Many Christians are looking forward to a time when, interrupting their ordinary lives, they will be suddenly raptured into heaven with Jesus Christ. But is this true?
The idea of a rapture of believers up into heaven before the prophesied tribulation of the last days is widely taught and believed in Christianity today.
Darby argued in favor of what is termed premillennialism in contrast to popular postmillennialism and amillennialism. Let's briefly consider these terms.
Most people say 1 Thessalonians 4 describes a secret Rapture taking place before the Great Tribulation. But put together all the scriptures that talk about being resurrected to meet Christ in the air, and you can piece together a coherent picture of not only when it will happen (at the end of the Tribulation), but how obvious it will be (very).
The book of Revelation describes Satan's wrath on God's people and God's judgment on humanity as seven seals. Additional passages in Matthew, Daniel and other books add further detail. By piecing together all of these references, we can create a timeline of end-time events, presented here. Feel free to print this chart and stow it in your Bible for reference.
View the chapter outline of the book of Revelation.
Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians:4:17 about the resurrection and glorification of Christ's followers at His return. 1 Thessalonians:4:16 shows that this will occur when Christ descends from heaven with a mighty shout and the great sound of a trumpet. This is no secret event.
The most popular and widely-believed version of the rapture theory has Jesus Christ miraculously rescuing His people from an earth on the brink of tribulation. It's a comforting belief, since it offers the promise of peace and safety in heaven while the earth below is immersed in turmoil and destruction.
Let's summarize 1 Thessalonians:4:16-17 which mentions believers being caught up, actually says: 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.