The Rapture of the Church

The Rapture of The Church

Introduction

In my experience most Christians do not know what the Rapture of the Church is. I was a Christian for many years before I found out about it. Even those who do know about it have differing views about it and sometimes get confused about where it is spoken about in the Bible. Some Christians do not believe in the Rapture at all. One of the reasons given for this is that the word Rapture is not in the Bible and that is true. However, all true Christians believe in the Trinity even though the word Trinity is not in the bible. So that argument does not work. Just because the word Rapture is not in the Bible does not mean that there is no Rapture. Those who do believe in the Rapture know that it is connected with The Tribulation. However, they often disagree about when it happens. There are two main views on this; those that believe that the Rapture takes place just before The Tribulation and those who believe that it takes place at the end of The Tribulation.

Before I explain the Rapture, I want to make it clear what I mean by the Rapture. The Rapture is a future event where the Church is removed from the earth. We do not need to use the word Rapture for this event. We could simply call it the removal of the Church as long as we understand what it is. And we need to bear in mind that the Rapture is not mentioned in the Old Testament because it was a mystery until Jesus revealed it. I will show you what I mean later. Speaking of mystery, we also need to be aware that the Church was a mystery until it was revealed by Jesus. That is why the Church is not mentioned in the Old Testament either. So, until Jesus revealed it, the Jews at the time of the First Coming of Jesus, including the disciples, did not know about the Church or the Rapture of the Church. So, what did they know and what were they expecting?

All they knew about was the 7-year Tribulation which they called Jacob’s Trouble. Then at the end of the Tribulation their Messiah would come. The Messiah would come down to the earth and land on the Mount of Olives. Then he would sit in judgement over all the earth. In his judgement he would divide the inhabitants of the earth, putting the unbelievers on his left and the believers on his right. Then all of the unbelievers would be removed from the earth. So, the Day of the Lord was the day of his Second Coming to the earth. See Ezekiel 20:33-38. It was normal for unbelievers to be removed from the earth. This is what happened through The Flood. The same happened in Lot’s days. See Matthew 25:31-46. Note that the unbelievers are removed and the believers stay. See Matthew 24:36-42. This is also about the Second Coming and the Judgement. It is not about the Rapture. Verse 40 is not the Rapture. This means that at his Second Coming, Jesus will come down from heaven to the earth and after the judgement the unbelievers will be removed from the earth and the believers will stay on the earth. To understand the Rapture, you must keep this in mind. So, let’s take a look at the scriptures that tell us about the Rapture.

 

Rapture Scriptures

John 14:1-3
Notice in this text that Jesus says that he is coming back to take the believers (the Church) to heaven. But this is at odds with what we know about the Second Coming in which Jesus comes to earth, keeps the believers on the earth and establishes his Kingdom on the earth. So, this is talking about something else. It’s the Rapture. Jesus is talking about a mystery.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53
In this passage, Paul is describing the Rapture as a mystery. The word ‘sleep’ was used in the early Church when talking about death. Notice that on this occasion believers are changed. But this does not happen at the Second Coming.  When Paul talks about being changed, he is talking about our bodies being changed from being perishable to imperishable. In other words, our mortal bodies will be replaced with new immortal resurrection bodies. And when the Rapture happens this will take place instantaneously. The last trumpet is simply the final call to action. Trumpets are sounded in heaven at key moments in history and when this final trumpet is sounded, the resurrection of believers takes place at that time. The dead believers will be raised with resurrection bodies first and then those who are alive at the time will be given resurrection bodies too. Just as it was with Jesus our resurrection bodies will be different, making us unrecognisable physically.

Paul was expecting all of this to happen in his life time. In fact, the Church has always been looking out for this. It gives the Church hope.

What Paul is describing here is entirely different to the Second Coming that the Jews were expecting. It is a brand new and separate event.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
In this passage Paul is talking about the Church. We see this in verse 14 when he uses the phrase ‘in Jesus’. This phrase is only used of the Church. This text is also about the Rapture. We see this in verse 17. The words ‘caught up’ in verse 17 come from the Latin word Rapio which is where we get the word ‘rapture’ from.

Once again in this passage we see that it is different from the Second Coming.

Verse 17 reminds us of a Jewish wedding where the groom goes to the bride’s house to pick her up. He waits outside and she comes out to meet him. He then takes her to the place where they are to have the wedding.

Once the Church has been Raptured, the Tribulation begins. Then Israel becomes God’s witness on the earth again.

 

Problems with the Idea of the Church Going Through the Tribulation

Despite everything said above, there are those who believe that the Church will go through the Tribulation. There are six problems with the idea that the Church will go through the Tribulation:

Imminency
The bible shows that the Lord could return for his Church at any time. If you believe that the Church is going through the Tribulation then you can’t have any imminency.

Comfort
When Paul talks about the Rapture, he tells Christians to take comfort from it. But there is no comfort in the idea that the Church will go through The Tribulation.

No Signs
Jesus told believers to look for signs. But it is not the Church that is told to look for the signs.

Jude 14-15
This shows us that the Second Coming is accompanied by the saints in heaven. This means that the Rapture has to happen before the Second Coming.

The Rapture and the Second Coming on the same occasion
Those who believe that the Church will go through the Tribulation say that the Church is taken up to meet the Lord in the air and then they come straight back down. But if this is so then who are the believers in their physical bodies who are judged when the Church returns? In the Old Testament it says that the believers and the unbelievers are going to be separated in their physical bodies. And the believers then go on to populate the earth in the Millennium. This shows us that there has to be a sufficient gap between the Rapture and the Second Coming for there to be new believers on the earth.

Where in the New Testament does it say that the Church is going to go through the Tribulation?
The answer to the question is, nowhere.

 

Rapture Supporting Scriptures

Now let’s look at 2 scriptures that show that the Church is not going through the Tribulation:

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
He delivers us from the wrath to come. In other words, the Lord delivers us from the Tribulation.

Revelation 13:9
Compare this with Revelation 3:22 for example. Chapter 3 is part of a section on the Church. Notice that Revelation 3:22 mentions the Church but Revelation 13:9 doesn’t. After Revelation 3 the phrase, ‘says to the church’ is never mentioned again. This is because between chapter 3 and chapter 6 the Church is raptured.

 

Conclusion

In the last days the Church will be Raptured from the earth before the 7-year Tribulation and this is something that we should be looking for and comforting one another with.

 

Acknowledgement

In putting this teaching together, I have used a great deal of material from the Unfulfilled Prophecy teaching series by Roger Price.