I spent much of my 20s in a Pentecostal church which stressed the rapture. What is the rapture? It is the belief that God will rescue his people from earth. I will get into the biblical evidence later in this post.
The church I attended also emphasized the book of Revelation. But the problem I had was that it was difficult to find the rapture in Revelation. Unless you already had a pre-existing belief in the rapture, you would never read Revelation and come away with that belief.
If there is a rapture, you would expect a book like Revelation to mention it. But where is it?
Some people have seen a reference in this verse:
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (Revelation 4:1)
You can find an example of this interpretation here. However, that does not seem to be what is being described. This is about John being called to heaven to receive his revelations. It is not a rescue of the church.
So where is the rapture?
It depends on what you mean by rapture. I don’t like that term at all because it is importing a lot of theological presuppositions. Here is the passage it is taken from:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
The word rapture comes from the Latin for “caught up.” But instead of describing this as the rapture, we should use its biblical name: the resurrection. First Thessalonians 4, along with 1 Corinthians 15, describes Jesus returning and that return being accompanied by the resurrection of all believers, living and dead. Those who are alive are transformed without dying but still receive the same type of body as the dead.
If that is what we mean by rapture, then we can find it in Revelation. In Revelation 19 we have the return of Jesus and in Revelation 20 we have the resurrection. These are the events described in 1 Thessalonians 4.
That might not be what believers in the rapture are hoping for but that is what the New Testament teaches.