By: J.F.T. Woods
Q. I can find only two advents of Christ in the Bible. If there were a “secret rapture” wouldn’t Christ have told us?
A. He did! In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 we read, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” NKJV.
Paul starts by saying, “Look, I’m telling you a secret.” That Christ purposely refrained from teaching certain lines of truth during his earthly ministry is evident from John 16:12-13: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” NKJV. Then Paul says, “We shall not all sleep,” a reference to the believer’s physical death, “but we shall all be changed.” There will be a time, says God through Paul, when dead grace believers will be raised incorruptible, and living believers will put on incorruptibility without tasting physical death. This is the “departure” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (apostasy, Greek, unfortunately rendered “falling away” in some English versions, which must precede the “unveiling” of the man of sin).
Israel had many “last trumpets”…last in terms of sequence. All but one of these was followed by another “first trumpet.” Paul’s “last trumpet” is neither the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15 nor the last trumpet of Matthew 24:31. These are “seventh” (in sequence) and “last” (in time) in Israel’s program. As Rome’s last trumpet called her armies to assemble and move out, so the trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 call the Body of Christ to Heaven.