Friday, January 08, 2010

Differing Views of the Rapture: Part 1

What is the Rapture?

One of the first things I learned as a seminarian is that there are differing views of almost every Christian doctrine. The Rapture is certainly no exception. The major differences among those with a premillennial point of view center on the timing of the Rapture as it relates to the Tribulation. The word rapture comes from the Latin rapio meaning caught up. The Greek word is ἁρπάζω (harpazo) and means to catch up or snatch away.[1] The phrase “Rapture of the Church” is used by Premillennialists to refer to the event during the second coming of Christ where believers are united with Christ.[2] Since this is a discussion about the Rapture, the premillennial position is assumed.

Differing Views of the Rapture

There are five differing views of the Rapture that will be discussed in here. They are Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation, Post-Tribulation, Pre-Wrath, and Partial. Each view shares a number of things in common but each view also has significant differences. As will be demonstrated, a case can be made for each of these views though each has its own problems as well. Views that see the Rapture occurring separately from the Second Coming of Christ, either before the Tribulation or in the middle of the Tribulation, struggle to find this distinction anywhere else in the writings of the Apostle Paul.[3] Further, those points of view that link the Rapture and the Second Coming are forced to defend the view that Paul had in mind Christians would return to earth with Christ rather than the assumption of Christians directly into heaven.[4] Christians being taken to heaven is necessary for the marriage of the Lamb to His bride, the church (Rev. 19:7-9). As stated, a case for each view can be made but each view has challenges to overcome as well.

[1] Strong, James. The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order (electronic ed.). (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), G726.
[2] Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 983.
[3] Zuck, Roy B. A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 294-95.
[4] Ibid.


Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Hey Chris, thanks for following my blog! I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for sharing on the rapture here. Good stuff, and definately not my expertise. See you around!

Big Ben said...

Chris, i enjoyed you blog. I am currently looking deeper into differing points of view concerning end times event. I have been chewing on the pre-wrath and mid trib points of view. do you know of any good authors or blogs, which maintain this point of view? I have a link that you may enjoy by a pre-trib guy. very solid stuff.
Keep up the hard work brother!

Chris Sanchez said...

Hi Ben,

Marvin Rosenthal ( and Robert Van Kampen ( both provide excellent treatments of the Pre-Wrath position of the Rapture of the Church. This is a topic I continue to explore and expect my thinking to develop as I do so.

Thank you for your encouragement!


Anonymous said...

[Yo Chris. Great blog. Saw this item on the net. Lord bless. Tom]


Many evangelicals believe that Christ will "rapture" them to heaven years before the second coming and (most importantly) well BEFORE Antichrist and his "tribulation." But Acts 2:34, 35 reveal that Jesus is at the Father's right hand in heaven until He leaves to destroy His earthly foes at the second coming. And Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven with the Father "until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. ("The Rapture Question," by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn't dare to even list, in its scripture index, the above verses! They were also too hot for John Darby - the so-called "father of dispensationalism" - to list in the scripture index in his "Letters"!)
Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The "rest" for "all them that believe" is also tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who'd be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the end of trib “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which Scofield views as Israel's posttrib resurrection!) It's amazing that the Olivet Discourse contains the "great commission" for the church but not even a hint of a pretrib rapture for the church!
Many don't know that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this "rapture" was stretched forward and turned into an idolized separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which evangelical scholars overwhelmingly rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Google "Walvoord Melts Ice" for more on this.
Other Google articles on the 183-year-old pretrib rapture view include “X-Raying Margaret,” "Margaret Macdonald's Rapture Chart," "Pretrib Rapture's Missing Lines," "Edward Irving is Unnerving," "The Unoriginal John Darby," "Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture," "The Real Manuel Lacunza," “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Famous Rapture Watchers," and "Morgan Edwards' Rapture View" – most by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate and documented book on pretrib rapture history which is obtainable by calling 800.643.4645).