Does the Bible teach a secret rapture?

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Does the Bible teach a secret rapture?

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Millions have read the Left Behind books, which are based on a secret rapture. According to the most common version of the rapture theory, Christ will approach the earth (but not return all the way down to it), to secretly seize believers seven years before His actual return. Does the Bible teach this? The basis of the teaching is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 where Paul says Christians "shall be caught up...to meet the Lord in the air."

Let's consider the context. The apostle Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 after the unexpected deaths of some brethren to remind the Thessalonians of the hope of the resurrection. Nothing in this passage justifies an understanding other than that it is referring to Christ's second coming. The "shout," "voice of an archangel" and "the trumpet of God" are anything but secret (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Let's also consider some related passages. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul wrote that the resurrection would occur "at His coming" (1 Corinthians 15:23) and at "the last trumpet" (1 Corinthians 1552). This is the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15-18, which announces Christ's second coming, the establishment of His Kingdom on earth.

Where will Christ be after meeting the saints in the clouds? "In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives" (Zechariah 14:4; compare Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 11:15; Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 7:27).

Matthew 24:36-44 does talk of some being prepared for Christ's coming, and others left unprepared, but it doesn't say God's people will be taken to heaven. The Bible shows that the place where God protects His people is on the earth during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:13-17).

In spite of its popularity in some circles, the rapture theory is not supported by God's Word.