Q265 : Is the Rapture a Resurrection?

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Q265 : Is the Rapture a Resurrection?

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I trust you are doing well.

I have a little question relating to the above subject matter. I had always used the terms resurrection and rapture interchangeably until I was recently challenged about it. I then noticed that in 1 Thes. 4 it is the dead in Christ who are said to rise, while the living are only transformed. Both groups are then raptured. Even though the events take place very quickly, there is still a little time difference (however minute) between when the resurrection of the dead takes place and when the dead and transformed living saints are raptured. If this is correct, then is the resurrection synonymous with the rapture? Will it be correct to refer to the rapture as a resurrection?

Paul believed he would be part of the living saints who are caught up (by the use of "we" in 1 Thes. 4:16). Thus, he looked forward to the rapture, not necessarily resurrection. If this is so, how do we reconcile this with Phil. 3:11 where he hoped he would partake of the "out-resurrection"? Also, Rev. 20:6 pronounces a blessing on all those who participate in the first resurrection. I believe this includes those resurrected just before/at the rapture. If the resurrection is not the same as the rapture, then this blessing of Rev. 20:6 is limited to the dead saints who come to life and not to living saints who are raptured.

Not sure I'm making sense anymore I'm sure you understand my question though and would graciously assist me here.

A265 : by Tony Garland

It is my view that Paul’s comments in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Philippians 3:11 provide solid evidence that Paul considered the Rapture to be a special type of resurrection—not something distinct. While it is true that those who are still living and taken at the Rapture never experience death, they are still transformed. Their fallen, earthly bodies—which are subject to decay and on their way towards death—undergo glorification, just as those who have died previously. In both cases, the body which was before “in corruption” is “raised in incorruption” (1Cor. 15:42). That Paul includes himself in both categories provides us with good evidence that we should not make too much of a distinction between the Rapture and resurrection. In both cases, God overcomes death/decay and transforms our bodies into glorious, powerful habitations. That some of those bodies had passed the point of death and experienced the ultimate physical dispersion of decay whereas other bodies, still alive, have experienced less decay is not a distinction worth placing much weight on.

Another indication that placing too much distinction on resurrection vs. Rapture leads to confusion is your observation about the two main categories which all of mankind will find themselves in: either the first resurrection (believers) or the second resurrection (unbelievers). To overemphasize distinctions and exempt those alive at the time of the Rapture from the first category creates thorny theological issues—a yellow flag that doing so is heading down the wrong interpretive path!

This brings up another topic in general: when to make distinctions on fine points in the text and when not to make distinctions! Problems exist on either side. For example, failure to carefully handle distinctions in the text can cause one to gloss over important differences (e.g., between the church and Israel). On the other hand, making too much of minor differences leads to errors in interpretation (e.g., hyper-dispensationalisma).

It sounds to me that the person who challenged the idea that the Rapture is a resurrection falls into the camp of making too much of a minor aspect and difference in timing, but your knowledge of other related passages is steering you back on the correct road: the Rapture is a resurrection: simply one that happens to involve living saints. Although we may tend to think about resurrection always concerning raising the dead, the larger picture would emphasize a transformation between that which is tainted with sin and subject to death (whether having died yet or not) vs. that which is glorious, perfect, and eternal.

I hope that helps - Tony

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