The Significance of the Rapture of “the Body of Christ”
In this installment we will discuss the place of the Rapture of the “body of Christ” in God’s plan to reconcile man and His fallen creation unto Himself, as described by the Apostle Paul. This below is the clearest description of what we call the Rapture of all the reconciled members of “the body of Christ.”
“I (Paul) would not have you to be ignorant … CONCERNING THEM WHICH ARE ASLEEP (have died physically) that ye SORROW NOT, even as others which have no “HOPE.” 14For if we BELIEVE that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep (are dead) in Jesus will GOD BRING (to be) WITH HIM.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of (from) the Lord, that WE WHICH ARE ALIVE and remain (on earth) unto the COMING OF THE LORD shall not prevent (not go up before) them which are asleep (dead).
16For THE LORD “HIMSELF” SHALL DESCEND FROM HEAVEN with a SHOUT, with THE VOICE of the
ARCHANGEL(Michael), and with the TRUMP OF GOD: and
THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST: 17Then 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 (Gk. houtos, in this manner) SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD. 18WHEREFORE COMFORT ONE ANOTHER WITH THESE WORDS. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
The “conflict of the ages” draws markedly closer to its God ordained ultimate conclusion with what we call “the Rapture.” This is the catching away of the members of “the church, which is the body of Christ” (Eph 1:22b-23a) from planet earth … to eternally dwell with Christ in heaven.
The “shout” (v16 above) at the Rapture marks THE END of the pure grace age of the church under “dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2). Biblically, the “shout” most often is the mark of conclusive victory (Psa 47:1, 5; Jer. 25:30; Joshua 5:5, 10, 16, 20, et al).
Then “the voice of the Archangel” (Michael, God’s “Prince” to
Israel, Dan 10:21, et al) announces the RESTART of God’s program for . Israel
Having then concluded the Gentile church age, God’s silence of more than 2000 years toward
is ended. The Rapture simultaneously marks the restart of God’s program for Israel Israel; has been “blinded” and temporarily set aside during this Gentile age of “the dispensation of the grace of God.” “… blindness in part is happened to Israel , until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25). One last saved soul will mark the “fullness of the Gentiles,” of the “body of Christ,” to end this age of grace. Israel
The “conflict of the ages” continues even today, but the Lord’s recovery of man, and the heaven and the earth will ultimately be fulfilled. In the “fullness of times” Christ will eternally indwell and rule through a believing remnant of Israel ON EARTH, while He will by then have already indwelled every member of “the body of Christ” with Him IN HEAVEN.
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he (God) might gather together in one all things in Christ, BOTH which are IN HEAVEN, and which are ON EARTH; even in him” (Eph 1:10)
God’s “intent” and wisdom is manifested by His program to bring salvation and grace upon all who are and will be called in Christ, whether in heaven or on earth. “To THE (God’s) INTENT that now UNTO THE (spiritual) PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS in HEAVENLY PLACES might be known by the church the MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD,” (Eph 3:10).
Today, we as the members of “the body of Christ,” are NOT at home on earth. Paul writes. “…our citizenship is IN HEAVEN” (Philip 3:20a, NIV). Paul says we as believers are “ambassadors” on earth, currently away from our home in heaven. One is an ambassador when he is in a foreign place. Our home is “ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS” (2Cor 5:1-2), NOT on the earth!
“God was in CHRIST, RECONCILING the WORLD (Gk., kosmos, the arrangement of God with man) UNTO HIMSELF, NOT imputing (counting) their trespasses (sins) unto them; and HATH COMMITTED UNTO US THE WORD OF RECONCILIATION. 20 NOW then WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST…” (2 Cor 5:19-20).
“The Rapture” of the “body of Christ” and Christ’s 2nd coming to earth are not the same. Christ will come to earth in wrath to judge the world, and to save and bless the Nations through
. “The Rapture” and Christ’s 2nd coming are two distinctly different comings. Israel
Though not appearing in the Greek or English text as such, the word “rapture” comes from the Latin Vulgate text, a late 4th-century translation of the Bible, which translates the Greek into Latin as “rapiemur,” from the verb “rapio,” meaning “to catch up” or “take away.” The transliterated New Testament Greek word is as “harpazo,” meaning to “seize” or “snatch away.” It has been translated “caught up” in the 1Thessalonians 4:17 of the King James Bible Version, NIV, NASB and many other versions.
Actually, at the time Paul wrote of “the Rapture” the believers at Thessalonica were NOT concerned with Antichrist or the timing of the Tribulation. The text indicates their concern was for their loved ones “which sleep in Jesus” (v14), having died as believers in Christ as their Savior. Their concern was whether those who “sleep” (died) would miss out on being “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air.” Paul is addressing the Thessalonians’ concern for their deceased loved ones in 1Thes 4:13-18. I’ll discuss this again later.
Paul wrote that the same Rapture applies to both the dead believers and the living believers. The Rapture is the most glorious event that God has promised for the members of the “church, which is His body.” The word “church,” which in Greek is “ekklesia,” means “an assembly or gathering of citizens.” The members of the only genuine church in this age of grace have their home and “citizenship in heaven.” The living and the dead will be “caught up together” to “ever be with the Lord” in heaven (v17).
The Raptured is of the “body of Christ,” which is “the church” (Eph 1:22b-23a). The “BODY of Christ” has Christ as its “HEAD,” NOT as its “bridegroom.” Believing
, is the “Lamb’s wife” of Rev 21:9, and will have Christ as its soon coming bridegroom (Hosea 2:19-20; Rev 19:7-8). Israel
The “the body of Christ” consists of ALL the genuine believers that are saved during the “dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2). Subsequently “All
will be saved” (Rom 11:26a). The unique church in this age has nothing to do with one’s particular denominational affiliation. It includes ALL genuine believers who have trusted Christ as Savior; they may or may not have an affiliation with a manmade, man-defined, religious organization. The invisible “body of Christ” is the organism of which they are a part, and that is sufficient. Israel
If one has faith in Christ alone as their Savior then their denominational religious affiliation neither adds nor detracts from their salvation. Only one’s trusting faith in Christ has the power to save. Today salvation is freely given to ALL who would TRUST IN, RELY UPON AND CLING TO Jesus Christ as their Savior – they are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, totally apart from any requirement for religious works, ceremonies, or rites. “For BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED THROUGH FAITH; AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD: 9 NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
During the earlier dispensations of “Promise” and “Law,”
was elevated “above all people” (Deut 7:6, cf., Deut 28:1, Jer. 1:10) in God’s eyes and plan. In fact Jesus of Nazareth’s attention was strictly upon Israel . Israel
“These twelve (Grk., apostolos, Apostles, sent ones) Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, GO NOT into the way of THE GENTILES, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But GO RATHER TO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.”(Matt 10:5-6).
Israel’s “fall” (Rom 11:11-12) from being the elevated people of ’s prophesied eternal program has been set aside, put in abeyance, for a time. Today we live in the dispensational age of what Paul calls “the mystery (musterion),” which had been “kept secret since the world began” (Rom 16:25). God, Israel
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my (Paul’s) gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY, which WAS KEPT SECRET SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN,” (Romans 16:25)
The “mystery” concerns Christ recovering man to co-reign in both then the heavens and on earth, in spite of
’s “fall.” The “mystery” of this age includes “the body of Christ,” which consists of ALL the genuine believers in Christ, believing Jews and Gentiles - WITHOUT DISTINCTION! Today, during this age, Paul writes, “there is Neither Jew, Nor Gentile, ALL ARE ONE IN CHRIST” (Gal 3:28). Israel
God established the “body of Christ” by literally “dispensing” His resurrected “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2a) into every believer’s human spirit. Today any man may believe and be “regenerated” (Titus 3:5), born anew of Christ’s own “Spirit of life.”
John wrote; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). First there is a natural flesh birth, then a rebirth in spirit. When a person receives Christ as Savior he also receives Christ’s “Spirit of life” as his new and eternal LIFE (Greek, Zoe).
“… Now IF ANY MAN HAVE NOT THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, HE IS NONE OF HIS.” (Romans 8:9b)
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us ETERNAL LIFE, AND THIS LIFE IS IN HIS SON. 12 HE THAT HATH THE SON HATH LIFE; and he that hath NOT the Son of God hath NOT life. (1John 5:11-12)
Paul wrote these words defining the personal or subjective aspect of the “mystery.”“… the mystery” (Gk., musterion, God’s secret plan), which is CHRIST IN YOU the HOPE (confident expectation) of GLORY” (
1:27). Paul’s “mystery” gospel and its “hope of glory” includes the catching away or “the Rapture” of the members of “the body of Christ” to “glory.” Christ will bring each genuine believer to ultimate eternal “glory” to be “with Him” in heaven. The full expression of our eternal “hope of glory” is seen as “ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS” (2 Corinthians 5:1, below). Col
“… we (as believers) know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (our body) were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house (dwelling place) not made with hands, ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS.” (2 Cor 5:1)
“(Christ) SHALL CHANGE (Gk., metaschematizo, transfigure) OUR VILE BODY, that it may BE FASHIONED LIKE unto HIS GLORIOUS BODY” (Philip 3:21a)
The departure of one’s spirit from their physical body is the Biblical definition of physical “death” (James 2:26a). Upon death, every believer’s regenerated spirit is “with the Lord.” “We are confident… to be absent from the body, and (is) to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8). Thus our regenerated spirit and soul is immediately with the Lord at death, but our body will return to dust.
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the (man’s) SPIRIT shall RETURN UNTO GOD who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7, cf. Gen 2:7 “breath of life,” Zech 12:1 “spirit of man).
At the Rapture we will receive our new, Sinless, spirit-body to then… be joined to our regenerated human spirit (Titus 3:5) and soul. This will be the fullness of our “new creation” (2Cor 5:17), which we will enjoy with Christ in heaven…for eternity.
- The Rapture concerns the catching away of ALL the dead and the living members of the mainly Gentile “body of Christ,” who have been saved during this age by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone; to eternally dwell “with Him” in “the heavens.”
- The Rapture is only written of by Paul, “THE Apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom 11:13), in his epistles addressed to the members of “the church, which is His body,” to whom the Rapture applies.
In 1 Thess 4:13-18 Paul writes of the promise that one day soon, at the “shout,” the “voice of the archangel (Michael)” and “the trump (sound) of God (His voice),” Jesus “Himself” (v16) will come “in the clouds” to meet and gather us unto His self “in the air.” The “clouds” are to shield the left behind lost from seeing the brightness of His glory – yet we will see Him as He is in all His glory. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (
3:4). He will gather ALL the Raptured dead and living members of the “church, which is His body,” taking them to “ever be with Him” (v17) in heaven. Col
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)