I grew up hearing in the church about rapture and secret coming of the Lord who will take to heaven those who are ready for His return. I was taught that the coming of Christ was to be in two stages: He would come for the Church, then He would later come with the Church. The first stage of this coming was called the rapture. I even saw the movie about it.

Eschatology is not an easy subject.

I preached in detail first 3 chapters of the Revelation and then studied the rest of the book by chapters. It took me about an year of deep study. The book o Revelation is the only prophetical book of NT, and I thought that I will „have to“ preach about the rapture. Well, I was surprised to find out that I did not preached about „the Secret Rapture“. Why? I could not find the doctrine of Rapture in the book of Revelation. So I started to search and ask questions about the origin of this theory.

Who came up with this idea, or theory? How it developed in such a world wide teaching?

Early church fathers did not had a clear statement regarding escahtology or the rapture. There is no evidence that church fathers like Augustin, Ignatius, Clement and others taught the doctrine of rapture. The rearly church believed, taught and expected the second Christ coming. The early fathers placed strong emphasis upon „imminency“ of Christ coming and they understood it as an literal coming of Christ. Early church experienced great tribulation and persecution frum Roman Empire. I would expect that if someone and somewere this teaching about the rapture could develop , than the early church period was the perfect one. Because they were persecuted and were in the middle of great tribulation, and yet they did not preached and taught about being raptured. They went through great suffering, turmoils because they were faithful to the Lord. God was with them as they went through the death valley.

The period between Augustine and the Renaissance was largely dominated by “Augustine’s understanding of the church, and his spiritualization of the Millennium as the reign of Christ in the saints.

We must then go on and ask if reformers knew something about the rapture theory. The Reformers of the sixteenth century saw sharp parallels between the Church of Rome and the Book of Revelation. This opinion was so strong among the Reformers that they went as far as declaring that the Pope was the Anti-Christ, and the Roman Church was the Harlot of Babylon.

Martin Luther and John Calvin had strong faith in Christ coming and encouraged their listeners and readers to be preprared and expect Him, every moment. As the early church fathers, they also emphasized the imminency of His return-one event. Lord’s return was one of the great undeveloped themes of the Reformation era. If the early fathers did not taught rapture, and reformers too, then this doctrine is really a new doctrine.

To many it is bowth amazing and shocking to discover that neither the word rapture nor the doctrine/teaching of a "secret rapture" is to be found in any bible translation. Moreover, it is not even mentioned in any "christian" literature prior to the year 1830.

The first preacher who preached the „rapture“ gospel was Edward Irving during the mid-1800. Irving held some eccentric positions on the use of "spiritual" gifts, including speaking in tongues and prophesying. He contended that these gifts were for the present day "church", and had quite a few followers of his radical notions. However, when chaotic disturbances arose in Irving's services during the manifestations of these "gifts", the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) took action, dismissing Irving from his position as minister in 1832.

The ultimate result of Irving's dismissal was the formation of the Catholic Apostolic Church, which still exists until this day. Irving's movement grew and became the basis of modern day pentecostalism. The natural evolution of this movement has resulted in the recent emergence of the "Toronto Laughing Spirit" phenomenon which has seduced and mislead more than a few well-intentioned people. Some church historians referred to Irving as “the father of modern Pentecostalism.”

However, in 1830 during one of Irving's sessions before his dismissal, a young Scottish girl, named Margaret MacDonald, fell into a "trance". After several hours of "vision" and "prophesying" she revealed that "christ's" return would occur in two phases, not just one. "Christ" would first come visibly to only the righteousand rapture them, then He would come a second time to execute wrath on the unrighteous in the nations.

This "secret rapture" was promoted by Irving claiming he, too, had heard a "voice" from heaven commanding him to teach it. (Some modern researchers submit that Irving's speculations of the "rapture were influenced by the Spanish Jesuit priest, Lacunza whose book Irving had translated in 1827 under the title, The coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty)

John Darby, an Englishman and pioneer of the "Plymouth Brethren" movement became caught up in the rapture philosophies of Irving. When Darby heard about Irving's activities, he traveled to Scotland to talk with Irving and his followers about the "secret rapture". It was Darby who became the master developer of "scriptural" arguments to support the theory/doctrine that evolved.

Darby's development of the "rapture" theory has since become widely popularized in Britain and finally in the U.S., largely as a result of Cyrus Scofield's notes in his Scofield Reference Bible. So Darby became "the father of the rapture doctrine“.

Not all christian faiths accept the Rapture Theory.

  • Roman Catholics do not accept a Rapture theory. They believe the concept to be a confused understanding of the Second Coming of Christ.

  • Eastern Orthodox also reject the Rapture theory. From the beginning it has never been taught by any of their bishops.

It seems strange to me that this new teaching was hidden from the church almoust 1800 years. Is possible that others brilliant theologians did not see it for so long time?

The origin of this theory is very tragic, strange and doubtful. Did this theory of secret rapture come into existence by a careful exegesis of Scripture? No. The first person to teach the doctrine was a young woman named Margaret Macdonald. Margaret was not a theologian or Bible expositor but was a "prophetess" in the Irvingite sect (the Catholic Apostolic Church). I do not know about you, but have a problem with this source, origin a way of geting new truth from the Bible. The founders of Mormons, Jehova Withness and other strange religious goups also „received visions, and new truth“ in this matter and established their theories and false teaching. Think about it for yourself and decide if that is something worth believing.

What is my conclusion or response to this?

I believe in Christ coming. One event!  When He will come there is no other chance, there is no „Left behind“ people, there is no possibility to live on earth as before. Christ coming will put an end to all. An end to earth, life on earth, universe and at the same time will be a new beginning of His people who will rule with Him in His kingdom. I do not expect a secret rapture, I expect His comming as apostles did, early fathers and the church always believed.

-Nick LICA