The Secret Rapture

The Secret Rapture is believed to be an event that occurs in two phases.

9 min read

The doctrine of the rapture of the church is one that is often combined with the second coming of Christ. To put it in the proper perspective, those who believe in the doctrine of the rapture of the church, believe that it is an event separate from the second coming. Basically, the teaching declares that the second coming of Christ will occur in two phases. The first phase is when the Christian church is raptured secretly from this earth. In some random order, people are snatched away into heaven. They just suddenly disappear. Whatever they were doing and whoever they were with are left behind. In the second phase, Christ comes back after a 7-year period and reigns on earth for a thousand years.

Let’s talk about this a little bit. If we go to our Bibles to verify the doctrine of the rapture of the church we would not be able to succeed without help from someone whose expertise is to explain what is not easily found in scripture. We can refer to the following links below to get a brief description of this doctrine.

  1. Who spreads the gospel after the rapture? (Go Evangelism Ministry)

  2. What is the concept of the secret rapture? (Got Questions)

  3. Rapture (Wikipedia)

The doctrine of the rapture of the church is believed to be based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Let’s read it together.

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this, we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

We must ask ourselves a question if we had no preconceived idea regarding a secret rapture of the church, would the above reference give any hint of such an event? Since the above reference is the proof text of the Secret Rapture of the church, then, which part of it is the Secret Rapture of the church?

According to the rapture doctrine, the Christian church is secretly taken away seven years prior to the second coming of Christ. It is considered a secret event because Christ is not seen at all. There is no display in the heavens that anything is happening whatsoever. Everything continues on this planet as any other day previously. People just disappear into thin air. The rest of the inhabitants of this planet continue doing what they were doing except for those who are left with the shock of their loved ones missing, nowhere to be found. In truth, it is extremely difficult to picture this scenario by reading the above-quoted reference. Clearly, there must be more scriptural support to base this doctrine. Let’s read Matthew 24:36-44.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24: 36-44)

Maybe if we take 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Matthew 24:36-44 together in context we can manage to come up with the secret rapture scenario. Unfortunately, neither of the two offers any help. The reference quoted from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 shows no evidence that the event is secret, quiet, or non-visible. Neither does it give any hint that this event occurs in two phases. The reference quoted from Matthew 24:36-44 gives a completely different account than that of the rapture of the church. The secret rapture claims that those raptured are the ones taken to heaven, the rest are left behind. Matthew 24:36-44 claims the exact opposite. It says:

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:38-39)

In the book of Luke, we see that he explains the same scenario clearer still.

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26-27)

According to the above, who were the ones taken away? According to the above, those who were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” were the ones taken away by the flood and destroyed. But Noah and his family were the ones who entered into the safety of the ark. So according to the above, it is the unjust group who are taken by the flood, and the ones left behind who are saved. The point being made in Matthew 24:36-44 is that Christ coming will occur on a day and hour no one expects. The time of the event is unknown, not that the event will be secret. Knowing the context of the above reference, we can understand what the following means.

“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.” (Matthew 24:40-41)

The question then arises, the ones who are taken, where are they taken to? The disciples asked that very same question.

“And they answered and said to Him, “Where, Lord?” (Luke 17:37)

Jesus' response was the following.

“So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” (Luke 17:37)

What did Christ mean by that?

“For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” (Matthew 24:28)

In other words, those who are taken away are destroyed and therefore dead.

“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” (Revelation19:17-18)

And what of those who were left behind, those who remained, and were not taken away?

“So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.” (Genesis 7:23)

It was those who remained that were saved. If we are going to compare apples with apples, Matthew 24:36-44 is comparing the second coming to the event of the flood. The comparison must match, otherwise, we lose the whole point. Which group do we want to be part of, the one “taken” by the flood, or the one “left”, saved by the ark? Context means everything. Whole doctrines can be created from a simple misunderstanding. The following video will explain clearly who is taken and who is left behind.

(Secret Rapture: Taken or Left)

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is describing the second coming of Christ. Read it carefully and understand what Paul is saying. He encourages us to be informed concerning those who have fallen asleep (those who are dead in their graves awaiting Christ's return). He does not want us to grieve for our dead loved ones as those who have no hope of a resurrection. Paul reminds us that Christ died and was resurrected and taken to heaven. In the very same way, those who died in the faith of Christ will also be resurrected and taken to heaven. He also says that all those of us who are yet alive when Christ comes, will not be taken to heaven before the resurrected saints. The living saints will not precede the resurrected saints. The resurrected saints will be taken to heaven first when Christ calls them out of their graves with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel. After they have been gathered by the angels, then the remaining saints who are yet alive will be gathered by their angels and be taken up to join those who are already there. Let scripture explain itself and it will do a much better job of helping us understand. This "Second Coming" is a one-time event. It is at this time that the saints are "Taken" or "Raptured" to heaven. We must read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Matthew 24:28 in their proper context.

As an added illustration, let us consider a Lawn Mower. As part of routine maintenance, we care for our lawn making sure it does not grow out of control. We take out our Lawn Mowers and we mow our entire lawn. After we are done, our lawn looks beautiful. Every blade of grass is the same height and it appears to be like a beautiful green living carpet. Lawn Mowers have an attachment for collecting the grass clipping. This attachment bag can be on the side or rear of the Lawn Mower. The grass clipping is collected and dumped in a mound for burning or used for compost or mulch. In any case, the grass clipping is the dead, unwanted waste portion of the mowing process. The grass that is left behind is the grass that is living and of value to the landowner. The grass clipping is the portion that is taken, to be disposed of at the owner’s discretion. Who knows, if Lawn Mowers were in existence during biblical times, maybe the bible writers would have used a Lawn Mower as an illustration of what is taken and what is left behind.

Let’s talk a little bit about this “Seven Year Tribulation” period that is so closely interconnected with the doctrine of the secret rapture. According to the dispensational believers, the Christian church is snatched up to heaven. The Christian church does not endure the seven-year period of tribulation. During this seven-year tribulation period, many will come to accept Christ as their personal savior. In regards to the tribulation period called “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), this is definitely scriptural. The point here is whether it is according to the dispensationalist view. So where is this seven-year tribulation view based? It is based on Daniel 9:27.

“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week, But in the middle of the week, He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” (Daniel 9:27)

Is the above reference a prophecy pointing towards a future seven-year tribulation period? Let’s look at it.

“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week”

God has made several covenants, five to be exact.

Noah (Genesis 9:9)

Abraham (Genesis 17:4)

Israel (Deuteronomy 29:1)

David (2 Samuel 7:12)

Christ (Matthew 26:28)

Which covenant is the one being prophesied in Daniel 9:27? Daniel 9:27 is referring to the new covenant Christ made with those who accept His sacrifice for sin. When was this fulfilled? It was fulfilled when Christ came as a human and died on the cross. Daniel 9:27 speaks of Christ confirming this covenant for one week. According to the day for a year principle found in Ezekiel 4:6. A week is seven days which translates to seven years in prophetic language. Christ established His covenant with men for seven years. In the middle of the week, Christ did away with the sacrificial system. Christ represented the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). His ministry began when He was 30 years old. (Luke 3:23) He was then crucified three and a half years after that.

The apostles then took over the ministry for another three and a half years. This ministry was targeted first at the Jews. The Jews rejected the gospel of the apostles and so the church was established among the Gentiles. This point was marked off by the stoning of Stephen in the year 34 AD who is known to be the first Christian martyr.

Since Daniel 9:27 is already fulfilled, it, therefore, has nothing to do with the tribulation period of the last days. This tribulation period is called the time of “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Jacob represents God’s people, and Esaw represents the wicked. It is called Jacob’s trouble because it was Jacob who endured an agonizing night and fought against a heavenly being. Since Jacob represents God’s people, it is God’s people (the Church) who will endure the tribulation (Jacob’s Trouble).

The second coming of Christ is a one-time event. It is not an event that occurs in phases. The secret rapture is nowhere found in scripture as the dispensationalists claim. The elect will indeed be “Raptured” to heaven if we choose to use that word to express what will happen to the redeemed saints at the Second Coming of Christ. For a clearer perspective of what the Secret Rapture teaches and what the bible actually teaches, see the following. (