|1 Corinthians 15:23 |
23 But each man in his own rank and order.1 Christ, the first fruits; then the anointed at his coming. [This is an individual experience for those who crucify their selfish nature on the inward cross of self-denial. He appears in the hearts of the pure.].
1 Each man in his own rank and order. Note each man in his own order. This describes the coming of Christ as an individual experience, belying the popular myth that there is going to be a mass "rapture" of all believers (still slaves to sin) into heaven. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus is recorded saying that some then standing with him, 2000 years ago, would see his glorious coming with the Kingdom before they died.
We know there are not people 2000 years old walking around; so for some, Christ has already returned in His kingdom.
His resurrection is not the return, because after he was resurrected, his disciples asked, was the Kingdom to be established then?
and he said, "it is not for you to know the time or dates," and then rose to heaven, leaving them. Acts 1:6-9
Neither does the record of how he appeared to the disciples when resurrected faintly resemble the prophecies:
they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. Mat 16:28
till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. Mark 9:1
he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26
Nor does his resurrection match Matthew, Mark, and Luke's prophecies to be fulfilled before that generation passed away.
Heaven appears to our spiritual eye as in a mist or in clouds — so, his coming is on the clouds of heaven, within the hearts of purified believers — just like he ascended: he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. Acts 1:9. Even Daniel in 538 BC saw Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven: I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. Dan 7:13.
(Heaven appears to us in our soul's eye as a place of great glory existing in a cloud or a mist).
His glorious appearance and reign has already occurred for some that were standing there with him 2000 years ago.
One of those standing with him who saw his glorious return with his Kingdom was his disciple John, who later wrote in the Book of Revelation:
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. Rev 1:9
Paul said: Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. Col 1:13
The some are those who repented to become purified for the Kingdom.
This is an individual experience, Each man in his own rank and order. For more on how the "meeting in the air" was misunderstood, see the Footnote to verse 52 below..