"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.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
To understand what Paul
means, He instructed his listeners to "earnestly study to show
yourself approved to God, a workman unashamed, rightly dividing the
word of Truth." 2 Timothy 2:15. Paul wrote: "we speak, not in words
taught us by human wisdom but in words taught us by the Spirit,
expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the
Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God
for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them,
because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14.
According to Paul, the "word
of Truth" must be "spiritually discerned." The phrase "spiritually
discerned" is translated from the original Greek pneumatikos
anakrinetai. The word anakrinetai is derived from the original root
Greek word krina, which means judged, determined or interpreted.
To begin, the New Testament
writings contain a number of statements concerning topics such as
sleep, death, awakening, resurrection and rebirth. For example, in
Peter's writings we find a statement which says: "The gospel was
preached also to them that are dead, that they might live according
to God in the spirit." 1 Peter 4:6. The same is true of Paul's
writings. For example, Paul told the believers of Rome to start
acting like they are alive. He wrote: "Yield yourselves unto God, as
those that are alive from the dead." Romans 6:13. Later on, in this
same book, Paul again tells them: "It is now the hour for you to
be aroused from sleep." Romans 13:11.
While Peter and Paul both
advised their listeners to wake up and to rise from the "dead,"
Jesus told people that they had to get "born." Jesus said:
"I say unto thee, except a man be born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God... That which is born of flesh is
flesh (sarx), and that which is born of Spirit is spirit. Marvel not
that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." John
We can see where Jesus again
used the analogy of "death" to refer to someone whom he had
characterized as spiritually dead, spiritually misdirected or
spiritually unaware. When Jesus told the man to
"Let the dead bury their dead"
(Luke 9:60), He was using a parable to describe people who had
become spiritually misdirected and spiritually dead.
In his letters, Paul also
repeatedly employs Jesus' symbolic parable of death. For example, in
Ephesians Paul was speaking to the living when he said: "Wake up,
O sleeper, rise from the dead." Ephesians 5:14.
Paul continues by providing
us with even more specific examples of what he meant when he spoke
of "sleep" and "death." Two thousand years ago, the Jews had failed
to recognize the fulfillment of their prophecies. By not recognizing
the return of Elijah from heaven as John the Baptist and similarly
by rejecting Jesus as their Messiah they demonstrated that they had
lost the true spirit of their teachings. This is what Paul meant
when he called these people "blind," "asleep" and "dead."
In the Book of Romans, Paul
explained that some of these "dead" people were raised from their
spiritual deadness when they awoke to the fact that the promises
contained in their scriptures had indeed been fulfilled and that
Jesus truly was the Messiah. Referring to these newly awakened
people, Paul wrote: "The election hath obtained it, but the eyes of
the others have been blinded. Romans 11:7.
Peter also wrote: "The gospel
was preached also to them that are dead, that they might live
according to God in the spirit. 1 Peter 4:6.
Going back to 1 Thessalonians
4, Paul continues his statement by promising that the newly awakened
believers and those who already believe who had risen from the dead
will next "be caught up (harpazo) together... to a meeting
with the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord."
In Second Corinthians, Paul
reveals that he too was "caught up (harpazo) as far as the third
heaven... and heard words so secret that human lips may not repeat
them." 2 Corinthians 12:1-5.
In the Apostle John's
writings we can see that he too claimed to have ascended into heaven
while he was still alive. John wrote: "After this I looked, and
there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice
said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after
this.' At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne
in heaven. Revelation 4:1.
When John was "caught up"
into heaven he explains that this happened "in the Spirit." And
again, later in the same book, John explains that he saw these
things "in my vision." Revelation 9:17.
In the Book of Hebrews, we
are told that the Old Testament Prophet Enoch was also
"translated" into heaven. Paul explained that Enoch's
"translation"... or his being "carried over" into heaven, was not
physical. He wrote: "By faith Enoch was translated so as to not
see death, and was not found, because God translated him. For before
his translation he had obtained witness to have been pleasing. But
without faith it is impossible to please God." Hebrews 11:5-6.
Later on, in his letter to
the Colossians, Paul clearly explains what he meant by being
"translated" into heaven or being "caught up" into the "kingdom of
God." Paul wrote: "We do not cease praying for you and asking that
you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and
spiritual understanding... giving thanks to the Father... who
delivered us out of the power of darkness and translated us into the
kingdom of the Son... who is the image of the invisible God."
Colossians 1:9-14. Notice here that Paul was telling us that when we
combine "knowledge of his will" with "spiritual understanding," is
it possible for us to be "translated" out of the "darkness" of
ignorance and misinterpretation into the light of the true "faith."
This is a spiritual rapture.
In this journey the seeker
witness to a myriad
paths of guidance
ways of his Lord.
is the station reached
by them that search after
god, and such are
attained by those who
hasten unto him.
When once the seeker hath
unto this station,
he will enter
of Love and Rapture