The Rapture of the Church
Updated: Feb 9
Day 2 of the 24 Day Prophecy Study
Notes compiled by Steve McAtee and Marty Zide
The Rapture is the next great event on the prophetic calendar. Although the word “Rapture” does not occur in the Bible, the concept of it is clearly there. In the Old Testament, it is taught by type and in the New Testament, it is taught direct statement. If one interprets the Scriptures literally, this is the conclusion that one will come to.
The Rapture of the church is the event in which God removes all church saints from the earth. These believers will be “caught up” into the clouds to meet the Lord Jesus in the air and they shall forever be with Him.
There are no signs that are attached to the Rapture. Nothing else in prophetic Scripture needs to be fulfilled in order for the Rapture to take place. All signs in Scripture are for the second coming of Christ to the earth to set up His earthly kingdom.
A. Who Are the Ones Raptured
The ones raptured are those who make up the invisible church. The invisible church is made up of Jewish and Gentile believers who are saved from the Day of Pentecost until the rapture takes place.
The church is a New Testament mystery that was revealed to the Apostle Paul. Scripture teaches that Jewish people and Gentiles are placed into the Body of the Christ, Jesus Himself being the head.
Eph. 3:4-6 - By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Messiah Jesus through the gospel.
Col. 1:18 - He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
Although equally saved and equally blessed, Old Testament, Tribulation, and Millennial saints are not a part of the Body of Christ.
As we will see in our study, the Rapture is also one of the mysteries that are found in the New Testament. Meaning what? That the Rapture is New Testament revelation that was revealed to the Apostles. It’s a teaching that is not found in the Old Testament.
B. Scriptural Support
What Scriptural support do we have for the Rapture of the church? Are we trying to pull this teaching out of thin air? Are we trying to invent a teaching that finds no Biblical support? In the New Testament, a number of passages speak of Christ’s coming for His church.
John 14:1-3 Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
This passage says nothing of the timing of the Rapture, or the fact that Jesus doesn’t come all the way to the earth to gather His saints. We will see these facts in some other verses on the Rapture.
Some Important Truths In These Verses: *Jesus literally returned to heaven, He will literally return to the clouds *it contains the promise that Jesus would return for true believers, not an angel, but Jesus Himself *when Jesus returns, He will take believers to the place where He was - that would be His Father’s house in heaven, not earth *this was the first time they heard this, up to this point, they were expecting the establishing of the kingdom on earth *Jesus is now teaching them that life on the earth should not be their main preoccupation
*this teaching was designed to comfort their hearts - they needed this after hearing that Jesus was leaving them
1 Thes. 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will 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. 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 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 will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
This is considered by many to be the central passage on the Rapture of the church. It gives several facts and details that are not found elsewhere that helps us understand this important truth. This is the passage where the word “Rapture” comes from. The Greek word used here, harpazo, and means “to be caught up.” The English word “Rapture” comes from the Latin word “rapturo.”
Some Important Truths In These Verses: *they clarify what happens if a believer has died before the Rapture happens *they give details of what happens to a living saint when the Rapture takes place *this truth comes with the full authority from the Lord *both living and deceased saints benefit *Jesus descends to the clouds, not to the earth *there will be a shout by Jesus, the voice of the archangel, followed by the trump of God *the resurrection and translation of the body takes place and from this point on, all church saints will forever be with the Lord Jesus *this truth is designed to bring comfort to those who have believing loved ones who died
1 Cor. 15:51-53 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 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 will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
This passage clearly defines the Rapture as a mystery. Again a mystery is newly revealed truth that was not revealed in the past, but is now made known. A mystery would not be discovered without divine revelation. Just what is the mystery that is revealed in these verses? 6 The truth of the resurrection of the body was not a mystery. That was clearly taught in the Old Testament. The mystery in this passage is that some believers will not have to experience death in order to receive their immortal bodies. Experiencing a transformation of the body without first dying was new truth.
Some Important Truths In These Verses: *they clarify the necessary changes that must take place to the body before entering eternity *the change takes place in a moment of time *it will take place at the last trumpet, not the 7th. trumpet in Revelation, the Corinthians knew nothing of this trumpet, but the last trumpet of the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah, the Rapture fulfills this holy day *in 1 Cor. 15:42-53, several characteristics of the new body are given; it is said to be a glorified body, an incorruptible body, a body raised in power, a heavenly body, a spiritual body, and an immortal body *this type of body will eventually be given to all believers of all time *this new body will prepare us for eternity
C. The Timing of the Rapture
This is one of the major questions that revolves around the Rapture question, especially in regards to the tribulation period. Will it happen before, during or after the tribulation period?
I believe that the Rapture will take place before the seven year tribulation period. The nature of, and reasons for the tribulation period, have helped me come to this conclusion.
Reasons for Supporting the Pretribulational Rapture *literal method of interpretation *the Biblical distinction between Israel and the Church *understanding the nature of the tribulation period - wrath, judgment, time of Jacob’s distress, punishment, destruction, darkness *Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy *the Church is exempt from the wrath of God (not from trials and tribulations) *there is no Scriptural evidence that the Church is present in the Tribulation Period *the Church is not mentioned in Rev. 6-19 (the extended description of the Tribulation Period) Jer. 30:7 - Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.
Dan. 12:1 - ...And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.
1 Thes. 1:10 - and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
Dan. 9:24 - Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city...
1 Thes. 5:9 - For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Matt. 24:21 - For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
D. Distinctions Between the Rapture & the Second Coming
Scripture distinguishes between the coming of the Lord Jesus in the clouds at the Rapture and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus to the earth when His feet touch the Mount of Olives. The differences are so great that they cannot be describing the same event.
RAPTURE Christ comes in the air He comes for His saints The rapture is a mystery Not preceded by signs Called the Day of Christ A time of blessing Takes place in a moment Primarily involves the Church saints
RETURN Christ comes to earth He comes with His saints The return is not a mystery Preceded by signs Called the Day of the Lord A time of judgment & wrath Will be visible worldwide Primarily involves Israel & the nations
Unfortunately, the Rapture has become a very neglected subject. Keeping our minds fixed on it will be a source of great hope during these difficult days.