When Jesus was placed on trial by the high priests and council, he quoted a stunning passage from Daniel’s prophecies, identifying himself with the “Son of Man … coming on the clouds of heaven” in radiant glory one day to judge the world (Mt 26:63-64; see Dn 7:13-14). All the biblical references to Christ’s Second Coming confirm that this event will be a magnificent public
triumph, not invisible and secret, but universally visible and undeniable: “For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Mt 24:27).
Scripture knows nothing, then, of an “extra” coming of Christ in secret before that time — the “rapture,” as many Christians call it — to snatch away true believers from the world. This notion is actually rather novel in Christian history. For the first eighteen centuries after Christ, Christian teachers of every sort — Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant — had never even heard of the idea, nor found any indications of it in Scripture. Even today, the great majority of Christians worldwide, including Protestants, reject it.
To prove their notion, rapture teachers typically cite St. Paul’s words about Christians on earth being “caught up … to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thes 4:17). Taken as a whole, however, the passage speaks of the Lord’s “word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thes 4:16) — hardly a picture of a secret, invisible coming. Instead, this text is a clear reference about Christ’s glorious Second Coming, with obvious parallels to other biblical texts about that event (see 1 Cor 15:51-52).
Rapture believers may also cite our Lord’s words about how, at his coming, certain people will be “taken,” while others will be “left.” But he also says this event will be “as it was in the days of Noah” when “the flood came and carried [the wicked] all away.” So those who are “taken” are the ones to be punished — not the righteous (see Mt 24:37-41).
Finally, rapture teachers claim that Christians must be “snatched” from the world because God has promised them an escape from the “great tribulation” of the last days. But actually the opposite is true: Jesus promised that in that time of trial, “the one who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Mt 24:4-22). (See also “How Will the World End?” and “What Is the Second Coming?”).