The Rapture is a subject of much debate, along with many teachings, movies and books. Due to this, many people are confused or not sure about what the Bible has to say concerning the Rapture. Many have been deceived, whether their deceivers deceived them on purpose or are themselves deceived. Do note that the term "Rapture" is not found in the English Bible, but is commonly referred to as the "coming of the Son of Man" or "our blessed hope" and similar phrases. This, in part, has led to much of the confusion. The word "Rapture" actually comes from the Latin word rapio used to translate the Greek for "caught up" (Greek: ἁρπάζω) in the Latin translation of the Bible, which (as I mentioned) is translated in the English as "caught up" in 1st Thessalonians 4:17 (Link). Unlike what is commonly believed, the Rapture is in the Bible, although it is not always clear when the Bible is refering to it. Man's own interpretation (hopefully most of which led by the Holy Spirit) has helped figure out when Scripture is referring to this event and not another.
So to the best of my ability, and with much guidance from the Holy Spirit, I will attempt to assemble most of the verses in Scripture that may refer to the Rapture and the time just prior to it. In fact, most of the first parts of this began to be fulfilled during the early church and continues to be fulfilled today. As it is, the end has yet to come. Since it is an ongoing fulfillment, I have excluded some parts of the prophecy that have already been fulfilled and likely won't be fulfilled a second time. I am referring specifically to Jesus' prophecy of the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, which was fulfilled in A.D. 70. This explains why I skipped some verses (since they pertain directly to the Temple's and Jerusalem's destruction) in the following work.
Please critic this and show me any bias I may have included so I can fix it. I desire this to be the best it can be without my own bias, although I understand that it is nearly impossible to do. If you see that I am missing some verses, do let me know, as I have attempted to assemble as much as I could find. I cannot stress enough how much I want reader input on this, please help me make this be the best collection of verses about the Rapture that it can be. Even help me fix spelling errors, grammar errors, and typos.
So without any further introduction, here is what the Bible says about the Rapture.
What must happen before the End?
Jesus said that many would come in His name claiming to be the Messiah and that the time is near and will deceive many. We will hear of wars and threats of wars and revolutions but we are not to be alarmed by this because these things must happen. But the end will not come right away, it is still to come. He said that nations will rise against other nations and kingdoms will rise against other kingdoms, along with famines and pestilences and great earthquakes in various places. This is not the end of the age, but only the beginning of birth pains.
Before all this, along with during and after, we will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death. They will deliver us to synagogues and prisons. We will stand before governors and kings, and all on account of the name of Jesus. This will result in our being witnesses to them. We will be hated by all nations because of Jesus. When we are arrested and brought to trial, we are not to worry beforehand about what to say and how to defend ourselves. We are to just say whatever is given us at the time, for it is not us speaking but the Holy Spirit. Jesus will give us words and wisdom that none of our adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. We will be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of us to death.
At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. Brother will betray brother to death; and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate us because of Jesus, yet not a hair from our heads will perish. By standing firm we will gain our lives. Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the agape of most will grow cold, but those of us who stand firm to the end will be saved. The gospel message will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
From the time Jesus went up to heaven until the time He comes back for us, He is preparing a place for us in His Father's house. Once He prepares a place for us, He will come back and bring us there so that we will be where He is. He is the way to get there, for no one can come to the Father except by going through Him.
What will the End be like before the Rapture?
Before the Rapture, once the gospel has been preached in the whole world, the end will come. It will be a time of great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive; but for our sake (whom He has chosen) those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to us, "Look, here is the Messiah!" or, "There He is!" we are not to believe it; for false Messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even us – if that were possible. We can now be alert and be on our guard since Jesus has told us ahead of time.
We are not to go out when someone tells us, "There He is, out in the desert," nor believe it when someone says, "Here He is, in the inner rooms." For when Jesus does come, we will see Him like lightning from the east can be seen in the west.
There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
What will happen at the Rapture?
Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, causing the moon to not reflect its light. The stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time, the sign of Jesus will appear in the sky, being seen by everyone and causing the nations to mourn. They will see Jesus coming down from heaven on the clouds of the sky, with great power and glory. He will come with a loud command and the voice of the archangel. He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, the trumpet call of God, and they will gather us from everywhere. We will all be changed by the power of Jesus – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye. When the trumpet sounds, the dead in Christ will rise first, rising imperishable. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet Jesus in the air. And so we will be with Him forever.
When we see all these things beginning to take place, we know that Jesus is near, right at the door; and we ought to stand up and lift our heads, because our redemption is drawing near.
No one knows about that day or hour, not even angels in heaven who are with God, nor Jesus who is the Son of God, but only God the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of Jesus. For in the days of the Great Flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the very day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what was would happen until the flood came and destroyed them. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them. That is how it will be at Jesus' coming. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. In the same way, no one in the field should go back for anything. We must remember Lot's wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. On that night, two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be working together, one will be taken and the other left; two women will be working together, one will be taken and the other left.
Jesus said that at that time the Kingdom of Heaven will be like 10 bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet Jesus, the bridegroom. Jesus said that 5 of them were foolish, while the other 5 were wise. The foolish ones failed to bring extra oil for their lamps, while the wise ones brought extra oil. The bridegroom was late in coming, and the bridesmaids fell asleep. In the middle of the night, the cry rang out that the bridegroom was here and to go out to meet Him. The bridesmaids woke up and prepared their lamps for lighting. The foolish ones asked the wise ones to give them some of their oil because theirs were going out. The wise ones denied them some of their oil because there might not be enough for all of them. They recommended that the foolish ones go and buy oil. However, when they did that, the bridegroom came. Those who were ready went with Him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. Later, the foolish bridesmaids came and cried out, asking to be let in. But the bridegroom told them that He didn't know them. Then Jesus gave us this warning: Stay alert, because we don't know neither the day nor the hour.
Then Jesus continued in saying that it would be like a man about to leave his home for awhile, who entrusted his possessions to his servants. To one he gave 5 talents, to another 2 talents, and another 1 talent — to each according to their ability. After this, he left. The one who had received 5 talents immediately went out and invested it, earning 5 more. The one with 2 talents did the same and earned 2 more. However, the one with the 1 talent went off and buried his talent in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time, the master returned to settle accounts with the servants. The one who received 5 came forward with the other 5 and told the master he earned 5 more. The master praised him and told him he would be in charge of a large amount since he was faithful with a little. The same thing happened with the servant who was given 2 talents. Yet when the servant who was given 1 talent came forward and presented his talent along with saying how hard of a master he was, the master condemned him and gave his one talent to the one who had 10 and cast the servant who had 1 into the dark where people will wail and gnash their teeth.
Then Jesus concluded His teaching with one final thing. He said that when He comes in His glory with all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before Him and He will separate them from each other like a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The "sheep" will be placed at His right hand, while the "goats" will be placed at His left. He will tell those on His right to take their inheritance, which is the Kingdom prepared for them from the founding of the world. His reasons for this are that they took care of Him when He was in need, citing multiple examples of when they did. Yet the "sheep" who did what God wants will ask when they saw Jesus in need like in His examples. Jesus will reply to them that when they did it for the least important of His brothers, they were doing it for Him. However, Jesus will tell those on His left to get away from Him and go off into the fire prepared for Satan and his angels. His reasons are that they didn't take care of Him when He was in need, citing multiple examples of when they could. Then the "goats" will ask when they saw Jesus in need like in His examples. Jesus will reply to them that when they refused to do it for the least important of His brothers, they were refusing to do it for Him. The "goats" will go to eternal punishment, but the "sheep" who have done what God wants will go to eternal life.
What should we do?
So we must keep watch, because we do not know on what day Jesus will come. We must be ready; because He will come at a time we will not expect Him. He will come like a thief in the night. It is like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. So we must keep watch because we do not know when Jesus will come back – whether it be in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If He comes suddenly, we are not to let Him find us sleeping. What Jesus says to His disciples, He says to all of us: "Watch!"
We are to be careful, or our hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. That day will come upon those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before Jesus, the Son of Man.
Theories of When the Rapture Will Happen
Many people have researched this topic and have come to different conclusions. The primary theories generated from these studies are the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory, Mid-Tribulation Rapture theory, and the Post-Tribulation Rapture theory, along with theories that are against any Rapture. The first three I mentioned primarily disagree on when the Rapture will happen in reference to the Tribulation. The Tribulation is the time when God pours out His wrath upon the world as referred to in Revelation 6-19 (Link). Many theories about the Tribulation hold that it will last 7 years. According to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory, the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation. According to the Mid-Tribulation Rapture theory, the Rapture will occur in the middle of the Tribulation, before the Great Tribulation, which is the second half of the Tribulation where God pours out His wrath more fiercely. According to the Post-Tribulation Rapture theory, the Rapture will occur after the Great Tribulation when Jesus comes as a conquering King to set up His kingdom on earth and reign for a thousand years. Below are some thoughts concerning these along with possible interpretations of how certain passages either support or reject these theories.
Those who hold to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory believe that the elect will be spared from the Tribulation. Jesus may have referred to this when He said in Luke to always be on the watch and "pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen" and in Revelation to the church in Philadelphia that He will "keep them from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth".
This could also be referring to the Great Tribulation, which (as I said above) is the second half of the Tribulation where God pours out His wrath more fiercely. This is core of the Mid-Tribulation Rapture theory, where Jesus will come in the middle of Tribulation to gather the elect before the Great Tribulation. It could be argued that some of which is mentioned in Jesus prophecy (e.g. "After the distress of those days") is a reference to the first half of the Tribulation.
Jesus seems to quote Isaiah when He referred to the darkening of the sun and moon, the falling of the stars, and the shaking of the heavenly bodies. The context of the passages in Isaiah that Jesus might be quoting suggests that the Rapture comes as part of the God's wrath. If this is the case, then this would support a Mid-Tribulation Rapture or a Post-Tribulation Rapture. If either the Mid- and Post-Tribulation Raptures are correct, we could very well be in the first half of the Tribulation, with the bulk of the Tribulation yet to come.
Also, Peter makes a reference to the "day of the Lord". It could be that it has nothing to do with the Rapture, but rather Jesus' coming to set up His kingdom, or something else. It could support the Post-Tribulation Rapture theory if it is about the Rapture.
You likely read the paragraphs derived from Matthew 25 where Jesus describes the Rapture with 2 stories — one of the Bridegroom and the bridesmaids and the other of the Master and His servants with the talents — followed by the separation of the sheep and goats. I placed them there because the context suggests very strongly that it is about the Rapture, or at least the events of Matthew 24. Unless Jesus excluded gaps in time or I misread it, it could support the Post-Tribulation Rapture theory, especially the description of the separation of the sheep and goats. It would seem to make no sense for there to be a gap in between Matthew 25:31 and 32, assuming Jesus is speaking chronologically (which makes the most sense in this context). If Matthew 24 and 25 refer to the Second Coming of Jesus instead of the Rapture, then a Pre-Tribulation or Mid-Tribulation Rapture are possible.
Here are some verses that most likely are about the Rapture, but I could not find a way to include it in the work above.
- Titus 2:11-14 (Link), especially verse 13
- Revelation 22:7, 12-17, 20 (Link) – Either this is about the second coming of Jesus where He sets up His kingdom on earth or it is about the Rapture. Or it is about both, either way it is a good read.
- ↑ Matthew 24:15-20; Mark 13:14-18; Luke 21:20-24 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 24:4-8 ; Mark 13:5-8; Luke 21:8-11 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 24:9; Mark 13:9-11; Luke 21:12-16 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 24:10-14; Mark 13:12-13; Luke 21:17-19 (Link)
- ↑ John 14:1-4 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 24:14, 21-25; Mark 13:18-23 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 24:26-27; Luke 17:23-24 (Link)
- ↑ Luke 21:25-26 (Link)
- ↑ Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:27-28; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (1 Cor. 15:51-52 is commonly believed to be about the Rapture, although it could refer to when Jesus sets up His earthly kingdom); Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 24:33; Mark 13:28-29; Luke 21:29-31 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 24:36-41; Mark 13:32; Luke 17:26-36 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 25:1-13 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 25:14-30 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 25:31-46 (Link)
- ↑ Matthew 24:42-44; Mark 13:33-37; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 (Link)
- ↑ Luke 21:34-36 (Link)
- ↑ Luke 21:36 (Link)
- ↑ Revelation 3:10 (Link)
- ↑ Isaiah 13:10, 13:6-16, 34:4, 34:1-17 (Link)
- ↑ 1 Peter 3:10-13 (Link)