Rawlings School of Divinity
Master of Arts in Biblical Studies (MA)
Rapture, Eschatology, Dispensationalism, Tribulation, Revelation, Resurrection
Christianity | Religion
Smith, Steven Dale, "An Evaluation of Rapture Theology" (2021). Masters Theses. 705.
In the realm of scholarly debates regarding eschatology, a prominent divisive topic is the Rapture. Entire books and articles elaborate on the biblical support for and against the role that the Rapture plays within pretribulationism, midtribulationism, and posttribulationism. Such works contain the ongoing clash between interpreters, often with each side claiming that the same passages constitute absolute proof of their respective belief systems. Arguments frequently include the possibility of a seven-year tribulation, an antichrist, and a Rapture: terms not found in the book of Revelation and therefore difficult to explain. A central question that continues to draw a line between scholars is when the Rapture will occur. However, since all prominent theories are not without fault, perhaps the central question should revert to if there is a Rapture. This thesis examines the development and exegesis of modern Rapture theologies. This study reveals that advocates of the Rapture often use inconsistent and unsound methods to arrive at their eschatological conclusions, including distorting the order of passages, using erroneous calculations, and, most of all, reading into verses that which is neither written nor implied. Such attempts to understand the mystery behind potential end-times prophecy causes some scholars to attach confusing passages to a future seven-year tribulation and an associated Rapture. A more contextual explanation is warranted for these portions of Scripture This thesis argues that Rapture theories in relation to either the Great Tribulation or the precise time in which Christ returns are unsustainable. Biblical phrases that refer to living believers being snatched are, instead, consistently timed in relation to the resurrection of the dead, which is shown throughout the New Testament to occur at the final judgment, when the old heaven and earth are destroyed. It is at this point when dead and living Christians meet Christ in the air and are transfigured in preparation of progressing to the new heaven and earth.