- Religion and Philosophy
Pre-Tribulation Rapture: Doctrine of False Hope
An unfortunate belief circling around the Church in modern days is a Pre-Tribulation rapture, where believers will be "caught up" into Heaven, not having to go through Tribulation. While this is a nice and comforting thought, it is the work of the devil and is false doctrine. By properly researching the scriptures we can dissect this belief and shed light on it, revealing that it is a myth and must not be clung to as Truth. I do not mean to upset, or discourage any readers but it is better to know the Truth and be prepared for the coming times. We, as Christians, will be going through the Tribulation period, but rejoice; no suffering in this world can compare to the joy awaiting us in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The False Rapture
This belief of a rapture has been created through misinterpretation and misconstruing the Word of our Lord. It has become more popular in recent times, having numerous preachers, churches, and Christians believing and preaching it. What this rapture idea is is that before the Tribulation period Jesus Christ will come back and "catch up" all of His believers. This can be depicted in the picture shown, where our souls will literally "disappear" and leave the Earth, leaving those who are unsaved behind. The main scripture used to back this up is 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which states "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." and this has created the entire doctrine along with parts of Matthew 24 that depicts people being in places and one leaving, with the other remaining.
From a reader's perspective, these verses provide enough evidence to support such a belief. Although the scriptures seem to point directly to a rapture of the Church, we have to do proper research to understand this and not let our opinion get in the way. A wise man I know says "sometimes we get in the way of ourselves" and this is evident in this doctrine. In this article I will be showing the scriptural evidence of this and will be sharing the Truth. Many times, and I myself am guilty of this at times, we do not like the Truth and will fight it. We cannot let this happen but must be open to all things, and not fear. God did not give us a spirit of fear, and we all know who fear comes from. Fully pursue the Truth and you shall find it, and it will set you free:
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32 KJV
In this section we will be going through the scriptures used to support this belief of a coming "rapture." By going back to the original languages, in this case Greek from Strong's Dictionary, we will clarify it's meanings and show what our Lord was actually saying, and not what man has to say.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:7 "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."
I would like to begin with this verse because it is the famed rapture verse. Firstly we will take out the word "caught up" since it is the single most used word for defense of rapture. This word comes from the root word of harpazo (G138). The word means catch(away, up), to pluck, pull, or take(by force). Now this can be used as defense, but if we go to Acts 8:39 when Phillip was "caught away" by the Spirit we see the same word, harpazo, used. We know Phillip was not "caught" up or away into heaven, but relocated. Numerous people believe this leads to us being "transported" in the Spirit to another place, but I will not get into that. The next word we will use is "so" in "and so shall we ever be with The Lord." This word comes from the root word houto (G3779) which is translated to "in this manner/way/fashion" and is used over 200 times in the Word which will support further evidence.
Next we will pick out the word "air." This word comes from aer (G109) which refers to the air we breathe, it can be referred to in translation as "to breathe unconsciously" and we can see this word used in many verses such as Ephesians 2:2 which refers to satan's realm in the "air." This will also be used to support further evidence. If The Lord was saying to us, or saying through Paul, that we were to be delivered into heaven, or even the sky (since this "air" refers to the invisible air around us, the atmosphere if you will) He would have used the word ouranos (G3772) but this is not the case. Although this is something I just found interesting from my research and I do not want to use it as evidence, the word we find "meet" comes from the word eis (G1519) which is translated directly "to or into," which could support further evidence but the word is mostly referred to apentesis (G529) which means meet, literally, or a friendly encounter.
What we can understand from this, is that there is no evidence of any physical removing of believers but what we can lean closer to is that there will be change which we can pull 1 Corinthians 15:52 which states "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." What Paul is saying here is that we will be changed, and transformed which if you take the evidence from above you can put it together to understand that God is not saying we will be taken up to heaven, but we will changed.
When we put this all together we will find that it seems The Lord is saying we will be caught up to Him in the air and transformed, and when He uses the same word as referring to satan's realm (Ephesians 2:2) we can understand that He is referring to a spiritual, invisible thing (air). Understanding this, we can assume that we will be changed and there will be a spiritual atmosphere around us, coming "in this fashion" with The Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit, and we will become spiritual bodies, or possibly transported (like Phillip) to another place to meet with Him. It would also make no sense that we would leave the Earth, and be with the Lord forever. That would make the rest of Revelations very confusing and almost impossible, contradicting with our leaving. What I believe is that we will be transformed to be "with" The Lord to know Him and be with Him spiritually, not separated as we are now in our fleshly bodies.
- Matthew 24:36-42 "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
I have chosen this as the second verse because many people use this as another defense of rapture, particularly in "then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left" and the familiar verses. First off, we must understand that this is not referring to Jesus coming for rapture. We see this in 2 Peter 3:10 which states (and is also used in rapture defense) "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." What God is saying here through Peter is that the Lord will come after these things, for how would it be possible to come before? If The Lord was to come as a thief in the night to gather His servants, and then immediately destroy the Earth, wouldn't that make it impossible for the rest of the Tribulation to occur? This is immediate proof that The Lord cannot come and rapture believers out, destroy the Earth, and then the Earth continue to survive in a Tribulation period.
Next we will take the words "taken" and "left." The word "taken" comes from paralambano (G3880) which means to receive, to receive near, associate with ones self. The word "left" comes from aphiemi (G863) which means to send, to go, send forth and lay aside, leave, put away. What we can see here that it is also not referring to any physical departure or remaining, but is saying, to lightly paraphrase: one will be received, and one will be put away. Now what we can safely assume here is that The Lord is talking about people being transformed, one being with Him in Spirit and the other not, or we can assume that when He does come, one will be accepted and received, kept, and the other will not, be sent away, possibly "removed" from Earth in a bad way. This also defends the evidence above.
- Matthew 24:31 "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
This is a minor verse, but I wanted to add it to this as well. People tend to use this as extra evidence, but when we look at "gather together" it comes from the word episunago (G1996) which means to collect upon the same place, literally, to gather together. What we can get out of this is that we will either be "collected" to Him, in a spiritual nature as mentioned earlier, or we will be "transported" to a place together, which we can refer back to Phillip being "transported." Either way, this supports previous discussion.
Having understood the scripture, we will continue with scripture to show what is Truth. In John 17:15 we see that as Jesus prays He says "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." When we look at this we immediately see that Jesus prayed that we not be taken out, but be kept safe. Since this is in the Word it is very safe to assume that God is showing us this as a sign that we are going to be here. "Thou shouldest take" comes from airo (G142) which means to lift, take up or away. This shows that if The Lord meant in the verses shown in the section that we were to be raptured out, He would have most likely used this word, or at least another with the meaning. What Jesus is praying here (and we can come to the conclusion that this is to-be-unfolded Truth) is that we not be taken away, but kept. This proves we will not be removed, or raptured.
To further the rebuttal we understand that Christians will be persecuted, and even killed. We see this in Matthew 24:9. Now this is a limited discussion, but if all Christians are to be raptured away from Earth, then who will remain to be persecuted and killed? I understand people being saved after this supposed rapture, but The Lord does not say "you will be taken away, and then the ones saved thereafter will be persecuted and killed" and this is an example I use in discussing these things. I would like to, however, move to another verse to also defend this.
Matthew 24:22 "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Here we are shown that even though we must go through Tribulation, it will be shortened. Take joy! This shows that a rapture is not real, since the elect are still going to be here. How would elect be here, if the elect were taken in rapture? I understand there being elect after a rapture, but it is at the point where the facts are only pointing in one direction and that is not the possibility of a rapture before Tribulation.
We will now head over to John 17:24 where Jesus states "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." To understand this we must also go back to John 14:10 where Jesus says "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." In this verse He states that "I am in the Father" and He states this again in John 14:11. Again He says this in John 14:20 by stating "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you."
I have seen people use "I am" to come from eimi (G1510) which means to exist, but I will be using "I am in" which comes from the word en (G1772) which means in, in a fixed position, or time, place. What Jesus is saying throughout these verses is that He was "with" the Father on Earth. What this shows is that this is not a physical place, but a spiritual place. If He is saying that we be where He is, yet be on Earth, it is showing that we will too be where He was, while here as well. In Luke 17:21 Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God(Heaven) is within us, further supporting the spiritual transformation of us during these times and not the physical removal to Heaven, where Jesus is now. We will be "where" He was/is and shall be like Him (1 John 3:2).
This transformation of believers can be further supported in Colossians 3:4, Philippians 3:21, and 1 Corinthians 15:49 along with the scriptures listed in this article.
There is not much more evidence needed to support that rapture is a false doctrine, if any more, and I would much rather build a foundation for readers to build metaphorical walls and a roof upon and decide for themselves. As I have said before, do not take my word on it, but rather research for yourselves to gain your own personal understanding of what the scriptures are saying and pray to YHWH for Him to show you these things and grant you discernment. The doctrine of rapture has no scriptural evidence and is a myth that has circulated throughout the Church and is poisoning believers. This Truth must be spread.
A brief explanation by Vigilant Christian
Why did this come about?
There will be confusion as to where and how this rapture belief came about. Many people have been raised to believe this and it has become sort of a rumor throughout the Church, misleading many people. It is usual to be disregarded as a person declaring the falsehood of a rapture since it has become so popular in the modern day body of Christ. Although there is no solid evidence in scripture, it has grown rapidly and people will even come to believe it on their own, though without adequate research. I have my speculations of where it came from.
One belief I hold close is that it is the working of satan. I believe that satan has forged this false doctrine out of the scriptures to create a falling away of Christians. When believers hold onto this rapture, and the rapture never comes, they might lose their faith or begin to doubt God and His Promises in the bible. Satan and his minions (conscious or not) have created this to result in people losing faith and leaving it due to expecting a "saving" and it never coming. This is shown in 2 Peter 3:3-4 as it goes "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." I am sure anyone can imagine how this would affect a believer and their faith, relying on something that never comes. They will feel forsaken by God, and possibly believe they were left behind and leave the faith "after their own lusts" believing God left them here. It is just a recipe for destruction.
Another belief I have is that it is a doctrine forged by and of fear. Many believers are filled with fear of the Tribulation and look for an escape, a relief, and they find it in this rapture doctrine. Many authors such as Tim LaHaye (in Rapture under Attack, specifically page 112) defend that a rapture belief will make Christians be better and holier Christians, preparing themselves to be ready for Jesus' return or if I may quote him "holy living, soul winning, and missionary zeal." but this would be out of fear. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) and we must know this. Believers tend to cling to rapture out of misunderstanding, or out of fear and neither are proper tendencies.
Regardless of however the belief began, we see that it is a false teaching and must be corrected when found being taught. There are many believers out there, even I have friends as such, that believe and rely on this rapture and we should not wait to hope that their faith will survive the disappointment of not being "caught up" by our Lord. The belief is comforting, but it is not God's Will and it will not happen. Knowing this we must still prepare, for the coming times will be very hard and we will need to be as close to God our Father as possible.
Has this information helped you?
I pray this information has helped you, and I truly pray it has not discouraged or upset you. I too had difficulty accepting this as Truth but after properly researching the scriptures and pondering it I came to the conclusion that there truly is no rapture before Tribulation. It may seem disheartening, but understand that God cannot leave nobody here to defend His Word and even if we face martyrdom it is the highest sacrifice and form of worship you can give God. Just as Jesus said the servant is not greater than his Lord (John 15:20) and if they killed Jesus, they will kill us. I am not saying you will be killed, but if the circumstance comes to you, you must be prepared to know the worth of your faith.
The Tribulation period will be hard, but we await our home in Heaven and we will make it. We will be rewarded for our work and will be with our Father and His Son in eternal paradise. I pray you all are comforted with these words, and go in peace and in faith. Shalom, my brothers and sisters.
May YHWH bless you endlessly and abundantly.