We are familiar with the verse:
1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NASB) Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
But are we aware of the other 'rapture' that Jesus talks about?
Matthew 13:41-42 (NASB) The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Granted, this second one doesn't use the Greek word, harpazō, as we find in the Thessalonian verse, but it does indicate the removal of a select group or quality of people.
Jesus also describes this event as follows:
Matthew 24:40-41 (NASB) Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. (see also Luke 17: 35-37)
The reference to "the days of Noah" in this context would suggest the wicked are 'taken' and the righteous left behind.
How do we reconcile these two rapture events? Are they the same event described differently by Jesus than by Paul? why the difference in who is taken or caught up? Paul reads that the saints are taken to be with the Lord, while Jesus describes it as the wicked being taken to destruction and the righteous left behind.
This seeming paradox has been a point of confusion for many as to the validity of the Thessalonian rapture event for the body of Christ. If the Bible is inerrant (in the original languages), and it is, then there must be congruency, harmony, between these accounts--and there is.
There is a simple explanation, it's a matter of the audience to which Jesus and Paul are speaking.
Jesus admits to having been sent 'only to the lost sheep of Israel' while Paul was sent as the Apostle to the Gentiles.
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