QUESTION: I was told that there is nothing in the NT regarding
the rapture, and that it was an idea that was invented
in the 1830s.
I was also told that the concept of rapture is written in the NT
and that it is rooted in the OT.
Can you please clarify?
ANSWER: Hi, Jennifer,
Thank you for your Bible question, which I'll be happy to answer below.
You asked: I was told that there is nothing in the NT regarding the rapture, and that it was an idea that was invented in the 1830s. I was also told that the concept of rapture is written in the NT and that it is rooted in the OT. Can you please clarify?
My answer: As with various other doctrines, people have come up with various ideas or teachings on the topic of the rapture, some of which are slightly based on the Word of God.
I'll just tell you exactly what the Bible says, as that's all that we need to know. The "rapture" refers to the event when Christians will be taken from the Earth to meet Jesus in the air. There's only one passage that briefly describes this, and it's in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. There, the apostle Paul comforted the Christians in Thessalonica about their dead loved ones. He assured them of our certain hope: that all of God's people will be resurrected upon Jesus' return--not before or after it. Then, following their resurrection, all the Christians who are still alive at Jesus' return will be taken up, together with the resurrected Christians, to meet Jesus Christ in the air, and we'll be with him forever from that time onward. This hope is certain, as Jesus' resurrection from the dead guarantees the future resurrection of all the righteous unto eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
Those Christians who are still alive at Jesus' return will instantly be changed, receiving new imperishable bodies like that of Jesus (1 John 3:2). Those who will be resurrected will be resurrected with the same kind of bodies. Our new bodies will never decay; we'll be immortal for the first time. All this is found in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57.
Jesus will return to Earth at the end of the period that's been dubbed the "Great Tribulation." Hence, the rapture will take place at the end of this period, not before or during it. Some people teach that the rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation, but this contradicts the Scriptures which say that Jesus will return at the end of the period and that the rapture will occur at his return, not before it (Matthew 24:20-31).
People like to believe that Christians will be taken away from Earth before the Great Tribulation begins lest they suffer alongside the wicked. However, Jesus implied that Christians will remain on Earth during this most difficult time, for he said, "Unless those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved. But for the sake of the chosen ones, those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24:22, WEB) Those days will be the most terrible days in the history of humanity; if it won't be shortened, no flesh will survive. But for the sake of the chosen (the Christians), those days will be shortened. This means that Christians will indeed be present during the Great Tribulation, not be taken away in the rapture before it begins. However, Christians will not suffer the wrath of Yahweh God, which is to come upon only the wicked (1 Thessalonians 5:9). So while Christians will be on Earth amid the Great Tribulation, they will escape God's punishment upon the wicked. Then immediately at the end of the period, Jesus will return, and all the living and dead Christians (after their resurrection) will be caught up in the clouds to welcome Jesus and be with him forever!
In some of the past judgments recorded in the Old Testament, Yahweh did rescue His people prior to destroying the wicked, such as in the cases of Noah (Genesis 6-8) and Lot (Genesis 19). This is why some people say that the rapture is rooted in the OT, but this is not true. Christians will not be removed from the Earth prior to the Great Tribulation.
I hope this fully answers your question. Please let me know if you have any other question, or would like me to clarify anything.
Thank you again for your Bible question!
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---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for your very clear and prompt response.
So, as I understand it, Christians are to stay here during the tribulation, and they will be spared the suffering, even while on earth.
What about those who are not wicked, but not Christian?
Do we know if they are to be spared the suffering as well?
Thank you very much for your help.
You're more than welcome. I'm glad that I was able to clearly explain the topic.
You asked: So, as I understand it, Christians are to stay here during the tribulation, and they will be spared the suffering, even while on earth. What about those who are not wicked, but not Christian? Do we know if they are to be spared the suffering as well?
My answer: Yes, as far as I see from the Bible, Christians will remain on Earth during the Great Tribulation but will be spared of God's judgment. However, they will be affected by the events, as the wicked will be persecuting the righteous in hatred of God, and so Christians must persevere to the end (Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:12-13). For Christians, it will be a time of further purification. God uses suffering to purify His saints.
Many people are concerned about those who have never heard of the Gospel and thus cannot be saved by their faith in Christ, and this group may include babies, young children, and the mentally disabled. For this, I don't believe we have anything to worry about. We need to keep in mind of one fundamental quality of Yahweh God: His absolute and pure justice and righteousness. As a lover of justice (Psalm 33:5), we can be certain that Yahweh will fairly execute His punishment and judge everyone in righteousness. We don't ever have to question God's action or be anxious of how He's going to work everything out.
During the tribulation period, the Gospel will be proclaimed, so many people can and will accept the Gospel and put their trust in Christ, and thus be saved (Revelation 7:9-15; Revelation 14:6-7). Sadly, most will not repent (Revelation 9:20-21).
I hope this fully answers your question. Let me know if you have any other question. Keep up with your Bible study!
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