What is the Rapture: Introduction
Eschatology is a big word meaning the study of the end times. There are different aspects within Eschatology such as the Rapture and the Second Advent. Many believers don’t spend much time studying these doctrines because there are different views on subjects like the Rapture that often cause division among believers. Many get the doctrine of the Rapture and the Second Advent confused as being the same event but Scripture describes them as two different events. Although there are different views regarding Eschatological events these doctrines are important to study simply because they are found in God’s Word and, as believers, it`s our responsibility to study them.
What Is The Rapture: Historical Background
Acts 17 tells us about the establishment of the church in Thessalonica. Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica on Paul`s second missionary journey. There they preached the Gospel in a Jewish synagogue, and some were persuaded (Acts 17:4). Those who did not believe drove Paul and Silas out of the city, so shortly after the Church was established, Paul had to leave (Acts 17:1-13). You can imagine how concerned he was about the church because he wasn’t able to remain in Thessalonica for very long after the church was born. One of the reasons that he wrote the letter to the Thessalonians was to check on them. He wanted to encourage and comfort them in their walk with the Lord. Considering the historical background of Thessalonians, it`s interesting to note that Paul was teaching new believers about the doctrine of the Rapture (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:3; 5:23). It`s an important doctrine even for new believers, and it is meant to be a comfort to us as believers in Christ.
What is The Rapture: Different From The Second Advent
In first Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul talks about the Rapture of the church. The word rapture comes from the word Rapturo, which is taken from the Latin translation of Scripture. Rapturo translates into Greek as Harpazo which means “caught up” in English.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17
The Rapture of the Church is different than what is known as the Second Advent of Christ. One difference between the Rapture and the Second Advent is that the Rapture involves the catching away of believers before the Tribulation begins (1 Thess. 4:13-17) and the Second Advent involves Christ coming down to Earth after the seven-year Tribulation (Zech. 14:4). Another difference in the Rapture and Second Advent is that the Rapture is where Jesus comes back for the Church, whereas the Second Advent is when Jesus comes to the Earth with His church (Rev. 19:14). The Rapture is God`s rescue plan for the Church and the Second Advent is God`s rescue plan for Israel (1Thess. 1:10; Matthew 23:37-39). It is important to note all the differences between the Rapture and the Second Advent. In the Rapture, Christ comes to take the church out of harm’s way, and in the Second Advent Christ returns to destroy evil and establish His Millennial Kingdom.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”-Matthew 23:27-39
“On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.” Zechariah 14:4
Paul describes the Rapture of the Church as being a comfort to believers. When I`m reminded that I live in a fallen world, the reality of being taken out of harm’s way by my Savior is comforting to me.
What Is The Rapture: Important And Comforting
Paul taught the doctrine of the Rapture to brand new believers in the Thessalonian church indicating that it is an important doctrine. He wanted them to know about the reality of the Rapture in the midst of a difficult life because it was designed to be comforting, not a point of division among believers. On the one hand, the Second Advent involves Jesus coming back to judge a Christ-rejecting world. On the other hand, the Rapture is a rescue operation designed to be a comfort to a believer’s heart.
“Therefore comfort one another with these words” -Thessalonians 4:18
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