Q. I recently read an article that stated that the rapture of “we who are alive and remain” would not occur immediately after the dead in Christ are resurrected, but instead we would be raptured 40 days after the dead in Christ come out of their graves. The article stated that the example for this is from Christ’s resurrection at the same time that believers came out of the tombs. He ascended and took them with him 40 days later and that is the model for the rapture of the church. What is your opinion? Is it possible we will be on earth for 40 days after the dead in Christ are resurrected?
A. There really isn’t any Biblical support for this view. Matt. 27:51-53, the only place that records this event, says the tombs broke open and bodies who had died were raised to life at the time of the Lord’s death. Then, after the Resurrection they went into the holy city (Jerusalem) before ascending to Heaven with the Lord.
I believe the Matt. 27 resurrection is a fulfillment of the wave offering, sample sheaves of grain that were dedicated to the Lord before the actual harvest began (Lev. 23:9-11). And notice, Matthew’s event involved only the resurrected dead. No living believers were included. Not then and not 40 days later.
In the two main rapture passages (1 Thes. 4:15-17 and 1 Cor 15:51-52) both the dead and the living are included and there’s no indication of a measurable delay between the resurrection of the dead and the rapture of the living. In fact Paul put everything in one sentence saying it would all happen in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye.
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
And in 1 Thes. 4:17 he said the living will be caught up in the clouds together with the resurrected dead. Again, there’s no mention of a delay of any kind. To me the resurrection and rapture sound like near simultaneous events.