Friday, February 2, 2018

1st Thessalonians, part 2, the Rapture verses

We looked at chapter 1 of 1st Thessalonians last week. In the chapters following Paul covers the believer’s walk and sanctification and hope. Please read and carefully study this letter. We’ll look at just a couple of other things here. Read chapter 4: 13 – 18:

 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

These are the “rapture” verses.
Opponents like to say that the word rapture doesn’t occur in the Bible. So? That doesn’t change the meaning of this passage one bit. Actually the Greek word in verse 17 for “caught up” is “harpazo” which means “to seize upon by force” or “snatch away.” In Latin “harpazo” is “raptus.” See where I’m going? “Raptus” became the English word “rapture.”

Read the verses again. First of all there is comfort here – we do not need to grieve for our deceased Christian loved ones. They “sleep in death.” This reminds me of the phrase in the 23rd Psalm about the “shadow of death.” For us Christians, death is just like a shadow; it may cover us, but it can’t hurt us. We have hope. 

Our loved ones “sleep in death,” so, no, they are not looking down on us; no, they cannot hear our prayers; no, they are not leaving signs for us such as flickering light bulbs. We are missing them, but they are not missing us. We will all meet again. When? See verse 14: when Jesus returns He will have with Him those “who have fallen asleep in him.” They will rise first at the voice of the archangel and the trumpet sound from God.

Then what? This is the coolest part ever and I sometimes get a shot of adrenaline when I think hard about how wonderful it will be to “be caught up together with them in the clouds.” If you are not encouraged by these words, why not?

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