What about the Rapture?

Mr. Preterist: “Did you know the word rapture is not in the Bible?”

Mr. Futurist: “The word Bible is not in the Bible. What’s your point?”

Mr. Preterist: “My point is it’s silly to suggest the Lord is going to remove the church from a tribulation that’s not going to happen.”

Mr. Futurist: “Doesn’t sound silly to me. I would very much like to avoid the great tribulation.”

Mr. Preterist: “Haven’t you been paying attention? The tribulation already happened. Jesus said it won’t happen again. You’re not calling the Lord a liar, are you?”

Mr. Futurist: “In Matthew 24 Jesus said there would be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be working at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.”

Mr. Preterist: “And you think this is a rapture? What are you going to do next? Suggest we watch Left Behind?”

Mr. Futurist: “Who said anything about being left behind?”

Mr. Preterist: “Isn’t that what happens to unbelievers? The saints get whisked to heaven on the rapture elevator while everyone else is left behind to go through hell on earth?”

Mr. Futurist: “Whoa, slow down. The saints are caught up to meet the Lord on his return. It’s like going to the airport to greet a friend. You meet your friend then turn around and come home again.”

Mr. Preterist: “Where is that in the Bible?”

Mr. Futurist: “About ten verses away, in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. At midnight the cry goes out that the bridegroom is coming, the wise virgins go out to meet him, and together they return.”

This Mr. Futurist sounds like a sensible man, but he has futurist friends who believe Jesus returns twice. Apparently, there are two Second Comings. In the first, Jesus comes to fetch the saints before returning immediately to heaven. Then in the second Second Coming (or the first Third Coming?), he returns to earth to stay. So Jesus comes down, goes up, then comes down again. SMH. This yo-yo theology sounds like the plot of a bad movie. Jesus is coming again, but only once.

But at midnight there was a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then … the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. (Matthew 25:6, 10)

Jesus is the bridegroom, and the wise virgins are those who are watching and ready for his arrival. He comes, they meet him on the way and then come with him to the feast.

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

The parable of the wise virgins is a picture of the second or final coming when, “Our Lord Jesus comes with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). It’s also a picture of the rapture. True, the word rapture doesn’t appear in our English Bibles, but it’s sort of in the Latin Bible, which was the Bible the church used for about a 1,000 years.

Paul didn’t write in Latin, of course, but in Greek, and the word he used means to seize or snatch away. To be raptured is to be taken or caught up.

Mr. Preterist: “Paul was describing the resurrection. We don’t need a fancy word for it.”

A resurrection is what happens to dead people. Jesus comes and the dead rise, but the rapture is for those “who are alive and remain.” Think of a raptor coming down and seizing its prey. We’ll be snatched or plucked like field mice.

Mr. Preterist: “How horrifying!”

Okay, that may not be the best picture. Think of Philip on the desert road. One moment he was baptizing the Ethiopian; the next he was snatched away by the Spirit (Acts 8:39). It’s the same word that Paul used. It means the rapture will be sudden and disruptive. Boom! And you’re gone.

When does this happen? We’ll find out in the next post.

Extracted from chapter 36 of Paul Ellis’s new book AD70 and the End of the World.

29 Comments on What about the Rapture?

  1. Can’t agree with this line of thinking in the context of the way that Jews celebrated and prepared for their wedding. When Jesus spoke to those around him, they would have been hearing the analogies in the context of their understanding of Jewish traditions. The bridegroom would go and prepare a place in his father’s house for his bride-to-be. Then when the father deemed the home to be ready (marriages were arranged affairs ordained by the father), his son was released to fetch his bride and bring her home. “In my Father’s house there are many rooms”. “I go to prepare a place for you” (these were some of the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples while he was on earth). The entourage would return to the father’s house where all the wedding guests would be waiting. The bride would be taken into the wedding chamber (veiled), known as the Huppa, where the consummation of the marriage would take place. The best man (the Holy Spirit), would be waiting at the door to receive the good news that the marriage was consummated. Then there would be festivities for a week, after which the bride would be brought out (unveiled), and presented to everyone outside (the angels?).

    • In the four consecutive word pictures Jesus gives to describe his return, it’s a return in every case. In the parable of the virgins, the groom arrives. In the parables of the lazy servant and the talents, the master returns. And in the parable of the sheep and goats, the Son of Man comes. In all four parabolic pictures, Jesus is the one coming and we are the ones waiting for his return.

      The traditional view that Jesus stays and we go is simply not found in scripture. At the end of the book the heavenly city comes down and a voice marvels: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

  2. Ooh, can’t wait for the next instalment!!!
    Hurry up!

  3. Carolyn Fewster // September 15, 2017 at 1:45 am // Reply

    Are you stating that the rapture as depicted in the Left Behind series doesn’t happen?

    • Am I saying the Hollywood version of the rapture differs from what Jesus and the Apostles described? Yes, very much. See my comment above for more.

      • Paul since the day I accepted Christ, I never really felt comfortable with the depictions of end times. My skin crawled when I thought of the Left Behind movies and books. I am struggling with so many viewpoints about the end times right now and there are so few people to discuss it with.
        I cannot believe how deceived the body of Christ has been for so many years–how God has been so wrongly portrayed !
        God is revealing so many truths to me and clarifying why I was so uncomfortable about so many issues. I just have no desire to get involved in end times trauma. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me, and then I read your posts and my spirit goes, “Yes!! That’s what I thought for so long!” I refuse to get into end time fear. Thank you for sharing your revelations!

      • Thank you, Marjorie. You are not alone. In fact, I suspect a majority of Christians don’t even like talking about the end times for the reasons you gave. And this is a great pity. Once again, religion and the traditions of men have hidden from us the stunning good news found in Christ’s prophecies and parables of judgment.

    • No Carolyn, it doesn’t happen that way.

  4. Excellent: Thanks for the astute observations.

  5. Haha! Not September 23, as some of my friends are insisting. I have projects to crochet & flute tunes to play for Christmas. Thanks.

  6. William MacDonald // September 15, 2017 at 5:49 am // Reply

    Christ is coming back to reign!
    From heaven he shall come again!
    With Saints and Angels at his side,
    On earth His Kingdom shall reside!

    I love you all, but there is only one Second Coming/rapture!!! ‘and his feet will will touch the Mount of Olives’ Booyah!!!

    Can’t wait for my new body!!! Nice to have a body of a 33 year old for eternity!!!

  7. Perhaps just a little need for pause. Should not our focus be on clarifying what is a lie and what is not, another words pure worship, here and now? To many place great emphasis on the end of the world and the future, yet all we can control is today and even that is tenuous. How many have come and proclaimed the end of the world and that they have Christ with them? Yet Luke 21: 8 says that such ones should not be followed. That being the case perhaps our concentration should be in relation to what we do and believe now and let the future take care of itself.

  8. please change my email address to p…  thank you ….love the posts yours in Christ polly

    • Hi Polly. I have no control over subscribers’ email preferences. Please click the “manage subscriptions” link at the bottom of your last email from us. Thanks.

  9. Mr. Preterist: “How horrifying!”
    Couldn’t agree more with him! 😀

  10. Mr. Paul, I know this is not my first time requesting this, can you please one day expound on the book of Revelations, the words of John. Many quote on that book when they talk about the great tribulation, so if there is no great tribulation coming, where does the book of revelations fit, those judgments befalling on earth, 7 years, the beast etc. If I can understand that it will be highly appreciated. Thank you.

  11. God is coming to take who is watching and waiting for him praise Gof

  12. We are seized and taken by the Lord at salvation. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 2:6. There is constant tribulation that believers are redeemed from. The liar would like us to think otherwise. The Great Tribulation to me would be the period of a great multitude turning to Jesus before His second coming. Now I am going to read your book.

  13. Should recommend the book The Blessed Hope by George Ladd. Now that is a great book on understanding the end times. Actually anything from Ladd is great in helping grow in your theology.

  14. The entire two-phase secret rapture system of belief, as I understand, was not held by any of the Protestant Reformers. It would’ve came about largely through men like John Nelson Darby, who reinterpreted 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 [loudest passages in the Bible by the way] as referencing the faithful secretly disappearing.

    The concept of the supposed seven-year tribulation period is not found anywhere in Scripture, and is in part based on throwing the last of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 thousands of years into the future [when in actual fact the Prophecy points to the death of Christ on the cross and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, alongside the “Abomination of Desolation” found in Matthew 24.] With that said, I am not a Preterist, but neither am I a Futurist. I’m in the middle and what’s known as a historicist.

    • The ‘concept’ of a 7 year Tribulation is found in scripture – quite clearly. The question you need to ask/answer is ‘What is the ‘Tribulation’ (or the 70th week of Daniels Prophecy.) for? The answer to this will clearly reflect this period, and you will see that it is all about tribulation/trouble.

      And, as for the point that prophecy has been fulfilled by 70BC, you are partly correct. Partly in that the Jewish understanding of prophecy is *not* predicting a future ‘event’, but is ‘pattern’. That is, the predicted event is a ‘pattern’ – one that has past, present and future (sometimes multiple) implication. So …. yes it was fulfilled in 70AD, but, that does not mean it won’t ‘repeat’ in the future. And, in this case, it will!

      • The notion that prophecies can be fulfilled more than once is an intellectual convenience designed to disguise bad exegesis/eschatology. Just as there was only one Great Flood, there was only one Great Tribulation. It happened, in precisely the manner and timing that Jesus said.

      • How you ‘see’ prophecy depends on your hermeneutics. Traditionally the Bible has been interpreted using humanistic reasoning which is Hellenistic. So this sees prophecy as a ‘one time future event’.
        However, if you apply Jewish hermeneutics you interpret prophecy using Midrash – exactly the same way Jesus looked at prophecy. You look for the pattern.
        As for the flood – that is actually a great example. The Earth being ‘cleansed’ of unrighteousness by water, is a pattern, as this is exactly how it will one day be cleansed by fire.

      • You may be overthinking it. God told Noah the great flood would be a one-time event. One time means one time, never to be repeated. Jesus said much the same thing about the great tribulation. If it happened then, it cannot happen now.

      • Mike has made some valid points regarding a far future Great Tribulation. Jesus in the Gospel accounts may be predicting 2 future events (a near event and a far future event). In the Luke 21 passage, Jesus is predicting a NEAR future tribulation with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But Matt 24 and Mark 13, Jesus is talking about a FAR future great tribulation.

        Jesus discusses in Matt and Mark two events not recorded in Luke. In Matt 24:15 and Mark 13:24, Jesus mentions the abomination of desolation when the Anti-Christ takes his seat in the Temple and declares himself as “God”. Also, in Matt 24:21-2 and Mark 13:19, Jesus tells of a time of future great tribulation such as never has been nor shall ever be again.

        Jesus could have been predicting a NEAR great tribulation to occur in 70 AD, and a FAR FUTURE great tribulation to occur at the end of the age as described in Revelation, just prior to the visible second coming of Jesus. The major difference is that Dr. Ellis and others teach that there is only one great tribulation and that has already occurred in 70 AD. Other scholars believe that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was a pattern and fore-shadowing of a FUTURE great tribulation. There are many good discussions on both sides, so the debates will continue.

      • In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus predicts three events, because the disciples asked him three questions (see Matt 24:3). One of the events the Lord said the disciples would see was the great tribulation. His prediction came to pass exactly as he foretold.

        It’s true that some modern preachers are looking for a second great tribulation, but thinking a single prophecy leads to multiple fulfilments is the thin edge of a bad wedge. It’s like looking for a second great flood or a second Messiah.

  15. ContentinChrist // September 7, 2020 at 11:39 am // Reply

    Best line of the article…”Boom! And you’re gone.” It’s gonna be amazing…can’t wait for heaven – face to face – can’t wait for the wedding feast!

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