All scriptural quotes are from the King James Version, unless otherwise noted
"The Rapture" is a doctrine stating all true followers of Christ will be gathered up and taken to Heaven to be with Christ, while the non-believers will be left behind for destruction. Out of the groups who believe in this doctrine, some believe this will happen just before the End Time/Great Tribulation begins, others believe it will happen during the middle of the End Times, and yet others believe this will happen at the close of the End Times. And then there are other groups who follow Christ, yet do not believe in any kind of rapture.
This essay is written to eliminate the confusion amongst these groups and reveal the simple truth as set out in the Bible.
WHO IS LEFT BEHIND?
Matthew 24:36-42 is a popular passage that people use to support the Rapture doctrine, mainly because the passage speaks of some people being taken while others are left behind. Although this passage is in reference to the Second Coming of Christ, take a look at what this passage is saying:
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Noah's flood and Christ's Return will be paralleled).
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; (Who was taken away? The WICKED!) so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (thus, in parallel, the WICKED will be taken away).
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Yes; it is the WICKED who are taken, and the godly who are left! This is supported by the matching passage in Luke 17:26-27
26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
This is solidified by the words spoken at 2 Peter 2:5
And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
The idea of the wicked being taken away and the believers being left is supported in many other Scriptures as well:
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth... 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth.; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Clearly, the Earth belongs to the believers; the wicked will be taken out of it.
21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. 22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
Again, the Earth belongs to the believers, and the wicked will be taken out of it.
The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.
And again...the Earth belongs to the believers, and the wicked will be taken out of it.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Need I repeat it again?
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up. 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Very clearly this states that in the end, at the "harvest" it is the "weeds" who are first gathered up, while the good "wheat" is left to enter the storehouse
So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just
The wicked are severed/separated, not the believers.
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
Christ himself is praying that the believers not be taken.
Clearly, the Bible shows us that it is the wicked ones who will be taken away, and the true believers will be the ones left behind, not the other way around.
WHAT ABOUT HEAVEN?
The Bible doesn't actually say that the believers will go to Heaven. Quite the opposite, the Bible states that Heaven is coming to Earth:
Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
2 Corinthians 6:16
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
WHAT ABOUT BEING CAUGHT UP IN THE AIR?
The favorite passage being referred to here is at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 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: 17 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.
The idea of them meeting the Lord in the air does not indicate heaven. We know this because the original Greek word used here is "aer", which means "air", as in the stuff we breathe; the Greek word for Heaven "ouranos", is completely absent in this verse.
Note, also, that the deceased do not rise until the coming of Christ, i.e., they are not in Heaven. It is only when Christ comes that they arise, and next the living arise to meet Him.
Then, when all of them are caught up to meet Christ in the air, it is with the full intention of immediately returning to the Earth with him. We know Christ is continuing to Earth after gathering his people because Scripture tells us that he returns in order to rule the Earth until the last enemy, Death, has been defeated, after which he gives the kingdom rulership over to the Father:
1 Corinthians 15:25-26, 28
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death... 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Death is not defeated until the end of Christ's millenial reign:
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Therefore, since all this Earth bound millenial rule and destruction of Death needs to occur when Christ returns, it is clear that nobody is being raptured to Heaven, as all these things are happening on Earth.
After the millenium is finished, The New Jerusalem from Heaven comes down out of Heaven and onto the Earth, so that God and man reside together forever (See Revelation 21:1-5, quoted earlier in this essay). So even then, nobody is going to Heaven, since Heaven is coming to us.
SO WHAT'S THE PURPOSE OF MEETING HIM IN THE AIR?
Jesus gave a parable about a group of ten virgins who gathered to meet with a bridegroom in order to accompany the bridegroom to the wedding feast. Five of them waited patiently, prepared to meet him. The other five also waited, but were not properly prepared. When the bridegroom came the five who were prepared were taken with him to the wedding feast, while the unprepared ones were barred from the feast:
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
This wedding feast is the marriage of Jesus Christ to the New Testament Church (1 Corinthians 11:1-2, Ephesians 5:22-23). The five wise, prepared, virgins are the ones to meet and go with the bridegroom to the wedding feast. These virgins in the parable seem to parallel the ones who will meet the Lord in the air when he comes for his spiritual marriage.
So, is this a literal snatching-up into the clouds, or is it allegorical? Admittedly, we aren't sure at this time. The Bible does speak of spiritual things in allegorical terms quite often; and it also speaks of miraculous literal things just as often. Therefore, we hesitate at this point to make an absolute statement either way on the matter.
In any case, the important thing to know is that the wicked will be the ones taken away, the righteous will inherit the Earth, and the Heavenly Kingdom will merge with Earth in God's due time.
WHAT ABOUT JOHN 14:2-3?
This passages states:
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Many believe this is in reference to taking people to be with Christ in Heaven. However, as you can see, he is simply stating he is preparing a place for us (which is the Kingdom of God), and that he will come again, receive us, and we will be where he is. Since we've already shown that he will be here on Earth finishing his work before the New Jerusalem comes, this passage can only mean we will be here on Earth with him.
WHAT ABOUT 1 Corinthians 15:49–55?
This passage states
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Nothing here says that anyone is going to Heaven. Instead, this passage explains that our corruption and sin will be changed into purity in an instant. Since sin will be gone, we will no longer owe death for our sins, meaning we'll gain immortality. As for the first verse, which says "...we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly", this is not to be misconstrued. Bearing the image of the earthly means we've been dying sinners (Matthew 6:19, Colossians 3:5, Philippians 3:19), and bearing the image of the heavenly means we'll be purified and immortal (Matthew 6:20, 1 Corinthians 15:48, 2 Timothy 4:18, Hebrews 11:16). This is what needs to happen in order for Christ to vanquish the last enemy, Death. Since Heaven and Earth will dwell together, we do not need to leave earth to achieve this transformation.
In light of all this scriptural evidence, we have come to believe that the Rapture doctrine is a product of simple human error. It is quite plain that godly people will be given the Earth, the wicked will be taken out of it, Jesus will conquer all enemies including Death, and Heaven will then forever merge with Earth. Our sinful, corrupt state will instantly be changed into purity and immortality, and God's Holy City will inhabit the Earth. This is in harmony with Scriptures such as:
The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.
For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
May God's peace rest on you with this information.
Before writing this essay we tried for some time to find solid scriptural evidence in favor of a Rapture, but have come up empty. Instead we've found the information that we've published here on this page. If anyone believes we are in error in this information, we challenge you to show us solid scriptural evidence that the Rapture is a Bible based teaching. Don't give us unsupported opinions, theories, or extrabiblical literature.