​​​Introduction

Given the Lords’ Witnesses' view that we are currently in the last throes of the end-times, one of the topics that is on our minds is that of the promised rapture. Now the word ‘rapture’ does not actually appear in the scriptures as far as I can tell. So, let us start out by looking at the dictionary meaning for the word and see if it fits with our expectations and then if those expectations are justified in the scriptures.   

The Free Dictionary, at
https://www.thefreedictionary.com/rapture, gives the following definition to the word ‘rapture’:

1. The state of being transported by a lofty emotion; ecstasy.
2. An expression of ecstatic feeling: raptures of joy.
3. The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven, by supernatural means.
4. An event in the eschatology of certain Christian groups in which believers in Christ will be taken up to heaven either prior to or at the Second Coming.

So, we see that the original, non-biblical meaning applies to feelings of high ecstatic emotion. It would seem the biblical sense may have come later in describing the transportation of faithful Christians from the earthly to a heavenly realm. This webpage from Wikipedia has much to say on the subject: 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture.
 

Bible Verses Referencing the Rapture

Probably one of the clearest meanings of the rapture in the scriptures is provided by Paul in his first letter to the congregation at Thessalonica. Several points are covered here. Firstly, the rapture will begin with Christ’s second coming which occur with a great fanfare of a shout and a trumpet blast from Heaven. The first ones to be raptured will be those faithful to Christ who have previously died physically and are in the first death. In the LW’s understanding (
Introduction [13]  What is physical death?) these ones’ spirits reside in sleeping angels in Hades awaiting this resurrection. After those ones have been resurrected then it will be the turn of those faithful ones in Christ, who are still alive on the Earth, to be transported up to their saviour. This latter is the rapture that the LWs are looking forward to experience, myself very much included:

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 that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4 ASV)

Paul wrote a similar message to his congregation in Corinth, identifying that both the faithful dead and those still alive will be raised up to a new incorruptible and immortal life in an instant, the rapture:

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
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.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15 KJV)

Mark has a similar account of the rapture but with the added information that those raptured will come from Heaven as well as the Earth. In Bible Code terms, this is talking about the Heaven and the Earth to come. The heavenly gathering is that into the ark of the saints into the ark, whereas the earthly rapture is describing that of the citizens of the Kingdom:

26 And 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. (Mark 13 KJV)

The following verses from the Gospel of Matthew represent a parallel account to that of Mark describing the rapture:

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 on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send forth 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. (Matthew 24 ASV)

As mentioned above the LW understanding of the meaning of the Heaven and Earth here, being that going forward from the rapture, is demonstrated by the following scripture from John’s Revelation describing the new Heaven and Earth to come:

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (Revelation 21 KJV)

A little further on in the gospel chapter, Matthew compares the second coming and the rapture explicitly to the great flood in Noah’s time. The faithful ones being compared to Noah in paying attention to God’s requirements of them, whilst the rest of mankind went about their normal ungodly lives. Those readying themselves for the unknown date of the second coming will be saved, the rest being left to suffer the consequences of their mis-spent and unrepentant lives on a ravaged planet.

We also see that that the rapture event itself, for those ones alive on the Earth, will be very visible to those that are left. This is very reminiscent of the movie ‘Left Behind’ which I watched again recently. In the film the raptured people just instantly disappeared, leaving nothing but their clothes and other physical accessories behind in untidy piles (
Left Behind (2014 film)). I guess the raptured ones will have no need of those where they are going, after all, they will be clothed in white robes will they not and, I imagine they will have no need of the other paraphernalia of our current physical existence?

Another point to pick up from this scripture is that 50% each of men and women will be chosen for the rapture:

37 And as [were] the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man.
38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
39 and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man.
40 Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left:
41 two women [shall be] grinding at the mill; one is taken, and one is left.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh. (Matthew 24 ASV)

This then needs to be considered together with the parallel account in the Gospel of Luke below. Taking them additively, the 50% left behind from the Matthew account will be further sub-divided into a further 50% division. So, a further 25% will be saved but the remaining 25% will eventually find their unhappy way to Gehenna. Again, the gender split will be maintained through the Matthew scripture. These additional saved ones, however, will not be raptured at the time of Christ’s coming but will remain on the ravaged planet under the angels’ protection until their time for salvation.

One interesting point here is the schedule for the rapture. The LWs understand that the various categories of the covenanted and faithful ones will be raptured in a set sequence. The details of this can be found in the depths of
Understanding [101] The Master Chronology of God's people from Adam to Armageddon (search in the webpage for 'Raptures and Resurrections'). Now, whilst I do not necessarily subscribe to the exact details of the chronological schedule for this, I do nonetheless subscribe to the principle of a schedule for the various classes of rapture. Luke identifies that the rapture could occur during the night or during the course of the working day thereby confirming the principle that not all will be raptured at one and the same time:

26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so also it will be in the days of the Son of Man.
27 They were eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, until [the] day Noah went into the ark. And the flood came and destroyed all.
28 And likewise, as it was in the days of Lot, they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building;
29 but on [the] day Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from the heaven and destroyed all.
30 According to those things, it will be in the day the Son of Man is revealed.
31 In that day, [he] who will be on the housetop, let him not go down to take his goods [from] the house. And likewise, he in the field, let him not return to the things behind.
32 Remember Lot's wife.
33 Whoever seeks to save his life, [he] will lose it. And whoever will lose it, he will preserve it.
34 I say to you, In that night two will be on one bed; the one will be taken and the other will be left.
35 Two will be grinding together; one will be taken and the other will be left. (Luke 17 GLT)

Now there is much symbolism in this following account from John’s Revelation that I do not intend to go into for the purposes of this paper. Those interested in the further detail will find it at:
Understanding [151] Revelation Decoded; search for 'Revelation 11' on that webpage The two witnesses here are the Watchtower and the Lords’ Witnesses who both testify in God’s name. Suffice it to say that in verse 12 below, the faithful Jehovah’s and Lords’ Witnesses will all be raptured even though the Watchtower had become a false church prior to the end of this system:

3 And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the Lord of the earth.
5 And if any man desireth to hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies; and if any man shall desire to hurt them, in this manner must he be killed.
6 These have the power to shut the heaven, that it rain not during the days of their prophecy: and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they shall desire.
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.
8 And their dead bodies [lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.
9 And from among the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations do [men] look upon their dead bodies three days and a half, and suffer not their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.
10 And they that dwell on the earth rejoice over them, and make merry; and they shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth.
11 And after the three days and a half the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that beheld them.
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they went up into heaven in the cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (Revelation 11 ASV)
 

Paul’s Vision

If one examines the first few verses of Paul’s second letter to the congregation at Corinth, the phrases ‘caught away unto the third heaven’ and ‘caught away to the paradise’ describe the experience one might have of the rapture. It is likely that Paul’s description of his visionary experience is similar to the rapture subject to whether it is ‘in the body’ or ‘out of the body’. However, I cannot think that Paul’s experience here is other than a vision or revelation and so does not represent the rapture since the former represents a temporary experience whereas the latter is a permanent one. However, this vision clearly left a rapturous impression with Paul. The following website represents a good attempt to tease the meaning out of these verses for which I can add little further value:
https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/2-corinthians-12/:

1 To boast, really, is not profitable for me, for I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I have known a man in Christ, fourteen years ago -- whether in the body I have not known, whether out of the body I have not known, God hath known -- such an one being caught away unto the third heaven;
3 and I have known such a man -- whether in the body, whether out of the body, I have not known, God hath known, --
4 that he was caught away to the paradise, and heard unutterable sayings, that it is not possible for man to speak.
5 Of such an one I will boast, and of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities, (2 Corinthians 12 YLT)

 

Synopsis

  1. The actual word ‘rapture’ does not appear in the scriptures but the prophesied event is described in other varied terms. The phraseology used in the scriptures includes: ‘caught up in the clouds’; ‘we shall all be changed.…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye’; 'caught away unto the third heaven....whether in the body, whether out of the body'; 'they went up into heaven in the cloud'.
  2. The Rapture commences with Christ’s second coming which will be announced from Heaven in no uncertain terms. It starts with those faithful ones in the grave (Hades) and is followed by those still alive on the Earth. According to LW understandings, there is a fixed sequence to the rapture dependent on the covenant being exercised.
  3. The ‘taking’ of the faithful living ones will be very visible to those left behind on the Earth.
  4. There will be a differentiation between the New Heavenly Saints and the New Earthly citizens that will populate God’s Kingdom consequent upon the Rapture.
  5. 50% of each gender will be deemed righteous enough to be taken in the rapture.
  6. The rapture is compared in scripture to Noah’s flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in its salvation of the righteous, its destruction of the unrighteous and the suddenness and finality of its occurrence.
  7. Paul’s vision gives a preview of the rapture.

 

Conclusion

From this relatively short exercise, I believe that there is ample scriptural evidence to confirm that the concept of the rapture as a ‘transport of delight’ is a true promise from our God for our salvation. Consequently, I continue to pray for the day when the righteous can look forward to a new beginning. Amen
 

Date of Publication: 3rd January 2022

The Rapture

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