Caught Up - The Pre-Trib Rapture
by Wayne Smith
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We can recall the words of the beloved song:
In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever
Till my RAPTURED soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever
Till my RAPTURED soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
It was the blind Fanny Crosby who said:
Perfect submission, perfect delight
Visions of RAPTURE now burst on my sight.
Definition: When the matter of the rapture is raised people usually say that there is no such word in the Bible. I usually ask: Is the word "Bible" in the "Bible"? We also believe in the "Trinity" though the word "Trinity" does not appear in the scriptures!
"Rapture" comes from the words "caught up" in 1 Thes 4:17 and 2 Cor 12:1-6. In the Greek the word is "harpazo" - "to seize upon by force", or "to snatch up." Please note that the Latin translators used the word "rapturo" or "rapere". So the Old Latin Bibles still had the word "rapturo" in them.
Rev 20 tells us that we will reign with Christ for 1,000 years. Then it mentions the Great White Throne Judgement. Some believe that this is the final judgement for all. But how can we reign with Christ for 1,000 years, then be judged? Shouldn't we be judged before the Great White Throne Judgment (1 Pet 4:17)?
I believe that the following scriptures refer to the rapture: 1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:51-58.
Let me therefore present Scriptures that I believe refer to Christ's coming FOR His saints even before the Tribulation period: Luke 21:36; Rev. 3:10; Rev. 2:22; 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 5:8-10; 1 Cor. 15:52-56; Rev. 19:11-14.
The 2nd Coming
Now I wish to list scriptures that I believe refer to Christ's coming WITH His saints: Zech 14:4-5; 1 Thes 3:13; Jude 14; Col. 3:4. Therefore, I believe that Rev 1:7 refers to His 2nd coming as well.
The main purpose of the rapture is TO TAKE THE CHURCH FROM EARTH TO HEAVEN. Another purpose of the rapture is to give us our glorious resurrection bodies (Phil 3:20-21; 1 Cor 15:50-52; Rom 8:29; 1 John 3:1-3; Luke 24:38-42; Luke 22:18). Christ will hand out the rewards and give out crowns. Believers will also attend the Marriage of the Lamb, which seem to occur concurrently with the Great Tribulation.
The purpose of the 2nd coming is to intervene on Israel's behalf at the Battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:16; 19:11-21). Here Christ will defeat the Antichrist with the Spirit of His mouth and cast him and the false prophet alive into the lake of fire. The judgement of the nations follows. Then comes the Millennium (or thousand-year reign mentioned in Rev 20:2). After the Millennium, Christ will bring the New Jerusalem from heaven to the new beautiful earth where he will set up His capital for eternity (Rev 21-22).
The "Elect" in Matt 24 & Mark 13
I believe that the "elect" mentioned in Matt 24:22, 24 and Mark 13:20, 22 refers to:
- The 144,000 sealed Jews (Rev. 7)
- The 2 Witnesses in Rev 11:1-13 (Elijah [Mal 4:5,6] & possibly Moses [Matt 17:3]). See also Zech 4:3, 11, 14.
- The tribulation saints, i.e. the great multitude in Rev 7:9,13-14 who represent people saved during the 7-year Tribulation of Rev 6-19.
I do believe that the Church is also referred to as "elect" in many other scriptures. However, concerning the aforementioned scriptures in Matt 24 and Mark 13, I believe that the specific reference to "elect" is for the 3 items that were listed.
I believe that there is evidence in scripture that the judgement is not one occasion: 1 Pet 4:17; Rev. 20:5. Many Bible scholars present the different judgements as follows:
- Believers for "sin" (inborn & committed) - At the Cross - Rom 10:14; 8:1-2; John 5:24.
- Believers for works - at the Judgement Seat of Christ (The Greek word for "judgement" here is "Bema" which means that a tribunal is in place handing out various rewards according to our faithfulness e.g. gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw.) - 2 Cor 5:10; Rom 14:10; 1 Cor 3:11-15. Here I believe the rewards will be handed out and the crowns given out (Rev 4:1,4), e.g.
- Incorruptible Crown for victors (1 Cor 9:25);
- Crown of Glory for elders (1 Pet 5:2-4);
- Crown of Righteousness for those who love His appearing (2 Tim 4:8);
- Crown of Rejoicing for soul winners (1 Thes 2:19-20);
- Crown of Life for martyrs like Stephen (Rev 2:10; Acts 7:54-60).
- Israel (The Jews) - during the Great Tribulation (Matt 24:20-22; Jer 30:4-7; Dan 12:1; Ezek 22:19-22).
- Judgement of the Nations (or the Sheep & Goat Judgement) - Matt 25:31-46; Joel 3:1-2; Ps 50:1-6). This is where the nations (peoples) are judged based on how they treat Israel during the Great Tribulation.
- Wicked Dead - at the Great White Throne (the Greek word for judgement here is "Krino" or "Krima" which means a payment for crimes committed) - Rev 20:5; Rev 20:11-14; Matt 7:21-23; Luke 12: 45-48.
As there are scriptures showing that there are different judgements, so are there scriptures showing different resurrections, or a series of resurrections: Dan 12:2; John 5:25-29; Rev 20:5.
My understanding is that when the scriptures mention "first resurrection" and "second resurrection" the terms are qualitative, not quantitative. In other words, it is not like counting the number of resurrections. It is more saying what quality or type of resurrection. It is like saying the "first resurrection" is the resurrection of life (for the saints), whilst the "second resurrection" is the resurrection of damnation (for the sinners). And so, according to the scholars, the "first resurrection" is for believers and takes place in installments or in series:
- Christ as the pattern or firstfruits (1 Cor 15:20, 23; Matt 28:1-7; Mark 16: 1-11; Luke 24: 1-12; John 20:1-18; Ps 16:10; Acts 2:25-28; 13:35).
- At Christs resurrection, selected Old Testament saints were resurrected and seen in Jerusalem. This was done as proof of Christs own resurrection (Matt 27:50-53).
- The resurrection of the DEAD IN CHRIST and translation, or rapture, ofthe saints still alive (1 Cor 15:23, 50-53; 1 Thes 4:13-18). This resurrection refers to all those who are IN CHRIST i.e. from the Day of Pentecost until the last day, or Rapture (John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 5:23-32).
- The Two witnesses killed by the Antichrist in the middle of the Tribulation will be resurrected 3 days later. Then, they were raptured (Rev 11:3-12).
- The believers (or Tribulation saints) matyred in the Great Tribulation will be resurrected according to Rev 20:4-6. This resurrection will include saints who die in the period between the Rapture and the 2nd Coming. These martyrs will be raised in time to reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev 7:14).
- The Old Testament saints were liberated from a place scholars call "Abraham" Bosom in Sheol (Hades) and taken to the Third Heaven (Luke 17: 23; 2 Cor 12; 2; Eph 4:8-10; 1 Pet 3:19). These saints are raised after the Great Tribulation but before the Millennial Kingdom (Isa 26:19; Ezek 37:13-14; Dan 12:1-2, 13; Job 19:25-27; Ps 50:1-6; Acts 24:15).
The "second resurrection"
This resurrection is exclusively for unbelievers (Rev 20:12). The "second death" is the final death or incarceration into the lake of fire for all that have rejected God's great salvation (Rev 21:8; Heb 2:3). The Great White Throne Judgement scene did not mention believers or saints (Rev 20:11-15). I believe that the Book of Life was there for verification that the wicked dead not accept salvation during their lifetime. Note that saints are referred as the quick whilst sinners are referred to as the dead (2Tim 4:1-4). The apostles also believed in a resurrection FROM the dead, not just a resurrection of the dead (Acts 4:2).
Please note that this was a mystery to the prophets to whom God revealed nothing of the Church or the rapture (Col. 1:26). After its announcement (Matt 16:18) and commencement (Acts 2:1), it was Paul who got the revelation or explanation of the mystery of the Church (Gal 1:12; Eph 3:9; 1 Cor 2:7; Rom 16:25, 26). Therefore, the prophets desired to look into the matter of the Church, where Jews and Gentiles become one new creature ( 1 Pet 1:10-12; 1 Cor 12:13; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 2:14-16; Col. 1:18-22). Since we are on the topic of "revelation", I believe there is a blessing for every believer who reads the Book of Revelation (Rev 1:3; 22:7). I believe St Paul was quoting from Isa. 64:4 when writing in 1 Cor 2:9, but in verse 10 he says:
"BUT GOD HAS REVEALED THEM UNTO US BY HIS SPIRIT" (KJV)
Here I would like to present 16 "infallible proofs" for a pre-tribulation rapture:
- Rev 19:11-21 - does not mention a resurrection.
- Zech 14:1-15 - does not mention a resurrection.
- A door open in heaven (Rev 4:1)
- "Come up here" (Rev 4:1)
- The 24 elders already had their crowns (Rev 4:4-10; 2 Tim 4:8; 1 Pet 5:4; Luke 14:14). It is believed that these elders represent the Church (rewarded saints). The saints are already in heaven with Jesus (Zech 14:5; Rev 19:14; 1 Thes 3:13; Jude 14; Col. 3:4; Rev 19:8).
- We are kept from the hour of testing that is to come upon THE ENTIRE WORLD, TO TRY THEM THAT DWELL UPON THE EARTH (Rev 3:10; Luke 21:36; Rev 2:22).
- Angels do not resurrect people when they gather them for judgement (Matt 24:29-31; Matt 22:30).
- Both the wicked and the righteous cannot be taken first (1 Thes 4:13-18; Matt 13:30,49). Please note that at the rapture the righteous are taken from the wicked, and at the 2nd coming the wicked are taken from the just (who got saved during the tribulation). Please also note that the righteous are judged first (1 Pet 4:17).
- Jesus returns from the wedding (processional) or the Marriage of the Lamb (Luke 12:36; Rev 19:7-11).
- We shall ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT SHALL COME TO PASS (Luke 21:36)
- Jesus will receive us to Himself, not us to receive Him (John 14:2-3). Please note here that He is taking us to His Father's house (which is Heaven) that where He is there we might be also (during the great tribulation).
- THE ONE WHO RESTRAINS EVIL MUST BE FIRST TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY BEFORE THE ANTICHRIST CAN BE REVEALED (2 Thes 2:6-7).
- The separation of the sheep & goats (Matt 25:31-46). If the rapture occurred at the 2nd coming, there would be no need to have a separation.
- Who will populate the earth during the millennial reign of Christ? And whom will Satan deceive after the Millennium (Rev 20:8; Matt 22:30; Gen 16:10; Gen 22:17-22; Isa 65:17-25; Zech 14:16-17).
- The Body of Christ (as a Lamb slain) - Rev 5:6; Luke 17:37: Matt 24:28. It is said that the last 2 references are not related to the rapture. But I believe that they are and the fact that the Greek word used for "taken" in these 2 verses is "paralambano" which means to "take or receive, in a gracious or impartial or familiar manner". So these verses I believe refer to the rapture. This is unlike Matt 24:39 where the word "took" means "taken away to judgement for crime". In John 14:1-3 Christ also indicated that He would "receive" us unto Himself in that same manner. Then I considered Isa 40:31; 1 Cor 12:12, 18, 20, 24, 27.
A Matter of Interpretation
Please check the background to the following scriptures to see what the Apostle Paul was addressing: 2 Tim 2:17-19; 2 Thes 2:1-4.
These are some of the differences between the Rapture and the 2nd Coming:
The 2nd Coming|
Message of comfort for believers (1Thes 4:18; Tit 2:13; 1 John 3:3)||
Message of judgement & warning for unbelievers (Joel 3:12-16; Mal 4:5; Rev 19:11- 21)|
Christ comes FOR His CHURCH (John 14:1-3; 1 Thes 4:14-17)||
Christ comes WITH His CHURCH (Zech 14:5; Jude 14; Rev 19:7,14; 1 Thes 3;13; Col 3:4)|
Caught up with Him in the air (1 Thes 4:13-18)||
Jesus' feet touch the earth (Zech 14:4; Rev 19:11-21)|
Only His own see Him (1 Cor 15:52; 1 John 3:2)||
Every eye shall see Him (Rev 1:7; 19:11-16; Matt 24:30)|
Earth not judged ||
Earth judged (Rev 20:4-5)|
Great Tribulation begins (2 Thes 1:6-10)||
Millennial Kingdom begins (Rev 20:1-7)|
Saved are delivered from wrath (1 Thes 1:10; 5:9; Rev 3:10)||
Unsaved experience the wrath of God (Rev 6:12-17)|
Focus: Lord and Church (1 Thes 4:13-18)||
Focus: Israel & kingdom (Matt 24; Acts 1:6)|
No reference to Satan (1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:51-54)||
Satan bound for 1000 years (Rev 20: 2-3)|
A Mystery, not in Old Testament (Col. 1:26; 1 Cor 15:51; Eph 3:9; 1 Cor 2:7)||
Predicted often in OT (Isa 9:6-7; Zech 14:1-9; 12;10; Dan 12:1-3)|
Christians taken, unbelievers left behind (1 Thes 4:13-18)||
Wicked taken first, righteous (Tribulation saints) left (Matt 13:28-30)|
World is deceived (2 Thes 2:3-12)||
Satan is bound (Rev 20:1-2) |
Jesus does not return on a white horse (1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:51-54)||
Jesus returns on a white horse (Rev 19:11)|
Pre-tribulation (Luke 21:36; Rev 3:10)||
Post-tribulation (Dan 9:24-27; Matt 24:29-30; 2 Thes 2:3-8; Luke 21:27-28)|
Judgement Seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10)||
Sheep/Goat judgement, Antichrist/world judged (Matt 25:31-46; Rev 19, 20)|
Persecution & Tribulation in General
I believe saints will go through tribulation in general (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rom 5:3; 2 Tim 3:12; 2 Tim 2:12-13) but not the Tribulation period of Rev 6-18. The Tribulation is also referred to as Daniel's 70th Week (Dan 9:20-27). Many commentators feel that this 70th Week is of the dispensation of law so that the dispensation of Grace (which involves the Church) has to be removed for its fulfillment. I believe the Church will escape the Great Tribulation, but that Israel or the Jews will pass through it (Deut 4:30; Jere 30:7; 1 Cor 10:32). And so I ask that we remember each other in prayer as we GET RAPTURE READY!
God bless you, as you also read 2 Tim 4:1-4.
Aids to "Revelation" by Watchman Nee
Apocalypse by Grant Jeffrey (chapter on The Rapture)
Bible Prophecy: The Ultimate Deception (chapter 5 - The Rapture) by Frank Caw
Strong's Hebrew-Greek Lexicon
The Nature of the Mystery by Bob Hill & Tim McHahon
Corner Stone Church
Prophecy Bible Study by Mike Cady
The Rapture by Ron Graff
Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible
Numerous web pages! Including RaptureReady.com by Todd Strandberg
The Body of Christ
(This article was reprinted with permission)
Your brother in Christ,
© 15-Jun-2001 - Updated 10-17-20