Please note that this is NOT a rebuttal or reply addressing the Assumption of Mary or any comment to attempt to debate positions of the protestant or Catholic churches and their teachings or dogma.
What this is meant to be is an expanding of what I believe to be Biblical/Scriptural teaching about and regarding the Biblical Rapture as Taught by Christ. I fully agree with your assessment that the Rapture (from a pre-tribulation, before the Tribulation period, before antichrist position) is not Biblical or Scriptural and cannot be found or backed up by the Scriptures. I do though believe that there is a Rapture timing position that is found and reinforced by Scripture so that is why I am posting what I am. For anyone that might be interested in considering it to read and ponder.
As with many of my post it is exhaustive and extensive and quite long but it is done so as to attempt to cover all bases and document it fully so if you care to read it all then I hope you might consider that scriptures, and Christ, do reference a gathering of the saints/believers. So here is my research or position paper on the Pre-Wrath Rapture timing position.
PLEASE NOTE This is/was pasted from my word processor so some of the formatting codes got pasted along with the text. I tried to remove them but I might have missed some for forgive me if you are bothered by one I missed.
Rapture of the Church, is it Biblical?
What are the various Rapture positions
- Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Saints
- Mid-Tribulation Rapture of the Saints
- Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Saints
- Post-Tribulation Rapture of the Saints
- NO Rapture foretold in the Holy Scriptures
No Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Saints can be found in the Scriptures unless the reader is to make several assumptions and not take Scripture literally but rather symbolically. Pre-Tribulation Rapture advocates point to Revelation Chapter 4, verse 1 as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Saints:
Revelation 4:1 (CEV) 1 After this, I looked and saw a door that opened into heaven. Then the voice that had spoken to me at first and that sounded like a trumpet said, "Come up here! I will show you what must happen next."
In order for this verse to be used for the Rapture it must be taken figuratively/symbolically rather than literally. The reason for this can be found by analyzing Paul's description of the Rapture which is found in two of his letters or epistles. First to the Corinthians and then the Thessalonians. Consider:
1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (CEV) 50 My friends, I want you to know that our bodies of flesh and blood will decay. This means that they cannot share in God's kingdom, which lasts forever. 51 I will explain a mystery to you. Not every one of us will die, but we will all be changed. 52 It will happen suddenly, quicker than the blink of an eye. At the sound of the last trumpet the dead will be raised. We will all be changed, so that we will never die again. 53 Our dead and decaying bodies will be changed into bodies that won't die or decay.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (CEV) 13 My friends, we want you to understand how it will be for those followers who have already died. Then you won't grieve over them and be like people who don't have any hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and was raised to life. We also believe that when God brings Jesus back again, he will bring with him all who had faith in Jesus before they died. 15 Our Lord Jesus told us that when he comes, we won't go up to meet him ahead of his followers who have already died. 16 With a loud command and with the shout of the chief angel and a blast of God's trumpet, the Lord will return from heaven. Then those who had faith in Christ before they died will be raised to life. 17 Next, all of us who are still alive will be taken up into the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the sky. From that time on we will all be with the Lord forever. 18 Encourage each other with these words.
In the above Scriptures Paul explains to the Churches at Corinth and Thessalonica that at one point in time their physical bodies, which cannot enter into the afterlife, will be changed to a new body. Some Christians call this a spiritual body, some a glorified body but it is a body that is different from the physical body that we have today. We are also informed, by Paul, that this will happen first to those who have died, in Christ (are Christians that is) and then to those who are alive at the time or point in time that this, special creation of the new body, will occur. Paul also informs the readers about this transformation and about certain things regarding it. This is information that Paul didn't just make up but was taught by either Christ, Himself, or by other Disciples whom Christ taught directly. Regarding this transformation Paul lets us know that it will be almost instantaneous, all at once, quicker than the blink of an eye. It will also happen at the sound of the last trumpet. In the Scriptures the Trumpet or shofar was a rams horn and was used for several reasons in Biblical days. Some of the uses were:
- Call to Assemble for Worship (Numbers 10:2)
- The Call to Advance for a March or Attack (Numbers 10:2)
- The call of Alarm (Numbers 10:5-7)
- The Call of Absolute Joy and Rejoicing (Numbers 10:10)
- The Call to announce the Beginning of Months Leviticus 23:24)
The last Trump (Trumpet sounding) will announce the end of the Church age as all believers, other than those specifically chosen/marked for God's special purpose (Revelation 7:1-8).
The exact timing of this event though is not given in Scriptures or even alluded to, or is it. For those Pre-Tribulation advocates they say that it is symbolized in Revelation 4:1 but a few things should be understood here. First the verse has to be taken symbolically and not literally. The voice, in Revelation 4 is said to come from Christ and it is that voice that is said to sound like a trumpet This, though, is not a Trumpet but rather Christ voice that sounds like a trumpet to John, the listener. In Revelation 4:2 (verse 2) John mentions that the Spirit took control of him and that he then saw the throne, in heaven, or that he (John) was in heaven. The Spirit here, in verse 2, is the Spirit of Christ.
So regarding the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Saints of God (Believers, Christians) there is no literal Scriptural evidence or proof of the Rapture occurring before the Tribulation period or period of special Tribulation to the Saints and the Jews begin. The key here then to understanding if there is Scriptural proof or evidence of the Rapture or catching up of believers, Christians, is to look for Christ to reveal it for if this is the blessed hope of the Church and the greatest hope for believers to look forward to then surely Christ will have taught it and the New Testament first four books document Christ life and teachings so it is there we should look for the teachings of Christ to the disciples and those he interacted with.
It is at this point I want to specifically look at Matthews 24th chapter where Christ specifically answers questions, by the disciples, about the end times when they were curious at Christ words about the future of the temple and buildings in the holy city. Let us look at exactly what it is said the Disciples ask Christ.
Matthew 24:3 (CEV) 3 Later, as Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him in private and asked, "When will this happen? What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?"
The disciples had been traveling around with Christ and was told by Christ about what the future of the area they were traveling in was and how not one of the beautiful buildings would be standing. They then specifically ask Christ about what was to come and specifically the SIGN of His Coming and the coming end of the world. If there was going to be a Rapture, of the Church, then this would be the very passage that you should be able to find it in. I believe that this is the place you find it and that it agrees with all other Scripture references regarding the Rapture/Catching up of God saints, those Saved believers or Christians. I also believe that all other references in scriptures in Paul's teaching in his letters unto both the Church at Corinth and Thessalonians also trend from this section of scripture. Christ may have taught on other occasions.
Of the specified various Rapture timing positions laid out in this document there is only one that can claim Scriptural authority with regards to a literal reading. In other words that you can find the Rapture spoken about and taught with a literal reading of the Scriptures and not a figuratively or symbolic reading where you say or allude that the topic is concealed in the words of the Scriptures in some cryptic way.
Consider the following passage, from Matthew 24 regarding Christ Answer to the disciples with regards to their question about His future coming and the end days.
Matthew 24:4-39 (CEV) 4 Jesus answered: Don't let anyone fool you. 5 Many will come and claim to be me. They will say that they are the Messiah, and they will fool many people. 6 You will soon hear about wars and threats of wars, but don't be afraid. These things will have to happen first, but that isn't the end. 7 Nations and kingdoms will go to war against each other. People will starve to death, and in some places there will be earthquakes. 8 But this is just the beginning of troubles. 9 You will be arrested, punished, and even killed. Because of me, you will be hated by people of all nations. 10 Many will give up and will betray and hate each other. 11 Many false prophets will come and fool a lot of people. 12 Evil will spread and cause many people to stop loving others. 13 But if you keep on being faithful right to the end, you will be saved. 14 When the good news about the kingdom has been preached all over the world and told to all nations, the end will come. 15 Someday you will see that "Horrible Thing" in the holy place, just as the prophet Daniel said. Everyone who reads this must try to understand! 16 If you are living in Judea at that time, run to the mountains. 17 If you are on the roof of your house, don't go inside to get anything. 18 If you are out in the field, don't go back for your coat. 19 It will be a terrible time for women who are expecting babies or nursing young children. 20 And pray that you won't have to escape in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 This will be the worst time of suffering since the beginning of the world, and nothing this terrible will ever happen again. 22 If God doesn't make the time shorter, no one will be left alive. But because of God's chosen ones, he will make the time shorter. 23 Someone may say, "Here is the Messiah!" or "There he is!" But don't believe it. 24 False messiahs and false prophets will come and work great miracles and signs. They will even try to fool God's chosen ones. 25 But I have warned you ahead of time. 26 If you are told that the Messiah is out in the desert, don't go there! And if you are told that he is in some secret place, don't believe it! 27 The coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning that can be seen from east to west. 28 Where there is a corpse, there will always be buzzards. 29 Right after those days of suffering, "The sun will become dark, and the moon will no longer shine. The stars will fall, and the powers in the sky will be shaken." 30 Then a sign will appear in the sky. And there will be the Son of Man. All nations on earth will weep when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 At the sound of a loud trumpet, he will send his angels to bring his chosen ones together from all over the earth. 32 Learn a lesson from a fig tree. When its branches sprout and start putting out leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So when you see all these things happening, you will know that the time has almost come. 34 I can promise you that some of the people of this generation will still be alive when all this happens. 35 The sky and the earth won't last forever, but my words will. 36 No one knows the day or hour. The angels in heaven don't know, and the Son himself doesn't know. Only the Father knows. 37 When the Son of Man appears, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. 38 People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day that the flood came and Noah went into the big boat. 39 They didn't know anything was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man appears.
Here is what Christ explained would happen when this time approached Note that Christ emphasis was that His reappearance or His coming back would be an immediate thing, something that will happen immediately Now remember back to Paul's teaching about how it will be quicker than the blinking of an eye.
Christ instructions about what is going to happen is presented as a future event and one in which no specific date is given. In fact there is emphasis in mans inability to know the exact date and time of Christ coming back. There is though teaching from Christ that those, in the know, Christians who know what signs to look for, will be able to recognize the SEASON or the approximate time period that Christ return can be expected. Not the exact time of His coming but the season or approximate period. Consider Christ words regarding a lesson from a Fig Tree in Matthew 24:32-35. When Christ refers to this generation He is referring to the generation that will be alive during the time period of Christ return for His believers/Christians. In vs 36-44 he specifically says no one will or can know the exact time but the preceding verses, regarding the fig tree references the general season. Verse 33 (Matthew 24:33) key here.
Matthew 24:33 (CEV) 33 So when you see all these things happening, you will know that the time has almost come.
The things Christ is talking about happening are the things he has just outlined and talked about in the above Scriptures of Matthew 24, verses 5-27. Some of those things Christ is referring to are:
- The Tribulation time/period (beginning of sorrows)
- Many will come claiming to be Christ or the Messiah
- There will be many threats of wars, world level wars
- Nations and kingdoms will go to war with each other
- There will be famines (often comes along with wars)
- There will be many diverse earthquakes around the world
- Tribulation years or first 3½ years God's believers will encounter and suffer
- Christians, believers, will be arrested account of their faith in Christ/God
- Christians will be punished, tortured and even killed account of their faith.
- Christians will be hated/despised because they are believers/Christians
- Many Christians will betray each other
- Many Christians will just give up and give in to those who abuse them.
- Many Christians and believers will come to hate each other and hate Christians because this torture, torment and treatment will be brought on because of their belief and their common faith in Christ.
- Many Christians/believers will actually be fooled by false prophets that will come forward claiming to be God chosen but are not but they will lead many away.
- Those who remain faithful and stick to their faith, not turn against Christ, will be saved and protected (from the coming wrath, Gods Wrath, that is to come soon after).
- The message of Christ (John 3:16-18) will be made known to all corners of the Earth and to all peoples but after all this worse is to come.
- The Great Tribulation Period (Extreme tribulation to Gods People & Believers)
- The Antichrist will now be on the scene and be revealed to those who have been told what to look for and what signs will define this person. Confer and compare scriptures.
- Daniel 9:27 “ Antichrist will make a 7 year pact/agreement with Israel (the Jewish people) but will half way through (3½ yrs) will break the agreement, He will put an end to Israel's sacrifices and offerings that were Guarnteed and protected in the 7 year agreement. He will also set up the abomination that desecrates the Holy temple (place of worship).
- Daniel 11:31 Antichrist (Islamic Mahdi I believe) along with the Islamic army/military, again my own interpretation but in Christ words Antichrist army/military will take over the temple fortress and pollute the sanctuary bringing about the abomination that causes desolation of the Holy Temple/place of worship.
- Daniel 12:11- From the time that the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration or abomination is set up to be worshiped there will be 1290 days left.
- If you are a Jew and/or a believer then there is great emphasis, from Christ, that you should run immediately, flee Judea (Israel) with no haste or time to pick up your possessions or your valuables but flee/run with just the clothes on your back with emphasis on time to flee and get away to protect yourself.
- Flee Judea
- Run to the mountains
- If you are on a roof or top of the house don't even take the time to go inside to get things out.
- It is listed as going to be the worst time of suffering since the beginning of the world and will never be . I believe this will be persecution of Christians by Antichrist Islamic army and already we see instances, today, where people are burned alive and drowned in iron cages.
- It is said that unless God makes the time shorter (by removing His believers/Christians from the torment and Great Tribulation, then no one would survive it. So Believers are told of this coming to be so that they can prepare themselves and keep the faith rather than putting themselves in a position to potentially lose their faith.
- Scriptures also tell us, in Matthew, that these False Messiahs that come in Christ name claiming to be the Messiah will be very persuasive and will perform great miracles in the process of deceiving the Christians who will be under constant persecution and torment. Christ informs the disciples, and us by way of them, that (vs 27) the coming of Christ (in my opinion and belief) to Rapture the saints, believers/Christians, will be like lightning. Again recalling Paul's information regarding this gathering or Rapture is that it would be in the blink of an eye.
- The Cosmic Signs accompanying the Rapture event â€“ Matthew 24:29-30 Right after those days of suffering, Great Tribulation, there will be celestrial signs to signify the legitimacy of what is about to happen next.Â
- The Rapture event occurs Matthew 24:30-31
- Vs 30 Christ will be seen coming on the clouds of heaven (in the clouds with power & glory) In the clouds compare Paul's teaching in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
- Vs 31 At the sound of a loud trumpet, not like a trumpet but the actual sound of the trumpet Again compare Pauls description in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 & 1 Corinthians 15:52 the Trumpet blast.
- Vs 31 “ Christ will send His Angels to gather/bring His Chosen ones, Believers/Christians from all over the Earth (dead first then those remaining alive from Paul's teaching). Again compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16 being God's instrument to reach and bring those in being God's Angel, mighty angel.
It should not be difficult to see where Paul learned what he taught as what Paul taught was essentially word for word what Christ taught the disciples would happen in Matthew 24. There are parallel sections of Scripture that repeat what Christ said in Matthew 24 but the important thing is the context of what is going on is identical to what Paul describes and is taken literally and not figuratively.
I do not believe that there is scripture justification for any other Rapture timing position other than that one known as the Pre-Wrath which basically says that the rapture of God's saints, Christians, believers will not occur until just before God's Wrath is unleashed upon the World. Christ teaches that there will be a period of Tribulation and even Great Tribulation that will occur in the last days BEFORE God's Wrath but that period of time, that Tribulation and that wrath is the wrath of and by antichrist against Jews & Christians. God never promised to protect us from man's wrath but God did promise to protect us from His Wrath and thus the Rapture position that I believe is most accurate and represented in the Holy Scriptures is that of the PreWrath Rapture timing.
Further evidence that this timing or Rapture position is scripture and correct can be found in Paul's remaining letter to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5 and again in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-7 (CEV) 1 I don't need to write you about the time or date when all this will happen. 2 You surely know that the Lord's return will be as a thief coming at night. 3 People will think they are safe and secure. But destruction will suddenly strike them like the pains of a woman about to give birth. And they won't escape. 4 My dear friends, you don't live in darkness, and so that day won't surprise you like a thief. 5 You belong to the light and live in the day. We don't live in the night or belong to the dark. 6 Others may sleep, but we should stay awake and be alert. 7 People sleep during the night, and some even get drunk.
For most of the people of Earth Christ return will be a total surprise, as a thief in the night but Christians, as Christ had explained in Matthew 24 to the Disciples, can know the Season of Christ return so we, Christians, are not in darkness to be caught unaware as if by a thief in the night.
Also compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1-6
2 Thessalonians 2:1-6 (CEV) 1 When our Lord Jesus returns, we will be gathered up to meet him. So I ask you, my friends, 2 not to be easily upset or disturbed by people who claim that the Lord has already come. They may say that they heard this directly from the Holy Spirit, or from someone else, or even that they read it in one of our letters. 3 But don't be fooled! People will rebel against God. Then before the Lord returns, the wicked one who is doomed to be destroyed will appear. 4 He will brag and oppose everything that is holy or sacred. He will even sit in God's temple and claim to be God. 5 Don't you remember that I told you this while I was still with you? 6 You already know what is holding this wicked one back until it is time for him to come.
Paul explains in this section, teaches the Thessalonians, that they should not fall prey to people who might want to deceive them in saying that Christ had already come and that the Rapture had already happened and that they missed it.Â Paul says, as did Christ teach, that the Rapture, the Gathering up to meet Him (Christ) in the air/clouds at the Trumpet blast, will not happen/occur until the antichrist has come upon the scene and the events foretold by Christ in Matthew 24:4-28 have taken place I fully believe that Christ did teach about the Rapture and that the Rapture or Catching up of those believers'
Note this is not the most prevalent position but rather the pre-tribulation rapture timing position is the most prevalent but most people do not realize that this position is not backed up by literal scripture. Also while it is another study I fully believe that this coming antichrist, and his army/military is none other than the Islamic Mahdi or 12th Imam that Islam is awaiting to come, their Islamic Messiah who will come and bring the entire world, convert the entire world, unto Islam or kill all who will not convert I fully believe that Islam is on the assentation in the world and will be the main world religion before too long I am not saying that we are in the last days now or that the Rapture is quickly approaching but what I am saying is that i fully believe when that last generation gets here and the signs Christ talked about happen then. I also fully understand that there will continue to be those who fully believe that no Rapture is taught in the scriptures and for my part I believe that the Rapture, of the saints, is taught and in the scriptures I have provided within this passage. I think that many people are disenchanted with the whole Rapture thought because they were indoctrinated into a Rapture timing position that cannot be backed up and reinforced by Scripture so it is reasonable to see that when they become aware of this glaring discreprency then to doubt that a Rapture even exist is logical. Like anything I believe people need to research and read for themselves and come to their own conclusions and be sure about what they believe in.