Religious Beliefs

What is meant by the term “the Rapture”?

Some millenarian sects hold that at the Second Coming of Christ all believers will be taken up (rapt) into Heaven. Only those deemed to be “saved” will enjoy the benefit of the experience. Numbers of the saved and the criteria by which to determine one’s own or others’ membership in that group vary. Some churches adhere to a literal reading of the scriptural text, according to which one hundred and forty-four thousand, equal numbers from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, will be “sealed” on their foreheads (Revelation 7:1-8). Strict interpretations limit to that number those who will survive the “great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14) that will precede the Second Coming of Christ. Others allow that the number is symbolic, though the actual number of those saved will remain relatively small. Some (generally smaller) Christian groups continue to predict specific times when they are convinced the Rapture will occur.


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