FIRST THE RESURRECTION, THEN THE CATCHING UP
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
From my point of view, the teaching of the “rapture,” whether pre-tribulation or post-tribulation, is an error. It is pointing people in the wrong direction, fixing their hopes on flying away to Paradise to escape the problems of earth, rather than using those problems to press them further into Christ.
I don’t believe the doctrine of the “rapture” will cause the believers to come to maturity in Christ, but instead will hinder their growth, leaving them silly and careless while Divine judgment is approaching our nation.
Let’s look carefully at the following verse:
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. (I Thessalonians 4:16)
The dead in Christ will rise first. The dead in Christ will “rise.” The dead in Christ have just come from the spirit world, so it is not referring to their rising from the earth to Heaven. That just doesn’t make sense. Anyway, the Greek term for “will rise” (anasteesontai) means “shall be up-standing.” It has nothing to do with the “catching up,” which is a different Greek term (harpageesometha—“shall be being snatched”)
The members of the Body of Christ from all ages will descend with Christ to the level of the air. Then they shall continue to the earth to pick up their flesh and bones. Then, in their flesh and bones, they will stand up on their feet.
It may be at this point that their flesh and bones will be clothed with their house from Heaven.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)
You know, there is a false teaching that contributes to the “rapture” theology. It is that we will leave our flesh and bone body in the grave, ascend spiritually to Heaven, and then be clothed with a new heavenly body. This absolutely is unscriptural. Did you notice above that our mortality is “swallowed up”? Also:
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)
“Give life to your mortal bodies.” Does that sound to you like our body is left in the ground?
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)
“The redemption of our bodies.” Does that sound to you like our body is left in the ground?
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:42-44)
“The body is raised imperishable.” Does that sound to you like our body is left in the ground?
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:28,29)
It is of note that the terms “rise” above are the same Greek term for “up-standing” (anastasin) that we encountered in First Thessalonians 4:16.
According to the Scripture, there is no doubt whatever that “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” means that those who return with our Lord will be resurrected to stand on their feet before they are “snatched” up into the air to meet the Lord.
The resurrection occurs before the catching up. No question at all about that.
I believe that their resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed upon with their house from Heaven as soon as they stand upon the earth.
You know, if our body were to be left on the earth, and our spiritual nature were to rise to Heaven and there receive a heavenly body, as sometimes is taught, there would be no resurrection of the dead. Then, as Paul taught, Christ has not risen. And if the physical body of Christ was left in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, we still are in our sins.
Our current doctrine is grievously in error, wouldn’t you say?
But what about those who are living on the earth when the Lord appears? What can we say about them? First Corinthians chapter 15 tells us about the living when the Lord appears. We know those who come with Christ will be resurrected, and probably glorified, before they are snatched away to meet the Lord in the air. But what about those of us who still are plodding along on the earth?
In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:52-54)
Notice that First Corinthians chapter 15 says nothing at all about the catching up. That is because it is the resurrection, the redemption of the body, that is significant, not the snatching away from the earth. The catching up is the crowning act of redemption. The catching up is nothing more than an act of Kingdom power.
Those who are students of the seven Jewish feasts will notice that while there are feasts that foretell the Savior’s death and resurrection, there is no feast that foretells the catching up. The catching up is relatively unimportant in the Divine redemption—only a brief interlude while the army of the Lord is being prepared to descend and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
- First, those who come with the Lord will be resurrected, stand on their feet, and be glorified.
- Then we, the living, will be “changed.”
We did not pick up our bodies from the ground because we had not yet died. But our perishable body will be clothed with the imperishable, and our mortal with immortality. Apparently this will take place while we are standing on our feet. Here is the Scripture fulfilled that “they without us cannot be made perfect” referring to the saints who came with Jesus and those who still are alive on the earth.
We too at this point will have been resurrected. The deepest meaning of “resurrect” is to make alive that which is dead. Standing on the feet, and being clothed with incorruption, are symptoms of being made alive.
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Now let’s think about the picture thus far:
- Those who have returned with the Lord are standing on the earth in glorified bodies. Their resurrected flesh and bones have been clothed upon with their house from Heaven.
- We who have not passed through death, but have had our flesh and bone body clothed with our body from Heaven, also are standing on the earth. I would imagine our blood has been replaced with the Spirit of God.
The catching up has not occurred as yet. How soon will it occur? What will be the situation of the glorified saints who are standing on the earth prior to the catching up? Perhaps our resurrection will follow the same pattern as that of the Lord Jesus.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:20-23)
The verse above suggests that our experience may be similar to that of the Lord. Christ was crucified. He rose on the third day. He ascended to Heaven after forty days.
Here is the big question: Will there be forty days after we have been resurrected before we are caught up to meet Christ in the air? If so, what will it be like during that period of time?
I rather think there will be such a period of time. Just imagine how we will feel. We do not have to worry about the final judgment. To be raised in this first resurrection is our sentence. We have been judged during our lifetime, as we have confessed and turned away from our sin and self-will. Now we have been sentenced to participate in the first resurrection.
Think of the opportunity for fellowship. I have read that in the Kingdom, to think of a person or place is to be there instantly. Can you imagine the rejoicing as we fellowship once again with saints we haven’t seen for some time?
There will be no need to fear Antichrist or tribulation of any kind. These resurrected ones cannot not be harmed any more than their resurrected Lord can be harmed. I myself would like to go exploring to various parts of the earth without feeling heat, or cold, or tiredness. Would you enjoy that? I often have thought about what it would be like to visit under the ice of the South Pole! I believe there would be animals and plants worth seeing. Will there be an opportunity to minister to some who are a bit afraid of the change in their location or state of being? I wonder what the Lord did during that time, in addition to the visits to His disciples that are recorded.
The period between the resurrection and the catching up will be the greatest time of fellowship and rejoicing ever to have occurred on the earth. It is the Lord’s way of saying “Thanks” for our faithfulness and patience.
After the “forty-day celebration,” we will be called up to where the Lord is waiting in the air with the white war stallions. Whether at that time we all will pass into the spirit world to celebrate the marriage of the Lamb, I do not know.
But the issue at hand will be the destruction of Satan and all his works. Those who have been raised are an army of judges. They will return to the air and form up on their white war stallions. Michael and his army will be waiting. Angels appointed to the task will sound their trumpets. The angel drum corps will beat to the attack. Down from the air will thunder the two powerful armies of saints and angels, with the Commander in Chief, the King of all kings, at the head.
The armies of Antichrist will be destroyed. The demons that accompanied them will be driven into places of confinement in the spirit world. Antichrist himself will be thrown into the Lake of Fire along with the False Prophet. Satan will be bound in chains by one angel and hurled into the Bottomless Pit.
Now it will be time for the army of judges and the army of angels to go through the earth and cleanse it of all of the Antichrist institutions and wicked people.
Christ will take His place upon the Throne of David in Jerusalem and send out His kings to govern the nations of the earth.
The war of good against evil will be completed at the termination of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, when the Father sends down fire from Heaven and destroys the rebellious people. Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire at that time.
Then all who were not resurrected at the first resurrection will stand before Jesus Christ and His fellow judges, and the final judgment of mankind will take place.
When every individual has been assigned to his or her suitable place in the creation, down from Heaven through the new glorious sky will appear the Holy City, Zion, the new Jerusalem, the home of the Royal Priesthood who shall govern the nations of saved people throughout the eternal ages.
The Kingdom of our God and of His Christ shall expand forever, and of righteousness and peace there shall be no end.
(“First the Resurrection, Then the Catching Up”, 4349-1, proofed 20210909)