Partial Rapture Defense   

Appendix C

This is a response to an unfavorable assessment of the partial rapture. It was posted by a long-standing president of a nationally recognized seminary. The posting correctly states this author “is considered perhaps the world’s foremost interpreter of biblical prophecy.”

Observation #1. “… the partial rapture teaching transfers both resurrection and translation from a work of grace to a work of reward for faithfulness.”

Belief in a partial rapture does not mean belief in a works-based eternal salvation, which is always by grace through faith. This is the most common misunderstanding.

Observation #2. “Opposition to the partial rapture point of view springs not only from particular texts but from the broad doctrine of the nature of salvation itself.”

Theologians often fail to separate the reward of an early rapture, from the critical doctrine of being eternally saved by grace, through faith. While both involve rescuing believers, there are obvious differences, and each should be considered separately.

Observation #3. “It is inconceivable if the church is formed by grace that it should be divided by works.”

No, this is not inconceivable. Rewards for works are scriptural and highly individualized. While eternal salvation is by grace, through faith. Any reward beyond salvation, to include participation in a rapture that protects only selected believers, will be specific to each individual.
The church is in many aspects, divided. Examples include denomination and cultural differences. The church is also divided in that while many are still alive, many have passed into eternity. Accordingly, division in the church should be considered anything but – inconceivable.

Observation #4. “Those translated and those resurrected at the last trump of 1 Corinthians 15:52 are described as “we all” in 1 Corinthians 15:51.”

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will 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 imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

The phrase “we will all be changed.” is often used to prove the rapture is for all believers – for the entire church. But there are two end-time raptures, with only this second rapture being a complete rapture of the church.

Observation #5. “According to 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, those resurrected are described as “the dead in Christ” (v. 16) and the “we” who are caught up are identified as those who “believe that Jesus died and rose again” (v. 14). The explicit teaching of Scripture points to the conclusion that the translation includes all living saints and the resurrection includes all the “dead in Christ.”

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 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. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)

Again, the argument presented is valid if there is only one end-time rapture. These verses describe the second rapture, which is a complete rapture of the church.

The phrase “and remain” is translated “who are left” in thirteen other translations; this refers to the many Christians who are “left behind” after the early rapture. (ESV, ESVUK, NABRE, NET, NIV, NIVUK, NRSV, NRSVA, NRSVACE, NRSVCE, RSV, RSVCE, WEB)