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Rapture



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:

Pretribulation
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). [...]

Midtribulation
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. [...]

Posttribulation
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.

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This post was last updated: Apr. 23, 2015