Out of all the views and beliefs from Revelation, the rapture is one of the more widely known. It’s apocalypse 101. People disappear leaving their crumpled (or folded) clothes behind and panic ensues.
So where did the idea of the rapture come from? Is it biblical?
While I don’t know the very first person who read scripture and was like, yes! rapture!, I can show you the scripture and the logic behind the idea of the rapture.
First, let’s go to Revelation itself. In a previous post, I spotlighted the seven churches. Revelation 2-3 gives a message to these churches and each one is promised a reward for endurance. Check out their rewards below:
Ephesus: “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7b)
Smyrna: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10b)
Pergamum: “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” (Rev. 2:17b)
Thyatira: “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” (Rev. 2:26-28)
Sardis: “The one who conquers will be clothed in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Rev. 3:5)
Philadelphia: “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” (Rev. 3:10-12)
Laodicea: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Rev. 3:21)
After Revelation 2-3, the throne room of heaven is introduced in chapter 4. This is where we find a great clue to back up what is called “the rapture.”
John has just received a word for the seven churches and looks to see a “door standing open in heaven.” A voice tells him, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” This is the break that takes us from the present to the future. We’ve seen a vision of Jesus standing in the midst of seven churches. There is a call to the churches to persevere, conquer, and look to a future reward. Now we are introduced to what takes place after the church age.
John finds himself taking in a throne room. The one sitting on the throne has the appearance of jasper and carnelian with a rainbow surrounding the throne. This one is God Almighty. Take a look at who is seated around this grand throne. Twenty-four elders.
Revelation 4:4 states, “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.”
The first two visuals that should pop out to you are the white garments and golden crowns. To the church in Sardis, John writes that the conquerors will be dressed in white garments. The churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia were told they would be wearing crowns. To top it off, those who conquered in Thyatira, Philadelphia, and Laodicea would all have places of authority and rule next to God the Father.
And what is the description of the elders in Revelation 4? They are “seated on thrones.” These people are ruling. They are “clothed in white garments.” They have “golden crowns on their heads.” These are the believers from the church age who persevered to the end. They remained faithful to God and are now seated with Him in the throne room in heaven!
In Revelation 5, a scroll is introduced that can only be opened by one who is worthy. No one can be found and John begins to cry. He reports that, “one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’
“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”
This is a fantastic image that should be so comforting to any Christian. The one the elder described is none other than Jesus Christ. Look where He is standing: between the throne of God and the four living creatures and among the elders. Jesus, forever the church’s advocate, has successfully conquered and is worthy to open the scroll. Like He said to the church in Sardis, “I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” He is standing in the midst of the church just as He was doing during the church age (Revelation 1:12-13).
Important note: As we venture into Revelation 6, the seals to the scroll are opened. Guess who is not mentioned from chapter 6-18? The twenty-four elders! We see them again in chapter 19. They are still around the throne of God worshiping Him and getting ready for battle.
This brings me to the second point that goes outside of Revelation: God never subjects His people to His judgmental wrath. Throughout the Bible, we see that God draws His people away before His wrath is commenced (see Noah and the ark, the rescuing of Lot, the Israelites during the plagues on Egypt… how about God sending His Son to take on His wrath so that we don’t have to??). God is faithful and unchanging. Believers didn’t experience His wrath in the Old Testament or New Testament and we see that they won’t in the future either.
There are more arguments for the rapture than these two, but this is a good framework to start with. If you want to go in-depth on different views of the rapture, check out this book. You’ll have more detail than maybe you want on people’s rapture views. 🙂
Enjoy and be encouraged!