The Rapture, it’s Timing, and Matthew 24

I believe in the blessed hope of the rapture of the Lord’s church where the saints of God will be beamed up off of this earth and glorified in the flash of moment to meet the Lord in the air. I’ve heard some come against the term, “rapture”, stating that it’s not in the Bible. Well, they’re wrong and they would do best just to keep silence in such ignorance. While I admit that the exact word, “rapture” is not in any respected english Bible, it is actually the word that is used in the Latin Bible in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

(16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (“raptured” in Latin) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Christians were reading Jerome’s Latin Vulgate long before they were reading the respected King James Version which didn’t make its debut in history until 1611. And it is from this Latin Bible that the word “rapture” comes from, and has carried over into our English. The word “rapture” is actually a translation of the Greek word for “caught up” in 1 Thes. 4:17, the word “harpazō”. It literally means, “to be caught up or seized or snatched away by force” (Strong’s and Thayer’s definitions). So, “harpazō” (Greek) translated into Latin, “rapturo”, finds it’s way into English as “rapture”. But the translators of the Bible chose rather to use the terms, “caught up” rather than rapture, apparently for more clarity, because it is easier understood. But “rapture” is certainly a biblical word and a biblical concept, and a blessed promise from the Lord to snatch His church off the earth and claim us as His own to share in His glory. Anyone who denies that there will be a rapture denies many faithful promises of the Lord Himself and sets himself up against the testimony of the written Word of God.

However, while I heartily agree with the fact of the rapture, and earnestly long for the day when my Lord Jesus will return for me (or if I’m dead by that time, to raise up my body from the grave and fashion it like unto His glorious body), I tend to differ with the majority of evangelicals of modern times as to the exact timing of the rapture. Now, dear reader, before you burn me at the stake with the charge of heresy, let me state that prior to the 1800’s, nobody in church history believed in a Pre-Tribulation rapture (that the church would be raptured prior to Daniel’s 70th week and the final 7 years of this age). The idea is absent from church history! So I’m certainly not a lone ranger on this one inventing some new wave of doctrine.

What I actually believe about the end times is not the popular modern day “dispensationalism”. But what I believe is called, “historic Premillennialism” (called “historic” because it is not some new idea). That is, that the Lord Jesus Christ will return prior to the literal 1,000 year Millennial reign and rapture His church at that time, when He returns. In other words, I believe the rapture of the church and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation will occur at the same time. And there is tons of Scriptural support for this view.

But rather than exhaustively labor to supply proof-texts for this hotly debated eschatological issue, let me just give you a little food for thought. Let me give you a very simple statement from Scripture. I will quote this Scripture and I want you to tell me if that is not talking about the church, the people of God, being raptured and caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Lay aside your theoligical bias and just read it as it’s written. Here’s the Scripture:

“And he (the Son of Man) 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.”

Now dear reader, answer this question: Is this, or is this not, talking about the church being caught up from the earth to meet the Lord Jesus in the air? You have to be honest. This is clearly the rapture. And notice the similarities between this and 1 Thes. 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Scriptures which are always used to support the Pre-Trib idea. There are angels involved in both Mat. 24 and 1 Thes. 4 and in all three of these Scriptures, the trumpet is involved, spoken of as the “last trumpet”.

Now let’s quote that entire Scripture in context and give the reference, and notice that as we do, the Lord Jesus Himself tells us exactly when this glorious rapture will occur:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (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.” (Matthew 24:29-31)

Does He not clearly say that this event with the gathering together of the church in the air at the blasting of the trumpet of God will be after the tribulation?

Thus we have this (less than) 200 year old debate finally solved with the words of the Lord Jesus Himself! Oh, how much better it is just to find the Lord’s answers on these difficult subjects! Blessed be His name. There is tons of other Scriptural support I could give to further re-enforce this minority view of mine, but I just wanted to give my readers something to chew on for a while. Go to Matthew 24, the Lord’s great discourse about the last days and the great tribulation, and read the whole thing. Look for the rapture in it! It is there, and I have quoted it. But the Lord says it will be at the last trumpet, at the last day.

And as a last note, I respect my brethren who differ from me in this view. Though I believe they are wrong, they are often very sincere in their wrong view, and still love the Lord. And any who have my Lord as their Lord are my friends and brothers, I do not make this an issue of division over fellowship or of a means of contention. There are great minds who differ from my not-so-great mind, and great Bible teachers who believe the opposite as me. I love them, appreciate their ministries, and fellowship with them in the basis of salvation truth. Please don’t write me trying to argue with me on this, while I appreciate peaceful discussions of Scripture in love, I will not engage in any contentious debates. Blessings in Christ.

Just the ponderings of a foolish thing of this world.

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2 thoughts on “The Rapture, it’s Timing, and Matthew 24

  1. A great Google article that might be good to bring up here is entitled “Famous Rapture Watchers” – an engrossing look at the views of past Biblical scholars. Sam

  2. You have shown that the rapture will occur before the tribulation (pre-tribulation).

    However, the coming of the Lord in Matt. 24 is “immediately after the great tribulation”.

    One is before and the other is after the tribulation and they are not the same.

    Please comment.

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