The Coming Rapture of the Church

Eschatological study by Pastor Wesley Darby




A. The church had its commencement with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost - Matt. 16:18.

  1. The church is Christ's, "My Church", He is "Head" over the church - Eph. 1:22
  2. It is Christ who places us in His church, not a church which places us in Christ.
  3. Could be no church after Christ's death, resurrection, ascension and advent of the Holy Spirit.

B. The term "church" applies to the body of saints of this present age.

  1. Ecclesia - "Called out ones." - I Cor. 12:13
  2. The church, as the body of Christ, is distinct from unsaved Jews and unsaved Gentiles - I Cor. 10:32
  3. Church began at Pentecost & will continue until Christ comes to take her to Himself.
  4. This we call the Rapture.


A. Word "rapture" does not appear in the Bible.

  1. Latin word, means catch up, to seize, to snatch away with the idea of ecstasy, joy, delight.
  2. Scripture testifies to this:  Titus 2:13, Heb. 6:19, I Peter 1:3.

B. Idea of Rapture not an isolated fact in Bible - Gen 5:24, Hebrews 11:5.

  1. In Gen. 5 we read of six men who preceded Enoch.
    1.  Note: Gen. 5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20.
  2. Enoch, seventh in order, did not die - caught up alive to heaven before evil rose to height & God's judgment was poured out upon the earth in the flood.

C. What God did for Enoch He is going to do for a whole generation of Christians one of these days.

  1. For Enoch there was no death, no body to be buried, no grave.
  2. He was translated, transferred alive from earth to heaven.
  3. To unbeliever the whole idea of the Rapture sounds preposterous & unbelievable.

D. Another illustration of the Rapture is in II Kings 2:1-11.

  1. We can look forward to a translation far more wonderful than Enoch or Elijah.
  2. We must leave the time up to God - I Kings 19:4.
    1. Elijah's fifth recorded prayer, only one God did not answer.
    2. Always best to leave the choice with God.

E. Jesus Christ was taken up to heaven on the day of the Ascension - Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9.

  1. This was Christ's Rapture.

F. There is another Rapture described in Scripture.

  1. It will occur during the tribulation after the Church has been caught up to heaven to be with Christ.
  2. Note: Rev 11:3, 11, 12.

CONCL: By the Rapture of the Church is meant the literal, bodily translation of the living saints of this age to heaven just as Enoch, Elijah & Christ were taken up into heaven.




A. All believers in this present age will be resurrected & translated at Christ's coming in the air.

  1. There are those who believe the Bible teaches that the Body of Christ will be divided into two or more groups at the Rapture

B. Partial-rapturists use such verses as:

  1. Matt. 24:42 - the one not watching is said to be the believer who is not ready when the Lord comes and will experience Vs. 51.
    1. This passage does not refer to church but to Israel in the Tribulation - Vs. 21, 29, 30.
    2. Return of Christ here is the 2nd Coming.
    3. V. 40, 41 likewise refer to Jews in the Tribulation
  2. II Tim. 4:8 - those who do not love His appearing are supposed to be left to go through the Tribulation.
    1. Truth is Paul was approaching death - Vs. 6.
    2. "Crown" is one of the five crowns to be given as rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
    3. There will be a reward for those who "love His appearing" but it does not say the rapture will be part of that reward.
  3. Luke 21:36 - partial-rapturists say that some believers will be translated before Tribulation while others will be left to pass through it.
    1. Raptures is not mentioned nor inferred in this context.
    2. "Signs" mentioned in Vs. 25-28 occur at the 2nd Coming.

C. Three observations in this regard:

  1. The partial-rapture theory conditions the Rapture upon human works as opposed to the principle of Grace.\
  2. The partial-rapture theory divides the Body of Christ, which is opposite from Paul's teaching concerning the unity of that Body.
  3. The partial-rapture theory precludes a partial resurrection of those Christians who have died.


A. The exact time of the Rapture is not known.

  1. It is the next event on God's prophetic calendar - it is imminent.
  2. The fact of His coming is certain - the time is uncertain.

B. The Lord used the language of imminency - Jn. 14:1-3.

  1. Clear He was going away, next event after His departure would be His return.

C. There are those who teach that the next event is the Tribulation period & church will go through the Tribulation - Jn. 16:33.

  1. The purpose of the Tribulation is totally unrelated to the church.
  2. The Tribulation is a period of wrath.
  3. The time of the Rapture is before the Tribulation - Rom. 5:9. Rom 8:1, I Thes. 5:9, Rev. 3:10.
  4. Suffering and tribulation are sometimes the portion of the Christian but not wrath - not the Tribulation.




A. A Reason - Vs. 13.

  1. "Sleep" is a synonym for death of a believer only, never an unbeliever - Jn. 11:11, Acts 7:60, I Cor. 11:30.
  2. Sleep is known to be temporary, so the death of the body will be temporary.
  3. Sleep has its waking, death will have its resurrection.

B. A Reasoning - Vs. 14.

  1. The "if" clause is a first class condition & assumes the fact.
  2. The condition being true, the result is also true - "since we believe."
  3. The hope of Christ's coming for His own is as sure as His death & resurrection.
  4. The one who lacks assurance about the death & resurrection of Christ will have no assurance about his own resurrection, Rom. 8:11, I Cor. 6:14

C. A Revelation - Vs. 15a.

  1. Refers to direct revelation not to quotation.
  2. Vs. 15b - Living ones will not have a head start on those who have died.
  3. Obvious Paul was looking for rapture in his lifetime.
    1. It was imminent to him - Titus 2:13/
  4. He spoke freely of the alternative possibility - II Tim. 4:6.

D. A Return - Vs. 16a.

  1. This means the literal, bodily return of Christ.
    1. Not mean the death of the Christian.
    2. Not mean the coming of the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Lord who is to return in Vs. 16 is the Jesus who died and rose again in Vs. 14.

E. A Resurrection - Vs. 16b.

  1. "Dead in Christ" is synonymous with "them also which sleep in Jesus" in Vs 14.
  2. There is no reference here to the resurrection of the unsaved.
    1. Unsaved shall be raised but not at the resurrection of the saved at the rapture - Jn. 5:28,29.
  3. There are two distinct resurrections.
    1. Those who teach otherwise are in error.
  4. "The resurrection of life" does not occur at one time.
    1. It is in separate stages - I Cor. 15:20-23.
    2. Christ is the firstfruits, the first part of the resurrection of life.
    3. The second stage of the "resurrection of life" is the Rapture.
    4. The third stage is after the Tribulation - Rev. 20:6.
    5. This is the resurrection of unbelievers - Rev. 20:12,13 - the is Great White Throne.
  5. The resurrection at the Rapture will include only those saints of the present dispensation who have died before Christ returns.

F. A Reunion - Vs. 17.

  1. Before either the resurrected dead or the living saints meet the Lord in the air, they are joined together in one group - a wonderful reunion.
  2. All the divisions among God's people will be removed.
  3. All strife will have ended & all broken hearts mended.

G. A Reaffirmation - Vs. 18.

  1. Here is a balm for the brokenhearted, a comforting word for the sorrowing.
  2. Here is living, vibrant hope.
  3. The Thessalonians were having a tough time - these words were to give them assurance.
  4. These words are calculated to give strength at all times.


(Ready for the Rapture - Part 1)

INTRO: No study of Rapture compete without practical application.  One thing to know Christ's coming imminent, another matter to be ready at moment He comes. What attitudes & actions safe for Christian & satisfactory to God?  One can have good intentions & not be ready.


A. I Cor. 4:5, Here is an appeal to charitableness.

  1. We are not capable of judging the service of others, nor our own service.
    1. We dare neither justify nor judge others, nor ourselves.
    2. Lord is Judge & there is a time for judgment.
  2. There is an exhortation here - "judge nothing".
    1. Verb is in the present continuous tense - "Discontinue your practice of passing judgment."
    2. While we judge others we lower the dignity of true Christianity by usurping a right exclusively Christ's - Matt. 7:1-5.
    3. It is gross pride and brash egotism to presume that we qualify to act the role of a judge in determining the character of another.
    4. Judging others is tantamount to idle gossip.
  3. There is also expectation here.
    1. We can expect the Lord to come.
  4. There will be an expose' when He comes.
    1. When Christ comes He will expose the things that were hidden.
    2. The things we have done under cover to avoid detection, Heb. 4:13.

B. Col. 3:4-5 - "therefore" in Vs. 5 refers to what was said in Vs. 4.

  1. We are to put to death all that comes under the category of immorality.
  2. Have nothing to do with moral impurity.

C. I Thess. 5:23 - "wholly" found only here in all the N.T.

  1. Refers to complete sanctification.
  2. God desires that believers walk circumspectly, to abstain from every appearance of evil - Vs. 22.

D. II Tim. 4:1-2 - Paul's last charge to a younger servant in Christ.

  1. An appeal to faithfulness.
  2. The only issue at the Judgment Seat of Christ is faithfulness.