Copyright © February 1, 2014 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
The Holy Bible can be used to answer each of the following questions:
- What is the rapture?
- Who will be included in the rapture?
- When will the rapture happen?
What is the Rapture?
The word "rapture" is not used anywhere in the entire Bible from Genesis through Revelation in any of the conservative English translations of the Bible. The word "rapture" was chosen a long time ago by Bible scholars to refer to the event when Jesus returns to the earth to claim all those who have faith in Him.
The following scriptures describe the rapture event:
First Thessalonians 4:13-18 - Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
The rapture is that moment in time when Jesus Christ appears in the clouds and He calls all His followers to come up to heaven to be with Him. According to scripture, the dead in Christ will be raised first, and then we who are alive and remain will join them in the clouds to be forevermore with the Lord.
First Corinthians 15:51-52 - Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Matthew 24:39-41 - That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Luke 17:34-35 - I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.
Who will be included in the Rapture?
The rapture will include all dead Christians and all Christians who are alive at the time of the rapture.
John 11:25-26 - Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
Jesus said in the above scripture, "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." This perfectly agrees with the Apostle Paul's words, "the dead in Christ will rise first." In other words, if a person believes in Jesus and that person dies, then that person will be among the first to rise at the rapture.
Jesus also said in the above scripture, "whoever lives and believes in me will never die." This also perfectly agrees with the Apostle Paul's words, "we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." In other words, if a person believes in Jesus and he or she is alive at the time of the rapture, then that person will not die but he or she will be instantly transformed into a new heavenly body.
Some additional scriptures about the rapture are as follows:
Mark 10:30 - And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
The Holy Bible says that anyone who believes in Jesus will participate in the rapture, regardless of whether that person is alive or dead when Jesus returns.
Luke 21:18 - But not a hair of your head will perish.
Philippians 3:20-21 - But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
1 John 3:2 - But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Dead Christians will be raised first and they will become immortal living beings. They will receive an immortal body similar to the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
Then all Christians who are still alive will be raised up to meet Jesus in the air, and their human bodies will be instantly changed into immortal bodies similar to the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
When will the Rapture Happen?
There are three major theories about when the rapture will occur in relationship to the seven year tribulation period as described in the book of Revelation.
In the Holy Bible Jesus Christ tells us exactly when the rapture will occur in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Mark and in the Book of Revelation. Let's look at what Jesus said in these three books.
- Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory: The rapture will happen before the tribulation begins or very soon after the start of the tribulation.
- Mid-Tribulation Rapture Theory: The rapture will happen shortly after the midpoint of the tribulation period.
- Post-Tribulation Rapture Theory: The rapture will happen at the end or very near the end of the tribulation period.
* * The disciples ask Jesus for the signs that will precede His return. * *
Matthew 24:3 - As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
* * Jesus said to first look for false Christs, wars, famines, and earthquakes. * *
Mark 13:3-4 - As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"
Matthew 24:4-8 - Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains."
* * Then Christians will be persecuted and killed. * *
Mark 13:5-8 - Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains."
Matthew 24:9 - Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
* * The gospel will be preached throughout the entire world. * *
Mark 13:9 - You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.
Matthew 24:14 - And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
* * In the middle of the seven year tribulation the abomination that causes desolation will appear. * *
Mark 13:10 - And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
Matthew 24:15-16 - So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel -- let the reader understand -- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
* * The sun, moon, and star signs appear after the sixth seal is opened. * *
Mark 13:14 - When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong -- let the reader understand -- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Daniel 9:27 - He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
Second Thessalonians 2:1,3-4 - Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, ... Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Matthew 24:29 - Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
* * Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, appears in the sky and the rapture happens. * *
Mark 13:24-25 - But in those days, following that distress, 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
Revelation 6:12-13 - I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.
Matthew 24:30-31 - At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
In Revelation 7:9-14 John describes the events he saw in his vision while he was standing in heaven. A great multitude of people from all over the earth suddenly appear in heaven. An elder then told John that the people he saw were Christians who had just been retrieved from the earth during the tribulation. In other words, Christians will immediately appear in heaven after they have been raptured up from the earth. This event happens after the sixth seal is opened during the seven year tribulation.
Mark 13:26-27 - At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
Matthew 24:40-41 - Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Revelation 7:9 - After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
Revelation 7:13-14 - Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes -- who are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
In the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus Christ says that the following sequence of events will immediately precede His return in the clouds to rapture His followers:
The above timing of the rapture is consistent with the mid-tribulation rapture theory. The mid-tribulation theory is also known as the pre-wrath rapture theory. The mid-tribulation rapture is what I believe will happen based on the very clear words of our Savior Jesus Christ.
- The abomination that causes desolation described in the book of Daniel will be standing in the holy place where it does not belong. (The middle of the seven year tribulation.)
- The people who live in Judea should immediately flee to the mountains.
- Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, then moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. (Seal Six in the Book of Revelation.)
- At that time, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, will appear in the clouds of the sky and He will send His angels to gather His followers from wherever they might be. (The rapture.)
The pre-tribulation rapture theory ignores the very clear teaching of Jesus Christ in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The pre-tribulation rapture theory is extremely popular among Christians because it is what many Christians want to believe. In addition, many Christians believe the pre-tribulation rapture theory because the Pastor of their church believes it, or because some famous evangelist believes it. However, the pre-tribulation rapture theory does not agree with the very clear teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore I cannot accept the pre-tribulation rapture theory regardless of how many good, sincere, righteous people choose to believe in it.
The post-tribulation rapture theory states that the rapture will happen just before the Battle of Armageddon at the end of the tribulation period, and that the rapture and the Battle of Armageddon happen at approximately the same time and that Jesus will only return once and not twice. In other words, Jesus will not return the first time in the clouds to rapture His children into heaven, and then return a second time at the Battle of Armageddon. The post-tribulation rapture theory states that Jesus will only return once and that He will rapture His children and then He will immediately defeat the armies of the beast at the Battle of Armageddon. One of the major problems with the post-tribulation rapture theory is that the First Resurrection happens a short time after the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 20:4-6). If all Christians, both living and dead, are raptured just prior to the Battle of Armageddon, then there will be no Christians available to take part in the First Resurrection after the battle is over. Therefore I cannot accept the post-tribulation rapture theory regardless of how many good, sincere, righteous people choose to believe in it.
I do not mind if you wish to believe that the rapture will occur before the tribulation begins, or if you wish to believe the rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation period. I have read very long detailed articles that support both of these viewpoints. The problem I personally have with these two viewpoints is that they use random scripture verses taken from different parts of the Bible and then they link those verses together to prove a specific point of view. They also ignore the fact that Jesus said the abomination of desolation, as described in the book of Daniel, would be set up in the temple and then He would return in the clouds to gather up His saints. I do not mind if you wish to ignore this very clear teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ in favor of a string of random scripture verses taken from different parts of the Bible that are linked together to support your point of view. But I cannot personally discredit Jesus' very clear words as He explained these events to His disciples. Jesus tells us He will collect His saints from the earth after the abomination of desolation is set up in the temple and before the seventh seal is opened.
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