Conservative Protestant belief in the rapture
Additional verses supporting the rapture.
When will the rapture happen?
1 Corinthians 15:51-53
The text reads:
1 Corinthians 15:51-53: "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We
shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and
this mortal must put on immortality."
In this passage, Paul adds one more concept to the description of the Rapture in 1
Thessalonians. He believes that people with normal bodies cannot attain Heaven. The believers' bodies
would be instantly changed to a form of
"spiritual body," so that they may enter Heaven. Again, if
one interprets the verse literally, Paul
emphasizes the imminent timing of the second coming. It did
not happen during his lifetime, nor did it happen in the subsequent 19½
centuries. Some theologians who believe in the
inerrancy of the Bible suggest that Paul was really addressing Christians in
the 21st century.
The Gospel of Mark reads:
Mark 13:26-27: "And then shall they see the Son of man coming
in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall
gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the
uttermost part of heaven."
This appears to be a brief reference of the parousia and rapture. It
differs from St. Paul's description, in that angels appear throughout all the
earth to gather Christians up to heaven. People do not rise unaided, as in 1
Thessalonians. There is no mention of the dead having reassembled bodies and
rising from their graves.
When will it happen?
Various Gospel passages record how Jesus believed that the second coming would occur
very soon, during the lifetime of his followers (certainly before the end of the 1st century
CE). St. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 also anticipates the event in his near
future, and during his own lifetime. He encouraged Christians in Thessalonia to keep alert
in anticipation of the coming of the Lord. Of course, both the report of Jesus'
speech (in Mark 9:1)
and Paul's letters (in Thessalonians and in 1 Corinthians 7:26-31) were wrong.
Neither the rapture nor Jesus' second coming happened
during the 1st century CE. Some Christians of every age since Jesus' execution
circa 30 CE
have been anxiously expecting the event, and looking for signs of its
coming. Anticipation was heightened as the last year of some
centuries approached. Many expected it to happen in 1000 CE. This was not
a general belief. Because of the low level of education at the time, the
public was not generally aware of the date. There was also a heightened
expectation just before the year 1500 CE. It was
particularly intense as the year 2000 approached. Since 2000-DEC-31, the
level of anticipation of the millennium (as stated in the Bible), the
of the world as we know it, and of the rapture subsided somewhat.
Various conflicting beliefs have been held about the timing
of the second coming, and about how the rapture would fit in with other end-time
|Millennium: a 1000 year golden era; a time of universal peace described in
|Tribulation (also called Daniel's 70th week): a 7 year interval which starts when
the Antichrist, an international religious-political dictator assumes power.
Horrendous events will occur. |
|Armageddon: a terrible war, provoked by the Antichrist, in which
a large percentage of humans will die. God's anger is released on humanity.|
Various theories have been promoted by Christians that have linked the millennium,
tribulation, Armageddon, second coming and tribulation together according to different
schedules and sequences. During the second and third century CE, some Christians believed
that the Millennium referred to in Revelation would follow Christ's
return. This is called "Premillenialism." It was declared a heresy and
suppressed by the church in the 4th Century.
This ancient belief was reintroduced in a modified form circa 1830. Most
people believe that it was resurrected by John N. Darby, a minister of the Church of Ireland, a
denomination in the Anglican communion; he founded the Plymouth Brethren. However, author Dave
MacPherson claims that British pastor Edward Irving was the actual person
responsible, and that a conspiracy was organized to give Darby the credit. 1
Premillenialism has received general acceptance
by most modern conservative Christians, following the publishing of the Scofield Reference
Bible in 1909 and in the more modern Ryrie Study Bible. Other respected
supporters of the belief are the Dallas Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute.
As in the early Christian heresy, the Tribulation is seen as preceding the second
coming of Christ and his 1000 year rule.
Theologians remain currently divided over the timing of the Rapture. Their
|Pre-Tribulation Rapture: (or "pre-trib") The Rapture happens just
before the Tribulation, so that believers will not have to experience any of its
disruption, pain, and genocide. Most conservative Protestants currently believe this theory.
|Mid-Tribulation Rapture: (or "mid-trib") The Rapture happens
about 42 months
into the Tribulation. Initially, the rule of the Antichrist is relatively benign. He
arranges a peace treaty between Israel and surrounding countries. But three and a half
years into his reign as world dictator, events take a sudden turn for the worse.|
|Post-tribulation Rapture: (or post-trib") The faithful experience the
horrors and killings of the Tribulation. All suffer and many are killed. Believers are
then raptured at the end of the 7 years of horror and bloodshed.|
|Partial Rapture (a.k.a. Split Rapture): This is a
minority belief among conservative Christians. It is a variation of the
Pre-trib rapture in which there are two raptures:|
|A pre-trib rapture and resurrection occurs before the tribulation,
but only for those born-again Christians who have earned special
treatment by having been actively watching, waiting and praying for the
|Those born-again Christians who have not been doing these "works"
will be have to endure at least part of the tribulation. They will be
raptured partway through or at the end of the tribulation period.
Each of these theories has significant problems and
can only be accepted if one ignores certain Biblical passages or twists them totally out
of shape. The Bible appears to be ambiguous on this point; many
interpretations are possible. Zondervan publishes a book in their Counterpoints
series in which three evangelical theologians discuss their conflicting views on
the Rapture -- all based on passages from the Bible.
Beliefs about rapture and the tribulation can motivate believers in different
ways. If a believer accepts the pre-trib or the mid-trib concept, then they may concentrate on spiritual growth. If they
believe in post-trib, then their prime concern may be to prepare for survival.
A favorite occupation among Christians down through the ages has been to predict the
timing of the end of the world. Much of Western Europe expected the end of the world in
the year 1000 CE. There was great dissatisfaction among believers when it did not happen.
In 1833, William Miller (1782-1849), founder of the Millerite Movement, wrote a book "Evidences
from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ about the Year 1843."
He gathered a great following, until the disillusionment came. Charles Taze Russell
(1852-1916), founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses predicted that Armageddon would start in
1914. The Witnesses later predicted 1918, 1920, 1925, and 1941. Some individual
Witnesses believed that it would happen in 1975; however their denomination did
not endorse that date. Many Fundamentalist and
other Evangelical leaders are currently predicting that the events will unfold early in
the 21st century.
"Rapture Ready" features a "Nearing Midnight" section which lists
recent news items
that point as signs to the imminence of the second coming. It is updated
regularly. Their "Rapture Index" is a number which attempts to predict the
closeness of the date. It has varied from 57 in 1993-DEC-12 to an all-time high of 182 in
2001-SEP-24. On 2008-JAN-17, the index was 163. They appear to interpret the Rapture Index
|Under 100: "Slow prophetic activity"|
|100 to 130: "Moderate prophetic activity"|
|131 to 160: "Heavy prophetic activity"|
|Above 160: "Fasten your seat belts"
The Millennium Watch Institute attempted to track all social and
religious developments associated with the year 2000. 6 Their web site had a countdown
clock that showed the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the end of the Millennium,
which occurred at midnight on the evening of 2000-DEC-31. Many people felt that
Jesus' return towards earth and the Rapture would occur at midnight of that day
or at midnight of 1999-DEC-31. It didn't happen. One of the great undocumented
stories is how millions of born-again Americans and other conservative
Christians adapted to the failure of their expectations of TEOTWAWKI (The
The World As We Know It) and the rapture.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Dave MacPherson, "The Rapture Plot," Millennium Press, (2000).
Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com
online book store.
- "Bible prophecy study: pretribulation rapture," teaches the pretribulation rapture "from the Bible,
the Wedding, and the Feast of Trumpets," See: http://www.linkjesus.com/
- Brian Tegart, "Partial ('Split') Rapture," at:
- "Partial Rapture View," Not Deceived Network, at:
- "Rapture Index," Rapture Ready, at:
- Dr. Ted Daniels, is founder of the Millennium Watch Institute and editor of its monthly newsletter
Prophecy Report. See: http://www.channel1.com/
Copyright © 1998 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2008-JAN-17
Author: B.A. Robinson