Many people have no idea what the rapture is, but this incredible event is described in the Bible and will shock the world when it occurs! Furthermore, this will be an event you should not want to miss out on. In essence, the rapture is a point in time, a single moment when millions of people will suddenly disappear from the face of the earth. Can you imagine millions disappearing? What would your reaction be? As unbelievable as this sounds there is a good reason to believe this will happen and possibly soon. We will describe why this will happen and why you want to be included in this amazing event. If the rapture has already happened, please read – Missed the Rapture – what now?
What does the rapture mean?
This event is actually very easy to define and is clearly documented in the Bible. There are three clear descriptions of the rapture in the New Testament:
For 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 word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until 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 one another with these words. [1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 NIV]
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. [1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NIV]
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. [John 14:1-3 NIV]
These passages of scripture really speak for themselves and need little additional comment. There will come a day when a trumpet will sound and Jesus Christ will return to meet His believers. Both the dead and alive believers will be forcibly snatched from earth to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. Those who are alive at the time will have no choice – it will happen instantaneously.
Incidentally, the “twinkling of an eye” is the fastest human involuntary reflex so this describes the speed at which this event will happen. It appears that the rapture of believers will signal the end of the true Church as we know it and usher in the fearful “day of the Lord”.
What is the purpose of the rapture?
We believe the purpose of the rapture is to remove and protect believers from the period of time known by many names in the Bible including: “the day of wrath” (Psalm 110:5, Isaiah 13:9), “the great and terrible day of the Lord” (Joel 2:11,31), “the time of Jacob’s trouble”(Jer 30:7), “the great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21, Revelation 7:14) and others. It could be argued that this unique period of time is described more than any other event in God’s dealing with mankind. No-one in their right mind would want to be in the world during this time – it is a period of unprecedented terror. The book of Revelation (chapters 6-19) describes many fearsome plagues and punishments that no-one will be able to escape the effects of. These events include unprecedented natural disasters, cosmic phenomena, poisoning of earths water systems, devastating plagues and many other horrendous events including hundreds of millions and probably billions of human deaths.
We do not believe that any true Christians saved by Christ will suffer this period of time. If you are saved, you are no longer an object of God’s wrath – you are forgiven! This purpose of this period of time is to punish sin and execute the wrath of God – why would a follower of Christ who has had their sins forgiven need to suffer this?
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. [1 Thessalonians 1:10 NIV]
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Thessalonians 5:9 NIV]
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. [Revelation 3:10-11 NIV]
These three texts make it clear that if you are saved through Jesus Christ there would be no purpose in you suffering the great tribulation. God will use his own witnesses during this time – for example, we are told in Revelation that there will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists in addition to the two witnesses of chapter 11:3-12. The role of the church will be over at this point – indeed, in the book of Revelation, the church is directly referred very clearly in Rev 2-3 and is then absent completely from chapters 4-19. We believe this is because these chapters describe the great tribulation which happens AFTER the rapture (or removal) of the church.
Will the rapture occur soon?
From a prophetic point of view, we believe the rapture could happen at any moment. Many end-times prophecies are unfolding before our very eyes and this event could be the next major event on the horizon. We cannot know when the rapture will occur – we only know that it will occur! There are many descriptions of the signs of the end-times that help us recognise that it is close, but we are commanded NOT to attempt to predict the date of the rapture. We are, however, commanded to live our lives as though we expect the rapture to occur at any moment!
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” [Luke 21:36 NIV]
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. [Hebrews 9:28 NIV, emphasis added]
We believe it is clear from even a casual look at world events that great times of difficulty and hardship lay ahead as described in the Bible. These signs of the times are to warn us of the imminence of Christ’s return – anyone who is not ready will have no excuse as plenty of warning has been given. If all the signs that God warned us of happening immediately prior to the great tribulation are visible for us to see, it means the rapture could happen at any moment. Read our Are we living in the end-times? article for more information.
Does the word “rapture” appear in the Bible?
The word “rapture” is derived from the Latin word “rapio” which means to forcibly seize and carry away. This word is the Latin translation of the Greek word “harpazo” which appears in the Greek New Testament and means to seize suddenly or snatch. Christians who believe in the rapture are often accused of believing a doctrine that does not appear in the Bible because the word “rapture” is absent. Although the word “rapture” does not appear in our English translation, the Greek equivalent does appear many times in the Greek text (which is the language the earliest manuscripts are written in). Even if it did not appear in the Greek, this still does not prove that the rapture is an “invention” of end-time fanatics as the concept of the rapture is clearly taught as we have already detailed above. Additionally, there are many biblical concepts taught which do not have a specific word mentioned to describe them so the rapture is not unique – for example, the word ‘Trinity’ does not appear in the Bible but the concept of the Trinity is clearly evident throughout Scripture.
Is there any other support for the rapture in the Bible?
There are many other examples of incidents where God’s people have been “raptured” before a judgment is executed. The flood of Noah is an obvious example where Noah did not experience the flood – he and his family were removed from the effects of the flood before the judgment of the flood took place. Lot was also a character who was removed from the location of the judgment before the punishment took place, so he did not suffer the effects of the judgment. Both Enoch and Elijah were “raptured” from the world and did not experience death. Is seems that God uses this method of removing faithful followers at certain times prior to impending judgment. Therefore, the concept of the rapture of the church has a historical precedent as a pattern within the Bible.
How should we respond?
Even if the rapture does not occur soon, followers of Christ should live their lives as though they expect the Lord to return at any moment. Taking the rapture seriously can only galvanise and motivate Christians to share the gospel with the unsaved and to inspire holy and God-centred life-styles. If you are already a Christian, are you ready for the return of your Lord? Are you living your life for the Lord as though you expect His return at any moment? The rapture is an amazing promise and hope for the Christian.
If you are not already a follower of Christ, you should be warned and ready to witness the disappearance of millions of Christians from around the world in an instant? How would you react if this did happen? Surely this event would cause you to recognise the truth of the Bible and that it is trustworthy and then make the costly decision to follow Christ. Our Can you prove the Bible? page explains how you can trust scripture.
The world would become very different overnight so if it happens and you get “left behind”, please be sure to get a Bible to find the truth of salvation in Christ. World leaders would quickly find an “explanation” for the disappearance of the Christians. Satan is fully aware of the coming rapture and that it will cause mass chaos and confusion in the world. He is preparing the world with lying deceptions so that when it happens he can keep the majority of the world’s population from the truth. It is strange when reading Revelation that despite all the upheaval in the world during the great tribulation, many still refuse to recognize the true God as King and foolishly try to hide themselves from the judgments – remember what you read here and do not be deceived with a lie!
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. [2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 NIV]
God has always had an amazing plan for mankind. God is patient and slow to anger – however, He cannot ignore rebellion and disobedience, otherwise, His status as a just judge would be compromised. Mankind deserves the wrath of God for the rejection of Him as our Creator. Ongoing disobedience and rebellion are going to reach a climax and this will trigger God’s judgment over every creature – the door for salvation and rescue from judgment is open to all through the forgiveness available in the Lord Jesus Christ and your ticket for the rapture is free of charge! See our How to be saved page to secure your place on the ride to meet the King!
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. [Revelation 22:20-21 NIV]