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What Does the Bible Say About the Rapture?

What Does the Bible Say About the Rapture?

What is the rapture? And is the “secret” rapture a biblical teaching?

“We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain 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 4:15–17).

The word “rapture” means to be “carried away.” (The word "rapture" is not found in the Bible; however, the event it describes certainly is found throughout Scripture.) The apostle Paul predicted that those who are “in Christ” will be carried away, or raptured, to heaven “at the coming of the Lord,” a clear reference to Christ’s second coming.

Another second coming?
The Bible teaches that there will be a period near the end of time when it will be difficult to be a Christian; this time is commonly called the “tribulation.” Many Christian denominations now teach that in addition to Christ’s second coming that Paul described above, there will be an additional second coming when Christ will rapture selected Christians to heaven before the tribulation, saving them from it. They call it the “pre-tribulation rapture.”

God’s people have faced tribulation all through Bible history: the tribulation of the ten plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7–11), the tribulation of being trapped between the approaching enemy and the Red Sea (Exodus 14), the tribulation of being attacked by three nations at once (2 Chronicles 20), the tribulation of living as captives in Babylon and other countries, and the list goes on and on. In each and every one of these experiences—without exception—God saved His people not from the tribulation but through it.

The problem with the pre-tribulation theory is that the Bible does not mention it even once—from Genesis through Revelation. Further, it contradicts the method God has consistently used to save His people throughout Bible history.

A “secret” rapture?
To attempt to legitimize a pre-tribulation rapture, proponents teach that it will happen quietly—a “secret” rapture. This view has been popularized by the Left Behind series.

Does the Bible speak of a “secret” rapture when Jesus returns quietly?

“The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

“The day of the Lord … the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
“As the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27).

And the apostle John wrote, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7).

A shout. The voice of an archangel. The trumpet of God. The sound of concrete graves shattering all over the planet. The heavens passing away with a great noise. Earth’s elements melting with fervent heat. The earth being burned up. Like lightning flashing from the east to the west.

The only rapture the Bible describes is a noisy event seen and heard by every person on the planet!

All Together
The pre-tribulation “secret” rapture theory is based on God’s followers being raptured individually at various times, while seven years later, Satan’s followers will still be on earth at the second coming. What does the Bible say?

In anticipation of counterfeit theories about His second coming, Christ described the real rapture by way of a parable. In Matthew 13:24–30, 36–39, He taught that wheat (God’s followers) and tares (Satan’s followers) would grow together in the field (the world) until the harvest (end of the age).

Further, the apostle Paul, under divine inspiration, wrote that all believers—recently resurrected and those who never died—will be raptured to heaven all together. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17.)

The enemy of mankind tries to sell a counterfeit for every one of God’s blessings—and he has enjoyed great success with his counterfeit rapture theory. But the Bible’s presentation of the rapture is clear: There will be one second coming, when God will complete His rescue of His people through tribulation with a very noisy arrival and then rapture them to heaven and eternal safety all together.

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Rapture Hymns
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