Can you explain rising up into the air during the rapture?
Scripture talks about the rapture in two places specifically. Rapture is Latin for “catching up.” This is the language Paul uses in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 when he talks about the rapture. The Thessalonians were overly concerned they had missed the rapture.
Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians to confirm that they had not missed it despite the intense persecution they faced in their city. Being caught up in the air is described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-57.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, we get the clear indication that there’ll be a two-stage rapture. I mean this in the sense that the dead in Christ will first rise and meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16). After they meet the Lord in the air, then those who are alive in Christ at the time of his return will also join him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
There is a bit of mystery for us in this “catching up into the air.” We don’t know what it will be like. It almost sounds a bit like Elijah going up into heaven in the chariot with whirlwinds. But we really don’t know exactly how it will happen.
First Corinthians 15:50-57 gives more clarification of what it will be like. Paul says that our bodies will be changed from a perishable body to an imperishable, eternal one (1 Corinthians 15:50-51).
Whether it is the saints who have already died or those who are still alive at the coming of Christ, all of our bodies will be changed into these imperishable, heavenly and eternal bodies.
Paul continues to describe how we will meet the Lord. It will happen so quickly that we will be here one moment and in the clouds the next. Paul says it will be “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
As Paul mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, there will be a final trumpet sound when Christ arrives in the clouds (1 Corinthians 15:52). This is how we know he is speaking of the same event. First, the dead saints will rise, and then the living saints join them.
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul is concerned about making sure the Thessalonian saints know what’s going to happen and that they haven’t missed the rapture. But in 1 Corinthians, Paul explains how and what will happen. He is concerned more about how our bodies will be changed in that moment.
The only other thing that Scripture talks about when it talks about the rapture, our catching up to be with the Lord in the air, in the clouds forever in heaven, is that it will be the moment of victory for Christ and us (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
This is the moment of resurrection, Jesus the first to be raised from the dead as the firstfruits. Then, all of the saints will see God’s glory as the promise of resurrection happens before our eyes. We will experience the hope of resurrection in the rapture.
We will be joined with Christ forever in heaven. It is a glorious hope that we wait for. It is the promise that we must stand steadfast and wait for. We will see our Lord once and for all, and all of God’s promises will be fulfilled.