The term Rapture is used to refer to Paulâ€™s teaching concerning what shall happen to living believers at the second coming of Christ. In Thessalonians 4:14-17, he explains that, in addition to the resurrection of the righteous dead, â€œwe who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the airâ€. The vulgate (Latin version) rendered the word translated â€œcaught upâ€ as rapio, hence Rapture. Two other passages are directly related to this idea, since they describe the change, which will take place in believers at the Second Coming. According to 1 Corinthians the Rapture is a mystery â€" that is, a divine truth that has previously been hidden but is now made known. Since Old Testament writers did not envision a second coming they spoke only of a resurrection of the dead. The fate of the living did not come within the purview.
In recent times, dispensationalist theology has developed the idea of a â€œsecret Rapture.â€ This relates to their view that there will be a definable seven-year period of intense persecution of the Jews, called â€œthe time of Jacobâ€™s troubleâ€. In order for this to occur, the Church must be removed from the earthly scene; consequently dispensationalists structure their eschatology to include a â€œpre-tribulation Raptureâ€ which is secret in nature and separated, by the â€œTribulationâ€ from the arrival or coming of Jesus. That this is a presupposition not explicitly taught in Scripture, honest dispensationalists freely admit.
All that one can legitimately affirm from Scripture itself is that the righteous, both living and dead, will be transformed at Jesusâ€™ coming; and as a result of the transformation, they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and so be ever with him.
Scholars over the years have tried to figure out what the second coming and rapture will be like. Movies have been made and books have been written in an effort for people to try to understand what exactly will take place. The question has been asked about whether or not people will disappear at the Rapture or is their souls will be visible, if people will recognize each other and if they will miss their loved ones who are not in the rapture. The Bible is specific about the Second Coming of the Lord and what will take place as far as the Lord is concerned but there is little commentary on what people will do or look like.
In our humanness we want to know what to expect so that we can plan accordingly and it is frustrating when we cannot know what will take place. This is the basis for having faith in God and believing in what is not seen. If Christians follow Godâ€™s word and obey his commands we are told that we will be in the Rapture when Jesus comes back for us. If we are secure in our relationship with Christ, it does not take away our curiosity but is does take away the fear of being left behind and the fear of the unknown.
For the Christian, the Rapture is the culmination of our relationship with the Lord. Most believers will not live to see the Rapture and will participate in it as someone who has already gone on to be with Jesus. However, there is always the possibility in the mind of the believer that they will live to participate in the Rapture. For the Christian, the idea of Jesus coming back to earth in all of his glory and personally choosing us to go back to heaven with him is the great reward for everything that the earth holds for us.
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