The Rapture: What Is It?
The word rapture does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.
The rapture of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with all living believers, who will also be given glorified bodies at that time. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).
The rapture will involve an instantaneous transformation of our bodies to fit us for eternity. “We know that when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God’s enemies (Zechariah 14:3–4).
The doctrine of the rapture was not taught in the Old Testament, which is why Paul calls it a “mystery” now revealed: “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” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).
The rapture of the church is a glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s intent. Rather, the rapture should be a comforting doctrine full of hope; God wants us to “encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
Who will suffer Great Tribulation?
Another point I have discovered in my studies, is that the Great Tribulation isn’t going to necessarily be for the “world”, but for the Saints of God. Take a look at these scriptures:
Luke 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
Jesus said in Luke above that His day, the day He returns, would be as the days of Lot and Noah. When destruction came on the world at the flood and at Sodom and Gomorrah, the only people that had “tribulation” were the men of God. Lot was persecuted and so was Noah, by the people who did not believe. The wrath of God was poured out on the other people after God saved His faithful. The world today is just like it was before the flood and before Sodom and Gomorrah destruction. The wrath of God will be poured out only after He has saved His faithful, but the time of trouble called the Great Tribulation will be trouble for the saints, not the rest of the world. This is discussed in detail in chapter 10 of this book.
1 Thess 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
The Lord will come as a thief in the night, but only to those in darkness, not to those who know the Lord. They shall say, “Peace and Safety”, just as the world was reveling in abandon before the flood and Sodom and Gomorrah. What is the call of the New World Order? Peace and Safety!
Rev 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation , and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Those that come out of great tribulation in this passage are the Saints of God
Differences between The Rapture and The 2nd Coming
We believe that much of the confusion about the Rapture is caused by a lack of understanding that Christ comes first for believers, and then comes later in what is properly called the Second Coming, or His Glorious Return as King of Kings. Here are some of the differences between these two events.
|The Rapture||The 2nd Coming|
| – Christ comes for His own
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
| – Christ return with His own
| – Believers taken to Father’s House
| – Believers come to Earth
| – Seen only by believers
1 Corinthians 15:52, 19:11-16;
| – Every eye will see Him
Revelation 1:7 Matthew 24:30
|– No reference to Satan|| – Satan bound
|– Earth not judged|| -Earth judged
| – A Mystery
1 Corinthians 15:51
|– Foretold in Old Testament
Dan. 12:1-3; Zech. 12:10; 14:4
The Rapture: When Will It Happen?
The rapture will be instantaneous, in “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Scripture nowhere encourages us to try to determine the date of Jesus’ return. Rather, we are to “keep watch, because we do not know on which day our Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). We are to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when we do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:44).
There is no debate among Bible scholars as to whether there will be a rapture, but much discussion has occurred over when the rapture will occur. There have been five main theories put forward as to the timing of the rapture and they all surround what is known in prophetic biblical teaching as the “tribulation” period, which is mentioned by Christ in Matthew 24 and described in great detail in Revelation 4—19. The five hypotheses are:
1. Post-tribulation – believers are raptured at the end of the tribulation period, when Christ returns in judgment (cf. Revelation 19).
2. Pre-wrath – believers are caught up somewhere between the sixth and seventh seals described in Revelation.
3. Mid-tribulation – living believers are taken in the middle of the tribulation period.
4. Partial rapture – only faithful believers are taken to be with Christ at the beginning of the tribulation, with unfaithful Christians being left to endure it.
5. Pre-tribulation – believers are caught up to be with Christ before the tribulation begins.
Deliverance of the Saints from wrath
Here are some of the passages which indicate that believers of this Church Age will not be left to suffer the outpouring of God’s wrath:
“But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1Thessalonians 5:9)
And if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment… (2 Peter 2:6-9)
In the message to the Church of Philadelphia (Missions Period), God said:
Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
Please keep in mind that the Bible does not teach that Christians are delivered from persecution, trials and temptations. In fact, the opposite is true. In 2 Timothy 3:12 we are told, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (KJV) The books of James and 1 Peter were written to encourage Christians when they are called upon to go through trials. Paul himself spoke about his “thorn in the flesh” as a trial allowed by God in order that God’s strength could be shown through him. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
WHAT THE RAPTURE WILL LOOK LIKE!