To be 'Caught up' or raptured

"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 3:3-7.

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
becometh witness to a myriad
changes and … discovereth the
paths of guidance and the
ways of his Lord.”

“such is the station reached
by them that search after
God, and such are the heights
attained by those who
hasten unto Him.”

When once the seeker hath
ascended unto this station,
he will enter the City
of Love and Rapture…”