Among the eschatological teachings of the Bible, one that many Christians hold conflicting views about is the Rapture.
And talking about the Rapture, this refers to that event in which Christ will return – appear in the air – to catch up His saints (both the dead and living).
Different people and denominations approach the subject of Rapture with questions and beliefs, such as:
Is the rapture certain, knowing that the word “rapture” doesn’t appear in the bible?
Will the rapture occur before, during, or after the great tribulation?
How does the rapture differ from the second coming of Christ?
Will it really happen at a time that no one knows?
And some more…
Just like Luke’s letter to Theophilus, I hope that this brief discussion will help us “...know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 1: 4)
To dispel these fallacies and digest the facts about the rapture, we’ll be considering three (3) themes:
The Certainty Of The Rapture
The English noun/verb “rapture” comes from the Latin noun rapture (verb – rapio) that is used different times in the New Testament. The basic idea of the word is “to remove suddenly or snatch away.”
In 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17, we see a detail of the rapture: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Christians believe that Christ’s second coming is imminent. (Acts 1: 11 Revelation 1: 7) Before He returns to establish His kingdom on earth, Jesus will come for His church. 1 Corinthians 15: 52 also gives us an insight into that event: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
In John 14: 1-3, Jesus promised His children thus: I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Surely, He will return in the air to take rapture His church.
The Timing Of the rapture
A common bone of contention is whether the rapture will happen pre- , mid- , or post tribulation (Daniel’s seventieth week).
Here are some biblical points to help us decipher that:
The bible assures that Christians won’t have to endure the very worst of times, the great tribulation – that will come during the 7-year period. “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3: 10) Also read Daniel 9 and 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-2.
Also, reading through the Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto John, you’ll see that the “church” (ekklesia) is used 19 times in Revelation 1–3, a section that recounts the historical church of the first century (AD 95). However, “church” is then used only more time in the chapters that follow, (Revelation 22:16) when John returns to addressing the first-century church. Nowhere during the period of Daniel’s seventieth week is the term for “church” used for believers on earth (Rev. 4–19).
If the church will be raptured mid-tribulation – during Daniel’s seventieth week – then, without exemption, the most detailed accounts of tribulation events (Revelations 4-19) would feature the church’s role. But it does not.
The only timing of the rapture that explains the repeated mentioning of “church” in Revelation 1–3 and the total absence of “the church” on earth until Revelation 22:16 is a pretribulation rapture. Because the “church” would have relocated from the earth to heaven.
The posttribulationa notion of the church being raptured and then immediately brought back to earth leaves no room for the Bema, i.e., the Judgment Seat of Christ to occur (1 Cor. 3:10–15; 2 Cor. 5:10), nor for the Marriage Supper (Rev. 19:6–10).
And there are clear disparities between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. At the rapture, Christ comes in the air and returns to heaven (1Thesselonians 4:17), but at the final event of the second coming, Christ comes to the earth to dwell and reign (Matt. 25:31–32).
At the rapture, Christ comes to reward (1 4:17), but at the last event of the second coming, Christ comes to judge (Matt. 25:31–46).
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24: 36)
The Purpose Of The Rapture
What is the place of the rapture in God’s plan for mankind?
God has a redemptive plan for mankind: to restore what was lost in Adam through sin. The coming of Jesus opened the redemptive door. That “… as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1: 12) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8: 17)
At the rapture, this mortal shall put on immortality (glorified bodies), to meet with the Lord in the air.
The Rapture will also inaugurate a period that the Bible characterizes as the “great day of His wrath,” “the great tribulation” and the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” This time of unprecedented difficulty will affect Israel and all nations. Its purpose will be to prepare Israel for her Messiah.
At the end of the Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return with the hosts of heaven as well as the Church to establish the Messianic Kingdom on earth. And other events will follow…
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. (2 Peter 3: 14)
What other questions do you have about the rapture? We’ll be glad to answer them in the comment section.