"Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."
"The Rapture" is one of the the most unfortunate myths in Protestant Christendom. It has become a real money-maker for certain individuals and many unsuspecting people have fallen into the snare of believing this sensationalist concept. I was raised to believe this fantasy myself until I came to realize there isn't any Biblical basis for it whatsoever. The word "rapture" is derived from the idea of being "caught up" or "snatched up" at 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Rapturists point to 1 Thessalonians 4:17 as a primary text in support of their belief. However, this is a very naive and misguided perspective and this passage does not prove "the Rapture" as defined by Rapturists. All Christians believe in a rapture of the saints in the sense of this passage. All Christians believe the saints will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air when he comes again. However, the term "the Rapture" in the minds of Rapturists has come to be defined something more than simply being caught up to meet the Lord in the air at his second coming. It has come to mean being snatched away to heaven as a means of escape. The prevalent belief system involves an idea called "the Pre-Tribulation Rapture." Pre-tribulation rapturists believe Jesus is coming back twice, once to retrieve the saints before a great tribulation and then once again after this tribulation. It is this idea that is a complete myth. There is not one iota of Biblical support for this concept. You will note that 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says nothing about being whisked away to heaven nor does it say anything about being raptured up to the Lord before a great tribulation. Rapturists simply imagine these ideas into the Bible. "The Rapture" as defined by these Rapturists is a pure man-made invention they imagine back into the Bible. Most Rapturists fancy this concept and they really want it to be true, and so they convince themselves it therefore is true, and once they have adopted this idea they don't want to let go of it. However, thinking Christians understand that to have a Christian doctrine you had to get it from somewhere. And this is the problem Rapturists have on their hands. The idea of the Rapture is nowhere to be found in the Bible. In fact, the Bible expressly teaches otherwise and clearly teaches that Christians will suffer these persecutions at the end of the age as opposed to escaping them. In fact, the Bible teaches that suffering in the name of Christ is the honor of Christians and escapism is the nature of Satan similar to the antichrist doctrine taught by Cerinthus the arch-enemy of the Apostle John. Noah was saved from the flood, and like Noah, Christians will be saved in the resurrection when Jesus comes in glory.
An Exposition of Rapturist Misinterpretations.
1. The "Left Behind" Myth
When Rapturists read these words from Matthew 24:40-41, they imagine in their minds Jesus is taking them away to heaven. However, this is not what the Bible says. We are told the ones who are "taken" are the unrighteous who are taken away into judgment after the tribulation at the end of the age. This is made quite plain in the Scriptures.
But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.... For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore be watchful, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:29-41).
And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all.... It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back.... I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left. And answering they said to Him, "Where, Lord?" And He said to them, "Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered." (Luke 17:26-37).
Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40-43).
Now that is quite plain. Those who are "taken" are not the righteous but the unrighteous who are taken away into judgment and destroyed just as they were taken away by the flood into judgment and destroyed in the days of Noah.
2. The Holy Spirit "Restrainer" Myth
Another myth perpetuated by Rapturists is their teaching that the Antichrist will not appear on the until the Holy Spirit is taken away because the Holy Spirit dwells in the church which has been raptured and currently restrains the antichrist from appearing. Hence, as long as the church is here, the Antichrist will not appear. Rapturists commonly refer to the Holy Spirit as "the restrainer" in this teaching.
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 NASB).
In order to understand the folly of their teaching it is helpful to review a literal word for word rendering of the actual Greek text.