What is the Rapture? A Look at the Different Views

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is the rapture? Is it in the Bible?  Why do some believe in the rapture and some do not?  Who is right?

The word rapture is not in the Bible but neither is the word Trinity.  Some theologians, Christians, and churches believe in the rapture and others do not.  Some believe in the Great Tribulation, while others do not.  What are we to believe if some teach about the rapture while others do not?

What is the Rapture

Some theologians, Christians, and churches believe in the rapture and others do not.

Theologians Who Do Not Believe in the Rapture

There are many outstanding theologians who do not believe in a Rapture.  Some of these include R.C. Sproul’s with Ligonier Ministries,  Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, and many outstanding Bible scholars.  These men are theologically sound teachers and evangelists.  They believe that there is no rapture and that there is also no Great Tribulation from what many presume Jesus taught in Matthew 24 or the Olivet Discourse.  Several scholars, like those mentioned above, believe that the events in the Book of Revelation have already occurred or might have already occurred in A.D. 70 when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans.

We must have grace for those who do not believe in non-essentials.  If a believer feels differently about something than we do, and the subject is not essential to salvation, then there should be tolerance.  It is wrong for Christians to argue over doctrines that are not crucial to the gospel and how a person is saved.  For example, we know that there is only one way to the Father and that there is no other way to salvation except through placing your faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12, 16:30-31; Rom 10:9-13, etc.).  We also know that we are not saved by works (Eph 2:8-9; Rom 3:20, 28, etc.).  These issues are non-negotiable.  These truths cannot be compromised.

One person I know argued over the question of whether Adam had a navel or not because he did not have a mother.  An ensuing argument erupted over this single topic that was not considered important enough to be included in the Scriptures.  Paul wrote to Timothy and said to “Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen” (2 Tim 2:14).

Theologians Who Believe in the Rapture

The vast majority of Bible scholars, churches, theologians, evangelists, and Christians do believe in a coming rapture.  Even though the word rapture does not appear in the Bible, they base their beliefs on a passage from 1 Thessalonians.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The church at Thessalonica were worried that Jesus would return and that those who had already died were going to be left behind in their graves.  That is the reason why Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica.  Paul reassures them by writing that “we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep“ (1 Thes 4:15).   Even though the word rapture is not in the Bible, the Greek word for “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is harpazo.  In Latin it is called Rapturo from which we get the word rapture.  The New Testament was written in Greek and the English words “caught up” is literally harpazo.   Harpazo means “to seize, carry off by force; claim for one’s self eagerly; to snatch out or away”. A good rendering of harpazo is like that of being kidnapped.  The Lord is thought to be coming to seize or carry off by force all believers, just before the coming Great Tribulation.

Many believe that the rapture occurs just before the Great Tribulation (Pre-tribbers).  Others believe it will occur during the middle of it (some call it Mid-tribbers).  Still others believe the church will go through the Great Tribulation.  And of course the first group mentioned at the beginning of this article neither believes in the rapture or the Great Tribulation.  The vast majority of Christians believe that the rapture will occur just before the Great Tribulation  This belief is based upon Scriptures like 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (and elsewhere) that, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The wrath of God was poured out on Christ at Calvary so it would not have to be poured out on those who have placed their faith in Christ.  The wrath of God is said to be “poured out” on the sinful world in the Book of Revelation and since God has not appointed Christians to suffer His wrath, He will take believers out of harm’s way in a rapture.  I find it interesting that 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is mentioned right after what many believe is the rapture where Paul wrote about being “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4.  Another reason that many believers feel that the church will be raptured is that the church is not mentioned when the Great Tribulation events begin to occur in the Book of Revelation.

Millennium Views: Premillennial, Postmillennial and Amillennial

Different beliefs include the premillennial view.  In this view, Christ comes before the millennium. Then there is the postmillennial view which teaches that Christ comes after the millennium. There is also the amillennial view which holds that Christ also comes after the millennium, and it is also sometimes called the no millennial view.  This is quite confusing to many Christians but this a theological issue that is not essential to salvation.  The Second Advent where Christ returns to judge the world is a certainty.  We therefore are told to witness to those who do not know Christ as their Savior.  Jesus will return again; either as a person’s Judge or as person’s King.  If someone does not place their faith in Christ and He returns, He will be their Judge at the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20.  They will be cast into the Lake of Fire.  However, if someone believes in Christ today, or does so before He returns, then they will love His appearing.  Paul wrote about this in his last letter to Timothy.  Paul is about to be executed and tells Timothy, “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim 4:8).  A crown of righteousness is reserved for those who long for Jesus’ return.  But for those who are not believers, then it will be a most dreadful day indeed (Rev 20:12).

When I am asked whether I hold a postmillennial view, the amillennial view, or a premillennial view, I tell them that I am a panmilleniast – that is, I believe it will all pan out in the end.  I think we need to be ready for His return at any moment.  A danger in believing in the rapture is that Christians may become lazy or slothful and not want to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.  They feel that they can rest on their laurels and not worry about the future because they’ll be taken out of this world by Christ before it gets bad.  The danger in that thinking may be why Jesus gave the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13:

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.  The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

That last line, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” is a sobering reminder to always be ready for His return.  Whether you believe in the Great Tribulation, the Millennium, the rapture, or none of these, you must believe in Jesus Christ and place your faith in Him today.  Tomorrow may be too late and you might hear Jesus say, “I don’t know you”.  My prayer for you is that Jesus does know you and that you might know Him and that by knowing Him, you may have eternal life (John 20:31).

What this article helpful? You might also want to take a look at this one:

Biblical Signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ


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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

J S W July 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm

You r so right, my friend. We must always be prepared 4 our Lords return. Today, when u hear his voice ….


Paco Arias December 14, 2017 at 10:58 am

Ok, a few things. To say most Christians believe in a pretribulation rapture is quite misleading. The very idea of a rapture as understood by American Evangelicals is itself a minority view (extremely small minority view)when compared to the belief of Christians throughout the world and when considered in light of the history of CHristian belief going all the way back to the Church fathers who wrote in the earliest Centuries of Chritstian history. Their writings are available all over the internet. Just look up Church Fathers. Also, look into the many very ancient Christian CHurches that exist throughout the world. These are CHurches founded by the apostles and not centuries and centuries after their death. You should realize that the apolostles established Chruches as far away as India. Take India as just one case. The famous Apostle Thomas (so-called “Doubting Thomas” because he didn’t believe CHrist rose from the dead until he touched His wounds) founded the ancient Church in India. This Church remains very small compared to the numbers of Hindus and Muslims in India, but it was there where India was Colonized by Europeans and it remains today andcient was founded by an Aposlte who knew CHrist. IT was not founded by a man such as Calvin, Luther, or John Darby who started the rapture theology many Evangelicals follow today. THis ancient and Apostolic Church knows nothing of the Rapture as understood by Le Hay, Haggge, and all the others. Look up the writings of the Church fathers such as the Didache, the writings of Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp. There you will find the True Christianity that Christ gave to the Aposltes who then passed it on to the Church. Give it a shot. What do you have to loose except the traditions of men.


Jack Wellman December 14, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Hello Paco. When I am asked whether I hold a postmillennial view, the amillennial view, or a premillennial view, I tell them that I am a panmilleniast – that is, I believe it will all pan out in the end. Jesus could come at any given moment. We are told to keep looking up…He could come in an instant. That’s what J.S.W. was saying and he or she is right! Those are not manmade traditions, but truth.


Paco Arias December 16, 2017 at 7:34 am

Thank you for reading and responding to my post. I apologize for the typos and I hope some of my intended meaning came through despite the unintended errors which did make my post confusing. Yes, indeed, the Second Coming is not a man-made tradition. He can return at any moment. I am with you 100%. That is the most important part of this message. You and I agree on a lot. I do feel that all of the misguided attempts to base the Christian Life on the idea that Prophetic writings can tell us specifically when Christ will return should be put into context. I know of many Christians who feel they and their pastors are able to say when He will return and base their spiritual lives on this view. Charles Stanley used scripture to preach against this approach on his TV show. I agree with him and have used his argument with one woman whose Baptist Pastor has convinced her that he can read Revelation and ID the current events as indicating the end times are here for sure, etc. It is often difficult for people to distinguish what is Biblical from what their trusted pastor tells them is Biblical. Most Evangelicals don’t like to face this fact, but it is a fact nonetheless. Keep up the good work and let us pray that more Christians will find and live out the Truth Christ taught his Apostles.


Jack Wellman December 16, 2017 at 8:53 am

Thank you Mr. Arias.

Jase Hawk July 14, 2020 at 7:56 am

Most Christians do believe in a rapture, it’s quite clear in scripture. Its the timing of the rapture that is often debated on. Catholics and protestants are usually post trib because of their preterest views. A lot of evangelical pre tribbers.


Jack Wellman July 14, 2020 at 9:04 am

Hello Jase. It may seem clear to you but it is not really that clear to others. There may be no rapture at all in fact, and there should not be all these debates about it. Jesus didn’t want us to figure out if there was a trib, a rapture, or prophecy, but to be ready at any moment. We are to focus on serving Him (Matt 25:35-36) as unto Him (Matt 2540) and not be wasting time arguing about a pre-trib, a post trib, or whatever. I am a pan-millinist. It will all pan out in the end.


al September 7, 2016 at 2:42 pm

I just read your understanding of being saved is not worth debating over. I disagree with you. I wonder if you would approve of your son or daughter been saved by what the bible does not say?? My point is this: you and everybody else has to be saved the way the bible and Jesus and the apostles says to be saved. It is not up to you are any human, with out the guidance from the Holy Spirit, to say which way to be saved. The book of Acts records many people being saved and being added to the church. How is it you would say or approve of a different way to be saved than what is recorded in the book of acts?? All of these people were saved the same way. If not who approved of a different way, except the devil himself?? The bible plainly teaches us the way to be save and it consists of Hearing the Gospel. Believing the Gospel. Repenting of our Sins. Confessing Jesus as the Son of God before men. Being baptized for the remission of sins. Then Jesus says They are added to His body. Now if that is not something to be debated, then we should be able to do anything we want and still go to heaven. What you do and what I do makes no difference to God. How can you being a preacher believe such nonsense?? The book, the bible will be open at judgement and if you have not done what it says, all of it on salvation, you will be lost just like any other alien sinner. Me think I will do all it says on salvation. I think I prefer heaven over the alternative. Hell will be just as long as Heaven. Heaven will be more enjoyable. Lets me and you do all the bible says about salavation, not just part of it, and , then we can be sure of being with Jesus forever. You agree or disagree??? By the way, debates are always over some doing all the bible says, verses some who just do part of the Plan of Salvation.


James Amoako February 20, 2017 at 7:28 am

I always get thrilled when I hear people associate the rapture with slothfulness. There are majority of slothful individuals who are not Christians and so what do we say about that?

Christian living in anticipation of the rapture never produces slothfulness in any way, only ignorance and not living according to the truth does that.


Jack Wellman February 20, 2017 at 11:18 am

Hello Mr. Amoako. I am glad we could provide you with a thrill, however I never said all people who believe in the rapture will be slothful. I never wrote such a thing. What I was saying is that we can have a “bunker mentality” and knowing we’re saved, just sit back and wait without doing the work of the kingdom and that includes visiting the sick, those in prison, feeding and clothing the poor, and visiting the orphans and widows (Matt 25:34-40; James 1:27), but yes, it does produce slothfulness in some. It can create a “wait and see attitude instead of a “go into all the world” mentality (Matt 28:18-20). Does that make sense sir? I know at least 8 Christians who are not doing nothing more than just waiting for Christ and don’t even worship with the Body of Christ, the church. That was my point sir.


Elke Janse van Rensburg July 20, 2017 at 2:38 am

Thank you for the insightful article.

I would like to know the following: Can you lose your salvation? Some say “once saved, always saved”. Others make it sound like there is a threshold for God’s grace.

My own testimony is the first. Full of God’s neverending grace and love and my own willfullmess, sin and doing my own thing. I am ashamed to say, not bearing much fruit.

But the parable of the ten virgins is resting heavy on my mind and heart. It is after the death of our young daughter two years ago that God has been working hard on me.

I want my testimony and what I say to others to be true to the Bible. The older I get the more I feel that the Church of Christ and most Christians are in a slumber. I would hate it if the Bridegroom came back and said to loved ones and friends: “I don’t know you.”

If my outlook is wrong, I would want to correct it and correcting friends, family and all of my Christian family

I am sorry that my English is not to good and am struggling a little with directing my question and true concern. I am eagerly awaiting your response. Maybe you can direct me to other sources or articles.


Jack Wellman July 20, 2017 at 8:12 am

Hello Elke. I believe you will have a hard time convincing others about eternal security. It takes the Spirit of God and the Word of God to do that, so please call your pastor and tell him and ask your church to pray for you as we are commanded to do (James 5:14) as we need one another (Heb 10:24-25) and seek to do what Jesus commands us to do (Matt 25:34-39) as we do it to Him (Matt 25:40) or we do nothing for Him (Matt 25:41- and that’s not good (Matt 7:21-23).


Jack Wellman July 20, 2017 at 8:17 am

As for losing your salvation, please read Romans 8, John 10 & 11 and that should help settle your concern over losing your salvation (which cannot happen).


Richard Phillips March 28, 2020 at 6:09 pm

I am sealed by the Spirit. I must confess I tried to rip it off so many times – I failed. Romans 8!


Jack Wellman March 28, 2020 at 6:11 pm

Hello Mr. Phillips. That’s very well put sir. Thank you.


Ludwich December 10, 2017 at 12:08 am

I think the term “once saved always saved” is a cliche, and even tells us that this is not possible from a human perspective.
However, if we use the term “security of the believer”, it opens up truth as it describes it from God’s point of view.
The word says in Rom. 8, that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. and elsewhere, in John 10:28,”I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever ! No one will snatch them out of My hand.”
The day we believe, we are brought in the circle of grace (Rom. 5:2), then it is God’s work to keep us, nothing of our own. If we do fall away, we can never say, ‘God let go of me’, or ‘God forsook me’, as His Word clearly states that He will keep us.
However, man is still flesh, and still has His own will, so subjectively, it is not correct to use the term “once saved always saved”, but from God’s objective view, the term He prefers is “the believer is secure in Me”.
Hebrews 6 clearly states that anyone who claims to be saved, can fall away, however, not a good position to be in.


Jack Wellman December 10, 2017 at 8:12 am

Thank you Ludwich. The verses you cited in Hebrews 6 needs to have emphasis that it is only those who “tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come” and not those who have partaken in the Bread of Life, so that chapter and those verses are not talking about the saved but those who have only tasted of God’s goodness but not taken it. Tasting is not the same as eating.


Dennis Lee Thompson July 1, 2019 at 5:08 am

Amen. there is not one place after the cross takes place and Christianity begins where a born again believer loses their Salvation


Pam Nichols March 2, 2018 at 2:17 pm


Thank you for your Rapture article. I also see some comments on OSAS. I was wondering if you’d read my home page. I believe that if we get the issue of Eternal Security right, the answer to the Rapture timing question is clear. Just curious what you think.
God bless you either way!


Jack Wellman March 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Although you’re website is fine, there are serious doctrinal issues with your belief in eternal security…for you it appears, “fairly secure” rather than what Jesus said, “eternal life” or secure in His and the Father’s hands (John 10:28-29). I do agree with much though in that a person’s life will reveal if they truly are saved or not (read 1 John 3) but their works do not ensure their salvation because many claim works for Christ and many will be turned away (Matt 7:21-23). Those who God calls remain and are eventually glorified (Rom 8) at Christ’s return. Thank you just the same. You said some very important things.


John March 3, 2019 at 10:52 am

“Some of these include R.C. Sprouls with Ligonier Ministries, Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, and many outstanding Bible scholars. These men are theologically sound teachers and evangelists. ”

I think you need to research Hank Hanegraaff a bit more. I certainly would not call him “sound”, and there are serious questions about his ethics.

(By the way, it’s “Sproul”, not “Sprouls”. He’s with the Lord now, as of December 2018.)


Jack Wellman March 3, 2019 at 11:03 am

Hello John. If you will look closely, it is not “Sprouls” but “Sproul’s” as in R.C. Sproul’s Ligonier Ministry. And please tell me where Mr. Hanegraaff is not sound? What of his ethics? Please explain before you accuse someone without evidence. And yes, I do know he is now with the Lord, being a financial supporter and longtime (23 years) listner, as this article was written before his passing. I pray you are not so critical to all you are around. Not so nice to be around people as highly critical as you. I pray you repent of this.


Jack Wellman March 3, 2019 at 11:04 am

Hello John. If you will look closely, it is not “Sprouls” but “Sproul’s” as in R.C. Sproul’s Ligonier Ministry. And please tell me where Mr. Hanegraaff is not sound? What of his ethics? Please explain before you make accussations against someone without providing any evidence. And yes, I do know he is now with the Lord, being a financial supporter and longtime (23 years) listner, as this article was written before his passing,and you are wrong. He passed away December 14, 2017 and not in Dec 2018 as you wrote. I pray you are not so critical to all you are around. Not so nice to be around people as highly critical as you. I pray you repent of this.


Randall April 4, 2019 at 8:57 pm

Type in who’s who in bible prophecy? and you can find out what r.c. sproul and hank hanegraaff what they really believe, it will expose them. In Christ Randall


Randall April 4, 2019 at 9:58 pm

I just want to share with you that Matt: 24 or 25 has nothing to do with the CHURCH, The 4 gospels knew nothing about the Rapture of the Church, It talks about the 7 year tribulation and the second advent or the second coming it means the same. To back up what i am saying READ VERSE 3 of the 24 chapter Matt. They wanted Jesus to tell them the future. And Christ Shares the future. This is Jacob trouble not the CHURCH’s TROBLE.


mary McLocke September 9, 2019 at 9:11 am

Jesus speaks of the Rapture in John 14:1-3. There is nothing in Matthew 24.. People do not rightly divide the verses in Matthew 24 – those which have to do with Christians and those which have to do with the Jews in the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. MOST people wrongly divide these verses.


Jack Wellman September 9, 2019 at 9:47 am

Hello Mrs. McLocke. Your other comments were not approveed because they were too negative toward other people and you had no positive proff of your supposition,so instead of cutting others down for their persepective becasue they don’t agree with your’s, it’s better to agree to disagree than to attack others. Please repent of this negative, attacking attitude.


Geff July 25, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Randall,. Your comment on Matt 24; 25, provoked my interest; could you emphasize more


PN March 27, 2020 at 1:00 pm

I often hear the same old tired argument that people who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture are lazy and neglectiful of the Great Commission, but with all due respect, I have found exactly the opposite to be true in my 48 year Christian journey (I was saved as a young adult).

All of the people I have ever known, Bible scholars and “ordinary believers” combined, have, in fact a very heightened sense of urgency, if you will, to get the Word out.

After all, if, after studying the Scriptures closely, we realize it really could be what and when prophecy strongly suggets, Christians understand then, as at no other time, how important it is do “be about our Father’s business” in our ministries at home, work, family, and in the church, that we have been “assigned”.

Just to clarify.


Doreen DeVore August 26, 2020 at 11:24 am

I am also a pan tribulationist and it is good to someone else use the term. I came it about 35 years ago when I had asked God for 3 days to study the different positions and God gave me 3 days when I also had the opportunity to explore books that I might never see again. When I prayed I sensed the Holy Spirit saying “If you are spiritually prepared it does not matter how it pans out.” I have noticed just recently many You Tube videos purporting that God has given dreams or visions that a particularly candidate will be elected president of the U.S. Then there are other videos purporting that the Rapture will.occur before the election.There seems to be much division among purported Christians over this coming election. This is very disquieting.
When I pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven..” I realize that it may be God’s will to take down this nation at this time. When I focus only on Jesus and His power I feel peace.


Jack Wellman August 26, 2020 at 11:40 am

Amen Doreen. No one agrees on everything exactly the same, but the non-essentials (like the rapture views) should not divide us and make us debate one another, for when we do, we are not being loving, as we are commanded to be (John 13:34-35).


J. Parry December 2, 2020 at 8:22 am

I have another question:
You said, “The vast majority of Christians believe that the rapture will occur just before the Great Tribulation This belief is based upon Scriptures like 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (and elsewhere) that, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What has this to do with the Pre-Trib view? The wrath of God is not the same thing as tribulation. Isaiah 26:20 also seems to indicate that the Lord will hide His faithful people during any outpouring of His wrath that may come before the Rapture. Even if this word was mainly for the Jews it still applies to us as well


Jack Wellman December 2, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Yes, the trib is not the same as the wrath of God, but the rapture may well be a wrong interpretation of 1 Thess 5:9. Never did I say that the Tribulation and God’s wrath are the same, so not sure why you said I wrote that.


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