What About the Rapture?
The Latin term rapio, (from which our word “rapture” comes) means to “snatch away” or “carry off.”1. The rapture is a non-biblical expression that describes a biblical teaching, it is the eschatological event in which Christians will be “caught up.”2. The Apostle Paul references this event in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 ~
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.3
Frustratingly, aside from a reference to “the last trumpet,” there’s nowhere that says, “This will happen two years after a world-wide pandemic,” or some other way of marking when we should expect it. When can we expect the last trumpet to sound? There is one passage that gives us a marker, this is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.~
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.4.
That still leaves us with the debate around when this will happen; before the Great Tribulation, during the Great Tribulation, after the Great Tribulation but before the Millennial Kingdom, or at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. The question of “when” has been a hot topic for many churches, ours included. In general, we want to approach prophetic events with a degree of humility as we honestly note that the biblical record is unclear on this topic. If it were clear, there would be no debate.
With that in mind, my approach to the interpretation of Scripture is to take those passages that are clear, and then interpret less clear passages in light of the clear ones.
In terms of the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4 is clear that the rapture will not take place until after the resurrection of the dead. That shouldn’t ruffle too many feathers. I think pretty much all camps of theological thought agree on this.