1 Thessalonians 4:15, We who are alive. This scripture passage along with others by Paul, James and John clearly indicates that the apostolic writers when writing these passages (i.e. prior to AD 70, the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple) viewed the second coming of Yeshua as imminent, and was not far off in the future. (See also 1 Cor 7:26, 29, 31; 15:52; Rom 13:11; 16:20; Phil 4:5; cp. Jas 5:7–9; 1 John 2:18.) The imminence of Yeshua’s second coming may have been based on a misunderstanding of Yeshua’s own words in his Olivet Discourse where he talks about the events announcing his second coming falling on “this generation” (Matt 24:34, 36). From this passage, it’s not readily understood to which generation he is referring—that one, or another off in the future, or both. It appears that the apostles applied his words to their generation.
1 Thessalonians 4:17, Be caught up. Do I believe in the rapture? Yes, but not as many in the Christian church teach it. For them, the resurrection of the righteous dead occurs before the great tribulation—called the pre-trib rapture.
As you probably know, the word “rapture” is from a Latin word for being “caught up” (or resurrected) as found in 1 Thess 4:17—“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air …” Therefore, a better question to ask would be, do I believe in the resurrection of the dead? Most emphatically I do. The only question is when do I believe the resurrection will occur? As far as I can tell, there are only three obvious answers to that question: before the great tribulation (as much of the Christian church teaches), after the great tribulation, but before the wrath of Elohim is poured out on the earth (what I believe) or after the great tribulation and the wrath (which is what some believe, including some Messianics), which is called the “post trib” position.
The word “caught up” is the Greek word harpazo (Strong’s 726/TDNT 1:472) which is used 13 times in the NT (Matt 11:12; 13:19; John 6:15; 10:12,28,29; Acts 8:39; 23:10; 2 Cor 12:2,4; 1 Thess 4:15; Jude 23; Rev 12:5) and means “to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away.” It is found in the NT 13 times and is translated in the KJV as “catch up, take by force, catch away, pluck, catch, pull.”Continue reading