The Rapture and the First Resurrection
Many Christians confuse the rapture with the first resurrection. They are two separate events, occurring at different times, one before the great tribulation and one directly after.
In Matthew 24: 3, Jesus’ disciples asked Him…What shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world? Jesus told them in verses twenty-nine, through thirty-one, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
The apostle Paul is teaching from Jesus’ statements in I Thessalonians 4:16,17. Paul is describing what will happen when Jesus returns.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
This is the first resurrection which occurs after the tribulation when Jesus’ returns. This is not the pre-tribulation rapture.
The pre-tribulation rapture was taught by Cyrus Scofield. He said that because the word church does not appear after Revelation Chapter Three, then John’s calling up into heaven in Chapter Four is the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. Unfortunately he overlooked the fact that candlesticks are churches in Revelation 1:20 and chapters two and three. The two witnesses in Chapter Eleven are described as “Candlesticks” in verse four. –
“These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.”
If these two witnesses are candlesticks, then they are churches. There is no other application for the word in the book of Revelation.
Smyrna and Philadelphia are the only two candlesticks/churches that receive no correction from the Lord in Revelation chapters two and three. The two candlestick/churches of Revelation Chapter Eleven, represent the spiritual conditions of Smyrna and Philadelphia. They are called up to God or raptured in verse twelve. –
“And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here.' And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them.”
John hears the same phrase when he is called up to heaven in Revelation Chapter Four, verse one. As a similitude of the bride, this merely links him to the remnant candlesticks in Chapter Eleven. In Chapter Four, John is being elevated to another level of instruction. Previously he had been receiving direct teaching from the Lord, now he would be receiving what he is to relate to the church in a completely different method, through prophetic visions. His apparent rapture in this instance, is only telling us that there is going to be a change in the manner he is to be receiving his instructions.
John is seen again in Chapter Ten being commissioned by an angel to share the Gospel. As a representative of the church, he is still working on earth and has obviously not been raptured.
Scofield also misinterpreted the tribulation as beginning after Chapter Four. However, chapters eight through eleven chronicle the warning period of the seven trumpets. This is the" beginning of sorrows" Jesus warned us about in Matthew twenty-four, verse eight. The tribulation actually begins after the two candlesticks are raptured in Chapter Eleven and when the last of the seven trumpets sounds.
So we see the Biblical pattern for a pre-tribulation rapture and the post-tribulation first resurrection when Jesus returns.
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copyright 2017 by H.D. Shively
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