Ep.1259: Do I Suffer From Rapture Anxiety? (Part I)
Questioning the rapture in the light of careful scriptural analysis
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Theme Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:17
Christianity is divided into many denominations and groups. These divisions create a wide variety of teachings that elicit a wide variety of reactions. Take the rapture as an example. In its basic form, it interprets the Scriptures to say that Jesus returns with a shout and a trumpet. He raises the dead Christians to him first and then all those faithful who are still living will be dramatically and immediately taken up to him as well. For both Christians and non-Christians, the drama of this view brings eye rolls and disdain from some, excitement and anticipation from some, and all-out fear, trauma and "rapture anxiety" from others. The rapture is a big teaching based upon a few scriptures. The big question is, does this teaching fit squarely with the original Christian doctrine we learn from the Bible?
The Apostle Paul loved the newly converted and maturing Christians who lived in Thessalonica. He had preached to them and lived among them for a short time. After leaving them, he was unable to return to them due to illness. He sent Timothy to check on them and wrote the letter we now call the book of 1st Thessalonians. This letter was one of fatherly love, compassion and encouragement.
What does this have to do with examining the rapture teaching and the anxiety it brings to some? Everything! In the 4th chapter of this book, Paul was explaining how Christians in their day would be united with Christ at his return and reunited with each other as well. He was teaching them these things to help them cope with their separation from him and the death of some of their brethren. He was tenderly building their faith and in a very fatherly manner telling them, "Everything will be okay!"
Brutal violence or fatherly encouragement?
The many Christians who believe in the rapture teaching see these verses as signals of extraordinary drama and violence: Jesus returns with a shout and calls all Christians alive or dead to him in an instant. This action triggers an overwhelming chaos for those who are left behind, as they will now face severe tribulation. This belief is outright traumatizing to some, and at the very least scary and brutal. It certainly does not fit into the context of a fatherly letter of encouragement. So, what do these verses really mean?
Check out our December 12, 2022 podcast, “Do I Suffer from Rapture Anxiety? (Part I)." We methodically delve into the scriptures in question by asking a lot of questions and finding scriptural answers. The Bible says Jesus "descends from heaven with a shout," and also that he comes as "a thief in the night." How can both be true? Does his return require all these things to happen in a moment? Is this shout to be literally heard throughout our world? How does Jesus have the voice of the archangel? Join us for a journey through some difficult scriptures! In Part I of our three-part series, we begin the point by point shedding of light on what the Apostle Paul was really teaching.