The Rapture is a term most commonly used to describe an event in certain interpretations of end-time studies where all true Christians are taken from Earth by Jesus Christ at His secret second-coming. Although almost all forms of Christianity believe that those who are ‘saved’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the term ‘rapture’ is usually applied specifically to those theories saying the Christians alive before the end of the world will be taken into heaven. These Christians believe they will be secretly translated, in the blink of an eye, into immortal bodies in the Rapture before the persecutions by the Harlot Church and before the Antichrist. This period of time is called the Tribulation. According to this view, the Church has no vital role of witness during this seven-year Tribulation.
This view is a recent addition to end-times interpretations. In fact it is only about a few hundred years old. Therefore the burden of proof rests on them. The dramatic end-time scenario proposed by these pre-tribulation rapture theorists is heavily based on a few verses such as Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
“With a shout of command…and the trumpet of God”, kind of goes against a ‘secret’ rapture doesn’t it? And we can see here that Paul conjures up images of an emperor, a king or a distinguished person visiting a colony or province. As was the custom at the time, the citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city. Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world. This verse taken into context is found to show that the ‘saved’ will be taken up for a time and brought back down to Earth. But when did Paul believe this event takes place, before or after the Tribulation? We find the answer to that in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
“…it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed…”
For the apostle Paul, the punishment of the wicked and the reward of the righteous are to occur on the same day, immediately following the second coming of Christ. Are the elect taken before the Tribulation as the Rapture theory says? Take a look at John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
So, those who are saved will be raised up at the last day. Now look at John 12:48 “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”
As we can see the ‘saved’ will be raised up on the last day and those who reject Him will be condemned on the last day. Therefore, if the saved are raised on the day before the start of the Tribulation, then those condemned will be sent to Hell on that same day. It begs the question, who will be left to suffer through the seven-year Tribulation?
This means that the ‘saved’, the believers in Christ will go through the Tribulation with the unbelievers. We find support for this in Matt 13:24-30
“Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "No, he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'”
Jesus’ explained what this parable meant at the apostles urgings. Here is His answer a few verses later in Matt 13:36-43
“Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
The good seed, which stands for the sons of the kingdom, the ‘saved’, will be living together with the weeds until the harvest where the weeds will be harvested first and thrown into the fiery furnace. You will find an even clearer picture of this event in
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”
Noah and his family were left behind, those who listened to the word of God were saved, they were left behind. Those who didn’t believe Noah or knew nothing of the incoming flood were taken, the unbelievers were taken. As you can see, we find here also that the unbelievers are taken on the same day as the elect and are saved by being left behind.
In conclusion, I personally believe as the Church does that there is a rapture, but it will only come at the end of the world, at Christ’s second coming where the weeds and the wheat will be living together until Christ shall separate the ‘saved’ from the un-‘saved’ on the last day, that is the last day of the known world.