Key Bible Passages on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture
February 1, 2022
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
It is often said that the word “rapture” does not appear in the Bible, but that’s not true. It does appear in the Latin Bibles that were widely used for nearly 2,000 years. Rapturo is the Latin translation for “caught up” in 1 Th. 4:17. The Greek is harpázo, which means “to snatch away” and is translated “pluck them out” (Joh. 10:28, 29). It is used in Acts 8:39 of the Spirit of God snatching away Philip after the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch and in 2 Co. 12:2, 4 of Paul being caught up to the third heaven.

Following is an exegesis of three major passages that describe the Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; and John 14:1-3.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Paul was answering the Thessalonian believers’ question about those who had died in Christ (1 Th. 4:13). They had been taught to expect the Lord’s imminent return and were looking for that (1 Th. 1:9-10). But some of the brethren had died, and the church didn’t know what was going on with them. Where are they? What will happen to them when Christ comes? Will the living saints be caught up with Christ, while the dead saints will have to wait for a later resurrection? We must understand that most of the New Testament was not yet written. Many think that 1 Thessalonians was Paul’s first epistle. The epistle of James might have existed, but it has no teaching about the Rapture. Christ spoke of His coming for His own in John 14:1-3, but the Gospel of John was not yet written when Paul wrote his epistle to Thessalonica.

Consider some important lessons from this key passage:

1. The Rapture is a doctrine for the church, and this is the key to understanding it.

The only way to understand the Rapture properly is to understand the clear distinction between Israel and the church, which is plainly taught in Scripture if prophecy is interpreted literally.

The doctrine of the Rapture was written to a church for the churches. It is a mystery revealed to the churches (1 Co. 15:51-52). It is not about Israel. It was not revealed to Israel and has nothing to do with Israel and her program with God and her covenants.

The Rapture is when Christ will collect His bride (Eph. 5:27) and bring her to the mansions He has prepared for her (Joh. 14:1-3) and she will see Him in His glory (Joh. 17:24). The church has nothing to do with the day of the Lord, which is a day pertaining to the unsaved world and to Israel (“the day of Jacob’s trouble,” Jer. 30:7). The church has nothing to do with Daniel’s 70 Week prophecy, which pertains to “thy people” (Daniel’s people, Israel) and “thy holy city” (Jerusalem) (Da. 9:24). The churches are not seen on earth in Revelation after chapter three. The events of Revelation 5-18 pertain to the world and to Israel. The church of God is a separate entity with her own program with God (“the Jews ... the Gentiles ... the church of God,” 1 Co. 10:32).

2. The Rapture is taught in the context of exhortations to holy living (1 Th. 4:1-12).

Bible prophecy is not for mere intellectual pursuit or the satisfaction of carnal curiosity; it is intended to change how God’s people live in this present time. We see the same thing in 1 Co. 15:50-58. After describing the Rapture, Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

3. Paul wanted the believers to be educated about prophetic events (“
But I would not you to be ignorant, brethren,” 1 Th. 4:13).

Prophetic truth permeates the New Testament. It is the major theme of Paul’s epistles to the Thessalonians (1 Th. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11, 23; 2 Th. 1:6-10; 2:1-12; 3:5). It is a major theme of the gospels (Mt. 16:27-28; 24:1-51; 25:1-46; 26:64; Mr. 13:1-37; 14:62; Lu. 21:5-38; Joh. 14:1-3). It is a major theme of all of the New Testament epistles (Ac. 1:11; 3:19-20; Ro. 11:26; 13:12; 1 Co. 1:7-8; 4:5; 11:26; 15:51-58; Php. 1:6, 10; 2:16; 3:20-21; 4:5; Col. 3:4; 1 Ti. 6:14; 4:1, 8; Tit. 2:13; Jas. 5:7-9; Heb. 9:28; 10:37; 1 Pe. 1:7; 4:7; 5:4; 2 Pe. 1:19; 3:10-131 Jo. 2:28; 3:2; Jude 1:14-15, 21). It is obvious that is God’s will that every believing individual, home, and church be well educated in the events of Christ’s coming.

4. The Rapture is the believer’s “
hope” (1 Th. 4:13). This is what we are waiting for. We are looking for Christ, not the Antichrist. This is the believer’s “blessed hope” (Tit. 2:13).

Note that believers do not sorrow “
as others which have no hope.” Those without Christ have no hope. Ephesians 2:12 says those “without Christ” have no hope and are without God in the world. Any hope they might have is vain hope that is based on fables rather than God’s Word. In contrast, the saved have true hope based on Christ’s atonement and God’s promises. We see that believers do sorrow, but not like the world. The believers at Jerusalem “made great lamentation” when Stephen was martyred (Ac. 8:2). Paul had sorrow when Epaphroditus was sick nigh unto death (Php. 2:25-27). On a personal basis, death is a blessing for the believer. Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Php. 1:21).

5. The Rapture was taught to Paul “
by the word of the Lord” (1 Th. 4:14).

It is divine revelation, and there is no other means by which man can know the future with certainty.

The Rapture is a mystery that was first revealed to Paul. The Rapture was not described in Old Testament prophecy (1 Co. 15:51-52), yet the second coming of Christ is described in much detail (e.g., Ps. 50:3-6; 96:13; 97:1-4; 98:9; 102:13-14; Isa. 26:21; 28:21-22; 30:27-30; 35:4; 40:10-11; 42:13-17; 59:16-20; 62:11; 63:1-6; 66:15-16; Jer. 25:30-33; Da. 7:9-14; Joe. 3:16; Mic. 1:3-4; Zec. 2:10-13; 8:3; 14:3-7; Mal. 3:1-5; 4:1-2).

Bible prophecy is irrefutable evidence of the divine inspiration of Scripture. Christ’s coming was preceded by prophecies of His birthplace (Mic. 5:2), virgin birth (Isa. 7:14), healings (Isa. 35:4-6), betrayal by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Ps. 41:9; Zec. 11:12-13), the injustice of his trial (Isa. 53:8), crucifixion (Ps. 22:14-16), no bones broken (Ps. 22:17), burial with the rich (Isa. 53:9), resurrection (Ps. 16:10), and ascension (Ps. 110:1).

6. The Rapture is based on Christ’s death and resurrection (“
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him,” 1 Th. 4:14).

The reason a sinner can go to heaven when he dies and be with Christ and rise to immortality is because Christ died and paid the full atonement for our sins, and His resurrection is the evidence that the payment was accepted.

7. The Rapture is for every individual who is in Christ (“
them also which sleep in Jesus ... we which are alive and remain,” 1 Th. 4:14, 15). Compare 1 Co. 15:23, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” There is no “partial” or “split” Rapture taught in Scripture.

8. The Rapture is an event in which the dead in Christ will be raised and the living saints will be changed and glorified (1 Th. 4:14-17).

them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Th. 4:14)
- We see that the dead in Christ are not sleeping in the grave as some falsely teach. Their spirits are with Christ in heaven and they will come with Him and be joined to their resurrection bodies. Death is called “sleep” (1 Th. 4:13, 14) because it appears to be sleep from an earthly perspective. The term “cemetery” is from the Greek
koimeterion, which means “sleeping place.” (The word for sleep in 1 Th. 4:14 is koimáo, “to lie outstretched, to lie down.”) Death is the departure of the spirit from the body (Jas. 2:26). The New Testament teaches that death is a journey either to heaven or hell, depending on whether the individual is saved or lost (Lu. 16:22-23; 2 Co. 5:8; Php. 1:23; 1 Th. 5:10; 2 Ti. 4:6; 2 Pe. 1:14). In Re. 6:9 we see “the souls of them that were slain for the word of God.” They are not sleeping in the grave; they are alive and well in heaven!

The Lord himself shall descend from heaven” (1 Th. 4:16)
- Christ Himself will come. Presently Christ sits at the right hand of God in heaven making intercession for His people (Ro. 8:34). He will leave there and come to fetch His bride. This will be the fulfillment of Christ’s promise in Joh. 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am,
there ye may be also.”

with a shout” (1 Th. 4:16)
- This is the Greek
kéleusma, “to order, command (military command); Christ will come as Conqueror” (Robertson’s Word Pictures). “The shout denotes His supreme authority. The Greek word is kélusma, which means literally ‘a shout of command,’ used in classical Greek for the hero’s shout to his followers in battle, the commanding voice to gather together. ... The shout may be the single word ‘Come!’ ... Before Lazarus’ tomb He spoke with a loud voice, ‘Come forth.’ ... ’Come’ is the royal word of grace, and grace will do its supreme work when He comes for His own” (The Annotated Bible).

with the voice of the archangel” (1 Th. 4:16)
- The angels are organized by rank, and an archangel is a high angel. The archangel is identified as Michael. He contended with the devil over Moses’ body (Jude 1:9). In Da. 10:13 he is said to be “one of the chief princes,” so it appears that he is one of a plurality of archangels. In Da. 12:1, Michael is called “the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people,” referring to Daniel’s people, Israel, and he will assist Israel in the Tribulation. He is named in Re. 12:7 as leading the angels in war against Satan.

and the trump of God” (1 Th. 4:16)
- 1 Co. 15:52 also mentions the trump at the Rapture. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
- The trumpet that will sound at the Rapture of the church-age saints is not the same as the last trumpet that will sound in Revelation (Re. 11:15-18). That trumpet pertains to the world. The “last trump” in Revelation releases the last seven judgments (Re. 15:1).
- The trumpet of the Rapture is not the trumpet that will sound at the fulfillment of Israel’s feast of trumpets (Nu. 29:1), which is a prophecy of Christ’s return. See Isa. 27:13; Mt. 24:31.
- The church is not a part of these other programs. Her “trump” is a different one.

and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Th. 4:16)
- The “dead in Christ” refer to church saints, not Old Testament saints, who are never said to be “in Christ.” The Old Testament saints will probably be raised after the Tribulation (Re. 20:4-6; Da. 12:1-3).

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Th. 4:17).
- The saints that are alive will be instantly changed as described in 1 Co. 15:51-53, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal
must put on immortality.”
- “
Caught up” is harpázo, “to snatch away.” It is translated “pluck them out” (Joh. 10:28, 29). It is used in Acts 8:39 of the Spirit of God snatching away Philip after the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch and in 2 Co. 12:2, 4 of Paul being caught up to heaven.
- To meet Christ “in the air” is a great miracle. It reminds us that the resurrection body is not subject to the law of gravity or dependent on oxygen as the natural body is. Christ ascended in His resurrection body up through space to heaven (Lu. 24:51; Ac. 1:9).

and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
- This will be a fulfillment of Christ’s wonderful promise. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am,
there ye may be also” (Joh. 14:3). In this present world, the saints are not with the Lord physically, but they want to be with him. Paul desired to be “absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Co. 5:8) and to “depart, and to be with Christ” (Php. 1:23).

9. The Rapture is not the second coming of Christ which is described in many other passages.

As we have seen, the Rapture is a mystery that was not described in Old Testament prophecy (1 Co. 15:51-52), yet the second coming of Christ is described in much detail in those prophecies.

In the Rapture there is no gathering together of the elect by the angels as in the second coming in glory (Mt. 24:30-31). The elect in Mt. 24 are the saved of Israel and those who believe the gospel of the kingdom among the nations who are alive at Christ’s return (Mt. 24:14). “The elect in Matthew xxiv are not the church, but Israel. Dispersed Israel will be regathered and angels will be used in this work” (
Annotated Bible).

In the Rapture the saints meet the Lord in the air, but in the second coming they accompany Him on white horses (Re. 19:11-14).

10. The Rapture is the believer’s “
comfort” (1 Th. 4:18).

The fact that the Rapture is a comfort proves that it will precede the terrible day of the Lord. There would be no comfort in knowing that I must go through the events described in Revelation 6-18. The believer has unspeakably wonderful hope and comfort in Christ. His entire worldview is different from the unbeliever’s. He knows that his sins are forgiven, that he is blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ, that he is reconciled and justified, that he has eternal life, that his life is hidden in Christ, that he is already seated in Christ in heavenly places, that he is a joint-heir with Christ and part of the very bride of Christ, and that when he dies he will be with Christ and will return with Christ for the bodily resurrection.

11. The Rapture occurs before the day of the Lord (1 Th. 5:1-11).

Immediately after describing the Rapture, Paul describes the day of the Lord and says the New Testament believer will not be overtaken by it. Again, we see that the Rapture is Pre-tribulational.

The “day of the Lord” is the time when God will judge the world for its sin and idolatry. In that “day,” God will be exalted and rebellious men will be humbled. It is described in Isaiah 2, 13, 34; Jer. 46; Eze. 13, 30; Joe. 1, 2, 3; Am. 5; Ob. 1; Zep. 1; Zec. 14; and Mal. 4. See Isa. 2: 10-12, 17-21.

The day of the Lord is described in great detail in Revelation 6-19.

Note the change in pronouns in 1 Thessalonians 5. In verse 3 the pronoun “they” is used, because the day of the Lord will come upon the unsaved world. But in verses 4-5 the pronoun “ye” is used, referring to believers. That day will not overtake us.

The believer is to be watching for the Lord’s return (1 Th. 5:6). We do not know when it will happen. It is

Believers are not appointed to go through the time of God’s wrath (1 Th. 5:9). Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:10, which says the Lord has delivered New Testament believers from the wrath to come. Church-age saints have been subject to the wrath of men and devils throughout the age, but we are not appointed to go through the wrath of God that will be poured out upon this wicked world. Compare Isa. 2:9-21.

The place of protection during the days of apostasy before the Rapture is the Bible-believing church.

“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men” (1 Th. 5:12-14).

In the context of his warning about the coming day of the Lord, Paul mentions the church and its leaders. This is very instructive. Each believer needs to be a faithful member of a scriptural church that is led by godly men who are sound in the New Testament faith. The leaders and the church members work together to accomplish God’s will on earth in preaching the gospel to every nation while they wait for the Lord’s return.

The way to have peace in the churches is for the leaders to teach the Bible faithfully and for the members to show respect to the leaders and to follow them. Church leaders should be honored and obeyed as long as they are following the Bible.

Those who are unruly in the churches should be rebuked, because they hurt the Lord’s work.

1 Corinthians 15:51-58

The Rapture is a “
A NT mystery is something “which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest” (Ro. 16:25-26). The mystery in 1 Corinthians 15 is the revelation of the Rapture itself and particularly the instant glorification of living saints at the Rapture.
- The Rapture is the two-fold event of the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the transformation of the living (“the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed,” 1 Co. 15:52). This is the Rapture described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
- The Rapture will happen
“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” “Moment” is the Greek atomos, from whence the word “atom” is derived. The Rapture will occur instantaneously. There will be no warning. There will be no opportunity to make further preparation. It is an event that must be prepared for beforehand by salvation and service (for reward).
- The Rapture will happen “
at the last trump.” This is the trump of 1 Th. 4:16. The trumpet that will sound at the Rapture of the church-age saints is not the same as the trumpets that will sound in Revelation as judgments on this world or the trumpets that sound in reference to Israel. The church is not a part of these other programs. The church’s last trump is when she shall finally be congregated together to the Lord. “There is no basis for posttribulationists equating this trumpet with the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:15-19. The trumpets in Revelation pertain to judgments during the Tribulation, whereas the trumpet in 1 Co. 15:52 is related to the church” (Bible Knowledge Commentary).
- “
We shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” “Incorruptible” means that the resurrection body will be incapable of sickness and disease. “Immortal” means incapable of dying. “Shall be raised” and “shall be changed” are future passive. God will do it.

The Rapture is sure (1 Co. 15:49-52).
- The Rapture is as sure as the Word of God. “
Shall” is repeated five times in this passage: “we shall also bear the image of the heavenly ... we shall all be changed ... the trumpet shall sound ... the dead shall be raised ... we shall be changed.”

The Rapture is cause of praise to God. “
Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Co. 15:54-57).
- This amazing passage on the resurrection concludes with a passionate note of praise to God.
- In 1 Co. 15:54, Paul cites Isaiah 25:8, “He will swallow up death in victory.” Isaiah 25:1-12 is a prophecy of the destruction of the present Gentile kingdoms and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom. Isaiah speaks of death swallowed up in the future tense, while Paul speaks of it in the aorist indicative, which is action that is past.
- In 1 Co. 15:55, Paul makes a reference to Hosea 13:14, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” Here, God promises to ransom Israel from the power of the grave, and He will do it by Himself becoming death’s plagues. God Himself paid the full penalty for sin required by the law.
- Paul triumphantly addresses death and the grave. He personifies them as if they are animate and pronounces victory over them. Death and the grave have held sway over mankind for 6,000 long years. “... by one man’s offense death reigned” (Ro. 5:17). One by one, the descendants of Adam have lived their short lives and been carried away by death in the myriad of its terrible forms. We live our lives with the certainty of death waiting in the wings. In this revelation of the resurrection, Paul sees the end of death, and he is exultant.
- “
The sting of death is sin.” Death is the wages of sin (Ro. 6:23). Christ took the sting of death upon Himself in our place. “The strength of sin is the law.” This is explained in Romans 4:15, “where no law is, there is no transgression,” and Romans 5:13, “sin is not imputed when there is no law,” and 1 John 3:4, “sin is the transgression of the law.” The law of God brings guilt (Ro. 3:19) and curse (Ga. 3:10). “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Ga. 3:13).
- He gives thanks to “
God.” It is God alone who has wrought salvation for fallen sinners. All is of God. He planned it and carried it out. Man has done nothing and can do nothing. It is 100% God’s grace.
- The victory is “
through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world (1 Jo. 4:14). He is Lord; He is Jesus the Saviour; He is Christ the Anointed of God, the fulfillment of Bible prophecy; He is ours. He is the Lord Jesus Christ for all who receive the gospel.
- The revelation of victory over death shows the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the glory of the Bible that reveals it. Non-Christian religions do not offer any such victory. Human philosophy does not understand death and has no victory over it. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychiatry, wrote, “And finally there is the painful riddle of death, for which no remedy at all has yet been found, nor probably ever will be” (
The Bible Exposition Commentary). Pagan religions do not offer victory over death; they offer only an uncertain and vague “hope” through works and rituals. Only through the Bible can we understand the cause of death and where man goes after death and how to have certain victory over death through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Rapture explains how that flesh and blood will inherit the kingdom of God and how that corruption will inherit incorruption (1 Co. 15:50).
- The Corinthians thought they were already in the kingdom (1 Co. 4:5-8). “Because the underlying problem causing the denial of the resurrection was a view of the present earthly body as already fit to enter the kingdom. Paul expressed his thought two ways (15:50). ‘Flesh and blood’ could not inherit the kingdom. Did anyone think it could? Yes, the Corinthians did, as 4:5-8 indicated. Their problems with resurrection seem to indicate an ‘I’m already in the kingdom’ attitude” (
Everyman’s Bible Commentary).

The Rapture is a source of great encouragement and motivation to godly Christian service. “
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Co. 15:58).
- The Rapture is a very important doctrine. Bible prophecy is not given merely to enlighten the intellect and satisfy our interest in the future; it is given to sanctify. The doctrine of the Rapture is to motivate God’s people to stay awake spiritually and to stay busy in the work of preaching the gospel to lost souls before it is too late. The doctrine of the Rapture is repeated throughout the New Testament, and it must be taught and emphasized in every church.
- Paul addresses the “
beloved brethren.” One must be saved to have these promises, to have the hope of this future, and to live this life.
- “
Be ye.” This is present imperative active. It is a command, and it is a command to be doing this in a continuous, repeated action.
- “
steadfast, unmovable.” “Steadfast” is the Greek hedraios, “from hedra, seat, chair.” It is translated “settled” (Col. 1:23). The believer is to remain perfectly settled in his faith in Christ, like sitting down in a chair and refusing to move. He is steadfast in God’s Word and God’s truth and God’s will and God’s promises. Steadfast describes the believer’s commitment to Christ and His will. I am committed; I am settled. “Unmovable” describes the believer’s determined resistance to every force that would move him out of God’s will: the seductions of the world, the attacks of the devil, the lies of false teachers, persecution, suffering, discouragement, fear. The words “steadfast, unmovable” mean nearly the same thing and are repeated by way of emphasis. A great many saints have been steadfast, unmovable. We think of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Hannah, Samuel, Ruth, David, Elijah, Peter, John, Paul, Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla. They put their faith in God and were never moved away. On the other hand, many were not steadfast. Lot was moved by his covetousness (Ge. 13:10-11). Esau was moved by a bowl of soup (Ge. 25:34). Demas was moved by his love for this present world (2 Ti. 4:10).
- “
always abounding in the work of the Lord.” The Christian life is not just standing in the faith and not being moved; it is being busy in God’s work. There is a great work for God in this present world, and every child of God has his part. There is a good, and acceptable and perfect will of God (Ro. 12:1-2). There are the works “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). There is praying work and worship work and church work and soul winning work and home making work and fathering work and mothering work and parenting work and works of holiness and works of separation and works of compassion and and works of edifying the brethren and many other works that are spelled out in the New Testament Scriptures. There is ambassador work in preaching the gospel (2 Co. 5:20). There is work building up the church (Eph. 4:16). There are spiritual gifts and ministries to be exercised (Ro. 12:3-8). There is priestly work (1 Pe. 2:5). Note the words “always abounding.” Every saint is to be always engaged in the work of the Lord, not part time, not once in a while. Every saint is to be abounding in the work of the Lord. This is the opposite of lazy, lukewarm, half-hearted, half-committed. This is sold out Christianity. This is true discipleship. Christ did not take the sting of death and purchase salvation so that the redeemed could continue to live their lives for themselves. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Tit. 2:14).
- “
forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” This is a great encouragement, and it has encouraged multitudes of saints as they have walked through this fallen world. God’s work is the only work in this world that is guaranteed successful. Labor in Christ is not in vain because it is blessed by God in this present life and it has eternal reward. It is sanctified in Christ and therefore acceptable to God. No matter what happens or how things “look,” just keep believing God’s Word, just keep serving Him; remain steadfast, don’t be moved.

John 14:1-3

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Heaven is called “my Father’s house.” It is where God’s throne resides. It is called “paradise” (Lu. 23:43; 2 Co. 12:4; Re. 2:7). This is the Greek
paradeisos, which was borrowed from the Persians and referred to delightful royal parks. “Socrates said that the king of Persia took particular care, wherever he was, to have gardens or enclosures full of every beautiful and good thing the earth could produce” (Complete Word Study Bible).

At His ascension, Jesus went to prepare a place for His bride. By Jewish custom, after the engagement, the bridegroom built an apartment onto his father’s house, then he returned at the wedding to fetch her. The departure and return of the bridegroom is described in Christ’s Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt. 25:1-6).

“Mansion” is the Greek
mone, a dwelling. It is translated “abode” in Joh. 14:23. The English “mansion” is from the Latin “mansiones.” The word mone itself does not mean a splendid dwelling, but the context demands it.

Christ promised to return and “receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” This will occur at the Rapture, when Christ will resurrect the dead saints and transform the living ones. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then 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 shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4:16-17). John 14 tells us that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation, because at Christ’s coming after the Tribulation, He will ride with the armies of heaven, defeat the antichrist armies, descends to the Mt. of Olives, and begins to establish His earthly kingdom (Zec. 14:3-4; Re. 19:11-21). This event obviously is not about catching away His bride to the Father’s house. Church-age believers are a heavenly people with a heavenly hope (Eph. 1; Php. 3:20; Col. 3:1-3). Some dispensationalists teach that the church-age saints will live in heaven during the millennium. I believe they will live both in heaven and in earth. TheLord Jesus promised church-age overcomers that they will rule the nations (Re. 2:26-27), and He promised the apostles, who are the foundation builders of the church (Eph. 2:20), that they will sit on thrones and reign with Him over Israel (Mt. 19:28). That is earthly language. In the resurrection, the physical limitations of this present life will be removed, as we see Jesus ascending to heaven, appearing and disappearing, etc., so to live in heaven and on earth will no longer be an impossibility.

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