This is an overview of the main rapture theology viewpoints. My book Rapture 911: What To Do If You’re Left Behind is based on the pre-tribulation rapture. Part 2 in that book explains in detail what the rapture is, the reasons for the rapture, rapture precedents from the Bible, and answers many questions about the rapture.
The word rapture is likely not in your Bible translation. That’s because it’s a term we use to describe an event in which all the people who have put their faith in Jesus are “caught up” and meet Jesus in the heavens. In Latin the word for “caught up” is rapio and is where we get the English word rapture.
Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood can’t inherit God’s Kingdom; neither does the perishable inherit imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must become imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable body will have become imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:50-54 WEBP)
But we don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you don’t grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 WEBP)
This is the widely taught viewpoint of the rapture. The rapture is considered an imminent event, so it could happen at any moment. It’ll occur before the tribulation period begins because of several reasons. First, people who have put their faith in Jesus are not appointed to wrath. Since the tribulation is the time of God’s wrath, that means believers are excluded from it (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Another reason is the apostle Paul told us the Antichrist can’t be revealed until the Holy Spirit, who has been restraining evil, is removed (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). Since the Holy Spirit lives inside all believers, the believers and their influence in the world must first be removed before the Antichrist can rise to power. Otherwise all the believers would prevent that from happening. Thirdly, believers come back to earth with Jesus at the end of the tribulation period (Revelation 19:7-19). In this scripture below the believers are the “wife” and “army” of the “Lamb”. The “Lamb” is Jesus. That means the believers must have left first in order for them to be able to return.
For God didn’t appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:9 WEBP)
Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, and our gathering together to him, we ask you not to be quickly shaken in your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as from us, saying that the day of Messiah had come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the departure comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 HNV)
“Let’s rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and let’s give the glory to him. For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.” It was given to her that she would array herself in bright, pure, fine linen: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. … I saw the heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True. In righteousness he judges and makes war. … The armies which are in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in white, pure, fine linen. … I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him who sat on the horse, and against his army. (Revelation 19:7-8, 11, 14, 19 WEBP)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 WEBP)
These viewpoints say believers are raptured during the tribulation period. They argue that God’s wrath isn’t really the entire tribulation but only certain portions of it. I think one of the main problems with this reasoning is that the global leader, the Antichrist, cannot rise to power until the believers are raptured (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). The Antichrist’s rise to power is one of the first things that happens after the rapture. In fact the clocks starts ticking on the seven year tribulation period when that leader signs a treaty with Israel and her enemies. So people who have put their faith in Jesus must be raptured before the tribulation starts.
In the scripture below from Daniel, “he will make a firm covenant” is regarding the Antichrist. “One week” is a reference to seven years.
He will make a firm covenant with many for one week. In the middle of the week he will cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease. On the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate; and even to the full end, and that determined, wrath will be poured out on the desolate. (Daniel 9:27 WEBP)
In this viewpoint, Christians endure God’s wrath during the tribulation and are raptured afterward. There are two big problems with this viewpoint. The first is that believers aren’t meant for God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). This reasoning goes completely against that. The other problem is that when Jesus returns at his second coming, he separates the believers from the unbelievers. Now if all the believers get raptured moments before Jesus’s second coming then who exactly is Jesus going to separate from the unbelievers? No one. There wouldn’t be a need for it. And then there wouldn’t be any believers to populate Jesus’s millennial kingdom.
In this scripture below, the “sheep” are the believers and the “goats” are the unbelievers.
But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….” … Then he will say also to those on the left hand, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:31-34, 41 WEBP)
The pre-tribulation view of the rapture is the only one that makes logical sense and is defensible with Scripture.
Most definitely! God is the author of salvation. He loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved. It’s for this exact purpose that Jesus, God in the flesh, died for our sins. God’s purpose in most acts is for us to come to know him, repent of our sins, and grow closer to him.
Consider these facts. After the rapture, God raises 144,000 Jewish men to preach the gospel (Revelation 7:3-4). He sends two witnesses to preach the gospel and perform miracles in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:3-11). Then there’s an angel who flies over the entire earth during the tribulation period preaching the gospel (Revelation 14:6-7). Now, why on earth would God do those things if he didn’t intend to save anyone?
Further more, at Jesus’s second coming, which occurs after the rapture and the tribulation period, he separates the believers from the unbelievers (Matthew 25:31-41). There would be no point in this if no one gets saved after the rapture. And who exactly would populate Jesus’s millennial kingdom on earth if no one was saved after the rapture?
Here’s the truth. Look at what happens right after those 144,000 start preaching across the earth after the rapture.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could count, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. … “These are those who came out of the great suffering. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood.” (Revelation 7:9, 14 WEBP)
We see a great number of people who can’t be counted standing in heaven before “the Lamb.” That’s Jesus. They came out of the “great suffering” is a reference to the time after the rapture, the tribulation period. Look at where they came from – every nation, all tribes, all peoples, all languages. That means they came from everywhere on the planet! People are indeed saved after the rapture.
Satan doesn’t want you to think anyone can be saved after the rapture. He wants to steal your hope. He also doesn’t want you to act on the truth and help someone get saved. Don’t let him!
The rapture could happen any minute. Leave a resource, like Rapture 911: What To Do If You’re Left Behind, for those you care about who haven’t put their faith in Jesus yet. It’ll help them know what happened, what to expect, how to cope, how not to be deceived, and most importantly learn how to be saved.
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