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The Rapture Code

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Media depictions sell the “Rapture” as a Christian doctrine. But the event generally understood as the Rapture is not Christian doctrine at all. Karlo Broussard, the author of Purgatory Is for Real, decodes the truth about the end times.


Cy Kellett:
Do you want to be raptured? Karlo Broussard is next.

Hello, and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers podcast for living, understanding and defending your Catholic faith. I’m Cy Kellett, your host, and Karlo Broussard is here with us to talk about the rapture. Is it something you should be anticipating, working towards, worried about? As a matter of fact, none of the above, and Karlo will explain how this 19th-century teaching, invented here in America, came to be seen by many Catholics as part of the faith, but it is not part of the faith. The Catholic teaching on the end times, however, is really, really good. And you’ll want to get some insights into that from Karlo as well.

Remember to subscribe to Focus wherever you get your podcasts, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen, so that you’ll be notified when new episodes are released. And please leave us that five-star review, it makes all the difference in growing this podcast. I wanted to do a special effect, but I don’t think we can do a special effect where I just disappear right now so that it would seem like I got raptured. But in any case, here’s Karlo on the rapture.

I’m just going to tell you, Karlo, first why I don’t like talking about the rapture, because there’s all these words like post-tributary… And I don’t know, the words get so confusing to me. So you’re going to have to help me. First, are you at all worried about being left behind when the rapture happens?

Karlo Broussard:
I am not worried about being left behind because I desire to be left behind.

Cy Kellett:
Okay. You’ve got to explain that. Great. Great. Very good. Very good.

Karlo Broussard:
Well, before we explain that, maybe it’s important to articulate what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the rapture. There are a variety of different positions on the rapture. The most common that we encounter in our daily conversations with our Protestant family members and friends is what is known as the pre-tribulational, pre-millennialism rapture.

Cy Kellett:
That’s my favorite right there, yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
Basically, this is coming from John Nelson Darby, starting about 1833. He was an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher, one of the influential figures among the original Plymouth Brethren. But the idea is that believers in Jesus Christ will be snatched away, taken from the earth, into the air, with Christ kind of partially coming down to take the righteous with Him before the great seven-year tribulation at the end of time. That’s why it’s referred to as the pre-tribulational view. Subsequent to the seven-year tribulation, there’s the view that there will be a literal 1,000 year reign, so therefore you have pre-tribulational pre-millennialism.

Cy Kellett:
I say, yeah, the millennium.

Karlo Broussard:
And this is distinguished from other types of pre-millennialisms, from mid-trib or post-trib pre-millennialism, but then you also have views such as post-millennialism. And then you also have a-millennialism, which is more of the Catholic view and association with our Orthodox brothers and sisters as well. But what we’re focusing on here, what is commonly referred to as the rapture, when you’re just talking to your Protestant friend, your neighbor, or something, is the pre-tribulational pre-millennialism view.

Now, the word rapture comes, this is interesting, the word rapture comes from the Latin Vulgate’s word, [Latin 00:03:39], which means we’re caught up. This actually translates the Greek word [Greek 00:03:44] in First Thessalonians, chapter 4:17, one of the two Bible passages that we’ll be considering in this Focus episode, one of the two Bible passages that they’ll appeal to. But what’s interesting is that they’re referring to the rapture, and that’s coming from the Latin Vulgate. They’re using Catholic language here.

Cy Kellett:
Ah, a little bit of irony there. Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
Right, right.

Cy Kellett:
That’s not in the King James version, [Foreign language 00:04:09] or what?

Karlo Broussard:
Well, it’s the Latin, [Latin 00:04:11], but it’s translating the Greek word there. So that’s coming from First Thessalonians, chapter 4:17. The other Bible passage that’s often appealed to is Matthew, chapter 24:37-40, or its parallel passage, Luke, chapter 17:24-37. That’s where they get the left behind.

Cy Kellett:
I see. Got you. Okay. So we’ll start with Matthew then. You’re saying this is a passage that’s used to justify this…

Karlo Broussard:
Pre-tribulational pre-millennialism.

Cy Kellett:
And the idea of rapture. Got you. Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
So here’s what Jesus says, “As were the days of Noah, so will the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the Flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the Ark and they didn’t know until the Flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field. One is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill. One is taken and one is left.” And this is where the left behind comes from. Do you want to be left behind?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, but the Noah part is really important to this, I just realized.

Karlo Broussard:
Yeah, we’re going to get there. “Watch therefore…” Actually didn’t put this one in the notes, but you got it, good job. “Watch therefore,” Jesus says, “for you do not know of what day your Lord is coming.”

Now, here’s interesting. There’s an added bit by Luke in his version in Luke chapter 17:37. Subsequent to everything Matthew is recording here, Luke adds this bit, “And they said to him, ‘Where, Lord?’ And He said to them, ‘Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered.'” All right?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
So that’s the text that many Protestants will appeal to, to defend or support their pre-tribulation rapturist view.

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
So here’s the question. First of all, notice that our Protestant friends are identifying those who are being taken away as the righteous ones-

Cy Kellett:
Exactly.

Karlo Broussard:
… as the believers. And the ones left behind, or the unbelievers, the unrighteous, who are going to have to experience the final push of evil, the tribulation. But if you read it closely, I argue, and many others do, that actually those who are being taken away are the wicked ones, and the righteous are the ones left behind.

Now, you already picked up a detail in there when it compared the coming of the Son of Man to the days of Noah. Who were the ones who were wiped away? It says-

Cy Kellett:
They were swept-

Karlo Broussard:
“The Flood came and swept them all away.” Who were the ones that were swept away? The wicked ones.

Cy Kellett:
The wicked ones.

Karlo Broussard:
Who was left behind?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, the good.

Karlo Broussard:
The good, Noah and his family. That’s one way, one route you can take in order to show that the ones being taken are the wicked, and the ones being left behind are the righteous. But here’s another way that we can do it, Cy. I must admit, I got this from my colleague and good friend here, Tim Staples, many years ago, hearing him give a talk on the rapture. And it makes a lot of sense. Consider this: considered the question that the Apostles ask in response to Jesus saying, “Two in the field, one taken, one left. Two women grinding at the mill, one taken, the other left.” Luke records the Apostles asking in response to that, “Where, Lord?” Now, that question of where cannot be referring to those who are left behind because they already know where they’re left behind. They’re left in the field, they’re left grinding at the mill. So the question of, “Where, Lord,” must refer to those who are being taken away. Right?

Cy Kellett:
Yes.

Karlo Broussard:
So what’s Jesus’ answer to the question, “Where are they being taken away, Lord?”

Cy Kellett:
It’s not like they’re… Heaven and glory and a beautiful city with streets made of pearl, that’s not what he says.

Karlo Broussard:
If the rapturist view were correct, that’s what Jesus would have said.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, right.

Karlo Broussard:
But let’s see what Jesus says. Jesus responds and says, “Where the body is, there will the eagles gather.” Now, for the rapturist view to be correct, this must refer to heaven, right? And there’s some warrant to this view because eagles there, the Greek word for eagles, [Greek 00:00:08:42], that’s the plural of [Greek 00:08:44], spoken of here could be seen in a positive sense, perhaps, because Revelation 4:7 speaks of one of the four living creatures as an eagle, right?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
The same Greek word there, [Greek 00:08:54]. So [Greek 00:08:55] could refer to an eagle in the positive sense, like soaring high in the sky. And maybe that’s what Jesus is referring to, and that’s heaven. Well, actually this is not what Jesus is referring to. [Greek 00:09:09] can mean like eagle, but it can also mean vulture. It generally refers to a carrion-eating bird, a bird that eats decaying flesh of dead animals, right?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
Like an eagle or a vulture. That’s the general sense of the term. And I argue that this is what Jesus… this is the meaning that Jesus intends to emphasize. He intends to emphasize the flesh-eating aspect because he says, “Where the body is, there will the eagles gather.” In other words, the body will be left for the eagles, these vultures, these carrion-eating birds to come and eat the decaying flesh. Right?

Cy Kellett:
Right.

Karlo Broussard:
That can’t be heaven, brother.

Cy Kellett:
No.

Karlo Broussard:
Heaven is not about carrion-eating birds eating decaying flesh. That sounds more like hell. That sounds more like a place of torment. So since those taken away aren’t taken to heaven, but rather taken to a place of torment, we can conclude that those who are being taken away are the wicked ones and the righteous ones are the ones who are left behind. So to the question, should I be left behind? The answer is yes, you want to be left behind because you want to be among the righteous, like Noah and his family. You don’t want to be the one swept away.

Cy Kellett:
And the Son of Man is coming, so you want to be left behind to greet him when he’s coming. That’s what it says.

Karlo Broussard:
Amen to that. To be able to greet him, and as we’re going to see when we come to First Thessalonians 4, to usher him in, to establish the new heaven and the new earth. Even if we interpret this, Cy, as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, it still fits. Because with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, there were bodies and corpses filling the streets of Jerusalem. And what do you have? You have flesh-eating birds coming, right?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
So those who are taken away are those who are taken to destruction, and the ones who are left behind are going to be the ones to experience the new heaven and the new earth when applied to at the end of time. Finally, there’s no secret coming here. In order for the rapturist view to be correct, it would have to be a secret coming, because that’s common among the rapturist view, that Christ comes down partially in a secret way, not in all of His glory, like at the end of time, but in a secret way to snatch away the righteous. But here, the way Jesus describes His coming is not very secretive, because Jesus says, “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call.” That doesn’t sound very secretive, does it?

Cy Kellett:
No. Not at all.

Karlo Broussard:
So for these reasons, we can read this passage of Matthew 24 and its parallel version in Luke 17 and conclude, this does not support the pre-tribulational pre-millennialism rapturist view. To the question should I be left behind, I think the answer is yes.

Cy Kellett:
Okay. All right. You mentioned then the first letter to the Thessalonians also as being used in support of the idea of the rapture.

Karlo Broussard:
Right. And that’s where Paul says, “We who are alive, we who are left, shall be caught up together with Him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” And this is within the context of the coming of the Lord. So, at the coming of the Lord, Paul says, “We’re going to be caught up in the air to meet the Lord in the air, and we’re going to be with Him always.” Many appeal to this passage in support of this pre-tribulational pre-millennialism rapturist view.

But here’s the problem. There are several problems actually. Number one, the interpretation, the rapturist interpretation misreads the text as a partial coming down of Christ, but that’s not the case. Nowhere does it say that Christ comes down and then ascends back to heaven. Verse 15 just simply says, “The Lord will descend from heaven with a cry of command.” It says nothing about Him going back, right?

Cy Kellett:
Right, right.

Karlo Broussard:
So this is the first problem with the rapturist interpretation. Now, the second problem is that there are certain details, Cy, in this passage that reveal Paul is talking about the final coming of Jesus at the end of time. Here’s the first detail. In verse 16, Paul talks about the resurrection, “And the dead in Christ will rise first.” Well, guess when the resurrection happens for Paul in Paul’s theology? Happens at the end of time.

Cy Kellett:
Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
We know this from First Corinthians chapter 15:22-24. So, if Paul is in First Thessalonians 4:15-17 talking about being caught up with the Lord in the air, the coming of the Lord, if he saying that’s going to happen at the time of the resurrection, and according to First Corinthians 15:22-24, he tells us that the resurrection happens at the end of time, well, then it follows that in First Thessalonians 4, what is he talking about? He’s talking about the coming of the Lord at the end of time.

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, okay.

Karlo Broussard:
Not some partial coming before the tribulation to snatch away the righteous. That’s one detail. There are a couple of others, but any thoughts on that?

Cy Kellett:
Well, it’s starting to seem like there is no rapture. When do Catholics think the rapture happens? We don’t believe it happens at all.

Karlo Broussard:
If you mean by rapture that we’re going to be caught up with the Lord in the air to meet Him, to usher Him in at His final glorious coming, we do believe in the rapture in that sense, which will take place at the end of time, when Christ comes in glory to vanquish all evil, to vanquish the antichrist, to usher in the new heaven and new earth with the bodily resurrection, et cetera.

This actually gets to the plausible interpretation of what Paul is referring to here. If he’s talking about being caught up to meet the Lord in the air, well, if it’s not the rapturist view, then what does he mean?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah, okay, what does he mean?

Karlo Broussard:
As many have said throughout the centuries of Christianity, this most likely refers to the righteous on earth at the time of the Second Coming, along with those righteous who are in the beatific vision prior to the Second Coming, in the post-mortem state of existence, being taken up to meet the Lord in the air, as He descends in all of glory to usher Him in, similar to how citizens of a city will go out of the city walls to meet a dignitary to usher him in. We actually see this in the Bible, for example in Acts 28:14-17. We read how the brethren at Rome went out of the city to meet Paul as he approached. We do this, right, when the president comes and then lands at the airport-

Cy Kellett:
Everyone goes out to the airport.

Karlo Broussard:
… you have a big group of people there to meet him and to welcome him into the city, right?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah. Right. This is not a come down and go back up thing now.

Karlo Broussard:
It’s not a come down and go back up. It’s a being caught up with Him to meet Him, to usher Him in as He comes to establish the new heaven and the new earth. That is a more plausible reading of what Paul is talking about here. That’s the true rapturist understanding here, to be raptured, to be caught up with the Lord, to usher Him in to establish the new heaven and the new earth, as opposed to the pre-tribulation pre-millennialism rapturist view.

Cy Kellett:
Okay.

Karlo Broussard:
So, I think we have not only good reason to deny the pre-tribulation rapturist view, but also we have principles here in both Matthew 24 and First Thessalonians 4 that actually cohere with and support the Catholic view of the end times, that the coming of the Lord at the end of time in all of His glory is associated with the bodily resurrection, say, and us being caught up with Him in His glory to usher Him in to establish the new heaven and the new earth.

Cy Kellett:
Okay. Can I just end with a little offbeat question?

Karlo Broussard:
Go ahead, brother. Let’s see if we can create a new symphony with that off beat. We’ll create a whole nother song.

Cy Kellett:
This is not mere symbolism in the Catholic way of understanding. This is history. This is prophecy that will really come true. The Lord really will descend. Am I right about that?

Karlo Broussard:
Well, that’s a good question. I’d have to inquire a little bit more as to the precise nature of that. You could very well take it as if we will literally be caught up with Him in the air, like up there in the sky, and then come down with Him in this sort of the concrete way that our imagination conjures when we think about this. Or, it could be taken in a metaphorical sense, in the sense that we’re going to be caught up in the Lord’s glory and-

Cy Kellett:
Oh, I see.

Karlo Broussard:
… present with Him as He comes in His final glory and have some sort of metaphorical reading. I’m open to that interpretation, but I’m also open to the literal, physical interpretation of somehow being caught up with the Lord, so that those who are present on the earth with physical eyeballs at the time can look up and somehow, by divine providence, divine power, see Jesus in all of His glory, no matter where you’re at on the globe, and see Jesus physically descending in that way. I think there’s room for differing interpretations here.

Cy Kellett:
But the descending part, the Second Coming…

Karlo Broussard:
Yeah. I mean, the Second Coming, the Lord will descend on the cloud of heaven, right?

Cy Kellett:
Yeah.

Karlo Broussard:
So I’m open to taking that in a literal way, but I’m also open, unless I’m not aware of some infallible teaching of the church, I’m also open to that being a metaphorical way of saying that Christ will manifest Himself physically on the earth in a glorious way. Because the Lord coming on the clouds of heaven, that’s symbolism in the Old Testament for God coming in judgment. So it could very well be when Jesus refers to Himself more like a Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, and even speaks about that when He’s talking about His coming, the coming of the Son of Man, that could be referencing the Son of Man coming in judgment for the evil ones on the earth at the end of time and also the antichrist. But one could interpret it to be physically the Lord descending on a cloud, in all of His glory manifesting Himself. So I think there’s room for both interpretations there.

Cy Kellett:
I do like having this conversation, that now when I’m flying on an airplane, I don’t have to worry about the pilot getting raptured out like he did in the movie. Thanks, Karlo.

Karlo Broussard:
Hey, thank you, Cy. God bless you.

Cy Kellett:
Well, sorry if you were looking forward to the rapture, to find out that it’s not to be expected, at least in the way that it is usually taught. But as you can see from what Karlo had to say, we got a lot to look forward to, including the Second Coming of the Lord, whether we’re here on the earth when He comes, or whether we are with Him in his retinue when He comes. Either way, it’s awful good news that that is in the future.

Hey, we’d love to hear from you. Just send us an email [email protected] is our address. If you’re watching on YouTube, please like and subscribe. That’s how we grow on YouTube, and we’d like to grow on YouTube. If you’d like to support us, you can go to givecatholic.com and I will ask you to please support us. We need your help. Go to givecatholic.com to give that help. I’m Cy Kellett, your host, and we’ll see you next time, God willing, right here on Catholic Answers Focus.

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