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#3.1 THE RAPTURE OCCURS AT THE SAME TIME AS THE FIRST RESURRECTION

Introduction 3.1

There is usually not much disagreement between the pre-tribulation rapture advocates and those of the post-tribulation rapture when it comes to the resurrection of the dead and the rapture of the church. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 make it clear that they both happen on the same day, the deadare raised first and raptured, then those who remain alive are taken up. However, this bible study shows that the first resurrection also occurs on the last day of this pre-millennial age, after the tribulation, and so is evidence for a post-tribulation rapture.

#3.11 The Rapture coincides with the First Resurrection

1 CORINTHIANS 15:20-23 (Paul)
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of those who slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward those who are Christ's at his coming.

Greek Text - 1 THESSALONIANS 4:15-17 - English Translation
τοῦτο γὰρ ὑμῖν λέγομεν ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου ὅτι ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι εἰς τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ κυρίου οὐ μὴ φθάσωμεν τοὺς κοιμηθέντας 15  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not go before those who are asleep.
ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ κύριος ἐν κελεύσματι ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι θεοῦ καταβήσεται ἀπ᾽ οὐρανοῦ καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ ἀναστήσονται πρῶτον16 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.
ἔπειτα ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι ἅμα σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁρπαγησόμεθα ἐν νεφέλαις εἰς ἀπάντησιν τοῦ κυρίου εἰς ἀέρα καὶ οὕτως πάντοτε σὺν κυρίῳ ἐσόμεθα17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: so shall we ever be with the Lord.

REVELATION 20:4-6
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given to them: and I saw the souls of those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years .

Note 1: These first two scriptures refer to the resurrection of the church at the rapture, because they mention "those who are Christ's" (1 Corinthians 15:23), "the dead in Christ" (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and they are both addressed to churches. However, the last scripture (Revelation 20:4-6) places this resurrection after the tribulation, because the people who are involved in it have overcome the mark of the beast, and were killed for their witness of Jesus. A literal interpretation of "the first resurrection" would be a single event, when all the righteous dead are raised together, on the last day of this pre-millennial age. It is the first in order of the two mass resurrections that remain. It is first in quality also, because it is called "a better resurrection" (Hebrews 11:35), but if God had only meant "better in quality" (Revelation 20:5), he could have said so without causing such confusion: "for God is not the author of confusion," (1 Corinthians 14:33). This literal interpretation causes the case for a pre-tribulation rapture to fall flat on its face, because a pre-tribulation rapture includes a part resurrection of the righteous dead seven years earlier, and that would then have to be "the first resurrection".

Note 2: To get round this, pre-tribulationists usually forsake a literal interpretation of "the first resurrection", and count it as two or more events taking place over a period of about seven years. Let them speak for themselves:

(Gerald B. Stanton KEPT FORM THE HOUR p240) "Pretribulationists believe that the term "first resurrection" indicates that those raised are the FIRST IN KIND, and that such a distinction is far more important than the time factor involved. They believe that the first resurrection speaks, not necessarily of an event, but rather of AN ORDER OF RESURRECTION. It may occur in several stages, ..."
(GBS p315) "there are many stages in the "first resurrection," for it is first in quality rather than in time,"
Their "first resurrection" therefore starts with the rapture, it may have several stages (throughout the seven years of the tribulation period presumably), and ends on the last day of this pre-millennial age. There are several objections to this:

(1) The scripture clearly contradicts it:

(1 Corinthians 15:51-52) "Behold, I show 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."

The word "all" (1 Corinthians 15:51) obviously refers to both the dead and living in Christ, and how long does it take to resurrect and change them? Does "a moment", or "the twinkling of an eye", sound like a seven year period of time? If not the pre-tribulation rapture theory is false. Does "at the last trump" sound like a seven year period of time? If not the pre-tribulation rapture theory is false. The phrase "at the last trump" is dative case in the Greek, which indicates a point in time (See #3.13 Note 1), again showing that the pre-tribulation rapture theory contradicts scripture.

(2) I do not know of anywhere in the scripture where the word "resurrection" is interpreted in this way, where in its singular form it can represent several resurrections spread over a period of years. Pre-tribulationists have therefore based their argument on an interpretation which has no scriptural precedent, and without which it fails. The word of God does not say that the resurrection has more than one stage, so they have added to God's word here. Their doctrine in based therefore on what God's word does not say, rather than on what it does say. Surely this is wrong. If it did have several stages, then it should have been translated in the plural, "the first resurrections", because it would literally refer to several resurrections, but it wasn't.

(3) The word "this" (Revelation 20:5) refers back to people who had come through the tribulation (v4). They had overcome the mark of the beast, been beheaded for their witness of Jesus, and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years . Notice, "lived with him a thousand years ", but if they had come up in a pre-tribulation rapture they would have lived with him a thousand and seven years, wouldn't they? Again, the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine contradicts scripture.

(4) The interpretation "first in kind", or "first in quality" rather than "first in order" is extreme. The word for "first" (Gr. πρῶτος, Gtr. protos) occurs 165 times in the New Testament in its masculine, feminine, and neuter forms, and is translated "first" (136), "chief" (9), etc., but "best" only once (Luke 15:22). The understanding "first in quality" is not an impossible meaning for "protos", but it is most unlikely, especially as "first in order" is so obvious when there are two resurrections in view. Here again, the pre-tribulation rapture theory is supported only by very flimsy evidence, and falls down without it.

#3.12 The first resurrection of the dead occurs after the tribulation

JOB 14:11-12 (Job)
11 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decays and dries up:
12 So man lies down, and does not rise: until the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.

DANIEL 12:1-3
1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 And those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

MATTHEW 24:29-31 (Jesus)
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken;
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

MARK 13:24-27 (Jesus)
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 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.

1 THESSALONIANS 4:15-18 (Paul)
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not go before those who are asleep.
16 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.
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: so shall we ever be with the Lord.

REVELATION 20:4-6
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years .
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years .

Note 1: Job said that the dead would not rise until, "the heavens be no more," (Job 14:12), which indicates a time after the tribulation, and on the day of the Lord:

(2 Peter 3:7-12) "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved for fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. ...
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Seeing that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons aught you to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Looking for and hasting to the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?"

In order to get round this, pre-tribulationists must again add to God's word, and say that Job didn't mean all of the dead. Again, their objection is based on what God's word does not say, rather than what it says, and this is not right.

Note 2: Daniel indicated that the dead would rise after, "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation" (Daniel 12:1). Surely this is referring to the great tribulation, and shows that the resurrection of the dead, and thus the rapture, occurs after the great tribulation. This is confirmed by two gospel writers:

(Matthew 24:29-31) "Immediately after the tribulation of those days ... they shall see the Son of man coming ... his angels ... shall gather his elect ...".
(Mark 14:24-27) "But in those days, after that tribulation ... shall they see the Son of man coming ... his angels ... shall gather his elect ...".

Both of these scriptures show the same order, tribulation first, then Jesus coming, and his elect being gathered, which is both the rapture and the first resurrection. No gospel writer alters this order, showing that the rapture comes after the tribulation.
At the same time as the devil is bound, and cast into a bottomless pit for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3), the apostle John saw, "the souls of those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years ." (Revelation 20:4). These are obviously people who were killed during the tribulation, and had obtained the victory over the beast, but when did they resurrect? "This is the first resurrection." (Revelation 20:5), proving that the first resurrection cannot occur before the tribulation, otherwise theirs would have been the second resurrection. Thus it proves that the rapture cannot take place before the tribulation, because the first resurrection and the rapture occur at the same time (#3.11). Much rather this is the resurrection which occurs "at the last day" (See #3.13), at Jesus' second coming (#3.2), which will be after the tribulation.

#3.13 The first resurrection occurs on the last day of this pre-millennial age

DANIEL 12:13
13 But you go your way until the end: for you shall rest, and stand in your lot at the end of the days.

JOHN 6:39-40 (Jesus)
39 And this is the Father's will who has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him who sent me, that every one who sees the Son, and believes in him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

JOHN 6:44 (Jesus)
44 No man can come to me, except the Father who has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

JOHN 6:54 (Jesus)
54 Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

JOHN 11:24
24 Martha said to him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

Note 1: Paul made it clear that the resurrection of the dead in Christ, which is known as "the first resurrection." (Revelation 20:5-6), takes place at the same time as the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). These other scriptures indicate that this will happen "at the last day." (John 6:39-40; 6:44; 6:54; 11:24), which refers to the last day of this present age, after which the millennium will commence. Every one of these phrases, "at the last day", include the Greek words th esxath hmera (Gtr. tē eschatē hēmera) which are in the dative case; the case for indicating a point in time when an event occurs:

(DBW p155) "The noun in the dative indicates the time when the action of the main verb is accomplished. The dative routinely denotes point of time, answering the question, When?"
(WP p112) "A corresponding temporal use is the locative of point of time:"
(DFH p 105) "The dative means at a point of time."

(See also BAGD p260; DFH p105; JHT p212.) Therefore, the expression "at the last day", literally means "at some point in time during the last day". By way of example, when Jesus was raised "on the third day" (Matthew 17:23; 20:19; Mark 10:34) (all dative case), it was at some particular point in time on that day. When his body, the church, is raised at the end of the age, it will not take 7 years to come up. It will not be resurrected, a bit here, and a bit there, in several stages. It will all resurrect at a point in time on the last day of this present age, as the scriptures show:

(1 Corinthians 15:52) "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."

This is obviously not some long drawn out period of time, but, as the dative case indicates, an event which happens at a point in time. Martha confirmed that "the resurrection" and "the last day" refer to the same time (John 11:24), when "every one who sees the son, and believes in him," (John 6:40), will be raised up. The term "every one" includes dead Jewish and Gentile believers, those who will be killed during the tribulation (Daniel 11:32-35; Revelation 2:10; 6:9-11; 7:13-14; 20:4), and the Old Testament saints. So the Gentiles will not be raptured before the Jews, nor will the church be raptured before the tribulation, but all believers will be raptured together on the last day of this present age. If we interpret "the last day" literally, as a single day, then the pre-tribulation rapture theory is destroyed, because it is obvious that many scriptures show a resurrection after the tribulation.

Note 2: Pre-tribulation believers try to get round this by refusing to interpret the word "day" literally. We have already seen that they attempt to spread the first resurrection over a seven year period (See #3.11 Note 2), so "the last day", which is really synonymous with the day of the rapture, and is called "the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:10; 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:2), they again interpret to be a period of time:

(GBS p74) "the Day of Christ speaks of the period the Church spends in heaven with Christ between rapture and revelation,"

The problem with this interpretation is that nowhere in scripture is a day given to mean a seven year period of time. It can mean 12 hours (John 11:9), or a literal day of 24 hours, or even a year in prophecy (Ezekiel 4:6). In some sense it could be "as a thousand years " (2 Peter 3:8), and in some places it is not a literal day (Jeremiah 31:32), but here, far from the principle of literal interpretation, which they defend so vehemently, they now invent a new meaning for the word "day", for which there is no scriptural precedent. Their case completely fails without these unscriptural interpretations. As a post-tribulation believer, I have no problem in seeing "the day of Christ" as a literal day, the last one of this present age.
Again, when they interpret the phrase "the day of the LORD", they try to make this spread over a long period also:

(GBS p75-76) "the Day of the Lord, in both Testaments, does not concern the Church but is the time of God's wrath and judgement upon the world. It is not a twenty-four hour day, or one single event, but a period of time which starts after the rapture of the Church and incorporates the entirety of the Tribulation period."

Again, they have gone far away from a literal interpretation, and now they have contradicted the scripture:

(Isaiah 2:12, 17) "For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day."

If "the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day", then it cannot refer to a period of time when the Antichrist will be upon the earth, demanding and receiving worship from "all that dwell upon the earth" (Revelation 13:8). Nor can it refer to a time when the Antichrist, "opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This is exaltation of man, not a time when every one who is proud and lifted up "shall be brought low" (Isaiah 2:12). They will all be brought low on the last literal day of this present age when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). Then the Beast and the false prophet will be taken and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20), and his armies will be destroyed by fire (Zechariah 14:12). The day of the Lord, in the context of the second coming of Jesus Christ, refers to the last day of this present age, when these things will come to pass, and the church will be raptured. The fornicator at Corinth in the days of the Apostle Paul was turned over to Satan for this reason:

(1 Corinthians 5:5) "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

If a pre-tribulation rapture was true he would be saved before the "day of the Lord" when the church was raptured, proving the pre tribulation rapture false again.

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