(by Bob Pulliam)
A core aspect of Premillennialism is the second coming of Jesus and the resurrection. Within this area floats the doctrine of the rapture. This lesson will deal with these aspects.
Jesus on the Resurrection...
"Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." (Jn 5:28f)
How many resurrections do we read of in this passage? Are the wicked raised at a time later than the righteous? The only indication of such is in the doctrines of men, not the Bible.
The Day of Reckoning...
That First Thessalonians 4:13 - 5:11 speaks of one time and event in the future is evident when one does not allow the chapter division to break up the thought. Paul begins with the resurrection of the righteous (I Thess 4:13-18)... Some will be living when He comes again, but their presence will not hinder the resurrection (v15). Note the "trumpet of God" (v16). Is this a secret event ("secret rapture"), or one that all will recognize?
The statement, "will rise first" (v16) does not refer to separate resurrections. Paul is dealing with a concern that the living will be present when the Lord comes, and the dead will miss out (vv13ff). Here, "will rise first", refers to the dead in Christ rising before all ascend up into the air to meet the Lord. Note that the very next sentence begins with the word "then". The dead rise first, then the living are caught up together with them. The dead will not miss out on anything at that great last day.
You often hear the word "rapture" when dealing with the second coming of Jesus. It can be an appealing doctrine in some respects, but it is not taught, nor even hinted at in the word of God. The word "rapture" is taken from verse seventeen, but one must go to the Latin translations to get this popular word.
As the chapter ends, take special note of the last verse. It is a command for them to comfort one another "with these words". These become important as we enter the next chapter, for these words help confirm the fact that Paul is still dealing with the same subject (i.e. the second coming of Jesus). These words occur again in 5:11. Before that point we have clear indication that the same event is under consideration. The chapter begins with the idea of "the day of the Lord" coming like "a thief in the night". Paul does not go into detail on the resurrection and judgment of the wicked, but we wouldn’t expect him to. After all, he is comforting these brethren with their salvation, not blasting them with rebukes of damnation.
And so, when we come to chapter five, we find that the wicked will be taken care of at the same time the righteous are rewarded. This is a far cry from what Premillennialism teaches. It teaches that the two resurrections will be separated by a one-thousand-year reign of Jesus on earth.
These passages are really very straight-forward, and when studied offer no proof for Premillennialism. Instead, they tell us that there will be one general resurrection of the dead with separate fates for the righteous and wicked. Jesus said it. Paul said it. That’s just the way it is!