The Final Trumpet – Rapture or Judgment During Tribulation?
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is explaining the manner of our resurrection, sometimes called the “rapture:”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (NKJV)
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Paul says the moment of our transformation into our new physical bodies will happen instantaneously at “the last trumpet.” Since Paul calls this trumpet the “last” trumpet, there must have been earlier trumpet sound that preceded the last trumpet.
Elsewhere in Revelation 11 we read about the seventh (and final) trumpet of the seven Trumpet Judgments sounding during Tribulation:
Revelation 11:15 (NKJV)
Seventh Trumpet: The Kingdom Proclaimed
15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
These two events, the trumpet reference in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and Revelation 11:15 are very different events, which happen at different times, though both involve the use of a trumpet. And though both scenes involve the use of a trumpet, these are very different trumpets. In fact, there are numerous difference between the two moments.
The trumpet referenced in 1 Corinthians 15 is one of the trumps traditionally blown during the Jewish feast of Rosh Hashanah (also called the Feast of Trumpets for that reason). The last trumpet refers to this feast and to the Jewish practice of blowing trumpets at this feast each year. During the ceremony, there is a series of short trumpet sounds concluding with one long trump blast called the “tekiah gedolah,” which means “the great trumpet blast.” This is what Paul meant by the last trumpet.
Paul is teaching that the trumpet blasts of Rosh Hashanah were a picture of – and will be fulfilled by – the Rapture of the Church. This trump blast is traditionally blown by a Jewish man standing in Israel in keeping with the feast’s requirements.
In contrast, the trumpets of the seven Trump Judgments are blown not by men on earth but by angels in Heaven during Tribulation. These are not used as signals of the Rapture. Rather, they are signals to warn unbelievers of impending judgment. These judgments will be the final opportunities for unbelievers on Earth in Tribulation to be saved before the final wrath of God poured out on earth in the Bowl Judgments.
Secondly, the historical order of authorship for the New Testament letters precludes any interpretation that views the final trumpet mentioned in 1 Corinthians to be the same as the seventh Trumpet Judgment described in Revelation. In Paul’s first letter to Corinth, he taught that the resurrection of the Church occurs at “the” last trumpet. Paul’s use of the article “the” in describing the trumpet indicates to us that Paul expected his audience to know and recognize what trumpet blast he was referencing.
So what trumpet was Paul describing when he said “the” trumpet? We know Paul could not have meant the Seventh Trumpet Judgment of Revelation, because the book of Revelation hadn’t been written at that time. In fact, the knowledge that there would even be Trumpet Judgments in a future day was not available to anyone, including Paul, until John wrote the book of Revelation nearly 40 years after Paul wrote his letter to Corinth.
Therefore, at the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, the only trumpet blasts the Church could have considered when reading Paul’s letter were the trumpets blown at the feast of Trumpets. Therefore, we must conclude that Paul was speaking of the final trumpet blast of the Feast of Trumpets, not the seventh Trumpet Judgment of Revelation.
In summary, we cannot use 1 Corinthians 15 as evidence to support the view that the Rapture will occur during Tribulation. On the contrary, the Bible is consistently clear in teaching that the Rapture occurs prior to the Tribulation.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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