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I don't like questioning anyone's faith but one of my friends is a mainstream Christian (Uniting Church) and she believes very firmly in the phenomenon of "rapture".

As I understand it, rapture is when all the good people will be united with Christ upon His Second Coming. Those who are left behind will go through seven years of hell. The initial years will be OK as the world will move towards a 'one world government' but then everyone will be tagged (the devil's mark) and the horrors will follow. Those who refuse to be tagged will be tortured and if they resist, they would be ultimately saved when Christ comes again after seven years.

The worst thing is that there are many dates fixed for rapture, today (24 July) being one of them. These dates are fixed by people who claim that this was revealed to them in some form and they need to share this message with others.

I really don't want to question anyone faith (whether it is revealed to them or not is their business) but the whole rapture 'thingy' sounds very scary to me.

Is there any basis of this interpretation in the Bible? (Remember this relates to mainstream Christianity!)

Note: With faith based matters, you really cannot claim too much objectivity, so scentific measures do not readily apply here. That said, it makes it even more difficult to understand this claim.

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July 24th - well there is one thing you can look objectively at. –  Greg McNulty Jul 24 '12 at 0:41
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Sounds like your friend believes in a broader narrative for the end times, called Dispensationalism. Which is discussed a bit in the link in David's answer. –  aceinthehole Jul 24 '12 at 19:11
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Welcome to Christianity.StackExchange, Amarald. –  Philip Schaff Jul 25 '12 at 22:53

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The Rapture is one of the events that is believed will occur during the end-times. There are several different end-times scenarios that are all based on slightly different interpretations of Scripture, but the three major ones all agree that it will occur.

(A comparison of some of the views can be found here.)

The term "Rapture" means "Caught up". The word itself comes from 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (KJV)

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 end times events are covered in many books in the Bible, but primarily in the Book of Daniel, The Book of the Revelation, 1 Thessalonians, and Matthew 24. Your friend's description is known as the "Pre-Tribulation Rapture" interpretation of end-times events, which is held to by many denominations, but is definitely not the only interpretation.

One minor point, is that you mentioned that the "good people" will be raptured. That's not quite right. The Christians will be Raptured according to Scripture. Christians are not Christians because they are good, or because they go to Church, or because they claim to be in a certain religion.

The Biblical definition of a Christian is someone who has been saved, or redeemed by Christ. Christianity isn't about being "good enough" to get to heaven, or about religious traditions, it's about Christ, and the free gift of eternal life that we gain by simply accepting His free gift, by faith. (More here.)

As far as predicting the date, that's a fool's game. Christ Himself said that nobody would know the date, and that it would take us by surprise.

Mark 13:28-37 (King James Version)

28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

The number of people that have claimed to know the date of the Rapture, and have seen that date come and go are countless. We don't know the dates. We can see the signs of the times - the types of events and state of the world that is predicted, but not down to the date.

It could be 2 seconds from now, it could be a hundred years from now, or it could be longer. We just don't know, but it is promised that it will occur, and that we are to watch for it.

So, if the Bible is true, and it is the Word of God as claimed, and Jesus was the Son of God, and The Way, The Truth, and The Life, and the only way to Heaven there's no time to lose. If you've not already accepted Christ as your Savior, now's the time.

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Thank you. This is quite an informed answer. I am not a Christian and I don't intend to be one; however, I strive to be a good person. It matters more to me to be a good person than anything else. Thanks again. –  Amarald Jul 24 '12 at 6:09
    
This answer is correct with regard to the Post-Rapture Tribulation view. For those afraid they will be "left behind" and in need of advice about what to do in such a case, there is this: tinyurl.com/ct463nk –  user1891 Jul 24 '12 at 22:08
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To me, it seems difficult to distinguish 1 Thess. 4:17 events from events that other verses speak of when referring to Christ's 2nd coming (like in Matt 24), but I'm pretty certain Luke 21:36 speaks of a "pre-trib" rapture: "Keep awake then and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man." - I hope that adds to your answer. –  Shredder Nov 3 '12 at 7:07
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@laovultai True, but if God's Spirit dwells in us, and we are raptured, the presence of God in His people are also taken. That verse is even in context with the 2nd coming "For just as the lightning flashes from the east and shines and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. ... Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and beat their breasts and lament in anguish, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." –  Shredder Aug 27 at 16:36
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Shredder and laovaltai, please refrain from holding a conversation in comments, and take it to chat instead. –  David Stratton Aug 27 at 17:50

There is another verse that clearly teaches a Pre-Trib Rapture: 2 Thess 2:3

The Greek word "apostasia" is usually translated "apostasy" or "falling away" however it can also be translated "departure" (as it was for the first 7 English translations of the Bible, and also the latin Vulgate in 400 AD used "discessio" which means departure). See Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon which defines apostasia as (1) revolt and then (2) departure or disappearance and thus it can mean "to remove spatially".

The word "apostasia" is only found in two verses in the New Testament and when that happens one needs to translate it's meaning according to the context. The verb form of this word is found 15 times in the NT and only 3 of those are translated as departure from the faith (implying apostasy), so again context is very important where this word is found. Also this word doesn't mean "to fall", as in falling away, or the Greek word "pipto" would have been used instead.

In 2 Thess 2:3 the definite article "THE" is in front of "apostasia" so it's a singular one-time event that hadn't occured yet. This coming event was also well known to the Thessalonian church, as they were patiently expecting it, as Paul said, and he reminded them he had referred to it frequently in his first letter to the Thessalonians. Paul repeatedly talked about the Rapture in 1 Thess and never mentioned apostasy of the church. And apostasy had already infiltrated the church by the First Century, and we still have apostasy today, so the definite article can't be referring to apostasy of the church. It has to refer to a specific event that hasn't happened yet, even now, as the AntiChrist hasn't been revealed yet.

Paul repeatedly told the Thessalonians to wait for the Rapture as they would not be subject to God's Wrath on an unbelieving world (1 Thess 1:10, 1 Thess 5:9), and thus God's wrath was not determined for believers.

Therefore this word translated as "apostasy" doesn't fit the context of this passage. It means "departure" of the Church, i.e., the Rapture, i.e., the Tribulation can't occur until after the Rapture. This is why the Church is never mentioned again after Revelation chapter 4.

ere is an article with more information on this verse:

http://www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/TheRapturein2Thessalonians2_3.html

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Pretty good for a first post. +1 for addressing the question, citing scripture and an external article that gives more information. I would like to see you post again soon. Check out all the other questions and answers that are on the site so get a good feel for the format and what the community expects, then have a crack at it. –  fredsbend Dec 22 '13 at 1:42

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