Overview: What is the Rapture?
The Rapture is a Christian event in which the faithful will be caught up in the clouds to meet Jesus Christ in the sky. The event is described in the books of First Thessalonians and Second Thessalonians, and is expected to take place shortly before or during the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is believed that the Rapture will provide a safe passage for the faithful who remain unharmed in the wake of the coming judgement.
Where in the Bible Does it Talk About the Rapture?
The Bible contains two passages which specifically mention the Rapture, with the first being found in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. In this passage, Paul writes: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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”. The second passage is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, which states: “we request you not to be easily shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition”.
Teachings on the Rapture
The Rapture is one of the major teachings of Evangelical Christians, who describe it as a time when true believers will be taken up from the earth and unharmed by the events of the end of days. Not all sects of Christianity believe in the Rapture, however, and some postulate that rather than being taken up into the clouds to be reunited with Christ, the faithful will remain on the earth and experience the judgement day just as all sinners.
In addition to its presence in the Bible, the Rapture is also believed by many to be discussed in the book of Revelation. According to the text, in chapter 4, the heavenly armies will proclaim “Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel” and in Revelation 10:9 the angel riding the cloud is likely representative of the Rapture.
The Debate About the Timing of the Rapture
The timing of the Rapture is a point of debate among Christians, as there is no explicit reference to when the event is expected to take place. Some believe that it will happen before or during the coming of Christ and this is reflected in the teachings of Paul in his letters to the Thessalonians. Others postulate that it will happen after the Tribulation period, which is the seven-year period leading up to the return of Christ.
The Rapture has also been theorised to happen at different times throughout history, with many arguing that it already happened around the time of Christ. Others point to the fact that the modern conception of the Rapture is a fairly recent development and may not be supported by the Scriptures.
The Meaning of the Rapture
For the faithful, the Rapture is a comforting belief that God is providing a way for them to survive the coming judgement and to be reunited with Jesus in the sky. The Rapture can also be seen as an opportunity for the faithful to remain unharmed in the midst of chaos and fear, an assurance that God is still in control and that there is a way for believers to survive the end days without affecting the lives of those who have not accepted salvation.
The Fallacies of the Rapture
The Rapture has been the subject of much criticism from those who do not believe in it. Many argue that the concept of the Rapture is not supported by the Scriptures and that the modern interpretation of the Rapture has more to do with human wishful thinking than it does with the intention of Paul in his letters. Others point out that the idea of the faithful being whisked away while the unbelievers are left to face the judgement day is simply cruel and unfair.
Biblical Evidence Against the Rapture
Those who do not believe in the Rapture often point to the Old Testament book of Ezekiel to show that there is no mention of the Rapture in the Bible. According to Ezekiel, when the judgement day arrives, “all flesh” will be destroyed, leaving no room for the belief that the faithful will be spared from the coming judgement. Additionally, there is no clear explanation as to what happens to those who are taken up in the Rapture and why they are the only ones to be spared.
Historical Context of the Rapture
The modern concept of the Rapture is largely the result of 19th century religious movements in the United States, particularly the work of Premillennial Dispensationalism, which was popular amongst certain Evangelical circles. The idea was popularized further by a series of books in the 1940s, which sought to explain and defend the modern concept of the Rapture.
Rapture Imagery and Culture
The idea of the Rapture has been used in popular culture to explore themes of judgement, faith, and mortality. This is especially seen in films like The Rapture (1991), Left Behind (2014) and even television series like Supernatural (2005). Additionally, the Rapture has become a popular symbol in heavy metal culture and art.
Theological Implications of the Rapture
The concept of the Rapture has inspired much discussion amongst theologians, who debate the implications such an event would have on the nature of faith, the claims and promises of religion, and the idea of predestination. Additionally, many theologians point out that the separation of the faithful and the sinners when judgement day arrives could be seen as a sign of God’s complete disregard for human morality, justice, and equality.
Unexpected Consequences of the Rapture
Finally, the modern concept of the Rapture has raised questions about the implications of the event on the world, particularly in the event that large numbers of people are taken up in the Rapture. Critics point out that the Rapture could have unanticipated or unintended consequences such as economic fallout, destabilizing global markets, and chaos in the political sphere.