Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 5
Thesis: The 'Rapture' of Living Saints Will Complete Their 'Hope'.
Introduction: In our studies of Paul's explanation of what is to come for us, we have seen that we are to be emotionally stabilized in the face of significant loss by the words of the Lord. In those words we have seen that our future includes the resurrection of those who have been put to sleep by Jesus and then some sort of resurrection-like event for those who are yet living when the time comes. Those yet living are twice called "the ones left over" and twice we are told that those who have been put to sleep have a distinct advantage over those who have been left over.
This evening we are going to look into the final event, which most people who are aware of it call "The Rapture".
January 4, 2014
- I. The Rapture Gets Its Name From a Verb Found in 4:17.
- A. That Verb is harpazo and it is used in various contexts in the New Testament to refer to someone or some thing that "suddenly seizes" something out of its routine setting.
- 1. It carries a fairly potent sense of power (Matthew 11:12).
- 2. It is not necessarily associated with "good" (Matthew 13:19).
- 3. It always results in a rather sudden alteration of the "setting" of the seized (Acts 8:39).
- 4. It is the word Paul used to describe his own experience of being "caught up into paradise" (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
- B. The connection between the Greek verb and our word (Rapture) is found in the translation of the Greek into Latin wherein the translators used the Latin "rapturo" to attempt to get the idea of the verb across to their readers.
- II. The Event Called "The Rapture".
- A. Technically, this is the description of the final event described by Paul.
- 1. In our general speech, we call the entire event the "Rapture".
- 2. But it really only applies to those who are living and left over.
- B. It consists of the ultimate fulfillment of the believer's hope.
- 1. Both those who are "dead in Christ" and those yet alive have the same hope: that one day we will all be together with the Lord.
- 2. There are two specific elements involved.
- a. There is the issue of "the clouds ... unto air".
- 1) There are numerous references to the coming of the Lord in the clouds of heaven in the New Testament.
- 2) There is, thus, an association of the event with "clouds" for some reason.
- a) When we look into the possible reasons we note a few pertinent details of the New Testament regarding "clouds".
- i. False teachers are called "clouds without water" -- specifically revealing that "clouds" are for "guidance" and "water" is for the ability to live (which ties in directly to 'drought' being a primary means of divine discipline for those who do not "live" properly) [Jude 12].
- ii. The sight of a "cloud" typically signals the approach of "water" (Luke 12:54).
- iii. Clouds are typically driven by winds (2 Peter 2:17).
- iv. A cloud was associated with the appearance of God in this world in all of the records of the transfiguration and in references back into the Old Testament presence of God in the wilderness with Israel.
- b) When we look into the old symbolism, connected to the New Testament symbolism, "believers" are "fish" because of "water" being a judgment by God upon humanity (that transformation of being was the only way men could be exempt from the judgment of water).
- 3) There is also an association of the event with "air" for some reason.
- a) In the New Testament Satan is the prince of the power of the air -- a status obtained by the temptation of Adam and Eve -- so that "believers" are in an extremely hostile environment as long as they are in "air".
- b) The grammar of the text is that the "meeting of the Lord" is "unto air" (the most straightforward sense being that something has happened to those who are yet alive as "fish" but are now somehow enabled to breathe "air" without damage; i.e., the mortal has put on immortality so that we are no longer "fish" but are transformed "air"-enabled beings.
- b. There is the conclusion: we shall ever be with the Lord.
- III. The Outcome.
- A. We are to be comforted/encouraged/rebuked/exhorted by "these words".
- B. Whatever is "wrong" with our perceptions of "death" when it affects a fellow believer is to be corrected with these concepts.