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“Meet the Lord in the Air”
by General James Green
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:17, KJV).
“AIR”—Hebrew: 1) Strong’s #8064, shameh—“to be lofty; the sky as aloft”; 2) Strong’s #7307, ruwach—“to blow; breath, sky, spirit, wind”
“AIR”—Greek: 1) Strong’s #3772, ouranos—“the idea of elevation, sky, heaven (as the abode of God), happiness, power, eternity; spec. the Gospel (Christianity)”; 2) Strong’s #3735, oros—“to rise; a mountain (as lifting itself above the plain)”; 3) Strong’s #109, aer, from aemi—“to breathe unconsciously; to blow”; 4) Strong’s #5594, psucho—“to breathe voluntarily”
“THE aim of all biblical interpretation
is the ‘plain meaning’ of the text.
What is meant by this, of course, is the original meaning, that meaning which the author plainly intended and that the original readers should have plainly understood. Although the Bible is indeed a book for all seasons, and speaks out of the past directly to our present situation, it does so because it first spoke to them in their situation. Therefore, the first task of interpretation is not to find out what it says to us, but to find out what it originally said to them. God’s Word to us is not a new word, never before discovered; rather it must be the very same word that He originally spoke back then and there. And this is the only legitimate Word to be heard in Scripture.”
No translation is able to bring out all that is in the Greek. There are delicate shades of meaning, vivid word pictures and language idioms that no “standard version” can ultimately handle.
Also, we must consider that some English words have changed their meaning over time (like “GAY”!), and so we must now substitute a word in usage today that will better express the meaning of the Greek word as we understand it.
THE GREEKS had several words for “air,” as found in my introduction above. A couple other common Greek words not mentioned above were aer and aither. Aer was used to designate the “lower air” that surrounds the earth, while aither was the “pure upper air,” like that above the mountain tops.
The word aer, referring to the lower atmosphere (namely, that below the mountain tops), is found in the New Testament. We usually think of “air” as what we breathe—in the natural. But doesn’t “air” have a “higher” or “spiritual side” as well? I believe it does.
Just as there is a “natural” body, a “corruptible” body, a “terrestrial” body, a “dishonorable” body, a “weak” body, of the “first man Adam,”—an “earthly,” “flesh and blood” body—there will also be, at the resurrection, a “celestial, incorruptible, glorious, powerful, spiritual, Second Adam quickening spirit, a heavenly body” (see 1 Cor. 15:35-50).
THE WHOLE of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is not about a pre-tribulation “Rapture,” but about the resurrection, a changing. Read 1 Corinthians 15, its correlating Scripture: “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (v. 53). Verse 52 tells us that at the last trumpet, “the dead shall be raised...” like unto Christ’s own body and those whom He brings back to earth (from the spirit world, i.e., Heaven; see Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20, 42-44, 49; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Jn. 3:2).
The word “raised” (Greek, egeiro) means “translation, rouse, awake, lift up, raise up, rear up, take up.” What I personally believe about “meeting the Lord in the air,” is that it really means, “meeting the Lord in the Spirit” (in the supernatural higher realm of life). To me it seems senseless for a resurrected, glorified body to go hover above the natural earth to meet Jesus and the glorified saints in the natural “air.” The true “catching up” (rapture) is going from the “earthly” to the “Heavenly”—going from a corruptible existence (as aer represents the “lower realm” of life) to an incorruptible existence (aither, the “HIGHER realm” of life: that which is pure and above the “mountain tops”; the life in the spirit).
WHEN JESUS rose from the dead, His body was changed. His “new body” possessed continuity and identity with the body of this lower life, being still recognizable (cf. Lk. 16:19-31), yet was changed so as to adapt for both Heaven and earth, also being free of death. Ours will be free of both decay (Jesus had no sin) and death, not bound by earthly laws of nature (Lk. 24:31; Jn. 20:19; 1 Cor. 15:44), yet will be bodies capable of eating and drinking (Lk. 14:15; 22:14-18; 24:43).
AS THE locality of “air” (in the natural) is in and above the earth, so its language is both of the natural and that of the supernatural: the latter being “breath of life,” “spirit,” etc. As the emblem of the “insubstantial,” and the antithesis of “flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12), “air” is regarded as the abode or realm of evil power in the negative sense, and the abode of God in the positive sense.
HE IS described as “the prince of the power of the air” (“spirit world”; Eph. 2:2). Satan is also referred to as “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (v. 2).
You and I
“EVEN WHEN we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5). Even in this life, as Christians we have experienced a spirit “catching up.” Now tell me, did our bodies ever leave this earth? Or did we go above the physical earth to meet Jesus in the “air”? NO!
The word “quickened” (Gk., Strong’s #4806, suzoopoieo) means “reanimate, union, companionship, resemblance” (from sun/soon, Strong’s #4862, and zoopoieo, Strong’s #2227, which means “vitalize, make alive, give life”).
So, out of spiritual death (Eph. 2:5), the Spirit of God made us alive in Christ (v. 5). This was a foreshadow of the day of the Lord when He comes (1 Thes. 4) to resurrect the dead and transform the living, and to execute His wrath upon the ungodly world.
PAUL TAUGHT that there was to be a “heavenly home” that was to replace this “earthly house” (read 2 Cor. 5:1-10). Yet in this earthly life, we can live somewhat in the Spirit; we don’t have to wait for some “Rapture.” We can, at times, be “caught up” in the Spirit—now.
The Holy Spirit is with us and in us NOW, and when Christ comes, we will once-and-for-all go into “spirit”—never to return to the “lower life” of the “flesh.” So we are NOW with the Lord by faith, though not thru fulness of appearance.
The whole idea of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is going into “spirit,” not “flying away in the sky.” At the resurrection, we will all then be “in spirit,” in our permanent Heavenly abode forever. We don’t need to go back to Heaven for either 3½ years or 7 years as the pre-trib “Rapture” and mid-trib “Rapture” folks teach. For we will be on earth during the “Great Tribulation” (—not for the Jews, which is already past, but the “Tribulation” for the whole world; for tribulation has ALWAYS been part of God’s people’s cup to drink), and we will be on earth during His wrath poured forth upon the ungodly—but we will be protected.
We need to stop all this talk about “flying away in the sky”! We need to start focusing on our FIGHT, not some supposed FLIGHT. THERE IS A WAR GOING ON!! So pick up the FIGHT in the Spirit, start warring for souls, and stop worrying about hopping on some cloud and flying away in the sky!
“I KNEW a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12:2-4, KJV).
Here in verse two, Paul states that he was “caught up” to the Third Heaven. In verse four, he again speaks of being “caught up.” Now, may I ask, was Paul’s body transported up to Heaven? NO! Only his spirit, for he was “in Christ” (v. 2). The location of the Third Heaven is not revealed in Scripture, but rest assured, it is IN SPIRIT!
You see, Paul was “caught up,” i.e., “raptured,” without leaving the earth. Why do we think and believe that our bodies have to go zooming off into unknown space (after meeting the Lord just above the earth, in the physical “air,” as they tell us), somewhere “way out yonder.” Did you know that outer space has no “air”?
First Thessalonians 4:17 is about the resurrection: “I will RAISE him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40, 44). This phrase is again repeated in verse 54—speaking of the resurrection, not a “Rapture.” It is about “changing” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
ANOTHER “PROOF text” that is used by the pre-trib “Rapture” camp is Revelation chapters 4-18: that is, in reference to the ABSENCE of the word “Church.” They tell us that Revelation 4:1 is a sure verse that confirms the “Rapture”: it says, “...Come up hither...” (Note: John was being told this by a voice from Heaven.) Then, since chapters 4-18 do not mention the word “Church,” we’re supposed to believe that John (having “gone up thither”) is a type of the Church being “Raptured”...and thus, all things following (in chapters 4-18) will take place AFTER the Church IS GONE!
When we come to chapter 19, we find that the people of God “come into sight again”—at the Marriage Supper, the Coming of Christ as King of kings. But still, we do not find the word “Church” anywhere in chapter 19, nor in chapter 20, nor in chapter 21. We finally find the word “Church” in Revelation 22:16. But why do we automatically assume, because a certain word is “missing” in the text, that the “Church” is MISSING (having been “Raptured”?) from the earth thru all these chapters?
Are we to assume that “Church” is the only name used for God’s people? What about Revelation 13:7 where “saints” are referred to? And what about Revelation 13:10 where the word “saints” is used again. Hey, here we find the words “patience” and “faith” in the very midst of TRIBULATION/PERSECUTION/WRATH/ETC.!!
And what about Revelation 16:6? 17:6? 18:24? Aren’t these dear “saints” part of the “Church”?
THIS IS how our pre-trib “Rapture” camp gets around the obvious: They say the above mentioned “saints” are not “Church saints” but “Tribulation saints,” as they call them. WOW! Glad you told me this!
What they say is true—only in the true sense of the matter. That is, GOD’S PEOPLE WILL GO THRU “THE TRIBULATION”!! But these “saints” are not the unsaved who get saved during that “Tribulation” time, as they claim. Revelation 19 “saints” and Revelation 4 “saints” are one-and-the-same.
John = Type of the Church?
READ REVELATION 4:1-2. Two keys are said to be “proof” of the “Rapture” taking place before the “Tribulation”: (1) the phrase “Come up hither” (v. 1); and (2) the phrase “And immediately I was in the spirit” (v. 2). My Bible I’m reading from says in its notes, “Many Bible expositors believe that at this point in Revelation, Christ has ALREADY TAKEN the faithful overcomers of His churches OUT of the world. Thus, the CATCHING AWAY of the true Church (see Jn. 14:3) precedes the Tribulation period. This is believed for the following reasons: 1) Beginning with 4:1, the terms “Church” or “churches” disappear until 22:16. 2) The Bride of Christ (i.e., the Church) appears in Chapter 19 already with Christ in Heaven before He returns to earth to judge the wicked and to reign in the millennial Kingdom (see 20:4).”
Yet this, dear ones, would make Jesus come THREE times, not two: #1 = His earthly coming at birth; #2 = the pre-trib “Rapture”; #3 = His coming for judgment as stated above.
Our pre-trib “Rapture”
friends tell us that the
Also, what our friends don’t consider is that “tribulation” and “wrath” are two entirely different words and have two different purposes (I’ve already written on this elsewhere). “Tribulation” has already and ALWAYS been part of the Christians’ cup to drink; “wrath” is for the ungodly.
Did Noah and family escape
God’s wrath? NO! But they were safely in the
Did Lot escape the earth
during God’s wrath upon
So, again, did Lot “escape”
in a “Rapture”? NO! And there is no connection at all between Lot’s
“going out” (not up!) from Sodom while destruction came upon it and the
seven-year period after some “Rapture” where the Church will be “gone” while
destruction falls upon the ungodly.
We’ve already talked about Noah. Noah and family were the ones “LEFT BEHIND” and the ungodly were “TAKEN”! The Bible plainly states (in Matt. 24:37-42) that “the flood came and TOOK THEM (the ones eating/drinking/marrying/etc.) ALL AWAY.” Luke states, “...DESTROYED THEM ALL” (17:27). Now, WHY do our friends of the other camp tell us that Noah was “taken” (in a type of “Rapture”) and the sinners were “left behind”? They simply LIE! They have it ALL BACKWARDS!
Does not the Bible say that LIARS will go to the lake of fire? (See Rev. 22:15.)
How blind (or deceived?...or WICKED?) are these people (most are LIARS!)?
The Bible I have totally supports the pre-trib “Rapture” theory, yet in the notes of the verse I just quoted—Revelation 22:15—they tell us, “Notice how the Bible’s last two chapters focus on the issue of lying.” They go on to list 21:8, 21:27 and 22:15. And their notes go on to say, “...These solemn words should be a warning for ALL in the churches who feel that God tolerates lying and deceit.” WOW!! And this “Rapture” LIE has been taught—as TRUTH!—for about a century and 3/4's now! It is popular, makes money, and makes people “happy.”
My personal friend, Dave MacPherson, who has refuted this “lying deceit” more than any person I know of (he has many books available on the origin of this pre-trib “Rapture” lie), starts out one of his books this way: “Hal Lindsey. The Late Great Planet Earth. Plagiarism,” (taken from The Three R’s—Rapture, Revisionism, Robbery—Pretribulation Rapturism from 1830 to Hal Lindsey, 1998). I don’t have to explain when and where this GREAT LYING DECEIT came from, but you folks that believe this BULL ought to get MacPherson’s books. The Rapture Plot (1995) is another “must” book, plus The Great Rapture Hoax (1983), The Incredible Cover-up (1980), and more.
Back to Revelation 4:1-2
DR. SCOFIELD (whose Bible I used for my first 9 years as a
Christian) says, “This call [Rev. 4:1-2] seems clearly to indicate the
fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 [their supposed pre-trib “Rapture”
proof text!]. The word ‘church’ does not again occur in Revelation till all
is fulfilled.” But was/is John really a type of the “
Compare this “type” idea with Revelation 17:3-5—“So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness...” Was John “Raptured” into the wilderness while He was supposed to be in Heaven? Moreover, we read about John being back ON EARTH (in the context of Revelation chapters 4-18!). Read Revelation 10:1. “And I (John) saw another mighty angel COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN...” If John was in Heaven, there would be no need for an angel to “come down” to him “FROM HEAVEN.” (See also 18:1.) And what are we going to do with 11:1-2? The temple and court are given to the Gentiles to tread down: THIS IS ON EARTH, NOT IN HEAVEN. And what about 13:1?—“...the sand of the sea...” Was this really in heaven, or on earth?
ONE FINAL point (on Rev. 4:1): The pre-trib “Rapture” camp tries to convince us that the word “hereafter” (end of 4:1) means “after the Church had already been Raptured.” REALLY NOW! Looking at this English word “hereafter” in the Greek (meta tauta), we see that “hereafter” is made of the exact same words as “After this” found at the beginning of the same verse. Scholars have made note of this—that the verse (4:1) in the original Greek begins and ends with the same identical phrase. Is it not inconsistent, then, to attempt to make it mean “after the Church has been Raptured” in one instance and not in the other? But it is pointed out that to make it mean “after the Church has been Raptured” in both instances would be contradictory.
Basically, John received messages to the seven churches; after this, he heard a voice saying that he would be shown things that would take place after this (in the future—“hereafter”). It’s simple. (You might want to study meta tauta in other forms and places. See Jn. 13:7; Rev. 1:19, 4:1, 9:12; Jn. 3:22, 6:1, 7:1; Rev. 7:1, 18:1, 19:1; Jn. 5:14; Rev. 15:5, 20:3; Jn. 5:1).
IN FINISHING up this study, we can conclude that the pre-tribulation “Rapture” is a HOAX, a LIE! The RAPTURE HOAX is now about 180-years-old. Think about how many MILLIONS OF IGNORANT, YET DECEIVED SOULS, HAVE PUT THEIR FAITH IN THIS LIE!
MOST CHURCHES TODAY BELIEVE IN THIS DECEPTION. And what are the effects? Fear, laziness, worldliness, etc. Why fight the good fight of faith if we’re to be “Raptured” off the earth “at any moment”?
Again, we better GET OFF OUR LAZY BEHINDS AND GET TO THE FRONT LINES—THERE IS A WAR GOING ON!! This generation is WICKED AND PERVERSE! It’s not time to look for a FLIGHT out of all this mess, but learn to FIGHT IN THE SPIRIT in the midst of all this mess! We are called to be soldiers, daily fighting for God in Spirit, not ever looking to “escape it all” and leave off our obligation to FIGHT. Will we really go to Heaven if we stop fighting and always focus on “flying away in the sky”?
The truth of the matter is this: The pre-trib “Rapture” camp is, in all reality, A CULT! Before 1830, basically ALL Bible teachers believed that the Second Coming of Christ would be preceded by a global “Great Tribulation” (culminating in “Armageddon”; see Matt. 24:21), and NONE believed in a pre-trib “Rapture.” This 1830 LIE started the “happy deliverance day” CULT. Besides Hal Lindsey’s ridiculous book, The Late Great Planet Earth, professor John Walvoord was the number ONE pre-trib “Rapture” scholar (see his book, The blessed Hope and the Tribulation, Zondervan Publishing House, 1976).
My suggestion, if you have been DECEIVED by this CULTIC teaching and its teachers, is to REPENT and ask God TO SHOW YOU THE TRUTH. I did this in 1978, and I’ll never regret it. It has changed my life!!