What Do Catholics Believe About the Rapture?

“Rapture” is the term often used by Christian denominations to describe one of the last phases of human existence in which the believers of a particular creed will be granted salvation and entrance into paradise, while the others will be left behind. You can see it in everything from movies (The Rapture) to video games (Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture) to books (Left Behind).

Some people have even attempted to predict the rapture and guide people to their beliefs by promising salvation. One of the most famous examples was Harold Camping, a man who predicted that on May 21, 2011, a great earthquake would arrive, and believers would be whisked away while the rest of the world would perish.

Several listeners over the years have called in to The Patrick Madrid Show over the years to ask Patrick about what the Catholic teaching is on the rapture. Most recently, it was Tracy from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina who called to ask about this on behalf of one of her children.

Patrick began by recommending a book by Carl Olson called “Will Catholics Be Left Behind?” Basically, the book debunks all claims that the rapture will take place pre-tribulation, as it is most commonly described.

Patrick continued, explaining that the idea of the rapture is almost always misconstrued and that sacred scripture actually does foretell a rapture, but not in the way that it is typically outlined. Those alive at the second coming will experience it, but they will not be instantly snatched away from earthly existence as the rest of the world faces the anti-Christ and the apocalypse.

“What the Church says, though, is that the popular notion of a pre-tribulation rapture is definitely not biblical,” said Patrick. “But let’s start with what the Bible actually does say about this issue, and it says so in 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 4.”

“For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus, we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

The Latin root for “caught up” or “snatched” is rapiemur, which is also where we get the word “rapture”. So, when Christ comes again – and not a moment before – there will be a form of this catching up where His followers will be transferred from mortality into immortality. It even says it will happen instantaneously, “with a word of command”, similar to the other visions of the rapture.

But that is where the similarities end. As Patrick notes, this idea of preservation for faith in Christ has been twisted by some Evangelicals into this idea that before the tribulation, their believers will be lifted out of the world so that they won’t have to experience what is to come. Several times in scripture, it makes it very clear that we will not be raptured before the end, and also that nobody can predict when it will happen.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36)

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)

“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

“If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

Though we are in the world, we are not of it. We are meant for something greater, but that doesn’t mean we will be taken out of it. All of the classic passages that the evangelicals will produce to try to point to a secret, pre-tribulation rapture have been taken out of context. Jesus, through scripture, has made it abundantly clear that the rapture will take place after the second coming of Christ, at the end of the world.

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.