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Rapture :JW beliefs examined

Updated: May 24, 2022



We all heard of the word Rapture that has become popular by the Left Behind Series and of course by countless books and films written on this subject. So what is the Rapture? In few words it is the teaching mainly based on 1 Thess. 4:13-17 that Christians will be removed from the earth by Jesus Christ before the Great Tribulation leaving behind the unbelieving mankind to go through all the woes and calamities of the End. The word Rapture comes from the Latin "rapturo" which is the translation of the Greek word "harpazo" as it appears in 1 Thessalonians and means "to snatch away". The teaching in its current form grew out of the translations of the Bible that John Darby analyzed in 1833 and in its current form is mostly popular amongst American Evangelicals.Most mainstream Christian denominations do not subscribe to the Rapture theology like Catholics ,Anglicans,Eastern Orthodox and of course Jehovah's Witnesses.

So lets consider the verses in question first and then see what is the Watchtower's latest position on this teaching ,we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant* about those who are sleeping in death,q so that you may not sorrow as the rest do who have no hope.r14 For if we have faith that Jesus died and rose again,s so too God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus.t15 For this is what we tell you by Jehovah’s word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death;16 because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’su voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.v17 Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in clouds(=or harpazo, that's where the word rapture comes from)w to meet the Lordx in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord.y18 So keep comforting one another with these words.

This is how the NWT renders the verses which are fraught with biased translation to fit their narrative but more on that later.Now let's consider some Watchtower publications that have dealt with this subject in the past.According to the Reasoning from the Scriptures publication(=that little brown book with answers to questions householders in the ministry raised if you remember) , these verses are not referring to a specific future event but to the general hope of heavenly life after death.We read:

Evidently some members of the Christian congregation in Thessalonica had died. Paul encouraged the survivors to comfort one another with the resurrection hope. He reminded them that Jesus was resurrected after his death; so, too, at the coming of the Lord, those faithful Christians among them who had died would be raised to be with Christ.

More recently, the Watchtower 15th July 2015 Study Article and paragraph 15 under the subtitle "Shining Brightly in the Kingdom had

this to say about the Rapture(https://www.jw.org/en/library/magazines/w20150715/rapture-anointed-great-tribulation/):

Does this mean that there will be a “rapture” of the anointed ones? Many in Christendom believe, according to this teaching, that Christians will be bodily caught up from the earth. Then, they expect that Jesus will visibly return to rule the earth. However, the Bible clearly shows that “the sign of the Son of man” will appear in heaven and that Jesus will come “on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt. 24:30) Both of these expressions imply invisibility. Additionally, “flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom.” So those who will be taken to heaven will first need to be “changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, during the last trumpet.”*(Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-53.) Therefore, while we do not use the term “rapture” here because of its wrong connotation, the remaining faithful anointed will be gathered together in an instant of time.

If that didn't make any sense to you let me break it down.First they don't like the word Rapture because of "its wrong connotation" ,obviously they don't explain what the wrong connotation is but I gather they don't like being associated with Evangelical Christianity because they have their own brand of Christianity to promote. Secondly they make two nonsensical claims ,they make out that the teaching of Rapture implies that Jesus will appear visibly to collect the faithful ones and that they will be bodily caught up from the earth. These are false arguments that people teaching the Rapture don't promote so I don't see why the Watchtower would make such claims.This is not what the Rapture is about and I can only assume the Watchtower writers have only a cursory understanding of the teaching since they are not allowed to engage with apostate Christendom material.

Now lets see the two real reasons why the Watchtower will never get onboard with this teaching.

The first reason is because they believe that only a small number of anointed Christians, the 144,000 are going to heaven whereas the rest are left here on earth to live forever in a Paradise earth.This is because unlike any other Christian denomination they believe in a class system the "anointed" and the "great crowd".This is not true and it is a false teaching that Jesus or the apostles never taught.There will only ever be ONE class of Christians.In fact you can see this class in the verses we saw earlier in 1 Thess.4:13-18 and if you missed it, it is because the Watchtower deliberately mistransilates the verses to fit their doctrine.Lets read again from

1 Thess 4:16,17 and see this one class of Chrisrians, we read:

16 because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’su voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.v17 Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in cloudsw to meet the Lordx in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord.

Do you see this phrase "in union with Christ"? This is a mistranslation of the original "in Christ=en Christo" .To be "in Christ" is to be a Christian and there will ever be one class of Christians as the verses say, the "dead in Christ" that is the Christians that died the past 2,000 years after the death of Christ and the "alive in Christ " the ones that are alive Christians during Christ's return and they both share the same destination which is Heaven.There is so much more to say about the phrase "to be in Christ" but this material for another video.So this is the first reason.

What is the second one? The Watchtower teaches that a great crowd of Christians will survive the Great Tribulation and if this is the case ,you can't have all Christians going up during the Rapture that happens before the Great Tribulation.That would create a major problem with prophetic timeline.In fact they quote Revelation 7:14 where we read:


“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation,i and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.j

Because of our many years of indoctrination we naturally assume that the great crowd are Christians, or more precisely 8 million Jehovah's Witnesses Christians that will survive the Great Tribulation.That couldn't be further away from the truth.In fact if you miss the Rapture and find yourself still living during the Great Tribulation this is a curse not a blessing and the worst of fates and very likely God has not found you worthy joining Him in Heaven.I will revisit this subject but for the time being let's just say that this Great Crowd are not Christians, there are no Christians here on earth during the Great Tribulation.

So we considered the two main reasons why the Watchtower are not accepting the Rapture, now let's see why the Rapture is Biblical and a crucial part of the timeline of Biblical eschatology. My first reaction towards the concept of the Rapture when I came across it after I left the Watchtower was how foreign it was to anything I knew and always had the impression that it was a modern teaching without any roots in other parts of the Bible, of course this is not true ,there are quite a few occasions where a form of Rapture took place in the Bible, I will consider 4 of them, two in the Old Testament and two in the New Testament,let's see them one by one.God always provided an escape plan to his servants when the destruction of the wicked was imminent as in the case of Noah and Lot and his family.Apart from these famous occasions let's see these 4 I mentioned earlier.

The first form of Rapture we find in the book of Genesis, we read in Genesis 5:24:" Eʹnoch kept walking with the true God. Then he was no more, for God took him"(=so Enoch experience a form of Rapture, God took him when his life was in danger)Another Old Testament account is the departure of Elijah to heaven, we read 2 Kings 2:"As they were walking along and talking together(=that is Elijah &Elisha), suddenly a chariot of fire(S) and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven(T) in a whirlwind.(U)12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots(V) and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more"

Again God removed or raptured Elijah off the earth to heaven when his time had come to be assigned in a different location of Israel.

Now in the New Testament we see Jesus being raptured at the end of the 40 days after his ressurection.As in 1 Thessalonians we read earlier clouds were involved in this occasion too.We read in Acts 1:9-11:"After he had said these things, while they were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their sight. 10 And as they were gazing into the sky while he was on his way, suddenly two men in white garments stood beside them 11 and said: “Men of Galʹi·lee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who was taken up from you into the sky will come in the same manner as you have seen him going into the sky." We may never had thought of it this way but this was a form of Rapture.And finally we see in the book of Revelation the Rapture of the 2 witnesses, we read in Revelation 11:11,12:"After the three and a half days, spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell upon those who saw them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven say to them: “Come up here.” And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies saw them."

I think these 4 individual accounts prove that the Rapture is not a foreign concept to the Biblical account but rather a constant way of miraculous escaping both in the Old and the New Testament.

Now it is impossible to to exhaust the teaching of Rapture I just one article , there will be many more in the future where I explain the mechanics of the Rapture and how it plays an important role in Biblical eschatology.

Now before I go I will read you one final Scripture where it clearly shows the Jesus promised his believers not a Paradise on earth but a removal from the earth and a joining with him in heaven ,which what the Rapture is .Let's read from the Gospel of John 14:2,3:" In the house of my Father are many dwelling places. Otherwise, I would have told you, for I am going my way to prepare a place for you. 3 Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will receive you home to myself, so that where I am you also may be."

Does Jesus promise Paradise or panda bears like the Watchtower have you believe upon his Return in His Second Coming? No he promises a situation simular to the one we see in 1 Thassalonians .Jesus said he was going to prepare a "place" (=will see in a future article what that place is.Jesus also said he was "coming back to receive us home to himself" which sounds similar to 1 Thess. 4:17:"where the believers will be caught away in clouds to meet the Lordx in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord.)

If the Rapture is indeed a real future event that has massive effect to what we believed as jehovah's witnesses. Instead of expecting to go through the Great Tribulation and face unspeakable calamities there is a great hope ahead for all those "in Christ " to escape during the.Rapture .I hope this article offered a useful introduction to the teaching of Rapture and I will be returning in the future to add more to its place in the End Time Events.






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