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Separating Fact from Fiction


The Rapture

Lesson 4

Victor M. Eskew




A.    Many denominations and numerous televangelists proclaim that there is an event that is nearing referred to as “The Rapture.”

1.      The media outlets are full of lessons about this.

2.      Many books have been written on the subject.

3.      Tim LaHaye has joined with two hundred fifty prophecy scholars, authors, and teachers in founding the Pre-Trib Research Center.  Their mission:  to make the Rapture known to as many as possible.

4.      In the past, many had bumper stickers on their cars that read:  “In case of the rapture this car will be unmanned.”


B.     In I Thessalonians 4:17, we read:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:  and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1.      The passage definitely teaches that at some point the living saints will be “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air.”

2.      Is this what some call “The Rapture”?


C.     In this lesson, we want to discuss this teaching in more detail.


I.                THE TERM “RATURE”


A.    The word “rapture” is not found in our English Bibles.


B.     The English word “rapture” is derived from the Latin verb “rapere” that means “to carry off” or “to catch up.”


C.     In I Thessalonians 4:17, the words “shall be caught up” are from the Greek word “harpadzo.”

1.      Strong (726):  to seize

2.      Thayer:  To seize, carry off by force, to seize on, claim

3.      Vine:  to snatch or carry away.




A.    The doctrine of the rapture is part of the teaching of Premillennialism.


B.     We are told that it involves the “first phase” of Jesus’ Second Coming.  (NOTE:  The “second phase” is said to come at the end of the Tribulation Period).

1.      Most believe that this coming will be silent and secretive.

2.      Prior to the Tribulation Period, the Lord will come and resurrect the righteous dead from the graves and rapture, that is, “catch up,” the righteous living from off the earth.

3.      Why?  The Lord loves His people and does not want them to have to endure the horrors and sufferings of the seven years of the Tribulation.


C.     The “Events of the Rapture” (Are We Living in the End Times?, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, 101-102)

1.      The Lord Himself will descend from His Father’s house, where He is preparing a place for us (John 14:1-3 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

2.      He will come again to receive us to Himself (John 14:1-3).

3.      He resurrects those who have fallen asleep in Him (deceased believers whom we will not precede; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15).

4.      The Lord shouts as He descends (“loud command,” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, NIV).  All this takes place in the “twinkling of any eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

5.      We will hear the voice of the archangel (perhaps to lead Israel during the seven years of Tribulation as he did in the Old Testament; 1 Thessalonians 4:176).

6.      We will also hear the trumpet call of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16, His last trumpet for the church.  (Don’t confuse this with the seventh trumpet of judgment on the world during the Tribulation in Revelation 11:15).

7.      The dead in Christ will rise first.  (The corruptible ashes of their dead bodies are made incorruptible and joined together with their spirit, which Jesus brings with Him; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

8.      Then we who are alive and remain shall be changed (made incorruptible by having our bodies made “immortal”; 1 Corinthians 15:51, 53).

9.      Then we shall be caught up [raptured] together (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

10.   With them in the clouds (where dead and living believers will have

a monumental reunion; 1 Thessalonians 4:17)

11.   To meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

12.   To “receive you to Myself.”  Jesus takes us to the Father’s house

(that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

13.   “And thus shall we always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians


14.   The judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).  At the call of

Christ for believers, He will judge all things.  Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10), described in detail in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.  This judgment prepares the Christian for…

15.   The marriage supper of the Lamb.  Just prior to His coming to

earth in power and great glory, Christ will meet His Bride, the church, and the marriage supper will take place.  In the meantime, after the church is raptured, the world will suffer the unprecedented time of the wrath of God which our Lord called the great tribulation (Matthew 24:21).


D.    Two quotes:

1.      For those who believe in a future Rapture, it is regarded to be a sudden and cataclysmic event that will be unlike any other phenomenon in history.  Millions of people will disappear from the earth without warning.  As a result, tragic and unexplained accidents will occur on a wide scale basis, ushering in the tribulation period” http://christianity. About. com/od/faqhelpdesk/a/whatisrapture_3.htm).

2.      “Local television stations from around the world reported bizarre occurrences, especially in time zone where the event had happened during the day or early evening.  “CNN showed via satellite the video of a groom disappearing while slipping the ring onto his bride’s finger.  A funeral home in Australia reported that nearly every mourner disappeared from one memorial service, including the corpse, while at another service at the same time, only a few disappeared and the corpse remained.  Morgues also report corpse disappearances.  At burial, three of six pallbearers stumbled and dropped a casket when the other three disappeared.  When they picked up the casket, it too was empty” (Left Behind, LaHaye and Jenkins, 47-48).


E.     There are differing views about “when” the Rapture will take place among the Dispensationalists.

1.      Pre-tribulation:  the Rapture takes place before the seven years of the Tribulation

2.      Mid-tribulation:  the Rapture will occur in the middle of the tribulation period.  The saints will go through the first half of the seven year period, “The Beginning of Travail,”, but will be raptured before the severe outpouring of God’s wrath in the Tribulation.

3.      Pre-wrath:  the Rapture will come at the close of the Tribulation Period.

4.      Partial:  …holds that true Christians will be raptured before, in the midst of, and after the tribulation depending upon one’s genuine conversion to God and the truth.


F.     INTERESTING POINT:  “One of the greatest misconceptions about the pre-Trib rapture is that is starts the Tribulation. [See quote #1 above]  It does not.  Daniel 9:27 is clear:  the signing of the covenant between the Antichrist and Israel begins the seven-year Tribulation, not the Rapture.  The Rapture could happen a day, a week, or several years prior to the signing of that covenant” (Are We Living in End Times?, LaHaye and Jenkins, 116).




A.    In their book, Are We Living in End Times?, LaHaye and Jenkins make a distinction between passages teaching the Rapture and those dealing with the Second Coming (p. 99).


Rapture Passages


John 14:1-3                                          1 Thessalonians 1:10                 Hebrews 9:28

Romans 8:19                                        1 Thessalonians 2:19                 James 5:7-9

1 Corinthians 1:7-8                               1 Thessalonians 4:13-18                        1 Peter 1:7, 13

1 Corinthians 15:51-53              1 Thessalonians 5:9, 23             1 Peter 5:4

1 Corinthians 16:22                              2 Thessalonians 2:1                               1 John 2:28-3:2

Philippians 3:20-21                               1 Timothy 6:14                         Jude 1:21

Philippians 4:5                          2 Timothy 4:1, 8                                   Revelation 2:25

Colossians 3:4                           Titus 2:13                                             Revelation 3:10



Second Coming Passages


Daniel 2:44-45                          Mark 13:14-27                          1 Peter 4:12-13

Daniel 7:9-14                            Mark 14:62                                           2 Peter 3:1-14

Daniel 12:1-3                            Luke 21:25-28                          Jude 1:14-15

Zechariah 12:10                                    Acts 1:9-11                                           Revelation 1:7

Zechariah 14:1-15                                 Acts 3:19:21                                         Revelation 19:11-20:6

Matthew 13:41                         1 Thessalonians 3:13                 Revelation 22:7, 12, 20

Matthew 24:15-31                                 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

Matthew 26:64                         2 Thessalonians 2:8





B.     Three main passages:

1.      The saints are “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thess. 4:17).

2.      The bodies of the righteous will be changed into spiritual bodies (I Cor. 15:51-52).

3.      Titus 2:13


Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.


                             a.    Blessed hope:  the Rapture

                             b.    Glorious appearing:  the Second Coming




A.    The earliest supposed mention of the Rapture is in a tract entitled, “The Apocalypse of Pseudo-Ephraim the Syrian.”

1.      The quote:


“Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms         all the world?...All the saints and elect of God are gathering together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins” (as quoted by LaHaye and Jenkins, p. 115).


                             a.    Most believe that this is a 6th century quote.

     b.    LaHaye and Jenkins argue that is could have been written by Ephraim 

            of Nisibis (A.D. 306-373).  He was a prolific Syrian church father.


B.     1788 – Millenium, Last Days Novelties, Morgan Edwards, a pastor in Philidelphia


C.     1830s – The Rapture theology developed by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren.

1.      Use the Bible Conference Movement to increase acceptance of futuristic premillennial views.

2.      Became popular among the Presbyterians, Baptists, and Congregational members.


D.    1878 – Jesus Is Coming, William Eugene Blackstone


E.     The theory was popularized in the United States in the early 20th Century by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible (1909, 1919, revised in 1967).  The doctrine of Premil was taught throughout in the footnotes.


F.     1957 – The Rapture Question, John Wulvoord, 65,000 copies


G.    1958 – Things to Come:  A Study of Biblical Eschatology, J. Dwight Pentecost, 215,000 copies


H.    1970 – The Late Great Planet Earth, Hal Lindsey and Carole C. Carlson, 15 to 35 million copies


I.       1972 – “A Thief in the Night” (movie) produced by Russell S. Doughten

J.      1995-2007 – The Left Behind Series, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins


K.    NOTE:  The “first stage” of the Second Coming, that is, the Rapture has been predicted for hundreds of years.

1.      This coming is supposed to be preceded by various signs of the times.  These signs are supposed to be clear enough for believers to see and understand.

2.      There has been no Rapture so far.  Why?

3.      “God in His wise providence, has designed Bible prophecy in such a manner that the Rapture has appeared imminent to Christians of every generation” (Are We Living in the End Times?, LaHaye and Jenkins, 116)

a.   The authors just admitted that everyone who has attempted to

interpret Bible prophecy in the past has had no idea what that prophecy was referencing.  They thought the signs of the coming were there, but they were not.  They proclaimed the Rapture, but it did not come.  They were wrong.

b.   Could it be that the proponents of the imminent return of Christ

                                    and the Rapture could be wrong today?




A.    “So shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:17).

1.      The word “so” is an adverb.  It reveals “how” we will be with the Lord.

2.      We will be with the Lord in the air forever.  We will never return to this earth again.

3.      The Rapture theory declares that the righteous will be in the air only until the end of the Tribulation and then will return to the earth.


B.     In Matthew 13, Jesus declares two parables that teach that there will be no separation of the good and the evil until the end of the world.

1.      The Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matt. 13:24-30).

a.   The account

      1)         The tares were sowed with the wheat (Matt. 13:24-26).

      2)         The one responsible for sowing the tares was the enemy

                                                (Matt. 13:27-28).

      3)         The servants asked about immediately going to gather the

                                                tares (Matt. 13:28).

      4)         The householder’s answer (Matt. 13:29-30)


But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.  Let them grow together until the harvest:  and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them:  but gather the wheat into my barn.


b.   We read of the interpretation of the parable in Matthew 13:36-43.  Listen to Jesus in verses 39-43.


The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels.  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire:  there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.


2.      The Parable of the Fishnet (Matt. 13:47-50, esp. v. 49)


So shall it be at the end of the world:  the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from the just.


C.     Matthew 25:31-33 is viewed as a Second Coming passage.

1.      NOTE:  All nations, sheep and goats, are gathered before the throne of Jesus Christ.

2.      Are the righteous judged at this time?  Verses 34-40 indicate that they are.

3.      Question:  Why are the righteous judged now?  According to the Rapture theory, the righteous were judged at the Rapture.  The 14th event of the Rapture according to Mr. LaHaye is:  “The judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).  At the call of Christ for believers, He will judge all things.  Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10), described in detail in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15…”


D.    If the righteous are removed from the world, they will not be able to preach the gospel.  Yet, God’s servants are to preach the gospel unto the end of the world (Matt. 28:18-20).


And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you:  and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.


E.     The Rapture theory really teaches that there will be two comings of Jesus Christ.  One of them is secretive.  It is a coming “for” His saints.  The second coming is public.  It is a coming “with” His saints. 

1.      The Bible teaches that there will be only one Second Coming of Jesus (Acts 1:10-11; Heb. 9:28).


So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.


2.      There will not be a silent, secretive coming of Jesus.

a.   There will be many sounds (I Thess. 4:16).

b.   Every eye will see Him (Rev. 1:7).


F.     The righteous will be raised at “the last day,” not 1007 years before the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54).


And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life:  and I will raise him up at the last day.





A.    The doctrine of the Rapture teaches two Second Comings and two judgments of the righteous.  The Bible teaches only one Second Coming and one judgment.


B.     The Rapture has been proclaimed for hundreds of years.

1.      Every generation says:  “The signs point to an imminent coming of Christ.”

2.      That generation passes and the Rapture does not happen.

3.      If the Premils could honestly interpret prophesy as they say they can:

a.   All of them would have interpreted it the same way.

b.   The first time the Rapture was predicted, it would have come to pass.  It

                        did not!


C.     The Rapture is a man-made doctrine just like many of the other aspects of the Premil theory.