Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—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. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 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.” (1Cor. 15:51-54)
The Apostle Paul’s reference to “the last trumpet” in First Corinthians is in the context of the “mystery” (1 Cor. 15:51), which Paul spoke of earlier in his letter when he referenced “the wisdom of God in a mystery” (1 Cor. 2:7). In essence, when Paul prophesied of “the last trumpet,” he expounded upon “the wisdom of God,” which was the “hidden wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:7).
What exactly was the “hidden wisdom,” or mystery, revealed by Paul in First Corinthians?
The grand finale of the mystery is unmistakable: it is our transformation to eternal bodies at the sound of the last trumpet (1 Cor. 15:51-54). This is what Christ will accomplish for us. Also revealed by Paul is what Christ already accomplished for us. Central to this hidden wisdom is the single most important sacrifice of all time: “Christ our passover lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7).
Passover is a holy day. The last trumpet sounds on a holy day (the Feast of Trumpets). All throughout his letter, Paul revealed details of the “mystery” which included five holy days: Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Cor. 11:26), the Feast of FirstFruits (1 Cor. 15:20-23), the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) (1 Cor. 12:13; 14:21), and the Feast of Trumpets (1 Cor. 15:51-54). These holy days symbolically foretold what the Messiah would accomplish on the very (holy) days. This symbolism was a mystery—not fully revealed until Paul’s revelation in First Corinthians. These holy days form the biblical framework to understand Paul’s reference to the last trumpet. The fifth holy day is the Feast of Trumpets, and that’s when the last trumpet sounds.
The Trumpets of Revelation
There is no scriptural justification to assume “the last trumpet” refers to the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15. To make this assumption is to take the last trumpet out of the context, the mystery, within which Paul wrote it. The trumpets of Revelation announce wrath, from which the church is saved (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Thess. 5:9). The church will already be in heaven (Rev. 7:9-17) before the first trumpet of wrath ever sounds. To equate a trumpet of wrath with the church’s salvation is tragic.
Listen to Paul. He was a well-trained Hebrew. He knew the holy days—and Christ revealed to him the mystery that God had hidden within them.
For more information about this subject, I invite you to read, “First Corinthians: The Hidden Wisdom of God” on the right bar of the homepage.
Dr. William Ayles