are devoid of passages, suggesting that the Holy Spirit leaves the Church on earth or that He is taking the Church to Heaven during tribulation in any Scripture. In fact, we find ample evidence for the opposite. Christ will be with us always until the end of the age. Matthew 24:3 and Matthew 28:20 correlate to the second coming at the end of Daniel’s 70th week (the time of the Gentiles cannot be confused with the time clock of the promised land to be fulfilled as the everlasting kingdom being establish in the next age).

The Church (Messianic Jews and Gentiles) goes through the Great Tribulation as does Israel of blood descent. There would be no need for warnings to the 7 Churches (including us today) not to take the mark of the beast, or that we may die by the sword or go into captivity. Revelation 13:9-10 is clear that this is written for the saints because the context of Chapter 13 depicts believers on earth during the Great Tribulation Period with the Mark of the Beast being mentioned.

Now we are ready to see how the Day of the Lord relates to the rapture and the Great Tribulation Period. Paul explains the relationships in 2 Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

2 Thessalonians Summary

The Day of the Lord will not arrive until after the antichrist is revealed.

Christ’s next advent is associated with the Day of the Lord.

The rapture is not realized until Christ comes.

Summary – the antichrist must be revealed before the Day of the Lord, which means that the rapture occurs after the Great Tribulation Period begins, at some point during the Day of the Lord.

We can’t overlook another glaring problem for a pre-tribulation rapture, the mention of “the Day of the Lord.” It must be completely disassociated from the coming of Christ in verse 1 of 2 Thessalonians 2 if a pre-trib rapture is correct, yet Paul associates all three milestones in succession.

2 Thessalonians 1 states the “revealing” in verse 7 and His “coming” in verse 10. The context is clear for Chapter 2 to be based upon Chapter 1 using synonyms for the second advent that the Day of the Lord is always associated with.

Why wouldn’t Paul have made it crystal clear if there was a pre-tribulation rapture? This is because he was referencing Daniel, so there was no need to make it any clearer. He already taught the Church of Thessalonica in person. He was reminding them of his teaching based upon Daniel about the man of sin (Daniel called the “little horn” but is the same person as the antichrist where Paul called him the “man of lawlessness”).

If the Day of the Lord in verses 2-3 of 2 Thessalonians 2 is the same time period as the coming of the Lord in verse 1, then the pre-trib rapture theory falls apart completely. It seems obvious that Paul is speaking of the same day simply by reading the text alone with no preconceived idea of a pre-trib rapture. However, preconceived notions yield forced interpretation over clear wording.

The “Day of the Lord” is a well-known term. Matthew 24:29 is the same event as in Joel 2:1-2, 10-11, 30-32, and Joel 3:12-16 which defines most of the Day of the Lord language. It comes at the end of the Great Tribulation and is the time when Christ comes at the second advent presented in Matthew 24:29-30. The main point is that Christ speaks to this event occurring after the Great Tribulation and Paul repeats this same concept with the man of sin being revealed before the Day of the Lord (before the second coming).

Day of the Lord Timing

The second advent is at the end Day of the Lord timing – 2 Thessalonians 2:1 = 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3

Another passage to verify is Isaiah 24:21-23. This passage is at the end of the Day of the Lord where satan is locked in the pit. This will occur when Christ comes again in Revelation 19 then has an angel lock him into the pit afterward in Revelation 20:1-3. These passages are identical in that evil ones are locked up for a while, then punished later after their release. We see clear parallels of Isaiah 24:21-23 with Revelation 20.

Isaiah, Joel and Christ state signs of the sun, moon, and stars that occur after the Great Tribulation right before the timing of the second coming. He comes after the 6th seal in Revelation 6:12-13. The same signs of the Day of the Lord are mentioned in the 6th seal.

Paul states that the antichrist will be revealed before this Day of the Lord that includes all these heavenly signs. The Great Tribulation period is at the time of the antichrist, so Paul stated that our gathering with Christ is after the antichrist is revealed. This means that a post-tribulation rapture event should be considered as anything else is not possible in this text of 2 Thessalonians 2.

The book of Revelation has more to say about “revealing.” First, let’s look at other N.T. passages speaking to the revelation of Christ in the future (Luke 17:30).

The Final Revelation Occurs in the Future

Romans 2:5 “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Romans 8:18-19 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:7 “so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

1 Corinthians 3:13 “each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”

Philippians 3:10-21 has a future tense meaning about the second advent and resurrection throughout this extensive passage to consider.

2 Thessalonians 1:7 “and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels”

This revelation mentioned in 2 Thessalonians Chapter 1 is a widely used term that is mentioned before the Day of the Lord text in Chapter 2 of Paul’s second epistle to the Church at Thessalonica. The associated meaning of “revealed” to “gathering” to “coming” to “appearing” to “Day of the Lord” is speaking of the same second advent. With this background, we can now shift gears to his most famous rapture passage.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep [those who died], that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring [their spirit] with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first [spirits enter back into the physical realm]. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up [raptured – snatched or grabbed out of harm’s way] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Those who are alive at His coming will be raptured (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Rapture simply means to snatch (or save) from destruction coming upon the earth.  It is not associated with the feeling people have when they are in some hypnotic state.

Here is another example of snatching found in Jude 1:22-23 using the same root word as the rapture. To be snatched means saved from wrath in this context, so Paul and Jude utilized the same concept. The wicked are destroyed (taken away) and the just are saved (kept, left to be with Christ) from destruction.

Luke 17:33-37 has an opposite meaning of what adherents believe happens in a pre-tribulation rapture. This was briefly described in Chapter 6. Luke 17 explains who are taken to the vultures (the wicked) and who are left to be with Christ. The Biblical texts show that the saved (raptured) are kept with Christ to enter Heaven on earth. Matthew 13’s parable of the Wheat and Tares depicts this concept (Matthew 13:36-43). The wheat is kept while the tares are taken away (burned). The rapture event is not being “taken” to Heaven. Instead, we are kept (saved) from harm’s way.

One of our primary goals is to organize all second coming passages into a consistent theoretical framework based on common themes. They can fit if we allow the passages to work in conjunction, since some passages like Matthew 24:40-41 don’t describe all the details about who is taken and who is left on earth when Christ comes again. Luke 17:33-37 is very similar to Matthew 24:40-41, yet Luke adds the additional statement about the people who are “taken” as going to the vultures.

Luke 17:33-37 “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

The Days of Noah is also a good analogy of timing before the wrath of God is poured out again upon the earth, since both Peter and Christ use the flood to explain their point.

Matthew 24:38-39 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man”

The key phrase that stands out and demands attention here is “swept away” to mean they were taken away just like weeds in the harvest parable. The root word means to “take up” or “lift,” so again we see “taken” being ascribed to the wicked people.

Christ is more specific in Luke. “Destroyed” is used instead of taken or swept away.

Luke 17:26-27 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.”

In 2 Peter 2:5, we see Noah as preserved, kept, spared, etc., from the impending judgment of the flood. This is our example. Noah went through the flood but was spared the judgment of the flood (i.e., spared God’s wrath).

It shouldn’t escape anyone’s knowledge that believers and unbelievers will continue to live and co-exist together on earth until the second advent. The important knowledge to grasp right now is that believers will be in the “ark” with Christ during the wrath period. In the case of the final outpouring, we will be in the “clouds” according to Paul, not an ark.

All Eyes Will See Christ’s Return

Uses of related “optic” and “epiphany” root words convey physical eyes involved to see Him when He arrives. Passages such as Matthew 24:30, Luke 17:24, Luke 17:30 and Revelation 1:7 convey a physical appearance of Christ. All end-time events revolve around a physical second advent and resurrection that everyone will see. We do not want to over-spiritualize Revelation (even though it is filled with symbols and metaphors).

Advent = “appearing.” Appearing has the same meaning of royalty arriving (“Parousia” in Greek) as correlated in 1 John 2:28. Christ’s “coming” translated into English means a royal appearance. The second advent is a royal event where all eyes will see.

Considering all passages, “appearing” can be understood such as the term used after His resurrection (see Luke 24:34 and Acts 1:3). Taken out of context, some may think Revelation depicts symbolic or metaphorical appearances that mean something besides physical. Revelation 14:14 and 19:11 both have symbolic language, but they are associated to other events with clear language that are literally optical.

Now we can better see how the second advent and rapture are intimately connected with the Day of the Lord and the Great Tribulation Period. Next, we will examine more passages about the association of all these important events to verify they are consistent.


Revelation Explained Copyright © 2022 by K.J. Soze. All Rights Reserved.

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