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Treasure Digest: Be Ready to Give an Answer: Does the Bible Teach a "Secret Rapture"?

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Treasure Digest

Be Ready to Give an Answer: Does the Bible Teach a "Secret Rapture"?

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Millions have read the Left Behind books based on a secret rapture. According to the most common version of the rapture, Christ will approach the earth, not return 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 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 [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.
American King James Version×
where Paul says Christians "shall be caught up...to meet the Lord in the air."

Context: Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 [13] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to 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. [18] Why comfort one another with these words.
American King James Version×
after the unexpected deaths of some brethren there to remind them 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" seem anything but secret (verse 16).

Related Passages: In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul wrote that the resurrection would occur "at His coming" (verse 23) and at "the last trumpet" (verse 52). This is the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15-18 Revelation 11:15-18 [15] And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. [16] And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell on their faces, and worshipped God, [17] Saying, We give you thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which are, and were, and are to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned. [18] And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
American King James Version×
, 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 Zechariah 14:4And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
American King James Version×
; compare Acts 1:9-11 Acts 1:9-11 [9] And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. [10] And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; [11] Which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven.
American King James Version×
). Matthew 24:36-44 Matthew 24:36-44 [36] But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. [37] But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [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 Noe entered into the ark, [39] And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [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 you know not what hour your Lord does come. [43] But know this, that if the manager of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. [44] Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes.
American King James Version×
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.

For More Information: "What’s ‘Left Behind’ in the Rapture Theory?" (March/April 2000 Good News, www.ucg.org/gn/gn27/rapture.html), Heaven & Hell, The Book of Revelation Unveiled and the GN radio program 48 "Are Christians Raptured Away?" (www.ucg.org/radio/gnrparchive.htm).

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