The Rapture is the popular term used to describe one perceived view of the Lord's return based on the writings of the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The word "rapture" comes from the Latin rapere used by the Vulgate to translate the Greek word harpaz?, which is rendered by the phrase "caught up" in most English translations. See below:

"For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." (1 Thess. 4:16-17, ESV) It is the term used primarily in Dispensationalism to refer to the "catching up" of believers who are alive at the Lord's return, which they see as an event preceding the Lord's "official" second coming, and the setting up of his millennial Kingdom on earth. Dispensational premillennialists distinguish the rapture from Christ's second coming to earth. The degree to which the rapture is secret or public is a separate issue. The timing of the rapture is associated with a final period of Tribulation anticipated by Scripture.



Pre-tribulation Rapture

The majority view taught in dispensationalism, is referred to as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This is the belief that the Rapture will occur sometime prior to the beginning of "Daniel's 70th Week," interpreted as the final seven years of this age. In this view, believers will be translated into immortal bodies in the Rapture before the great persecutions by the Antichrist and seven years of Tribulation. Central passages for this view include 1 Thessalonians 4-5, Revelation 3:10, and all the passages that describe the Tribulation, but lack the word ekklesia in them (e.g., Daniel 9; 12; The Olivet Discourse; and Rev. 4-18.)

According to this view, the Christian Church (that existed prior to this seven year period) has no vital role in Daniel's seventieth week and is therefore removed from the scene while God completes his program for Israel. The pre-trib rapture is the view popularized through the work of dispensational preachers such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye in his recent Left Behind novel series. However, the definitive works on the subject include John Walvoord's The Rapture Question, J. Dwight Pentecost's Things to Come, and Charles Ryrie's Dispensationalism Today.

Mid-tribulation or Mid-Daniel's 70th Week

"Mid-tribulation Rapture" is what Pre-tribulationalists call the view that the Rapture occurs in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. Daniel's 70th week (Dan. 9) is popularly called "the Tribulation," even if Mat. 24 effectively calls only the second half of Daniel's 70th week the Tribulation and the first half "The Beginning of Sorrows." Since "Mid-tribulationists" may use the more strict definition of "Tribulation" (last half of Daniel's 70th week), from their point of view they may be Pre-tribulationists. The "Mid-Daniel's 70th Week" view is not limited to dispensationalists and can be found in anti-dispensationalist James Oliver Buswell's Systematic Theology. Buswell was Dean of Graduate Faculty, Covenant College, St. Louis, Missouri.^[1]^(TKay 15:48, 26 June 2010 (UTC))


The other main view is termed the Post Tribulation Rapture. This view recognizes the concept of "rapture" from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, but believes the rapture is part of the first resurrection as described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and takes place at the "second coming" of Christ.

"The post-trib view is the only rapture view which sees only a single future coming of Jesus. All other rapture views, pre-trib, mid-trib, and pre-wrath, see the rapture and resurrection prior to the second coming of Jesus by months or years. While these rapture views see the rapture as a means to take the Church to heaven to escape God's wrath, the post-trib view sees the rapture as a mechanism to gather together believers from both heaven and earth in a single location with Christ, to be revealed with Him in glory to the world at His coming." Warner

Unrevealed Imminency

This relatively new position is postulated by some at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The view is that the Scriptures are intentionally unclear about when the rapture occurs. This leaves the believer expecting the rapture at any time before or during the Tribulation. The advantage of this position is that it coincides with the idea of imminency (Jesus could return at any moment like a "thief in the night") evidenced in the New Testament and in the writings of the Church Fathers while allowing for the possibility of seeing the Antichrist rise to power (2 Thessalonians 2:5ff). This position has not been given much publicity, but it avoids some of the liabilities of the above positions. ^[ _citation\ needed_]^

Pre-wrath rapture

This view was developed by Marvin Rosenthal;^[2]^ it is almost (but not quite) a Post-Trib position, but differs in one regard: Rosenthal believes Jesus will return for believers just prior to the Battle of Armageddon, near the very end of the Great Tribulation. This solves a problem in Post-Trib eschatology, namely, how can immortalized (raptured) believers enter the Millennium and have children? Since the mass conversion of Israel (and it is assume some others) occurs in the context of the Battle of Armageddon, this allows mortal believers to enter and populate the Millennial Kingdom.

Partial rapture

This view states that those who are actively looking for the return of Christ will be raptured. The Christians who are not looking for his return and are being lazy in their Christians lives will miss the rapture event.^[_citation\ needed_]^

Secret vs. Open Rapture

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Criticism of a separate "rapture"

The doctrine of the rapture as an event separate from the general resurrection is a fairly recent doctrinal development within the scope of the Church's historic body of belief.^[_citation\ needed_]^ Prior to 1830, most of the 'rapture texts' were regarded as referring to the General Resurrection. This was especially the case with the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage which was primarily regarded as referring to the resurrection rather than a rapture.^[_citation\ needed_]^

Virtually no prominent theologians held to this theory before Darby's influence in the 1840’s.^[_citation\ needed_]^ For example, none of the great reformers, e.g. Luther^[3]^ or Calvin^[4]^, believed in a "Secret Rapture" theory. Nor did the ancient church fathers such as John Chrysostom, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus expressly assert the theory of the pre-tribulation rapture, with the possible exception that The Shepherd of Hermas, 1.4.2 speaks of not going through the Tribulation.^[5]^

Some Reformed theologians are still favorable of using the term "rapture" but insist on making a very clear distinction between rapture as a synonym for resurrection and what Dispensationalists propose by the term, namely an escape from a yet-future tribulation period. John Stott calls this idea "escapism" in his book Issues Facing Christians Today (2006, 4th ed.). He goes on to write that the Dispensational concept of a "secret rapture"^[_citation\ needed_]^ is one of the most destructive doctrines gripping the Evangelical Church today. According to Stott, it thwarts planning, hinders social involvement, and gives Christians a gloomy outlook for the future.

Other texts used by proponents of a separate rapture,^[_citation\ needed_]^ such as Matthew 24:40 - Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left., when taken in context (especially Christ's statement in Matthew 24:34) are seen by some Preterists as predictions of the Roman catapult bombardment of Jerusalem during the 42 month siege of Jerusalem from late 66-70 AD, not to a rapture. While Dispensationalists claim that the predictions in Matthew 24 are yet-future, centering on a secret-rapture,^[_citation\ needed_]^ critics maintain that an exegesis of this passage reveals that this is at best unlikely, if not biblically and historically impossible (cf. The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible by Andrew Corbett).

Argument Vs. a Rapture in the Olivet Discourse

It is common in English to express the direction of a verb by adding an adverb to it, as in "take in," "take up," "take down," "take away." The basic word for "take" in Greek is lamban?. In Greek, the directional aspect of a verb is instead often expressed as a prefix to the verb – such as para which means "to" or ana which means "up."^[6]^ In Matthew 24:40 and the parallel passage in Luke 17:34-36, the word to "take" is the Greek word paralamban? (^_[Strong's\ #3880]_^) meaning to "take to oneself," that is, to receive near or associate with oneself. If the writer had wished to express the direction "up" he could have used the prefix ana to lamban?.

In Acts 1:11, Luke does use the word analamban? (^_[Strong's\ #353]_^) because there he is describing Jesus being taken up into heaven. He could also have used another Greek word to express the idea of "lifting up." The Greek verb epair? (^_[Strong's\ #1869]_^) is used to describe God taking Jesus up to heaven in Acts 1:9. Luke wrote both the gospel and the book of Acts. If in Luke 17:34 he had wanted to say that we are going to be taken up into heaven he would have used one of the two words that he used to describe Jesus being "taken up" in Acts.

It is not clear what Matthew and Luke meant by word "taken". Many believe the context supports a reference to end times judgment rather than to salvation. In Matthew 27:27 and John 19:16 the same word – paralamban? - describes Jesus’ arrest.


  1. Buswell, James Oliver: Systematic Theology, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962), II, 342, 398, 442, 492, 450, 462.
  2. Marvin J. Rosenthal,The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church, Lightning Source Inc, 1990.
  3. Martin Luther, Preface to the Revelation of St. John, II; quoted in Thigpen, Paul, The Rapture Trap (p. 142).
  4. Calvin, Commentary on First Corinthians, 52; quoted in Thigpen, Paul, The Rapture Trap, (p. 142).
  5. Thigpen, Paul. The Rapture Trap (p. 131).
  6. Kittel et al, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged, 495

See also

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