The Bible And The Rapture

The Rapture – Is it fact or myth? Many Christians are taught and believe in the mysterious actions of the Rapture. What does the Bible teach about the Rapture? This article will answer that question as it covers the Bible and the Rapture.

What is the Rapture? 

Rapture is a word used by Christians to express the belief that before Christ returns and before the Great Tribulation, Christians worldwide will be raptured into the air and taken to heaven by some secret and mysterious event. Those who are not Christians will be left on earth and see individuals disappear without any explanation, leaving loved ones in despondency.

Those who are left behind will face the Great Tribulation. Three to seven years afterward, Jesus begins His reign on earth.

The Bible and the Rapture

This doctrine is based on the passage found in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 NKJV, which reads:

16. 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.

17. 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.

The Bible and the Rapture

The word Rapture comes from the Latin Vulgate translation of the Scriptures that translates “shall be caught up” as rapiemur, which means “will be caught up” or “will be taken away.”

This passage is essential to those who believe in the Rapture. However, is Paul really talking about the Rapture or perhaps something else? There are three crucial questions to address.

When considering the doctrine of the Rapture:

1.      Will Christians disappear worldwide without explanation?

2.      Will Christians be caught up in the air years before Christ returns?

3.      Will Christians be in heaven during the tribulation?

To answer the first question, we again look at 1 Thessalonians 4, from verse 13. It reads:

13. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16. 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.

Paul mentions that this is when those who died [sleep] in Christ will be resurrected. He additionally said, “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God.” This does not appear to be a mysterious vanishing. It appears to be more of a triumph event announced to the world by Jesus Himself.

To address this issue accurately, it behooves one to look at other passages that address this event. Paul describes this same event in 1 Cor. 15:50-53 which reads:

50. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

51. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52. 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.

53. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

The Bible and the Rapture

Again, we see that this is not a secret event as a mighty “trumpet shall sound.” It also mentions the “last trump,” meaning that there will be a series of trumpets, and this event will occur at the “last trumpet.”

So, where are these trumpets? In the book of Revelation, we have a precise series of events leading up to the return of Jesus’ return and the beginning of God’s kingdom on earth. Chapter 6 of Revelation contains the seven prophetic seals John sees in his vision revealed by Jesus.

The first four seals represent the end-time events ahead. These first four seals represent the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, symbolizing global religious deception, warfare, famine, and disease. Verse 8 reads, “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

The fifth seal continues by unfolding a martyrdom of Christians. Jesus describes this time in Matthew 24:21, where he said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” This time will be so dreadful that no time before or after will ever equate.

After two and a half years of this tribulation, the sixth seal is opened, and the heavenly signs take place. Rev 6:12-14 reads:

12. And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

13. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

14. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

These events indicate that God and Jesus Christ will soon intervene in world affairs. This time is described by Isiah the prophet as, “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.” NKJV

This year-long day of the Lord begins when the seventh seal of Revelation is opened in Rev 8:1-2

1. When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

2. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. NKJV

Here, we see the sequence of trumpets involved in end-time events as Paul described.

After the rides of the four horsemen, the Great Tribulation, and the heavenly signs, we arrive at the time of the series of trumpets indicated by   Paul. The first six trumpets initiate devastation: one-third of the earth’s vegetation is burned up, one-third of the seas become blood, one-third of ships and marine life are destroyed, and one-third of the earth’s waters become bitter, and one-third of the Sun, Moon, and stars cease to shine.

To follow, the most destructive military exchange in history will take place, and one-third of mankind will be eliminated. This event is described in Joel 2:11 NKJV, “For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; Who can endure it?” This description represents God’s wrath unleashed on unrepentant humanity. However, these are only the first six of the seven trumpets addressed in the Revelation passage. The seventh trumpet is addressed in verse 15, which reads, “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” This describes a significant change in world politics!

The Bible and the Rapture

Going back to Paul’s passage in 1 Corinthians, he says that at this trumpet, the seventh, is when the resurrection will occur. This time is when the authentic Christians, past and present, will be gathered together, glorified with immortality to meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:17) and be with Him forever.

These passages prove that this event is not a secret disappearance. Additionally, Jesus describes this moment to the disciples, illustrating this event’s public nature. Matthew 24:29-31 reads:

29. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

30. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. NKJV

These passages, describing the end-time events, are consistent and in perfect sequence concerning the Great Tribulation, the heavenly signs, the seven trumpets, and the appearing of Christ at the last trumpet, as well as the gathering and glorifying of the faithful Christians, and the commencing of God’s glorious “reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).

It is clear from Scripture that this event is not a vanquishing into thin air that will occur as the unsaved wonder where they went. All eyes will see, and all ears will hear. We also see that this event occurs after the tribulation. A day is coming when the faithful people of God will face persecution similar to that of the Dark Ages.

However, as God protected the faithful during that time, He will do the same during the Great Tribulation. He has promised to provide a way of escape for us from any temptation. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV reads, No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God is faithful and will protect His faithful servants (Matthew 24:21-22).

Another passage used for rapture advocates is Matt 24:36-41.

  1. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
  2. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
  3. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
  4. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
  5. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
  6. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

While this passage focuses on the return of Jesus, it is not the Rapture but the return on earth when Christ will set up His kingdom on earth. The action of this passage focuses on judgment, illustrating the separation of the wicked from the righteous. The ones taken in this passage are taken for judgment.

This focus is more evident in a parallel passage in Luke 17:34-37. In verse 37, the disciples asked where the ones taken up would go. In verse 37 NIV, His answer is clear, “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”  Jesus painted a dreadful picture of judgment that those taken up would meet death—vultures gather to devour the bodies of the dead.

The Bible and the Rapture

The doctrine of the Rapture is a misinterpretation of Scripture. Still, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, truth will prevail. We must learn to lean on Him.


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