By   •   June 1, 2004   •   Topics:


What is the rapture?


There are many Christians who believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be in two phases. First He will come for believers, both living and dead, in the “rapture”; read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. In this view, the rapture—which is the transformation and catching up of all Christians, dead or alive, to meet Christ in the air—will be secret, for it will be unknown to the world of unbelievers at the time of its happening.

The effect of this removal, in the absence of multitudes of people, will, of course, be evident on earth. Then, second, after a period of seven years of tribulation on earth, Christ will return to the earth with His church, the saints who were raptured (Matthew 24:30, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13, Revelation 1:7). He will be victorious over His enemies and will reign on the earth for a thousand years (the millennium) with His saints, the church.

After the thousand years, living unbelievers and the wicked dead now raised to life will be judged at the great white throne judgment. They will then be cast into the lake of fire, while the saved will live forever with Christ in a new heaven and earth (Revelation, chapters 19-22).

Many other evangelical Christians believe that Christ’s return and the rapture will not occur until the seven years of the tribulation have ended. As far as the latter view is concerned, the rapture will not be secret, since it will be part of Christ’s visible and triumphant return to end this present evil age (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). At this point, interpreters differ as to whether there will be a literal thousand year reign of Christ on earth or whether the white throne judgment and the new heaven and earth will immediately appear.

All Christians do not agree on every detail of what will occur in the final events of this world’s history. Some of these events and their order of occurrence have simply not been made clear in the Bible. What is important is that all Christians hold in common that Christ will ultimately return bodily, visibly, and gloriously to reign and rule with His resurrected and transformed saints forever and ever. The details of this great event will be made known in God’s own time.

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  1. Michael McLaren says:

    This is so true

  2. Forrest Mims says:

    Thank you for presenting the various views of the timing of the rapture rather than the usual single view. Jesus summarized the timing succinctly: “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…” (Matthew 24: 29-30). Many Christians today are enduring tribulation and worse for their faith, and we should be prepared for the same should it occur on our watch.

  3. Linda east says:

    Is September 28 2015 a date that we should be prepared for. And should we be collecting food and water for this date?

  4. Henry Wynns says:

    I am a former pretribulationist who now holds an amillennial view. It does not matter which view one holds. As long as we accept Jesus as Savior and believe in His physical and literal return, that is all that matters. Jesus will rapture us at the end. Our spirits will be reunited to our bodies. Those who have never tasted death will be glorified and meet Jesus in the air. Heaven will be our home. I agree with the Baptist Faith and Message on Last Things.

  5. Linda Rodriquez says:

    I liked the article about the Rapture. I was taught in Church about the Rapture when I first got saved. I was told that the Rapture would take place prior to the great tribulation, and that believers in Christ would be spared from going through that terrible time which would follow the Rapture. I was taught that no man knows the day or time all this will take place, but we should be aware of the signs of the time, and be sure to keep oil in your lamp because we know not what day or time the bridegroom will come for His bride (the Church). Even if we are not alive when the Rapture takes place, the Bible teaches that the dead in Christ shall RISE, and those (saved persons) who are alive shall be caught up together to meet the Lord!