(This is an expanded version of a sermon, “The Rapture: Rescue of the Saints or Return of the King?” preached at Friendship Community CRC, April 18, 2010. This sermon has also been preached as “What’s Wrong with the Rapture?” on numerous times.)
You may have heard of the rapture. The rapture is part of a very popular theology about the End Times, especially popular in North America. It’s popularized by the Christian media, like famous TV & Radio evangelists, the Left Behind series of books and movies, and all sorts of Christian books, such as Are You Rapture Ready? and the Scofield Study Bible, which probably popularized this theology back in the 19th century. There’s even a website called raptureready.com.
So, what exactly is the rapture? And what difference does it make if we believe it or not? What’s the big deal? In this post, I want to take a look at this popular teaching about the rapture and look at some of the negative implications of this belief. And then I want to show from Bible passages how this understanding of the rapture is actually mistaken, and what is the more likely scenario that the Bible is pointing to.
Popular Rapture Theology
So, let me start by briefly explaining this popular rapture theology.
Popular Rapture Theology Slide (click on link to see a powerpoint diagram, click “back” button on your browser to return here or you can right click and select “open in new tab”)
In this theology, Christ’s second coming is seen as a two-stage event. The first stage is the secret rapture. “The rapture,” according to raptureready.com, “is an event that will take place sometime in the near future. Jesus will come in the air, catch up the Church from the earth, and then return to Heaven with the Church.” Most rapture theologians believe that this secret rapture will take place before a period of great suffering known as the tribulation. All Christians, the whole church, are raptured into heaven, leaving only non-Christians, Jews, and perhaps those Christians who are not very good and who were not rapture-ready. So, these will suffer through the great tribulation as the raptured saints watch safely in heaven. At the end of this tribulation, which is often seen as lasting seven years, Christ’s second coming stage two will happen. But this won’t be secret but a glorious coming where everyone in the world will see. Christ will reign for one thousand years on earth, literally ruling from the throne in the physical city of Jerusalem as Israel’s king. This one thousand years period is known as the Millennium, where all the Old Testament promises to Israel will be literally fulfilled, and all of Israel will become Christian during this time. At the end of the millennium, Satan and his forces will rise up in full force to challenge Christ and the final battle will be Armageddon, which is often seen as a nuclear war of world destruction proportions. All of this – millennium, Armageddon – will happen with the Raptured Christians watching in heaven. And then, the final judgment will occur and the new heaven and new earth will be created to replace the old earth that was destroyed in the nuclear fallout. This, in very brief summary, is the most popular version of rapture theology.
So, in this theology, the rapture is seen as rescuing the saints from the impending tribulation and destruction of planet earth. As the book Are You Rapture Ready? explains, “The Rapture will be a double blessing to all believers. It will bring them into the splendorous heavenly realm, where God has prepared great riches for His children, and it will also allow them to escape the horrors of the Tribulation.” (73) This paragraph was printed under the heading, “Escape from Planet Earth”.
Implications of Rapture Theology
So, what are the implications of this theology? What’s so bad about it? Well, it’s part of a bigger theological system and worldview that I don’t have time to get into details in this post. But here are some general unhealthy trends that I notice among these Christians.
1) Too much emphasis on “Going to Heaven”. Rapture-ready Christians see this world as not their home and they are only a passing through. All they are doing in this life is to lay up treasures for heaven. Becoming a Christian gets you into heaven, but being a good Christian earns rewards, literally, for your eternal life in heaven. Again, I quote the book, Are You Rapture Ready?: “After choosing to make Jesus the Lord of their life, too many Christians … neglect to realize there are levels of rewards in Heaven that relate directly to good deeds performed in this life. … When believers leave this earthly abode, they instantly lose the ability to make any improvements to their eternal standing. It’s fascinating to ponder whether saints a thousand years from now will still be kicking themselves for not being more active in striving after God’s favour.” (164-165) This ends up being a very selfish spirituality, when you come to think of it. We do good works to earn personal rewards in heaven, not out of gratitude for God’s grace.
2) Low regard for Planet Earth & Environmental Issues. This overemphasis on heaven leads to a de-emphasis on planet earth. Why bother being environmentally friendly when the world is going to be blown up anyways? Why bother when you are going to be raptured as an escape from planet earth? Most of these rapture-ready Christians tend not to care about environmental issues. There’s very little motivation for them to do so.
3) Low fear of Nuclear War & low motivation for World Peace. Nuclear war, in the form of Armageddon, is inevitable in rapture theology, so why bother trying to prevent it? One of their pastor-professors in Idaho said: “Although Armageddon will be an awesome and terrifying experience for the world, it should be welcomed by the child of God as the day of vindication of our holy and sovereign Creator. … What should be the believer’s attitude to the destruction of the world by fire? First of all, he should welcome it and pray for its nearness.” (From Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in a Modern America, Harvard UP, 1992, p.135, quoted in Head and Heart: American Christianities, 377-378). If rapture-ready Christians are encouraged to pray for the world’s destruction by fire, why should they do anything to prevent nuclear war in the meantime? Especially since they themselves won’t be around to suffer the consequences: “One pastor wrote in 1967: “Thank God, I will get a view of the Battle of Armageddon from the grandstand seat of the heavens. All who are born again will see the Battle of Armageddon, but it will be from the skies.” (From Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in a Modern America, p.136, quoted in Head and Heart: American Christianities, 378).
Finally, … 4) Low motivation for Social Reformation and Social Justice. Why make the world a better place when it will inevitably go from bad to worse, to tribulation, to Armageddon and world destruction? Besides, when all the good Christians are raptured from the earth, there won’t be any Christians left, or not enough of them left, to stop the evil folks from tearing down all the good that has been set up. In fact, most rapture-ready Christians are suspicious of people who are into social justice and social reforms. To quote C.I. Scofield, who wrote the Scofield Study Bible that originally popularized the rapture theology: “The true mission of the church is not the reformation of society. What Christ did not do, the Apostles did not do. Not one of them was a reformer.” (Head and Heart: American Christianities, 369) And in the Left Behind series, the Anti-Christ is portrayed as a political social reformer, among other things.
I don’t know about you, but for me these implications are somewhat scary and serious. But in addition, rapture theology, in my mind, is a wrong interpretation of the Bible. So, let’s take a look at two bible passages that Christians have misinterpreted to support a rapture theology.
Matthew 24:39-41 (Luke 17:26-35 parallel passage)
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” (TNIV – Today’s New International Version)
This passage is actually not talking about a rapture of Christians. When you read the context, you actually realize that it is the bad folks who are raptured away to be judged and the good Christians are left behind! Remember, Jesus was making a parallel analogy with the flood of Noah’s day. As it was in the days before the flood, people were doing their regular things and they knew nothing until (verse 39) the flood came and took them all away. In the flood, who was left behind? Noah and his family, and those in the ark – the good guys, right? And “that is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Two men will be in the field; one will be taken – away into judgement – and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken – away into judgement – and the other left behind. Those left behind are not the bad folks but the good folks, just like Noah and his family. Left behind on earth. So, far from supporting a rapture theory, this goes against the rapture theory! In any case, Jesus’ main point here is not to teach about rapture or no rapture but to emphasize that people will be surprised at his Second coming. Just as they were not ready for it when the flood came, so it will be at Christ’s return. Everyone will be going about their normal business and then, judgement will come.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
“According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till 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.” (TNIV)
On the face of it, this passage looks like it clearly teaches a rapture theology. Starting at verse 16: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, … and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up – that’s the word rapturo in Latin where we get the word “rapture” – 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.”
First of all, we need some understanding of Greek and historical context. There are two important Greek words in this passage: “parousia” (coming/to come) in v. 15 – we who are left till the coming, the parousia, of the Lord – and “apantesis” (meeting/to meet) in verse 17 – we will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet, apantesis, the Lord. These two words of coming and meeting, together, refer to the scene, familiar in much of ancient Greek and Roman writings, of a king or emperor coming to visit a city or a province. As the king approaches, the citizens go out to meet him at some distance from the city, not in order then to hold a meeting out in the countryside, but to welcome him and to escort him into the city. “Meeting the Lord in the air” is not a way of saying, “in order then to stay safely away from the wicked world doomed for destruction.” Rather, it is a welcoming party of the king’s triumphant return to earth. Hence, we will be with the Lord forever on earth. That’s the implied meaning here.
This is how the original Thessalonian Christians would have understood this passage. That all Christians, dead or alive, will go and greet the Lord Jesus when he returns, as a welcoming party normally goes out to meet and escort an emperor or royal dignitary, to welcome and then escort Jesus as he come down to earth to rule and to judge. So, this is my alternative scenario of Christ’s second coming.
Alternative End Time Scenario (click on link to see a powerpoint diagram, click “back” button on your browser to return here or you can right click and select “open in new tab”)
Our 1 Thessalonians passage tells us that the rapture is not a rescue of Christians to escape from the doomed planet earth, but is a welcoming party to escort the return of Christ the King who will then judge and remove the evil in the world, as our Matthew 24 passage tells us, leaving behind all that is good for the renewed heaven and earth.
Now, some of you may say, “But didn’t Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3 that ‘the Day of Judgment will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat’?” Let’s take a quick look at 2 Peter 3:3-7,10-13.
2 Peter 3:3-7, 10, 12-13
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. … But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. … That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (TNIV)
There are two clues to understand what Peter means about the new heaven and new earth. First clue: there are two words in the original Greek language for “new”. One is “neos” and the other is “kainos”. Neos means new in time, that which has not yet been, that which has just made its appearance. Babies are neos new. New inventions are neos new (e.g. when the car was newly invented). Kainos means new in quality, that which is better than the old, or new in nature. It implies more of new and improved (e.g. new car models). Peter used kainos when he talked about the new heaven and the new earth. It’s not that God will create a brand new earth, but God will improve and restore this present earth, so that it will become new and better than the old. New and improved, not new and original.
The second clue is that Peter referred to the Flood. Just as the old world was deluged and destroyed by water, so the present heaven and earth are reserved for destruction by fire. Now, was the world really destroyed by the flood? No, it was the same earth but put through the clean and rinse cycle, so to speak, washed all the dirt off, and it’s new and improved. It’s restored to its original goodness. So, the fire that Peter says will destroy and melt the earth is probably a refining fire, fire that burns off all the impurities, so that only pure gold or pure silver is left behind.
For Reformed Christians, this is not a new theology. The 16th century Belgic Confession, an old Reformed Christian statement of beliefs, said about the Last Judgment: “Finally, we believe, according to the Word of God, that … our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, [and] will declare Himself Judge of the living and the dead and set this old world afire in order to purge it” (Article 37).
Thus, the Last Judgment as a purging and renewal of planet earth rather than as a destruction of planet earth is a theological idea that has been around for centuries. Even Jesus spoke of renewal or restoration of the world: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28 TNIV)
So, the whole world will be restored. Not just humans, not just our souls, but also the animal kingdom, all human structures, the whole environment. If you still need more convincing that rapture-ready Christians have got it backwards, take a look at Revelation 21.
“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’ … He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (TNIV)
The Greek word for “new” here in the new heaven and earth is kainos new, not neos new, just as it was in 2 Peter. It is probably better translated as a renewed heaven and a renewed earth. In Revelation 21, the apostle John did not see Christians being taken up into heaven, but he saw heaven coming down to the new earth (v. 2): “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God”. And verse 3: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.” God is making the new earth his home. He is going to live here with us! Finally, in verse 5: “I am making everything new!” The “new” here is once again, kainos, renewed, not neos.
When we celebrate Easter every year, we are celebrating the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The physical material body matters to God. This material world, the planet earth, matters to God. God will renew the world – perhaps it needs an extreme makeover – but this world is our home that God has created for us. To care for this world, to be involved in social reform, to bring justice in this lifetime, all of this is to co-operate in God’s renewing of this world. All these good things – far from being futile – are what will remain, left behind, after God removes evil.
How we view the future affects how we live in the present. Our Christian lives are not a long wait for a rescue-us-from-suffering rapture. I dare say that the New Testament Christians were expecting to go through suffering rather than escape it. Suffering as Christ suffered was a profound part of their Christian spirituality. Our Christian lives are not opportunities for piling up rewards in heaven but are joining in God’s mission of cosmic redemption or cosmic renewal. And as co-workers of God’s cosmic mission, we do long for that day when Christ the King returns to complete the mission – for that day when we will see all our efforts bear fruit at last. Until then, we work as faithful and wise servants, being vigilant, watchful, and longing for Christ to return to his throne.
Furthermore, what kind of view of our world do we have, if we see being left behind as a form of punishment? In rapture theology, this earth is, at best, a hotel, a temporary residence, and, at worst, a prison. In biblical theology, however, this world is our home, our permanent residence, and heaven is, so to speak, our hotel! The dead in Christ are now with Christ in heaven, not to be there for eternity, but to wait for the resurrection of their bodies, for the time when Christ returns to the world to renew it, so that we can all be with the Lord forever in our home, the renewed heaven and earth, as it was in the days when God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Being left behind is a reward, not a punishment.
I will end with these quotes from Gordon Spykman: “We are indeed called to ‘set [our] minds on things that are above’ (Col. 3:2), remembering, however, that this command is not … telling us ‘where’ to live our lives, but … telling us ‘how’ / ‘in whose Name’ to do so. The best way to seek the things above is to participate in God’s mission in his world. … ‘Holy worldliness’ is what counts, not an obsessive concern with our own anticipated ‘state of eternal bliss.’ … Nothing in the gospel forbids [Christians] to be faithful to life, to the earth, to culture. Rather, the gospel urges us to accept life for the time God gives us to enjoy it – as active peacemakers, earthkeepers, advocates of justice, and agents of neighborly love.” (Reformational Theology, Eerdmans, 1992, p. 530)
May we all cultivate this “holy worldliness” and see a concern for the earth, for culture and for social reform as part and parcel of our three-dimensional (3D) Christianity.
40 thoughts on “The Rapture: A Mistaken Belief”
I want to be left behind as long as possible to help people and preach the Gospel to those who are in pain and are lost. Not really interested in watching suffering from a distance when I could be of assistance. The Lords Prayer clearly mentions Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Earth seems to be where the spiritual action is. I love being called a friend of Jesus and no longer a servant. A friend does things because he wants to. A servant does things because he has to. Some people want a savior, but God is interested in those who need a Savior. Those who need a Savior realize Salvation is by no merit of their own. Those who want a savior somehow think they should be respected as persons and given special consideration, and earn salvationbecause of who they are. Somehow I think that most people who believe in the rapture think they will be raptured because they deserve it.
You are mistaken. People who do not believe in the rapture believe “reformed theology” otherwise know as “replacement theology”. They replace God’s promise to the Jews and the Holy land of Isreal with themselves. They seat themselves at the head table when it is not their place. We as Christians are actual referred to as gentials in the Bible, Jesus saves us by the blood on the cross and the Jews will come to be saved as well later, but they will have to go through the tribulation first after we are “caught up”. The 400 “super preachers” that are talked about in the Bible and will apper during the tribulation are newly masionic Jews (Jews who believe Jesus died for their sins and is the everlastibg King, not just a man). Please don’t try to pretend like you could take their place, that is a wrong belief. Please listen to any sermon on Chistian Satilight Network radio (Chuck Messler, Greg’s Laurie..) anyone, but this guy here. They will set ya straight buddy. His argument just doesn’t hold up, especially in 2021 with where the world is at.
Lindsay, you are so right, he needs to read the Bible and let the Holy Spirit
Speak to him. Because what he is posting is not what the Bible speaks to me. If the good is left behind who is God judging???? I don’t understand how he Interpret the Bible like he did, and by the way this Rapture ready Christian does believe in taking care of this planet and having peace between countries!!!! I’ll pray for you and God Bless you.
I try not to listen to any tel-evangelists except Billy Graham reruns. They mostly appeal to the un-churched who never take an iron sharpening iron approach. I stopped listening to them long ago, and now read my Bible, listen to the Holy Spirit, and Tabernacle with people in person. The internet and radio has no feed back loop. Just a he’s so smart, I am so smart to listen to him loop. In the days of Noah, the unredeemed sinners were taken out and Noah and his family were left behind. This is an indisputable Biblical fact.
Well the pastors i mentioned are far from TV evangelists…so take a listen sometime and i promise you will learn so many biblical truths for CSN radio. Google it and you can listen and read resources online.
On CSN there is a program called to every man and answer where pastors answer questiongs on the bible. I encourage you to call in.
On CSN they have to every man an answer where you can call in and ask down to earth, well versed pastors real questions and actually get real answers. Check it out!
There is no replacement theology; that is a myth. The promises to Abraham and his seed, made no promise to seeds (the Jews) as in many, but made a promise to his seed ( Christ )
Galations 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ……. It then goes on to say
3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
In the Kingdom there are no Jews, they are a natural branch cut off. God is not a respecter of persons. They can be grafted back in the same way I had to be grafted in the first place; through faith in the Salvation Christ through his sacrifice provides to those who believe and accept.
There is some sort of weird Spiritual Zionism going on in the rapture movement that I do not understand. I would never want to take the place of Jews anywhere. It is not like I can take their spot in Heaven away from them as if there are only so many seats. All are welcome who come unto him. They have the same chances as anyone else does for eternal life, but it is not through genealogy.
Why disregard parts if the Bible??
Read and believe it for everything it is, or nothing at all. God says be ready.
It is foolish not be.
The Bible is clear and undeniably true that there will be a pre tribulation rapture. It doesnt say the word Trinity in the Bible..does that make the Trinity false? The answer is no.
Read: Mathew 24:22, Rev 3:10,
1 Thess 4:16-17, 1 Cor 15: 51-52…just to name a few of God’s scripture that you are denying in your post.
Live ready, each day standing on Gods word spreading the truth to EVERYONE so they will be saved and won’t have to have go through the tribulation.
I pray that you will be caught up on that day with all who believe eventhough you are denying Gods scripture and His promise.
Matthew 24:22 says nothing about a rapture occurring before the tribulation.
Revelation 3:10 says nothing about a tribulation period. You are making an assumption that the “hour of trial” is a seven year tribulation. The text does not say this.
I Thessalonians 4:16-17 says nothing about a rapture occurring before the tribulation. The word “tribulation” is not even in the passage. This passage teaches a rapture, but doesn’t tell when it is in relation to the tribulation. Nor does I Nor 15:51-52.
It amazes me how a person can read into a passage something that is not there, and then claim that others are disregarding parts of the Bible.
[Spotted this nugget on the net. Enjoy.]
Open Letter to Todd Strandberg
Sergeant Strandberg (of “Rapture Ready” fame):
It has come to my attention here at this Air Force base that you, as a supply sergeant, have been accepting items of inferior and even dangerous quality!
Now, it’s true that your actions are far from deserving a court-martial. But let me remind you, Sergeant, that your reputation is in jeopardy, and if you don’t improve the quality of the items you distribute, the Commander-in-Chief who’s over both of us may have some words with you one of these days!
Sergeant, now where in the world did you get some of those substandard items that are in your “Margaret MacDonald Who?” article that’s in the “Pretribulation Rapture” section of your “Rapture Ready” website?
You maintain that I “have never been able to prove that Darby ever heard of MacDonald or her vision.”
FACTS: In John Darby’s book The Irrationalism of Infidelity (1853), pp. 283-5, he described in great detail his visit with her in her home in Scotland in mid-1830 and even talked about her endtime outlook and the Scriptural texts she used for support! (All this is in my book The Incredible Cover-up.)
Then you claim that Darby’s pretrib view was derived from “the distinction between Israel and the church.”
FACTS: Darby’s first clear pretrib teaching, in his “Notes on the Revelation” (1839), p. 206, was based on only the symbol (!) of the man child “caught up” in Rev. 12:5—-and this was his pretrib basis for 30 years (from the 1830’s to the 1860’s)! Interestingly, this symbol was Edward Irving’s pretrib basis in his “Interpretation of the Old-Testament Prophecies quoted in the New” (The Morning Watch, June, 1831, p. 301)—-a full eight years before Darby “appropriated” Irving’s idea!
You then assert that Darby discovered the pretrib rapture concept in 1827.
FACTS: Darby himself wrote in his “Short but serious Examination of…’Daniel the Prophet'” (1850), p. 67, that he came to “understand” pretrib in 1830 and not 1827—-an understanding that came to him only after the Irvingite journal The Morning Watch (which he regularly read) began to clearly teach pretrib in its Sep., 1830 issue (which saw “Philadelphia” raptured, in a partial rapture scheme, before “the great tribulation,” pp. 510, 514!).
And you foolishly declare that Margaret Macdonald (it was spelled this way) couldn’t have been a pretrib because she taught that the “Church” will be persecuted by the Antichrist.
FACTS: For more than 30 years I’ve emphasized, in my books and articles and while guesting on worldwide talk shows, that the Irvingites, as well as Margaret, taught pretrib before Darby did.
My critics, wishing to divert attention away from unmistakably clear pretrib teaching by Irvingites, have focused instead on uneducated Margaret and her brief and somewhat unclear revelation account. They also know that she held to partial rapturism which sees PART of the “church” taken in a pretrib rapture and the REST of the “church” enduring the trib. By covering up her pretrib rapture (“one taken and the other left” before “THE WICKED” is “revealed”) and emphasizing her posttrib-flavored statements like “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist,” they can hopefully discredit her as the originator and give that honor to someone else who seems to have a better reputation! Incidentally, all partial rapturists including Pember and Govett have always described the ones “left behind” as the “Church” (the way Margaret talked) and even John Walvoord’s books classify partial rapturists as “pretribulationists”!
Since some of the emotional and spiritual cripples (with potty mouths) on your Rapture Ready message board have gotten the impression from someone with little conscience (I wonder who!) that I am a heretical (and even Satanic) liar that no one should ever listen to, I am forced to tell you that since the early 1970’s my books on pretrib history have been publicly endorsed by a galaxy of leading evangelical theologians as well as church history experts—-scholars from George Ladd, Merrill Tenney, and F. F. Bruce to Robert Gundry and Walter Martin. (Google “Scholars Weigh My Research”)
Finally, Sergeant, in order to shore up your collapsing pillar of pretrib sand, you seem to enjoy dropping names like Thomas Ice, Pseudo-Ephraem, Morgan Edwards, and Manuel Lacunza.
FACTS: Whenever I see a photo of Ice, I’m reminded that your site considers him the “heavy” artillery who constantly shoots off his mouth about the “pretrib” outlook of the last three names. I wonder, Sergeant, what your fans will think when they discover my “Deceiving and Being Deceived” article (on many sites) which exposes the plagiarism, document revisionism, phony “Dr.” degrees, cover-up and other pretrib dishonesty, and which also proves that Pseudo-Ephraem, Edwards, and Lacunza all had the historical habit of blending together the rapture and the final advent!
Sergeant, since you are dedicated to the Commander-in-Chief and His love of truth and want His promotion, I expect you to wipe that grin off your face and clean up your site!
“Colonel” Dave MacPherson
You have grossly misstated the beliefs associated with rapture. I’m not sure if this is intentional, to make your points seem stronger, or unintentional because you grabbed a few quotes out of context and didn’t bother to truly study rapture doctrine. Overgeneralization, ascribing traits to rapture believers that are flat out incorrect, and twisting scripture with your own logic and explanation is not of God. I’d suggest you pray earnestly before posting another article like this. Rapture is not a salvation issue so you may serve better by discussing real salvation issues instead of attempting to refute something you aren’t knowledgeable about.
I appreciate that this coherently conveyed what I already felt to be the common sense reading of scripture as a whole. It keeps a consistent message with the Old Testament as well as the new. Keep up the good work!
Thank you! Thanks for reading.
My opinion matters not. God said it, That settles it. My opinion is of no importance to the truth and If I believe it or not, God Said it…That settles it… God created the 1st heavens and earth Genesis 1.1 in vs 2 it was destroyed in the fall of Lucifer. Genesis is full of creation in most folks minds, yet that’s not what is written. And God Said…God Spoke it into being, everything he needed was already here in the beginning. Yet god created Breath life for every living creature, including man and God created Spirit life for Man. The rest he spoke into being. It is easy to understand he would not have to create from nothing to set in order the 3rd heaven and earth. Christians and non believers can and do fail in their stewardship and this is reflected in the stewardship of the earth. Rewards and crowns are available but are not an excuse to do anything with the wrong heart, as there is no reward for such actions. The dead are not alive today and living in heaven. if they were already there why is Christ returning for them? There is no memory or understanding of time in death,Hence the dead’s next thought is the return of Christ when the dead shall rise. If you’re having to go through the tribulations you did not have a very good savior. Rather some who see this will then understand and believe to late. Don’t get to wrapped up in Revelations if your saved your not going through all that bad stuff. Rewards play a part in your actions during this period.
Thank you for your comments.
But with all due respect, the point of my blog is that God did NOT say what you think God said! My biblical exegesis of the relevant biblical passages show that God did NOT say there will be a rapture.
This is not merely my personal opinion but it is my close study and reading of God’s Word, supported by other bible scholars who have come to similar findings in their study of scripture in its original languages.
Great message and good critique of rapture-based theology.
Despite growing up in a fundamentalist environment, with Rapture theology used frequently to ‘scare people to Christ,’ I have come to realize through carefully considering Scripture with the help of Reformed and Anglo-Catholic writers that God’s Church will not experience a pre-resurrection rapture. (N.T. Wright’s “Surprised by Hope” was especially enlightening on this theological transition.) Scripture tells us that both the living and dead believers in God will be caught up, or raptured, at Christ’s Second Advent to be with the Lord for our glorification and our reign with Jesus as co-heirs in the renewed Heavens and Earth.
However, your exegesis (or rather eisegesis) of Matthew 24:39-41 provides no evidence that the physically living Church will not at some point experience rapture, leaving the evildoers alone on the earth (for a time of destruction and purging). The catching away of the Church is a reality as you conclude with your thoughts on 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, as is clearly revealed in this passage, but does not accord with your reading of Matthew 24.
If you have a few commentaries that you recommend on this passage that substantiate your interpretation of Matthew 24:39-41, I would be interested in seeing them.
Other than that, I liked the rest. Keep it up!
Thank you DeFonce.
The commentary that alerted me to interpreting Matt. 24:40-41 as taken away into judgment is the IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig. S. Keener (IVP 1993).
Here’s the brief comment made by Keener on this passage:
“24:40-41. In the context of 24:37-39, “taken” presumably means “taken to judgment” (cf. Jer. 6:11 NASB, NRSV). Grinding at the mill was a task assigned to women. Wives of Pharisees were allowed to work together with unreligious women (provided they did not involve themselves in any infringements of Pharisaic purity rules); thus the scenario of women of different convictions working together is not unusual.” (p. 115)
I have often referred to the Bible Background Commentary for historical context of Bible texts.
I am glad that the article was helpful to you overall.
I wholeheartedly agree with your position, your exegesis and your critique of the rapture theology. I have long said these very things, and would call myself a historical premillenialist, which proposes the very reading of 1 Thes that you have proposed. I know that I have heard from several that in Matthew 24 Jesus is really talking about the Jewish nation, but i can’t see it. Nor can I see the comfortable escape from persecution or hardship that many suggest, for which Rev 3:10 is quoted adamantly. Thanks for writing this. I have learned from you about the two different words in the greek for “new”. That was very helpful. Thanks again and peace to you.
Thank you for reading and commenting! I am glad it was helpful for you.
Incredible job of articulating this in such a great balance of detail and grace. I made the below video to articulate a similar point and use the Scriptures you referenced to convey the same points. The video is mostly about new heavens and new earth but I am also working on one about the rapture (or lack thereof).
Nice video. Well done.
[Thanks, Shiao. Great blog. Here’s something for your enjoyment. Saw it on the web. Lord bless.]
The Pretrib Rapture Jackpot!
by Bruce Rockwell
Attention, writers. You can make millions by promoting the pretrib rapture!
As you know, pretrib began in Scotland in 1830. Early developers including Edward Irving and John Darby admitted it was then a totally new view that had never been part of any theology or organized church.
They also admitted that it had suddenly sprung from only OT and NT “types” and “symbols” and not from any clear Bible statement! (Part of their “cut and paste” included stretching forward “gather” (Matt. 24:31) on their “charts” and turning it into a pretrib coming!)
As late as 1957, pretrib expert John Walvoord admitted in “The Rapture Question” (p. 148) that “pretribulationism” is NOT “an explicit teaching of Scripture”!
Since the early 1900s pretrib has been sold by novelists like Sydney Watson (in 1913) and by Salem Kirban whose “Left Behind”-type novel “666” came out in 1970 – the same year Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” started breaking sales records.
The very first pretrib rapture novel titled “Left Behind” came from the joint pens of Peter and Patti Lalonde in mid-1995 before Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins somehow came up with the very same title: “Left Behind”!
The pretrib rapture view, which admittedly is only an “inference” and not “explicit,” rests basically on verses in John 14, I Thess. 4, and I Cor. 15, none of which have either a “taken/left” separation or exciting, nail-biting scenarios that can “sell” pretrib.
You have to go to Revelation’s action-packed chapters instead. When you do, you discover they can be tied to end time details found basically in the Olivet Discourse.
As you know, pretribs believe in two stages; Stage 1 is the pretrib rapture which supposedly occurs several years before Stage 2 which is the posttrib second coming to earth.
Since the three “rapture” chapters listed above don’t have any clear rapture-type separation between the “righteous” and the “wicked,” your best launching pad if you want to be a bestselling author is “the one shall be taken, and the other left” phrase in Matt. 24:40, 41 and Luke 17:34-36.
Trouble is, Dr. Walvoord and many other pretrib leaders declare that the “one taken” refers to the “wicked” taken in judgment while the “righteous” are left! But since average pew-sitters don’t seem to know this, you can easily convince them that the “one taken” is a sort of code for an any-moment pretrib rapture!
And the pew-sitters don’t know that Walvoord etc. also teach that the same phrase is part of “non-imminent” Stage 2 which is posttrib (and not pretrib) and is on “Jewish” (and not “Church”) ground!
In order to preserve Stage 1 (the long-stretched-forward pretrib rapture), pretrib merchandisers in recent decades have been stretching forward various aspects found in Stage 2 and quietly applying them to Stage 1. Aspects include “the day of the Lord,” “God’s wrath,” “the taken/left phrase,” “the unknown day and hour,” and Christ’s coming “as a thief” (which in the Bible is always tied to Armageddon and other posttrib events).
(For more on the above, Google “The Correct Answer to Who’s Taken” etc. on Joe Ortiz’s blog of Apr. 12, 2010. Sure, there’s disagreement on who’s “taken” first, but pretrib pew-sitters forget or don’t know that THE TAKEN/LEFT PHRASE IS FOUND IN ONLY A POSTTRIB SETTING IN THE BIBLE!!)
Yes, I’ve told you how you can turn yourself into a bestselling, wealthy author.
But unfortunately you have some competition because LaHaye and Jenkins have long been aware of the above facts. And for years they’ve been milking their 19th century cash cow (which hasn’t dried up yet) to shatter all-time sales records and make millions of pretrib dollars that are destined to be left behind!
For more on LaHaye etc. Google “The ‘Left Behind’ Rupture,” “LaHaye’s Temperament,” “Jerry Jenkins Apologizes for Being Seen Gambling in Casinos,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Pretrib Rapture Pride,” “Walvoord Melts Ice,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart,” “Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines,” “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism,” “Evangelicals Use Occult Deception,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Letter from Mrs. Billy Graham,” “Pretrib Rapture: A Staged Event,” “Pretrib Rapture Stealth,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.” (Most of these are by the author of “The Rapture Plot,” the most accurate and documented book on pretrib rapture history, obtainable by calling 800.643.4645.) BTW, for a unique Obama-inspired article, Google “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up.”
In closing let me say that Jeremiah 17:11 warns that “he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”
And you can bet on this!
Thanks for sharing this.
Sorry for the delayed reply, I had been busy lately.
Consider this: as the author above said the verse about it being like the days of Noah isn’t about rapture right after contradicting with a statement that in Noah’s day the “good guys” were left behind. What if, the point of the verse is that the condition of mankind would be like in the days of Noah, just as the verse says, and it’s not about who’s taken or left? Enoch was translated, taken. Was he evil? The interpretation of this main point of this verse seems lost on you.
Usually I do not learn article on blogs, however I would like to say
that this write-up very forced me to try and do it!
Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very great post.
Through out the Bible God has never removed his people from trouble, but is with them and protects them. I agree there will be NO rapture. Also Gods few chosen will have to stand before Satan and let GOD speak through them for the world to hear and some will believe.
Thanks for your comment Sally, and the reminder that God is with us through our troubles.
What was the ark for Noah? Was it not an escape? What of the removal of His people from Egypt? Was that not an escape? Did not the angels provide escapes for Paul and Peter from prison?
Thanks for commenting. In regards to your examples – the exodus from Egypt and the liberation of Paul and Peter from prison are not examples used to support the Rapture theory, as far as I know. But in regards to Noah and the ark, I wrote about this in my blog post. Let me quote the relevant piece again – exegeting Matt. 24:39-41 –
“This passage is actually not talking about a rapture of Christians. When you read the context, you actually realize that it is the bad folks who are raptured away to be judged and the good Christians are left behind! Remember, Jesus was making a parallel analogy with the flood of Noah’s day. As it was in the days before the flood, people were doing their regular things and they knew nothing until (verse 39) the flood came and took them all away. In the flood, who was left behind? Noah and his family, and those in the ark – the good guys, right? And “that is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Two men will be in the field; one will be taken – away into judgement – and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken – away into judgement – and the other left behind. Those left behind are not the bad folks but the good folks, just like Noah and his family. Left behind on earth. So, far from supporting a rapture theory, this goes against the rapture theory!”
Brilliant piece of work! Thank you very much. I completely agree with you but I can’t believe I never picked up on the Biblical clues myself. I appreciate your careful and clear exegesis. Have you read Andrew Perriman’s ‘The Coming Of The Son Of Man’? It’s quite hard-going but contains some more fascinating ideas (whether you agree with his preterism or not!). Thanks again for an inspiring read.
No, I am not familiar with Perriman’s work. But thanks for notifying me on that.
Blessings to you.
The Rapture true whether you believe it or not.., there will be this 7 year tribulation on earth by when God will let the Antichrist rule and by the end of this 7-year reign of the Antichrist, Christ will appear in His glorious throne to embrace those who endured the tribulation. By then, the millenium will start and the fight between the good and the bad begins. Not believing the rapture is also not believing the Judgement that is coming upon the earth which was written in the Revelations. You may be mistaken of thinking rapture as the second coming–it actually is a part by which the believers (dead and alive) will ascend to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the AIR and after the 7 year tribulation that’s when JESUS will appear here on EARTH.., Please read the revelations and the prophetic books in the old testament carefully. Yes it’s gonna be a welcome party for the believers but there are still those who have not believed would come ti God but the have to endure the rule of the evil days. May God bless you in your reading!
Kevin, you merely assert and summarize the popular rapture theology without giving any actual exegesis or counter the interpretation of the biblical passages above. Just asserting a position without giving any reasons for it won’t change my mind. It shouldn’t change other people’s minds either.
Unless you can show that my interpretation of Matthew 24, 1 Thessalonians 4, 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21 (as shown in this post) are wrong, you have no sound biblical reasons to hold on to the rapture.
I addressed this. Your interpretation of Noah’s day focused on who was taken and left, NOT the condition of the world, men’s hearts. Lovers of self, boastful, etc. THAT is the point of that verse. It will be as in Noah’s day, not I will take and leave as I did in Noah’s case!! Also, as you mock rapture believers (there will be scoffers…) you don’t address Enoch do you? As far as saving from troubles, yes we all have suffering on earth due to sin but in numerous examples others have given, God protected those made righteous by Him. Lot was saved; his unbelieving wife was not. The point isn’t who goes up or stays; the Bible is filled with who is rescued from tribulations (small t not The Teibulation).
Agree!! Watch what’s happening in the world, the countries aligning right around Israel. Tell us again how this is all bunk? So many people are clueless. This generation shall not pass…
Kevin, thank you for this! People who choose to disregard the truth of the rapture have to disregard the truth of the Bible in many verses. We know that revelation is not talking about the past and that it is the future of the world. Replacement theologists choose to hate the Jews and Isreal, Gods chosen land and people, so they replace themselves with God’s promise to the Jews. These types of Christians do not believe the intire Bible and cherry pick parts to seat themselves at the head of the table. It’s called replacement (reformed) theology for a reason. We as Christians are actual “gentiles”, but we were also promised salvation, though our suffering will not be as great as the Jewish people who will turn to Jesus as their savior after we are raptured and the tribulation goes on. Thank you for setting the timeline and record straight. Looks like he replied, but still is choosing to think the world will keep getting better and better. Hmm…Wonder how thats going?? Lol!
This is a great summation and laymen’s explanation of the implications of the rapture. Good work!