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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Will Jesus return literally in the clouds?

There are several passages in the New Testament that on the surface would seem to indicate that when Christ returns He will do so appearing in the clouds above. You may have heard the expression or read the Bible verse about the believers being “caught up together … in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  Or you may have read “Behold, He comes with clouds” (Revelation 1:7).

jesus-in-the-clouds

No doubt the Second Coming concomitant with the resurrection of the dead—both of the saved and the unsaved—is yet to happen. But do the Scriptures mean, literally, that Jesus will appear in the clouds all around the earth, simultaneously, so that all people can see Him? My personal eschatological belief is that that is not the case. I explain below.

In the Old Testament we read that the God of Israel said

2 Samuel 23:4 He that rules over men must be just ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; (KJVER used throughout)

The only just ruler is God Himself. His countenance is as bright as the sun in a cloudless sky. Also He controls the environment including the weather and the clouds.

Job 36:26-33 Behold, God is great, and we know Him not, neither can the number of His years be searched out. 27 For He makes small the drops of water [i.e. clouds]: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: 28 Which the clouds do drop and distill upon man abundantly. 29 Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of His tabernacle? 30 Behold, He spreads His light upon it, and covers the bottom of the sea.  31 For by them judges He the people; He gives meat in abundance. 32 With clouds He covers the light; and commands it not to shine by the cloud that comes between. 33 The noise thereof shows concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.

Hebraisms in the Scriptures

In the Bible there are found many Hebraisms, which are Hebrew idioms or expressions. Even in the New Testament, which was originally written in the Greek language, we find many such expressions. For example,

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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines

The Rapture

Chapter 3 of the book “When Jesus Returns —what then?” by Jim Gibson. I have edited the text only where necessary, changed underlining to bold text and used the KJVER Bible version. 

The term “rapture” does not appear anywhere in the Bible. This fact alone does not necessarily invalidate its truthfulness, however. The word itself refers to the “catching away” of the bride of Christ, which is the Church. According to the dispensationalists, the Church will be “taken” from the earth at the “coming” of Christ, otherwise known by its Greek name, the “Parousia”. This event would necessitate people being “left behind”. A seven-year period of great distress would follow and, would eventually end at the Second Advent of Christ. Thus, a “two-stage” coming of Jesus is required.

Rapture

The word “rapture”, however, did not originate until the early part of the 1830’s when it was first coined by John Nelson Darby, the leader of the Brethren movement. This paper will not entertain the controversy of who was actually the first to expound the idea of a “two-stage” coming, whether Darby or a young Scottish woman by the name of Margaret Macdonald. Rather, I will only address the scriptural texts that have been cited in proof of this popular view referred to as the “rapture”. The most referenced biblical passage to support the “rapture” is from 1 Thessalonians.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant [unaware], brethren, concerning them which are asleep [dead], that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep [die] in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [dead]. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort [encourage] one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons [dates], brethren, you have no need that I write to you. For yourselves know perfectly [full well] that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail [birth pains] upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake [surprise] you as a thief… For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-4,9)