Question:

I studied on The Rapture for quite a long while (one or two plus years!) seeking the truth about The Rapture.  I sought my answers from God's inerrant and infallible Word.

The Scripture says that Jesus will return to earth with His saints when He returns to lay down rule on earth.  How in the world do we return with Him if we were never with Him in Glory?

The Scripture also says that angels summon God's elect after Jesus' return to earth "from one end of Heaven to the other". How is that possible if indeed we were never in Heaven?

Yes, indeed. There is going to a Rapture and the only ones going in it are those that belong to Jesus as His true children and are watching for it.


Answer:

"Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thessalonians 1:6-8).

"Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him"" (Jude 14-15).

The word "saint" means comes from hagios, which means "holy ones." It can refer to Christians who are to be holy like our Holy God (I Peter 1:15-16). It is used in this sense in a number of places, such as Hebrews 6:10 and Philemon 5, 7.

But "holy" or "saint" can also refer to angels. "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38). And, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory" (Matthew 25:31).

Moses' useage referred to angels in the same sense as II Thessalonians 4 and Jude, "And he said: "The LORD came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints; from His right hand came a fiery law for them" (Deuteronomy 33:2).

Therefore Jude 14 refers to the holy angels. In fact, many translations render the word as "holy ones" instead of "saints" just to avoid this very confusion.

"And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:31).

This particular passage is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and not the final judgment. The article, "Understanding Matthew 24" explains this in detail. The gathering of the elect is a image of bringing people in for protection. Heaven is used in three senses in the Bible: the heaven where the birds fly -- that is the atmosphere, the heaven where the stars exist -- that is outer space, and the heaven where God dwells. It is seen in II Corinthians 12:2 when Paul speaks of the third heaven (meaning that there are two others). You assume that the heaven here in Matthew 24:31 refers to the heaven of God's dwelling, but because it refers to gathering from the four winds (in all directions), the phrasing is actually stating that Jesus would gather (protect) his people all over the world -- all who dwell under heaven (the sky). It is similar to Isaiah 11:12 where God gathers people from the four corners of the earth. In the parallel account in Mark 13:27, this is seen more clearly, "And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven."