The Rapture?

One day, like a thief in the night, Jesus will return secretly to rapture Christians off of the earth just in time for God’s wrath to be poured out on the earth.  Really?  Actually Christians have only believed this for about 140 years.  The doctrine of the Rapture is the product of a unique set of historical circumstances that began in the 19th century.  J N Darby, a very creative Bible teacher, “saw” a secret teaching in the Bible: God is going to take his people out just before unleashing His awful and terrifying wrath on the earth.   Although Darby was British his teaching and his theological system later called “dispensationalism” really took root in America.   It spread thanks to the fact that Americans in this era were literate for the most part but not educated and because the railroad spanned the nation and brought new things and ideas coast to coast.  Also, in the 19th century America was ripe for new “secret” ideas and many groups started based on unique (and often heretical) revelations.  Mormonism, Christian Science, Jehovah’s  Witnesses, and Adventistism all began in this era based on exclusive ideas or revelations.  (I am not saying that Seventh Day Adventists are heretics.) The point is Americans were uniquely ready for something new and exciting in their religion and Darby delivered.  In 1909 C.I. Scofield published the first study Bible, the Scofield study Bible.  In it he incorporated Darby’s teaching in the study notes.  The Bible sold coast to coast and was widely read.  Prophecy conferences sprang up and the “movement” gained steam as the fundamentalists adopted dispensationalism which led to new churches and seminaries that fully embraced the Rapture, often as a primary doctrine.  But is it what the Bible teaches?  In 1st Thessalonians 4.15-17 says that we will be “caught up” with deceased Christians to “meet the Lord in the air” and that we will be with him forever.   According to many this is the Rapture.  After this Jesus takes all of us to Heaven where we wait out the seven year Great Tribulation before returning to earth with him.  However, a fair reading of the passage shows that it says absolutely nothing about Jesus turning around and going back to Heaven with or without people.  You can’t even imply it.  It simply is not there.  Plus the word for “meet” is a term that refers to a delegation going outside a city to meet a visiting dignitary to welcome him into the city.  In other words Paul is teaching in 1st Thessalonians that we will meet the Lord in the air and escort him to earth to take his rightful place as Lord of all.  There is much more that can be said about what the Bible teaches in this passage and other Rapture favorites.  Download the audio file for my full teaching on this subject.  The bottom line is the teaching of the Rapture is not Biblical, looks silly to thinking non-Christians, and has helped too many Christians retreat from the world rather than engage it on His behalf.

About bob

I am a Vineyard pastor and a passionate student of the Bible with an instinctive distrust of "business as usual" when it comes to the story of the Bible. Gratefully I have the opportunity to dig a little deeper and my purpose with this blog is to share what I discover.

14 thoughts on “The Rapture?

  1. I plan on listening to this again. It definitely has merrit. I don’t “preach” the Rapture myself, but I find it intriguing and somewhat believable. However, your take on it makes a lot of sense also. Both are backed by scripture and now I need to read for myself and search the scripture. Thank you for sharing this.
    I will write again.

    1. Nothing left before the Rapture hepapnsThere must be peace (false) before the Tribulation begins though that is a portion of the Tribulation.There are things that must happen exactly as prophesied to have the Tribulation be the Tribulation. It is a matter of things occurring. The Tribulation will not start until the the Holy Spirit is removed from earth that would be the rapture the Holy Spirit dwells in each saved the removal of those saved removes the presence of the Holy Spirit -the only thing that keeps the evil in check on earth. Once removed chaos will break forth and it will be easy to blind even more into believing the lies of Satan

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  2. I concur!!! we should have some coffee and chew on this sometime. I have a dear brother in the Lord who has worked through this like I sense you have and concluded the rapture/pretrib teaching that has been sold is very detrimental to the Christian walk. Bless you Bob, Ory

  3. This subject (Rapture) is one of those that, when I read proponents of “pre Trib”, I am fully convinced!
    Then I read proponents of “post Trib” and am fully convinced!
    In James 5:5-7, James says the Lord is coming 3 times in those 3 verse.
    I am fully convinced the Lord is coming!
    The Lord bless you on this study, brother!

    1. You need to study the original niatslatrons along with different version of the bible in front of you.It’s hard to tell but the thing that you need to look out for is the mark of the beast and when the Antichrist will declare himself god oh and the two witnesses and everyone in the world will know who and what jesus did on earth. Those are the most important things.There will be people that will rise in churches that came from different seeds, ones that landed on rocks, water, etc and will say look christ is there or the truth is here but when jesus comes they will run to him and say they did things in his name but jesus will tell them, who are you, i don’t know who you are . and then they will be casted into fire. It’s scary but you can’t trust any domination of Christianity and much try to discover the truth by actually seeking it.No studies can help you unless you seek the truth not what man puts in front of you. Then you will see through people’s lies that they are covered with and be happy everytime you see the sky.It’s my own belief that people will believe the antichrist is GOD or he will declare himself god because he will probably fund some science experiments that progress to the discovery of living forever or conquering death and proclaim it as a disease and this is really the only way I see humans love a man so much and praise him like god

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  4. Bob,
    Whoa boy, you need to slow down. Setting aside a discussion of your interpretation of the passage for a moment, I’ve pasted a short response to your Darby comments from Chuck Missler.

    “In recent years, many opponents of the pre-tribulation rapture view have made dogmatic assertions that this view was never taught before 1820 A.D.1 There have been attempts to attribute the origin of this view to John N. Darby.

    Grant Jeffrey has found an ancient citation from a sermon ascribed to Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373 a.d.), which clearly teaches that believers will be raptured and taken to Heaven before The Tribulation.2

    Ephraem of Nisibis was the most important and prolific of the Syrian church fathers and a witness to early Christianity on the fringes of the Roman Empire in the late fourth century.

    He was well-known for his poetry, exegetical and theological writings, and many of the hymns of the early Byzantine church. So popular were his works that in the fifth and sixth centuries he was adopted by several Christian communities as a spiritual leader and role model.

    This sermon is deemed to be one of the most interesting apocalyptic texts of the early Middle Ages. The translation of the sermon includes the following segment:3

    “For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.”
    This text was originally a sermon called On the Last Times, the Anti-christ, and the End of the World. There are four existing Latin manuscripts (the Parisinus, the Augiensis, the Barberini, and the St. Gallen) ascribed to St. Ephraem or to St. Isidore . Some scholars believe this text was written by some unknown writer in the sixth century and was derived from the original Ephraem.4

    The sermon describes the events of the last days, beginning with the rapture, the Great Tribulation of 3 1/2 years duration under the Antichrist’s rule, followed by the Second Coming of Christ. In Ephraem’s book The Book of the Cave of Treasures, written about 370 A.D., he expressed his belief that the 69th week of Daniel ended with the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah.5

    This, of course, doesn’t prove that the pre-tribulation view is correct; only that it was held (by some) in the early centuries and was not unique to the revival of the 1830′s. It simply documents that this view was held by a remnant of the faithful from the beginning until today.

    The validity of any view can only be measured by the Biblical text itself. “——————————————————


    1.George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope, 1956;
    Robert H. Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, 1973;
    John Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching, 1980;
    Dave MacPherson, The Incredible Cover- Up, 1975, and The Great Rapture Hoax, 1983; are well-known examples.
    For a refutation of MacPherson’s charges, see Thomas D. Ice, “Why the Doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture did not begin with Margaret McDonald”, Bibliotheca Sacra 147 (April-June 1990) p. 155-68.
    2.The citation was found in a footnote in Paul J. Alexander’s The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1985, p. 210. Dr. Paul Alexander is probably the most authoritative scholar on the writings of the early Byzantine Church.
    3.The English translation of the Latin text in C.P. Caspari’s Briefe, Abhandlungen und Predigten aus den zwei letzten Jahrhunderten des kirchlichen Altertums und dem Anfang des Mittelater (Christiania, 1890, pp. 208-20) was provided by Cameron Rhoades, instructor of Latin at Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX.
    4.For a complete discussion, see “The Rapture and Pseudo-Ephraem: An Early Medieval Citation”, by Thomas D. Ice and Timothy J. Demy, to be published in Bibliotheca Sacra, July-September 1995.
    Also, Grant Jeffrey, Rush to Judgment, Frontier Research Books, Toronto, Canada, 1995.
    5.The Book of the Cave of Treasures, p. 235, as quoted by Grant Jeffrey in private correspondence

    1. Hi Barry, thanks for listening and responding. I do know about Ephraim the Syrian and I know about the reference you cited. You might already know that the authenticity of this reference and the sermon itself are challenged by Orthodox scholars who are immersed in early church study and Ephraim in particular. I think it is safe to say that this is not true of Grant Jeffreys. Please understand that the next comment is meant in love. I find it typical of the premillenial pretribulation rapture crowd to find one obscure point and then try to use it to validate their entire structure of thought while ignoring the vast body of evidence and reason against it. In my experience this group does the same thing with world events. They pick one thing they heard on the news that seems to point to the next eminent event and then use it to validate their certainty that Russia is about to invade Israel or whatever. God bless you my friend.

      1. The Rapture is idiotic nnesonse. At the end of the Anti-Christ’s reign, about 2437, Jesus Christ returns. The Virgin Mary accompanies him. From about 2438 to 2439, the last of the worldwide afflictions described by the Book of Revelation take place. It is the Seventh Trumpet which is comprised of the seven bowls of God’s wrath. The wicked are punished with great severity. Soon afterwards, the time of great holiness and peace over all the earth begins, which will last over 1,000 years. This period of more than a thousand years is called the Millennium. At the beginning of the Millennium, Christ again ascends to heaven (Second Ascension), and again sends the Holy Spirit upon the Church. (Second Pentecost) Mary is again assumed into heaven. (Second Assumption) After the Millennium, there is another conflict of good against evil, then a period of rebuilding and renewal. Sometime after that is the General Resurrection, when Jesus Christ returns again to judge the living and the dead.

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    2. The Rapture: What Is It?The Rapture is an end times event ( eschatological event) where Jesus Christ eurtrns for His Church and believers who are alive and remain shall be caught up together…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). This is the time of the resurrection, where each Christian receives his or her resurrected body. First to receive their new bodies are those who have died as Christians, and then, those who are alive and remain. Take notice, I am telling you a secret. We shall not all die but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet call. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed (I Corinthians 15:51-52). The Rapture: When Will It Happen?The timing of the Rapture sparks a great debate within Christianity. Does it occur before, during, or after the tribulation period? The tribulation is a seven-year period that immediately precedes the return of Christ and the establishment of His millennial kingdom, which lasts for 1,000 years. The first 3 bd years of the tribulation will be a time of peace and cooperation, and the second 3 bd years of the tribulation will be a time of war and catastrophe. At the midpoint of the tribulation, the Antichrist will proclaim himself god and require worship from all people of the world. Many will bow down and worship the Antichrist, including taking his mark of worldwide registration. Some will refuse to worship the Antichrist and receive his mark, and many will be killed for this act of disobedience. The second half of the tribulation is referred to as the Great Tribulation. There will be extraordinary catastrophes all over the world during this period. (For scriptural support, see Revelation 3:10, Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 17). So, the main debate on the Rapture is not what it is, but when it will occur in relation to the tribulation. In summary, the pre-tribulation view is that the rapture will happen before the tribulation period; the mid-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur half-way through the tribulation period; and the post-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation period. The Rapture: Does the Timing Matter for Believers in Jesus Christ?The pre-tribulation rapture is a wonderful hope for believers in Jesus Christ. However, whether we live to see a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or post-tribulation rapture, or whether we die prior to any type of rapture at all, the key to eternal salvation is, in all cases, our belief and faith in Jesus Christ alone. Be secure in your relationship with Christ, and nothing else really matters. For I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when I have gone and have prepared a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself so that where I am, you also will be (John 14:2-3). For with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven, and those who died in Christ will rise first. Afterward we, the living who remain, will be cauht up along with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall forever be with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

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  5. Hi Bob,
    I appreciate your response, but question the background and paradigms of the unnamed orthodix scholars you mention. But you make a good point, and I think in many, if most cases you are absolutely correct. But I thought you might be interested in reading the entire story in regard to the Ephriam isssue, so I’ve included a link to a veryinteresting article by Grant Jefferies himself.

    1. Hi Barry, thank you for your response and the link. I enjoyed the article and found it to be fair, which I honestly didn’t expect. A few people have brought the Ephraim quote to me and they miss the part about “psuedo-”Ephraim. The Orthodox scholars I am talking about are in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. It’s great to dialog with you.

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