Stewarton Bible School

The Secret Rapture

1. Introduction

Many Christians speak about a 'secret rapture.' What do they mean when they use this term? Do you know? According to the Oxford Dictionary the word rapture means 'intense delight.' The secret rapture, we are informed by these believers, will indeed be an experience of 'intense delight.' But that is not all that is meant when they talk of the 'secret rapture.' When they use this term they mean the following: Does the Bible teach this? Or are these Christians sadly mistaken? It is important to find out and to find out soon: for, as you can imagine, if the secret rapture theory is true, then you'll not be congratulating yourself when you discover that you have missed the most important event in human history and face seven years of unprecedented trouble - which you could have avoided. The aim of this article is to present the Bible teaching on this vital subject. Study it carefully.

2. Misunderstood Scriptures

To begin with we discover that the word 'rapture' does not appear in all the Bible, neither in the old nor the new testament. This means that we are unable to quote a single verse containing the word rapture, let alone the phrase secret rapture. I repeat, the word rapture does not appear in all the Bible. How, then, has the theory of the secret rapture developed? What Bible verses have these believers used to arrive at such an astonishing conclusion, that thousands (perhaps even millions) of true believers are - at any moment - liable to be secretly caught away to heaven; leaving the rest of humanity to go through the trials listed in the book of Revelation? Since the early 1950s, when I first became a Christian, I have read many articles about the secret rapture. I have even seen 'sample newspapers,' the kind that would supposedly appear the morning after the 'rapture,' telling of: How has this amazing teaching of a secret rapture developed? In my experience the most popular texts used to support the rapture theory are as follows.
Luke 17:31: In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
32: Remember Lot's wife.
33: Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
34: I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35: Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
36: Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

1 Thessalonians 4:16: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Believe it or not, these are the main texts used to support the theory of the secret rapture! There may be others: but these are the main ones. Now take a close look at these texts and ask yourself this question: Do they really support the secret rapture theory? Or has there been a serious misunderstanding somewhere along the line. No Bible student will deny that the above texts prove that a 'catching away' of believers will take place. But will that catching away be silent and secret? And will it occur seven years before the Saviour returns to earth?

A close examination of these texts, and especially the context in which they are found, reveals the very opposite. It reveals the truth, not of a secret, silent catching away, but an event which will be attended by every angel in heaven and be heard and seen by every human being on earth! Let me explain further.

3. The Saviour's Return

To begin with let me repeat: no one is doubting that true believers will be 'caught up' by the angels of God to meet the Saviour on his return to earth. (I prefer the phrase 'caught up' rather than that misused word 'rapture'). The word 'rapture' doesn't even appear in the Bible. So the first question we must address is: will this 'catching away' at the Master's return be secret and silent? The next question is: will this 'catching away' occur some seven years before the end of this age - before the Saviour's return? The answers to these two questions become obvious in the scriptures below.

The catching away of the saints is no secret. It will be witnessed by all the world!

Matthew 24:26: Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27: For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28: For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29: Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Revelation 19:11: And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12: His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13: And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14: And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15: And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16: And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
17: And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
18: That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
19: And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
20: And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

The Catching Away of the Saints will not be silent.

It will be accompanied by the voice of the arch-angel and the Trumpet of God. These will be heard by all the world. At this time there will also be a resurrection of millions of bygone believers. These saints, the angelic host and the Lord himself will all be visible to every eye. There is nothing silent, secret or hidden about these amazing events.
Matthew 24:31: And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first ...
1 Corinthians 15:51: Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

John 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
Revelation 11:15: And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
16: And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
17: Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
18: And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

The Saviour returns at the End of this Age, not seven years before the end.

Jesus Christ returns to earth at the end of this age, after the disasters and trials mentioned in Revelation; not seven years before the end. He returns at the last of the seven trumpets. It is called the Last Trump! This means he returns after the tribulation, after a third of earth's population is slain and after the seven last plagues. Note the apostles' question concerning the timing of the Master's return. They knew that his return would coincide with the end of the world! That is, at the end of this age - not seven years before the end.
Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

4. What Does This Mean?

It means that blissfully expecting to be caught away to heaven before the events detailed in Revelation occur is courting disaster. Why is it courting disaster? The answer is: because the Revelation was given to the church to warn and prepare the true believer of terrifying end-time events called the The Time of Trouble in Daniel's prophecy. The Revelation was not given for only the Jews; who hardly ever read the book. It was given to the Christian churches - all of them. Note its opening admonition about reading and taking to heart the warnings therein:
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

If Christians fail to study and heed the warnings of Revelation, they will find themselves totally unprepared for the critical decisions and trials ahead. They will lose their faith in God. They will walk blindfolded into sin and risk losing eternal life! Yes, that is how serious this matter is. Satan desperately wants the church to be unprepared for the final events that are scheduled to occur prior to the Saviour's return. He doesn't want them to identify the Beast and the deadly Mark of the Beast. So he has put out this dangerous theory about a secret rapture: a theory which is lulling Christians into a tragic state of ignorance and a false sense of security. As a result millions of genuine believers are patiently waiting to be secretly raptured away to heaven before the terrible Time of Trouble begins. That is why they do not study the book of Revelation.

'Why bother,' is their comment, 'if we are not going to be here when those awful events happen.' 'The prophecy of the Revelation doesn't concern us,' they say, 'We'll not be here, we'll be in heaven!'

Oh what a tragic mistake these millions are making! How devastating will be their surprise to find themselves still here - and unprepared - when the tribulation starts. When it begins, many will incorrectly conclude that Bible prophecy cannot be trusted. That it is pure fable and unworthy of further attention. They will then give up their faith in God and return to the world. And that is exactly what Satan wants. He wants the church to be totally unprepared for the Time of Trouble and to lose its faith in the Almighty and His word. The 'secret rapture' theory is but one of his many attempts to cause believers to ignore Yahweh's Word. Beware!

5. The Coming Exodus

Is there any protection for the church of the Almighty in the days ahead, when the troubles described in the book of Revelation overtake mankind? I am happy to report that there is. Yahweh the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel is a Being of matchless love and mercy. He has an emergency plan already set to rescue His people. A plan every bit as stunning and miraculous as when He rescued Israel from the hand of Pharaoh in the days of Moses. That plan is scheduled to take place during the 6th Trumpet (the 2nd Woe) when a third of the human race is perishing all around. Let me quote one prophecy concerning His plan.
Revelation 12:1: And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3: And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6: And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
7: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8: And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9: And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10: And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12: Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13: And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14: And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15: And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16: And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17: And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

In this prophecy the woman is Yahweh's church - Israel! The man child is Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). The dragon is Satan the Devil and the wilderness is on earth - not in heaven. During the 6th Trumpet ... the 2nd Woe, when the Devil realises that his time is short, the woman will be taken into her place in the 'wilderness' for a period of 1260 days, which is 3.5 years. There she will be miraculously fed and protected out of the reach of the Devil and his angels. This prophecy is further explained in the SBS article The Coming Exodus.


Satan's aim when formulating error is to cause the human race to lose faith in God and to turn to sin. SBS aims to expose Satan's errors. The secret rapture theory is one such error. This is what the scriptures teach. If you are interested in escaping the Great Tribulation - the Time of Trouble - Stewarton Bible School (SBS) advises you to:
Fear God and keep His commandments:
for this is the whole duty of man.
Nothing short of faith and obedience will ensure your safety during the fast approaching Time of Trouble. The following SBS studies deal with these matters further: Study them prayerfully.

And now may the Almighty bless you as you humbly walk with Him.

SBS     Vital Topics     The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
March 1996     ... Updated: December 1999