Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One Rapture at One Trumpet

The topic of the return of Jesus Christ is a hot one in Christianity, particularly in the last two centuries since the popularization of the "pre-tribulation rapture" theory. I don't believe long discussion of this is necessary, but I want to share three short passages which, well, couldn't be any clearer on the matter:

1 Corinthians 15:51-54
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will 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 will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory."

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say 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. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the sound of the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 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.

Matthew 24:29-31
But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet sound and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

Points to note:

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17

1) The dead in Christ will rise before the living to be gathered to Him together
2) The Lord Himself will descend with a trumpet sound

1 Corinthians 15:51-54
1) The dead will rise imperishable and the living will be changed
2) This will happen at the last trumpet sounding

Matthew 24:29-31
1) After the tribulation Christ will descend visibly
2) With a great trumpet sound His elect will be gathered

Summary and Conclusion:

The pre-tribulation rapture theory claims the 1st Thessalonians passage and the 1st Corinthians passage for the pre-tribulation but that the Matthew passage refers to the "glorious coming" which follows after tribulation. However, the 1st Corinthians passage states clearly that its trumpet is "the last trumpet." If the trumpet in the Matthew passage follows afterwards, then the trumpet in the 1st Corinthians passage cannot truly be the "last" trumpet.

But if the same trumpet is being spoken of in all three passages (and there is no sound exegetical reason to believe otherwise*), then the coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the rapture (catching up) of the living are all things that happen after the tribulation**.

The Question:

In this brief study I have not dealt with any of the implications of either theory—the pre-tribulation belief or the historic post-tribulation belief. Yet now it is a good time to bring out a question—

Which belief matches the themes of the gospel better?


(*) In an effort to invalidate the "lastness" of the "last trumpet" in 1st Corinthians 15:52, pre-tribulation rapture apologists claim that the "last" refers to the Feast of Trumpets in the festivals of the old covenant. There is no contextual or Biblical basis for making this assumption, however, and the New Testament does not clearly suggest any eschataological meaning for the Feast of Trumpets. The only examples of multiple trumpets in the New Testament are the seven trumpets of Revelation 8-11, but pre-tribulation rapture apologists want to especially avoid allowing the possibility that those are any of the same trumpets as in 1st Corinthians and 1st Thessalonians. If the student of Scripture wants to explore the meaning, shadow and type of "trumpets", they should begin at the silver trumpets in Numbers 10:1-10, in which one of the purposes of sounding the trumpet was to gather God's people together—which also parallels the purpose of each of the trumpets in the Matthew, Corinthians and Thessalonians passages.

(**) More can also be said here: How many "resurrections" are there? Revelation 20 names only two resurrections. The First is unto eternal life, and the Second is unto eternal damnation. The 1st Thessalonians and 1st Corinthians passages clearly refer to the resurrection of the dead to eternal life. Revelation also speaks in several places about martyrs among God's people during the time of the great tribulation. However, the pre-tribulation rapture theory places the resurrection of the dead in Christ before the tribulation. The question then arises, "When are the martyrs of the tribulation resurrected?" Are they not included in the First Resurrection? And if these righteous ones have another resurrection unto eternal life, shouldn't the Second Resurrection (unto damnation) rather be named the Third Resurrection?


See also: "Saved For This Hour"


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