While individuals within the Catholic faith may have different ideas about the theory of rapture, as a general rule of thumb Catholics do not subscribe to this religious concept.
At the same time, however, this does not mean that Catholics believe that our existence ends the moment that we perish from this mortal coil. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact.
Below we better describe the Catholic church’s idea about the rapture, a little bit about the history of the rapture theory, and what Catholics believe will happen when Jesus returns.
Catholic Rapture Beliefs
As highlighted a moment ago, the Catholic Church does not specifically believe in the idea of rapture.
Those that do embrace this idea claim that God’s true kingdom on earth has not occurred because the rapture hasn’t arrived – something that they believe is described in RV 20:4.
Catholicism, however, has a different interpretation of this reading of Scripture.
Catholics believe that Jesus already established his kingdom on earth when he walked our world 2000 years ago. We see evidence in this reading Luke 17:20 – 21. The Pharisee asks Jesus when the kingdom of God is coming and he answers:
“The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed… For behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
With this interpretation of Scripture and the belief that the rapture precedes the kingdom of God, it’s easy to see how Catholics would believe that if there was a rapture it has already occurred in our long-ago history.
What Do Catholics Believe About the Return of Jesus?
At the same time, this is not to suggest that Catholics believe there is to be no return of Jesus or that his reign of the kingdom of God on earth has already eclipsed.
The Catholic Church responds to the passage in Revelations (RV 20:4) saying that the reign of Jesus would be a thousand years in a very simple and straightforward way. They believe that the “thousand-year reign” quoted in this part of Scripture is not to be taken literally but instead to mean that he will rule over the kingdom of God forever.
Catholic Church teachings (and the teachings of a number of other Christian faiths) believe that a lot of the specific numbers written in Scripture are to be interpreted much more symbolically than anything else.
On top of this, the Catholic Church does not believe that we will see two or three extra comings of Jesus, either.
Instead, they believe (and they are backed up by Scripture) that the second and final coming of Jesus will happen and it certainly will not be done covertly or subtly.
In Luke 17:24 Jesus states pretty clearly that “as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man”.
Reading this it’s easy to see that the Bible says Jesus’s return will be very obvious, even to those that do not believe.
What About Rapture References in Scripture?
Those that do believe in the rapture like to point out verses like Corinthians 15:51 – 55 as proof positive of the rapture happening in our future.
This passage says “the trumpet will be sounded, our dead will rise up, and we shall be transformed. This perishable nature must be put on the imperishable”.
Thessalonians 4:13 – 17 is also interpreted by believers of the rapture as evidence, with this verse saying “The Lord himself will descend from heaven… with the cry of command, alongside the archangels call, and with the blaring of the trumpet of God”.
Catholics, however, believe these two passages (both of which mention a trumpet) to be linked to the second coming of Jesus and not necessarily of a rapture event.
The trumpets blaring will let the world know that the Lord has arrived, that Jesus has returned, and that the kingdom of God on earth – and the forever reign of that kingdom by Jesus – will begin.
Catholics shouldn’t be worried about being left behind in some sort of rapture event. It’s just not part of their faith and something that Catholics need not concern themselves with.