Rapture Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Rapture

All by itself the word rapture and cognates like rapturous refer to intense emotions of joy and happiness that overtake a person, often taking the person by surprise. Theologically "the rapture" refers to Christian believers being caught up from the earth to meet Jesus in the air when he returns. This is taught primarily in just one place in Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (though the precise term rapture does not occur in Scripture). The timing, nature, and meaning of this rapture are disputed by different groups of Christians. Many take 1 Thessalonians 4 as a straightforward description of what will happen when Jesus returns to bring down the final curtain on human history and inaugurate the new creation: Believers will meet Jesus in the air and the events of judgment day and the bringing of the new creation will swiftly follow. Dispensationalist Christians, however, teach that this rapture will be just the opening event in a longer series of apocalyptic happenings, including a period of great tribulation on earth following the initial evacuation of all Christians in the rapture. This period of intense suffering will be followed by a second return of Christ, this time to inaugurate a thousand-year reign. Only after that period of time will Christ definitively conduct the day of judgment and then inaugurate the new heaven and the new earth. Although these eschatological views represent significantly different takes on the end times, all Christians agree that when Christ returns, we will be with him and that this rapture will indeed catch up all believers in intense joy and felicity forever.

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.