Does the Bible Teach that Christians will be Raptured from the Earth?
The meaning of the word “rapture” as people use it in relation to the bible, is to “seize, or to snatch up”. Does the bible teach that God will “snatch up” people off of this earth, and bring them to heaven? Does the bible teach a “rapture”? The simple answer is yes. The bible never uses the WORD “rapture”, but an event like that is described in the bible, twice.
We need to realize though, that there are several false beliefs, held by various religious groups, and individuals, concerning what exactly will happen when this event takes place. And we’re not going to talk about all those false beliefs. We’re only going to talk about what the bible says is the truth, because that’s really all that matters anyhow. It doesn’t matter what man says, it only matters what God says!
Several verses talk about how our bodies will be transformed and “glorified”, from a physical body to a spiritual body, but only two passages actually describe people being “taken from the earth, and joined with God”. That’s actually the exact meaning of the word that’s used in the bible to describe this event, in Mathew 24, verse 40. The people that will be “taken from the earth, and joined with God”, are the faithful Christians, who are “in Christ”, who are alive, when Jesus comes again.
Jesus said, in John 14, verses 2 & 3; “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If not, I would have told you so, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.”
Jesus assures us here, that even though He is leaving the earth, He will come again, to take His disciples unto Himself, so that they can be where He is. That’s why we want to be one of His disciples, we want to be “in Christ”, so that He’ll take us with Him when He comes again. So then, although Jesus doesn’t describe the actual event, He assures us, that he will come again to take the faithful to their home in heaven, in His Father’s house.
But as I said, there are two passages in the bible that actually describe the event taking place. One such description is found in 1 Thessalonians 4, verses 13 thru 18. Let me read it to you; “But I do not want you to be uninformed brethren, about those who are asleep; That you may not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him, those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”
God doesn’t want us to grieve over the death of a faithful Christian, because we know, that God is going to bring that soul to heaven, to be with Him. If we believe that Jesus died, and rose again to be with God, then we must also believe that the faithful Christian who dies, is going to rise again to be with God. That should be quite an incentive for all of us to live as faithful Christians.
Now, back to the scriptures; “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, shall not precede, those who have fallen asleep.”
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout! With the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first!”
“Then, we who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them..” Do you see the similarity of those words, and the definition I gave you earlier.. “taken from this earth, and joined with God”? So then this verse says; “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.
There’s the description, of the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus made to His disciples; That He would “come again, and receive you unto Myself..” Those of His disciples who have fallen asleep, will be raised and gathered together with Him. And then, those disciples who remain alive when He comes, will be “taken”, or “caught up”, or “raptured” so to speak, and gathered together with Jesus, and with the rest of the faithful Christians.
“And thus we shall ALWAYS be with the Lord.” That’s what the scripture says; “..we shall ALWAYS be with the Lord.” That’s an important point! Jesus will never again, LEAVE His disciples, once He has returned to gather them together. He left His disciples once, when He ascended back to heaven after His resurrection. But He promised them, in John 14:3; “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” He said in verse 18; “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”
And then when Christ does come, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says; “.. we shall ALWAYS be with the Lord.” He is NOT going to leave His disciples again! Verse 18 says; Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Those are comforting words! They’re very comforting, because we don’t want to be left behind, and stuck on this earth, when the Lord returns. You know what’s going to happen to this earth when the Lord comes, don’t you? 2 Peter 3, verse 10 says; “But the day of the Lord, will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth, and it’s works will be burned up!”
I don’t want to be around for that! I want to be “caught up together.. to meet the Lord in the air”, I want to be “taken from this earth”, I want Jesus to “receive me unto Himself”. If you’re not a faithful Christian, you’re gonna be left behind, when the Lord comes. The bible doesn’t say one word about anyone other than faithful Christians, being taken off this earth when He comes. Listen to what the bible DOES say; 2 Peter 3, verse 7; “But the present heavens and earth, by His word, are being reserved for fire, kept unto the day of judgment, and destruction of ungodly men.”
On the day of judgment, ungodly men (and that word men is generic.. it means men and women) Ungodly men and women will be destroyed by fire on that day! They will not be taken off of this earth before the heavens and earth are destroyed with intense heat. Now THAT is a sobering thought! But I suppose it’s no more sobering, than the thought of a soul finding itself in a spiritual condition called hell, that is compared to burning in fire, eternally. If you are not “in Christ”, you are among those who are “ungodly”.
Listen to the words of 2 Peter 3:11 thru 13; “Since these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be, in holy conduct and godliness? Looking for, and hastening, the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat. But, according to His promise, we are looking for new heavens, and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
“New heavens and a new earth”, is a figurative expression referring to the dwelling place of the saved. It refers to heaven itself! It’s exactly like Revelation 21, verse 8, which says; “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”
“New Jerusalem” is a figurative expression. It refers to the body of the saved. “New Jerusalem” is the “bride adorned for her husband”. And the “new heavens, and the new earth”, is the dwelling place, where the bride and her husband will live eternally.
2 Peter 3:14 and part of verse 15, says; “Therefore beloved, since you look for theses things, be diligent to be found by Him, in peace, spotless and blameless. And regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation..”
God is patiently waiting for all of us, to BE the sort of people we ought to be, in holy conduct and godliness. He’s waiting for us to be found in peace, spotless and blameless, and saved.
Now, here’s the second passage of scripture, that describes what someone might call “a rapture”. It begins in Mathew 24, verse 35, and goes through the end of the chapter. Verse 35 says; “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall NOT pass away.” The passing away of the heavens and the earth will mark the end of time. That’s what we just read from 2 Peter chapter 3, verse 10; “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and all it’s works will be burned up.” That’s it! Time’s up!
Now listen to Mathew 24, verse 36; “But OF that day and hour, no one knows. Not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone!” So much for any and all, of man’s predictions of when Jesus will return. No one knows, but the Father alone!
But, even though no one knows when Christ will return, will there at least be a sign of some kind, to tell us that He’s coming soon? The answer to that is, No! No sign, no indication, but there is a warning. God is giving us the warning right here! It says in verses 37 thru 39; “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days, which were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the DAY that Noah entered the ark. And they did not understand, until the flood came and took them all away. So shall the coming of the Son of Man be!”
Verse 44 says this; “For the Son of Man is coming at an hour, when you do NOT think He will.” You don’t think He’ll come today do you? If you don’t think so, then I guess maybe He will.
Do you think He’ll come tomorrow? If you do, then I guess He won’t. Do you see how ridiculous it is for anyone to think they can predict when Christ is coming?
That’s why Jesus said, in verses 42 thru 44; “Therefore, be on the alert! For you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this; If the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert, and not allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason, you be ready too! For the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do NOT think He will.”
Now again, Jesus is talking about the end of time. That’s why it’s so important to be ready, because after He comes, it’ll be too late. We’ve got our chance to get ready right now. As a matter of fact, we’ve all, probably had hundreds, if not thousands of chances to get ready. Every day that you live and breathe, you have another chance to get ready for Christ’s return. But once you die, your chance is over.
Here’s what it says in verses 50 & 51; “The master of that slave (the one who didn’t get ready) will come on a day when he does not expect, and at an hour which he does not know, and He shall cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the hypocrites. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That is a figurative description of the judgment, and condemnation to hell, of an unfaithful person, who never took advantage of his chances to get ready for the Lord’s return.
Now, there’s two verses to this passage that I haven’t read yet. Verse 39 had said; “..so shall the coming of the Son of Man be..” without any sign at all. And here’s what’s going to happen when the Son of Man comes, according to verses 40 & 41; “Then there shall be two men in the field; One will be TAKEN, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; One will be TAKEN, and one will be left.”
What happened to those men and women who were taken? They got snatched up by God, didn’t they? They were taken from this earth, to be joined with God. The ones that were taken, were faithful Christians, and Christ snatched them up, to meet Him in the clouds, as a part of the kingdom that will be delivered to the Father.
It says in 1 Corinthians 15, verse 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed.” You’ll be separated from your physical body, and you’ll be given your new spiritual body, and you won’t be found on the earth anymore, because you’ll be with Christ.
It says in verses 24 thru 26; “Then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom, to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and authority and power. For He must reign, until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
Christ began His reign, forty days after His crucifixion, when He ascended back into heaven (Acts 1:9). “Having been exalted to the right hand of God..” (Acts 2:33). And His reign continues to this day, and will continue, until He comes again. Then, the dead in Christ will be raised, the faithful Christians who remain, will be changed, and taken from this earth, and the entire kingdom will be delivered to the Father. And the heavens and the earth, and all it’s works, and all those who remain on the earth, will be burned up with intense heat.
Those are the words of God, on who will be taken off this earth, and when it will happen, and what will happen next. Ezekiel 24:14 says; “I the Lord have spoken!” If you don’t like God’s plan, you can present your case at the judgment.
And here’s God’s plan for being saved. You must hear His word, and believe it. (Romans 10:17 & John 8:24). You must repent of your sins. (Acts 17:30 & Luke 13:3). You must confess the name of Christ (Mathew 10:32 & verse 33), and you must confess your sins. (1 John 1:9 & Acts 8:37). And you must be buried in baptism for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2:38 & Romans 6:4). And, you must remain faithful until the end! (Mathew 24:13).
And then it won’t matter if your end is your physical death, or if it’s when the Lord comes again. You have His guarantee, that you “shall always be with the Lord!”