Myths and misunderstandings about the Snatching Away, aka the Rapture

There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings that come up anytime someone begins discussing “the Snatching Away” (which is what those of us in the body of Christ tend to call the event generally known as “the Rapture,” although, for the sake of familiarity, I’ll refer to it as the Rapture for the duration of this post). Whether it’s due to simple lack of study or due to willful ignorance, I can’t say for sure, but whenever the topic comes up, somebody invariably reveals their lack of knowledge about the subject by sharing one or more of the many myths and misunderstandings I’m going to cover in this post.

  • John Nelson Darby invented the Rapture.

Darby certainly helped popularize the idea of the Rapture in modern times, but the doctrine predated him by almost two millennia (since it was first taught by the apostle Paul). Just because most Christians had forgotten the doctrine between the time Paul taught about it and Darby’s time doesn’t mean it’s a new invention. There were plenty of doctrines that were forgotten between Paul’s time and centuries later as well, so the argument that it wasn’t popular until recently doesn’t really help. Besides, if we’re rejecting doctrines for being considered “new” (although really just being rediscovered after being forgotten), evangelicals and other Protestants need to reject the Protestant Reformation and should all become Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox (whichever you happen to believe is the original Christian church). That said, he didn’t discover it himself. It was actually known and taught at various points between the time of Paul and the time he learned about it, even if it wasn’t a popular doctrine until then.

  • Darby learned about the Rapture from a prophetic vision by a teenage girl named Margaret MacDonald.

Anyone who grew up in the Plymouth Brethren as I did laughs whenever they hear this because it’s obvious the one making this claim isn’t familiar with the doctrines of Darby’s denomination. First of all, the Brethren were quite sexist (and often still are), and would never accept any teaching from a female. But even if the “vision” had been given by a male, Darby would have still rejected it because the Brethren are cessationists and believe that legitimate prophetic visions ended during Paul’s time, so he would have rejected any such vision as a deception, either by the one speaking the “prophecy” or by demons giving the “prophecy” to the speaker.

Regardless, if you read the so-called prophecy, it appears that it was actually just about the Post-Tribulation Second Coming of Christ anyway, and not about the Rapture at all.

  • Jesus’ statements about His Second Coming don’t seem to line up with the doctrine of the Rapture.

This is true, and there’s a very good reason for this: He wasn’t talking about the Rapture. Jesus only ever spoke about the Second Coming when He talked about His return. The Rapture was a mystery, meaning a secret, until the apostle Paul revealed it. Until then, Jews were looking forward to the resurrection of the just which will happen “at the last day” (this is a reference to the last day of the current eon, or age, not the last day of the world, which will take place about 1,000 years later), but anyone who does the math, comparing the numbers in the book of Daniel to the numbers in the book of Revelation, will discover that this resurrection won’t occur until 75 days after Jesus returns and touches down on the Mount of Olives. Meanwhile, Paul told us that the dead in Christ will rise first (referring to those in the body of Christ who are dead, not to be confused with the saints in the Israel of God who will be resurrected at the resurrection of the just), then they, along with those in the body of Christ who are still alive, will be caught up to be with Christ in the air, but the gathering of the living saints to Jesus at the Second Coming appears to happen when Jesus fully returns to the earth, so the difference in timing shows us that these must be two separate events, with the Rapture predating the Second Coming by at least 3 and a half years, although probably actually by 7 or more years. This is easily understood by those of us in the body of Christ because we know that we are not the same as the group of believers known as the Israel of God (these are the saints who will be raised at the resurrection of the just, as well as those who will be gathered to Jesus at His Second Coming). The body of Christ has a heavenly destiny, to reign among the celestials (which is why we meet Christ in the air), while the Israel of God will be ruling over the Gentile nations here on the Earth (which is why they’ll be gathered to Jesus on the Earth when He finally touches down on the physical ground).

And for those who like to claim that this means Jesus actually returns to earth from heaven twice, those who understand what ”heaven” is a reference to in Scripture understand that this isn’t actually the case at all.

  • NT Wright proved the Rapture is a false doctrine.

NT Wright seemed to be unaware of the difference between the body of Christ and the Israel of God when he wrote his somewhat famous article on the Rapture, and when you begin at the wrong starting point you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up in the wrong place as well.

  • When the Rapture occurs, there will be chaos on earth, including crashed vehicles and airplanes, because so many people will have disappeared, including all the Christians driving and piloting those crashed vehicles and planes.

Only members of the body of Christ will be caught away in the Rapture, and there are very few actual members alive today (likely only a few thousand of us at most, it’s been estimated). Members of the Christian religion aren’t in the body of Christ (due to believing a false gospel), so they won’t vanish at that point, and will have to go through the Tribulation. Instead of chaos, odds are good that almost nobody (perhaps nobody at all) will even witness anyone being taken to the heavens when it occurs, and the relatively few people who are caught away will more likely be treated as missing persons cases since the world won’t even know the Rapture happened. (If you aren’t sure how one joins the body of Christ, I wrote about it in detail here.)

  • The Rapture isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

This is the easiest myth to disprove. Because, aside from what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, which is the passage that describes what will happen when the Rapture occurs, there’s also Philippians 1:18-23, where Paul outright states his desire that the Rapture occur soon. Of course, most people assume Paul’s statement in verse 21 that, for him specifically at that particular time (it’s important to note that this verse isn’t talking about believers in general, but was about Paul’s unenviable circumstances at the time he wrote these words), “to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” means that he believed his death would bring him immediately to be with Christ in heaven, but this ignores the context of the verses before these words, not to mention the verses after them as well, and the context of the surrounding verses make it pretty obvious that the “gain” Paul was referring to there would be a gain to the furtherance of the message he was preaching while in bonds, which his martyrdom would surely accomplish (the idea that the “gain” referred to going to heaven as a ghost is reading one’s presuppositions about the immortality of the soul into the passage, but since the Bible tells us that the dead are unconscious and gone until their physical resurrection, this obviously can’t be the case). I’ll admit, verses 22 and 23 in the KJV aren’t the easiest for people today to understand (17th-century English isn’t something modern people always find easy to grasp), and some people will assume that by, “yet what I shall choose I wot not,” Paul meant he hadn’t yet decided which option he was going to select, as if it was up to him. But whether he lived or died wasn’t actually up to him at all — it was up to the Roman government (at least from a relative perspective, although it was ultimately up to God from an absolute perspective). Literally all Paul was saying there is that he wasn’t going to let it be known whether he’d personally rather continue living as a prisoner in bonds, which seemed to be helping the word to be spread more boldly, or whether he’d prefer to die and let his martyrdom help the cause even more than his state as a prisoner was doing, and that he was pretty much “stuck between a rock and a hard place” either way (which is basically all that “in a strait betwixt two” means in modern day colloquialism), since his only options at that point appeared to be equally undesirable for him as an individual, which is why he then went on to say that he’d prefer a third option over either of the seemingly available two options, which was “having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better,” because if Jesus were to come take the body of Christ up to heaven while Paul was still alive, he wouldn’t have to suffer through either of the two likely options, but would instead get to depart the earth without dying, to “ever be with the Lord” in the heavens in an immortal body, which is a far superior option to living as a prisoner in a mortal body or to being put to death. He couldn’t possibly have been referring to dying and being with Christ in an afterlife when he wrote, “having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ,” since he’d just finished telling his readers that he wasn’t going to say whether he’d rather live or die, and that neither of the two likely options were particularly desirable. Now, some Bible translations make it look like he simply couldn’t decide whether he’d prefer to live or die, but he outright said that his desire was “to depart,” so those translations don’t actually make any sense if “to depart” meant “to die,” telling us it’s simply referring to the Rapture.

I could go on, but I want to keep this post short. If you want to learn more about the Rapture (or the Snatching Away), though, here are some good articles on the topic:

A Study on the Timing of the Snatching Away (Christ’s Coming for the Body of Christ is Distinct from Christ’s Coming with All of His Messengers)

Before the Pangs Begin: A Defense of the Imminence of the Snatching Away

The Timing of the Snatching Away in Relation to the 70th Week (part 1)

The Timing of the Snatching Away in Relation to the 70th Week (part 2)

Why the snatching away will precede “the Lord’s day” (part one)

Why the snatching away will precede “the Lord’s day” (part two)

The snatching away of the body of Christ