What does the Bible say about the rapture?
For every Christian, the goal is to be along in the rapture. That glorious moment when Jesus takes those who belong to Him up to heaven to be with Him eternally.
What is the “rapture?”
Although the phrase “the rapture” is not used once in the Bible, it is the name that has been given to the occasion when Jesus will descend from heaven to fetch those who have loved Him more than anything on this earth and been His faithful disciples.
“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 4:16-18.
The disciples of Christ who have already died will be resurrected first, and will be joined by those who are still living in Christ. They will all be raised up together in incorruptible bodies to meet Jesus in the air.
“For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:52-53.
Who will be taken up in the rapture?
Jesus says to His disciples, “I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:3-4. This means there is a way to go. A way that leads those who walk on it to be received to Him; to be together with Him eternally. Those who love Jesus know the way they need to go.
“These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes…And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Revelation 14:4,5.
They are the ones who, by God’s grace, have walked in Jesus’ steps. They have done what is right and good, and have become what they were called to be: a light and salt in this world. (Matthew 5:13-16) This means no unrighteousness, no dissatisfaction or complaining, no anxiety, no discouragement, no laziness, no worldliness or conceit, etc., is found in them.
These are collectively known as “the bride of Christ.” They have held unshakably fast to what is right, good and true in every single circumstance, just as their Bridegroom did in His days on earth, so that they are pure and worthy to be His “wife.” “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:7-8.
Who will be left behind at the rapture – the foolish virgins
In His story of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), Jesus shows us clearly that not all believers will be raised up in the rapture. The “foolish virgins” are the ones who will be left behind. These are the ones that do not have a hidden life with Christ in God. Although they have a good outward appearance, they are still living in sin in the hidden; they are still doing what they know to be wrong. (Revelation 3:1-3)
They’ve been content with just having a good testimony before men, overcoming obvious, outward sin. It could be that they were very active in good works. But they did not overcome the inner sin. The jealousy, anger, pride, etc. that was only on the inside had not been cleansed out. Jesus is coming for a bride who has cleansed herself – a bride who is pure on the inside!
“That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:27.
When will the rapture happen?
The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly when the rapture will happen. Jesus tells us that He Himself does not even know. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32.
But in Matthew 24 Jesus speaks about various signs that we can look for to know when the coming of the Son of Man will be. We can see some of these things taking place in this time we live in now, so we can well expect that it won’t be much longer. Time is marching inexorably onward, and as the world plunges deeper into darkness, we know that the midnight Jesus talks about in the parable of the ten virgins cannot be too far off. We need to take Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:16 to heart: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
But for those who are walking in the light, as He is in the light (1 John 1:7), there is no reason to be anxious, but only to look forward to that day with joyful expectation. It is the goal of their whole existence while here on this earth: to make themselves ready for when their Bridegroom comes for them. They are living for the eternal.
Will I be along in the rapture?
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23. Are you giving up your own will, and denying yourself in order to be a disciple of Christ?
“And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3. Are you doing only what is right, good, and true, cleansing yourself, and keeping yourself pure?
Are you doing these things now? Then you will be along. And if you are not, then you can begin now! We are still living in the time of God’s amazing grace, and we are still able to follow Jesus on this way of denying ourselves and overcoming sin. This hidden life brings fellowship with Him, and then the Bridegroom will know you on the day He descends from heaven to collect those who belong to Him. (Philippians 3:8-10)
It’s more than a fairy-tale. It will be an incomprehensible reality for those who have loved their heavenly Bridegroom so much that they have been willing to follow Him on this way that leads to eternal life!
You might also be interested in our theme page about Overcoming sin.