The full title of this theme ought to be “Things that won’t happen in the end-times”.
I’m referring to those anticipated events, featuring in speculations about the end-times, which are based on misinterpretations of what the Bible
In this case, I’m looking at “the Rapture”.
This expectation is based on the promise made by Paul;
“And the dead in Christ will arise first; then we who are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air”- 1
Thessalonians ch4 vv16-17
The Latin for “caught up” is RAPTUS, which is where the word “Rapture” comes from
So any critique of the theory needs to be based on a better understanding of what Paul means by this promise.
The context is that Paul is talking about the return of Christ, and what will happen to believers when Christ returns.
Paul’s readers will be expecting to be “gathered up”, as promised in Matthew ch24 and other places.
But they may be worried about the fate of those brethren who die before the time comes.
So Paul sets out to reassure them.
Those believers who are “dead in Christ” will come back. Their coming back is described in two different ways.
On the one hand, “through Jesus, God will bring with him
those who have fallen asleep” (ch4 v14).
On the other hand, they will rise from the dead and join the living faithful , in order to meet him on his arrival.
First the Lord will “descend from heaven”, with all the signs which announce his coming; the cry of command, the archangel’s call, and the sound
of the trumpet of God (v16).
Then comes the verse quoted at the beginning, which describes the raising of the dead, who join the living, and the “catching up” of the combined
The sequel can be summed up in one sentence;
“And so we shall always be with the Lord”.
Other passages from the two letters to the Thessalonians make the “vengeance upon those who do not know God” an integral part of the same
“descent of the Lord”.
As in the gospels, Christ comes to gather his own people and judge the rest, in one single operation.
The mark of the modern theory of “Rapture” is detaching the “being caught up” from this whole nexus of Return of Christ/Final Judgement, where
it belongs, in order to give it a separate slot as a previous event in its own right.
There was never any warrant for this. It was doctrinal innovation for the sake of doctrinal innovation.
Once this interpretation was in place, other Biblical verses were brought into service to offer oblique support.
One of them, for example, is the “one is taken, the other left”, of Matthew ch24 vv40-41.
In fact this act of selection should be referred back to the ”gathering of the elect”, which was mentioned a few verses previously (v31).
It is another way of describing the final judgement, which appears in the next chapter as the separation of “the sheep and the goats”.
This event is “the coming of the Son of Man”, which is about the full and open Return of Christ and the Final Judgement even more clearly than is
the case in Thessalonians.
Another argument used is the claim that the church can’t be found in the book of Revelation.
But the church can certainly be seen there, running all the way through from beginning to end.
In the opening chapter, John calls himself “your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance”
Who is this “you” that shares the tribulation with John? It is the church, of course. The church of his own time, in the first instance. How,
then, can we say that the church escapes tribulation?
The next two chapters are assessing the church’s reaction to the beginning of the tribulation,
In the seventh chapter, the church, identified in symbolism as God’s true people Israel, are sealed with the Holy Spirit in preparation for a
The church, “the saints”, are being persecuted in ch11 and in ch13, and their blood is being drunk in ch17.
Finally, of course, they enter safely into the new Jerusalem at the end of the book.
That is the whole point of the book of Revelation, warning the church to be ready to pass through a tribulation, meeting it with faith and patient
The same warning can be found in the teaching of Jesus.
He tells his disciples that anyone who leaves family etc. for the sake of the gospel will receive a hundred-fold reward “with persecutions
(Mark ch10 vv29-30).
He also tells them that the period of the great tribulation will be shortened “for the sake of the elect” (Matthew ch24 v22), which would hardly
be necessary if the elect had been taken away already.
Conversely, the New Testament offers no direct promise of any kind that the church will be able to evade the experience of tribulation.
I’m not sure that God ever makes that kind of promise.
Life in this world is like a river full of rapids. The Biblical God is the kind of God who protects his people by taking them through
rapids and out again on the other side, not by giving their boat a portage which will avoid the danger altogether.
As Revelation says more than once, tribulation is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. We need to gather our courage to face up to the
possibility, instead of placing false confidence in factitious promises of escape.
edit on 31-1-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)