The Rapture In The Bible
The rapture is a controversial topic among many Christians. Let’s take a close look at what the bible say about the rapture, and answer some of the most common questions regarding end-times.
What is the Rapture?
The term 'rapture' has embedded itself in much of the modern Christian church due to the dramatization of the concept through literature and film, particularly through the popular “Left Behind” series.
The term is used to refer to a sudden taking away of Christian believers from the Earth.
Apparently, Christians will be 'raptured' just prior to seven years of 'tribulation' or years of extreme difficulty and suffering for those who remain living on the Earth. Non believers will be left behind to face the end times.
In this article, we will examine the Biblical basis for the concept of a the Rapture, as well as discuss the variations of beliefs regarding the circumstances which will surround that event.
What the Bible Says About the Rapture?
Many people are surprised to learn that rapture is not a Biblical term, but it is true. You will not find the word rapture in the Bible, particularly not in reference to the second coming of Christ or the removal of Christians from the Earth.
The term 'rapture' is 'extra-Biblical,' in a similar way that the terms 'Trinity' and 'Triune God' are also extra-Biblical. They are terms representative of concepts found within Bible passages, but which never had those exact terms applied to them by the writers.
The concept of the rapture is derived from the New Testament book of First Thessalonians and the fourth chapter, as shown in verses 15 through 17.
“For the Lord himself shall come down from heaven with commandment, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead who are in Christ, shall rise first.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16)
It is quite obvious that the basic definition of the rapture is taken from these verses.
The Bible does clearly state that their will be a time when Christians still living on the Earth shall be 'taken up.' The debate between Christians on this tends to be in two areas:
One being whether this scripture is meant to be taken literally or figuratively. Secondly, and more commonly, the debate is more one of timing. Is the rapture something that takes place several years prior to Christ's final coming or as an integral part of that singular event?
When Will The Rapture Happen?
As stated above, the debate on the event labeled as The Rapture centers primarily about when this event will occur in relation to the other prophesied events surrounding the Second Coming of Christ.
Although there are several minor variations, the two primary camps of thought on the subject are the 'pre-tribulation' and 'post-tribulation' proponents. To understand their viewpoints, we must first examine what the Bible has to say about this period commonly referred to as the Great Tribulation.
What the Bible Says About the Great Tribulation
The Biblical basis for what has been referred to as the Great Tribulation comes primarily from references in the Gospels:
"Immediately after the tribulation ... then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man [Jesus] ... and he shall gather his elect". (Matthew 24:29–31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27)
This declaration of a time of tribulation or trouble is then coupled with the series of devastating events described in the prophetic Book of Revelation which culminate in a thousand year reign of Christ on the Earth.
Pre or Post Tribulation Rapture?
The fact is that both sides of the debate can provide you with a trail of scripture references that back their reasoning for believing in a rapture event that occurs prior to or following this period of tribulation.
To fully demonstrate those arguments would take much more time and space than we've allotted for this article. However, we can address the 'attitude' which the Bible encourages us to have in regards to the events of the future, particularly those which my cause us anxiety or concern.
The Attitude of Those Who Trust in Christ
“...I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.” II Timothy 7: 12b NLT
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 KJV
“There is no fear in love. Perfect love puts fear out of our hearts. People have fear when they are afraid of being punished. The man who is afraid does not have perfect love. We love Him because He loved us first.” I John 4:18-19 NLT
In conclusion, the Bible clearly teaches that Christ will again return to gather his followers to himself, that he will take them up or 'rapture' them from the current Earth.
When that will occur can be debated and where he will be taking them may be debated, however, if you trust in what the Bible says, as a follower of Christ you need not fear tribulation or death. We follow One whom we can trust and who desires and offers us peace, now and for future days and events, as well.
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