Answer: The rapture is a belief that saved Christians will be removed from the earth by Jesus before the Tribulation of the Antichrist. This belief means Christ would make two separate appearances which is not Biblical.
We are going to briefly explain the rapture, and then document why it is not Biblical.
The word rapture is not in the Bible.
The theory emerged in the 1830s after a disturbed young woman claimed to have a vision that showed the Saints being removed from the earth. She admitted the vision seemed demonic, yet, the preachers of the time took her vision and created an entirely new doctrine out of it.
There are several rapture theories as you mentioned, let us take a look at them.
The pre Tribulation rapture is the belief that saved Christians will be removed from the earth by Jesus Christ before the Tribulation of the Antichrist.
The mid Tribulation rapture is the belief that saved Christians will be removed from the earth by Jesus Christ during the Tribulation of the Antichrist.
The post Tribulation rapture is the belief that saved Christians will be removed from the earth by Jesus Christ after the Tribulation of the Antichrist.
There is not a single Bible verse that documents the rapture. However, there are plenty of verses that are taken out of context and then used to explain the rapture.
We are going to cover three examples.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 is the most commonly cited verse used to explain the rapture, with emphasis on the phrase “caught up”.
Before we read this verse, the first thing we must do when we study the Bible is to ensure we understand the subject and context of a verse. In order to obtain the subject, we will begin reading verse 13.
1 Thessalonians 4:13
13 “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
The entire subject concerns “them which are asleep” in Jesus, simply meaning, those who have passed on before us.
1 Thessalonians 4:14
14 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
No big deal.
Just as Christ rose from the dead, so have those who passed on before us.
Therefore, we should understand those who are “asleep in Jesus”, the “dead in Christ”, were followers of Christ on earth. They have since passed away, and were resurrected just as Christ was, and they are now with Him in Heaven, (see: Do People Go To Heaven When They Die?).
Christ will bring these people, this Army with Him when He Returns, (Revelation 19:11-20).
Now that we understand the subject, we can read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
16 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”
17 “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Obviously, them, the “dead in Christ” rise first, once they pass away their “spirit shall return unto God who gave it” and they are resurrected into their spiritual bodies, (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
Therefore, anyone who is alive on earth at Christ’s Return, will instantly, “in the twinkling of an eye” be transformed into their spiritual body and join the “dead in Christ” along with Jesus. That is what 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 explains which we will discuss shortly.
Now turn your attention to, “the trump of God”.
That is the Seventh Trumpet, the Last Trumpet. We can find this same event documented in Matthew 24:31 and 1 Corinthians 15:52. This leaves no room for a rapture or “catching away”, no matter if one believes in a pre, mid or post Tribulation rapture.
When the Seventh Trumpet sounds,
“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” – Revelation 11:15
Christ appears on earth at the “Seventh Trumpet”, which is “the trump of God”, and that event will end the age we find ourselves in.
Then the Millennium begins where the Priests of Christ will reign with Him on earth for 1,000 years, (Revelation 20:6). This is also the same moment in time when Satan is bound in the bottomless pit for the same 1,000 years, (Revelation 20:2-3).
Matthew 24:40 is another verse used to explain the rapture, but it is also used out of context.
If you begin reading from the top of the chapter, you will learn the subject concerns the Return of Christ which transpires after the Tribulation of Satan, after “the trump of God” which is the Seventh Trumpet.
In Matthew 24:37 Christ helps us gain context by saying,
“As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Christ’s Return will be just like the Days of Noah.
Let that sink in.
39 “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Those taken by the Flood of Noah literally drown to death.
Now pay close attention.
40 “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
Those who teach the rapture explain you want to be taken, yet Christ just said the one taken is like the one taken by Noah’s Flood who drowned to death.
Do you really want to be the one taken from the field, (see: Why Is One Taken And The Other Left In Matthew 24:40?)?
Those who are taken from the field are swept away by Satan’s flood of lies and deception, (see: As In The Days Of Noah And The End Times Flood Of Lies). The greatest of all, that he is God.
The one left is symbolic of those who continue to work for Christ in the field which is the world, (Matthew 13:38). The one left is symbolic of the Saints who endure the Tribulation from the beginning, to end.
1 Corinthians 15:52 is also used to explain the rapture, yet we find Scripture taken out of context once again.
In order to properly understand this verse, we have to begin by reading 1 Corinthians 15:35-55. There we find the subject which is,
“How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?”
For 20 verses Paul explains there are two bodies, a natural body (flesh) and a spiritual body, (see: What Is The Difference Between Our Soul And Spiritual Body?). He continues by saying when the natural body perishes, we transition into our spiritual body.
In verses 51-53 Paul is simply giving us an exception to this rule.
1 Corinthians 15:51-53
51 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,”
52 “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
53 “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
Those who are alive at the Return of Christ are instantly changed, “in a twinkling of the eye, at the last trump” into their incorruptible spiritual body without experiencing death.
The “last” (Strong’s: G2078) means, “farthest, final”.
Again, this transpires at the Seventh and Last Trumpet, the “Trump of God”.
This leaves no room to conclude Christ will appear before the Tribulation to rapture anyone. Instead, at Christ’s Return we are instantly changed into our spiritual body and begin to reign with Christ right here on earth.
The fact is, there is no rapture of the church. Jesus Christ is coming back to earth one time, and He will appear on the Mount of Olives just as He departed.
Acts 1:9-12 explains the Disciples watched as Christ ascended into Heaven.
Moments after, two Angels,
“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” – Acts 1:11
Just as Christ ascended into Heaven, He will transcend from Heaven to the location He departed from.
Acts 1:12 tells us that location is “the mount called Olivet“.
Christ’s Return will not be in secret, rather it will be witnessed in some fashion by everyone on earth, (Matthew 24:27, Revelation 1:7). Christ will then set His Feet down on the Mount of Olives, just as Acts described, which causes a tremendous earthquake, and initiates the Millennium, (Zechariah 14:1-4).
You will notice in Revelation 7, the 144,000 from the 12 Tribes of Israel are Sealed with the Word of God before the Tribulation can begin. The Sealing is that important.
If you continue reading, you will also notice a multitude of other peoples, nations, and tongues who also overcame the Tribulation of Satan.
Further, we are told these people
“…are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. – Revelation 7:14
Notice, the Saints, the “saved Christians” who are Sealed with the Word of God go through the Tribulation, and due to that, their spiritual robes are washed in the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
This also documents the Saints are not harmed, instead, they will deliver the Testimony of Christ before the entire world.
The deeply troubling rapture leaves Christians unaware of the dangers of the Tribulation that begins at the Sixth Trumpet. Without being spiritually prepared for this event, believers of the rapture will take part in the Great Apostasy by worshipping Satan, though they fully believe him to be our Lord and Savior.
This event will become deeply troubling to them when they see the True Christ appear along with the Armies in Heaven. So troubling, they will seek shelter in dens and rocks to hide their shame, (Revelation 6:15-17).
Bram, if you have the real truth of God’s Word, it will not contradict the rest of the Bible. God’s Word never contradicts itself, and as we have documented, the rapture contradicts itself over and over again.
We go further in depth on the rapture in our Bible Study, “The False Hope Of The Rapture“.