Bible Study - The Rapture, the Bridegroom & the Transformation

Bible Study Series: Resurrection, Rapture & the Redeemer

The Rapture, the Bridegroom & the Transformation

by I Gordon

The Rapture, the Bridegroom and the TransformationWelcome! We come now to the last message in this series on the resurrection, the rapture and the redeemer. We began by looking at the oldest book in the Bible, Job, and saw his certain hope for the resurrection from the dead in the last days. Along the way we've examined what Isaiah and Daniel saw about the resurrection. We've explored Jesus' resurrection and glorified body and gained insight from this into the upcoming, streamlined, incorruptible, new shiny (literally!) body 2.0 that believers receive when Jesus returns. More recently we looked at 7 pictures of the rapture throughout scripture to get some clues on what that day will be like.

So today we are going to rap this up by focusing more on that rapturous day. 

  • We'll begin with some thoughts on the Jewish background to scripture which help when exploring the following passages
  • We'll look at revelation on the transformation - what is revealed in 1 Cor 15 about be transformed into His image
  • We'll look at the revelation on the translation - what is revealed in 1 Thes 4 about the 'catching up' at the Rapture
  • We'll end with a dream about the Rapture that a family member had

The Jewish background

The Bible was written by 40 different authors and all of them, except Luke, were Jewish. It was written by Jewish men that knew the Jewish culture. That places you and I (assuming you are not Jewish) at a wee disadvantage because we don't always pick up on customs and idioms that were commonly known in the day it was written. For example, one huge theme that is prominent in the New Testament and directly connected to the return of Jesus, is marriage. To be specific, the return of Jesus follows the Jewish wedding model. Now I have written about this before so I won't repeat all those details but this point is important to remember when studying verses concerning His return for His Church.1 

Let me give you an example of this. Can you remember what gifts the wise men brought Jesus? Argh, yes, that's right - gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now these have a symbolic meaning for gold speaks of deity & glory, frankincense is a type of sinless perfection, and myrrh is a bitter herb pointing to suffering and death. So all three gifts were symbolically pointing to who Jesus was and what He would do. You probably already know that. But did you know that all three items, gold, frankincense and myrrh, also point to the Jewish wedding?      

"When the night arrived for the wedding festivities to begin, and it was time to go for the bride, the groom was dressed as much like a king as possible. If he were rich enough to afford it, he wore a gold crown. Otherwise it would be a garland of fresh flowers. His garments would be scented with frankincense and myrrh.
THE APPAREL OF GROOM AND BRIDE - Manners and Customs of Bible Lands, Fred Wright.

So a Jewish reader seeing the gifts that were given to Jesus, even at a very young age, would have been reminded of the Jewish marriage - Gold, frankincense and myrrh... the three items needed by a bridegroom! 

Another example that Gentiles can easily miss comes at the last supper. There Jesus took the cup and said this is the blood of the covenant (Matt 26:27-28).  He then went on to say: "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." (Mat 26:29)

As Gentiles this probably doesn't stop us in our tracks. It is likely that your mouth didn't just drop open. But the Jewish reader would recognize 'the Ketubah', the Jewish wedding agreement in these words. They would recognize that after the marriage covenant or agreement was made, the bridegroom and bride drank from the wine cup together. In fact they would drink twice - once at the betrothal and once again when the bridegroom came and took his bride home for the marriage ceremony. And they would know that as the bride drank of the wine it was a sign that she accepts the marriage agreement. 

A thought for communion...
So the next time you take communion and you drink of the cup, as well as thinking about the sacrifice Jesus made for you in pouring out His blood for your sins, think also about the prophetic significance of this act. Think about how the cup of the New Covenant that you are drinking points to the marriage ceremony and how in drinking the cup you are saying 'yes!' to your bridegroom! Think also about how Jesus said that He will come and receive you unto Himself. And only then, in fulfillment of the marriage ceremony, will He drink the cup a new, with you, in His Fathers house.

1 Cor 15 - Revelation on the transformation

With this as a background let's look at two key passages about the rapture and transformation of our body. We did an earlier study on the new body from first 1 Corinthians 15 so let's carry on and see how this transformation occurs.

1Co 15:50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

First, the bad news. Take a look at your body. What do you see? Yeah... sorry about that. It's getting old and tired right? Well, ok, I'm speaking about myself. But whatever the current state of your body is, this is for real - your current body will not make it into heaven. Some of you will be very pleased about that! It is an earthly, fallen body that moans, groans, wrinkles, sags and eventually just stops working all together. It then becomes worm food. But amongst that gloom there is very good news... We know that we are going to get a new body! But how does that happen? When does it happen? Paul is about to disclose a mystery!

1Co 15:51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--

You have probably heard about the Church that put this verse on the door to the nursery! I like that -'We shall not sleep but we shall be changed'! Very true of babies but possibly not exactly what Paul had in mind here! Paul is about to tell the Corinthians a mystery that had not been revealed before. A mystery long hidden but now revealed (Rom 16:25-26). Paul is revealing what the Lord has personally told him that there will come a time when Christians who are alive will not die but shall be changed into the image of Jesus in an instant. Paul had this hope that this would occur in his generation and so should we! We should be filled with this hope as we see all the signs of His nearness all around us! Now Paul says we shall 'all' be changed. This is important because there are people around teaching a 'partial rapture' meaning that this event is only for overcoming Christians. We need to remember that Paul was writing to a Church here that had a lot of issues. The Corinthians were a bit of a mess... and that's being kind. But if they were saved believers, if they were 'in Christ', then they are included in this 'all'. Don't believe those that talk about a partial rapture and resurrection. Jesus is coming for His bride, His body, not part of it, and that includes the very weakest believer. Look now at how it happens:

1Co 15:52 in a moment, 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.

  • Firstly, note the speed of transformation: Paul says that this transformation from of this old tired body to a new spiritual body like Jesus' resurrection body, happens in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. The Greek word translated moment is 'átomos'. This is the smallest possible period of time. The Complete Word Study Dictionary says 'This is the word from which "atom" is derived... When referring to time, it means an indivisible point of time, an instant, a moment." You might remember when John saw heaven open in Revelation chapter 4 and heard the voice saying 'come up here'? It says "immediately" he was before the throne. That is the same type of thought. Paul also says it will happen in the 'twinkling of an eye'. Now this does not meaning 'a blink'. Messianic Jewish believer Dr Arnold Fructenbaum writes "This is not a reference to blinking but to a sudden flash of recognition. It is like seeing a person and suddenly recognizing who he is." Imagine that you are in the supermarket, looking at noodles, peanut butter and hmmm chocolate. Suddenly you look up to see your friend John in the same aisle, right next to you. How long does it take from seeing him to recognizing him? It is in an instant. 'Oh its John' you think. Our brains do it instantly as long as our still eyes work as they should! When the Lord returns we shall see Him and before we can even say 'Oh it's the Lord!' we shall be changed - In a moment, an instant, an atom of time.
  • Secondly, is there a further hint 'in the twinkling of an eye'? (A second look): There is another point to consider in this 'twinkling of an eye' phrase as it was a known Jewish idiom in Paul's day. This phrase was actually used for a particular time of the day, at twilight, at the moment that night began.2 So it is possible that Paul was also alluding to this change into Jesus' image occurring at the end of this day of grace, before the darkness of tribulation comes. Paul did remind us that we, as believers, are sons of the day and not of the night or darkness.
    1Th 5:2-5 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (3) While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (4) But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; (5) for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;
  • Thirdly note the time of transformation - at the last trumpet: Paul tells us that this shall occur at the last trumpet. Some believe this is pointing to the 7th trumpet in the book of Revelation but Revelation, and the disclosure about the 7 trumpets, would not be revealed to the Apostle John until 30 years later. Also the trumpets in Revelation deal with the judgements of God upon the earth where as this trumpet is to do with glorification of His bride. The answer of what the last trumpet alludes to is again found in the Jewish background. Paul gave the Corinthians four examples of how the Jewish feasts are fulfilled spiritually in this letter and this is one of them:
    1. The feast of Passover is referenced in 1 Cor 5:7 'Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.'
    2. The feast of Unleavened bread is referenced in 1 Cor 5:8 'Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.'
    3. The feast of Firstfuits is referenced in 1 Cor 15:20,23 'But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep... But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming.'
    4. And the feast of Trumpets is referenced here in 1 Cor 15:52 'in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.' 

'It is evident from the fact that Paul used the definite article 'the last trump' that he expected the Corinthians to know what he was talking about. The only knowledge they would have of trumpets are those spoken of in the Old Testament, especially those of the Feast of Trumpets. The last trump refers to the Feast of Trumpets and the Jewish practice of blowing trumpets at this feast each year. During the ceremony there are a series of short trumpet sounds concluding with one long trumpet blast which is called the Tekiah Gedolah, the great trumpet blast. This is what Paul means by the last trump. As such, it says nothing concerning the timing of the rapture; only that the rapture, whenever it occurs, will fulfil the feast of trumpets.'
Dr Arnold Fructenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah3

The 1 Thes 4 - John 14 Connection

While 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of the new body we shall receive in an instant, it doesn't give the surrounding details. For example, when does it occur? What about believers that have already died? And where is Jesus in this process? Thankfully all that information is given in 1 Thessalonians 4. Let's dive deeper into that and see some of the Jewish background to this passage as well. 

1Th 4:15-18 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.

In this passage Paul describes the events that will occur at the rapture of the Church. He says that he received this by the word of the Lord. That is, the details concerning the rapture were revealed to Paul directly by the Lord Himself. Now Jesus Himself, on the night of His betrayal and arrest, had already told the disciples that He would come back for them to take them to be where He was. 

Joh 14:1-3 "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. (2) "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. (3) "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

It is important to note here that Jesus speaks to his disciples as a bridegroom would speak to his bride. The Jewish disciples would have understood it even if we, as Gentiles, may miss it today. Dr Renald Showers writes concerning John 14:1-3

"Those who live in the modern western world do not catch the full significance of Jesus' promise. This is due to the fact that in His promise Jesus was drawing an analogy from Jewish marriage customs in biblical times. Since this is so, those marriage customs must be examined if one is to grasp the significance of the promise."
Dr Renald Showers4

Note also the similarities between what Paul and Jesus taught concerning the rapture:

Jesus in John 14 Paul in 1 Thes 4
Firstly it is a message of hope and comfort: "Do not let your hearts be troubled" (vs 1a) Comfort one another with these words (vs 18)
Secondly it is based on faith in Jesus: "Trust in God; trust also in Me" (vs 1b) We believe that Jesus died and rose again (vs 14)
Thirdly it involves the personal return of Jesus: "I will come again" (vs 3a) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven (vs 16)
Fourthly it involves being taken to Jesus "And receive you to Myself" (vs 3b) Then we... will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (vs 17a)
Fifthly it involves being with Him in the place He has prepared "That where I am, there you may be also" (vs 3c) And so we shall always be with the Lord (vs 17b)

1 Thes 4 - Revelation on the translation

So let's drill a little deeper on these verses from 1 Thes 4:15-17 concerning the rapture of the Church.

1Th 4:15  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 

First he says that those alive at the time will not proceed the believers that have already died (fallen asleep). I've said before that this will be the first time in history that the entire church will all be together in one place at the same time. Every believer from the formation of the Church in the 1st century to the last person believing and calling upon the Lord for salvation, even with seconds to go before the trumpet sounds, will be there. Every child of God, Every brother and sister in Christ... All together for the first time ever. I think that is worthy of a selah - Stop and think about that!

1Th 4:16  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 

I asked earlier where is the Lord in this whole process? Well, He is right in the midst of it! It is the time to meet the Lord, when our faith becomes sight for He will come down from Heaven personally to receive His entire Church, the ecclesia, the called out ones, to Himself. This is in direct fulfillment of the Jewish wedding model when the bridegroom came from his Father's house to receive his bride and take her to the place he had prepared for her. Now the Bible says that He comes with a shout. This is the only use of this word in the New Testament and it speaks of a military command given to rouse and direct the troops. And His shout will even rouse the dead! There is a Jewish wedding connection here as well:

At the end of the period of separation, the bridegroom came—usually at night—to take his bride to live with him. The groom, the best man, and other male escorts left the father's house and conducted a torch-light procession to the home of the bride. Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the time of his coming. As a result, the groom's arrival was preceded by a shout, which announced her imminent departure to be gathered with him.
Dr. Chuck Missler, Pattern is Prologue: The Rapture, Part 2: The Wedding Model,

In all likelihood this shout will include the command given to John in Revelation 4:1 and to the two witnesses in Revelation 11:12 which is 'Come up here!' The voice of the archangel will also be heard at this time as it is likely that angels will accompany the Lord at His return. Don't forget that scripture tell us that they long to look into the things concerning salvation and don't want to miss this glorious long prophecied event! (1 Peter 1:12) 

And here again we see the trumpet call of God. This is another pointer to the 'last trump' in fulfillment of the feast of trumpets. As well as on feast days, trumpets were blown in the Old Testament to gather the congregation together, to set out to a new destination, or when battle was about to begin (Num 10:1-10). All of this will apply when this trumpet of God is blown! And this trumpet blast and command of God will raise the dead. One Jewish name for the feast of trumpets is 'Yom Teruah' - which means the 'Day of Awakening Blast'. In Jewish belief the resurrection of the dead will occur on the feast of Trumpets. This 'awakening blast' is the sound that is said to awaken those that sleep, raising them to life.  

1Th 4:17  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 

Here is the key verse concerning the actual event of the rapture... the catching up of believers to meet Jesus in the air. It is a great pity that some Christians don't believe in the rapture. According to a Lifeway Research poll, 25% of Christians didn't believe in a literal rapture at all. Others placed it in or after the tribulation. You may have heard some say 'well the word 'rapture' is not even in the Bible!' True, but neither is the word 'Bible', in the Bible. Nor is the word 'Trinity' is not in the Bible... but the concept is. And while we are on the topic, 'Granddad' is not in the Bible either. Poor old Granddad - I'll let you tell him he's obviously not real either : ) The English word 'Rapture' comes from the Latin 'raptura'. 'Raptura' comes from the Greek word 'harpazo' which is found right here in 1 Thes 4:17, often translated as 'caught up'. It is a word that means to 'seize or snatch by force'. Believers that are still alive on that day will be snatched up, along with those that have just been resurrected from the dead, to meet the Lord personally in the air.  

And this 'catching up' has a connection to the Jewish wedding model as well for when the bridegroom and his friends came to receive the bride, she was lifted up and carried to his home. As noted in the documentary 'Before the wrath'5 - "The ancient Galileans referred to this moment as 'flying the bride to the father's house'." The Jewish bride was lifted up and so shall we be... literally into the air! 

How will I know it is actually Jesus?
As an interesting side note, this reminds me of a story some good friends from my previous church (hi Bob and Sheila!) once told me. They had a friend who was reading about the end times and was concerned by all the passages that spoke of deception and false Christs leading up to Jesus' return. 'Will I too be deceived?' she thought. 'Will I know the real Jesus from the false ones?' Being concerned, she asked the Lord about this and how she would know it was really Him. She felt Him say to her: 
"You will know it is Me because there will be nothing under your feet!"   

What? Another new Rapture dream? Not quite.

As we draw to a close, let me share a dream my mother had concerning the rapture. I have shared this once before but it is worth repeating. Now let me state that this is not a new dream. It is actually very old. Over 55 years old in fact as Mum was given it in 1965. At the time her Pastor told her that she needed to baptised in the Holy Spirit so off she went seeking God for that... but instead He gave her this dream. Now what makes it interesting is that at the time she knew NOTHING about the rapture, end times or the return of the Lord. She hadn't been taught anything about it. She wasn't thinking about it. She wasn't asking the Lord about it. She didn't go to bed that night having just watched 'A thief in the night' or a 'Left behind' type movie. They didn't exist! She literally knew nothing about Bible prophecy or the rapture and was just seeking the Lord on another matter. Yet the Lord gave her a dream so vivid that she can still remember and see it today like it had just happened. 

Mum's rapture dream6

The first thing she saw were lots of people standing outside in a country-side setting. She was among them. Everyone was looking up and no one was saying a word. They were all believers and they all knew that the Lord was coming very soon. And so they were silently transfixed on the sky. Nothing else mattered. And then she saw the Lord Jesus come down through the clouds, gloriously surrounded by a vast array of angels on every side. In her dream she didn't feel or see herself rise but suddenly, in an instant, the scene changed and she was in Heaven, bowed at His feet in worship. And she said that she had this overwhelming understanding that He had done it all! He had done it all. It wasn't worthy is the Lamb and look at me as well. There was no boasting. No pride. No high-fives with Jesus saying 'didn't I do well!?!' It was simply 'worthy is the Lamb'. She knew in all her being, that He had paid the full and ultimate price to save her and all she could do was fall at His feet in worship, amazed at the grace of this God who would allow Himself to be brought to the place of utter weakness on a cross so that we may be forgiven, cleansed, and given full rights as children of the living God! 

And if you are a believer, you too will have this experience.


1 Thes 4 concludes with: "And so shall we always be with the Lord! Therefore comfort one another with these words"

The Bridegroom is coming for His bride and from that moment on the bride shall always be with Him! Even earthly marriage is intended by God for life because it is a picture of our relationship with Him - which is for ever. The rapture, the catching up of believers to their Savior in the air, is that meeting point. And it is very very very good news! This is a word of comfort and hope. We aren't waiting for the antichrist. We are waiting for Jesus Christ. That has always been the hope and expectation of the Church and I hope it is your hope. Don't let some so-called scholar "spiritualize" these passages away to try make it mean something else. They mean exactly what they say in the plainest most literal sense. Jesus is literally and personally coming just as a Jewish bridegroom literally came to receive his bride.

He is coming. The transformation is coming. The translation is coming. The wedding is coming. 

Make sure you are going!

God Bless. 


  1. I have written about this here:

    Some other useful links are:

  2. See

  3. In another article Fructenbaum writes:

    "The seven holy seasons of Lev 23 are fulfilled in the order in which they fall. What follows the feast of trumpets is the Day of Atonement, which was a day of Israel's national atonement coupled with the affliction of the soul. The Day of Atonement is to be fulfilled by the seven years of Tribulation , during which Israel will suffer afflictions leading up to her national repentance and restoration. And just as the feast of trumpets precedes the Day of Atonement, so will the rapture precede the seven years of tribulation."

  4. From

  5. I recommend you watch 'Before the wrath' as it is very good on this whole Jewish (and specifically Galilean) wedding model. The part about the bride being lifted up comes at the 1hour 4min mark.  

  6. Some points from this:

    • There are lot's of 'Rapture dreams' going around. Just have a look on YouTube. Or maybe don't. We should always weigh what we read, hear and see by scripture and not external revelation... even if someone says it is a dream or word from the Lord. Does it line up with what scripture teaches is the most important rule.  
    • I might be a little biased on this dream (I mean, she is my Mum after all!) but knowing her walk with the Lord and the circumstances surrounding how she received it... and the fact that she couldn't at the time make this up as she knew nothing about it... well it makes me believe my Mum on this one (just this one time!)  
    • In my Mum's dream you will note that she saw everyone outside, looking up, knowing He was coming. This obviously stands in contrast with some books and movies about the rapture that have cars driving off the motorway and planes falling from the sky, exploding into large balls of fire... as believers are taken up. That is obviously pretty dramatic and makes for a explosive movie scene but personally, I don't see God causing chaos at the rapture. I think it is quite possible that believers will know He is about to come as that day or possibly hour comes close. Firstly the dead in Christ rise first before the rapture. Is this in an instant along with the rapture or is there a gap of time? Scripture isn't clear. But if there is a gap, even a short one, then this will be the biggest indicator ever that the time of the rapture is at hand! The book of Revelation also ends with 'the Spirit and the Bride say come'. I believe as that time draws close that the Spirit who dwells within us will start saying 'Come!' And the bride, prompted by the Spirit, will also say 'Come!' There could well be an internal "knowing" as that time draws near. And again, this might only be hours before the event. We don't know. But certainly, from what my Mum saw, the believers were outside, waiting and knowing that He was coming VERY soon!
    • Take note also of the revelation and realization of God's utter incredible GRACE in my Mum's dream. When she was with the Lord she knew right through her entire being, that HE had done it ALL. We would do well to learn more about this while here, even before we see Him. But on that day we will fully grasp it!