Is It In Scripture?
This booklet is written with the idea of providing a means to get started in this study. It is by no means an effort to answer every question or give you all the proof you need. To truly understand, you need to do some research on your own. Most of the Scriptures quoted are from The Interlinear Bible, by Jay P. Green, Sr., as general editor and translator.
Millions of people believe in - and have their hearts and faith set on - what they call the Rapture. They may even be staking their salvation on it. They are waiting for their Lord Jesus to come and take them, quietly and secretly, away from all the trouble and tribulation that would soon come upon the earth.
Other organizations have a similar concept - that of a "place of safety." They don't teach that the people will be removed secretly, but that they will be taken to a safe place to be protected while the tribulation rages.
Both ideas are comforting to their believers - so that they may escape any pain and suffering and want. But are they scriptural? Can either one be proven from the Scriptures? Let's see if we can figure out what the "Rapture" is and where the idea came from.
From Major Bible Prophecies, by John F Walvoord -
From page 265-271 -
"Though there is relative unanimity in the orthodox churches that Christ will return in a formal second coming to the earth, the Rapture has been variously interpreted, with four leading views emerging. In these views the question of when the Rapture will occur in end-time events is the matter of dispute.
"Posttribulationism. Posttribulationism is probably the leading view of the Rapture….It holds that the Rapture will occur as a phase of the second coming of Christ. According to this point of view, when Christ reaches the air above the earth, the church will be raptured and will meet him in the air and will then return immediately with him to the earth. It is called posttribulationism because it holds that the Rapture will occur after the Great Tribulation at the time of the Second Coming.
"Midtribulationism. Another far less popular view is midtribulationism. Its adherents hold that the Rapture will take place in the middle of the last seven years before the second coming of Christ. As the last seven years are regarded in general as a time of tribulation, these people hold that the Rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation but not before the entire seven years.
"Partial rapturism. Another view held by only a few is the partial rapturism theory, which says that only those specially qualified will be raptured at the beginning of the last seven years and that there will be subsequent raptures as others qualify.
"Pretribulationism. The pretribulationism rapture view, widely held by premillenarians, holds that the Rapture will occur more than seven years before the second coming of Christ, and it is referred to as pretribulational because it is predicted to occur before the end-time trouble.
(Author's comment: where is the origin of these seven years and what do they mean?)
"Only one of these four views is correct, and Bible scholars have argued for years over this difference of opinion.
(Author's comment: where is the proof that any of these are correct?)
"In view of the fact that there are evangelicals of relatively orthodox faith who hold these positions, the student of prophecy is soon faced with a decision as to which view is correct. A proper approach to the Rapture is to determine what the Scriptures actually reveal about the Rapture and then consider the arguments for and against each of these major positions. There are also certain theological issues in relation to them that need to be considered.
"The concept of a rapture is not found in Old Testament prophecy and was first announced by Christ in John 14:2-3.
(Author's comment: where in this Scripture does the Messiah mention a rapture? A sudden removal of His saints?)
"For the first time it was revealed in John 14 that prior to the Second Coming there would be a removal of believers in Christ from the earth. They would meet the Lord and go to the place he was going to prepare for them, an obvious reference to heaven. The purpose of this event would be to remove believers from earth and take them to the Father's house. This is an important point in understanding the doctrine, because it makes clear that the purpose of the Rapture is entirely different from that of the Second Coming. At his second coming, Jesus will come back to judge and reign over the earth. In the Rapture he will come to take his own out of the world and take them to his Father's house. The two events have nothing in common except that both are referred to as a 'coming'.
" 'God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him' (I Thess. 4:14). What did Paul mean by this? When a believer dies, his or her soul goes immediately into the presence of the Lord. According to 2 Corinthians 5:8, 'to be away from the body' means to be 'at home with the Lord.' The reason that Christ is bringing the souls of believers who have died from heaven to the sphere of earth is that he is about to resurrect their bodies, and their souls will enter their resurrected bodies.
(Author's comment: where is the Scripture that says the soul goes immediately into the presence of the Lord?)
"It should be noted that Paul does not quote the Old Testament, because the Rapture is not revealed in the Old Testament but was given by a direct revelation from God to Paul.
(Author's comment: where is proof that Paul received the rapture concept as a direct revelation?)
"…both the living and the resurrected saints will be caught up, or raptured, to meet the Lord in the air with the promise, 'and so we will be with the Lord forever' (I Thess. 4:17). If the purpose of Christ is to take them to the Father's house, as indicated in John 14, they will then proceed to heaven to fulfill prophecies that relate to their arrival there, including the judgment seat of Christ and other Scriptures. The Rapture was revealed to the grieving Thessalonians with the words, 'Therefore encourage each other with these words' (I Thess. 4:18). Paul held before them the bright prospect of seeing their loved ones, possibly soon, for the Rapture here, as elsewhere, is presented as an eminent event without any prophetic events first taking place."
(Author's comment: where are the scriptures with prophecies relating to our arrival in heaven?)
From page 276 -
"…God's normal order is to allow saints to live and die and then be resurrected at some future time. Paul here (I Cor. 15:50-53), however, introduced the grand exception to that rule. He said that in the future fulfillment of prophecy the church will be taken out of the world. Christians who have died will be resurrected, and living Christians will be translated, or changed. They will receive immortal bodies and take on qualities of life necessary for heaven."
From Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Matthew Henry, volume 6 -
From page 480 -
I Corinthians 15:51-53 - "The apostle here makes known a truth unknown before, which is that the saints living at our Lord's second coming will not die, but be changed, that this change will be made in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and at the sound of the last trump' for, as he tells us elsewhere, the Lord himself shall descend with a shout, with a voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God (I Thess. 4:16), so here, the trumpet must sound. It is the loud summons of all the living and all the dead, to come and appear at the tribunal of Christ. At this summons the graves shall open, the dead saints shall rise incorruptible, and the living saints be changed to the same incorruptible state."
From page 632 -
I Thessalonians 4:14 - "The doctrine of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ is an antidote against the fear of death and inordinate sorrow for the death of our Christian friends."
"Those that shall be found alive will then be changed. They shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, v 17. At, or immediately before, this rapture into the clouds, those who are alive will undergo a mighty change, which will be equivalent to dying. "This change will be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (I Cor. 15:52), in the very instant, or not long after the raising up of those that sleep in Jesus. And those who are raised, and thus changed, shall meet together in the clouds, and there meet with their Lord, to congratulate him on his coming, to receive the crown of glory he will then bestow on them, and to be assessors with him in judgment, approving and applauding the sentence he will then pass upon the prince of the power of the air, and all the wicked, who shall be doomed to destruction with the devil and his angels."
From A Survey of the New Testament, by Robert H Gundry, page 269 -
"Rapture is the term commonly used to designate the catching up of Christians at the Second Coming, as described by Paul in I Thess. 4:16, 17. Translation designates the immortalizing and glorifying of the bodies of Christians alive on earth when Jesus returns."
From A Commentary, Robert Jamieson, A R Fausset, David Brown, volume 6, page 465 -
I Thessalonians 4:13 - "The full glory is not to be realized at death, but at the Lord's coming: one is not to anticipate the other, but all are to be glorified together then. Death affects the individual; the coming of Jesus, the whole Church. At death our souls are invisibly and individually with the Lord; at Christ's coming the Church, with all its members, in body and soul, shall be visibly and collectively with Him."
I Thessalonians 4:17 - "If Christ's servants be secretly caught up (as some think) before the judgments upon the earth, how shall the Gospel be preached up to the end? Also, the gathering of the elect succeeds the great tribulation through which, though shortened for their sakes, they have to pass: but the elect there are probably Jews: the vintage of judgments on apostate Christendom succeeds the harvest of the righteous."
Sources With A Different View
From the tract titled Truth for the World, by Rod Rutherford, taken from the website www.microtech.com.au/balfour/Tracts -
"…it must be pointed out that the Bible says nothing about the rapture. The word 'rapture' is not found in all God's Word. Neither is the idea of the rapture in the Bible. False teachers, commonly called 'Premillennialists' or 'Dispensationalists', have invented the doctrine of the rapture. It is a doctrine of man, not of God."
From the article Kingdom Truth: The Rapture, by Pastor Delbert Young, taken from the website www.lifegatechurch.com --
"The popular, dispensational, rapture doctrine was never heard of until the 1850's. Following are two quotes from respected church writers who wrote earlier this century. They openly questioned the 'any minute rapture' doctrine.
"Alexander Reese says, 'About 1830 a new school arose within the fold of Premillennialism that sought to overthrow what, since the Apostolic Age, have been considered by all Premillennialists as established results, and to institute in their place a series of doctrines that had never been heard of before. The school I refer to is that of 'The Brethren' or 'Plymouth Brethren', founded by J N Darby'." (from The Approaching Advent of Christ, by Alexander Reese, page 18).
"Robert Cameron says, 'Now be it remembered, that prior to that date no hint of any approach to such belief can be found in any Christian literature from Polycarp down….Surely, a doctrine that finds no exponent or advocate in the whole history and literature of Christendom, for eighteen hundred years after the founding of the Church - a doctrine that was never taught by a Father or Doctor of the Church in the past - that has no standard Commentator or Professor of the Greek language in any Theological School until the middle of the Nineteenth century, to give it approval, and that is without a friend, even to mention its name amongst the orthodox teachers or the heretical sects of Christendom - such a fatherless and motherless doctrine, when it rises to the front, demanding universal acceptance, ought to undergo careful scrutiny before it is admitted and tabulated as part of the faith once for all delivered unto the saints'." (from Scriptural Truth About The Lord's Return, by Robert Cameron, page 72-73).
So how did J N Darby arrive at this idea? It came from a visit he made to fifteen-year-old Margaret Macdonald in Scotland. She, a semi-invalid, often suffered from fevers and this idea was from a vision she had seen.
"Before long, copies of her vision were circulated as men began to preach this rapture idea as gospel. Naturally it was preached as 'any minute' and that was in the 1850's. John Darby and the Pilgrim Brethren began to campaign the doctrine. Darby came to the United States in 1864 where the doctrine greatly influenced the Presbyterians and Baptists. Darby's notes were placed into the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909 and became as if it was apostolic doctrine. Why not? It was in the Bible! Since that time the doctrine has also been placed in the Dake Bible, Ryre Bible, Larkin Bible, etc. A doctrine never preached prior to the 1850's nor preached by any apostle suddenly became the gospel."
Interesting! If it can be proven where this idea came from - 1800 years after the apostles - then how can it be Scriptural? All the Scriptures were written long before the 1800's C.E.
I Thessalonians 4
Let's look at the scriptures they use to "prove" this concept and see what they really say - or don't say.
I Thessalonians 4:13
"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who sleep, that you not grieve, as the rest also, not having hope."
Paul was not teaching about a rapture - he was comforting the people with the knowledge of the resurrection. They had experienced the death of loved ones and were unsure of what had happened to the dead. (For more information on what happens at death, read our booklet "After Death - Then What?")
I Thessalonians 4:14
"For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so the Master will also bring with Him all those who have fallen asleep through Yahshua."
Those people were dead in Messiah - simply sleeping. He was telling them that when the Messiah returns, then those loved ones would be resurrected and would "return".
I Thessalonians 4:15
"For we say this to you in the word of the Master, that we the living who remain to the coming of the Master not at all will go before those who have fallen asleep."
It is saying that the ones who are alive will not receive the promise before those who have already died. There is an order to this process.
I Thessalonians 4:16
"Because the Master Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout of an archangel's voice, and with Yahweh's trumpet; and the dead in Messiah will rise again first."
This "rapture" is to be a secret affair? With a shout and a trumpet? I don't see how that's possible.
I Thessalonians 4:17
"Then we who remain alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to a meeting with the Master in the air, and so we will always be with the Master."
What about the word "air"? That is Strong's #109, Greek aer. It means simply the air of the lower atmosphere or the air that we breathe. It is not referring to a far-off heaven.
The word here for "meet" or "meeting" is Strongs #529, Greek apanteses. It only appears four times in the New Testament and carries the sense of going out to meet someone and ushering them back to where you were. Like a guest coming into your home - you would go to the door, or possibly to the driveway, to meet them and receive them into your home. So we would come back to where? The earth!
"And His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall divide from its middle, from the east and to the west, a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall move toward the north, and half of it toward the south."
"And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal; and you shall flee as you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Yahweh my Elohim shall come, and all the saints with you."
I Thessalonians 3:13
"…at the coming of our Master Yahshua Messiah with all His saints."
"And the seventh from Adam, Enoch also prophesied to these men, saying, Behold, the Master came with myriads of His saints."
When is this to take place?
"Behold, the day of Yahweh comes, and your spoil shall be divided among you."
"For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem, and the city shall be captured, and the houses plundered, and the women ravished; and half the city shall go into captivity, and the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city."
"And Yahweh shall go out and fight against those nations, like the day He fought in the day of battle."
"Howl, for the day of Yahweh is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty."
"On account of this all hands shall droop, and every heart of man shall melt."
"And they shall be afraid; pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain like a woman bearing; they shall be amazed, each man to his neighbor; faces of flames shall be their faces."
"Behold the day of Yahweh comes, cruel and with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land waste, and He shall destroy its sinners out of it."
"Blow a ram's horn in Zion, and shout an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh approaches: it is near."
"A day of darkness and gloominess; a day of clouds and thick darkness; as the dawn spread out on the mountains, a great and strong people; there has never been the like, nor shall there ever be again to the years of many generations."
"The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall shake; the sun and moon shall grow dark, and the stars shall gather in their light."
"And Yahweh shall give His voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for he who does His word is strong, for the day of Yahweh is very great and terrifying, and who can endure it?"
This is secret? If so, then everyone else must be blind and deaf!
I Corinthians 15
I Corinthians 15:50
"And I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood is not able to inherit the kingdom of Yahweh, nor does corruption inherit incorruption."
We cannot inherit the kingdom as we are right now - in this flesh, with our carnal human nature.
I Corinthians 15:51
"Behold, I speak a mystery to you: indeed we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."
It means we will not all die. Some will still be alive when Yahshua returns. Since we cannot inherit the kingdom as humans we must be changed into a different form.
I Corinthians 15:52
"In a moment, in a glance of an eye, at the last trumpet; for a trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed."
Once again, this is a resurrection and there is a trumpet. It is not a secret event.
How will the Messiah come when He returns?
"And saying these things, as they looked on, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him from their eyes."
"And as they were intently looking into the heaven, He having gone, even behold, two men in white clothing stood by them."
"Who also said, men, Galileans, why do you stand looking up to the heaven? This Yahshua, the one being taken from you into heaven, will come in the way you saw Him going into heaven."
Was this a "secret rapture"? No. It was witnessed. We know that the disciples saw this and probably anyone else in the vicinity could have seen it as well. So then His return would not be secret. The return is to be like His departure. Only noisier.
"For as the lightning comes forth from the east and shines as far as the west, so also will be the coming of the son of man."
"And immediately after the affliction of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars will fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."
"And then the sign of the son of man will appear in the heavens, and then all of the tribes of the land will wail; and they will see the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and much glory."
"And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds; from the ends of the heavens to their ends."
The Jews did not accept Yahshua as the Messiah - He did not set up His kingdom then. But this time He will return as a conquering King. He will gather His saints and come to conquer the world.
The Future Of The Saints
After war, what happens to those saints? Do they then to go heaven to sit and worship Him? No.
"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them; and judgment was given to them, and the souls of the ones having been beheaded because of the witness of Yahshua, and because of the word of Yahweh, and who had not worshiped the beast nor its image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they lived and reigned with messiah a thousand years."
"(But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were ended). This is the first resurrection."
"Blessed and holy is the one having part in the first resurrection; the second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of Yahweh and of Messiah, and will reign with Him a thousand years."
They are not sitting on a cloud and playing a harp. They are ruling and reigning! Working! But reigning over whom? Where? The people who survived the wars and continue to inhabit the earth.
"And made us kings and priests to Yahweh, and we shall reign over the earth."
At the end of that thousand years, there will be another resurrection.
"And I saw a great white throne, and the One sitting on it, from whose faith the earth and the heaven fled; a place was not found for them."
"And I saw the dead, the small and the great, standing before Yahweh; and scrolls were opened, and another scroll was opened, which is the scroll of life; and the dead were judged out of the things written in the scrolls, according to their works."
"And the sea gave up the dead in it; and death and hades gave up the dead in them, and they were each judged according to their works."
"And death and hades were thrown into the lake of fire; this is the second death."
"And if anyone was not found having been written in the scroll of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; but if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you."
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and will receive you to Myself, that where I am you may be also."
The commentator said that this was the first mention of a rapture. Do you see it? The word is not there. There is nothing here about secrecy or translation. It says there are dwelling places in His Father's house. Where is the Father's House? It is in heaven now, but when we are to dwell there, where will it be?
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea no longer is."
"And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Yahweh, having been prepared as a bride, having been adorned for her husband."
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, behold, the tabernacle of Yahweh with men! And He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His people, and Yahweh Himself will be with them as their Elohim."
At that time, the Father's house will be coming down to earth - it will not remain in heaven!
"And every curse will no longer be, and the throne of Yahweh and the Lamb will be in it; and His slaves will serve Him."
"And they will see His face; and His name will be on their foreheads."
"And night will not be there; and they have no need of a lamp or a light of the sun, because Yahweh Elohim will shed light on them, and they shall reign forever and ever."
At that time, the saints will be dwelling with Him - on the earth. We will be a part of the Father's house: the place Yahshua went to prepare for us. There may be questions we cannot answer and details we don't know, but there is nothing here about a "secret rapture". The Rapture was an idea devised by man - it isn't scripture. And how did Yahshua view the concepts of men?
"But in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the ordinance of men."