There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings that come up anytime someone begins discussing the event generally known as the Rapture. 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. 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.
- 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 happened to 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 age, not the last day of the current world, which won’t happen for more than 1,000 years after that particular resurrection), 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 in heavenly places (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 would mean 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.
- 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 up in the Rapture, and there are very few actual members alive today. 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) will even witness anyone being taken to the heavens when it occurs, and the relatively few people who are caught up in the Rapture will more likely be treated as missing persons cases since the world won’t even know the Rapture happened.