If There’s No Rapture, How Do You Explain These Six Verses?

If There’s No Rapture, How Do You Explain These Six Verses?

Question: “If there’s no rapture, then how do you explain these six verses from 1st Thessalonians 1:13-18?”


Steve’s Answer:

Manny, I’ll be happy to explain them. Please see my notes under each verse below:

1Thess 1:13-18


13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

This verse sets the subject matter. The subject matter is this: ‘Where are the dead?’ That’s what Paul’s entire discourse here is about, from beginning to end.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

That’s correct. If you believe Jesus died and rose again, then you also have to believe that those who die, while believing in Christ, will also rise again, to be with Him.

When we die, our flesh and bones go back to the ground, and our spirit and soul return to the Father who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7). So, those who have died in Christ, are already with Christ in heaven. That’s all Paul is saying here. More on this in just a second.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.

Again, that’s right. We cannot precede, into heaven, those who have already died. Why? Because they’re ALREADY with the Father.

The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that to be absent from the flesh is to be present with the Lord. In other words, again, when you die, your flesh and bones go to the ground/dust, but your soul and spirit return to Father in heaven immediately. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Period. That’s all Paul is saying here.

And that’s why, in 2 Corinthians 5:8-9, Paul would reiterate: “[8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. [9] Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

And in Philippians 1:23, Paul reiterates, again, the Bible truth that to be absent from the flesh is to be present with the Lord: “23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Do you understand? We’re simply learning here what the Old Testament has already taught us. which is that when you die, your soul and spirit immediately return to the Lord. If you are absent from the flesh, you are indeed present with the Lord.

Continuing in 1st Thessalonians:

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

At the 2nd Advent, while Christ and His heavenly many-membered body are returning from heaven to earth, the last trumpet will blow, and we who are living on earth, in the flesh, will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:51-52) into our new spiritual bodies.

We will no longer be in the flesh at that point. So, we will instantly join those who are already with the Lord. (But remember, they’re on their way HERE to establish Christ’s Kingdom on earth.)

17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Paul uses the word clouds, in this verse, as a euphemism for “crowds.” Just like he does in Hebrews 12:1:

Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a CLOUD of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

In other words, we JOIN with Christ and His many-membered body as they descend to Earth like a great cloud, to set up Christ’s eternal Kingdom here.

(As an aside, check out 2 Peter 2:17, Jude 1:12 and Revelation 1:7, each of which use the word ‘clouds’ as a euphemism for groups of people.)

Finally, the word “air” in this verse (i.e., vs. 17, above), is from the Greek word ‘aer,’ which does not mean sky or even atmosphere, or heaven. Instead, it means “a breath, as breathed unconsciously; to respire, to blow.” (See Strongs Concordance G-109.)

In other words, at the second advent, as Jesus and His many-membered body are descending like a great cloud from heaven onto this Earth to set up His eternal Kingdom, and we here on Earth, in the flesh, are being changed into our new spiritual bodies ‘in the twinkling of an eye,’ the breath of eternal life enters into us and we instantly join that great cloud of witnesses coming to earth with Christ. We join with the crowd who are on their way here.

Here’s another spot in the Bible (Mark chapter 13) where that’s very clearly explained:

24 But in those days, AFTER that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

26 And THEN shall they see the Son of man coming IN THE CLOUDS with great power and glory.

27 And THEN shall he send his angels, AND SHALL GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

Our gathering together with the Lord clearly happens after the tribulation. And that’s when we here on this Earth are gathered together with them who are coming to this Earth to establish Christ’s Kingdom. The very angels gather us all together.

Let’s finish up in Thessalonians:

18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Do you remember what the subject matter of these verses was? It was ‘where are the dead’?

Saint Paul tells us that they are with Christ, in heaven, and that they’ll be returning to this Earth with Christ, and we will then be joining them as they arrive. And Paul says that should give us great comfort.

It’s really that simple. I have no idea how these rapture believers turn that simple “where are the dead?” lesson from Paul into some fly-away into heaven to be with the Lord in the sky forever fairy tale. That is simply unbiblical.

Christ and His Kingdom are coming here, to this earth, to be established eternally (Zechariah 14). And when that happens, it will be heaven on Earth. And all believers will live here on this Earth, in His eternal Kingdom, together with Him, in great joy and happiness.

Regards in Christ,
Steve Barwick
Steve Barwick

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