What is the Rapture?

What is the Rapture?



“After he [Jesus] comes, the brethren will be transferred into heaven, in which are Enoch and Elijah. And in this way they will be preserved unharmed from the persecution of Antichrist” (The Apostolic Brethren, 1316)[1]

The belief in a Rapture is not new. In Matthew 24:36 (and in many other verses), Jesus spoke of His return. Some say His promises were fulfilled when He rose again on the “third day.”[2] Most scholars, however, believe that Jesus will return to earth (come again) in the future, and not once, but twice.

Most are familiar with the term second coming. That term references the return of Jesus at the end of the 7-year tribulation period and is profiled in Revelation 19.[3]  Many Bible scholars believe that before the return of Christ in Revelation 19, Jesus will return, in the clouds, to “catch up” His faithful followers, in an event known as the Rapture. This article profiles the Rapture teaching.

Where does the term Rapture come from?

The term Rapture indicates a swift catching up or rescuing of God’s people before the full outpouring of wrath during the Tribulation. The English word Rapture comes from 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The Latin translators of the Greek New Testament translated the Greek word, harpazo (meaning, caught-up), into rapturo. The Latin, rapturo, became the root for the English term, Rapture. 

What is the Rapture teaching?

Dr. Reagan defines the Rapture as “An imminent blessing that is promised to Church Age believers. It is the promise that at any moment the living and dead in Christ will be caught up out of this world and taken to heaven.”[4] The reason believers are caught up (rescued) is so they will not have to experience the fullness of the tribulations profiled in the book of Revelation. John, the writer of the book of Revelation, said it this way: God will “keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world…”[5]

Paul, writing of how the Rapture will take place quickly and suddenly, wrote:

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.[6]

 Writing of the Rapture event to the Thessalonian Church, Paul wrote:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”[7]

Speaking of how some will be “caught up” and some will be left behind, Jesus said: “There will be two in the field, and then suddenly one will be left,” and “There will be two women grinding at the mill. One will be taken, and one will be left.”[8]  

The tribulations profiled in the book of Revelation describe a period of suffering unsurpassed, “such as was not since there was a nation, no, nor shall be.”[9] During the Tribulation period, God will pour out His “wrath” on the world (Rev. 6:16-17,11:18; 14:19; Zeph. 1:15, 18). However, we see in 1 Thess. 5:9 that the Church is not appointed unto wrath, but unto salvation. In the Rapture event, the Lord will fulfill His promise to rescue believers from a future time of “wrath.”

Will Jesus return once or twice?  

Will there be a Second Coming? YES, at the end of the Tribulation period. Will there be a Rapture? YES, this event can happen at any time, and will take place before the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation. Is Jesus returning twice?  YES, in a manner of speaking. Jesus will return “in the clouds” to “catch up”  faithful followers “in the air.[10] That event is known as the Rapture. At the end of the Tribulation, Jesus will return to build His Millennial Kingdom on earth.[11] At the Rapture, Jesus returns for His people. At the Second Coming, Jesus returns with His people.

  How should believers respond to this information?

Scripture notes that signs will indicate the season of the Lord’s return.[12] In fact, Scripture encourages believers to watch for these signs[13] (which most believe are in the news right now). This is, in part, the work of a Watchman. Not only are Watchmen to know the signs that announce His return, and watch for the signs that indicate His return (the Rapture) is imminent, Watchmen are also to share this information with others.  Watchmen warn—it’s as simple as that.

The I AM A WATCHMAN ministry has the following resources to help be the witness and Watchman God has called you to be.


[1] Watson, William C., Dispensationalism Before Darby (Silverton, Oregon: Lampion Press, 2015), 8

[2] Luke 24:7, 21 * Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the King James Version.

[3] Revelation 19:11-21

[4] Reagan, Dr. David, The Rapture, Fact or Fiction? (McKinney, Texas: Lion and Lamb Ministries, 2019), 15

[5] Revelation 3:10. * Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the King James Version.

[6] 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

[7] 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

[8]  Matthew 24:40-41

[9]  Daniel 12:1

[10]  1 Thess. 4:16-17

[11]   Rev. 19-20

[12]   Matthew 24:33

[13]   Matthew 25:13



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