When is the Rapture?

Before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, I stumbled on a prominent website that predicted the rapture would occur soon. Why? Because the polls said Hillary Clinton was going to win and another godless Democrat in the Oval Office would surely trigger the great tribulation.

“With such gloomy prospects, the rapture has to be close, right? Get ready.”

Then Donald Trump won the election, and the outlook became positively bright, at least as far as this website was concerned. A God-fearing Republican would clean out the justices, end the culture war, and bring heaven to America. Surprisingly, the rapture prediction remained unchanged.

“When men are saying peace and safety, the rapture will be soon. Get ready.”

This website taught me a valuable lesson about how to generate buzz for your blog or book. Whether times are good or bad, tell people that the rapture is imminent. “Things are bad? That’s a sign! Things are good? That’s a sign! This doesn’t make sense? Buy my book!”

It’s amusing stuff, but the question is legitimate: When is the rapture?

It may surprise you to learn that the Bible provides a straightforward answer to this question, but many don’t know it. They’ve been led to believe that the rapture will occur either before, during, or after a future tribulation. None of these scenarios is particularly attractive or Biblical.

A pre-trib rapture avoids the unpleasantness of the tribulation but creates the yo-yo picture of two Second Comings. A mid- or post-trib rapture means you have to go through bad times, which you may not survive. And any trib-related rapture raises awkward questions about who is left behind and why.

Consider the kids. Are young children going to be left behind?

Trib-preachers tie themselves up in knots over this question. Either all kids are going to be raptured (because God is good, right?), or none of them are (because the little brats are natural-born sinners). Or maybe kids with Christian parents get to go. But what if one parent is saved and the other isn’t? What if the kids are adopted or orphaned? It seems God is faced with a Sophie’s choice.

These questions highlight the absurdity of a teaching that is not based on scripture. The rapture has nothing to do with the great tribulation. One event is past; the other is yet to happen. The ten signs Jesus listed in connection with the great tribulation were all fulfilled in AD70 (see coming article); the rapture will probably happen next March.

Just kidding. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Mr. Futurist: “Seriously, when is the rapture? I really want to know.”

The rapture, or the snatching away of the saints, will happen when the Lord descends from heaven with a shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). Just as the virgins go out in response to a shout, so do we. Since we don’t know when the Lord will return, we cannot know when the rapture will occur. But we can be ready.

The rapture takes place when Jesus returns, not sooner, not later. Now here’s a follow-up question:

Who is taken and left behind?

Jesus spoke of two men working. “One will be taken, and one will be left” (Matthew 24:40). Who is taken; the believer or unbeliever? And who does the taking? The Lord, his angels, or people? What exactly is Jesus talking about?

Mr. Futurist: “The rapture.”

Mr. Preterist: “Romans.”

On these questions scholars have taken every possible position. Preterists believe the taking was done in AD70; futurists believe the taking is yet to happen.

And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man … It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building, but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:26–30)

The return of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah and the days of Lot. In both stories the righteous were taken away and saved; Noah by means of an ark and Lot by means of an angel. From these stories we might conclude that the righteous are taken out of danger by the Lord.

But Jesus also told stories where the wicked are taken away from the righteous, the weeds are weeded out of the kingdom (Matthew 13:40), and the bad fish are discarded from the net (Matthew 13:48). From these stories we may surmise that the wicked are removed.

Or it could be both. The righteous are taken or caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and then the wicked are removed as per the parables. Either way, when Jesus returns there will be some sort of separation.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother in law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. (Matthew 10:34–36)

These words seem hard to reconcile with the image of Jesus the Prince of Peace. But the sword he wields is not a Roman sword; it’s a sword of truth, and truth is divisive.

Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. (Luke 12:51–53)

As we saw in the story of Jerusalem’s fall, people divide themselves by their response to Jesus. Some listened and lived; others ignored him and died.

How we respond to Jesus is the difference between life and death. A Christian is not necessarily more moral than their unbelieving neighbor; a Christian is someone who does what Jesus says. Conversely, an unbeliever is not necessarily immoral; an unbeliever is someone who rejects what Jesus says. Like the hard-hearted leaders of Jerusalem, they “refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40).

Jesus is the Life, and those who come to him shall live.

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

43 Comments on When is the Rapture?

  1. William MacDonald // September 19, 2017 at 11:43 pm // Reply

    Correct me if I am wrong, but are not most scholars in agreement the book of Revelation was penned by John after AD70? If this is the case the Judgments in the book are surely future.
    The good news for the Child of God is ‘a thousand may fall out our side, ten thousand at are right hand, but it will not come near us, we will only observe with our eyes and see the punishment of the wicked’!
    ‘let your heart not be troubled’ and ‘ lift up your heads for our redemption draws near!
    End times are not frightening, they are exciting!
    Amen come quickly Lord Jesus!!

    • Hi William. I’m not sure what this has to do with the promised rapture? Judgment Day remains in the future.

      • William MacDonald // September 20, 2017 at 8:35 am //

        I will have to read your book and get a better understanding of what you are saying.
        God bless!

    • In the Epistles of John we were told it is the Last Hour…?God must be right or he isnt God!
      C.S> Lewis wrote that Jesus misled His followers about His coming again (“The Worlds Last Night”)which means He isnt God??

  2. Glyn Berrington // September 20, 2017 at 1:25 am // Reply

    Love it; and your sense of humour Glyn

  3. “A Christian is not necessarily more moral than their unbelieving neighbor; a Christian is someone who does what Jesus says.” Isn’t that a contradiction? If someone does what Jesus say’s, then what they are “doing” is good, moral, as Jesus is our example to follow 1 Peter 2:21 and Ephesians 5:1.
    “an unbeliever is not necessarily immoral;” True, but compared to the believer, there is much to be desired in both, Gods eye’s, and in their own, when observing our behavior, comparatively speaking. As per 1 Peter 2:11,12 “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior (morals) excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may [because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” This excellence of behavior is how God is glorified! He leads us in paths of righteousness, for his name sake (glory), Psalms 23:3. Think that is also what John had in mind, 1 John 3:7.

  4. Is a professed believer who rejects that Jesus’ finished work on the cross included the forgiveness of his daily and future sins, in reality an unbeliever?
    And believes that the forgiveness for his daily sins depends on both the shed blood of Jesus and him personally asking forgiveness for every sin he commits after being born again.

    • Great question! I think I know what your answer (and mine) would be! That is one of my greatest passions now, to show believers how finished the work is. Lord, grant that all of us would be bold to tell your people, and pray Holy Spirit reveal it to them, that they no longer have a sinful nature!

      • My reply was referring to John Graham’s reply.

      • John Graham // September 21, 2017 at 4:39 am //

        Thanks Helen
        “That is one of my greatest passions now, to show believers how finished the work is. Lord, grant that all of us would be bold to tell your people, and pray Holy Spirit reveal it to them, that they no longer have a sinful nature.” That’s the heart cry of every believer, And we should be bold, as you said, and also to warn them to repent and change their minds. That by trusting in themselves asking Jesus to forgive their daily and future sins, they are contradicting their faith in the Blood of Jesus has forgiven us of ALL of our sins. Both of these beliefs can’t be true at the same time.
        John

  5. Hi , I know this is not the point , but why do you refer to children as “kids” ? Kids are baby goats and the goat is a satanic symbol ? Have we all been somehow duped into refering to our children as the offspring of the goat. At the end times God will separate the Sheep from the Goats ! Life and death is in the power of the toungue so perhaps we should be referring to our children as lambs ? After all Jesus was Gods son and the Lamb of God ! It just struck me as I read so I thought I’d share ! God. Bless!! H

    • God made goats and while He uses them as word picture in scripture to depict certain people groups they are in no way a “satanic” symbol. They are just animals, fun, adorable ones at that. If we avoided every word that may be connected with the satanic or idolatry we would be left with a very tiny vocabulary. To the pure everything is pure.(Titus 1:15) Let your faith reclaim your vocabulary. 🙂

  6. Wow, your argument is weak on so many levels.. you remind me of one of the 5 foolish virgins who was not ready for the Bridegroom. But I do know u will go in the rapture because you love Jesus.

    • If I were a foolish virgin, I would not go in. Perhaps you could put in a good word for me when you do.

    • True, loving Him is important, but as far as, “when” Jesus comes, is not as such importance as, “ready” when he does. The Ten virgins were divided between as such, for 5 were ready and 5 were not ready. For we are to be, “… Looking (thus ready) for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13. For “…unto them that look for him shall he appear the ‘second’ time….” Hebrews 9:28. Such second time is the “caught away” time, Rev. 12:5.
      This “looking” shows loving and keeps us “ready” for going. “ Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes” Matthew 24:44.

  7. Thanks Paul, i’ve always love the way you interpret the scripture. I have one question though concerning this topic, if all of tribulation scripture was fulfilled at ad70, where and when do the antichrist appear or have appeared? Your answer will be much appreciated. Thanks again!

    • Thanks for the feedback Jon. I do have some things to say about the antichrist, but there’s a bit of a queue in the pipeline. The next couple of articles will be on the great tribulation, then we’re going in a feminine direction for a few weeks, then I’ll talk about the antichrist, probably in November. Of course if you can’t wait, it’s all covered in the AD70 book. 😉

  8. Excellent: Great observations. Look forward to reading your book, “70 A.D.” Good points about separation. Thanks, I’ll be buying the book now.

  9. There are also those who believe that there will be no Rapture. Search Amazon for an excellent free eBook ‘Ten Reasons Why the Rapture Must Be Left Behind’, by S. D. Morrison, for more information on why he thinks the Rapture is not a ‘Biblical’ idea. It’s a very good book; I enjoyed it. It also gives a very good exegesis on the 1Thess passage about meeting the Lord ‘in the air’.

  10. The rapture is just a theory from the late 19th century propagated by fear mongering preachers who want to control the sheeple.

    • I have found that when some people say “No rapture,” they are referring to Darby’s version (Up, up, and away). And when others say “Yes, rapture,” they are referring to Paul’s words in 1 Thess 4:17 and Jesus’ picture in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (meeting the Lord on his return to earth). Thus much debate is over a word that means different things to different people.

      “The word rapture isn’t in the Bible.” Except it used to be, in the Latin Bible, for 1000 years. And this was the Bible the whole church read for a very long time. And this was the word used to describe the saints being caught up in the air to meet the Lord in 1 Thess 4:17.

      “We don’t need no Latin words. The Bible wasn’t written in Latin.” Then you’d better give back grace and salvation, for these come to us by way of the Latin words *gratia* and *salvare*. Like the word rapture, they’re not in the original Greek. “Rapture” is not a word to fear. Darby hijacked it in the same way that others have hijacked the words repentance and confession. But like those other words, the original meaning is good and 100% Biblical.

      • Rapture as in the theory that we will be taken away in a secret returning of Christ before the seven year tribulation. Which started in the late 1800’s from a prophetic word given in the Brethren Berean movement. Which has been followed by dispensational theologians for years now. (Hagee) However, the second coming of Christ as in go into all the world and preach the good news and then the end will come, is something I can get behind. Chasing blood moons and trying to literalize alagory is a waste of time. But yes, I guess it is how you would define rapture.

  11. As William MacDonald said in his post, John wrote the book of Revelation after 70 AD (Revelation was written 90 – 96 AD) so none of it’s judgements could apply to 70 AD. Also, the mark on the hand or forehead mentioned in Revelation 14:16-17 has yet to happen. And please don’t avoid the issue as you did with William MacDonald by talking about the Rapture, which is a separate, though associated issue.

    • Please note the article above is about the timing of the future rapture. I don’t normally publish comments on other subjects, even related ones.

      • William MacDonald // September 23, 2017 at 2:18 am //

        Hi Paul, though I have not yet read your book, from what I can glean from your post, I am 100% with you concerning the rapture being the catching up in the air to meet the Lord in the clouds at his Second Coming, not that your bothered I am sure! Somewhere above the Mount of Olives I imagine! As I heard a preacher once say, “if we are still alive and on earth at his coming, it will be are first free flight to the Holy Land”!!!

  12. please change my email address from…

  13. So, Next March eh?

  14. Paul am surprised at this your write up. With all due respect, you are well versed in the Gospel of Grace and God is using you mightily in setting Christians free from bondage.

    But to turn around and write that there is nothing like rapture? You are even making mockery of the whole thing!! Please and please, stay away from Eschatology Teachings cos its obvious you know nothing about it. Lemme explain.

    There are two aspects of the Second Coming of Christ. First he comes in the air with a great shout and we who are alive and remain will meet Him in the air. The second one is after the 7 years of tribulation, we the raptured saints with glorified bodies will now come with Him to rescue Israel from the anti christ. And His feet will land on Mount Olives at the Temple Mount in Israel. There is only one second coming but it has two dimensions. 1) He comes in the air for His saints. 2) He comes with His saints.

    The parable of the Ten virgins is not addressed to the church. Jesus was talking about the tribulation saints alive at His second coming. In all the parables in Matthew, it starts with “After the tribulation of those days”. The ten virgins are not the church, the church is the bride not the bridesmaids.

    The end times shouldn’t scare a believer when viewed through Grace lens cos He promised to deliver us from the wrath to come.I love your website and your teaching but i disagree with you here. The rapture is still future and soon, likewise the great tribulation. Shalom.

    • I certainly do believe in a future rapture. I just don’t believe in the rapture Darby invented. I’d rather stick with the version Jesus and Paul described.

      • Good morning Paul, please am sorry for sounding harsh to you, please forgive me. Its just that am passionate when it comes to things pertaining Christ. Alright i understand you, but who is Darby? Never heard of him before.

        Your articles am posting on an interactive site here in Nigeria is causing so much buzz!! Hahahaaaa lol. Most legalistic Christians are threatening me with Hell Fire and Brimstones for trying to lead people to hell with your heretic articles according to them!!! hahahahaaa lool. They said that you Paul Ellis is the anti christ and that am one of your agents helping to spread your message of damnation… loool hahahahaa. But so many Christians and unbelievers have come the know the Grace Gospel through your articles and they always thank me for posting them, and i then direct them to your website. I always acknowledge you and put your website links for further reading by them.

        Once again, thank you so much for allowing Christ to use you to touch lives through the grace gospel. I respect you and Joseph Prince. I am very sure we will meet again on that glorious resurrection morning in Heaven!! lol. God bless you my big brother in Christ!!

      • John Nelson Darby is the 19th-century preacher who taught the yo-yo version of the rapture – the one where Jesus comes part-way down to earth, snatches the saints, returns to heaven for 7 years (or 3 and a half), to wait out the apocalypse, then comes down to earth permanently. Like a yo-yo. This is the version of the rapture many of has have heard, but it is found nowhere in scripture. Jesus and and the NT writers painted a very different picture of the Lord’s return.

        Thanks for the feedback. May God’s grace bear much fruit in Nigeria.

      • bobbivilla // October 11, 2017 at 1:34 pm //

        Matt. 24:38-41 is not a rapture passage.
        Matt. 24:38 (KJV) For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

        Compare with:

        Rev. 14:18 (KJV) And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

        THESE ARE THE UNGODLY.

        The (rapture) or as scripture calls it , the gathering together of the body of Christ doctrine is only found in Paul’s epistles.
        Prophecy (Jesus in the flesh in the gospels)was for Israel.

        Mystery (Christ Jesus from heaven speaking) Rom. 16:25,26 For the body of Christ.

        Grace and Peace to all brethren:)

  15. Paul have you ever read anything by Ed Stevens, Pres. of the IPA (Intl. Preterist Assoc.)?
    He is a very reasoned voice for the AD 70 view (which I embrace) and you would enjoy interacting with him…..He can show you why the Book of Revelation was written before AD 70 as well…not a screaming Van Impe type…cheers.

  16. Harvey Bingham // September 28, 2017 at 2:30 am // Reply

    Who needs a rapture? Everyone, regardless of the personal belief, was raised in Christ when He was resurrected.

  17. Delmar Windsor // September 28, 2017 at 2:52 am // Reply

    Wasn’t everything fulfilled at the cross? Seems to me that this whole rapture thing is a bunch of fear mongering. Like some are going to make it and some aren’t? God is love. Who didn’t He love? Justice was settled at the cross. It’s all about love!

  18. It’s about “whosoever”. Of course innocent children would be taken up in the rapture. If anyone rejects Christ then they won’t be taken. Carnal believers will be left behind because they were NEVER born again. Even Satan believes Jesus is the Son of Man. He was kicked out of Heaven because of PRIDE. How has God changed since? Jesus made it clear “repent & come humbly, as a little child”, because you will not make it into heaven unless you are “born again”.

    • At what age does an innocent child become a non-innocent teenager? There is no answer for this question, because the question is as silly as the idea that Jesus makes these sorts of judgments ahead of Judgment Day.

    • When you are swamped in tradition it is hard to see the clear water of truth.
      If you were never born again you are not a believer. Satan has head knowledge that Jesus exists but he does not believe-faith-trust that Jesus is his Savior. Little children do not look to their behavior, penitence or piety to be accepted by their fathers. Being as a little child is as opposite from the flesh as you can get. The flesh looks to how it performs. “Am I sorry enough? Have I cleaned up my act enough? Do I look holy enough? Have I suffered enough yet?” Children do not think or act like this. They just trust and love.

  19. The only problem with this article is it causes me to express politics. That’s a good thing. It gives some hope. But others don’t want to be on a losing side.

    The gospel says two things for this as we surround Jesus:

    The love is of the Lord is not for sale. Like everything with grace, his acceptance and approval are a free gift through Christ alone.

    God is a winner. His children are therefore winners.

    If this doesn’t seem like a timely, crossful, graceful comment then kindly don’t publish it.

  20. Man, thanks for the confidence! haha.

Tell us what you think (<250 words)...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s