Is there a rapture?

Normally, I don’t care about theology that doesn’t pertain to salvation or living righteously, but this is a popular belief among Christians, and I’m sad to say that I can almost certainly say it’s not in scripture.  Yes, there are various verses that talk about being taken like a thief in the night, or being taken up in the spirit, but is there a biblical basis for the rapture?Well, for starters, the word “rapture” is not mentioned in the greek bible.  That word is completely missing.  That, of course, isn’t huge evidence one way or another.

The “key verse” of the rapture theology is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.  What does it mean to be caught up in the air?  Some people think we’re being whisked up into heaven, and Jesus will reign for 1000000 years.  I don’t have a problem with Jesus reigning for any length of time, but being caught up in the air is something we need to re-examine.  The words for caught up in the air, in Greek, talk about the “lower air,” or the air near the ground.  As a direct result, instead of thinking about clouds in the sky, I want to direct your attention to the tabernacle.  Remember, when the Holy of Holies, once a year, would fill with God’s presences (as smoke), and a priest would go in and perform a ritual for Israel’s sin?  The cloud in 1 Thessalonians uses the same word in the Septuagint that described the cloud Israel followed in the desert.  This is no coincidence.  We’re not talking about some high in the sky cloud, we’re talking about a cloud low enough to maybe even consider being fog.

Another popular verse is John 14:2-3, which talks about Jesus preparing a place, then He’ll come back and take us with Him.  What if that place is here on earth?  The scripture doesn’t say, specifically, but what if Jesus is preparing the Earth for a spiritual kingdom?  Chew on that for a while.  Didn’t Jesus say to Pilate that His kingdom was not of this realm?  He didn’t say it wasn’t on the Earth, though.  Just not physical.

Most other verses I have heard or seen beyond this aren’t really about the rapture as much as glorified bodies, which I don’t have a problem with at all.

I’m not saying don’t believe in rapture theology; that’s up to you to decide.  The point I’m trying to make is, whether or not you believe in it, don’t focus on this sort of minor theology, don’t use it as a tool of evangelism, don’t preach it.  Study the risen Christ, and share that message with the people you know.  Work our your salvation daily; examine what you believe, see if there’s something you need to trim out of what you believe.  Don’t ever be satisfied with just accepting what’s preached at your pulpit, or what you heard over the Christian radio station.  If you do all that and still believe in the rapture, then believe it, discuss it with your Christian friends, but keep it out of the public.  It’s a personal belief that usually causes more debates and arguments than resolves them.

Keep Christ at the centre of your faith, and you’ll do just fine.


2 thoughts on “Is there a rapture?

  1. I agree with you that Rapture is not a deal breaking aspect of salvation, but believe there is a very important aspect of the concept you may not be communicating. When Jesus left he said he would return and that believers are to be watching for his return while serving and giving others our testimony so they might believe as well. Along with this, there is promised end times wrath with his return and the reason for the catching up of the faithful is so they will not have to suffer this terrible wrath when it comes.

    The word rapture is not in the Bible and even the word Bible is not there – no matter what we call it, the teaching is there. Knowing about this future catching up is important to help us be motivated to be saved. Biblical teachings today so often avoid the ugly consequences of not being saved which are stated over and over again in the text. People need to worry about these things as they are key to the message of the gospel. If you understand end times events, then not to have a rapture like event places even the saved under the terrible wrath of God. It all fits together.

    1. Hi, Norm,
      Rapture is a sensationalist theology, meaning that it appears in popular-Christianity but there isn’t a solid teaching in the Bible. People have stitched multiple verses together to talk about a rapture, but in context, they are difficult to digest as an idea of rapture.
      For us to have a promise for evangelism, there is a difference between resurrection and rapture. Paul said he preached about the resurrected Christ. He wasn’t concerned about a future rapture, but he was concerned about a future resurrection.
      Also, for rapture, it actually means that Jesus would come back a third time (which isn’t biblical at all). The timeline for rapture people is this: Jesus appears in the clouds and raptures all Christians, the anti-Christ takes over, Jesus comes back a third time and imprisons Satan and no one dies for 1000 years during the reign of Jesus, Satan is loosed again and ultimately thrown in the pit of hell, Jesus destroys the earth and heaven and rebuilds them both to be perfectly sinless. Unfortunately, you’ll never find this full formula in scripture, but if you look around for scattered pieces of scripture that in no way refer to each other, you can get that formula and continue to believe in rapture. Some of the individual ideas are true, of course, but not necessarily in conjuction with the other ideas or in that timeline at all. To put more context in the scattering of scripture, almost none of the scriptures used are quotes from Jesus, but instead letters to churches. With those letters, as much wisdom that they carry, people often forget that Paul did not write them with the intention of them becoming part of a bible, but those letters were written for specific people at their specific time (although most of the truths are universal, don’t get me wrong), but from that frame of mind, it would be like me sending six letters to friends, and each friend came together and quoted one sentence from the letter I sent to them, and forming an opinion of what I am going to do. In that context, it almost certainly wouldn’t make sense and likely wouldn’t reflect what I was about to do at all. This isn’t an attempt to minimize scripture’s revelatory ability, but to realize that revelation is never taken out of context.
      I would use some form of scripture to solidly prove or disprove the rapture, but the fact that I would have to proof text either way tells me that either it isn’t biblical or it’s not for humanity to know. The main verse that people most often quote is 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17, but if we put this in context (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), you can clearly read that this is a teaching of resurrection, and not a full-blown rapture.
      Every Christian needs to believe in the resurrection, because that is completely and totally biblical. Rapture, however, is the equivalent of putting the resurrection in a complex set of mechanics, over complicated a simple teaching.
      The difference that I have is that I don’t, in a technical sense, believe in the end times. This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in John’s book of Revelation, so hear me out for a second. What I believe is that the majority of the events seen in Revelation were fulfilled at the destruction of the temple in 70AD (my position, if you are theologically inclined, is Semi-Preterism). By extension, I am still waiting for Jesus’ second coming and the resurrection of all believers, and I don’t know when that is coming. What I am not waiting for, however, is a rapture or an anti-Christ ruler, this is because a) I personally simply don’t believe in the rapture b) there have been many anti-Christ rulers, and the one in Revelation seems to fit Nero (who ultimately was in reign while the temple was destroyed) quite well.
      So, the motivation for my evangelism is that the Kingdom of God is here, and through Jesus, I am a Kingdom Builder and heir of the Kingdom. This also means that my motivation for preaching a salvation message is that people don’t have to go to hell, that Jesus has conquered sin and we are now free from the bondage of sin through Jesus. People, however, do need to accept Jesus to take a hold of this salvation, and if they don’t, they default, in their death, to hell, and God never desired people to go to hell but that was their choice through Adam.
      That’s where I stand, and that is a result of three years of theological and biblical study, where I began as a rapture-believing baptist-church-attending Christian and through my study, I didn’t have a choice but to remove rapture beliefs, but that was my personal conviction. If people aren’t convicted that way, I would never tried to change them but I would (and have) tell them where I stand on the issue.

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