Catholics and Rapture

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If an illiterate is told that electricity is a good thing, but is never taught that it can electrocute him, he’s in a worse off state.

In other words, if you won’t read the whole thing, read nothing. As the saying goes, “half knowledge is worse than ignorance.”

I grew up in a town where the nurses kept lecturing mothers about the importance of sunlight for Vitamin D. Apparently, it was the cheaper alternative to getting medicine. However, these nurses never told the mothers what time of the day, or for how long the child should be out in the sun. As a result, many infants got serious sun burns. The entire community was worse off by this “half knowledge” than by their ignorance.

It is possible to read part of this document and leave more confused than someone who read nothing from it. But I assure you, if you read the whole thing and follow the chronological arrangement of this discourse, you’ll be fine. 🙂

What is Rapture?

Many Protestants believe in the doctrine of rapture. Not all Protestant denominations have exactly the same explanation of this doctrine, but most of them have a few similar common grounds.

In summary, this doctrine explains that Jesus is going to return again. When he does, only the elect (God’s chosen people aka the righteous who did the will of Christ) will be saved. They will be caught up in the air with him and will go to be with him in heaven. The remaining people on earth won’t be able to find them anymore because the elect would have disappeared in the blinking of an eye.

Those who are left on earth, will then remain on earth for 1000 years (some denominations have no fixed time) and will be under the reign of the Antichrist. They will all be forced to take the mark of the beast, 666, but some of them will refuse to do so.

After that time, the trumpet will sound and Christ will return with the elect. He will sit on his thrown and judge everyone remaining on earth.

This teaching, and all other variations of the rapture doctrine, have a few contradictions with Holy Scriptures and the teachings of the Church.

Point A: Rapture won’t be a private event. It’ll be public.

The word rapture is found nowhere in the bible. However, it is derived from the Latin word “rapiemur” (from the root word “rapio” which gives rise to “rapturo” meaning “to be caught up”) which was gotten from the 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

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. 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 first contradiction to the bible is that this event will not be a private disappearing of the elect. Verse 16 tells us that the Lord will come with “a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.” This is how the second coming will be: very loud and obvious to the whole world. In fact, another part of the scriptures shows this:

Look, he is coming on the clouds! Everyone will see him, including those who pierced him. All peoples on earth will mourn over him. So shall it be!
– Revelation 1:7

The second coming coming of Jesus Christ will not be a secret thing that only the elect will know. Even those who wrong him will see him coming. In another verse, Jesus Himself speaks about his second coming:

Soon after the tribulations of those days, the sun will grow dark, the moon will no longer shine, the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers in space will be driven from their courses. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky; and all the peoples of earth will weep as they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. The great trumpet will sound, and he will sound out his angels to the four corners of the earth, and they will gather his chosen people from one end of the world to the other.
– Matthew 24:29-31

(Fun Fact: “Parousia” (/pəˈruːziə/; Greek: παρουσία – is an ancient Greek word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit, and is sometimes used to mean “The Second Coming of Christ.”

“Eschatology” is the study of the events of the end times.)

Point B: Christ will come again AFTER the great tribulation, not before it.

As part of the rapture doctrine, many Protestant denominations believe that the elect will not have to go through the many tribulations that will come in the days of the Antichrist. According to this doctrine, the rapture then is God’s way of separating them from this horrible torture that only those who have rejected God will face. However we see from Matthew 24:31, which we just read above, that God’s people would still be on earth at the Second Coming of Christ.

The Bible also mentions only one Second Coming immediately followed by the judgment. There isn’t a first return of Christ to take away the elect, and then a second return of Christ to judge.

For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will reward each one according to his deeds.
– Matthew 16:27

When the Son of Man comes as King and all the angels with him, he will sit on his royal throne, and the people of all the nations will be gathered before him. Then he will divide them into two groups, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
– Matthew 25:31-32

In this last verse, there is a separation between good and evil. However, some people will still argue that these new good people are people who repented after the elect were taken. To that, the bible says:

Do not let anyone deceive you in any way. For the Day will not come until the final Rebellion takes place and the Wicked One appears, who is destined for hell. He will oppose every so-called god or object of worship and will put himself above them all. He will even go in and sit down in God’s Temple and claim to be God. Then the Wicked One will be revealed, but when the Lord Jesus comes, he will kill him the breath from his mouth and destroy him with his dazzling presence.
– 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 8

Jesus, in the Gospels, also never exempted anyone. He said that the Day of the Lord will come suddenly on everyone everywhere on earth. He even asked us to pray so that we may be able to endure what will happen just before his coming:

Be on your guard! Don’t let yourselves become occupied with too much feasting and drinking and with the worries of this life, or that Day may suddenly catch you like a trap. For it will come upon all people everywhere on earth. Be on the alert and pray always that you will have the strength to go safely through all those things that will happen and to stand before the Son of Man.
– Luke 21:34-36

Point C: God does not want to exempt Christians from suffering.

The main reason there had to be a Point B in this article is that many people wrongly believe that God does not want his children to suffer. Since it is believed that we cannot suffer, many Protestants find it difficult to wrap their minds around Christians being on earth at the same time the tribulations are happening. There is this belief that we are supposed to have some sort of “suffering-less heaven on earth” before we reach heaven. The bible tells us the exact opposite:

For the trouble at the time will be far more terrible than any there has ever been, from the beginning of the world to this very day. Nor will there ever be anything like it again. But God has already reduced the number of days; had he not done so, nobody would survive. For the sake of his chosen people, however, God will reduce the days. Then, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’ – do not believe it. For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear; they will perform great miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s chosen people, if possible. Listen! I have told you this before the time comes.
– Matthew 24:21-25

Even God’s chosen people (The Elect) will be present during the days of the Great Tribulations. This does not in anyway contradict Holy Scriptures because Jesus told his disciples that they would suffer for the Gospel (Matthew 24:9), and how many people would abandon their faith because of these trials (Matthew 24:10).

With these in mind, we can make sense of the book of Revelation which says:

It [the beast] was allowed to fight against God’s people and to defeat them, and it was given authority over every tribe, nation, language, and race. All people living on earth will worship it, except those whose names were written before the creation of the world in the book of the living which belongs to the Lamb that was killed.

Listen, then, if you have ears! Whoever is meant to be captured will surely be captured; whoever is meant to be killed by the sword will surely be killed by the sword. This calls for endurance and faith on the part of God’s people.
– Revelation 13:7-10

Again, we see that God’s own people are in the thick of the troubles and are not snatched away.

Point D: Suffering is a good thing.

Moreover, God allows suffering for our own sake. Suffering for the sake of Christ is a blessing, not a curse. It is written:

Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted.
– Matthew 5:11-12

In fact, suffering is a NECESSITY for the Kingdom of God. The bible says this clearly:

They strengthened the believers and encouraged them to remain true to the faith. “We must pass through many troubles to enter the Kingdom of God,” they taught.
– Acts 14:22

It is for this reason that the bible says:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget self, carry his cross, and follow me.
– Matthew 16:24

Troubles are part of your job description as a Christian. As a matter of fact, a trouble-free Christian life is very suspicious. The devil only stops troubling you when you’re already obstinate in sin.

Even Jesus was tempted by the devil and offered a life without suffering, yet He bore the cross, and He suffered much. Some people believe that Jesus suffered and so we do not have to suffer anymore. On the contrary, it is because Jesus suffered that we have to suffer. The cross is our mark; proof that we are Christ’s.

St. Paul made that very clear when he said:

Since we are his children, we will possess the blessings he keeps for his people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for him; for if we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his glory. I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.
– Romans 8:17-18

In this verse, we see the conditional conjunction “if”. So, if we don’t share in Christ’s suffering, we will also NOT share in His glory. We do not share in Christ’s suffering by just professing Christ; we must actually suffer for him. Interestingly, our sufferings are also part of the redemptive work of Christ. Yes, they are, for it is written:

And now I am happy about my sufferings for you, for by means of my physical sufferings I am helping to complete what still remains of Christ’s sufferings on behalf of his body, the church.
– Colossians 1:24

Another scripture supporting the doctrine of rapture?

Many Protestants quote the book of Matthew as proof of the rapture where people actually disappear secretly:

No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come — neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; the Father alone knows. The coming of the Son of Man will be like what happened in the time of Noah. In the days before the flood people ate and drank, men and women married, up to the very day Noah went into the boat; yet they did not realise what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes. At that time two men will be working in a field: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind. Two women will be at a mill grinding meal: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind. Watch out, then, because you do not know what day your Lord will come.
– Matthew 24:36-42

To that, I say…

Point E: Always read in context.

The problem with this point is that it takes the verses out of context. In chapter 24 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus began to talk about the end times and His second coming, and he described exactly how it would happen:

The great trumpet will sound, and he will sound out his angels to the four corners of the earth, and they will gather his chosen people from one end of the world to the other.
– Matthew 24:31

There’ll be a trumpet sound first. Secondly, in the verse 36, Jesus said that the coming of the Son of man will be like what happened in the time of Noah.

In Noah’s time, the condemnation came on the inhabitants of the earth suddenly and when they least expected it. So will it be at the Second Coming of Christ; one will be taken to be with the Lord at His coming, and the other won’t. Again, as we see in context, this is nothing secret, just like the salvation of Noah during the flood wasn’t secret.

A few other people will quote Genesis 5:24 and say that Enoch disappeared and was raptured. The bible does not mention in anywhere that people will disappear just like Enoch. It would be unwise to apply what happened to Enoch to the whole of Christendom for the same reasons it would be unwise to apply to us the story of Elijah. Elijah was taken up to heaven by a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). We don’t go around saying everyone should prepare for a fire chariot to take them to heaven!

Jesus is very clear about what we should all expect. It is because of misinterpretations like these that St. Peter kept on hammering:

Consider also that our Lord’s patience brings salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom God gave him. He writes this way in all his letters, speaking in them about such matters. Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Above all else, however, remember that no one can explain by himself or herself a prophecy in the scriptures. For no prophetic message ever came just from human will, but people were under the control of the Holy Spirit as they spoke the message that came from God.
– 2 Peter 3:15-16; 1:10-11

The Catholic Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit wrote the entire New Testament and compiled the whole bible in 397 AD at the Council of Carthage. Only this church built by Christ on St. Peter can properly interpret the Bible. We must all learn from her.

Oh, but there’s more.

The Millennium Doctrine

This Protestant doctrine is one that strengthens the Rapture doctrine. Protestants who teach this doctrine use the book of Revelation to support their claims:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the Abyss, holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he threw him into the Abyss, shut it, and sealed it over him, so that he could not deceive the nations until the thousand years were complete. After that, he must be released for a brief period of time.

Then I saw the thrones, and those seated on them had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image, and had not received its mark on their foreheads or hands. And they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years were complete. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

When the thousand years are complete, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to assemble them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the seashore.
– Revelation 20:1-8

From these verses, many Protestants believe that there will be a period of time where the whole world will be Christianized and Jesus Christ will physically rule on earth for 1000 years. This is supposed to be before The Second Coming. According to this teaching, during the period of Jesus’ reign, there’ll be peace and calmness. However, this contradicts the bible in a few ways.

Jesus didn’t come to bring peace to the whole earth.

The book of Matthew tells us something very important:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; your worst enemies will be the members of your own family.

Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples; those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples. Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples.
– Matthew 10:34-38

For the sake of Christ, many families will be split up. There’ll be those who will choose to serve God, and then there’ll be those who refuse to serve God. This is the reason why there won’t be peace in the world. As long as evil doers co-exist with the children of God, there’ll always be unrest, and God’s people will be persecuted because of the choice to serve God.

We know from scriptures that there is no time on earth where there’ll be only Christians. From now until the Second Coming of Christ – which is when judgment will happen – there’ll always be good and evil people together. For it is written:

Let the wheat and the weeds both grow together until harvest. Then I will tell the harvest workers to pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them, and then to gather in the wheat and put it in my barn.
When the Son of Man comes as King and all the angels with him, he will sit on his royal throne, and the people of all the nations will be gathered before him. Then he will divide them into two groups, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the righteous people on his right and the others on his left.
– Matthew13:30; 25:31-33

There is no time lapse between when Jesus returns and when he begins to judge. His Second Coming is precisely so that he can judge. That is what he will do as soon as he returns.

How then are we to understand the 1000 years?

St. Augustine gives us a beautiful explanation for this part of the book of Revelation in chapters 7 through 9 of the 20th book of “The City of God”. The book gives a full explanation but I’ll summarise it here to give you a general idea using one line from the book. St. Augustine says:

“…he used the thousand years as an equivalent for the whole duration of this world, employing the number of perfection to mark the fullness of time.”

The devil has no power to hold the world in the total darkness of paganism and sin because Christ, the Light of world, has come into it. Therefore, the Gospel is being preached and the Kingdom of God is proclaimed to the ends of the earth. It is written in Holy Scriptures:

No one can break into a strong man’s house and take away his belongings unless he first ties up the strong man; then he can plunder his house.
– Matthew 12:29

The strong man of this world is the devil and Christ has broken into his house, bound him up, and now those souls that were held captive in sin are being set free… DAILY! The total number of souls won over for Christ increases every day.

After the disciples returned from preaching the Gospel, the Bible says,

Jesus answered them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
– Luke 10:18

Sequence of the end of the world.

This, right now, is Christ’s 1000 year rule. He is ruling with the saints in heaven. It is in this light that we can make sense of the scriptures that say:

Then I saw thrones, and those who sat on them were given the power to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been executed because they had proclaimed the truth that Jesus revealed and the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image, nor had they received the mark of the beast on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and ruled as kings with Christ for a thousand years. (The rest of the did did not come to life until the thousand years were over.) This is the first raising of the dead. Happy and greatly blessed are those who are included in this first raising of the dead. The second death has no power over them; they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they will rule with him for a thousand years.
– Revelation 20:4-6

After this period, the devil will come again to deceive the world (Revelation 20:7-8). As we know from 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, this must precede the Second Coming of Christ. After this happens, the devil will be defeated by God as is written in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and in Revelation 20:9-10. The ending part of this chapter then explains how the final judgment will take place:

Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sits on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence and were seen no more. And I saw the dead, great and small alike, standing before the throne. Books were opened, and then another book was opened, the book of the living. The dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. Then the sea gave up its dead. Death and the world of the dead also gave up the dead they held. And all were judged according to what they had done. Then death and the world of the dead were thrown into the lake of fire. (This lake of fire is the second death.) Whoever did not have their names written in the book of the living were thrown into the lake of fire.
– Revelation 20:11-15

If you wanted to read more about this Millennium Doctrine, click here.

In Conclusion

We shall all be on earth until we hear the sound of the trumpet. At that point, the judgment will happen. Between now and then, there’ll be a great tribulation; both the righteous and the unrighteous will pass through it.

To those who insist on spreading false teachings, the word of God says:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel that is different from the one we preached to you, may he be condemned to hell!
– Galatians 1:8

P.S: If you’re a youth minister, want to use the information here to start a missionary ministry, or are just interested in preaching the Gospel to your friends and neighbours, click here to learn the system I use to preach the Gospel.

Related: Why is the Catholic Bible different from the Protestant bible?
Related: Why Catholics seem to worship Mary?

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