In Christianity the theological study of the “end of times,” or simply “end times” is called eschatology. Subjects include the Rapture, the Second Coming of Christ, the Tribulation and the Millennium.

Many Christians believe that either before, or simultaneously with, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to earth, believers who have died will be raised from the dead and that they — together with believers who are still alive — shall be caught up (‘raptured’) in the clouds to meet Jesus.

Rapture: The catching up of believers by Christ at the time of His return. The word came into use by way of the Latin rapio used to translate the Greek term of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, harpagesometha. Living believers are said to be “caught up” to meet the Lord at His coming. Those of varying millennial views about end time events all hold firmly to the biblical truth of such a rapture. However, it is within the premillennial view that the teaching of a rapture finds major emphasis.
– Source: Rapture, Holman Bible Dictionary

In his letter to the Thesssalonians, the apostle Paul writes

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until 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.

– Source: 1 Thesssalonians 4:13-18, New International Version

Christians intrepret the Bible‘s teachings on the subject of the rapture in various ways. The four major views are pretribulation, partial rapture, midtribulation, and posttribulation:

Stated: Christ will come for his saints; afterward he will come with his saints. The first stage of Christ’s coming is called the Rapture; the second is called the revelation. The older school emphasized the issue of “immanency.” However, in recent days the crux of this position centers more around the aspect of God’s wrath and whether the church is called to experience any or all of it during the Tribulation. […]

Partial Rapture
This position states that only believers who are watching and waiting for the Lord will be raptures at various times before and during the seven-year Tribulation. Those who are raptured are spiritually mature saints, both dead and living (1 Thess. 4:13-18). […]

This position sees that the church, believers in Christ, are raptured in the middle of the tribulation period, prior to the Great Tribulation. This view offers the best of the pretribulation and posttribulation positions. It also has the mid-seventieth-week Rapture. […]

This position asserts that the living believers are to be raptured at the second coming of Christ, which will occur at the end of the Tribulation. Within this camp, there are four views as categorized by Walvoord: (a) classic, (b) semiclassic, (c) futurist, (d) dispensationalist. The spectrum is broad, encompassing a period of time from the early church fathers to the present century.
– Source: H. Wayne House, Charts of Christian Theology & Doctrine, pages 129-132

False Prophets

From time to time people try to predict dates for when the rapture will take place — even though the Bible says that it is impossible to know when Jesus will return.

One notorious example was Harold Camping, a false prophet and a heretic who turned his Family Radio Network into, theologically, a cult of Christianity that promotes a number of unbiblical teachings.

Camping, who died in 2013, set a number of dates for the end of the world. Many people who believed his predictions sold their houses, businesses and possessions in preparation of the rapture he promised, but which never occurred.


  • 88 Reasons: What Went Wrong?offsite By Dean Halverson. In 1988, Edgar Whisenant published a booklet titled, ”88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could be in 1998.’

    In this booklet, Whisenant predicted that Jesus would return to rapture His church sometime during the Jewish holiday of Rosh-Hashanah in 1988, which was from sunset, September 11, to sunset, September 13. Before those dates, The World Bible Society, which published the booklet, printed 3.2 million copies2 and distributed 200,000 of them to pastors throughout the United States.

    When the September prediction failed, Whisenant updated the time to October 3. Now that date, too, has fallen through. Whisenant nevertheless remains undaunted: ”The evidence is all over the place that it is going to be in a few weeks anyway.”

    What has been the response to Whisenant’s predictions? Thousands took the booklet seriously, some even quitting their jobs to prepare for the rapture. Attendance increased in some churches.5 Many Christians shrugged the booklet off as being part of a fanatic fringe. Many others, though, while not accepting the specific predictions, praised the booklet for reminding them of the imminence of the Rapture.

    However they responded, it sadly appeared that most Christians were unable to discern why Whisenant’s reasoning was biblically unsound. In the following pages we will see that Whisenant misinterprets several key verses that have bearing on whether or not we can predict the date of Jesus’ second coming, wrests biblical phrases out of their contexts, and builds his predictions on shaky assumptions about symbols and dates.

    Whisenant is not alone in attempting to predict the dates of the end-time. Others have attempted it in the past, and more, no doubt, will attempt it in the future. While one purpose of this article is to evaluate Whisenant’s reasoning, another is to draw out some principles of biblical interpretation by which to discern such date-setting literature.

  • Second Coming of Christoffsite Various views on the timing of the rapture.
  • Beginning of the Endoffsite H. Wayne House provides a summary critique of John Hagee‘s book, ‘Beginning of the End.’

    Beginning of the End shows surprising restraint, avoiding extreme speculation and date-setting. Nonetheless, it does feed the fire of a popular but problematic style of newspaper eschatology that often distracts Christians from a more serious and profitable study of God’s Word. The biggest concern that this book raises for the body of Christ, however, is that it adds to the popularity of a man who in other places espouses such seriously errant views as positive confession, guaranteed prosperity, salvation for the Jews apart from faith in Christ, and utter condemnation for those who disagree with his dispensational view of the relationship between Israel and the church.


  • End-Time Prophecies of the Bible by David Haggith, who “collects and organizes all of the end-time prophecies into one useful continuum for those who are interested in divining the prophetic meaning of one of the great religious texts of human history”
  • Three Views on the Rapture by by Gleason L. Archer (Editor), Paul D. Feinberg, Richard R. Reiter (Contributors). “Premillennialists continue to be divided on the question of the rapture of the church. Will it occur before, in the middle of, or after the tribulation? Drs. Feinberg (pretribulation), Archer (midtribulation), and Moo (post-tribulation) present the cases for their respective positions. They also critique each other’s positions, and they provide a defense in response to the critiques of their fellow authors.”

See Also


  • A Brief History of the Apocalypse

    The aim of this page is to debunk end-time prophecy by listing hundreds of failed doomsday predictions, allay the fears spread by end-time preachers, anddemonstrate that doomcrying is nothing new. I also hope you will derive amusement from some of the more bizarre prophecies.

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This post was last updated: Apr. 23, 2015