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.
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