The Rapture (the glorification)
The next fascinating element of observation during the rapture event is a transformation which will occur to all who are taken to be with Christ. Just as humanity is given a body which is appropriate for life on earth, so the inhabitants of Heaven must be granted one which is equipped for life in Heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (NIV)50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, 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. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
The first observation in this text is the inconsistency between earthly matter and heavenly matter. 50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Clearly, one cannot enter Heaven as one currently is. A change must take place from earthly corruptible state to heavenly incorruptible state.
The “state” of man, of course, is sinful and perishable. Such things are not suited for eternity. While man possesses the promise of salvation, he remains sinful, living under grace, but still having a sinful nature. Thus a change in nature is needed:
we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, 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.
That this change occurs “in a flash” indicates an instantaneous process whereby the imperishable replaces the perishable.
The phrase “at the last trumpet” has been taken by some to indicate the Seventh trumpet in Revelation, which would fit well with mid- and post tribulational theories. However this does not seem likely, as it appears that Paul assumes the church would know what he’s talking about. He knowingly mentions “the last trumpet,” without any further explanation. The book of Revelation, which details that trumpet, however, has not yet been written. They could not know of the seven trumpets of the Revelation and could not know which trumpet Paul referred to if in fact it were the trumpet of Revelation. It seems that Paul would offer an explanation of exactly what this trumpet were if that were the case. He is, after all, detailing the events to come. To refer to a trumpet no one knew about would have fit the very purpose of his writing. But, he did not, so it appears he is referring to a trumpet of which the church would be familiar.
The trumpets the church would know about are the trumpets of the Old Testament. It has been suggested that this may refer to the “last trumpet” of this age, the “church age.” Or, it could refer to the final trumpet blast at the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hoshanah).
The Feast of Trumpets called for numerous trumpet blasts in the synagogue service, each with differing characteristics and each having differing symbolic meanings. Tthe last one was called the “tekiah gedolah” or, in English, the “last trumpet.” The tekiah gedolah blast was a very long and sustained blast. It was very well known in Jewish tradition as “the last trumpet,” and symbolized at the end of the feat the hope of future redemption.
For Paul to use “the last trumpet” without any further explanation indicates his consideration that the church would already know of what he spoke. Corinth was a Roman city but also had a substantial Jewish population which undoubtedly Paul referred to in other places in the book. A Jewish population would have immediate historical knowledge of “the last trumpet” and its symbolic hope for redemption.
This redemption is secured for the church, both dead and living, at this moment, for 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
Thus the dead in Christ are raised with their new natures and those living are immediately changed into theirs.