The Rapture: Answering 3 Common Questions About the Rapture of the Church
The Rapture is one of the most compelling and complex eschatological events in the Bible. Some call it the “beginning of the end” which brings about some sort of unnerving curiosity in believing Christians.
The idea that a select people will be transported to heaven to be with Christ naturally causes a stir. And consequently, it raises a lot of questions.
In an effort to shed light on some of the most controversial biblical concepts, we’ve tried to answer five of the most common questions about “the Rapture of the Church.”
Read on to learn more about what the Rapture is according to the Bible. We’ve also gathered the most popular theories on when it is going to happen and what will happen after.
- What is the Rapture?
The Rapture is the eschatological doctrine that all believers, both living and dead, will be “caught up” to meet Christ in the air.
In theology, the concept of the Rapture of the Church is derived from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
16 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. 17 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.
It tells us about how Jesus will come down from heaven and return to redeem all members of the church. But no mention about the “rapture,” right?
For a little backgrounder:
The word “rapture” is, in fact, not in the Bible. But the same goes for many other biblical concepts that Christians believe in, which does not necessarily make them untrue.
The term “rapture” comes from the Latin word rapio (also from rapturo based on other references) which literally translates to “caught up.” It also comes from the Greek word harpazo, which means to “snatch” or “take away,” which does appear several times in the scripture (Acts 8:39, 2 Corinthians 12:2, Revelation 12:5).
Accordingly, the Rapture of the church literally means the carrying off or removal of the church from earth to heaven.
- When will the Rapture happen?
When studying Christian eschatology, it is normal to come up with more questions than answers. It can get very confusing taking into account all the views related to the timing of the Rapture.
As for when the Rapture will actually happen, it is important to touch on, at the very least, premillennialism.
Firstly, belief in the Rapture is often related to the millennium or the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ.
Premillennialism is arguably one of the most popular views believing that there is indeed a “golden age” of a thousand years (i.e., Jesus’ reign) that will happen after the Second Coming. That Jesus Christ will come first and be physically present on earth to reign during the millennium.
Premillennials believe, as by most Christians, that the Rapture will take place immediately before the Second Coming. It is said to happen at the close of or after the seven-year tribulation, also known as The Great Tribulation. It is a time of persecution during which God’s wrath is poured onto the world — again, before the Second Coming.
This is called the post-tribulational view, saying that the rapture will come after the tribulation.
But other ideas related to the timing of the Rapture are also worth noting.
There is the pre-tribulational view, believed by dispensationalists, which claims that the rapture would occur before the tribulation. Then, there is the mid-tribulational view, believing that the rapture will occur in the middle of the tribulation, sometime in the final three and a half years of the tribulation (the 7 years of tribulation is said to be divided into two three-and-a-half years).
The bottomline? Anticlimactic as it may seem, we’d like to believe that none of us can know for sure when the Rapture is actually going to happen.
Interpretations can extremely vary, some even point to “inaccuracies” or “incredulous theories” resulting in different beliefs and consequently, actions. As a theology expert says, “All we can do is aim to be accurate, humble, and winsome, admitting where things are clear in Scripture and where they aren’t clear.”
- How to prepare for the Rapture?
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The topic in question is whether Christians will go through the Tribulation. Perhaps that is why Christians give too much attention to the Rapture.
Still, not all Christians agree on everything that will happen in the end times, as is evident in the opposing views discussed earlier. That is why regardless of asking the whens and hows, many ask if we are rapture-ready instead.
Determining the timeline of the tribulation and the rapture sometimes leads to focusing too much on these events rather than getting prepared for them. And when one makes the Rapture central to his Christian life, it may tend to veer him away from what is the things most clearly taught in the Bible which are Christian virtues.
There are actually ways to prepare for the Rapture. Basically, it is to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, follow His will, repent from your sins, and reject the Devil and all of his works.
Many of us are anxiously waiting for the signs of the end times thinking about whether we are part of the ones who will be saved or left to suffer. It is easy to get lost in the anticipation and worry about how the end of the world will eventually turn out, but it’s important to put our focus on what is clear as of now.
As Peter writes, “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. . . . But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” (2 Peter 3:8-14)
*Cover Photo/Thumbnail Photo from Shutterstock by Benjamin Haas