Q. First Corinthians 15:51 and 52, apparently referring to the Rapture, link that great event with a sounding of the last trumpet. In Revelation 11:15-19, the last of the seven trumpets is sounded, five chapters after the commencement of the Tribulation. How then can the rapture of believers precede the Great Tribulation?
A. First Corinthians 15:51 and 52 do refer to the rapture of believers, and the phrase “last trumpet” will signal the end of the present dispensation, the Church Age: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-in 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 shall be changed.” It is the same trumpet sound as we read about in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” The word “last” in the Corinthians passage means it is the last time God’s voice will be addressed to believers in the present age, both living and dead.
We must not confuse these references with the seven trumpets mentioned in Revelation, which have to do with judgment. Believers in Christ will not be here on earth to endure the Tribulation, as we are not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The seven angels blow these Revelation trumpets of Heaven upon the earth as woes. Revelation 11:15-19 records the seventh and final of these trumpets. This trumpet indicates that the Great Tribulation is ending and the millennial reign of Christ is to begin: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (v. 15).
This article appeared in the “Q & A” column of the Baptist Bulletin by Norman A. Olson.