Will there be a Rapture of the Church?

The ‘Rapture of the Church’ is a phrase that is commonly heard in Christian circles, and refers to a belief that there will shortly be an event of enormous significance to the Christian: namely, when Jesus Christ snatches his Church out of this world.

Another view says that this is not so, and that the rapture takes place after the first 3½ years of the tribulation, called ‘mid-tribulationist’.

A third view is that the Church suffers the full tribulation period before Jesus Christ returns. This is termed ‘Post-tribulationist’.

With the first two views, if it is believed that the Millenial Kingdom will be on earth, then Jesus must have a Third Coming, to return the believers to the earth.

Obviously not all of these views can be correct; one could be correct or else all three must be in error. Let us look at the verse and see what we can work out to be a reasonable understanding.

In John 10, Jesus tells of the effect of a wolf if it gets access to a flock of sheep.

the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.” NIV

Hardly grounds in this verse to have the sheep raptured!

Matthew 13 narrates the parable of the sower. In verse 19 it is stated,

Then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.
the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.” NIV

And an example from the book of Acts:

He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him to the barracks.” Acts 23:10

Again, Paul was not raptured in the sense of being ‘caught up’. The word ‘harpazo’ was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint) in 34 places. In Amos (4:11), for example, the word is the basis for the translation “as a firebrand plucked out of the burning”, and in Zechariah (3:2) the wording is very similar, “is not this a brand plucked out of the fire.”

So we see in the word ‘harpazo’ a quick, intentional movement, but it is one without specific direction. In none of the 13 New Testament and 34 Old Testament occasions does it convey a ‘zapping’ in a particular direction. It is, as defined, a seizing, snatching out, or to carry off speedily.

You will notice the square brackets put around two of the definite articles, ‘the’, in the earlier quotation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, ‘[the] clouds’ and ‘[the] air’. This is to indicate that they are not in the Greek manscript. In these two places there are no definite articles, nor are they inferred. So we must ask “Why not”? We believe that the original Scripture was Divinely inspired, and that, although each writer wrote a true expression of his thoughts, his writing was still such as to convey a true message. And that message did not need the definite articles.

When Jesus ascended to heaven, the ascent was witnessed by some of his disciples. In Acts chapter 1 we read,

And when he had spoken these things, while thy beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” vv 9–11

The message appears to be very clear: Jesus ascended to heaven through cloud, and his return would be the same situation, but the direction reversed. He would be coming back here. Now the disciples had been standing, not at ground level, but on a hill. The mount of Olives has a number of summits, the highest being 903 metres (2963 feet) , at which level it can be enveloped with cloud. So we can imagine the disciples there as a cloud moved across the area where they were standing and Jesus being no longer there when the sky cleared. The angels standing at their side said that his return would be the converse.

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    Chris Driscoll
    Chris Driscoll

    “I was with you until you said: “”The 1260 days represent a period of supremacy of the Roman beast for 1260 years, which was fulfilled in the period from the acknowledgment of the Pope as Universal Bishop by Justinian in 533AD, till the Papal power to persecute was broken by the French Revolution in 1793: a period of exactly 1260 years.”” WHAT?!?! Where did THAT come from? Who says it started at 533 and ended in 1763?! This is pure conjecture! Please provide some scriptural evidence of these dates and events as being those referred to in Daniel (or ANYWHERE… Read more »

    Jason Young
    Jason Young

    Hi Chris,Thanks for your comments on our article and I’m pleased that you find our site of interest.I identify with your question, because there have been times when I have had similar doubts in reading similar type web material. You will appreciate that an article is necessarily somewhat concise in detail and this is a case in point. The context of the prophecies of both Daniel and Revelation in which this period of 1260 arise is concerned with the rise and fall of a system of false Christianity. In Daniel this religious system is personified as a person:“He shall speak… Read more »