Why the Rapture isn’t Biblical… And Why it Matters

I grew up in church culture. Most of what I recall from those early childhood and teenage years bring memories of good things.  People genuinely taught me that loving Jesus matters more than anything else in the world.  The world, after all, is corrupt and the place we truly long for is far, far away – heaven.  So we are to love Jesus and hate the world.

Now, this is not hatred toward the people on earth.  I did not grow up in a church culture that taught that we ought to tell outsiders how much they suck, but that this “world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.”

World and physicality = bad.
Jesus and spiritual bliss in a distant heaven = goal of the game.

This distinction came with a subset of beliefs about the destiny of God’s world.  Eventually this planet would be destroyed and we Christians would “fly away” to heaven at the rapture of the church.  Certain Christians understood the timing of the rapture as it corresponds to the book of Revelation differently than others, but no one ever denied the imminent return of Jesus to evacuate the church out of earth.

What I’ve come to realize is that the church of my youth probably had the rapture all wrong.  You see, the Bible flows from Creation (Gen 1-2) to Renewed Creation (Rev 21-22).  This is the narrative of Scripture.  Nothing in the text (if read in its proper context) alludes to the actual complete destruction of the planet.  This world’s worth to the Creator runs deep and because of this, the world as a whole ought to be intrinsically valuable to us.

Physical/earthly realities such as social injustice, violence, hunger, preventable sickness, and the destruction of nature are invitations to the church of Jesus to get our hands dirty and proclaim that this world matters (even in its broken state)! Christ will complete creation upon his return, uniting heaven and earth for the life of the age to come!

The famous “rapture” passage is found in 1 Thessalonians 4.15-17 and reads:

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.  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.  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.

This passage, when placed in the larger context of the chapter, is answering questions that Christians in Thessalonica had concerning death.  What has happened to our loved ones who have died before the return of Christ to earth? What is theirs and our ultimate destiny? Paul’s answer: bodily resurrection at the return of Christ to earth!  Not an escape into the sky [see appendix below!].

In this passage, Paul borrows two specific images from the Old Testament that would have been familiar to Jewish converts and Gentiles who were familiarizing themselves with the Hebrew tradition.  The first of these that Paul employs in the text has to do with Moses who comes down from Mount Sinai with the Law with the great blast of the trumpet.

The second image is taken from Daniel chapter 7 where the “one like the son of man”  (or “human being” or “The Human One”) and the community he represents is vindicated over the enemies of the people of God.  Clouds here symbolize the power and authoritative judgement of God about the rescue of his people. This idea now seems to be applied to Christians who are facing various forms of persecution.

Finally, there is a third image in the text that comes from outside of the canonical context.  This is the image of an emperor who visits a city.  The people of that region would have gone out to meet him to usher him into their home in a royal procession out in the open air.  This, Paul seems to apply to the church who will usher in their King into the new creation.***

Rapture, as it is popularly understood, is nowhere to be found in this “rapture” passage.  Christ will return to resurrect, to purge, to heal, and to establish the eternal kingdom of God on this earth. Heaven and earth will unite like a bride and husband – for all eternity. That’s it.

The Bible teaches that when Christ comes back, it will be Good News!  “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’” (Revelation 21.4).  Surely we cannot erase judgment from the picture, but the hope is that those in Christ will be raised to eternal life and everything that is wrong with this world will be made right.

This world renewed is going to be our home for eternity, and we have the opportunity to reflect that future in our present.  Rapture invites us to escape this world: the last thing that Jesus would have ever taught! “On earth as in heaven” is what he said, not “in heaven away from the earth!” Our world’s future is hopeful. Let’s tell that story and not the escapist narratives that many of us grew up with.

[Kurt Note: This article is an adaptation from various pieces that are part of my "rapture" category.]

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APPENDIX

Word Study, 1 Thessalonians 4.17 (Warning: a bit more technical!)

Below is a Word Study that I did based on 1 Thessalonians 4.17.  What is interesting to me is how it reinforced my belief that the “rapture” as it is popularly understood (Jesus secretly returns to extract believers from earth to heaven for eternity) is completely unwarranted.  If you choose to follow the logic below, you will know why :-)

1. Word Identification

The word underlying “air” in 1 Thessalonians 4.17 is the Greek word “ἀήρ” (Strong’s: #109).

2. Frequency and Distribution

  • Roman Historical Narrative  (1x,  Acts – 1)
  • Pauline Letter  (4x, 1Cor – 2, Eph – 1, 1Thes – 1)
  • Apocalyptic (2x, Rev – 2)

The usage of ἀήρ in the New Testament by verse:

Acts 22:23

…εἰς τὸν ἀέρ
…dust into the air,

1Co 9:26

…ὡς οὐκ ἀέρα δέρων·
…one that beateth the air:

1Co 14:9

…γὰρ εἰς ἀέρα λαλοῦντες.
…shall speak into the air.

Eph 2:2

…ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος τοῦ πνεύματος…
…power of the air, the spirit that…

1Th 4:17

…κυρίου εἰς ἀέρα καὶ οὕτως…
…the Lord in the air: and so shall…

Rev 9:2

…καὶ ὁ ἀὴρ ἐκ τοῦ…
…sun and the air were darkened by…

Rev 16:17

…ἐπὶ τὸν ἀέρα καὶ ἐξῆλθεν…
…vial into the air; and there came…

3. Meaning

1) the air, particularly the lower and denser air as distinguished from the higher and rarer air 2)the atmospheric region[1]

After surveying the above seven occurrences, it is clear that the definition is simply the area of unseen space in our atmosphere.  Below, the meaning in its various usages are explained:

ήρ (aēr109), ἀέρος, (ἄημιἄω, [cf. ἄνεμοςinit.]), the air (particularly the lower and denser, as distinguished from the higher and rarer ὁ αἰθήρcf. Hom. Il. 14, 288), the atmospheric region: Acts xxii. 23; 1 Th. iv. 17; Rev. ix. 2, xvi. 17; ὁ ἄρχων τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος in Eph. ii. 2 signifies “the ruler of the powers (spirits, see ἐξουσία 4 c. ββ.) in the air”, i. e. the devil, the prince of the demons that according to Jewish opinion fill the realm of air (cf. Mey. ad loc.; [B. D. Am. ed. s. v. Air; Stuart in Bib. Sacr. for 1843, p. 139 sq.]). Sometimes indeed, ἀήρ denotes a hazy, obscure atmosphere (Hom. Il. 17, 644; 3, 381; 5, 356, etc.; Polyb. 18, 3, 7), but is nowhere quite equiv. to σκότος,— the sense which many injudiciously assign it in Eph. 1. c. ἀέρα δέρειν (cf. verberat ictibus auras, Verg. Aen. 5, 377, of pugilists who miss their aim) i. e. to contend in vain, 1 Co. ix. 26; εἰς ἀέρα λαλεῖν (verba ventis profundere, Lucr. 4, 929 (932)) “to speak into the air” i. e. without effect, used of those who speak what is not understood by the hearers, 1 Co. xiv. 9.*[2]

Although ἀήρ is not a word that is frequent in the New Testament, it is interesting to note that there is only one other word that is translated into English as “air.” The Greek οὐρανός has a different meaning when used as “air” than ἀήρ.  Rather than referring to the “lower and denser air as distinguished from the higher and rarer air,” it means:

1. the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it

  1. a. the universe, the world
  2. b. the aerial heavens or sky, the region where the clouds and the tempests gather, and where thunder and lightning are produced
  3. c. the sidereal or starry heavens

2. the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings[3]

It seems that the difference between these two words will prove to be significant.  The word in the 1 Thessalonians text indicates the “air” of the “lower” region as opposed to the “heavens” as οὐρανός can also be translated (heavens – 24x, heavenly – 1, heaven – 218).  In other words, Paul had an option to use either of the words to talk about the “air” but he chose to use the word that refers mostly to the lower atmospheric region.

4. Meaning in Context

In the context of 1 Thessalonians 4.17, Paul is answering questions regarding the blessed Christian hope.  What happens to Christ-followers who die before the return of the Messiah?  Are they gone forever?  And what about those of us who are waiting for this day?  What are we to look forward to?  In answer to these kinds of questions Paul describes the coming of Jesus as a moment of resurrection.  Because Jesus died and rose again, his followers will someday be like him.  They will have bodies that are restored to the image of Christ who is the image of God.

Paul in this passage uses mixed metaphors to communicating the reality of the final resurrection.  He employs imagery from the Old Testament as well as from Roman royalty.  Christ will appear in such a way that it will be like Moses when he descended down from the Mountain of Sinai.  He will come with the “clouds” meaning that he will come with the power / authority of heaven like the “son of Man” in Daniel 7.  When this happens all followers of Jesus will be gathered around their King and will usher him into the new heavens and new earth.

Unfortunately, the present passage of Scripture has been interpreted in several different ways; mostly indicating that the return of Christ will be a rapturous moment when God will snatch believers away from this evil world to meet him in the “air” (up in heaven) for eternity.  There are several problems with this approach (too numerous to look at for this word study).  The current word study exposes one of the fallacies in this interpretive scheme.

Had the Apostle wanted to communicate that Christ coming downward to take us upward was the goal of the 2nd coming, he could have chosen to use a word like οὐρανός.  This word, which is interpreted as “air” on some occasions (as indicated above), would have given the impression that going to meet Christ in the “air” was a upward heavenly route.  However, what this word study has discovered is that the word Paul chose to use was one that indicates the lower part of the atmosphere.  Paul had a grammatical choice to make, and clearly he did not want to misguide his first century audience by making them think that being “with the Lord forever” actually meant going to heaven, away from the creation project.  So, in order to keep his metaphorical devices in place without giving the wrong impression, he chose to use ἀήρ to indicate that he was not talking about escaping this world; but rather being part of its redemptive process.  If the alternative word had been selected, Paul would have given us the opportunity to affirm cosmological dualism.

5. Verification

There is no dispute of how ἀήρ is to be translated from Greek into English among the translations.  In every version that was checked (ESV, KJV, NIV, and TNIV) this word is translated as “air.”

After consulting the “Easton Bible Dictionary” we find that this word study’s findings about the meaning of the word ἀήρ is consistent and verified.  It states: “The atmosphere, as opposed to the higher regions of the sky (1Th_4:17; Rev_9:2; Rev_16:17).”[4] This is also confirmed by the UBS Greek Dictionary: “air; ethereal region above the earth, space.”[5]


FOOTNOTES

***N. T. Wright, “Farewell to Rapture,” Biblical Review (August 2001). http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Farewell_Rapture.htm (accessed October, 2009).

[1]http://www.biblestudytools.com/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=109&version=nas

[2] http://www.greekbiblestudy.org/gnt/greekWordStudy.do?id=100095&greek=false

[3] http://www.biblestudytools.com/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=3772&version=nas

[4] See: Easton Bible Dictionary. Available Online at: http://refbible.com/a/air.htm

[5] The Greek New Testament With Greek-English Dictionary by B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)

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  • Orton1227

    New Heavens and Earth was a common phrase for a turn of an age. Peter uses it to show a new age (from pre-flood, to post-flood). It simply meant “a change in the order of things between God and man”
    The temple was called the place where heaven and earth met, and I think that provides further proof of that definition.

    So it’s a change in how God relates to man, how he tabernacles with man. When the New Covenant was fully established (and the Old fully judged and removed after the temple was destroyed per Hebrews 9:8-9), there was a new order, an order where God fully dwelt in the hearts of men. In the first age the Bible speaks of, God walked alongside of man in the garden, then in the temple, and now in us (the spiritual temple, 1 Cor 3:16). The NHNE is a new existence in which our spiritualness is fully realized.

    We’re not talking about end of time perfect earth singing Kum-Ba-yah with the animals. We’re talking totally restored relationships with our Creator. And as I interpret Scripture either (a) we have it now, or (b) this is the age marked by that reality. Either way, I think Scripture puts forth that the New Heavens and New Earth is here now since it’s consummation is tied to the temple’s and Jerusalem’s destruction (in Daniel, the gospels, and Hebrews).

    • JA Books

      You failed to show where “NHNE was a common phrase for a turn of an age.” Scripture speaks of literal new heavens and a new earth because this earth and the heavens as known will burn up and melt with fervent heat, and pass away with a great noise (2 Pe. 3:10, 12), and both the earth and heaven will flee from the face of Jehovah (Rev. 20:11), literally forever, because there will be no (abiding) place found for them again. Is “great noise” a metaphor also? Why would God re-create a new age on a planet under perpetual judgment? Have you forgotten that the belly of the earth is home to hell? Would you desire to live on an eternally blazing planet fleeing from God’s face?
      Let’s be careful with Scripture. Peter would be first to say that ‘no word of Scripture is of any private interpretation’ especially when he is merely repeating what Isaiah 65:17 reports that God said, “…behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind.”
      Yes, there is a snatching away or reaping of the earth referred to as the rapture (Mt. 13:24-30). Let’s not become mired in intellectual exercises by hashing and rehashing those things we should be rooted and grounded in already. For who among us is wise, let him be a fool for Him: for Jehovah has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise that none may glory in his presence.
      This would be a great platform for edifying the brethren and not for debate. Praise the Lord.

      • Orton1227

        Sorry. Wasn’t trying to cite sources, just the idea for those who read to chew. But I think the first place I read the definition was in Max King’s “The Cross and the Parousua”. But I’ve seen Peter Leithart talk about it as well. NT Wright has briefly touched on it. And all the way back to early writers like the non-canonical letters of James. There are a number of historical sources. Go research and have fun. It’s so much fun to uncover this stuff.

        I think the hardest thing for us to realize is that the bible isn’t as literal as we think. The reason we read it so literally is because of our love for the scientific method in our culture. It’s pushed out literary devices like imagery and metaphor.

        But most ancient cultures are highly (HIGHLY) literary device lovin’ fools. There’s a good reason for this – it adds depth to flat concepts. We know this not only from the bible but every ancient literary work. High metaphor, high allegory, high imagery.

        The late 70s and 80s really messed up our eschatology. Words and phrases became idealistic concepts, like NHNE.

        There’s a lot to uncover if you’re willing. I really recommend Max King’s book. It’s well studied and written.

    • johnnybegoode65

      So when Pter talks about the elements burning up, he is saying that metaphorically. Wow. That takes a lot of hermeneutical gymnastics.

      • Orton1227

        That depends on your interpretation of “elements”.

  • http://mymorningmeditations.com/ James

    Thanks for the refreshing commentary. I agree with your opinion but a lot of people (I’m sure you knew this before writing the article) are going to be at least unhappy if not downright angry with you. Expect threats.

  • Andrea Graham

    This universe is dying because of the fall corrupting its physical laws. The new one, be it literal or figurative, will have been put through an upgrade, software style, that will have corrected the imbalances that give us death.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

    If “heaven” and God are real things, God can handle radically transforming the cosmos… this world… in order to be sustainable for life. This is part of the hope of new creation: that God will purge evil and death from existence – on every level.

    • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.hawkins.7509 Christopher Hawkins

      Maybe what we are finding out in astrophysics and such, that the universe is constantly expanding means not only that God has never stopped creating, but that he is also constantly “perfecting” the universe. Just a thought.

  • Kevin S.

    This is a valid point. He says he’ll never leave nor forsake us. When the antichrist is revealed, what’s to stop a believer from casting Satan out of him? One person in Christ is the majority. Just something to think about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.hawkins.7509 Christopher Hawkins

    Excellent article! After getting tired of repetitive “devotionals”, my New Year’s resolution was to just read a chapter of the Bible a day. I wanted to add, Kurt, that when I read I Thess. not too long ago, my impression of that passage was similar to yours. In fact, I remember thinking, “I bet this is what people get confused over and call the Rapture,” (with no disrespect to those who disagree). My Grandfather was a Presbyterian lay preacher and I don’t remember hearing anything about the “rapture” until I went to a private Christian school in junior high. I enjoyed the article, and the depth with which it was presented.

  • Andrew Dowling

    The Apostle Paul: “we who are still alive will not precede those who are asleep”

    “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-in a flash . . at the last trumpet”

    “what I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none . . .for this world in its present form is passing away.”

    “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here . . our salvation is nearer now than we we first believed.”

    Paul was a great man inspired by the Spirit, but he did not know about the afterlife more than anyone of us. Paul believed earnestly that the parousia would occur in his lifetime. It’s now been almost 2000 years since his passing. Time for everyone to accept a little humility. And humility does not have to be the enemy of hope.

  • stevemeikle

    this piece rejects rapture based on a straw man. rapture is simply the latin term for the greek verb harpazo. this is permissible as Trinity is a latin term for how the Bible describes the Godhead Himself

    nowhere in the Bible is rapture about us being taken to heaven for eternity.

    and indeed the world (as in the world system) is not our home for we are strangers in it, Hebrews 11:13. but this does not imply that matter is bad or that the Emperor Hinself will not return to cleanse His domain

    you have reacted against abuses propounded by ignorant exponents of the rapture and thus needed to twist verses as part of your reaction

    and BTW the rapture is absolutely not before the great tribulatlon but after it. Forgetting this is also to propound straw man fallacies. It is the same thing as the Second Coming and does include us being snatched away. And how is this being snatched he away precluded meeting the Lord in the air. Indeed why does your view of the word for “air” preclude the plainest meaning of it other than as reaction against a doctrine abused by the ignorant? For rapture is not us being teleported to heaven but is the public rising of the persecuted church from the dead in full view of the unbelieving world. and it is in to the sky, as opposed to outer space that it happens

    such twisting of texts as you have done in your reaction is always poor scholarship

  • Bill Payne

    John 14 includes some of my favorite verses. In this chapter Jesus tells the saints about the Father’s house and says that he will come to them and take them to it (where I am, there you will be also) like a Jewish groom comes to a waiting bride and takes her away to the wedding feast and the bridal room in the father’s house at a time when others might not expect. Hence, Matt gives us warnings to watch and be ready for the groom comes at an hour that we think not. In the Jewish context, the imagery of the Jewish wedding describes what the bible says about the catching away. I Thes uses Roman imagery to describe the same event. So, when I Thes is read in the light of the Gospels, the idea of catching away becomes more clear. I also note that the word study related to air misses the larger point and ignores the larger NT context in which the doctrine of the catching away is argued. The question is not about what we like and don’t like. We must ask, what does the NT teach and how did the NT community understand the teaching related to this topic. Certainly, some of the popularized “rapture” theories are as off the mark as this article. Still, the bible affirms a catching away when Christ returns for his bride. In closing, I do not believe that the author’s point is valid because he bases his argument on his interpretation of air in I Thes rather than the full NT.

    • johnnybegoode65

      Well put.

    • Mark Thomas

      Jesus says that “Where I am, you will be also.” So, at His return, where will He be? Read Rev. 20-21…real simple stuff there. He will be on the New Earth dwelling with His people. No heaven…a restored Paradise. The risen in Christ and the living believers will be temporarily removed from this earth while it is destroyed by fire as promised to Noah long ago…one big “lake of fire.” The unbelievers, along with Satan and his demons will perish in this lake of fire. The Bible is clear when we stop trying to put man’s subtitles and alternative texts within it.

  • Brad M. Stroud

    Kurt, I believe the rapture is biblical but I
    don’t believe in the traditional doctrine of the entire church being
    removed before the tribulation. There are at least two raptures and there is so much scripture to support this view. Take a look at this link http://www.ffruits.org/v03/comingrapture.html and actually two
    “raptures” are supported by scripture found throughout the New and Old
    Testament. There is an in-depth study on the the rapture at this site. I leave you with two scriptures from Jesus himself speaks of an “Escape” or rapture, Luke 21:36, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that
    is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of
    Man.” and Rev 3:10, Jesus speaks of an Escape or rapture also, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Please take time to read the study article at the link above and I believe you will be convinced by what the scriptues say about a rapture.

  • Keith Broadbent

    I f a tree falls in the forest and no one sees it, will it be raptured?

  • Stephy

    Hello, I agree with what your saying. I just wanted to make it clear about when the rapture happens. It says that all this happens after the tribulation. It says this in Mathew 24 and 25. I don’t know how we got the false accusation of the rapture happening before the tribulation. It’s just simply not true. Well thanks for your insight, have a wonderful day.

  • g lopez

    No problem for me…Athanasius of Alexandria should have stuck to his guns and not voted for Revelation to be part of the Canon. But political and self-serving motivations (he could declare others who didn’t agree with him as “anti-Christs” providing him with even more power) would sway him. Later Luther would follow the same conclusion initially doubting the honored status of Book of Revelation. The book has provided comfort for countless of Christians in many eras in their suffering but the audience were those Jews who converted to Christianity having seen Rome crush Jerusalem and then re-persecute them as Christians. Rome is the enemy for them as Babylon was for another remnant of God’s people. Rome is the anti-Christ or anti-Christian power. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8e-Ny7qV6KU (Elaine Pagels).

  • Shygirl

    So.. This means.. That we’ll still live on earth just like now but only everything will be prefect? We’ll still do our daily living just no sin what so ever? Is that what you’re trying to say…

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      That seems to be the vision of Revelation 21 and 22 along with Romans 8. Heaven and earth will be joined at last, and this world will be everything that God desired it to be in the first place. Eternal, without sin, and full of the glory and justice of God.
      Peace.

      KURT WILLEMS
      http://kurtwillems.com
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

  • Jack

    The bible does not teach Jesus coming back two more times. He is coming back once more.

    • tuber1

      u have not jack

    • AC

      Wrong. Lori is righy

    • Sarah

      Jesus comes back to earth only once, but He also comes in the clouds to gather His saints. Read Matt 24 & Rev

  • Kenneth Cabral

    I see here some folks who quote scripture to prove rapture doctrine. Very popular is 1Cor 15:51,52. But they always leave out the last part of the verse which says WHEN this will take place. It will take but a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the LAST SHOFAR. WHEN?? At the last Shofar. As in REV 10:7 when the hidden plan of G-d will be brought to completion. There is to much conjecture and speculation in pre trib rapture doctrine. Taking scripture sound bites removes the meaning of the text.

  • BW


    My humble offering on this topic. It’s funny yet serious and not meant to hurt any feelings. :) I agree with your article, Mr. Willems!

  • tuber1

    u have read your bible

  • tuber1

    only GOD can do the impossible

  • Angie Alvarez

    What an educated and mind blowing analysis!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Thanks Angie!!!!

  • AC

    Right on Kurt! Well said. This article is to a certain degree distorted

  • Michael

    So I guess it’ll be a pretty foggy day and the clouds we will meet in will actually be on the ground?

  • Drew Meyer

    If the eternal state is just a remake of this earth…then it holds absolutely no interest for me. I would rather be annihilated….. I want Life 2.0, not some patched or “remade” version of this sick space.

  • Robert Bolam

    Rev 21 describes the new heaven and new earth. In verse 1 it says “there is no more sea.” No more sea? As in Oceans, Waterways? How is this a good and perfect thing? For someone who feels at home on/by the sea, it just may feel like hell?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      No sea… in the Old Testament and other Hebrew literature in the ancient world… the sea became an image of chaos and evil that only God could tame. No sea = no evil. Not a literal thing but an image of something good.

  • Sarah

    In Revelation we find 7 Seals, followed by 7 Trumpets, followed by 7 Bowls, which are all judgments of God on the earth & its people.

    Seal #6 (Rev 6:12-17) involves a great earthquake, the sun back, the moon red, star of sky fell to earth, the sky split apart, and every island & mountain moved out of their place. The people of the earth hide in caves & want the mountains to fall on them so they died because the great day of the wrath of Him who sits on the throne (Almighty God) and His Lamb (Jesus) has come.

    Each of the 7 trumpets involve judgment of the earth & its people.

    In Trumpet #7 (Rev 11:15+), the mystery of God is finished (Rev 10:7) and the time comes for God to destroy those who destroy the earth.

    The 7 Bowls (Rev 15-16) are direct judgments on the beast (Antichrist) and His kingdom. In Bowl #7, the wrath of God is finished, and involves lightning, thunder, the greatest earthquake the world has ever known, and hailstones of 100 pounds each. Given that Seal #6 had an earthquake with every island and mountain moved, this one’s gonna be beyond what we can imagine.

    After this, there is war between the beast & his army with Jesus (this is when He physically returns to earth) and His army (the saints). The beast & his false prophet are thrown alive into the lake of fire and everyone else is killed (Rev 19:19-21). Satan is thrown into the abyss for 1000 yrs while Jesus & His saints rule the earth Rev 20:1-6).

    Once the 1000 yrs is complete, Satan is released and deceives many to amass an army for war against Jesus and the saints. Fire from heaven devours Satan’s army, and Satan is thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:7-10).

    Rev 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” So, yes, there is a NEW earth, not a REnewed earth.

    Also, Rev 21:4 is NOT here on earth, it is in the new Jerusalem coming out of the new heaven (see Rev 21:1-3). Rev 21:4 “And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.” ALL things, not everything but the earth. He makes all things NEW, not REnewed.

    Additionally, in Matt 24 Jesus Himself says that He will be coming in the clouds to gather His people. Since the clouds are in the air, yes, His people will be going in the air to meet Him.

    In the Daniel passage, you can say clouds represent whatever you want them to represent, but when you let Scripture speak for itself, it says that Christ comes in the clouds. Since Christ Himself says in Matt 24 that He comes in the clouds, we can safely believe that in Daniel, clouds means clouds.

    It’s easy to use Scripture to embellish your opinion, but when you let Scripture speak for itself, you find that the opinion that there is no Biblical rapture is contradictory to Scripture.

  • MiMiPLR

    Lori is absolutely correct.

  • MiMiPLR

    Kurt, you are so wrong! Did you note in scripture that when Christ arose and returned, the disciples did not recognize him immediately because his physical body was changed. Big difference between changed and destroyed. Seriously, if people know the Word at all, they will catch the way that you twist words in order to try to present “your new insight,” which is really a very, very immature understanding of scripture. The more you attempt to convey, the more sure I am that your words are coming from a man and are not inspired from Heaven. Beware of the admonition in Revelation 22: 18-19; it applies to you.

  • Hieronymus_Illinensis

    If the new world is truly going to be a fit place for redeemed humanity to live *forever* with Christ, its properties must be radically—unrecognizably—different in at least two ways. The universe of matter and energy that we know lives by death, obedient to the second law of thermodynamics. And the universe is being driven farther and farther apart faster and faster by the inflationary effects of dark energy. Were our eternal life to be lived in this universe, those on different planets will, as eons pass, become ever more isolated from each other, while those living together on the same planet will have less and less usable energy, and therefore less and less of all imaginable resources, to go around. As eons pass, those of us who love their neighbors most would cry out to be annihilated, just to leave a little bit more for those neighbors. Would God grant it? If so, that would leave those who loved their neighbors less . . . and less . . . competing for less . . . and less . . . No, if we are really going to live eternally, it must be in a universe where the counterparts of what we call “matter” and “energy” relate to each other in a way unimaginable to us. The transition from this universe to that is likewise unimaginable. It might as well be represented by the words of Peter and the Revelator quoted by JA Books below.

    • Hieronymus_Illinensis

      This does not mean, of course, that there will be a *pre-tribulation* rapture as some think. The Christians of Iraq, Syria, and northern Nigeria sure haven’t gotten one.

  • johnnybegoode65

    He (the author) also says nothing when God makes a new heaven and new earth. He says the world will be renewed, not destroyed, but that is false. There will be a one thousand year kingdom of Christ on earth after He comes back, but then heaven and earth are destroyed, which is followed by the new heaven and new earth, created by God, which will last for all eternity.

  • johnnybegoode65

    It’s not the Holy Spirit that is taken away, just the current way of doing things. The Spirit was active in the OT, and will be in believers during the Tribulation as well, but with the believing church taken out of the world, the salt and light functions will be gone, and anything will pretty much go. God will allow sinful man to be at his sinful worst because the restraint is removed. We already see this in Islamic cultures on a smaller scale. Plus, the destruction of the old heavens and earth will be at the end of Christ’s thousand year earthly reign, having no connection to the rapture.

  • http://www.facebook.com/octoberssonmusic Joseph C. Horta

    As far as the “rapture”. Your opinion that “it is not biblical” has me wondering what you consider biblical to begin with considering your assertion that you use to somehow bolster your argument, “Nothing in the text (if read in its proper context) alludes to the actual complete destruction of the planet. This world’s worth to the Creator runs deep and because of this, the world as a whole ought to be intrinsically valuable to us.” Nice sentiment but that assertion disagrees with Scripture as penned by Peter:
    2 Peter 3:10-12
    10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”

    There is nothing there in the context that even hints a metaphorical or allegorical overtone to what Peter is teaching us. In fact that word “destroyed” has a very interesting Greek origin. Luo can be used to describe a divorcing of a relationship that was once lawfully existent and normative. There is an utter total divorce or ending of the relationship or destruction of even the “elements” of the “heavens” and “earth” as we currently know them.

    So as far as the catching away of end time believers being biblical – I tend to disagree with your other assertion that “the rapture” is not. It is biblical, the timing is the element that is debatable. But nice try.

  • Judy

    Thank you Lori for this great Bible study! I have copied it.

  • Brit

    The “technical” word study excluded the Greek word for “caught up” which is “harpazo” (meaning to carry off by force, claim for one’s self eagerly or to snatch out or away). “Harpazo” comes from the Latin word “Rapturo”, so a more technical word study would not try to compel the reader that the word rapture is “nowhere to be found in this ‘rapture’ passage.” It’s actually exactly where the word is found in scripture.

  • BSA

    To understand “the rapture” one must understand the theological system (or basis for it) in order to undermine it with any competency. The theological basis for the rapture is not an interpretive conclusion taken from any single or group of passages- it never has been. Therefore it’s a waste of time to try and exegete
    rapture passages to death in order to persuade those who believe in the rapture.

    In fact, most of the dispensational pre-millennial scholars of any weight are in complete agreement and quite open about the fact that what they call the rapture is an idea that flows naturally from their theological perspective of a two-people system. It’s a distinction that is made between Israel and the church as two separate peoples of God. Israel is believed to be God’s earthly covenant people and the church is believed to be a God’s spiritual or heavenly people.

    Under this system, the rapture becomes a necessity in the system to remove the church from the earth tand mark the end of the church dispensation in order that the last kingdom dispensation can begin. This last kingdom dispensation allegedly centers upon the restoration of national of Israel and fulfillment of the covenant promises to Abraham.

    All one needs to do is undermine the two-people system and the rapture becomes completely unnecessary in dispensational theology. Of course this is easy to do because the majority of the apostles in the New Testament plainly link Old Testament prophecy fulfillment to the person and work of Jesus Christ in contrast to being literal promises made to Israel.

    This knowledge if you will came after the power of the Holy Spirt was poured out on them (Pentecost) and they went out a preached the gospel to both Jew and Gentile. It is by no coincidence that Jesus promised his disciples that they would not taste death until they saw the kingdom come in its
    power!

    When you remove the two-people theological component which is the real impetus behind the rapture, the eschatological event of a believer’s bodily resurrection falls into place in these so called rapture passages. Jesus said this which is more to the point of what we should believe.

    John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

    And for those who like to cite the book of Revelation… it’s is not prophetic literature! It’s considered apocalyptic which is completely different. It is a gross mistake to go to the book of Revelation and treat it as unfulfilled prophecy in order to meet a theological agenda.

  • Missionary Dave

    Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

    “Born of water does not speak of baptism; it speaks of a physical birth. Consider the process of physical birth. What happens just prior to a child being born. We commonly say, “Her water broke…” Look at the entire context as in the preceding verse what is Nicodemus asking the Lord Jesus Christ? “Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”

    We have a physical birth (born of water) and for those who accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we have a spiritual birth.

    Baptism is not a requirement of salvation. Was the thief on the cross baptised? No, but he was with the Lord.

    A person may be baptized, as Simon Magus was, and yet not born again.

    Salvation is through the blood, not through the tub.

  • Peter L

    Whether the Lord comes back shortly, or not. I’ll be with Him in a hundred years.
    Whether there will be a rapture, or not, I’ll be with Him in a hundred years.
    Whether a rapture will take place and then a tribulation, or the other way around, I’ll be with Him in a hundred years.

    Rapture is not the core message of the bible. The core message is: repent and believe in Jesus Christ. That will save your life.

    You can be with Him in a hundred years, be it though rapture, through
    second coming, or by just passing away. It depends on whether you
    belong to Him.

    Our mission is to preach the gospel, which in Greek means ‘good news’. Our mission is not to scare people with rapture speculations.

    That’s why I very much regret the “Left Behind” movie that just came out.

  • R4inyD4y

    For free Bible lessons that may help answer your questions:

    http://www.worldbibleschool.net/become-a-student

  • QuickandtheDead

    Sorry, I cannot read past the first paragraph! You got it all wrong when you say Heaven is far, far away! In fact, the Kingdom of Heaven is very nigh at hand… Praise Jesus!

  • QuickandtheDead

    Accept Him as your savior and you will see He is with us already. I am talking about the Holy Spirit! Sing praise unto the Holy One of Israel! The end is coming for all of the worldly sin, those saved are going to live in His grace for 1000 years without SIN!!!

  • DAWN CORDES

    Joe Sewell there is a belief that some of the non-Christians and Jews left on the planet will come to Christ but when they do this time it will be through their own death, not the death of Jesus, during the tribulation.

    Revelation 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesusand because of the word of God. They[a] had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

  • BW
  • Matthew

    “Repent”

  • Paul

    YOU’RE A BIG FAT LIAR I’VE BEEN A CHRISTIAN MY WHOLE LIFE!!!!!!! IT IS BIBLICAL YOU’RE PROBABLY A STUPID CATHOLIC SO THAT YOU’RE GONNA STAY HERE WITH THE DEVIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I got Questions

    Me thinks you are all nuts. Eternal life doin’ what exactly? Sounds like a hell in itself!

  • VOICEOFREASON

    An interesting theory but no more or less scriptural than a rapture theory. Setting aside the scriptural argument for a moment I’d like to ask why this huge slide away from the fact that we are spiritual beings fallen spiritual being redeemed by someone who had his flesh crucified to prove that physical termination was only the termination of the earthly body not the person or their consciousness. The entire context is, do good while you’re here but here is just the beginning, here is kindergarten. I question if a theology such as the one presented here includes trust in the words “Oh death where is they sting?” If one’s body does not experience death and rise what proof is there of power over death? Why have so many adopted a worldview that this little marble of rock is the end all of our existence. It seems small, purposeless and in my view boxes God in, in a huge way. What is the objection that God would have a rapture? Let’s say for a moment there is going to be a rapture, what thought process must occur in order for us to see such an event as unfair and unlike the character of God? Listen I’ve been dead. It was nothing. I was never asleep, never lost continuity never forgot anything, not even a hiccup, I went from horrible pain and suffocation and cardiac arrest, to instant peace, no pain everything was more solid than before my body stopped. There seems to be some idea among many modern believers that the spirit world has no physical substance. I would like some scripture to back this assertion up. Because I was there and It is more solid, more real, more substantial, than anything here. So help me out what exactly is the bifg attraction to staying here again once your course is run and your race is finished that is?


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