Is There a Rapture?

Since a rapture in the linguistic sense of “the carrying of a person(s) to another sphere of existence” has yet to happen to any human among us (disregarding the issue of Christ’s ascension here), perhaps your question is better phrased as “Will there be a rapture”?

If you ask this question of a fundamentalist Christian, the answer would most likely be yes. They would point to Paul’s statement in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 that

“We who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them (those who have already died) to meet the Lord in the air.”

Catholics generally answer “no” to this literalistic reading of scripture. After all, St. Paul’s writing clearly showed that he fully expected Jesus to return a second time in his own lifetime and usher in the end of the world. So when Catholics refer to the rapture, it is generally an allusion to the final resurrection of the dead which we still anticipate at Christ’s second coming.

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.