by Paul Benson
He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. Psalms 50:4-5
God did not intend for the end-time prophesies to be confusing or impossible to grasp. But he did present these things to us like a puzzle that must be properly pieced together. And although it takes much study (which is greatly to our benefit and edification), this puzzle is solvable!
Please allow me to share with you a vital key the Lord gave me that greatly reduces the frustration of trying to piece this puzzle together.
As I have discussed in depth in recent articles confusion comes from conflicting and misleading information. The solution to confusion is always to remove the conflict of information and find solid reliable facts upon which to base your beliefs.
Much confusion over eschatology (the study of end-time matters) has been fostered by the erroneous and misleading notion that there are multiple ‘raptures’ of the Church in the end-time scenario. That falsehood needs to be put out of its misery once and for all. Let’s gun it down!
Many do not even understand that the viewpoint they have been indoctrinated to hold concerning the timing of the catching away of the Church (pre-trib, mid trib, or some pre-wrath) presents a multiple rapture theory. With so much undue focus placed upon the catching away event (rather than the resurrection of the dead which is of much greater concern) it’s easy to lose sight of a significant fact. A critical fact we need in order to properly grasp the true sequence of end-time events. And that fact is this:
Regardless of what may (or may not) transpire before Christ returns to Earth, according to the Bible there HAS TO BE a catching away of believers at his Second Coming! This ‘rapture’ after the tribulation is an indisputable fact plainly shown in quite a number of passages in the Bible. In order for there to be a catching away before the Second Coming it would have to be in addition to the one the Bible clearly describes at the Second Coming. So ANY theory teaching a rapture before the Second Coming is saying there will be multiple raptures of the Church whether folks realize (or will even admit to) that fact. But is this idea of multiple raptures something the Bible really teaches or not?
I want to present to you a simple premise upon which you can build a proper understanding of the Lord’s Return and our gathering together unto him. It will help you weed out erroneous and confusing notions about that blessed event in our future. And that simple premise is this:
If the Bible clearly teaches there is only one rapture/catching away to meet Jesus, and the Bible also clearly teaches there is a catching away at the Second Coming, then that catching away at the Second Coming has to be that one and only catching away.
Once we establish this premise in our understanding of eschatology any other rapture theory becomes untenable. So we must answer the question: Is this premise in accord with the Scriptures or not? If we focus our attention this is not a complicated or confusing matter to study out and establish.
The confusion enters the arena when we give place to theories and concepts which have no true foundation in the Word of God.
But in those days, after that tribulation… …shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Mark 13:24+27
There are a great many teachers and preachers promoting the idea that there are multiple raptures ahead for the people of God; along with wildly varying notions of not only timing but also of eligibility for inclusion in each. Is there any clear evidence in the Scriptures to show more than one rapture in the end-time scenario? Absolutely not!
How Many Raptures?
Many claim they can show ‘proof’ in the Scriptures of multiple raptures in the end-time picture. And some even claim to show raptures in times long ago. But are these passages really showing the proof they claim? Or are they merely imposing their own presupposed beliefs upon them? Let’s examine their claims for validity.
One of the clearest proofs against the notion of a pre-trib rapture is that Revelation 20:4-6 speaks of a ‘First Resurrection’ which includes those martyred during the tribulation. Common sense tells us an event including the tribulation martyrs could not be a pre-trib event. Those promoting the multiple rapture idea counter this by stating the First Resurrection is a multi-phase event which transpires over a period of time, and the tribulation martyrs are resurrected in a later phase of this manifold catching away. Thus their concept of a multi-phase First Resurrection (supposedly) solves that conflict.
There Cannot Be A Rapture Without A Resurrection.
One thing many miss in their various attempts to prove that multiple rapture events are shown in the Bible is that the biblical catching away of the Saints is the ascension of ‘glorified’ believers to meet Christ at his Coming. The Resurrection of the dead has transpired, they have been transformed into an eternally glorified body, and then caught up to meet Jesus in the air! Any event not matching this pattern cannot rightly be claimed as being a part of any ‘multi-phase rapture’ type of First Resurrection.
So let’s remember the resurrection of the dead (at which point the believers are transformed into a glorified state) must precede any rapture. And therefor any multiple catchings away of the Church would also have to be multiple Resurrections of the Just. (And, as we shall see later, that idea is in total conflict with the Scriptures!)
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 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. 1Corinthians 15:51-52
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: 17 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. 1Thessalonians 4:16-17
You cannot separate the rapture/catching away from the Resurrection at the Last Day! Multiple raptures = multiple resurrections. Period!
Where are all the passages teaching those other ‘resurrections’ that must accompany those supposed other raptures? Are there any passages in the Bible that teach any such thing?
Enoch and Elijah
Many try to claim the mysterious events of Enoch and Elijah being taken from the earth were just two of many ‘raptures’ we find in the Scriptures. But, although they could probably be viewed as a type or shadow of the catching away of the Church, since neither Enoch or Elijah were transformed into a Christ-like glorified state and caught up to meet Christ in the air their experience was NOT part of a multi-phase First Resurrection!
Dead Raised At Christ’s Resurrection
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Matthew 27:52-53
Some try to associate this mysterious raising from the dead of many people as part of the First Resurrection. Though I truly wish we had more Scripture on this amazing event, what we do have does not indicate any rapture took place. How could they be caught up to meet Christ in the air when he had not yet left planet Earth? If you like to say DUH! here is a good place to do so!
Others point to various descriptions in the Bible of people being ‘caught up’ to God (Rev. 12:5, Rev. 4:1, 2Cor. 12:2 etc.) as instances of a ‘rapture’ taking place. But not one of these either symbolic, allegorical, or actual experiences involve the necessary elements to be considered part of the First Resurrection/catching away. There is just not the connection that is claimed.
When Does The Rapture (Catching Away) Happen?
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end… 1Corinthians 15:20-24
In case you haven’t noticed by now I have a great affinity for plainly stated truths. They are a safe and solid foundation upon which to base our beliefs! This passage from the writings of the Apostle Paul presents such a clear and concise statement about our gathering together unto Christ that it must be completely ignored (or twisted into a false interpretation) to teach a multiple rapture/catching away theory.
In this chapter on the Resurrection of the dead Paul makes it crystal clear the resurrection of ALL those who belong to Christ will take place in one event – his Coming! A singular event. Not comings! Not raptures! One event. If you cannot see that truth stated clearly in this passage you are engaging in willful ignorance.
When are pre-trib teachers going to wake up and accept that the concepts of multiple raptures or multiple comings of Christ in the end-times are not presented even once in the Bible? But the fact we are here to the day Jesus returns is born witness to by a plethora of passages that rebuke the notion of any rapture prior to the Second Coming. Would you like a list of those passages? How about a book full?
SIDE NOTE: The rapture/catching away is the marriage of the Lamb to his Bride! Multiple raptures would mean multiple weddings!
Does God have more than one bride? Dispensational theory says yes absolutely! They teach the Church is the Bride of Jesus and national Israel is the Bride of Jehovah! But the unworkable nature of their theory (if followed through to conclusion) would place Jehovah’s bride (the Jews) on Earth with Jesus where he has returned to rule and reign, and the Church (the Bride of Christ) living in mansions on a street of gold in Heaven with the Father.
No one has ever explained this strange detail to me and I guess they probably never will. They just leave this aspect of theory dangling out there with no explanation. Because to examine this conundrum, or the numerous others presented by their theory, exposes it as bogus. As with most false teaching Dispensational/pre-trib doctrine is like a tattered garment covered with loose threads that have lost connection and go nowhere. Their theory is filled with so very many aspects that can only be followed so far then have to be abandoned as they lose touch with the truth.
I am not just blowing smoke here. I can prove this to be true with: their concept of election, their concept of immanency, their claim the tribulation is the wrath of God, their claim the armies of Heaven in white coming out of heaven with Jesus are the previously raptured Church, their claim that national Israel is the elect of God in this age, their claim the pre-trib rapture is the mystery God revealed to Paul, their claim that there are no signs that must transpire before the catching away of the Church, their claim of a secret non-visible coming of Christ apart from the Second Coming, their claim the Bible teaches the Church will not face Antichrist, their claim the Second Coming is a ‘known’ day whereas the rapture is a separate and previous ‘unknown’ day, their claim the Church is missing from Earth after Revelation 4:1, and also their heretical claim people will be saved by martyrdom during the tribulation instead of by being born again! All these aspects of pre-trib theory can be easily proven unworkable if you grab them by their loose ends and drag them out into the light of the Scriptures. Every one of them!
A Provable Premise!
As stated earlier ANY teaching that presents a rapture before the Second Coming is a multi-rapture teaching! But nowhere in the teachings of Christ or his Apostles is the concept of multiple raptures presented. Not one place! It is purely a fictional idea of man dreamed up to support the pre-tribulation rapture fable. It is a baseless notion with no true support of the Scriptures behind it; and it is contrary to the Word of God!
It is quite easy to see by the witness of the full counsel of God’s Word that our stated premise in question is in fact a truism:
The Bible clearly does teach there is only one Resurrection of the Just and subsequent rapture/catching away to meet Jesus in the air, and the Bible also clearly does teach there is such a catching away at the Second Coming; therefor that catching away at the Second Coming IS that one and only catching away. The Rapture takes place at the Second Coming of Christ!
Any other theory is in direct conflict with the Word of God!
Keep this premise in mind as you prayerfully study the Bible and you will find the Scriptures will always support this premise and never conflict with it. Once you establish this in your mind the claims of man to the contrary will no longer have the power to confuse you; and the end-time teachings of the Bible will come together in greater harmony for you.
You can absolutely know the timing of the rapture/catching away in the sequence of end-time events by closely embracing the simply stated truths of the Bible and warily examining the teachings of man at arms length. We need to demand Scriptural foundation for ALL teachings; and if none is forthcoming they should not be accepted as valid.
But this kind of diligent search for the truth does not come without a price. This quest requires a substantial effort; and must be underwritten by a genuine love for the truth.
Do you possess that love for the truth?
I welcome your input. If you would like to share comment or criticism please feel free to do so in the section below. Overly long comments may be edited for length.
Thank you for visiting my site.
5 thoughts on “THE RAPTURE PUZZLE! How Many Raptures? When Is The Rapture? Can We Know For Sure?”
Good morning Paul,
Nice Job! Simple and conclusive, just like everything in scripture, if you know (Yada) the Word. Intimacy with God is so different than knowing things about Him.
Question? What are your thoughts on Torah observance in the religious environment if today?
My thoughts on Torah Observance are thus: If we are wholeheartedly following the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles (through the leading of the Holy Spirit) we don’t need to worry about whether or not we are ‘keeping Torah’. Jesus will never lead you in a manner that is contrary to God’s ‘way’.
My concern is that many who ‘keep Torah’ are not truly abiding in Christ; and also a great many drift into a self-righteous spirit when rules and regulations are preached instead of (or exalted above) the work of the Cross. I have a number of acquaintances who are of the Hebrew Roots movement who totally ignore the reality of Acts 15 where the question of should the Gentiles be taught to observe Torah or not was addressed. If all Christians were required to observe the Law of Moses then would have been the perfect time to make that clear. But we see no such thing!
In the writings of Paul and the book of Hebrews we are plainly taught that the Law gave place to something better; and that the Law waxed old and was replaced with a new covenant. Tough for many to accept, but truly the teachings of God’s Word.
I myself am one who sees all days alike rather than observing one day above another. Though this is perfectly acceptable according to the Word many have rejected me for not being a Sabbath keeper. What they cannot comprehend is that I see the O.T. Sabbath rest as fore-shadowing entering into rest in Christ. I ‘keep’ Sabbath by abiding in Christ through faith.
Thanks for the comment. Blessings;
Very very good!!
I believe you 100%. I was taught the pre-trib rapture all my life. Once during a sermon, the pastor mentioned the verse in Revelation chapter 4 where the spirit speaking to John the Apostle says, “come up hither that I may show you what is to come,” (not exact words but you know the verse. The pastor stopped after “come up hither” and indicated that was the rapture. Shock! I looked at my husband and was astounded that he was basing the pre-trib rapture on that verse. However, I do have a question. I always thought when I died, I would go to heaven and be with the Lord. I don’t like the idea of being asleep in the ground until that day. Where is my soul? Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom. Stephen saw heaven open when he was being stoned. Can you give me some scripture to understand where I will be if I am not alive on that great day?
Thanks for commenting. Paul taught that to be absent from the body is to present with the Lord. 2Corinthians 5:4-8