Posts Tagged ‘1 Thessalonian4:13-18’

The Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ Part 3

The Rapture part 3


Jose de Carvalho

The New Testament does not justify an idea of two separate returns of Christ (rapture) as no such view is explicitly thought in any passage, it is an inference drawn from differences in between passages that describe Christ return from different perspectives.

This post must be read subsequent to perusing my previous two posts on the ‘rapture’ and

I Corinthians chapter 15

Some assert that these verses confirm a rapture concept of eschatology. However, this text is not a discussion on the end time events but the resurrection. Death was defeated at the empty tomb (v. 20) thus validation that believers are reassured of their own resurrection in Christ (v. 22). We must be careful of our theological agendas driving the interpretation of a context.

A secret event?

The rapture is quite clearly linked with the Lords return and not a secret event, the loud trumpet of God in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and the trumpet at which our bodies are changed into immortality in Corinthians 15:51-52 all seem to be the same trumpet, the last trumpet before the end (Matt 24:31) “at the last trumpet” this was an Old Testament way of announcing the end-time events by means of the shophar. The second coming will be heard and visible to all.

Regarding the contention that at the rapture, believers “meet the Lord in the air “(1 Thessalonians 4:17), but at the second coming, believers return with the Lord to the earth as proof that the events are distinct I offer the following:

The Second Coming is referred to repeatedly in 1 Thessalonians (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11), notice that neither in this book nor 2 Thess. does Paul mention (see also 1 Cor. 15:25) an earthly reign but an eternal reign. Paul’s terminology implies the eternal kingdom begins when Jesus returns. This is exactly what he is asserts in all his epistles without any further elaboration. Paul does not even imply that Jesus returns completely to the earth (neither does the Lord), therefore the fact that believers “meet the Lord” in the air (1 Thess. 4:17) does not prove that the events Paul is referring to are distinct from the second coming.

Finally, from the commentary in all the posts in this series it is not difficult to see that all the passages refer to a single event, the second return of Christ. I am thus compelled not to go beyond Christ’s and the apostles teaching on the matter.


The rapture and the Second coming of Christ Part 2

The rapture or the second coming

The Rapture part 2


Jose de Carvalho


The rapture and the second coming of Christ are often confused. Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a scripture verse is referring to the rapture or the second coming.This post must be read subsequent to perusing my previous post on the ‘rapture’ .

Although the Thessalonian correspondence is not a letter about eschatology, in addressing a new question in that community, Paul’s response plays a strategic part in shaping the outlook of the converts who heard it. Some believers in Thessalonica have died – “those who have fallen asleep” (v.13). The surviving believers, having heard Paul’s enthusiastic proclamation of the return of Christ, may have expected Christ’s return to be in a short while. This is not surprising as Paul appears to expect to be among the “we” (v.15, 17) that will be alive at the time of Jesus’ return. Thus the community was taken aback when death came to the lives of some before Christ returned. This advent left the community wondering whether or not the brothers and sisters had been cut off from the hope of participating in Christ’s return. Paul assured the believers that those who have died ‘in Christ’ will also be triumphant over death, just like Christ (v.14). He is able to fulfil God’s promises to those who have trusted in God and have “fallen asleep” (v.14). The living believers will be reunited with their dead brothers and sisters at the second coming of Jesus and will experience the final triumph of God together (v.14-16). Paul ends by recapitulating Matthew 24:30 ‘the final redemption at the second coming’ (v.16) and the translation (rapture) of those that are alive ‘in Christ’ and will not experience death (Matt 24:31).

This commentary without recontextualisation clearly indicates that Paul is comforting (v.18) believers of their Christian hope in ‘day of the Lord’.

Many try to relate these verses (1 Thess. 4:13-18) as well as Matthew 24:40-42 to a rapture before the second coming, as with the previous post analyses the evidence does not demand this view.

So I reiterate: it is my conviction that both the Lord and Paul teach that the eternal kingdom begins when Jesus returns without mentioning any other end-time events. There is only one resurrection and one return of Christ. Any other conclusions are a by-product of lifting scripture out of its context, or drawing more from a passage in defence of a particular view.

Next post I will exegete 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 regarding the rapture and the contention that the rapture will be secret and instant (1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-18), and the second coming will be visible to all (Matthew 24:29-30)?

In future I will deal with the contention that at the rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, believers return with the Lord to the earth as proof that the events are distinct.


The Rapture and the second coming of Christ Part 1

The Rapture part 1


Jose de Carvalho

The world renowned evangelist Harold Camping predicted that the Rapture and Judgement Day will take place on May 21 2011. Since nothing happened, it is obviously clear that he was wrong!

It may appear that it is a little late to post on this issue.  Not so though, because historically there have been many predictions on this issue that have clearly been incorrect, including Harold Camping’s previous prediction in 1990. I am certain that there will be future ones likely forthcoming from Mr camping, not to forget the ones from Nostradamus, Mayan and gnostic texts.

Firstly the Bible clearly warns us against making exact predictions or claiming to know precisely when Christ will return. Just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus told His disciples,”…it is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set…”. It surprises me beyond belief that although it is common knowledge in the Christian community that believers will not know the time of Jesus’ return, there are still some sectarian groups falling for this pseudo-religious prophecy. The audacity of Camping to get it wrong the first time then come up with a new date confounds me. Still people believe him. I have to ask what sort of person continuously believes such nonsense? Camping should be the last person that one should trust. At the risk of sounding judgemental, Mr Camping should remain in his area of expertise as an engineer and leave biblical prophecy to God where it belongs.  Having analysed the formula by which he arrived at the due date, I think he’s gone senile – not surprising considering he is 89 years old!

In the aftermath of the Camping’s advent, the issues surrounding the rapture featured more prominently in people’s minds than Judgement Day.  With this in mind I would like to add the following:

Due to the different views on the “millennium” the church is impregnated with a certain traditional predisposition for understanding the rapture as an event that takes place in a period between the current age and the end times. As a disciple of Christ and taking heed to His teachings there is no evidence of a future millennium or earthly reign – just that the second coming will mark the end of the present age and the beginning of the eternal state at which point there will be a resurrection of believers and unbelievers. Firstly the believers that are alive in Christ will be caught up to be with Christ (rapture), and then the bodies of dead believers will rise to be reunited with their spirits and enter into full enjoyment of heaven forever. Unbelievers will be raised to face the final judgement and eternal condemnation. Believers will also stand before the judgement seat of Christ only to determine the degree of their heavenly reward. At this time the new Heavens and new Earth will begin. All of the above is sequential but immediate.

Many have disagreed about the sequence of the end-time events. Some expect a secret rapture of believers (Matt. 24:40-42) before a thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth (Rev. 20).Often a seven-year tribulation period (Dan. 7:25; 9:27) is linked to this. Some theologians have the rapture before, in the middle, or after this seven year period. The order and nature of these end-time events seem ambiguous at best.

The History channel aired a documentary (17th June 2011) called ‘decoding the past’ where historians examined the myths of the ‘end times’. J. Rosenberg, the author of the ‘Last Jihad’ commented on the ‘rapture’ quoting from Matthew 24:40 regarding believers departing the earth and the narrator commented “leaving behind obvious chaos”.

My contention is that the text in context does not demand this interpretation. Matt. 24:40-41 “there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left”

24:42 “be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming”.

Many try to relate this to a secret rapture. However, the context implies blessing on some and judgment on others in the day the Lord returns. The emphasis of these verses is on being ready and the uncertainty of the time (Matt 24:39,47,49,50), as two recurrent themes in the chapter. The uncertainty of the time provides motivation for the continued readiness of each generation of believers.

Why do I hold my position: it is my conviction that both the Lord and Paul teach that the eternal kingdom begins when Jesus returns without mentioning any of the other end-time events.  Any other conclusions are a by-product of lifting scripture out of its context, or drawing more from a passage in defence of a particular view without drawing an integrative interpretation – a point that I feel comfortable to defend. To this end I will offer further commentary in future posts, specifically from the book of Thessalonians where the ‘Rapture’ features prominently.

My advice is that the focal point should be on what we know: God someday will intervene and bring to an end this present world; the most important question should be whether we ready for Christ’s return?