Twinkling of an Eye
In the previous part of First Corinthians, there was talk in the church that there was no resurrection of the dead. During Jesus' ministry, there were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection and the Sadducees believed there was no resurrection. It is very possible that many converts in the Corinthian church were Sadducees, or they were once indoctrinated by them. There were also groups who had a distorted view of the gospel. Paul explained the importance of the resurrection. If there is no resurrection, Jesus Christ could not have risen from the dead. And if He did not rise from the dead then our faith is useless, and we are still in our sins. If we are still in our sins, we have no hope and we are still destined to spend eternity in hell!
In this study, we will examine the pre-trib claims:
Paul writes in First Corinthians Chapter 15:
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (Hosea 13:14)
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:49-55
In the above verses, Paul continued his discussion of the resurrection. He told them that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Neither will the perishable inherit the imperishable. The kingdom Paul referred to is the Millennial Kingdom. The Kingdom Christ will set up after the tribulation when he comes to destroy the Anti-Christ and his enemies at Armageddon. And He will also send Satan to prison during His Millennial reign.
Paul revealed a mystery:
There are those who will be still alive and will not go through death (sleep), but their bodies will be changed...
Paul says this will happen:
He said that a trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and the ones who are still alive will be changed. The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal cloth itself with immortal. In essence, at this time, our bodies which are perishable will replaced with imperishable bodies. We will be changed from mortal to immortal.
Pre-tribbers believe Paul is describing a "pre-trib" rapture because there are terms used such as "changed--in a flash in a twinkling of an eye." They claim since this happens so fast, this will be unnoticed by non believers .So let's look at this part of scripture very closely.
Does Paul say in this part of scripture that we will be caught up to meet Jesus and go to heaven with Him?
Does Paul mention they are going anywhere in the above verse? Does he say this will go unnoticed?
Does he say this will happen before the tribulation?
Therefore, can we conclude Paul is describing a pre-trib rapture?
Paul told them their bodies will be changed in a moment in a twinkling of an eye. He didn't say "in a moment in a twinkling of an eye, they will be zapped upstairs." Will this happen at the same time as First Thessalonians chapter four? I believe it will. But this verse does not describe a pre-tribulation rapture of the church or even a rapture of any kind. For further study, please read "With a Shout."
When did Paul say we will be changed? He said "at the last trumpet." When is this last trumpet? Is there anywhere in scripture the last trumpet sounds? Does Revelation describe a last trumpet? In Revelation there are seven trumpets (8:2). And John describes the seventh and last trumpet:
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying,
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
What did Paul say in First Corinthians? He said "I declare to you brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God..."
And John described seventh trumpet in revelation, a voice said "the kingdom of earth has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ..." Doesn't this seem more than just a mere coincidence that Paul said flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, we will be changed at the last trumpet, and in Revelation, at the seventh trumpet, the Kingdom of this earth becomes the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ (meaning the kingdom of God)?
So this is clear that we will be changed when the seventh and last trumpet in Revelation sounds.
However, the pre-tribbers believe the last trumpet Paul refers to is the last trumpet that sounds before the tribulation. Can they show in scripture that there are trumpet sounds that lead up to a "pre-trib" coming? And if this is the last trumpet, can we assume there will be other trumpet sounds that follow? We must conclude since this happens at the last trumpet, there are no other trumpet sounds that follow.
Pre-tribbers believe there will be two resurrections for the righteous. The first before the tribulation (the ones who died in Christ up to then), and the second after the tribulation (the old testament Jews and the martyred tribulation saints).
Referring to the resurrection, which is a key part of this scripture, Paul said at the last trumpet, the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable. When will the dead be raised? What does scripture say about the resurrection?
Earlier in First Corinthians, Paul explains the
order of the resurrection:
"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
First Corinthians 15: 20-23
Paul in an essence was saying that Christ has risen from the dead and is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Death came from a man, Adam all will die. The resurrection of the dead comes through another man, Christ who all will be made alive (the resurrection). The resurrection comes in his own turn:
Referring to verse 23, when does He come? Does Paul say "before the tribulation when He comes those who belong to him, and after the tribulation He comes those who belong to Him?" In verse 23 there is only one reference to His coming and resurrection.
In the book of John, Jesus, referred to the resurrection:
"And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Jesus said that everyone who beholds Him and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and He will rise him up on the last day. If Jesus said everyone who believes in him, doesn't this include the tribulation saints? Martyred tribulation saints cannot be risen before the tribulation. Therefore, all believers in Christ will be risen at the last day, after the tribulation.
Since the all of the dead in Christ will rise at the resurrection, at the last day, we must conclude there is no pre tribulation rapture of the Church.
Looking back at verse 49 in the 15th chapter of First Corinthians, Paul said;
"And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
When will we bear the likeness of the Man from heaven? John Wrote:
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
1 John 3: 2
John said when He (Jesus) appears we will be like Him.
"And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming."
1 John 2:28
John said to continue in Him so when He (Jesus) appears, we may be confident and unashamed before him at His coming. Clearly, this is after the tribulation.
Paul in Second Thessalonians referred to Christ's appearance:
"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming..."
2 Thessalonians 2: 8
Paul said that Jesus will slay the lawless one (Anti-Christ) by the brightness (appearing) of His coming, which is after the tribulation.
"But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap..."
 ἐπιφάνει , epiphaneia [(ep-if-an'-i-ah)(greek)] a manifestation, that is, (specifically) the advent of Christ (past or future): - appearing, brightness. Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries