Since we have just finished Paul’s discussion of the Final Return of Jesus in 1 Thessalonians, I think it is a good time to deal with the Rapture. I say this because 1 Thessalonians 4:16 is a common used verse when discussing the rapture. Below are Dr. Dan Owen’s comments on this section.
Some people have come up with an erroneous theory called “the Rapture” based on misreading a couple of different New Testament passages. First, they have misread 1 Thessalonians 4:16, which says, “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” They have read this to mean that the Christian dead will rise first, before the non-Christian dead. They believe that the dead Christians will rise and the living Christians will join them to meet the Lord in the air. This is the “Rapture”. If one examines 1 Thessalonians 4 a bit more carefully, one gets a completely different picture. The non-Christian dead are not even discussed in that passage except to say that they “have no hope.” When it says “the dead in Christ shall rise first,” it means “first, before all the Christians are caught up in the clouds,” (1 Thess. 4:16-17). The unsaved dead are not discussed in that passage as they are in many others.
Those who support the “Rapture” theory believe that some will be literally be taken from their cars while they are driving them, while others will be left behind (Matthew 24:40-41). A fairer reading of the Matthew text would indicate that as the angels descend to take vengeance on those who reject Christ, those who follow Jesus will be taken to be with him, while those who do not follow Jesus will be left to endure the vengeance of God and his angels.
The “Rapture” advocates also misread Revelation 20:4-6. In this passage, it talks about the “first resurrection.” They see this as referring to the Rapture. In fact, a careful reading of the passage shows that it refers to the special treatment of the Christian martyrs, who “live and reign with Christ”, and has nothing to do with a “Rapture”. So, the Rapture theory says that there will be a resurrection of the Christian dead, then Christ will take the Christians to heaven. Then will follow the millennium. Then there will be the resurrection of the rest of the dead, and the final judgment.
Hope this helps! If you have any questions about the rapture feel free to ask. Also feel free to add your own thoughts, criticisms, or encouragements.
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