by Paul Benson
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: Ephesians 3:9
It is getting more and more common to hear preachers and teachers refer to the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture as ‘the mystery of God revealed to Paul’. We are led to believe that this concept has somehow been hidden away from the world (and apparently from the Church for 1800 years) but is right there in the Word of God as plain as day for all to see. And that we need only a little guiding (and a proper understanding of God’s plan) to see it for ourselves. But should we take the bait and swallow that hook, or swim right around that notion?
What Is The ‘Mystery Of God’ Revealed To The Church?
As we shall see the mystery of the ages revealed to Paul had nothing to do with the future ‘catching away’ of the Church; but was referring to the resurrection of the dead. Namely Christ’s, and our identification with it. That in a similar manner as he was raised up into an immortal glorified body, so shall we be.
The concept of a pre-trib rapture is NOT an inherent part of the Gospel of Christ. It is a notion which has been added in by man. Peter used the expression ‘cunningly devised fables’ in his writings (For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when… 2Peter 1:16). This is an accurate description of the rapture theory. Although many facets of that doctrine are outright foolish, and quite easy to discern and refute, other elements of the pre-trib theory evidence a real cunning in the promotion of this error.
Before you can preach a Gospel that the pre-trib rapture is a part of, you first have to INSERT it into the Gospel. Like a person takes yeast and kneads it into the dough of a loaf of bread they take the notion of a pre-trib rapture and knead it into the Word of God to try and convince you it is an integral part of the Gospel. Many different tactics are used to accomplish this feat. Attempting to establish the pre-trib theory as ‘the mystery revealed to Paul’ is one of them. But developing a proper understanding of just what the true ‘mystery’ is will keep that pre-trib leaven from rising, and tainting your beliefs.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. 1Corinthians 15:51
The idea that the pre-trib rapture is the ‘mystery hid from ages and from generations’ (Col. 1:26) comes from a misrepresentation of this verse from 1Corinthians. This verse is claimed to be referring to the catching away / rapture, but it is absolutely not. We’ll look at that in-depth a little later, but first let’s see if we can get a handle on the concept of what the Bible refers to as the ‘mystery of God’.
The word mystery is used 22 times in the New Testament in a variety of applications ranging from ‘the mystery of iniquity’ in 2Thess. 2:7; to the ‘blindness in part which has happened to Israel’ in Romans 11:25; to the mystery of ‘Babylon the Great’ in Revelation 17:5. Many of which have nothing to do with the topic at hand.
But there is a very evident focus in the Scriptures on the matter of a mystery involved in God’s dealings with mankind to bring about a fulfillment of the promise of inheritance and eternal life,
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: Mark 4:11
The revelation of this mystery is only for those who will be the recipients of this promised inheritance and never-ending life. It remains veiled to those who do not have a ‘need to know’.
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 1Corinthians 2:7
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, Romans 16:25
This hidden wisdom which lies in the preaching of the Gospel is not something God just dreamed up as things progressed. He has had only one plan to redeem mankind from the beginning of the world. (The Church is not Plan B as dispensational theology teaches!)
How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)… Ephesians 3:3-4
Here Paul explains how he came about a knowledge of the mystery of God. He does claim it was given to him by revelation (as the rapture theorists do correctly state). But please notice here he calls it the ‘mystery of Christ’. It is crucial to our proper understanding that we grasp that the central focus of this mystery is not a ‘rapture’, but a person: Jesus Christ. Paul goes into greater depth to help us understand this wonderful mystery in the next passage.
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Colossians 1:26
Notice carefully here, Paul said it was a mystery made manifest (revealed) to the Saints of his generation: the early Church. He does NOT give the understanding this ‘mystery of God’ is a doctrine (pre-trib rapture) that will be only revealed to the end-time generations as we are being led to believe by many today. Again, he points not to a ‘catching away’, but to Christ; and the deeper understanding of this all concerns Christ indwelling the believer. This is the glory of the mystery, and thus carries the hope of the believer. That our salvation will come about as a result of Jesus living IN US!
Now back to the passage the rapture theorists attempt to twist into a promotion of their false doctrine.
Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1Corinthians 15:51-53
Here is where the deception comes in: the rapture teachers try and garner support for their notion by INSERTING their ‘rapture’ into this passage where Paul is specifically referring to the Resurrection as the mystery revealed to him. And now (in their amended version) the teaching of the pre-trib rapture becomes the great ‘mystery God revealed to Paul’ instead of the resurrection!
[SIDE NOTE: Rapture teachers would have you believe both our resurrection and catching away are one event that transpires instantaneously. There is absolutely NO biblical support for this ‘POOF! – we are gone!’ belief. Resurrection and ascension are two separate events. Was it only one event for Jesus? No, it was not. His resurrection and ascension were forty days apart! Our resurrection and catching away are two separate events. Exactly how much time will separate them? I do not claim to have that information.
Some believe the two will transpire in rapid succession while there are some who teach a period of as much as forty days between the two. We have no Scripture to give us that specific information, so all we can do is speculate. But what the Scriptures do clearly state is: …the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds (1Thess. 4:16-17). If one event happens, and THEN another event happens, they are NOT the same event!]
But let’s establish an important fact here: The catching away of the believers is not mentioned even once in the entire chapter of 1Corinthians 15! That is not the focus here. These are NOT ‘rapture’ verses! The subject here is the resurrection and transformation of the believer. That is our hope: that Christ in us will on that Resurrection Day bring about a transformation in us that now we shall be as he is! That is the end result of God’s plan; that is the fulfillment of the mystery! We will have the same immortal body he does!
The phrase ‘in a twinkling of an eye’ has been hijacked from its context by the pre-trib crowd, and used to promote their ‘POOF! …now the Church is gone’ idea. But that phrase has been deceptively applied to their theory. The Bible says it is the resurrection / transformation of the believer that takes place in the twinkling of an eye, not the catching away. I believe our ascension will mirror that of the Lord Jesus. Here’s why:
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Romans 6:5
Our experience is to be in the likeness of (look like) his; why should we think the catching away of the Body would look any different than the catching away of the Head? (see Acts 1:9-11 for a biblical description of ascension.) I go into this in greater detail in my book ‘The Rapture Theory’. Help yourself to a free copy if you like.
The rapture, or catching away as I prefer to call it, is described clearly in 1Thess. 4:17 where it says after the dead rise the living believers: “shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air”. This short trip is relatively minor when compared to the amazing transformation of the resurrection and the eternal consequences that change will bring our way. Our journey from earth up to the sky is NOT the mystery of the ages; it is Christ in you the hope of glory, and the fact we shall become as he is by the resurrection of the dead. Let’s get it right, shall we?
The Last Trump!
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. Revelation 10:7
There are those who say the seventh and last of the trumpets in Revelation is not the last trump of 1 Cor. 15, or the trumpet that shall sound in 1 Thess. 4, but only because they are forced to say so; for to admit they were all the same last trump would prove the pre-trib theory false! Should we believe God would confusingly place multiple ‘last trumps’ in the end time puzzle? (The same folks who would have us think so also tell us there is a resurrection BEFORE the ‘First Resurrection’ of Revelation 20:5! That pesky passage also reeks havoc with their theory.) But just as we saw in 1Corinthians 15 that the Resurrection brings about the fullness of the promise of the mystery of God, so also here in Revelation 10 we have the testimony of the completion of that mystery. When? At the Second Coming, for that is the event that is being portrayed here. The Resurrection of the Just and our catching away take place at the Second Coming of Christ. There is no prior ‘rapture’!
Actually the pre-trib rapture crowd are shooting themselves in the foot here by calling the rapture the mystery of God. If it were, the mystery would have been finished seven years earlier at the (supposed) pre-trib rapture / resurrection, and NOT here at the Return of Christ to earth as the Bible correctly states! What testimony are you going to believe about this ‘great mystery’ revealed to us the believer? That of the Bible, or that of the rapture theorists?
When rapture teachers try to muster support for their theory by saying the pre-trib rapture is the ‘mystery of God revealed to Paul’ they are telling a lie. There is NOT ONE place in the Bible that refers to the catching away as the mystery of God revealed to the Church, and it is deceptive to say that it is! The pre-trib theory is not correct doctrine. If you are believing that falsehood you have been deceived; and if you are teaching it you are a deceiving others. It is a lie, and therefor it is to be repented of, and turned away from. Will you join the countless others who have woken up, and rejected the errors of the pre-trib rapture myth?
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: Psalms 95:7-8