Will A Secret Rapture Precede The Second Coming Of Christ?

By George B. Fletcher

The Secret Rapture Theory teaches that Christ will descend from heaven to "the air," raise the righteous dead and translate the living saints, who will be caught away to the "secret chambers," there to remain with Christ for a period of approximately seven years. Of this so-called secret rapture, neither the waiting Church, nor the world is to have a moment’s warning, the saints being first appraised of it by their heavenward flight, and the world by the departure of the "missing ones." After the pouring out of great judgments upon the earth and the conversion of great multitudes by unparalleled revivals of religion, Christ and his immortalized saints with the angelic hosts are to be manifested to the world by their visible descent in great power and glory to establish the Kingdom of God upon earth for a thousand years.

This view is said to be supported by the use of three Greek words: "Parousia," "Apokalupsis," and "Epiphaneia."

The first Greek word ("Parousia") applying to the secret coming of Christ to the air for His saints (commonly called the Rapture), and the two latter words ("Apokalupsis," "Epiphaneia") to the visible coming of Christ with His saints to the earth (commonly called the Revelation). This theory is a perversion of Second coming truth, a delusion of the last days, widely held. Nowhere does the New Testament teach two future comings of Christ, first for His saints, and then with His saints some three-and-a-half to seven years later. Those who hold this view seek to harmonize it with the New Testament teaching on the Second Coming of Christ by asserting that the coming for and with the saints several years later are not two comings, but two stages of the Second Coming of Christ. This attempt to justify the theory cannot overthrow the testimony of the senses that the coming for the saints is a first second coming, and the subsequent coming with the saints is a second second coming. But this cannot be. he came once, and He will come once more—and only once more: "the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28).

What Saith The Lord?

In order to guard believers against this very idea of a Secret Rapture. Christ taught His disciples, "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. for as the lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth even unto the West: so (visible) shall also the coming (parousia) of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:26, 27). Hence, as the lightning flash is open and visible to all, so is Christ’s coming (parousia) to be.

The disciples associated the coming (parousia) with the "end of the world," or age, when they asked Christ the question on the Mount of Olives: "What shall be the sign of thy coming (parousia), and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3). But to those who believe in the Secret Rapture theory, the end does not come with the parousia, but with the subsequent appearing (epiphaneia). Both cannot be right. Christ’s parallel forbids a secret coming: "But as the days of Noah were, SO shall also the coming (parousia) of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the Ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming (parousia) of the Son of man bring the destruction of the wicked.

Christ and the Apostle Paul Agree that the rapture is Neither Secret nor Invisible

That the Rapture is not a secret event is evident from 1 Thessalonians 4;15-18: "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming (parousia) of the Lord shall not prevent (go before) them which are asleep. 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; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." If anyone can make a secret coming out of this scripture, language has no significance at all. There is no secrecy here! It is open, visible, audible; yet it is Christ’s parousia. His coming for His saints, and not a subsequent epipaneia. Christ also teaches the same: "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of the trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:31). This coming is thrice said to be the parousia (Matthew 24:27, 37, 39), and likened to the lightning flash. A "shout," "the voice of the archangel," and "a great sound of a trumpet" are to precede the gathering of the elect at the parousia, yet the age-to-come brethren declare these elect are to be the subjects of a Secret Rapture.

Eleven Reasons Why PAROUSIA, APOKALUPSIS, and EPIPHANEIA are Kindred Terms to Describe One Great Future Event!

Are Christians seen in connection with the epiphaneia (appearing of Christ) and with His apokalupsis (revelation)?

Here are eleven reasons to prove that they are! Bear in mind that the Epistles, though addressed to Christians and Churches of the first century, are equally addressed to Christians through the whole course of the age.

1.      There is a crown laid up for Paul, and for "all of them also that love His (Christ’s) appearing (epiphaneia)." Will they then receive it at a previous parousia some seven years before?

2.      According to the Apostle Paul, the commission to "preach the Word" does not expire until the coming of Christ "at his appearing (epiphaneia) and his kingdom" (2 Tim 4:1, 2). But all the preachers of God’s Word, according to the Secret Rapture theory, are delivered at the previous parousia!

3.      Christ declared that "the wheat and tares are to remain "together" in "the field" until "the harvest, " or "end of the age;" whereas the secret Rapture theory teaches that all the wheat is removed, and the tares left standing, before the end (Matt 13:24-30, 36-42)!

4.      The saints’ probation continues until the epiphaneia, which could not be true if they are made immortal by a previous parousia. "That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing (epiphaneia) of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim 6:14).

5.      The "Blessed Hope" is "the glorious appearing (epiphaneia)" of the great god and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Tit 2:11-13). "What a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" (Rom 8:24); therefore, the hope continues until the epiphaneia, and is not realized at a previous parousia some seven years before!

6.      Paul declared that because of the "hope of Israel" he was accused of the Jews, which hope was the resurrection (Acts 26:6-8). 1 Corinthians 15:23 shows the resurrection will be at the coming (parousia), but 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 shows that the saints will be glorified when the Lord shall be revealed (apokalupsis). Hence, the parousia and the apokalupsis are simultaneous!

7.      The saints of the Corinthian church were commanded to wait for the "coming (apokalupsis) of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1:7). What would be the sense of this, if they were to be ruptured several years before at the parousia?

8.      Works of faith shall be rewarded at the "appearing (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7), but our age-to-come brethren say the rewards will be awarded at the parousia!

9.      Grace is to be brought to the believer at the "revelation (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1;13). What would be the significance of this, if ruptured saints had received it at the parousia several years before?

10.  Christ will recompense tribulation to the troublers of His people, and rest to those who are troubled. When? Not at the parousia, but at the revelation (apokalupsis) of Christ with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on the wicked (2 Thess 1:6-10). Rest for His people, and vengeance upon the ungodly take place at the same time at the one and only Second Coming of Christ!

11.  The climax of the argument, however, on this point is reached in 2 Thessalonians 2:8: "And then shall the wicked (the man of sin) be revealed, whom the Lord shall destroy with the (epiphaneia tees parousias auto) brightness of his coming." Here both words are applied to one action. epiphaneia being rendered "brightness:" and parousia, "coming." This passage proves first, that the parousia and epiphaneia are simultaneous: and, second, that the career of "the man of sin" ends (instead of begins) at the parousia, when the saints are delivered, and does not extend to a subsequent epiphaneia, as the secret rapture theorists teach.

1 Thessalonians 3:13 Considered

This passage (1 Thess 3:13) is sometimes offered as evidence of this two-fold coming of our Lord. "To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." As these "saints" are said to come with Christ, it is supposed that they were previously resurrected or translated. If this were said to be the epiphaneia there might be some show or argument from this verse in favor of a previous parousia; but "coming," here is parousia; so if it proves anything concerning "saints" it is that they are with Christ when He descends from heaven to "the air," which the apostle in the next chapter contradicts: there Christ is said to "descend from heaven" before the resurrection or translation (1 Thess 4:13-18). Those who in the text are said to be "unblamable before God" are all embraced in the pronoun "your;" and they are not those who come with Christ, but are to be established "before" or in the presence of Christ and those who come with Him—the angels. The word hagios, here rendered "saints," means "holy," or "holy ones." In Mark 9:31 we read: "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

In Conclusion

The parousia, the epiphaneia, the apokalupsis, the end, all synchronize at one great crisis "at the last day." The shout, the voice of the archangel, the sound of a great trumpet, the quaking earth, the passing away of the heavens "with a great noise" (2 Peter 3:4, 12), the resurrection and translation of saints, the destruction of sinners, will all attend the coming (parousia) of the Son of man.

From all the foregoing considerations, the "secret rapture theory" must be rejected as one of the most glaring of errors; and it is one that has already wrought much mischief. "Let no man deceive you!" If they say, "Behold, he is in the secret chambers, believe it or not!"

God grant that you, dear reader, shall be ready for His glorious appearing, and be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. There is only one way in which this can be true: namely, repent of your sin by forsaking it and turning to Christ alone for pardon through faith in His blood, confessing Him before the world as your Lord and Saviour. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness: and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation: (Rom 10:9, 10 Revised Version).

From PBS Ministries