Is the Rapture True?
I was asked about a YouTube video concerning the doctrine of the rapture. The video was made by a pastor, and tells that the doctrine of the Rapture is a Satanic doctrine. He states that the Rapture Theory started in the 1830s by a woman named Margaret McDonald. Mrs. McDonald had a dream that she thought was an evil dream. She shared this dream with two preachers and then they turned it into the Rapture Theory. His argument is that there are no reference works regarding the rapture prior this event. He states that the manuscripts, which we study from, never mention the word rapture. This is a brief explanation that he gives, but you can see the arguments that he uses to say that there is no rapture. (Murray, 2019)
These things confuse believers on what the scripture says. I submit to you what the scripture has to say concerning this troublesome doctrine. I will show you some things in the scripture and you can then decide if the argument I make is worth listening to. All the scriptures referenced will be taken from the King James Bible, who’s source manuscripts easily out-date the 1800 time period.
In looking into this doctrine of the church, with the study of “the manuscripts”, we can see that at least one rapture event is prophesied in scripture. Some theologians even argue that there will be several, separate rapture events in the end times. These include the rapture of the church, the rapture of the two prophets who are martyred by the beast in Revelation 11, and the rapture or Jews who believe. However, for this topical discussion we are concerned with the rapture of the church. However; even in this focus, the rapture of the church is believed by different Christians to occur either before the tribulation period, halfway through the tribulation period, or after the tribulation period. Since this question is whether a rapture occurs at all, we will focus on this topic; Is the Rapture True?
This word “rapture” is an eschatological (study of end things) term used by Christians to refer to the gathering of believers who are lifted from this earth and joined with their glorified bodies and Jesus Christ. I will have to admit that the word “rapture” is not used in scripture. That is to say; in our current English language, the word rapture in not in scripture as that exact word. This does not mean that the rapture event is not discussed. Jesus does tell us, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
It is noticeably clear in this passage that Jesus wants to comfort his disciples, and those who believe in him. In fact, later in the same chapter he says that he is speaking to those who love him and obey his commandments. In the ending of the previous chapter and on into this verse Jesus is warning his disciples that he must return to his Father. He wants them to know that his death is not a mistake, and it is not the end. In fact, it is a new beginning. Just as in Genesis the Lord said, let there be light, Jesus sheds light on the events to come. He is going away and leaving them there. While he is away, he is preparing for when he returns to take them to where he has gone. Now this does not say rapture, but there is a clear message that Jesus is returning, and he will take those who love him back to the Father to be with him. This is one reference in scripture where this topic is mentioned by Jesus Christ himself and recorded by the Apostle John. The gospel of John is believed to have been written around 85-90 A.D. This is a little before the 1800s.
Now I know, you are thinking that is a nice passage, but it does not really say that we will be taken to the skies. It just says that Jesus is coming back, and he will take us with him. Now, before we move further. Even if there were no other verse that spoke of this subject in scripture, I would still be excited. You see this does say, that Jesus is returning! It does say, he is preparing a place for us! It does say that he will receive us to himself! In other passages concerning the return of the Lord Jesus Christ it says that he will come in clouds of glory. It also says that he will return in the same manner that he left. Well, when he left, he arose into the clouds. We even have an event from the Old Testament where God raptured a prophet. The passage is 2 Kings 2:1. In this passage the prophet Elijah was taken up into heaven by a whirlwind. See then that the rapture event is not a new thing for God.
We can go even further back to Genesis 5:24. Here there is another man, named Enoch, who loved God and was obedient. This verse tells us that “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Wow! God took Enoch! It does not say that Enoch died. It says that “he was not”. He disappeared; God took him. See God’s method of rapture is not limited to sweeping us up into the clouds. He does not even need to descend to the earth to do it! He is God and he is amazing!
Let us now move to another Apostle. This is what the Apostle Paul has to say concerning this topic in his first letter to the church at Corinth dated approximately A.D. 55.
“And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:49-57)
In this chapter Paul makes several contrasts and comparisons to what being a carnal man and a spiritual man in Christ means, and the changes that occur within us and to us. In this portion he tells us that corruptible things cannot enter into heaven; instead we need a heavenly body. We need one that is no longer corrupted by the things of this world. The things of this world are unclean, sinful, and full of death. God is life. He is a living God; of the living in Jesus Christ. Our current bodies of flesh and blood cannot join him. Paul tell us that God is somehow able to overcome this obstacle for us. Paul calls it a mystery. God is going to give us a new body. This new body will not die, it is not corrupted by sin. Paul says that this transformation will happen instantly, at the sound of the last trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise from the grave and be incorruptible. Then those of us who believe, that are still alive will be caught up also. We will all be changed, and death will have no hold on us. Jesus Christ has defeated death for us. This is amazing news!
So far we can see in just these few passages that:
• We don’t need to worry
• Jesus ascended into heaven and is returning
• Jesus has prepared a place for us
• Jesus is going to raise us up to be immortal and incorruptible
I still hear the nay Sayers out there; “I still don’t see where the word rapture can come from”. Well let us continue to seek out what the Apostle to the Gentiles says. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers concerning the rapture because some of them had been taught, by a false teacher, that the believers who had already died would miss the rapture. This false doctrine was causing many believers to lose heart, especially those who had a loved one who had already died. They wondered if they would see them again, or if they had believed in vain.
Paul wrote in his first epistle to the church at Thessalonica, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
First Paul writes that they do not need to be worried about the fate of the fellow loved ones who have believed in Christ and have already died. They did not miss the rapture. We have a hope that non-believers do not have. We that believe that Jesus died and rose again, including those in the grave right now, the Lord will bring them to his kingdom, when he comes for everyone else. He even, says that the Lord, himself, will come down and raise them from the dead. They will be raised up before he receives those who believe on him and are alive. Paul tells us that “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up”. This “caught up” is our primary concern in this text. This is where the rapture doctrine is pointed to directly. The word rapture comes from the Latin word rapere, meaning rapid. It is used as rapiemur, which means “we shall be caught up” (Ladd, 1978) This Latin word is used in translation of the Greek harpazo, meaning snatch away, or seize. I think that we can see that the word rapture and the doctrine are well rooted in scripture, and the source manuscripts. These manuscripts also easily out-date the dream of a woman from the 1800s and the supposed false doctrine of two unnamed preachers.
Here for further study:
• Luke 17:34-37 – I tell you, in that night there shall be two [men] in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two [women] shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body [is], thither will the eagles be gathered together.
• Revelation 3:10 – Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
• Matthew 24:29-31 – Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Here I echo the same concern that Paul said, “I would not have you to be ignorant”. I implore you to search the scriptures for yourself, and to not take the word of any man over what God himself has spoken. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Don’t let yourself be taken by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Ladd, G. E. (1978). The Last Things, An Eschatology for Laymen. Grand Rapids : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. .
Murray, P. D. (2019, July 13). Satan’s Message – Im Going To Fly You Away. Retrieved May 11, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8go4ClW2bk