1st Thessalonians 4:13 To 5:11
By David J. Stewart
The next major event on God’s prophetic calendar is the Rapture of church-age believers.
The word “rapture” does not appear in the Bible, but it describes the catching away of the church-age saints at the end of the age.
There are two major passages that describe the Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 5:11 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
The Greek word translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is used in Acts 8:39 of the Spirit of God snatching away Philip after the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch.
1st Thessalonians 4:13 to 5:11
1. The Rapture is an event in which the dead in Christ will be raised (1 Thessalonians 4:14-16) and the living New Testament saints will be changed and glorified (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
2. The dead in Christ are presently with Him in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:14). The dead in Christ do not “sleep in the grave” as some false teachers claim.
3. The Rapture is the believer’s hope and comfort (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 18). This is what we are waiting for. We are not looking for the antichrist and the Great Tribulation. If the Rapture did not occur until the end of the Great Tribulation, it could not produce hope and comfort for the Christian.
4. The Rapture occurs before the Day of the Lord’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10).
a. The “Day of the Lord” is the time of Tribulation when God will judge the world for its sin and idolatry. In that “day,” God will be exalted and rebellious men will be humbled. See Isaiah 2:10-21.
b. Note the change in pronouns in this passage. In verse 3 the pronoun “they” is used, because the Day of the Lord will come upon the unsaved world. But in verses 4-5 the pronoun “ye” is used, referring to believers. That day will not overtake us.
c. The Rapture will occur as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2), but this is not how the Lord’s return in glory will occur. It will come with unmistakable signs in the heavens and will be seen by all (Matthew 24:27-31). The Rapture pertains to the church, whereas Christ’s Second Coming pertains to Israel and the world.
d. The believer is to be watching for the Lord’s return at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:6). We do not know when it will happen. It is imminent.
e. Believers are not appointed to go through the time of God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Believers have been subject to the wrath of men and devils throughout the church age, but we are not appointed to go through the wrath of God that will be poured out upon this wicked world. Compare Isaiah 2:9-21.
f. The place of protection during the days of apostasy before the Rapture is the Bible-believing church (1 Th. 5:12-14). Each believer needs to be a faithful member of a good church that is led by godly men who are sound in the New Testament faith. The leaders and the church members work together to accomplish God’s will on earth in preaching the gospel to every nation while they wait for the Lord’s return. The way to have peace in the churches is for the leaders to teach the Bible faithfully and for the members to show respect to the leaders and follow them. Church leaders should be honored and obeyed as long as they are following the Bible. Those who are unruly in the churches should be rebuked, because they hurt the Lord’s work.
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