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1 Corinthians 15:51-52 does not teach the Rapture

Updated: Jun 5, 2021

By Luke Lancaster

Many times believers in a pre-tribulational rapture will argue their position from 1 Cor. 15:51-52, which says, “Lo! 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed.” They see this passage as referring to Christians being “raptured” from this earth.

However, the context of 1 Cor. 15 is Paul’s argument for a bodily resurrection: that when Christians die, their bodies do not simply turn into dust forever, but rather will one day be changed into a glorified, spiritual body. It is that, “It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:44). Notice the argument, “If this…then this.” When Jesus comes at the end of time in the resurrection of the dead, those who are still left on the earth will not die (“we shall not all sleep”), but will become glorified bodies along with those who have died. This is Paul’s point.

He is not discussing a tribulation in this passage or that this event occurs before the end of time. For he talks about this event as he speaks of the end of the world elsewhere. There’s a trumpet as usual, and it’s at that last trumpet that we are changed. But what happens during that last trumpet? The dead are raised. Well, if the dead are coming back to life, doesn’t that sound like the end of the world? These are the things that are supposed to occur during Christ’s return at the end of time. Plus, the emphasis on the “last” trumpet, sort of emphasizes the end of the world, doesn’t it? Paul in 1 Cor. 15 is talking about the end of the world, the second coming of Christ, which is where our bodies come back to life. The context is not the tribulation.

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