The Rapture? Not All Evangelical Protestant Scholars Agree

by Steve Ray on December 29, 2014

I was organizing the 5,000 books in my Logos Bible Software program on my laptop and noticed this quote about the so-called “Rapture” as taught by many Evangelical Protestants. The Rapture is a new Protestant doctrine that was invented in the mid-1800’s in Scotland. The new novelty is mainly based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The following is a note taken from the popular Evangelical Protestant commentary – New International Biblical Commentary:

“When our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones: One scenario of the end time embraced by many Christians today sees a twofold return of Jesus: the first in secret to gather up the church, the second openly, following the tribulation (which, on this theory, only the world will endure) to judge the world.

The first return is called the Rapture, the second the Revelation. The Greek word from whose Latin equivalent (rapere) our word “rapture” is derived, is actually used by Paul in 4:17, “we … will be caught up” (but not, we believe in the sense of the modern theory; see discussion on 4:17 and 2 Thess. 2:1). The theory rests largely on a conclusion drawn from the verse before us. If Jesus is to come with his saints, it is argued, as this verse says he will, he must first have come for them. A number of other passages are enlisted to corroborate this scenario (e.g., Mark 13:27; Rev. 11:11f.), but none of them, and least of all 1 Thessalonians 3:13, can bear the weight of this interpretation.

“Some would even doubt that the holy ones refers to his saints; but allowing that it does (see the discussion), what more is Paul saying here than he says, for example, in 4:14? Paul wants to assure the Thessalonians that their dead will not be disadvantaged. They will be raised, the living will be transformed, and together, the living and the dead will “meet the Lord” and be “with the Lord forever” (4:16f.). The “all” of 3:13 is important. In anticipation of his fuller treatment in chapter 4, Paul casually indicates that all will be involved in the Parousia, but he says nothing more than that.

Besides reading too much into a passage dealing with other matters, the whole idea of the Rapture founders (1) on the fact that the church’s hope—based, we may believe, on Jesus’ own teaching—has from the outset been fixed upon his visible return (cf. 1 Cor. 1:7; Titus 2:13); and (2) on the language of 2 Thessalonians 2:1, where Paul speaks of “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him.” Paul used two nouns governed by the one definite article, which shows beyond question that he thought of the “coming” and the “gathering” as two facets of the one event.

In short, Christ’s Revelation [the 2nd Coming as taught by Scripture and the Catholic Church] is at one and the same time our Rapture.

(Williams, D. J. (1992). New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Thessalonians (68). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.)

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

faithfulservant March 20, 2012 at 1:36 PM

steve, i think you mean 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 in your first paragraph

Steve Ray March 20, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Opps. You are correct. I fixed it. Thanks so much.

GADEL March 29, 2012 at 10:43 AM

This is cool :)

Blanche D'souza June 8, 2012 at 11:35 AM

The word “rapture” does not occur in the Bible. The concept of the rapture, though, is clearly taught in Scripture. The rapture of the church is the event in which God removes all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with those believers who are still alive and who will at that time also be given glorified bodies. “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. 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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

The rapture will be instantaneous in nature, and we will receive glorified bodies at that time. “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed – (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)”. The rapture is the glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s intent. Rather, in regard to the rapture, God wants us to “encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

The Apostle John – “the beloved Apostle whom Jesus loved” – also experienced a demo rapture in Revelation 4:1.


STEVE RAY HERE: The official Catholic teaching is that Jesus comes to earth twice, not three times. The so-called “Rapture” claims Jesus will secretly come to snatch away believers between his first and second coming, virtually make a third coming. We believe he will return at the end of time and all will be raised: those who have died and those who remain alive. WE will all be caught up together with Our Lord.

What you stated above, referring to the invented Protestant “rapture” is not taught in Scripture, was never taught in all of church history until the mid-1800’s when two women had an ecstatic vision. This took place in Great Britain and was popularized in America through the Schofield Reference Bible.

What you say above is a lot of speculation, unfounded assumptions, and frankly, a twisting of Scripture. Bottom line it is man made newly invented Protestant tradition. Sorry to be blunt, but it is really the truth. I know since I used to believe it too.

Francis August 14, 2012 at 11:34 AM

I read, i think yahoo answers recently that part of being ” snatched” could not be the rapture as invented by the non-catholics. More like “snatched” away to elsewhere. Those remaining inherit the earth ‘ “Glory be to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end, and thus the meek shall inherit the earth.

Jeremy October 8, 2012 at 1:18 AM

Catholicism Invented the Rapture? C’mon!

Many web sites claim that a 16th century Jesuit Catholic priest named Francisco Ribera taught an early form of the famous evangelical “rapture” that reportedly precedes and is disconnected from the final Second Coming.
To see the actual thrust of this claim, Google “Francisco Ribera taught a rapture 45 days before the end of Antichrist’s future reign.”
But no one ever quotes even one sentence from Ribera’s monumental commentary on the Book of Revelation which is said to be the source of the 45-day rapture claim.
Claimants are challenged to produce Ribera’s own words on this matter. If they cannot, their names should be blazoned on the web as hysterical historians! (BTW, no other Catholic leader, including Jesuit priest Manuel Lacunza, has ever taught a prior rapture.)
Curious about the real beginnings of the same mystical “fly-away” belief (a.k.a. the “pre-tribulation rapture”) that has captivated many evangelical leaders including Darby, Scofield, Lindsey, Falwell, LaHaye, and Hagee? Google “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”

/ The foregoing was seen by me not long ago on the amazing internet! /

buddy October 16, 2014 at 7:36 AM

Steve Ray here: I am allowing the comment below as an example of how foolish some people can be. The flawed reasoning in this comment, is almost beyond believe. It is the parroting of a new tradition he’s been fed. Read it and weep.

BUDDY WRITES: Catholics state that the word rapture does not appear in the bible. But on the same note neither does purgatory. But you still believe in this? also in Exodus it states. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. But the catholic faith is abundant in idols and statues. Not good. And lets not even get into the fact that catholics put so much faith in mary and the saints that our lord savior alot of times takes a second seat.
I have been to many catholic mass and i see it plain as day.

Just saying we can all be brothers in christ. as long as believe the holy bible and not alterations or just following the traditions of the church that were man created and take precedence over what the bible teaches.

Edward A. Hara December 29, 2014 at 1:06 PM

The invention of the “Rapture” by Protestants gives us very clear and good reason why laypeople should not be allowed to read the Bible and think that they alone can understand it without the guidance of Holy Mother Church. It is stunning beyond belief that Protestants think they can read the Bible correctly when they can’t even see what is clearly in front of their noses.

There are two places in the NT which speak of the “catching away.” They are 1 Corin 15: 50-54 and I Thess. 4: 13-18. If you look at the CONTEXT — something that Protestants are notorious for ignoring unless it proves their heresies — St. Paul is speaking IN THE ENTIRE 15th chapter of Corinthians OF THE RESURRECTION!!!

That’s right. The context of this “catching away” is the soon to come resurrection of the dead, which happened in AD 70 when Christ returned from His work in the “tabernacle not made with hands” and the establishment of the New Covenant. When the heavenly YOM KIPPUR was finished (chronologically speaking) in heaven, the souls waiting in Paradise were able to be freed from that place and enter into the presence of God. Until that covenant offering was made for the New Covenant Church, the souls in Paradise could not leave.

Of course, the reason that this heinous doctrine took off in America like a gasoline soaked grass fire is the rampant and obnoxious anti-Catholicism in it. America was never kind to the Catholic faith, and this was just one more way that Protestants could “pound the papists.”

Harry Ehmann January 27, 2015 at 11:10 AM

The popular Left Behind novels causes me to remind their readers of context. They point to Matthew 24: 40-41 but miss Matthew 24:37. In the days of Noah what people were taken and what people were left?

STEVE RAY HERE: Harry, you are completely correct. When someone asks, “Do you want to be left behind?” I always say, “YES, because I want to be like Noah.”

Jake April 17, 2015 at 2:34 AM

The most accurate and detailed non-fiction book I know of on pretribulation rapture history is journalist Dave MacPherson’s “The Rapture Plot” (available by calling 800.643.4645) – a book every Catholic should have since the best known pretrib rapture promoters (e.g., Scofield, Lindsey, LaHaye etc.) are strongly anti-Catholic and believe that the future Antichrist will be headquartered in Rome (and you can almost guess where!). Google articles of interest include “Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “The Real Manuel Lacunza,” “Pseudo-Ephraem Taught Pretrib – NOT!,” “John Darby Did Not Invent the Rapture,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart” (she originated the pretrib rapture), “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Evangelicals Use Occult Deception,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.” Every Catholic church should have “The Rapture Plot” (see above) especially since many Catholics have been brainwashed by the best-selling “Left Behind” books and movies based on the false, 185-year-old pretrib rapture fantasy which didn’t invade and take over American evangelicalism much before 1909!

James Mascarenhas May 3, 2015 at 6:20 AM

Mr. Ray,
You opened your quote but it appears that you forgot to close it.
So is the entire section in brown color a citation from the NIB Commentary? If not where does it end?
If it is indeed so, what is your summation? There should have been a closing comment or simple summary from you since all readers are not as well read as you are on these theological matters.
If I presume that the Protestant NIB Commentary is in accord with Catholic Church teaching, will I be correct?
If my presumption is correct, what would be the meaning in brief of (what were you conveying by) “The Rapture? Not All Evangelical Protestant Scholars Agree”?
James Ryan M

Norm January 6, 2016 at 1:34 AM

Saw the following composition on the never boring net. Any reaction to it? – – –

by Dave MacPherson

John Bray’s 1982 booklet “The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching” claimed that 18th century Jesuit priest Manuel Lacunza originated the pretrib rapture in his 1812 work “The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty.” Bray stated Lacunza saw a 45-day period between a rapture and Christ’s touchdown on earth – a 45-day period Bray viewed as “tribulation” days.
But Lacunza was only saying that the “day of the Lord” would be at least 45 days long – the difference between the 1290 days and the 1335 days in Dan. 12. Somehow Bray failed to note that those 45 days could not begin until the tribulation days were “concluded” (Vol. II, p. 250) – and Bray may have been influenced by those who erroneously believe that the “day of the Lord” INCLUDES the tribulation!
Not only did Lacunza begin his 45 days AT the joint rapture/second coming, but he even had the raptured ones back on earth DURING those 45 days (Vol. II, pp. 262-3) to minister to “the relics [trib survivors] of all nations” [see Isa. 18:2] during the cleanup of Antichrist’s rubble (similar to the cleaning up of New York’s Twin Towers’ rubble before new buildings could be built)!
In Vol. I (p. 83) Lacunza writes that “the nineteenth chapter [of Revelation] speaks of the coming of the Lord in glory and majesty, which Christians with one consent do wait for.”
On pp. 99-100, after quoting I Thess. 4:13-18, Lacunza quotes Matt. 24:30 and then comments: “If you compare this text with that of St. Paul, you shall find no other difference than this, that those who are to arise on the coming of the Lord, the apostle nameth those who are dead in Christ, who sleep in Jesus; and the Lord nameth them his elect.”
And in Vol. I (p. 113) Lacunza again quotes I Thess. 4 and Matt. 24 like this: “…He shall descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive, &c. and it appears to me, that you will find St. Paul and the Gospel speaking one and the same thing: He shall send his angels and they shall gather his elect from the four winds; who can be no other than those very ones who are in Christ, who sleep in Jesus.”
Interestingly, even Tim LaHaye’s 1992 book “No Fear of the Storm” admits on p. 169 that “Lacunza never taught a pre-Trib Rapture!”
For more on Bray and his other groundless claims, Google “Is John Bray a PINO?,” “Morgan Edwards’ Rapture View,” “Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “John Darby Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart,” “Edward Irving Vs. John Darby,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”
Finally, since the earliest pretrib rapture promoters were overwhelmingly anti-Catholic, it’s not likely they would have adopted anything from a Catholic!

Richard Thorne February 12, 2016 at 6:13 PM


Steve Ray here: I have allowed this comment for comedic value. This is one more example of the tragedy of “Bible Alone” and amateur theologians come up with whacky conclusions and try to impose them on everyone else, as if they are the unique prophets of God today.

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