The Rapture Is The Blessed Hope
A careful study of the Greek term harpazo and these examples of biblical raptures make it clear that the idea of a future rapture of all believers is certainly biblical. The only real debate is over the matter of the timing of the rapture, not the fact that there will be such an event.
Therefore, any serious discussion about the nature, timing, and significance of the rapture ought to be carried out with the utmost respect for this biblical concept.
If the first Christians viewed the rapture as the blessed hope , then so should we, regardless of our opinions concerning its timing.
Are The Elect Raptured Before The Tribulation
One must question, if the elect, or Gods people, are raptured before the great tribulation, why would they need the days shortened? Actually, all throughout the Bible, we are given examples of Gods people being saved in the middle of tribulations, not being saved before it.
- When the Israelites were captive in Egypt, God preserved them in the midst of the plagues that devastated Egypt. Just as Israel was delivered from Egyptian bondage after the plagues, so God’s church will be protected through the plagues and be delivered from the hand of the oppressor .
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego entered the flames when they refused to yield to the universal death decree of Babylon’s King. Their death-defying faith forced them to face the flames of tribulation, and in those flames God miraculously delivered them .
- Daniels decision to be faithful in his daily prayers caused him to be tossed into the lions den. God saved Daniel while he was going through tribulation, not before it came .
Similarly, right before Christ returns, the faithfulness of the elect will cause them to be the target of the ungodly, bringing about a time of persecution and great tribulation. However, just as throughout all of Biblical history, God preserves His elect. The same Jesus that was with the Hebrew men in the fire and lions den, will go with us through our trials. When the last day judgments are poured out on the world, God will shield those who follow Him with all their heart and mind.
What Is The Rapture
The Rapture is perhaps the most important piece of prophecy for us to understand since it could very well impact us personally. This Bible study will help you examine what the Rapture is, defend it biblically, and explain its personal and practical importance.
I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
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The Rapture In Church History
The point that Im trying to make is about Church history. Rapture theology has only been popular for 180 years. It is largely a new theology, a new concept. While some will argue there are instances in the early church that support a pre-tribulational rapture in the Bible, but I have yet to see any clear proof. Theres certainly not enough proof to say it was a commonly held belief.
All this doesnt make it false, but it should make us pause.
If belief in the pre-tribulational rapture has only been popular, commonplace, since 1830 that means it wasnt talked extensively about by the very people who laid the theological foundation for the Church. Again, that doesnt mean its not true. Be it should be a red flag whenever a new theology is brought into the picture. It should cause us to dig a little deeper.
So, what does the Bible say about the Rapture? Is the rapture in the Bible?
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Where Does The Rapture Come From
The Rapture is synonymous with the return of Christ. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Paul refers to the time when God will raise the dead in Christ along with the righteous dead they will be caught up together. The word rapture is from Middle French circa 1600 meaning the act of carrying off. We also get the word rape from rapture.
The Medieval Latin word raptura means seizure, rape, kidnapping. Ekstasis is Greek for take out of regular position into a state of ecstasy or rapture. Another site relates rapture to Pauls meaning in 1 Thessalonians, to be caught up. In other words, during the Rapture, every believer alive or dead will be met with and joined to Christ.
Killing The Lawless One
Then, 2 Thessalonians reads,
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
Someone had said to these Christians that the day of the Lord had already come, and Paul is arguing that cant be. Now, how easy it wouldve been for him to say, It cant be because Im still here. I havent been raptured away. But he didnt say that. Thats not what he said. He said, Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction .
Then look at 2 Thessalonians 2:8: And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
Just like in chapter 1, there is one coming, and Paul says it hasnt happened yet because the man of lawlessness that is, the antichrist has not been revealed. When that happens, then he said the second coming will happen, and it wont be to snatch Christians away, but to kill the lawless one with the breath of his mouth and the appearance of his coming.
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Raptures In The New Testament
Seven raptures are recorded in the New Testament. These include the ascension of Jesus in Revelation 12:50, the temporary raptures of Philip and Paul, the calling up of John, the resurrection and rapture of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:12, and the rapture of all believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Raptured Or Left Behind
But doesnt Matthew 24:37-42 say that when Jesus comes, some people will be snatched away and others will be left behind? Lets see what Matthew says. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming .
Matthew says that when Jesus comes it will be like it was in the time of Noahsome people will be saved and other people will be destroyed . Looking more in-depth at Matthews wording, those who are taken when Jesus comes are those who are lost, taken away, and destroyed by the brightness of His coming .
Those who hold to the idea of a secret rapture also believe that there will be seven years of tribulation following the rapture and that during this time individuals who were left on earth will have another opportunity to accept Jesus and be saved. Is there any Bible evidence for this belief?
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Why Do Christians Talk About The Rapture So Much
The rapture is not a word that’s found in Scripture, but it’s a Biblical idea and a Biblical concept, which is that at the end of the age, Jesus returns and calls his people to him in the air so that as Paul talks about in 1 Thessalonians chapter four, those who are dead are raised first, and then those who are still alive are caught up with the Lord Jesus in the air.
Where Christians disagree is not over whether or not there is a rapture, all Christians of every stripe believes there is a rapture. The question is when? And so, most Christians in the history of the church have believed in one singular coming of the Lord Jesus, the second coming of Christ, where believers are called to join Jesus in the air and return together to the earth. There are some Christians in the history of the church, dispensationalists they’re called, who believe in something called a pre-tribulational rapture. So these people believe that because God is going to restore Israel and keep His promises in a literal, earthly fashioned Israel, that he’s going to do this during the seven year tribulation period. So God ends His working with the largely Gentile church by removing the church out of the world. So believers are raptured away in the secret coming of Jesus, taken to heaven for seven years, and then there is a public, visible coming of Christ.
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Support For The Pretrib Rapture Is The Fact That The Early Church Seemed To Believe The Second Coming Was Imminentthat It Could Happen At Any Moment During Their Lifetime
Consider the following verses:
Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee
For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:2
So be patient, brothers and sisters, until the Lords return You also be patient and strengthen your hearts, for the Lords return is near. Do not grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged. See, the judge stands before the gates!
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Views Of Eschatological Timing
There are numerous views regarding the timing of the Rapture. Some maintain that Matthew 24:3740 refers to the Rapture, pointing out similarities between the two texts, indicating that the Rapture would occur at the parousia of the Lord. Others point out that neither church nor rapture occur in Matthew 24 and there are significant differences between Matthew 24:3740 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1318. As a result, these two texts receive the overwhelming focus within discussions about the Rapture’s timing. The two texts are as follows:
In the amillennial and postmillennial views there are no distinctions in the timing of the Rapture. These views regard that the Rapture, as it is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:1517, would be identical to the Second Coming of Jesus as described in Matthew 24:2931 after the spiritual/symbolic millennium.
In the premillennial view, the Rapture would be before a literal, earthly millennium. Within premillennialism, the pretribulation position distinguishes between the Rapture and the Second Coming as two different events. There are also other positions within premillennialism that differ with regard to the timing of the Rapture.
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Is The Word Rapture In The Bible
Some believe that before Christ returns in glory there will be the Rapture consisting of an end-time event when all Christian believers who are alive, along with resurrected believers, would rise “in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. The Rapture is an erroneous interpretation of several passages from the Bible that have been woven together. The Rapture has never been part of the Teaching of the Apostles. The Rapture is a fictional idea made popular by the Left Behind series. It is important to grasp the history of this false teaching:
It seems to have been invented by John Nelson Darby ,
a protestant minister from Ireland who was extremely pessimistic about what he saw as the state of the world and the state of the Church.
In its present form, then, it barely goes back 100 years, despite its popularity with the Left Behind series.
According to this fictional idea
There are Two returns of Christ,
One in secret, to spare the Christians of the final trial and its suffering
The other in power and glory to judge the living and the dead
Rather, the teaching of the Apostles expressed in the Creed is that there is only one return of Christ the King.
St. Paul says: As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
This opinion is supported by the authority of St. Augustine in his book On the City of God.”
When Is The Rapture
When you are studying the rapture of the church, there are several things you need to keep in mind. First of all, the second coming of Christ is in two parts, separated by a period of seven years.
The first part is sometimes referred to as the Rapture . The second part occurs when Christ physically, bodily returns to this earth on the Mount of Olives from which He ascended. The interval between these two events, known as the Tribulation and Great Tribulation, is divided into two, three-and-a-half year periods each. The seventy weeks described in Daniel 9:24-27 speaks of this.
The Great Tribulation is the wrath to come from which the believer is delivered by the Rapture . The children of God, because they have kept the word of His patience, will be kept from that hour of trial. .
We believe that the Scripture teaches that Christians will not be judged with the world when God pours out His wrath in the day of the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches us to look for the Lords return, not for the tribulation .
Jesus said regarding His second coming, But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only. We should live like Jesus is coming today. It may be closer than we dare dream.
This view is referred to as premillennialism. Learn more historical and theological details of this end times view in “What is Premillennialism?“