Where Does the Bible Teach the Doctrine of the Rapture?
Where Does the Bible Teach the Doctrine of the Rapture?
Well, there are really three different passages in the New Testament which are the basic foundational passages for the whole doctrine of the Rapture of the Church. The first one is in John 14:1-3. Jesus has gathered with His disciples in the Upper Room. It’s the night before He goes to the cross; and He had just been warning them at the end of Chapter 13 that He’s going to leave them soon and they were really troubled over that. He realized that and so He said to them:
- Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. 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 unto myself, so that where I am there you may be also.
Here Jesus was giving a promise to His believers that even though He was going to leave them on the day of His ascension, return to the Father’s house in Heaven, that He wasn’t going to leave them forever; that the day would come when He would leave the Father’s house in Heaven, He would come down toward the earth where they are, that He would come for the purpose of removing them from the earth and taking them back to His Father’s house to live in the mansions or dwelling places which He would be preparing for them while He is away. And it’s very significant to see that He’s declaring what the purpose of it is: “so that where I am, there you may be also.” Very personal note here that in that coming, He would come to take His Bride the Church so that they could be together with Him.
The second key passage is 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, where Paul says to his readers:
- Behold, I show 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.
There Paul is emphasizing the fact that there would be an entire generation of Christians who would never experience physical death and the reason they wouldn’t is because the Lord was going to come and remove them from the earth while they’re still alive before they would experience physical death.
So he’s saying not every Christian will die, but everyone will be changed. And he emphasizes that the change will involve a change in their body. They now have a mortal body, which is subject to disease, deformity and death; but when this change takes place, they will receive an immortal body, which will never die again, which will never be subject to disease and deformity.
Paul is also emphasizing here the extreme rapidity of the change in the body of Christians when this event takes place. The change in that body will take place faster than that [snap]—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. So the rapidity of the change in their bodies that will happen at the Rapture of the Church.
But the third and really the most extensive passage on the Rapture is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:
- 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. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep 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 by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (NKJV)
Jesus is indicating here that the day is coming when He will come out of Heaven, He will bring with Him the souls of those Christians who have already died. When they died, their souls were separated from their bodies; their bodies were buried in the ground and their souls were ushered immediately into the presence of God in Heaven.
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says for the Christian “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” So when they die, their souls leave their bodies, their souls to the presence of the Lord in Heaven, and that’s where they stay in Heaven until Christ comes to Rapture the Church. He will bring their souls with Him out of Heaven down toward the earth. We are told that He will come with the blast of a trumpet, the trump of God, with the voice of the archangel. Apparently there will be a great archangel who will accompany Him as an escort from the Father’s house in Heaven.
And then Paul says when that happens, some intriguing things will begin to transpire here on the face of the earth. The bodies of the Christians who have died will be resurrected from the dead, and the implication is that their descending souls that are coming down from Heaven with Christ will be reunited with their resurrected bodies. But then Paul says those Christians who are alive and still being alive on the earth when the event of the Rapture takes place, that they, together with the resurrected Christians, will be caught up from the earth to meet the Lord Jesus in the air.
(Excerpted from “The 35 Most Asked Questions Concerning Bible Prophecy”)
This article was by Dr. Renald Showers, ©2004.