Will We Really Disappear?

Q. You seem to think we will disappear in the rapture, and I wonder where in the Bible it says we will vanish. Jesus, when he transfigured did not vanish, did he? Our transformation might be different, understood, but it seems, from what I understand in Thessalonians, that maybe we can only hear that trumpet in our transfigured bodies, and when we do we will have to (want to as well, no doubt!) fly up into the clouds to meet Him. Jesus did not burn his clothes off with His glory, nor did he disappear out of them- maybe it will be the same with us? This sounds more likely to me than a mass disappearance… But I would like very much to know what you think!

A. I don’t believe either the transfiguration or the ascension were meant to be types of the rapture. In explaining the resurrection, Paul used an agricultural example to describe the difference between an earthly body and a resurrection body. You plant a seed in the ground and it disappears. When you see it again it doesn’t look anything like the seed, but you recognize it as the plant you were expecting. Paul said it’s the same with us. We die in our Earthly (mortal) forms and disappear. Then we are raised in our Heavenly (immortal) forms, looking much different but still recognizable.

Then he said something that had never been explained before. He said some of us wouldn’t experience death but would instantaneously change from mortal to immortal. (1 Cor. 15:35-53)

In 1 Thes. 4:16-18, written about the same time, he said when that instantaneous change occurred we would be “caught up” (the phrase from which we get raptured) to meet the Lord in the air, and from then on we would always be with Him. According to the Greek, to be caught up means to be carried off, or snatched away. Speaking of that event John 14:3 says the Lord will be coming from His Father’s house to take us there, where He is. That means we’ll disappear off the Earth.

The idea of masses of people floating up into the clouds, or leaving a pile of empty clothes lying on the ground, does not come from the Bible but are man’s attempts to describe the rapture. We could just as easily take a right turn into a parallel dimension. But nearly every one agrees that from the perspective of those left behind, we will have disappeared.

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