Rapture at End Times:
Where do we get the term “Rapture”? The term “rapture” is not found in the Bible, so where does the word come from? The term “rapture” comes from the Latin translation of the Greek word translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Charles Ryrie explains, “The Greek word from which we take the term rapture appears in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, translated, ‘caught up’. The Latin translation of this verse used the word rapturo. The Greek word it translates to is harpazo, which means to snatch or take away. Elsewhere it is used to describe how the Spirit caught up Philip near Gaza and brought him to Caesarea (Acts 8:39) and to describe Paul’s experience of being caught up into the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Thus there can be no doubt that the word is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to indicate the actual removal of people from earth to heaven.” (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 462)
Passages referring to the Rapture:
There are three primary texts which refer to the Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18,
1 Corinthians 15:51-57 and John 14:1-3.
Components of the Rapture:
The return of Christ “For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout…” (1 Thes. 4:16). “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself
A resurrection of dead church saints “The dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thes. 4:16).
“The dead will be raised imperishable” (1 Cor. 15:52).
A translation of living believers “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up”
(1 Thessalonians 4:17).
A glorious reunion “We…shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). “I will come…that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
A giving of glorified bodies “We shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:52-53). “We eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Philippians 3:20-21).
Speed of Rapture “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52).
The timing of Rapture in relation to the Tribulation period:
The debate “In the nineteenth century, teaching concerning the Rapture of the church began to be widely disseminated. This raised such questions as whether the second coming of Christ involves several stages, the relation of those stages to the Tribulation period, and the distinctiveness of the church from Israel in God’s program. In the twentieth century one of the most debated questions in eschatology concerns the time of the Rapture.”
The various views Amillennialists and Postmillennialists regard the coming of Christ as a single event to be followed by a general resurrection and judgment. Within Premillennialism, though, five main views have been promoted concerning the timing of the Rapture:
Pretribulationalism teaches that the Rapture of the church will occur before the seven-year Tribulation period begins. Supporters of this view include John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, Dwight Pentecost, Alva J. McClain, John Feinberg, and Paul Feinberg.
Midtribulationalism teaches that the Rapture of the church will occur at the midpoint of the seven years of Tribulation; that is, after three and one half years have elapsed. Supporters of this view include Oliver Buswell and Gleason Archer.
The Pre-wrath rapture view teaches that all Christians will be taken in the Rapture approximately three-fourths of the way through the Tribulation period. Supporters of this view include Marvin Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen.
Posttribulationalism teaches that the Rapture and Second Coming are facets of a single event which will occur at the end of the Tribulation period. Thus, the church will be on earth during the seven year Tribulation period. Supporters of this view include George Ladd, Robert Gundry and Douglas Moo.
Partial Rapture and the Partial Rapture view teaches that only the “spiritual” Christians who are watching and waiting for the Lord’s return will be taken in the Rapture. Then during the seven years of Tribulation other Church Age saints who were not prepared for the initial rapture will be raptured at various intervals. This view originated with Robert Govett in 1835 and was also taught by J.A. Seuss and G.H. Lang.
Not surprisingly, there are few areas of Christian theology more contentious or confusing than eschatology, the study of the end times. Should the Book of Revelation be interpreted literally or metaphorically? Will Christ establish His Kingdom on earth or has His millennial reign already begun? While I don’t know how much overlap there is with other Christian traditions, within evangelicalism there are four general points of agreement and four general perspectives on eschatology.
The four points of agreement are:
1. Jesus Christ will physically return to earth one day.
2. There will be a bodily resurrection of all people who have ever lived.
3. Satan will be defeated and constrained forever.
4. There will be a final judgment in which believers join Christ for eternity while nonbelievers
are separated from God’s presence.
How this occurs, though, is an issue of great debate. One of the central issues involves the millennium, the thousand-year period during which Christ is said to rule the world (Revelation 20:1-10). The four most popular views in evangelicalism are dispensational, premillennialism, historical premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism.