According to a prominent strand of Christian teaching, believers in Jesus are awaiting a future in which they will be transported to heaven in an event known as “the Rapture.” The most popular biblical passage used to support this view is Paul’s eschatological discourse in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Despite common interpretations of this text in terms of an end-time elevation from the earth, the apostle does not describe a “rapture” out of our world. To the contrary, rather than describing believers being herded to heaven, Paul details events that will occur on this earth in tandem with the Messiah’s second coming.

In his presentation of the Parousia, Paul declares, “The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up (ἁρπάζω; harpadzo) with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (4:16-17). While some read a “rapture” into these verses, Paul’s language and context argue against such a reading. First, among the Greeks of Paul’s day, “caught up” (ἁρπάζω; harpadzo) was used as a euphemism for an untimely death (see Plutarch, Letter to Apollonius 111C-D, 117B); the apostle repurposes ἁρπάζω, not as another word for death, but as a description of eternal life upon the Lord’s return.

Second, the context does not describe Jesus (or his followers) ascending to heaven, but rather coming down to earth on the “clouds” (νεφέλαις; nephelais), which are common vehicles for divine visitation (e.g., Num 11:25; 12:5; Dan 7:13; Mk 13:26; Rev 10:1). Moreover, Paul’s reference to Yeshua arriving with the sound of a “trumpet” (σάλπιγξ; sálpigx) recalls the shofar blast that accompanied God’s descent onto Sinai: “As the sound of the trumpet (שׁופר; shofar/σάλπιγξ; sálpigx [LXX]) grew louder… the Lord came down onto Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain” (Exod 19:19). Once God alighted on this earth, “the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up” (19:20). Just as Moses goes up to meet the Lord in the rarified air of the mountaintop, Paul asserts that believers will meet the descending Lord in the “air” (ἀήρ; aér)—not in a rapture to “heaven” (οὐρανός; ouranós).

Finally, just as Moses eventually comes back down the mountain (see Exod 19:25), those who meet the Messiah in the air will also come back down to this earth. Paul’s picture is of an emperor on his way back from a military campaign: in the ancient Roman world, victorious emperors would return to the capital along with a massive train of foreign prisoners, wealth, and other spoils of war. On hearing of the emperor’s return, the Roman citizens would meet their triumphant leader along the way and follow him back into the city as part of the celebratory procession. Paul envisions a similar scenario at Jesus’ second coming: The Messiah will begin his descent on the clouds and his followers will meet him at a midway point in the air so that they can follow their conquering King back down to this earth.

Although it is common in certain Christian circles to read a “rapture” into 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, this conclusion does not account for Paul’s literary and cultural contexts. Instead of describing a portal to heaven, the apostle offers a window into the eternal life that comes with the resurrection of the dead and Jesus’ everlasting reign in the Kingdom of God.



  1. I’m amazed at how much we Gentile believers read into Scripture. I’ve been in the ministry a lot of years and have never seen or heard this explanation. Thank you for enlightening our understanding stretching our minds.

      • I, too, find your brief articles to be extremely helpful to this “ignorant” person. I have used information several times that I have gleaned from the excerpts from Israel Bible Studies. Is it possible for “being caught up in the air” meaning being caught up in the spirit?… breath, breeze…?

        • I think the “Rapture view” tends to make money for certain people. That is my opinion. Your explanation of the scripture seems more in keeping with what is actually written. Thank you.

      • So if we don’t go to heaven in a rapture, how do we interpret the Book of Revelation? The saints crying out from under the altar, the Tribulation? Do all people living at that time go through it?

        • Thanks for your questions, Lisa. The overwhelming testimony of the New Testament is that believers in Jesus go through tribulation (e.g., Jn 16:33; Matt 5:12; 2 Tim 3:12), so there’s little reason to think that everyone (both believers and non-believers) experience the tribulation described in Revelation.

    • Everyone reads out of scripture based on their own hermeneutic. The clearest expression by our Lord on the pre-tribulation rapture, the “harpazzo”, is in John 14:1-4. But I can’t enter into an intelligent conversation with you on this since you allow only a few words in these replies.

      • John 14:1-4 says nothing about rapture either. Jesus says that He will come back and receive believers to Himself that they will be where He is. Where is He? Returned to the earth. Take this passage in concert with 2 Peter 3:13 & Revelation 21:2 for confirmation.

        • Agreed, Chaf. Good points. The “rapture” interpretation of John 14 misunderstands both the context of the chapter and the directionality of the figures therein.

        • The Bible is very clear on the 2nd coming of Jesus , the rupture is when Jesus will come for the Saints in 1Thessalinians 4:13 -18 , John 14:1-4. after the millennium Jesus will come with the Saints to set up His Kingdom on earth..

          • Alicia. Jesus comes here to rule for 1000 years 1Thes4:13 and Acts1:9 plus Jude14 Come with the Saints and meet Him in the air and all agree He will come Here. Your words seem to have 2 1000 year of rule He comes again only once to rule. No Rapture

        • Why would Jesus go to the Father’s House to prepare a place for us only to return to Earth and take us to Himself here?? That makes no sense. He’s going to take us to the Father’s House in Heaven. He will return to take us home. That’s the rapture.

          • Mark, the Father’s house comes down from heaven to this earth (cf. Rev 21:1-3). Thus, John 14 describes Jesus ascending to heaven and preparing a place for us in the kingdom of heaven, which will arrive on a renewed earth in the last day. In the end, heaven comes down to us; we do not go up to heaven.

      • Mark Since this is the CORRECT interpretation then is only one way to converse. Thank you Dr. Schaser as so many believe in a rapture But there is no near miss when Jesus comes Act 1:9. So many churches teach so many false ideas and so many listen

        • In the rapture Christ comes FOR His Bride, the Church. In the Second coming, He comes WITH His Church. And apparently yours is one of them. Where is the 7 years of tribulation? The language used by our Lord is from the customs of the Jewish Wedding.

          • Y’Shua is a Jew ! And when He returns ,He is not returning for this mythological church but to Yerushalayim to His people the Jews .Read Zechariah 12 and 14 for starters .

      • Romans 8:17
        17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
        Many Christians think they will be spared the tribulation, I think not.

    • In the Latin Vulgate, one of the oldest Bibles in existence, the appropriate tense of rapio appears in verse 17. (Raptus is the past participle of rapio, and our English words “rapt” and “rapture” stem from this past participle.)

      • Therefore, the term “rapture” is not preposterous. The differences that exist stem on a question of “when?” Pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation. This is probably influenced more on one’s hermeneutic as you stated. For pre, or mid, there are clearly 2 events w/Jesus in the air; post is the 1.

        • This will be the fulfillment of the promise which our Lord confirmed at the Last Supper to believers in John 14:1-3 (Judas gone). There are more scriptures to study for this topic, combined with the whole counsel of God to support 2 events. Luckily, salvation does not depend whose right.

        • I never claim that the word “rapture” is “preposterous”; rather, I argue that an eschatological rapture to heaven is not present in 1 Thessalonians 4.

    • My former pastor, Peter Shebley, now deceased, described this verse in the same manner. This is how he taught the second coming.

      • Thanks Dr Nicholas, very few comments I was still trying to understand through others’ understanding. It is disappointing that those who will have the chance to meet Him in the ‘air’, will come back down. Meditation could help with better understanding. No hope for doing the course. Peace.

    • I think our minds have been stretched out of proportion and all we have to do is simply believe what the bible says. Consider evolution or G-d created the world in 6 days. If G-d is so powerful can’t He do exactly what He says! Amazingly yes!

    • Thanks for your question, Steven. Yes, the two texts are connected insofar as both 1 Thess 4 and Revelation discuss the resurrection of the dead the descent of God’s kingdom from heaven to earth.

      • Could be, Diana 🙂 In which case, both texts would describe a physical resurrection from the dead on this earth, rather than a “rapture” from this earth to heaven.

    • Steven, N.T. Wright’s work: Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church should prove helpful in expanding Dr. Schaser’s brief excellent explanation.

  2. Shalom Blessings to all. We’re truly grateful for all that is shared thru these deeper looks into the scriptures from a Hebrew perspective.

    Question: In that this is a deeper look, why not honor the Lord by calling Him by His birth name Yeshua/Yahshua rather than Jesus?

    • Thanks for reading, Cj. I’m glad to hear that you’re finding our articles useful. To your question, see the third paragraph of the above article for my use of “Yeshua.” When writing in English, I feel that it’s usually more appropriate to use the English name, Jesus, but I’m not opposed to using Yeshua. That being said, I should stress that English speakers (who often don’t know any other Hebrew or Aramaic words) don’t get extra points for using “Yeshua,” rather than “Jesus.”

      • Please allow me to point out that when Peter in Acts 4:10-12 speaks about the name of Jesus as the only name given to us under heaven by which we can be saved, it is in Greek: Iēsou Xristou tou Nazõraiou. Just to keep things in perspective…Thanks.

  3. Hi Dr Schaser
    2 Peter 3:10: KJB. But the day of the lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with a fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are their in shall be burned up. Revelation 21: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the old heaven, and the old earth had passed away. Can you please explain when this takes place.
    Kind regards, Bronwyn.

    • Thanks for your question, Bronwyn. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer: even Jesus doesn’t know when these things will take place (cf. Matt 24:36; Mk 13:32), so I can’t speculate.

      • Thank you for your response Dr Schaser.
        I realise that no one knows of the timing of the second coming of Yeshua, and the end of the age, only the father, but we can know the season.
        I guess that I didn’t ask the question properly, and I do not want anyone to speculate.
        What I am trying to find out is, do the scriptures say that at the second coming, we in Yeshua, (the dead in him rising first), rise to heaven with him to live in the mansions that he went to prepare for us, and then the destruction of the earth and her left behind inhabitants burn with fervent heat?

        • Thanks for your clarification, Bronwyn. “Mansions” is the KJV translation of μονή (moné) in John 14:1, which means “rooms” in Greek (specifically, temporary “rest areas” on a journey). Some readers interpret Jesus’ promise that he will “come again and will take you to myself” (14:3) to mean something like: “I will come back from heaven at the end of days and take you with me to heaven in a rapture.” However, the “rapture” interpretation doesn’t fit Jesus’ words later in the chapter: “If anyone loves me… my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (14:23). Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “we will make his home with us in heaven,” but that “we will make our home with him [on earth].” In other words, when Jesus says that he will “come again,” he means that he and his Father will dwell on a renewed earth with humanity (cf. Rev 21-22). There’s nothing in Jn 14 that demands a “rapture” interpretation; the text to which you’re alluding does not say that believers will “rise to heaven” before those who are “left behind” undergo the tribulation (cf. Jn 16:33 for Jesus’ assurance that “there will be tribulation” for believers).

          • Thank you Dr Schaser.
            Yes! Humanity will go through the tribulation, but not our fathers WRATH, which to my understanding of the scriptures, happens after the second coming of Yeshua. Hence a need for a new heaven and a new earth. And I did not say that my understanding of the meeting of our lord in the air is a rapture, the Bible does not state the word RAPTURE.
            Kind regards, Bronwyn.

          • Zechariah 14:9 And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.
            No one seems to understand or want to comment on this scripture verse for the implications are great.

        • Very well put I do understand it we were just talking about this the other day. generations die out and generations come and we’re still waiting for the coming of the LORD. I no that this earth will be distroy by fire. Then we’ll live in peace with Jesus amen

    • The way I see this verse, the verse spans the full 1000 year millennium the new heavens and earth 🌏 occurring at the end

  4. Hi, Explain the difference between the “rapture” and the second coming. Point for point, and back it up with scripture from Old testament and New Testament.

    • Hi, Alex. Since the Bible doesn’t speak of a “rapture,” it’s going to be difficult for me to compare a non-biblical idea with the biblical second coming. Whereas Scripture consistently notes that Jesus will come to earth a second time (e.g., Matt 25:31; Acts 1:11; 2 Thess 1:7-8; Rev 22:20), there are no scriptural references to a “rapture.” So, I suppose the difference between the two is that “the rapture” is an evacuation from earth, which doesn’t appear in the Bible, and the second coming is the Messiah’s return to earth, which does appear in the Bible.

      • Hi Alex in regard to the “rapture” please source a copy of a Book called “The Incredible Cover up” by Dave McPherson”. The Rapture is an “unsound doctrine”founded on a vision Margaret Mcdonald and perpetuated by Edward Irving – and then others of the Plymouth Brethren in 1830.Please Read it.

      • Harpazo in Greek for ‘gathering from out of’, taken out of or seized, catching away, plucked, pulled by force. Seeing as how there is a prophetic pattern of this in OT, I would think there would be a greater understanding here of it as a type of rapture.

  5. This is a fantastic article Dr Nicholas. I came across this concept a few months back while reading some of N.T Wright’s work and I must say the ensuing study was quite eye opening and humbling! I think the summation that an established “kingdom of heaven” looks less like “evacuation” and is more about “occupation” lines up with scripture in a far more impacting and meaningful way. The Olam Ha-ba seems to have very little to do with “going to heaven when we die” in Jewish thought; quite contrary to the doxa of a modern Christian church!

    My next read on the topic will probably be “Apocalypse and Allegiance” by J. Nelson Kraybill. Excited to dig into articulations surrounding the reign of Domitian and how he (and the deified Caesars in his family tree) were the subject of The Revelations.

    Seems to me that as much as the book is apocalyptic in nature, it is as Jewish resistance literature against Roman oppression (proclaiming the risen Christ as the true ruler and King of everything). Also mind blowing to think the majority of the events have already played out after years of teachings to the contrary!

    • Thanks for your comments, Shaun. Yes, I’ve also seen some of Wright’s responses to “rapture” interpretations. Indeed, Revelation is an apocalyptic text insofar as it constitutes a divine “uncovering” of what will take place on earth prior to the inbreaking kingdom of God. More, much of the visionary material in the Apocalypse pertains to John’s ancient Roman world — though, certainly, some of it has a future application, and all of it remains useful for the present. Thanks again for contributing to the discussion.

  6. I agree. For most of my adult life I have thought that the prevailing popularity of the dispensational rapture scenario was displaying an unwarranted optimism that reflected the American exceptionalist mentality and spirit of manifest destiny of the mid 1800’s far more than sound and careful exegesis.

    • You’re right that “rapture” theology is particularly modern and Western, Dan. You’re also right that a close look at the text(s) shows that they do not support the idea. Thanks for your input.

  7. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus, while not knowing when the time would come, does mention that one would be taken and the other left. Also, the judgments of Revelation don’t seem to be for the church. I think these things need to be considered, as well.

    • You’re right that these other texts need to be considered within this discussion, Brian. Originally, I had wanted to include both the Olivet Discourse and Revelation in the above article, but it just became too long for a single post. Hence, I am planning to write another article on both of the texts you mentioned, neither of which refers to the rapture.

    • Brian. Rev 20 cover both events. The first When Jesus comes and is joined by us to begin the Kingdom of Heaven. The other 1000 years later when the dead not in Jesus is raised and judged.

    • if you study both the olivet and revelations they do speak clearly about this.. 1 will be take and 1 won’t just means 1 is saved and the other has not accepted Christ. and yes you are right the Judgements are not for the believers even though we will be

    • Thanks for this comment, Bill. Yes, like 1 Thess 4, Matt 24:30-31 also gets misinterpreted as a reference to the rapture. I am planning to write an article on Matt 24:30-31 next.

      • I am looking forward to hearing explanation about being gathered from the four winds in the Matthew passage. This phrase about four winds is also seen in Daniel 7:2 and Revelation 7:1. Also interested in how this might tie in with Isaiah 26:20,21 which seems to be part of apocalyptic prophecy from chapters 24-27.
        Another point of interest re :Matthew 24 is the different words used for body in Matthew 24:28 cf with Luke 17:37 ( ptoma vs soma)

  8. Hello, thnks for your insight, then if this is so who will live in the new jerusalem? Its clear that the new jerusalem will not have a temple because the lamb himself his our temple, The promise of the kingdome age wasnt promise to israel such as isaiah 65 etc.? John 14 Jesus said that he will GO to prepare a place so we will be where he is, so where are these mansions? Thank you very much

    • Thanks for your questions, Alwin. Revelation states that the “new Jerusalem” will “come down” to us; we do not go up to heaven in a rapture. Jesus prepares a place for us in God’s heavenly kingdom (Jn 14:2-3), but according to every other biblical text on this topic, God’s kingdom will eventually *come down* upon this earth (e.g., the Our Father prayer, ‘Your Kingdom come’) — we don’t go “up” in a rapture.

      • The new Jerusalem in my understanding is small, Dr Nicholas, I understand we will be without the earthly bodies that get fat; does this mean few will qualify to live in the new city?

        • Kolitsoe, Revelation 21:16 says that the length and width of the new Jerusalem measures 12,000 stadia, which is over 1,000 square miles (so, not so small…). However, I wouldn’t take that measurement too literally, since 12,000 corresponds to the all the other twelves in the chapter (see 21:9-14) — particularly to the 12 tribes of Israel — so that the number represents the fullness of the divine dwelling with humanity and the repairing and reconciliation that comes with it (cf. 21:3-4).

          • The important symbolic value of scriptural numbers! This is why I prefer that translations not change to modern measurements, or at least, let the modern measurement be in the margins rather than the other way around!

    • Alwin Read John Jesus said to the disciples. I will come again. re mansions can be positions or offices like they would rule Israel. Like the word the inn For Mary & Joseph. actually meant guest room probably at a relative’s home. And crowded due to Feast

  9. Just another false” progressive” explanation of a well-revealed event that will take place much sooner than we could expect. Paul was right on track when he described the catching-away of the truly Born Again Church” Beware of those who “wrest” or twist the Scriptures (II Peter 3:15-16).

    • Charles, I’m pretty sure this is the first time anyone has described my approach as “progressive.” If you’re going to use 1 Thess 4:17 (i.e., “catching-away”) as proof of “the Rapture,” you’ll need to actually deal with the language and context of the passage, and *show* that Paul speaks about a rapture. That is, assertions (like the one you’ve made here) need to be supported with biblical data — calling an alternative view “progressive” doesn’t get you any purchase on the validity of your own view.

    • Dr. Schaser is correct…. the proof text for there NOT being a pre tribulation rapture is that famous passage in Thessalonians. Everywhere, Paul is talking about the second coming which Jesus clearly says is AFTER the tribulation and AFTER the sun and moon go dark….
      …might notice that!

    • John Darby really did a number on the American Church, and it is only since 1830 AD that anyone has ever taught a pre-tribulation rapture. His dispensational doctrine wipes out the gospel for the church as he teaches that the Gospel is only for the Jews in the tribulation. That takes away from Christianity the very teaching of the one who founded it!

      Paul agreed with Matthew 24 and with Jesus when he clearly taught that the parousia will not come until the man of sin is revealed… that is the antichrist. (2nd Thessalonians 2:1-4)

      The parousia is not something that can occur at any moment, until after we see Jerusalem surrounded by its enemies and that man of sin breaks the covenant and declares himself to be God. 70 AD certainly was not that time of the great tribulation like many would like to say, or else pregnant women and nursing mothers would still be going through great distress after more than 2000 years. (Matthew 24:19-21) This time of distress is still in our future and the 70 AD trampling of Jerusalem was only a foreshadow of what is to come in our future… which could be very soon.

      But just as God took care of those who put the blood on their doorways and killed all the 1st born who didn’t have blood over their doorways, He will also take care of those who have the blood of Jesus cleansing their souls at the time of the Tribulation.

      Certainly this does not mean some Christians will not be put to death and that many will suffer, but they will not be lost to eternity because of going through the Tribulation!

      I used to believe in Darby’s dispensationalism and the pretribulation rapture, until in recent years, but that was because the church taught it and I just thought they knew what they were talking about. Obviously, they didn’t know, and they just absorbed it from those who taught them… it has become tradition in America, but not with most Christians in other parts of the world. The Scriptures teach otherwise. More than 70% of American churches today have accepted the doctrine of John Darby. And the Scofield Bible with its dispensational study notes alongside the very words of Scripture is mostly what perpetuated this false doctrine of dispensationalism and a pre-tribulation rapture!

      • Dr. Jack Van Impe perennially reiterates the Rapture is in the Latin Vulgate as Jerome included it. For centuries, Thomas Aquinas pro-Rapture views were suppressed by the Catholic Church but are now out in the open. These giants taught a pre-tribulation Rapture many centuries before Darby.

      • First Thessalonians 4:17 “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. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” No rapture, no encouragement.

  10. I am a full believer in the rapture of the church as Jesus would never let his bride go through the tribulation period. There are two distinct returns of our Lord – the rapture and his 2nd coming. We will return with Jesus to this earth upon His 2nd coming.

    • Thanks for your input, Richard. Since suffering in this world is something of a foregone conclusion for Jesus followers — e.g., “In this world you will have tribulation” (Jn 16:33) — it would be divergent from Jesus’ message if believers were protected from tribulation described in Revelation.

      • The difference between ‘tribulation’ in general and the Great Tribulation as I understand is this: the first is Satan’s wrath and persecution of the church during the church age. The second is the outpouring of God’s wrath on the Christ rejecting world during the 7yr Tribulation. Re:Daniel & Revelation

  11. The Millennium is O.T. Ezekiel, Zachariah
    1. The rapture is in the O.T. Enoch and Elijah are both a foreshadowing of the rapture.
    2. Postmillennial does not allow for who is populating the world during the millennium reign.
    3. Bride protected from God’s wrath in O.T. in Isaiah, Daniel Prophecies.

    • Agree, God’s wrath is for a world in rebellion, not the Church, or Bride of Christ. The Church is no longer mentioned after chapter 3 in revelation because it is likely not there! If the Church is required to suffer God’s wrath, one is saying Christ death was insufficient -beware!

  12. sure! teaches same. No two second comings of Christ! The topic is enlightening. Tim Lahaye’s Left Behind book popularised it all when the movie was done on the secret rapture theory. Whether one takes it literally or symbolically the trumpet and the shout in the main “rapture” verse does

  13. Totaly disagre with you interpritatiojnn The rapture spoken of in 1 Cor 15 and 1 Tess 4 is for the Church only You cannot have Israel and the Church together, As Abraham was promised his posterity Israel would be as the sand od the sea.And Gentile as and Jewisjevery im

    • I’m not seeing “rapture” anywhere in 1 Corinthians 15; the text describes the “resurrection of the dead,” but this event should not be conflated with a rapture to heaven. Stephen, if you’re going to appeal to 1 Thess 4 as a proof of “the Rapture,” then you need to do more than just assert that this is so. Instead, you need to reckon with what the passage actually says (including its broader literary and cultural contexts), as the above article does. In other words, in order to support the “1 Thess 4 = rapture” position, one must gather textual data to support this view. Since everything in Paul’s discourse can be understood without recourse to the Rapture idea, the burden of proof remains with those who find a “rapture” in the the text.

    • 🙂 Or, more precisely, heaven *will become* a place on earth when the new Jerusalem comes down to earth from heaven (Rev 21:1-2) — this dovetails with Jesus’ prayer to God, “Your Kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). So, yes, Belinda Carlisle was on to something.

      • Your kingdom come is a daily prayer. The kingdom is our promises available to us while on earth. Though it’s not a distinct reference to the Above Jerusalem to come down, it could be an onion layer designed to fit that, possibly, maybe? Or not?

        • Thanks for your question, Suzie. Jesus’ vision of God’s kingdom coming to earth in the Our Father prayer is certainly inline with the end-time vision of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth in Revelation. For both Jesus and John, there will be a moment in history when God’s heavenly kingdom breaks in to our world and dwells with us eternally — both the Our Father and Rev 21-22 attest to this vision.

  14. First, I want to share that this site: “Israel Bible Center” has taught me much about the OT and Jewish culture and I so love the Jewish people, I am so disappointed you have not given me enough room to respond. This saddens me!

    • Hi, Bonnie. I’m very happy to hear that you are finding the work we do at IBC beneficial. Unfortunately, from a tech perspective, we need to limit the amount of words in responses, or else our website’s interface would become too crowded and more difficult to manage. If you wish to provide us with a lengthier comment, you can always send me an email.

  15. No the word rapture is not in the Bible But caught up is , & come down is also so to come down we have to go up — No? very good discussion. Love you brother

    • Harpadzo =Outline of Biblical Usage: to seize, carry off by force to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly to snatch out or away 1Thess 4:17 the word (caught up) the term rapture from Latin raptus- (a bird 🦅 of prey that snatches something with great violence and suddenness.

  16. Another important point is the word “to meet”, apantesis. This word also occurs in Acts 28:15 where we read the brethren came out “to meet” Paul as he was entering Rome. When Paul met them he did not turn around and return where he came from but rather continued to Rome with the brethren escorting him as a sign of respect. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament notes that this is a technical term for a dignitary being greeted and escorted into the city.

  17. Look at Scripture as a whole and the rapture is in view in 1 Thess 4 and in context of 1&2 Thess is pre-tribulation. Rev 4-5 the church is in heaven. Jn 14:1-3 is fullfilled pre-trib. Mt 25:31-46 no post-tribulation rapture., etc. Need to look at entire Word of God.

    • David, we only have space in our articles to take on one or two texts at a time. I will write another post soon on Matt 25 and Revelation, neither of which describe the rapture. I suppose that I will need to follow that article with one on John’s Gospel, since Jn 14 is another text into which people seem to be reading “rapture.”

  18. There is not enough space to type what the Lord showed me about this. Any serious Bible scholar knows there are two accounts on the Lord’s return. One he comes as a thief in the night and the second he comes as a conquering warrior to destroy Antichrist Government.

  19. I just want to reply to the comment that we cannot see Israel and Church together in 1000 y. kingdom. 1Thess.4:17 “And so we will be with the Lord forever” If the resurrected believers are to be with Jesus forever – He is going to spend 1000 years on earth.

  20. Only 45 words 2comment! Glad a scholar backed me up. Quit talking/arguing abt it. Never believed in pre/mid/post trib rapture. John? says about enduring THRU. SO TIRED of peeps saying we’re gonna be outta here. it’s US that are the witnesses, ‘left behind’ was FICTION!

  21. If the second coming is after a secret coming, then it will be seven years to the part second after the seven yrs tribulation, so I will know when the second coming is.

  22. The word “rapture” appears in the Latin Vulgate translated from Greek “harpagisomethain” translated in English “we shall be caught up”. The rapture is imminent which means it can happen at any moment though not necessarily soon. Richard Northorp is spot on. Arabella Gregory is also correct.

  23. Thank you Dr.Schaser for your clear review.Holding interpretations to the literary and cultural context is difficult when we have been taught mostly from a personal viewpoint of what we want to “read into” the scriptures.Looking forward to the rest of your studies on this.

  24. There is no such thing as a rapture. Follow the timeline of the tribulation leading up to the return of the Lord and you will see that the so called “rapture ” occurs at this moment in time when the dead in Christ are raised.

    • Rapture is not an “event” per se – it is the ecstatic (rapturous) feelings that those Jesus has saved will experience when we see Him in the air. Where Heaven is won’t matter as long as I am with Him as anywhere/everywhere will be Heaven.

  25. Some will say, but we are not subject to the wrath of God. This is true but the tribulation period is not the wrath of God. It’s the wrath of Satan. God’s wrath comes after the return of Christ. After the saints have been gathered.

  26. Heaven is a spiritual place. Physical things cannot enter heaven. Only our souls ascend to heaven and our bodies turn to dust. The new testament is completely false from beginning to end. If it was the word of God, why would it have so many contradictions in it?

    • Sandy, nowhere does the Bible say that “our souls ascend to heaven” after we die. Yes, heaven is a spiritual place, but that does not mean that it is not also physical, since the “spirit” world is also described in “physical” terms according to Scripture. You might find the following IBC article helpful on this point:

      On your understanding of the NT, I think it might be helpful for you to dispense with the Greek philosophical notion of “contradiction” when you approach Jewish texts. Ancient Jews were not as beholden to the “law of non-contradiction” as we are in the modern West (having been strongly influenced by classical Greek thought). The identification of “contradictions” is orthogonal to the question of whether or not the NT is “true” or “false.”

  27. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am you will be also.”

  28. I Thes. 4:16-17 should be read in conjunction with I Cor. 15:51-53 to really understand the concept of the meeting and the takeout (rapture) of the saints before the judgment just as God took out Noah and his family before the judgment of the flood. Space doesn’t permit full explanation.

  29. God will always take out His own before judgment falls on the world. We have the examples of Noah and Lot. The Lord will take out (rapture) the saints; then the rapture of the 2 witnesses (Enoch and Elijah) of Rev. 11:3-13. After that, the judgment on the world.

    • Noah was left on the earth through the flood; unbelievers were taken out of the world. Lot was left on earth; unbelievers were taken out of the world.

  30. Thank you Leisa, Jesus speaking in Jn 14:1-3, Said ‘if it were not so I would have told you’ I rather believe Him than any man whose understanding is limited. I encourage you all to prepare for His second coming than engage in what is unprofitable to your soul.

  31. Nicholas, could you respond as to how certain believers think the marriage supper of the lamb is the 7 yr tribulation? Is there something in the Jewish wedding customs that would allow for this explanation?

    • Hi, Michelle. I likely won’t be much help here, as don’t spend any time in the “tribulation timeline” discussions. To my knowledge, there’s nothing in Jewish wedding customs that would support the notion that the marriage supper of Revelation 19 should be associated with a tribulation. As for Revelation itself, nothing in the language of Revelation 19:6-10 explicates a “tribulation” or anything lasting “seven years.” Those who make this connection may be drawing from the “seven years” reference in Ezekiel 39:9, but I can’t be sure. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t give too much time or thought to the various links that some want to make between the biblical books for support of “end-time tribulation” speculation.

  32. I was taught dispensationalism and believed it all my life until I was challenged to prove it biblically without reading into the scriptures preconceived notions. That was the beginning of my reversal of theology. I came to understand the rapture to be the hope to avoid suffering which Jesus declared.

  33. Dr Nicholas what does it matter if we go into heaven or come back to earth at that time. Paul does tell us “so shall we will always be with Yeshua” it does matter to me if I’m in heaven or on earth with the Lord.

  34. As Bible school dean I teach all the theories to students. According to our translation the pre, mid and after rapture and the messianic view like Dr. described in article. But sum up with, what does is matter, it has nothing to do with ou salvation. Blood does, HIS

  35. Please allow me another, just love HIM and follow HIS orders and be saved and be with HIM at the end. And we can speculate when it is to heavan, Mic. 3:7, but its not to argued. The tabarnacle gives us the time despensation. Love GOD, DEUT. 6:5

  36. Dr. Schaser, it struck me that a lot of tension and disagreement over this subject could be alleviated if we had greater insight to your & IBC’s hermeneutical method. May I ask what school of thought you might most closely align with?

    • Thanks for your question, Jerry. IBC doesn’t have a single, controlling hermeneutical method, nor are we associated with any particular “school” of thought. The same goes for my own approach to biblical interpretation — I don’t favor a particular academic theory, and denominational traditions do not factor into my theology.

      • Fair enough. I’m accustomed to asking the question when I’m not sure what base a theologian is operating from. Overall, let the text determine even if it controverts a (the) defacto traditional position. I will have to give greater consideration to your position.

      • I’m watching a YT video with William Lane Craig on his take debunking the Pre-Trib Rapture. He presented the same evidence about going up to greet the Lord much in the same way as citizens greeting a victorious general. This is starting to make sense to me. Interesting…

  37. Thank you. This is a great discussion on this topic. Much like the Israelites were in Egypt for the plagues will we who believe be here in the tribulation. Thank you for more insight on this thought! I want to know more about this topic.

  38. the same time so many Jewish believers compares the Jewish wedding with the rapture. .. seems like that hangs in the air if there isn’t such a thing as the rapture? Jonathan Cahn a Messianic Jew also teaches the pre tribulation rapture?

  39. We shall be hidden “in a man”. If believers would only believe ALL scriptures and the continuity from OT to NT, they would see the Kingdom of Heaven described here on earth by the OT prophets. Tell the persecuted of this day there will be no tribulation for believers!

  40. Shalom. I have not believed in a “Rapture” before the tribulation or 2nd coming of Messiah. Why would believers be warned of what is to happen if they are not going to be here? I have always thought the Trumpet blast would be just before the return of Messiah. Thank you for this explanation.

  41. “Paul asserts that believers will meet the descending Lord in the “air” (ἀήρ; aér)—not in a rapture to “heaven” (οὐρανός; ouranós).”
    This case was not made convincingly, for ex., “not in a rapture to “heaven” (οὐρανός; ouranós).”
    Who is reading into the Scripture here?
    “Once God alighted on this earth, “the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up” (19:20). Just as Moses goes up to meet the Lord in the rarified air of the mountaintop, Paul asserts that believers will meet the descending Lord in the “air” (ἀήρ; aér)—not in a rapture to “heaven” (οὐρανός; ouranós).” This case was not made — based on the Moses quote? This needs a more comprehensive analysis, in view of the depth of the N T.

    • I’m having trouble following your objection, Mark. I’ve included the Greek that Paul uses (i.e., the term for “air”), as well as the Greek he does not use (i.e., the term for “heaven”).

      • Thanks, Dr. Schaser — What you’re doing here is what I’ve been doing as well for quite some time…trying to take every nuance of the Scripture and make sure I see it as it intends to be conveyed, with the help of the HS, of course (John 16:7…)
        So, no doubt you are a serious scholar and know your stuff, which I appreciate as I have spent my life in Messianic ministries. I agree that many things have a clear bias such as the ostensible replacement of Isreal by the Church despite the fact that the vine has lost some branches but hasn’t been uprooted.
        The point here is, I believe the analogy of Moses coming down the mountain is not enough (cf. Acts 17:11); notwithstanding, this subject has been detailed so much in the last 2000 years, I would need far more space to make what I believe would be a fair case — I don’t believe the Moses analogy plays into this setting.

        • By the way — after the Rapture, we believe the Tribulation begins; therefore, what would we be doing here during the Devil’s last stand?

          • Since I don’t see evidence in Scripture for a “Rapture” scenario, I would see the church going through a tribulation, rather than being taken from it. More, we may not want to conflate what John says in Revelation with what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians.

        • That’s fine, Mark — I think the Sinai stuff is at play here, but you’re entitled to hold an alternative view of the text 🙂 Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

  42. May I ask the historical context of Jesus sending out disciples in two’s. Appreciate your time. Thank you.

  43. Paul says when christ comes descending out of heaven the risen christians and transformed believers will rise to MEET the LORD in the air…that is the fulfilment of John 17:24 and Col.3:1-3-Christians will APPEAR WITH CHRIST IN GLORY…

  44. I spent the first half of this year studying the topic of the rapture and the second coming, and have come to the same conclusion: there is no rapture! What an eye-opener!! My whole internally-perceived-doctrine of the second coming has had to change.. thanx for the confirmation. Not alone! X.

    • I’m glad you found the article helpful, Xavier. Rearranging prior understanding is not always easy, but sticking to what the text actually says sometimes calls for such reorientation. Thanks for reading.

  45. Thank you so much for adding great insight into rapture lve been reaserching more on this topic and that of the anti Christ.

  46. It seems to me you do believe in a rapture, just not ‘a rapture to heaven’. Since believers meet the Lord in the air is that not a snatching up? From Rev it seems episunagogue out of the Great Trib (2 angels with sickles), not pre-trib.

    • I think that Paul describes people being “caught up” in the “air” to meet Jesus, but not caught up to “heaven” to stay there while tribulations occur on earth. Paul envisions Jesus and believers coming right back down to earth upon meeting him in the air — there’s no “rapture” in which people remain in heaven.

  47. “The Messiah will begin his descent on the clouds and his followers will meet him at a midway point in the air so that they can follow their conquering King back down to this earth.”


    For me, this article is one of the final puzzle pieces I needed.
    Thank you!

  48. On the question of linking John 14:1-4 to the popular rapture teachings: I look at the context and see that this statement by Jesus takes place in the upper room just after Judas had left to betray Him. Jesus is therefore addressing the remaining eleven close disciples and not a general audience. He said He would be returning to take THEM with Him. And we know they died at different times in different places. I therefore understand this portion as a spiritual message to them.
    I have literature of an author who was raised in the Aramaic language and customs that explains “caught up in the air” as an Aramaic idiom that means to rush out to meet someone?

    • Thanks for these comments and the question, Gerrie. On “caught up” in Aramaic, there’s a few different words that one could use to approximate Paul’s use of harpadzo, so it would depend on how one would want to do that. On the idea as “going to meet someone,” we actually don’t need recourse to Aramaic to understand that this is what Paul means — since he’s writing in Greek to a Greek-speaking audience. Pauls says explicitly that believers will be caught up “to meet” (apantesis) the Lord in the air,” and this is the same word used when people come out of Rome to “meet” Paul as he is coming in (see Acts 28:15). That is, when Paul comes into Rome, people “meet” him on his way, and then following him back into the city; in a similar way, Paul that envisions believers will “meet” the Lord in the air and follow him back down to earth. Thanks for your contribution, Gerrie!

  49. In spite of the Jewish/biblical ignorance and nonsense of former tugboat workers and their books (of which there is no end), thank you, thank you for the faithful and trustworthy truth!!!!!!

  50. I have for years said that we will be going through the tribulation, and felt i was the only one that saw it that way. I keep asking for Scriptures that talk of the rapture and have been given the same ones over and over but i don’t see it the way others seem to. So glad to see someone saying pretty much what i have been thinking, although you give insights that i had not thought about.

  51. I believe that there will be a rapture in that Christ will return for His church before the tribulation and before He comes again to reign on earth and several passages suggest this:
    John 14:1-3; 2 Thes 2:1-8; Rev 19!! The Bride has to be in heaven for the Marriage!!!

  52. Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. (Bridegroom=Christ ,bride=church,

  53. As popular with Messianic Jews and Pentecostal supporters of Israel, the pre-Trib Rapture is now due to happen any moment. Of course, imminence has always been a primary factor (Not as important as “When is He coming back?” is “Are we ready?”) The Book of Revelation is a time of Divine judgment and pure wrath on a Christ-rejecting world. Divine wrath is not for believers (Perry Stone calls those going in the pre-Trib Rapture “Overcomers.”) Noah and family were not judged but spared and now, “As it was in the days of Noah.” Revealed in Daniel, the final week is when the task of evangelization returns for 7 years to 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe. Jacob’s Trouble will also be during this 7-year period. Yeshua spoke in context of the Jewish wedding feast of his day. When the bridegroom came for the Bride, the honeymoon would last 7 days and then they would appear. The Rapture is when He is coming for His saints; the Second Coming is when He returns with His saints seven years later. We are not yo-yos, going to greet Him then coming right back down. As Chuck Smith said to millions of radio listeners, “Very few will survive the Great Tribulation.” The pre-Trib Rapture is a highly singular event! It is a true Blessed Hope that millions of people will be spared Divine and pure judgment as was Noah. Only when one thoroughly understands the Jewish wedding feast in the day of Yeshua does this make sense.

  54. I sometimes wonder how so many miss that those taken in Noah’s time drowned and the book of Revelation never mentions the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Most likely because Revelation was written before the destruction as well as describing the destruction of the temple (heaven), earth (Jerusalem.

  55. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg
    Can you do a “D’var” on Yeshua’s teaching on binding and loosing “b’shamayim v’haAretz” (Mati 18) ?

  56. Hi Dr. I also believed in the rapture all my life, but thanks to IBC I can agree that it is only a myth.
    But I do have a question dr. I am busy now with the lessons of Revelation in IBC. My question is…If our LORD comes back and establish HIS kingdom on earth, where are we going than when Revelation 21 happens? In comparison with 2Pet.3:13. If the new earth and heavans come to exist, the old will be burned. And the New Jerusalem will descent and HASHEM will tabernacle with mankind.

    • Thanks for your question, Pepler. According to Rev 21, we don’t go anywhere — human beings stay on earth. The old heaven and earth pass away in one way or the other (different biblical passages describe the event differently and 1 Pet 3:13 is among these descriptions), and people are raised from the dead on a new earth onto which God’s kingdom descends.

      • Thank you dr. for the reply
        It seems that even the highly educated also battle with all the answers I can not wait to know it all, like HE promise in HIS WORD

  57. God protected the children of Israel while the 10 plagues were poured out on Israel, He also protects the New Testament believers. Secondly, the Apostle Paul said there is neither Jew nor Greek, but we are. Yeshua HaMashiach in John 17 prayed that the Body of Christ would be one.

  58. Any interpretation of Scripture must be made in the light all of Scripture. Dr. Schaser fails to account for Revelation 19:7 – 20:6, where the “marriage supper of the Lamb” and the saints and Christ prepare to return to earth. How can this be without a prior rapture to heaven?

  59. I never could understand why those who have already died would be raised then raptured… to avoid persecution! Why not just leave them in the grave? No Paul was talking about the grand finale. And they believed Jesus’s return was so imminent that to die would mean missing the excitement.

  60. Matthew 13:49 puts the idea of rapture to rest: “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth and separate the WICKED from among the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, in that place will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”. Hallelujah

  61. Greetings Can you then explain when and where the 1000years will take place. My understanding is that we will go to heaven spend 1000 years their according To Rev20 and after the 1000 years we the saints will return to Earth in the new Jerusalem

    • Thanks for your question, Reuben. The action during the thousand years, according to Rev 20, occurs on earth. Notice that angels and fire come “down from heaven” (20:1, 9) to earth. More, when Satan is released after these 1000 years, he deceives those who are on the earth (see 20:7-10). There’s no mention of anyone going to heaven in Rev 20, saints or otherwise. Thus, it would be an overreading of the data to assume that some are raptured to heaven and others remain on earth.

  62. I first heard the rapture theory challenged very succinctly and logically by a Torah teacher online when I lived abroad in Asia. Prior to that it seemed quite cartoonish to me, and too much of it seemed incorrect and contradictory. You’ve brought even more clarification.

  63. Dr. Nicholas Schaser You are right We are not going to heaven Christ said only He who came from heaven can inter into heaven No man has inter into heaven the dead are a sleep the first death, Not even the Catholic Church believes this FALSE DOCTRINE Thank You Nicholas

  64. Jn 14:1-3 in context is about Jesus taking his own to the Father’s house. This is heaven not earth. Paul understood this in 1 Thess 4:13-18. John puts the church in heaven before the Tribulation, Rev 4-5. I don’t take your course because of your poor hermeneutics.

  65. When the rapture will begin, we’ll be not descending back to Earth, but ascending with Jesus on Heaven, where the Bride, who is the Church of Jesus shall be presented to the Father and to all Heavenly beings, as the result of His holy sacrifice. This is the plain truth.

  66. Thanks Dr for this explanation. I have been against this rapture theory for years but I never understood this passage of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 the way you explained it. This is really helpful to me. Blessings to you Dr.

  67. If I had been sure that Paul in 1 Thes. 4 teaches that they belong to Him to be transformed and taken to heaven, then I became even more convinced when I read this explanation and the denial of our blessed hope that this is precisely what he teaches. here.

  68. See Phil.3: 20-21; And don’t come up with this explanation that just creates confusion – and is unbiblical. Ivar Helmersen Perlen Norway.

    • When Paul says that our “citizenship” or “commonwealth” (πολίτευμα) is in heaven (3:20), he is speaking of the heavenly kingdom of God that will *come down from heaven* to us — we do not go up to it in a rapture. The rest of 3:20 makes this explicit: “Our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

  69. Looks like if they come down with him in the clouds at some point they have be caught up. And what I understand about the old Jewish weddings the bridegroom came back for his bride at an unexpected time. Zola Levitt believed in the catching up of the church.

  70. The Rapture is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 The Holy Spirit who restrains the Antichrist from being revealed, will be taken out of the way. The Holy Spirit and those filled with Him will be Raptured before the Antichrist is revealed. All without the Spirit will be left behind.

  71. There is no rapture or if is there is for unbelievers because as it was in the days of Lot and Noah, the unbelievers raptured( destroyed) but the righteous inherited the earth and also word rapture is metaphor of “changed.”

  72. Nicholas, you’re ignoring the “times” & the “times & a half” mentioned in Daniel, which says you haven’t seen Cohen’s proof about finishing-up what started Between-The-Testaments, which gets idiotically misinterpreted with the West’s looking back to a false revived Roman Empire… don’t ignore Daniel 11 the returned Greek Empire…

  73. Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

  74. Revelation 3:7 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

  75. What drives me crazy is how can different Doctors of Theology look at the same verse and come to opposing conclusions? The average Joe who depend on people who study the Bible as a profession for explanation for complicated parts of the Bible end up throwing up their hands!

    • Scholars come to differing conclusions because, among other factors, (1) these texts are difficult to interpret (even the best scholars aren’t infallible); and (2) all interpreters are influenced by their own backgrounds and assumptions, which impact their interpretations whether they realize it or not. In light of these differing conclusions, it is up to the student (non-specialist) to assess the strength and amount of data that scholars offer for a given conclusion, and decide which interpretation makes the most sense based on the available evidence.

  76. Hi Dr Schaser
    Re New Jerusalem : from Rev 21:9-23, is the Ephod made for Aaron representative of the New Jerusalem?
    Also Samuel1:30-7-9,am I correct in reading David consults Yahweh through the Ephod brought to him by Abiathar. And Judges 8:27, why was this a snare for Gideon andhis family?

    • Thanks for your questions, Jon. Since there’s no Temple in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:22), the ephod associated with Aaron’s Temple service doesn’t seem to come into play. Yes, David consults the Lord through the priestly ephod, which is just one of several priestly acts that King David performs (cf. 1 Sam 21:1-9; 2 Sam 21:1-9; 24:18-25). The ephods that appear in Judges are objects of idolatrous worship that differ from Aaron’s ephod; in Judges, the ephods are associated with the worship of “household gods” other than the Lord (see 17:5; 18:14-20; cf. Hos 3:4). Gideon’s ephod becomes a snare to Israel insofar as it becomes a locus of polytheistic worship.

  77. Thanks for the answer Dr Schaser, re Gideon. the reference I was trying to make between the Ephod of Aaron was the stones used related individually to a tribe of Israel and the description of the New Jerusalem in revelation 21:19 – 21 re the foundations of the city wall

  78. Hi Dr. How will be the order of the events leading to Yeshua’s coming? Is it: Trumpets, resurrections, meeting in the air, Judgment, Satan arrested, NJ coming down from heaven, Armageddon, 1000 year reign? There is so much confusion. Please help a brother. Shalom

    • The appearance of the New Jerusalem is the final event (cf. Rev 21), but it’s unwise to create a specific timeline through comparison between 1 Thess 4 and Revelation — the NT texts do not allow for any strict chronology. If “no one knows the day or the hour” (Matt 24:36; Mk 13:32; cf. Lk 12:46), it is even less likely that anyone can (or should) know a precise catalogue of eschatological events.


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