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Jan Luyken's three-part illustration of the rapture described in Matthew 24, verse 40, from the 1795 Bowyer Bible

Rapture is a term in Christian eschatology which refers to the "being caught up" discussed in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, when the "dead in Christ" and "we who are alive and remain" will be "caught up in the clouds" to meet "the Lord in the air".[1]

The term "Rapture" is used in at least two senses. In the pre-tribulation view, a group of people will be left behind on earth after another group literally leaves "to meet the Lord in the air." This is now the most common use of the term, especially among fundamentalist Christians and in the United States.[2] The other, older use of the term "Rapture" is simply as a synonym for the final resurrection generally, without a belief that a group of people is left behind on earth for an extended Tribulation period after the events of 1 Thessalonians 4:17.[3][4][5] This distinction is important as some types of Christianity never refer to "the Rapture" in religious education, but might use the older and more general sense of the word "rapture" in referring to what happens during the final resurrection.[6]

There are many views among Christians regarding the timing of Christ's return (including whether it will occur in one event or two), and various views regarding the destination of the aerial gathering described in 1 Thessalonians 4. Denominations such as Roman Catholics,[7] Orthodox Christians,[8] Lutheran Christians,[9] and Reformed Christians[10] believe in a rapture only in the sense of a general final resurrection, when Christ returns a single time. They do not believe that a group of people is left behind on earth for an extended Tribulation period after the events of 1 Thessalonians 4:17.[11]

Authors generally maintain that the pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine originated in the eighteenth century, with the Puritan preachers Increase and Cotton Mather, and was then popularized in the 1830s by John Darby.[12][13] Others, including Grant Jeffrey, maintain that an earlier document called Ephraem or Pseudo-Ephraem already supported a pre-tribulation rapture.[14]

Regardless, pre-tribulation rapture theology was popularized extensively in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren,[15] and further popularized in the United States in the early 20th century by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible.[16]


  • Etymology 1
    • Greek 1.1
    • Latin 1.2
    • English Bible versions 1.3
  • Doctrinal history 2
  • Views 3
    • One event or two 3.1
    • Destination 3.2
  • Timing 4
    • Pre-tribulation 4.1
    • Mid-tribulation 4.2
    • Prewrath 4.3
    • Partial 4.4
    • Post-tribulation 4.5
  • Date 5
    • Predictions 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


"Rapture" is derived from Middle French rapture, via the Medieval Latin raptura ("seizure, rape, kidnapping"), which derives from the Latin raptus ("a carrying off").[17]


The Koine Greek of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 uses the verb form ἁρπαγησόμεθα (harpagisometha), which means "we shall be caught up" or "taken away", with the connotation that this is a sudden event. The dictionary form of this Greek verb is harpazō (ἁρπάζω).[18] This use is also seen in such texts as Acts 8:39, 2Corinthians 12:2-4 and Revelation 12:5.


The Latin Vulgate translates the Greek ἁρπαγησόμεθα as rapiemur,[19] from the verb rapio meaning "to catch up" or "take away".[20]

English Bible versions

English versions of the Bible have translated rapiemur in various ways:

Doctrinal history

In 1590, Francisco Ribera, a Catholic Jesuit, taught "futurism" the idea that most of Revelation was about the future, and therefore, not about the Catholic Church. He also taught that the rapture would happen 45 days before the end of a 3.5 year tribulation.

The concept of the rapture, in connection with premillennialism, was expressed by the 17th-century American Puritan father and son Increase and Cotton Mather. They held to the idea that believers would be caught up in the air, followed by judgments on earth, and then the millennium.[24][25] The term rapture was used by Philip Doddridge[26] and John Gill[27] in their New Testament commentaries, with the idea that believers would be caught up prior to judgment on earth and Jesus' second coming.

There exists at least one 18th century and two 19th century pre-tribulation references: in an essay published in 1788 in Philadelphia by the Baptist

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External links

  1. ^ 1 Thess 4:16-4:17 "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
  2. ^ Cf. Michael D. Guinan, "Raptured or Not? A Catholic Understanding", Catholic Update, October 2005, ("For many American fundamentalist Christians, the Rapture forms part of the scenario of events that will happen at the end of the world....[T]he more common view is [the pre-tribulation view].") (emphasis added); Charles Hawkins, "The Rapture", Ask the Priest, August 2, 2005, (American Anglican commentary), Comment of Jon Edwards ("[T]he word 'rapture' can be found before 1830. But before 1830 it always referred to a POST-TRIB rapture….").
  3. ^ Michael D. Guinan, "Raptured or Not? A Catholic Understanding", Catholic Update, October 2005, ("But what do we mean by 'the Rapture'? The word can be used in different ways. Spiritual writers have used it for mystical union with God, or our final sharing in God’s heavenly life. This is not the sense we are using it in here; we are using it in a much more specific way. For many American fundamentalist Christians, the Rapture forms part of the scenario of events that will happen at the end of the world....[T]he more common view is [the pre-tribulation view].") (Roman Catholic commentary).
  4. ^ "Feeling Left Behind?", Synaxis, ("Rapture is a popular term among some Protestant sects for the raising of the faithful from the dead....The belief in rapture tends to be what is called 'pre-tribulation'.") (Eastern Orthodox commentary).
  5. ^ Charles Hawkins, "The Rapture", Ask the Priest, August 2, 2005, (Anglican commentary), Comment of Jon Edwards ("[T]he word 'rapture' can be found before 1830. But before 1830 it always referred to a POST-TRIB rapture which was PART of the final Second Coming of Matt. 24. What was new in 1830 was a PRE-TRIB rapture that was totally disconnected from the final Second Coming.").
  6. ^ See, for example, Michael D. Guinan, "Raptured or Not? A Catholic Understanding", Catholic Update, October 2005, (" 'What is the Catholic teaching on the Rapture?' It was over 30 years ago that a student in my Scripture class asked me that question. Drawing on all my years of Catholic education (kindergarten through the seminary and doctoral studies), I replied, 'The what?' I had never heard of it.").
  7. ^ Michael D. Guinan, "Raptured or Not? A Catholic Understanding", Catholic Update, October 2005, . Cf. "Catechism of the Catholic Church - The Profession of Faith". Retrieved 2011-10-21.
  8. ^ Anthony M. Coniaris, "The Rapture: Why the Orthodox don't preach it," Light & Life Publishing, Life Line, September 12, 2005, Volume 2, Issue 3, available at ("As already stated, most Christians, Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Protestants do not believe in the Rapture.") (Orthodox commentary), last accessed January 27, 2012.
  9. ^ Rev. G. Brent McGuire, "Will You Be 'Left Behind'?",, available at last accessed January 27, 2012. Reprinted from The Lutheran Witness, March 2001.
  10. ^ Brian M. Schwertley, "Is the Pretribulation Rapture Biblical?", Reformed Online, last accessed January 27, 2012.
  11. ^ See notes above for specific denominations (Catechism - Catholic, Light & Life Newsletter - Orthodox, Lutheran Witness - Lutheran, Reformed Online - Reformed).
  12. ^ Cf. Ian S. Markham, "John Darby", The Student's Companion to the Theologians, p.263-64 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013) ("[Darby] simultaneously created a theology that holds the popular imagination and was popularized very effectively in the margins of the Schofield Bible."), .
  13. ^ Carl E. Olson, "Five Myths About the Rapture," Crisis p. 28-33 (Morley Publishing Group, 2003) ("LaHaye declares, in Rapture Under Attack, that “virtually all Christians who take the Bible literally expect to be raptured before the Lord comes in power to this earth.” This would have been news to Christians — both Catholic and Protestant — living prior to the 18th century, since the concept of a pretribulation Rapture was unheard of prior to that time. Vague notions had been considered by the Puritan preachers Increase (1639-1723) and Cotton Mather (1663-1728), and the late 18th-century Baptist minister Morgan Edwards, but it was John Nelson Darby who solidified the belief in the 1830s and placed it into a larger theological framework."). Reprinted at .
  14. ^ Ephraem the Syrian, JoshuaNet, 27 Jul. 2010. & © 1995 Grant R. Jeffrey, Final Warning, published by Frontier Research Publications, Inc., Box 120, Station "U", Toronto, Ontario M8Z 5M4
  15. ^ Blaising, Craig A.; Darrell L. Bock (1993). Progressive Dispensationalism. Wheaton, IL: BridgePoint.  
  16. ^ The Scofield Bible: Its History and Impact on the Evangelical Church, Magnum & Sweetnam. Pages 188-195, 218.
  17. ^ [1] c.1600, "act of carrying off," from M.Fr. rapture, from M.L. raptura "seizure, rape, kidnapping," from L. raptus "a carrying off" (see rapt). Originally of women and cognate with rape.
  18. ^ ἁρπάζω is root of strongs G726 and has the following meanings: (1) to seize, carry off by force; (2) to seize on, claim for one's self eagerly; (3) to snatch out or take away.
  19. ^ 1 Thessalonians 4:17. deinde nos qui vivimus qui relinquimur simul rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Domino in aera et sic semper cum Domino erimus (Latin Vulgate).
  20. ^ Clouse, R.G. (1984). Elwell, Walter A., ed.  
  21. ^ 1Thess 4:16 "Afterward we that lyuen, that ben left, schulen be rauyschid togidere with hem in cloudis, metinge Crist`in to the eir; and so euere more we schulen be with the Lord."
  22. ^ Bishop's Bible 17 "Than we which lyue, which remaine, shalbe caught vp together with them in the cloudes, to meete the Lorde in the ayre: And so shall we euer be with the Lorde."
  23. ^ NETBible., 2005. Retrieved 2012-02-06.
  24. ^ Kyle, Richard G (1998). The Last Days Are Here Again: A History of the End Times. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker. pp. 78–79.  
  25. ^ Boyer, Paul (1992). When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 75.  
  26. ^ Doddridge, Philip (1738). Practical reflections on the character and translation of Enoch. Northampton : Printed by W. Dicey and sold by ...R. Hett ... London, J. Smith in Daventry, Caleb Ratten in Harborough, J. Ratten in Coventry, J. Cook in Uppingham, Tho. Warren in Birmingham, and Matt. Dagnall in Aylesbury.  
  27. ^ Gill, John. An exposition of the Revelation of St. John the divine. London: Printed for John Ward.  
  28. ^ Marotta, Frank (1995). Morgan Edwards: An Eighteenth Century Pretribulationist. Morganville, NJ: Present Truth Publishers.  
  29. ^ Hommel, Jason. "The Jesuits and the Rapture: Francisco Ribera & Emmanuel Lacunza". Retrieved 22 January 2011. 
  30. ^ Strandberg, Todd. "Margaret MacDonald Who?". Rapture Ready. Retrieved 22 January 2011. Darby reported that he discovered the rapture teaching in 1827 
  31. ^ Prideaux Tregelles, Samuel (1866). The hope of Christ's second coming: how is it taught in Scripture, and why?. London: Samuel Bagster.  Reprint: Prideaux Tregelles, Samuel (2006). The hope of Christ's second coming: how is it taught in Scripture, and why?. Milesburg, PA: Strong Tower.  
  32. ^ Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume. Peabody: Hendrickson
  33. ^ Oliphant, Margaret (1862). The life of Edward Irving, minister of the National Scotch Church, London. First volume. London: Hurst and Blackett. pp. 220–223. Retrieved 23 January 2011. Henceforward the gorgeous and cloudy vistas of the Apocalypse became a legible part of the future to his fervent eyes 
  34. ^ Miller, Edward (1878). The history and doctrines of Irvingism. Vol II. London: Kegan Paul. p. 8. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  35. ^ Bray, John L (1992). The origin of the pre-tribulation rapture teaching. Lakeland, FL: John L. Bray Ministry. pp. 24–25. 
  36. ^ Blaising, Craig A; Bock, Darrell L (1993). Progressive Dispensationalism. Wheaton, IL: Bridgepoint. p. 11.  
  37. ^ Blackstone, William E. (1908) [1878]. Jesus is coming (Third ed.). Chicago: F. H. Revell.  
  38. ^ Scofield, C I, ed. (1967) [1909]. Scofield Reference Bible. Oxford University Press.  
  39. ^ "About the Supposed Rapture". Greek Orthodox Christian Church of Greater Omaha Nebraska. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  40. ^ Fr. Dimitri Cozby. "'"What is 'The Rapture?. Orthodox Research Institute. 
  41. ^ Lindsey, Hal (1989). The Road to Holocaust. London: Bantam. p. 77.  
  42. ^ Keeley, Robin (1982). Eerdmans’ Handbook to Christian Belief. Grand Rapids: Eerdman's. p. 415.  
  43. ^ Missler, Chuck (1995). "Byzantine Text Discovery: Ephraem the Syrian". Koinonia House. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  44. ^ Hommel, Jason. "A Sermon by Pseudo-Ephraem". Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  45. ^ Warner, Tim (2005). "Pseudo Pseudo Ephraem". 
  46. ^ See Apocalypse of Pseudo-Ephraem for a detailed explanation of the text and the controversy.
  47. ^ Hommel, Jason. "Margaret MacDonald's Vision". Retrieved 23 January 2011. Quotes the account in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861). 
  48. ^ Walvoord, John F. (1979) [1957]. The Rapture Question (Revised and enlarged ed.). Zondervan.  
  49. ^ Pentecost, J. Dwight (1965) [1958]. Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology. Zondovan.  
  50. ^ Balnius, Nicole. "Hal Lindsey". Rapture Ready. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  51. ^ "Left Behind Series - Official Website of the Book Series". Retrieved September 8, 2007. 
  52. ^ Drum, W. (1912). Epistles to the Thessalonians. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved December 12, 2010 from New Advent
  53. ^  
  54. ^ Patrick Holding, Ed James, Defending the Resurrection, p. 25 .
  55. ^ Bouma-Prediger, Steven (2001), For the beauty of the earth: a Christian vision for creation care, Baker Academic .
  56. ^ Clouse, R.G. (1984). Elwell, Walter A., ed.  
  57. ^ Lindsey, Hal: The Rapture, Bantam Books (1983), p. 25
  58. ^ Erickson, Millard J. (1977). Contemporary Options in Eschatology. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House.   page 125
  59. ^ Erickson, Millard J. (1977). Contemporary Options in Eschatology. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House.   page 164
  60. ^ Hoekema, Anthony A. (1979). The Bible and the Future. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. p. 164.  
  61. ^ Prewrath Consortium: Prewrath Explained: Timeline
  62. ^ Rosenthal, Marv: "The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church: Is it Biblical?", Regular Baptist Press (1991)
  63. ^ Lahaye, Tim. "Charting the End Times" pg.106-108. ISBN 978-0-7369-0138-3
  64. ^ Overview of the Partial Rapture Theory (PDF). Valley Bible Church Theology Studies. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  65. ^ The Partial Rapture "Theory" Explained/Escaping The Coming Storm
  66. ^ Ira E. David, “Translation: When Does It Occur?” The Dawn, November 15, 1935, p. 358.
  67. ^ Walvoord, John F. (1979). The Rapture Question. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House.   page 128
  68. ^ Erickson, Millard J. (1998). A Basic Guide to Eschatology. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Book House.   page 152
  69. ^ Ladd, George Eldon (1956). The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.  
  70. ^ Gundry, Robert Horton (1973). The Church and the Tribulation. Grand Rapids, Mich., Zondervan: Zondervan. 
  71. ^ Strandberg, Todd. "The Date Setters Diary". Retrieved 22 June 2007. 
  72. ^ Nelson, Chris (22 June 2003). "A Brief History of the Apocalypse". Retrieved 22 June 2007. 
  73. ^ Thief in the Night (1961).
  74. ^ Charles Taze Russell and Nelson H. Barbour, The Three Worlds (1907) as cited by James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed, pages 21–22.
  75. ^ The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 485, 258, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 206-211.
  76. ^ The Way to Paradise booklet, Watch Tower Society, 1924, as cited by Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, pages 230–232.
  77. ^ Smith, Chuck (1978). Future Survival. The Word for Today. p. 17.  
  78. ^ "The World Did Not End Yesterday".  
  79. ^ Nelson, Chris (18 June 2002). "A Brief History of the Apocalypse; 1971–1997: Millennial Madness". Retrieved 23 June 2007. 
  80. ^ "We are Almost There". Retrieved 22 July 2008. 
  81. ^ Ravitz, Jessica (2011-03-06). "Road trip to the end of the world".  
  82. ^ LAist, 24 May 2011.



See also

  • 1844: William Miller predicted that Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844, then revised his prediction, claiming to have miscalculated Scripture, to October 22, 1844. The realization that the predictions were incorrect resulted in a Great Disappointment. Miller's theology gave rise to the Advent movement. The Baha'is believe that Christ did return as Miller predicted in 1844, with the advent of the Báb, and numerous Miller-like prophetic predictions from many religions are given in William Sears' book, Thief in The Night.[73]
  • 1914,[74] 1918,[75] and 1925:[76] Various dates predicted for the rapture by the Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • 1981: Chuck Smith predicted that Jesus would probably return by 1981.[77]
  • 1992: A Korean group, the Mission for the Coming Days, predicted that the rapture would occur on October 28, 1992.[78]
  • 1994: Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church in Los Angeles predicted that the rapture would occur on June 9, 1994. Radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted September 6, 1994.[79]
  • 2011: Harold Camping's revised prediction had May 21, 2011 as the date of the rapture.[80][81] After this prediction proved inaccurate, he claimed that a non-visible "spiritual judgement" had taken place, and that the physical rapture would occur on October 21, 2011. The physical rapture prediction also proved inaccurate.[82]

Some notable predictions of the date of the rapture include the following:


Conversely, many of those who believe that the precise date of the rapture cannot be known, do affirm that the specific time frame that immediately precedes the rapture event can be known. This time frame is often referred to as "the season". The primary section of scripture cited for this position is Matthew 24:32–35; where Jesus is quoted teaching the parable of the fig tree, which is proposed as the key that unlocks the understanding of the general timing of the rapture, as well as the surrounding prophecies listed in the sections of scripture that precede and follow this parable.

Any individual or religious group that has dogmatically predicted the day of the rapture, a practise referred to as "date setting", has been thoroughly embarrassed and discredited, as the predicted date of fulfillment has invariably come and gone without event.[71][72] Some of these individuals and groups have offered "correct" target dates, while others have offered excuses and have tried to "correct" their target dates, while simply releasing a reinterpretation of the meaning of the scripture to fit their current predicament, and then explain that although the prediction appeared to have not come true, in reality it had been completely accurate and fulfilled, albeit in a different way than many had expected.

Since the origin of the concept, many believers in the rapture have made predictions regarding the date of the event. The primary scriptural reference cited against this position is Matthew 24:36, where Jesus is quoted as saying; "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only" (RSV). Another potential problem for those attempting to set a date for the rapture arises from Matthew 24:34, where Jesus is quoted as saying "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (KJV).


The Post-Tribulation view is essentially the position held as well by amillennialists, who view the millennial rule of Christ as allegorical to Christ's rule in the believer through sanctification (II Pet. 3:8) thus precluding literal interpretation of a thousand year period. Amillennialists commonly view the rapture of the Church as one and the same event with the second coming of Christ. Authors who have expressed support for this view include St. Augustine, and the Puritan author of Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan.

. Douglas Moo and [70],Robert H. Gundry [69] Authors and teachers who support the post-tribulational view include

The post-tribulation position places the rapture at the end of the tribulation period. Post-tribulation writers define the tribulation period in a generic sense as the entire present age, or in a specific sense of a period of time preceding the second coming of Christ.[67] The emphasis in this view is that the church will undergo the tribulation — even though the church will be spared the wrath of God.[68] Matthew 24:29–31 - "Immediately after the Tribulation of those days...they shall gather together his elect..." - is cited as a foundational scripture for this view. Post-tribulationists perceive the rapture as occurring simultaneously with the second coming of Christ. Upon Jesus' return, believers will meet him in the air and will then accompany him in his return to the Earth. In the Epistles of Paul, most notably in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 ("the dead in Christ shall rise first") and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, a trumpet is described as blowing at the end of the tribulation to herald the return of Christ; Revelation 11:15 further supports this view. Moreover, after chapters 6–19, and after 20:1-3 when Satan is bound, Revelation 20:4-6 says, "and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection."


The partial or selective rapture theory holds that all obedient Christians will be raptured before, in the midst of, or after the G. Campbell Morgan, Otto Stockmayer and Rev. J. W. (Chip) White, Jr.


The prewrath rapture view also places the rapture at some point during the tribulation period before the second coming. This view holds that the tribulation of the church begins toward the latter part of the seven-year period, being Daniel's 70th week, when the Antichrist is revealed in the temple. This latter half of the seven-year period [i.e. 3 1/2 years] is defined as the great tribulation, although the exact duration is not known. References from Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are used as evidence that this tribulation will be cut short by the coming of Christ to deliver the righteous by means of the rapture, which will occur after specific events in Revelation, in particular after the sixth seal is opened and the sun is darkened and the moon is turned to blood.[61] However, by this point many Christians will have been slaughtered as martyrs by the Antichrist. After the rapture will come God's seventh-seal wrath of trumpets and bowls (a.k.a. "the Day of the Lord"). The Day of the Lord's wrath against the ungodly will follow for the remainder of the seven years.[62] Marvin Rosenthal, author of The Prewrath Rapture of the Church, is a proponent for the prewrath rapture view. His belief is founded on the work of Robert D. Van Kampen (1938–1999); his books The Sign, The Rapture Question Answered and The Fourth Reich detail his pre-wrath rapture doctrine.


The mid-tribulation position espouses that the rapture will occur at some point in the middle of what is popularly called the tribulation period, or during Daniel's 70th Week. However, since the Bible only uses "tribulation" to refer to the second half of Daniel's 70th week, from a mid-tribulationist's point of view he is a pre-tribulationist. The tribulation is typically divided into two periods of 3.5 years each. Mid-tribulationists hold that the saints will go through the first period (Beginning of Travail, which is not "the tribulation"), but will be raptured into Heaven before the severe outpouring of God's wrath in the second half of what is popularly called the tribulation. Mid-tribulationists appeal to Daniel 7:25 which says the saints will be given over to tribulation for "time, times, and half a time," - interpreted to mean 3.5 years. At the halfway point of the tribulation, the Antichrist will commit the "abomination of desolation" by desecrating the Jerusalem temple (to be built on what is now called the Temple Mount, see Third Temple). Mid-tribulationist teachers include Harold Ockenga, James O. Buswell (a reformed, Calvinistic Presbyterian), and Norman Harrison.[59] This position is a minority view among premillennialists.[60]


The pre-tribulation position advocates that the rapture will occur before the beginning of the seven-year tribulation period, while the second coming will occur at the end of the seven-year tribulation period. Pre-tribulationists often describe the rapture as Jesus coming for the church and the second coming as Jesus coming with the church. Pre-tribulation educators and preachers include Jimmy Swaggart, J. Dwight Pentecost, Tim LaHaye, J. Vernon McGee, Perry Stone, Chuck Smith, Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, Chuck Missler, Grant Jeffrey, Thomas Ice, David Jeremiah, and John Hagee.[57] While many pre-tribulationists are also dispensationalists, not all pre-tribulationists are dispensationalists.[58]


In the amillennial and postmillennial views, as well as in the post-tribulation premillennial position, there are no distinctions in the timing of the rapture. These views regard the rapture, as it is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, as being either identical to the second coming of Jesus as described in Matthew 24:29-31, or as a meeting in the air with Jesus that immediately precedes his return to the Earth. Within premillennialism, the pre-tribulation position is the predominant view that distinguishes between the rapture and second coming as two events. There are also two minor positions within premillennialism that differ with regard to the timing of the rapture, the mid-tribulation view and the partial-rapture view.[56]

Comparison of Christian tribulation views


While Anglicans have many views, some Anglican commentators, such as N. T. Wright, identify the destination as a specific place on Earth.[53][54] This interpretation may sometimes be connected to Christian environmentalist concerns.[55]

Dispensationalists see the immediate destination of the raptured Christians as being Heaven, with an eventual return to Earth. Roman Catholic commentators, such as Walter Drum (1912), identify the destination of the 1 Thessalonians 4:17 gathering as Heaven.[52]


Some also claim that the "word of the Lord" cited by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 is the Olivet Discourse which Matthew separately describes in Matthew 24:29-31. Although the doctrinal relationship between the rapture and the second coming is the same in these three groups, Historic premillennialists are more likely to use the term "rapture" to clarify their position in distinction from dispensationalists.

Amillennialists deny the interpretation of a literal 1,000-year rule of Christ, and as such amillennialism does not necessarily imply much difference between itself and other forms of millennialism besides that denial. However, there is considerable overlap in the beliefs of Amillennialists (including most Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans), postmillennialists (including Presbyterians), and historic premillennialists (including some Calvinistic Baptists, among others) with those who hold that the return of Christ will be a single, public event. Those who identify the rapture with the second coming are likely to emphasize mutual similarities between passages of scripture where clouds, trumpets, angels or the archangel, resurrection, and gathering are mentioned. Although some (particularly some amillennialists) may take the rapture to be figurative, rather than literal, these three groups are likely to maintain that the passages regarding the return of Christ describe a single event.

Some dispensationalist premillennialists (including many Evangelicals) hold the return of Christ to be two distinct events, or one second coming in two stages. 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 is seen to be a description of a preliminary event to the return described in Matthew 24:29–31. Although both describe a return of Jesus, these are seen to be separated in time by more than a brief period. The first event may or may not be seen (which is not a primary issue), and is called the rapture, when the saved are to be 'caught up,' whence the term "rapture" is taken. The "second coming" is a public event, wherein Christ's presence is prophesied to be clearly seen by all, as he returns to end a battle staged at Armageddon, though possibly fought at the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The majority of dispensationalists hold that the first event precedes the period of tribulation, even if not immediately (see chart for additional dispensationalist timing views);

One event or two


In 1995, the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture was further popularized by Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series of books, which sold tens of millions of copies[51] and were made into several movies.

During the 1970s, belief in the rapture became popular in wider circles, in part because of the books of Hal Lindsey, including The Late Great Planet Earth, which has reportedly sold between 15 million and 35 million copies, and the movie A Thief in the Night, which based its title on the scriptural reference 1 Thessalonians 5:2.[50] Lindsey proclaimed that the rapture was imminent, based on world conditions at the time. The Cold War figured prominently in his predictions of impending Armageddon. Other aspects of 1970s global politics were seen as having been predicted in the Bible. Lindsey suggested, for example, that the seven-headed beast with ten horns, cited in the Book of Revelation, was the European Economic Community, a forebear of the European Union, which between 1981 and 1986 had ten member states; it now has 27 member states.

In 1957, John Walvoord, a theologian at Dallas Theological Seminary, authored a book, The Rapture Question, that gave theological support to the pre-tribulation rapture;[48] this book eventually sold over 65,000 copies. In 1958, J. Dwight Pentecost authored another book supporting the pre-tribulation rapture, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology,[49] which sold 215,000 copies.

The rise in belief in the pre-tribulation rapture is often wrongly attributed to a 15-year-old Scottish-Irish girl named Margaret McDonald who was of the first to receive a spiritual baptism under a Pentecostal awakening in Scotland. In 1830, she had a vision of the end times which describes a post-tribulation view of the rapture that was first published in 1840. It was published again in 1861, but two important passages demonstrating a post-tribulation view were removed to encourage confusion concerning the timing of the rapture. The two removed segments were, "This is the fiery trial which is to try us. - It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus" and "The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept".[47]

Some pre-tribulation proponents maintain that the earliest known extra-Biblical reference to the pre-tribulation rapture is from a 7th-century tract known as the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Ephraem the Syrian, which says, "For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins."[43]"[44] However, the interpretation of this writing as supporting a pre-tribulation rapture is debated.[45][46]

Some proponents of a preliminary rapture believe the doctrine of amillennialism originated with Alexandrian scholars such as Clement and Origen[41] and later became Catholic dogma through Augustine.[42] The church until then held to premillennial views, which see an impending apocalypse from which the church will be rescued after being raptured by the Lord.

The Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches,[39] the Anglican Communion and many Protestant Calvinist denominations, have no tradition of a preliminary return of Christ and reject the doctrine. The Orthodox Church, for example, rejects it because the doctrine of the rapture depends on a millennial interpretation of prophetic scriptures, rather than an amillennial or postmillennial fashion.[40]

John Nelson Darby first proposed and popularized the pre-tribulation rapture in 1827.[35] This view was accepted among many other Plymouth Brethren movements in England. Darby and other prominent Brethren were part of the Brethren movement which impacted American Christianity, especially with movements and teachings associated with Christian eschatology and fundamentalism, primarily through their writings. Influences included the Bible Conference Movement, starting in 1878 with the Niagara Bible Conference. These conferences, which were initially inclusive of historicist and futurist premillennialism, led to an increasing acceptance of futurist premillennial views and the pre-tribulation rapture especially among Presbyterian, Baptist, and Congregational members.[36] Popular books also contributed to acceptance of the pre-tribulation rapture, including William Eugene Blackstone's book Jesus is Coming, published in 1878,[37] which sold more than 1.3 million copies, and the Scofield Reference Bible, published in 1909 and 1919 and revised in 1967.[38]

Although not using the term "rapture", the idea was more fully developed by Edward Irving (1792–1834). In ? (first volume published in 1806) Matthew Henry [32] used the term in his commentary of 1 Thessalonians 4.[33] Irving directed his attention to the study of prophecy and eventually accepted the one-man Antichrist idea of James Henthorn Todd, Samuel Roffey Maitland, Robert Bellarmine, and Francisco Ribera, yet he went a step further. Irving began to teach the idea of a two-phase return of Christ, the first phase being a secret rapture prior to the rise of the Antichrist. According to Irving, "There are three gatherings: – First, of the first-fruits of the harvest, the wise virgins who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth; next, the abundant harvest gathered afterwards by God; and lastly, the assembling of the wicked for punishment."[34]

Dr. Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813-1875), a prominent English theologian and biblical scholar, wrote a pamphlet in 1866 tracing the concept of the rapture through the works of John Darby back to Edward Irving.[31]

. Edward Irving). The book appeared first in 1811, 10 years after his death. In 1827, it was translated into English by the Scottish minister The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty (La venida del Mesías en gloria y majestad priest (under the pseudonym Juan Josafat Ben Ezra), wrote an apocalyptic work entitled Jesuit (1731–1801), a Emmanuel Lacunza [30] in 1827.John Nelson Darby and by [29] in the writings of Catholic priest Emmanuel Lacunza in 1812,[28]

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