Home   Salvation   Revelation   Exegesis  Parables  Prophecy  Warnings+

The Rapture

Eric Summers

You may have been told from teachers and leaders of the churches that there will be a single Rapture just before the Tribulation begins and that all Christians will be part of this event.  This is the current belief by many Christians of today.  From studying scripture, I don't believe in a single Rapture for the whole church.  In this article I'll give my reasons and the Bible verses for thinking this way.  A wise Christian will also search the Holy Bible for evidence for or against a single Rapture.

Christians that miss the Tribulation

With the Philadelphia church in Revelation chapter 3, Jesus promises all that members of this church will miss the Tribulation:

Revelation 3:7-13 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and none shall shut, and that shutteth and none openeth:  I know thy works (behold, I have set before thee a door opened, which none can shut), that thou hast a little power, and didst keep my word, and didst not deny my name.   Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.  Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.  I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown.   He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and mine own new name.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.

Note that Jesus does not evaluate if the Philadelphia Church members are saved: He is evaluating their works.  They have only a little influence on the other Christians in their church, but they are studying and obeying His commands in the Holy Bible and they are yielding to His power and authority.  Because of their faithfulness, He promises to take them to Heaven in the First Fruits Rapture: before the Tribulation begins.

What about the other churches in Revelation?  They are all true Christian churches because Jesus Christ Himself identifies them as belonging to Him.  Did He say in this verse that all Christians would be taken out and miss the Tribulation?  No, He said that only the Church at Philadelphia would miss the Tribulation because of their faithfulness.  The works of the other Christian churches mentioned in Revelation must fall short of Jesus' expectations for them: because they did not overcome.

Here's a Bible verse that describes a faithful disciple's prayer to be taken to Heaven before the Tribulation begins:

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.

For the first part of Luke chapter 21 Jesus describes the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, various signs of the end times, prediction of wars, earthquakes, famines, disease, signs from Heaven, persecution of the saints, and His return and I suggest that you read this chapter.  The escape all these things in the above verse shows that Jesus wants His believers to continually pray to Him that they be considered worthy to escape the Tribulation.  This verse shows that Jesus wants us to be faithful to Him and to watch for His return so we will be counted as worthy.  This should be a daily prayer of ours.

I only know of a few Christians that are currently praying the prayer suggested in this verse.  This verse tells me that if you are not counted as faithful--as worthy, that you will be left behind and will have to undergo the testing of the Tribulation.  If all Christians will miss the Tribulation, why did Jesus even give us the Luke 21:36 verse? 

Verses that suggest all Christians will miss the Tribulation

I can't find any verses that state that all Christians will be taken in a rapture.  This belief of a whole church rapture has been handed down as a fact by a many in the church; this belief has also been stated by those that preach from the radio and TV and write website articles and books about prophecy.  They take the verses regarding the Church at Philadelphia missing the Tribulation and apply these to all Christians; however, this is not correct analysis.  Read Revelation, chapters two and three and make your own conclusions about which Christians miss the Tribulation and which Christians could be left behind to be tested during the first half of the Tribulation.

Here are verses that suggest unfaithful Christians being left behind to be tested in the Tribulation:
  • The Church at Laodicea: Revelation 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see.  The gold mentioned in this verse are the good works and faithfulness Jesus encourages the Laodicea Christians to accomplish during the first half of the Tribulation.  The fire is the persecution that Christians will face from the Antichrist.  If they overcome their spiritual deficiencies Jesus identifies in Revelation, Chapter three, their nakedness will be removed and they will be dressed in white robes of righteousness.
  • The Church at Sardis: Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.  If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Some members of this church are not interested in Jesus' return and are thus not watching for His return.  They will be surprised when He returns at the end of the Church Age and tells many of them that they have been found unfaithful by Him.
  • The Church at Thyatira: Revelation 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation. There is some heresy present in this church and some Christians that are members of this church are participating in this heresy; because of this, they will be left behind to endure persecution during the first half of the Tribulation.
Read Book of Revelation, chapter two and three that explain in detail Jesus' evaluation of the faith of the seven Christian churches. Read The Five Wise and the Five Foolish Virgins: the faithful vs the unfaithful Christian and The Five, Two and One Talent Christians that discuss the faithfulness of those Christians left behind during the Tribulation..

A Second Rapture

I believe that members of the Philadelphia church will be taken to Heaven before the beginning of the Tribulation in the First Fruits Rapture.  I also believe that there will be a second rapture of the less faithful Christians that are left behind: they will be tested for the first half of the Tribulation.  This is the Main Harvest Rapture and will take place at mid-Tribulation:

Revelation 7:9-12 After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands; and they cry with a great voice, saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb.  And all the angels were standing round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

At mid-Tribulation a large number of Christians will be standing before the throne of Jesus Christ.  They will be wearing white robes which are indicators of being faithful during the Tribulation and accomplishing righteous works that glorify God: they are very faithful to Jesus. 

Remember the Church at Sardis.  Jesus encourages them to overcome so they can wear white raiment:

Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life but I will confess his name before my Father and His angels.

Most Christians in the Sardis church have been faithful during their time in the Tribulation because they are now wearing white robes: they have overcome their spiritual deficiencies. 

The Thyatira church has also overcome because most will repent of their heresy and become disciples of Jesus:

Revelation 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great Tribulation except they repent of their deeds.

The Laodicea church members have repented from their weak faith and spiritual failures and now stand before the throne of Jesus. They have bought gold which are righteous works that glorify God.  They have become faithful:

Revelation 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed and tht the shame of thy nakedness do not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see.

These that stand before Jesus are further identified to the Apostle John:

Revelation 13-17 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and whence came they?  And I say unto him, My lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that come of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore are they before the throne of God; and they serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat: for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them unto fountains of waters of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.

These are all saved individuals that stand before Jesus.  These verses only describe those that have overcome; they have repented of their sins and turned to Jesus so He could make them into His disciples: they will be faithful during the Tribulation.  They have washed their robes, which are outward indicators of their works.  During the Tribulation they have repented of their sins and served Jesus while undergoing much persecution from Antichrist; they are now wearing white robes: they are faithful.

God the Father will wipe every tear from their eyes.  Some of these tears will be from painful testing by Antichrist.  Some of these tears will be from knowing that they were unfaithful to Jesus before the Tribulation begins.  God will be pleased with them and they will enjoy fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ forever.  Jesus will shepherd them and give them loving, meaningful service to perform.

How to miss the Tribulation

The Philadelphia church of today consists of Bible study groups within the Laodicea, Sardis and Thyatira churches; they are also home Bible study groups and churches that place an emphasis on fellowship with God and their brothers and sisters in Christ, contributing to and participation in local and foreign missions, study of scripture, prayer and discipleship.

Right now, pray your own prayer to God and ask Him to make you into a Philadelphia Christian.  Then ask Him to help you find other Christians that want to be Philadelphia Christians.  Find them and then join with them in Bible study, prayer, accomplishing good works that glorify God and watching for Jesus' return.  Finally, pray often to God that you are counted as worthy to be taken to Heaven and to miss all seven years of the Tribulation.