Do You Believe in the Rapture?

April 11, 2024 Mario Villella Discipleship

This is an interesting theological question that I’ve been asked about recently. One of the people who brought it up was hoping my answer would be: “Of course I believe in the rapture; I believe the Bible.”  And the other person who asked me about it was hoping my answer would be: “Of course I don’t believe in the rapture; that word isn’t even in the Bible.”

So, what’s my answer? Does Mario believe in the rapture or not? This article is my full answer.

In my experience, Christians who use the term “the rapture” believe that it is a future event when all Christians on earth will disappear simultaneously and be caught up to heaven to live with the Lord. Often this belief includes a belief in an accompanying worldwide disaster that includes cars crashing into each other and planes falling out of the sky (because they suddenly no longer have pilots.)

This seems to be the most popular view of the word “rapture” within evangelical Christianity, however the view is fairly new in Christian history. While it seems to have begun in the 1830’s, it was popularized more recently by books like The Late Great Planet Earth and Left Behind.

Not quite. However, that all by itself, is not how you discover whether or not a doctrine is biblical. After all, the word “trinity” isn’t in the Bible either. That’s just the word that people began to use over time to describe God’s simultaneous three-ness and one-ness – a concept that I believe is found in the Bible.

Rapture is a word derived from Latin used to describe a section of 1 Thessalonians 4 that says:

"We who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord."

The Latin word “rapture” is used as a synonym for the words “caught up” in that verse. So, a “rapture” is a “catching up” and the Biblical “rapture” is the time when believers are “caught up” with the Lord.

As I’ve said, the word “rapture” is from Latin and doesn’t appear in the Bible at all. However, many Christians would say that Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:52, and Luke 17:34-35 describe this same event in different words.

Well, sure. If we are simply defining the word “rapture” as a belief that when Christ returns, his people will be “caught up” with Him in the clouds, then yes. Of course I believe that, because that is what 1 Thessalonians says. The bigger question is: what about all the stuff about cars flying off the highway as the earth is suddenly devoid of all Christians? What about all that other stuff that people connect to the rapture?

It seems to me that it is not immediately clear (in 1 Thessalonians 4:17) where the people who are “caught up” go after the events described in that verse.

The verse states that the Lord (Jesus) comes down, almost to earth, and apparently stops at a kind of “halfway point” between heaven and earth. The verses call this “the clouds” and “the air.” Then, believers on the earth go up (to this halfway point in the clouds) and they meet Jesus there. After this meeting, they spend forever with Jesus somewhere.

The question is: where? Are the Christians meeting Jesus at the halfway point because they are going to accompany Him back up to heaven? Or are they meeting Jesus at the halfway point, because they are going to accompany Him back down to the earth? Either way, one of the two parties in that verse is going back in the direction that they came from. Either the Christians, after meeting the Lord in the air, are coming back down to earth or Jesus, after meeting Christians in the air, is going back up to heaven.

I would say that those are two of the main views within Christianity regarding this. Some people at Good News Church adhere to one of these views and some people adhere to the other. Either is fine in the sense that the leadership of Good News isn’t dogmatic about this, and doesn’t usually try to get everybody to believe exactly the same thing on this particular issue (and many other issues.)

Growing up, I was only taught one of these two views – the one where Jesus is meeting us halfway in order to take us to heaven with Him. It wasn’t until I was older that I was taught the view that 1 Thessalonians 4:17 might be about Christians meeting Jesus halfway in order to escort Him down to earth to live with Him here.

At this time, the second view is the one that makes the most sense to me, as I don’t believe the ultimate destination for Christians is in the sky. I believe it is on a re-created earth, and I have taught on this in great detail in "Heaven Is Coming Here": 

> Watch on YouTube, or listen on our website

From what I’ve heard and read, Christians escorting Jesus as King to His earth might have made sense to the people to whom the New Testament was originally written. This idea would be based on the understanding that, in ancient times, people would greet a coming king this way. If your king delivered you from your enemies, and then was on his way to your town, you wouldn’t wait for him to walk all the way into the city to greet him. You’d leave the town and greet him out there, and then escort him back into the city as your king.

Something like that taking place in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 makes the most sense to me, especially when factoring in the rest of the Bible. If we are meeting the Lord in the clouds, and then going somewhere after that to live with him forever, it seems to me that place would be the new earth. I believe this because of verses like Acts 3:19-21, Romans 8:18-21, and Revelation 21:1-4. These verses seem to say that Jesus is coming back, not to take us somewhere else, but to stay here – to restore His people and His world and to live with them forever. Not in the sky, but on earth.

Of course I could be. But since I’ve been asked about this a few times, I figured it might not hurt to explain what makes most sense to me. I think that 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is a reference to our meeting with Jesus at His coming, just before He inaugurates His forever kingdom and lives with us on the new earth.

But who knows? Perhaps I’m reading it wrong. In fact, I will readily admit that I don’t have every Bible verse about eschatology figured out. Some people, in response to this article, might suddenly want to ask me questions like “Well, what specifically is the mark of the beast? And who are the ten kings in Revelation 17:11? I’ll be happy to tell you right now: I don’t know.

At this point, I simply believe that Jesus is coming back here one day to judge the world and to set up a new heaven and earth for all of eternity where there will no longer be any crying, pain, or death. Hallelujah!

And as usual, I believe it’s perfectly fine for Christians to have differing opinions on the details as to how all of this will play out. 
The person who wrote this article. Find out more information about them below.
Mario Villella

Lead Pastor / Elder

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