13But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 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 by no means precede those who are asleep.  16For THE LORD HIMSELF WILL DESCEND FROM HEA VEN with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first 17THEN WE WHO ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP (RAPTURED) TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  18Therefore comfort one another with these words: (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

The RAPTURE of the church occurred at Christ’s second coming Parousia on the night of Pentecost, May 30 AD 66.  It involved the then living first century saints, who had been suffering extreme persecutions from the unbelieving Jews and Romans.  The tribulation of the Neronic persecutions (The Great Tribulation) was in full force and effect against believers when the Lord returned to rescue His saints.

At His second coming Parousia in AD 66, Christ sent His angels to GATHER TOGETHER all the believers  who were DECEASED and had been waiting disembodied (not in a flesh and blood body, but as a visible spiritual soul) in Sheol/Hades (the majority), or who were in the outer courts of heaven (those blessed to have partaken in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:6)), as well as gather (snatch away in the twinkling of an eye) the remaining LIVING saints on earth from the four winds.

31And 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.” (Matt. 24:31).

Jesus told His disciples to whom He was talking, that all these things would occur in their generation.34Assuredly, I say to you, THIS GENERATION WILL BY NO MEANS PASS AWAY TILL ALL THESE THINGS TAKE PLACE.” (Matt. 24:34).

Christ CHANGED the bodies of the deceased saints to incorruptible, immortal, glorified, visible, heavenly, bodies.  He also CHANGED those first century living saints in the twinkling of an eye so that they put on their new incorruptible, immortal, glorified, visible, heavenly, bodies; and they were RAPTURED to meet the Lord in the air {Greek = aer. sky and clouds/unseen realm) and live forever in His presence in the heavenly New Jerusalem, which He also brought down with Him (Rev. 21:2-3).

51Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but SHALL ALL BE CHANGED52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the DEAD WILL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE, and WE (first century living saints) SHALL BE CHANGED.  53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor. 15:51-53).

The RAPTURE was promised by the apostles to the first century saints for them to be rescued from their persecution and tribulation by the Romans and unbelieving Jews (cut short the Great Tribulation Matt. 24:21-22).  It was to occur soon in their generation when Jesus would return at His second coming Parousia in AD 66-70.  Then; was to be a bodily change of the living saints at the RAPTURE (1 Cor. 15:51 ).

1For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, WE HAVE A BUILDING FROM GOD,   A HOUSE NOT MADE WITH HANDS, ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS.  2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation WHICH IS FROM HEAVEN, 3if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.  4For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, BUT FURTHFR CLOTHED, that mortality may be SWALLOWED UP BY LIFE.  5Now HE who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the SPIRIT AS A GUARNTEE.” (2 Cor. 5:1-5).

We see that after the RAPTURE there were no believers left on earth during the remaining part of Christ’s Parousia ending in AD 70.  We hear nothing further from any of those first century saints, including those eighty Christians, who were mentioned in the New Testament with Paul and the apostles.  There were no further writings of any kind from Timothy, Titus, or any of the first century church leaders.

The Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote a history of the Jewish-Roman war, which he published in 78ad. He said:

“On the 21st day of Artemisius [Heb. Jyar] (May AD 66), a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared.  I suppose the account of it would seem a fable, were it not related by those who saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds…”

Josephus wrote that at the feast called Pentecost, May 30 AD 66, the priests (who were credible witnesses) said they felt a quaking and heard a noise and the voice of a great multitude saying they were leaving one place and going to another in the unseen realm:

“Moreover at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner court of the temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound of a great multitude, saying ‘Let us remove hence.’ (Wars 6.5.3 (296-300)

This was direct historical evidence for the Parousia, resurrection and RAPTURE having occurred.  The date of the angelic armies seen in the sky was May 16, AD 66 (36 days after Passover), and the activity heard in the unseen realm of the resurrection and rapture was 14 days afterwards.  This was just before the wrath of God was poured out on Israel.  That judgment upon the Old Covenant Jewish religious system lasted for three and one-half years and ended in AD 70.  The entire city of Jerusalem and the temple were completely destroyed by the Roman armies.

There has been no significant restoration of animal sacrifices and other temple ceremonies by the physical Jews since that time. God destroyed by fire the genealogical records of the tribes of Israel so that no valid pure bloodline Levite could be identified thereafter to become priests.  He did this because He is completely done with the Old Covenant sacrifices and ceremonies in that temple or any physical temple going forward in human history.

During the Parousia, Christ fully consummated the New Heavens and Earth cosmological order under His blood, and reunited His eternal Kingdom (Eph. 1:10); rescued the remaining 1st century eagerly waiting faithful believers (Heb. 9:28); completed the resurrection of the just and unjust in the unseen heavenly realm; and carried out the final judgments as spoken of in the Bible.  All resurrected/raptured faithful believers received a new individual immortal spiritual body and eternal life with Christ in heaven; and all of the dead unbelieving, unredeemed sinners were resurrected and had their “wages of sin” weighted and they were condemned to their part in the Lake of Fire (Luke 14:14: Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:15; Rev. 21:8).

Within this pre-wrath Full Preterist view, the rapture occurred when The Great Tribulation (Neronic persecution) was cut short in AD 66 (Matt. 24:21-22) with the outbreak of the Roman-Jewish war.  The living believers were changed in “the twinkling of an eye” from this visible realm into the invisible realm, and were caught together in this invisible realm with all of the believing souls resurrected out of Sheol/Hades to meet Christ to forever be with Him.  It was immediately at this time of the rapture of the living believing saints, and dead believing souls out of Sheol/Hades, which commenced a 3 ½ year outpouring of the wrath of God on disobedient Old Covenant Israel and her people, city and temple (Matt. 24:29-31).

In AD 70, Christ fully established His spiritual New Covenant one Eternal Kingdom reuniting the heavenly unseen realm and the earthly seen realm (Church) (Eph. 1:10).  All new believers, after AD 70, who come to faith in Christ, make up His New Covenant spiritual Kingdom.  They have the Holy Spirit indwelling them; they have the completed New Testament Canon of Scriptures, which had been completed and approved by Peter and the apostles before AD 66; they live life and serve on earth in the earthly seen realm of the spiritual Kingdom (Church), and upon physical death and leaving the visible earthly realm of the Kingdom they will receive their new perfect immortal spiritual bodies and cross over and enter into the unseen heavenly realm of the one Eternal Kingdom and eternal life with God and all the believers who are already there.


See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:

Bodily Change

Tribulation (The Great Tribulation)

Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15)

Resurrection (General)


Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):

[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 14 Lesson 2 Resurrection: 1 and 2 Cor. And Acts”]

[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 14 Lesson 3 Resurrection: 1 Thess. 4:13-17”]

[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 14 Lesson 4 Resurrection: Expectations/Experiences”]