Three Scriptures about the Rapture

It will be instant, eternal, and separate from the Second Coming

The Bible study author Chuck Missler once wrote a book titled The Rapture: Christianity’s Most Preposterous Belief. That may sound to you like a negative or ctirical statement, but Missler is a Christian. In fact, he uses that provocative title to make a positive case for a pre-tribulational Rapture of the Church.

As he describes it, the Rapture is “preposterous” in the same way that Paul said the message of the Cross was “foolishness” to unbelievers.

The doctrine may not make sense to those who don’t believe. From the outside, it may seem preposterous indeed. But from the inside, it absolutely makes sense—and it comes directly from the Bible.

Meeting the Lord in the Air

In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul gives us a very graphic description of the Rapture of the Church:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.—1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The Apostle Paul is saying “I don’t want you to be troubled about people who have died in Jesus.” He describes those believers as being “asleep,” because their bodies are lifeless and buried here on Earth. They may even have been cremated or lost at sea. But their spirits are in the presence of Jesus. Just like Jesus was resurrected, they’re going to be resurrected. Their bodies will be transformed into glorious bodies.

But beyond the dead in Christ rising first, the Rapture will be a moment when we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. This is very important: The Rapture is a private event between Jesus and the Church that happens “in the air.” It is only for believers, which means it is a separate event from the Second Coming, which is a public event for all the world to see. People often confuse the Rapture with the Second Coming but these are different events.

I have written more about the Second Coming here.

The Twinkling of an Eye

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul also paints a very clear picture of the Rapture:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.—1 Corinthians 15:50-53

The Rapture is going to happen in a moment, in the briefest of seconds. In this context, Paul uses the original Greek word atomos, which we translate into the English word “moment.” That word is where we get the word atom. It means an indivisible amount of time.

So when Jesus returns and the Rapture happens, it’s going to happen so quickly that there won’t be time to repent. There won’t be time to make wrong things right, to apologize, to ask forgiveness.

There won’t be enough time to become a Christian.

And so people who are playing games with God right now, well, they will be left behind. Because the Rapture will take place instantaneously. We will meet Jesus in the clouds, go to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and spend eternity with Jesus.

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But don’t just take Paul’s word for it. The most important words in the Bible, according to the laws of biblical interpretation, are the words of Jesus. The words of Christ define everything else in Scripture.

As the Lightning Flashes

Here’s what Jesus says about the Rapture:

“For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. 25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

31 In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”—Luke 17:24-33

I always think of this passage when I encounter arguments that the Rapture is a relatively new teaching in the history of Christianity. (Some theologians and scholars insist the concept only dates back to the 19th century.) If the Rapture isn’t a biblical teaching, then Jesus certainly didn’t get that message! Because He is clearly teaching about it in this passage. He’s also describing what is going to be happening in the world when He gets back.

For instance, he compares the last days to “the days of Noah.” Noah and his family were the only righteous remnant remaining on the planet. The world ridiculed them. God directed Noah to build this giant boat on dry land, so I’m sure Noah looked like a crazy person. Remember, he built the ark before the Flood ever happened. He and his family boarded the ark before the rain began. God sealed Noah and his family in the ark, and only then did the rain come.

Imagine what the world thought as Noah and his family entered the Ark!

Many of you who are standing for Jesus during these times may also feel that way. Your family or friends may be making fun of you for talking about the Rapture or for standing for Jesus. But I’m telling you this: In the twinkling of an eye, you’re going to look like a genius. Because Jesus is going to rapture His Church in the middle of a time of rebellion and immorality and violence—a time like the days of Noah. A time like today.

Jesus will come back publicly and dramatically at the Second Coming. But before that, He will return privately to rescue His Church from the coming Tribulation. We will be united with Jesus to be married with Him forever.

That day is coming, and the time to prepare for it is not when you hear the trumpet blast or see the miracle of the dead in Christ rising first. Once that happens, it will be too late.

The time to prepare your heart is now, because the Rapture could happen sooner than we think. It could be tomorrow. It could be today.

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