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Rapture is a literary expression for intense joy or pleasure. It is also the title of a hit single by Blondie in 1980, that featured an early attempt at rap music by a white artist. It was also the title of a hit single in 2001 by New York City-based trance duo Iio[?].
In some variants of Christian eschatology, the rapture is the literal raising up of the faithful believers before the last days. According to this belief, believers will suddenly disappear from Earth in the "twinkling of an eye", while all others will be left behind to endure the tribulation. In some Christian circles this is known as a pre-trib doctrine, because the rapture rescues the faithful from Earth before the tribulation, rather than after, as some other Christians believe. The resurrection of the dead will occur at the same time.

Supporters of this doctrine are most commonly found among fundamentalist and conservative Protestants, and is strongly disputed by other Christians. Supporters for this belief generally cite two primary sources in the New Testament:

  • In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, the Apostle Paul writes: "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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."
  • In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul writes: "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: 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."

Generally, an elaborate set of predictions about the end times are constructed from these two sets of verses, together with various interpretations of the book of Revelation and the predictions of Christ's return in Matthew 24:30-36. In general, believers in the rapture consider the present to be the end times, and offer interpretations of the various symbolisms in the book of Revelations in terms of contemporary world events. They believe that, because of the presumed imminence of the end of the world, they have a unique ability to correctly understand these symbols, which had seemed so cryptic to Christians in earlier times.

Belief in the rapture became popular in some Christian circles during the 1970s, in part thanks to the books of Hal Lindsey, including The Late Great Planet Earth. Many of Lindsey's predictions in that book, which assumed that the rapture was imminent, were based on world conditions at the time. The Cold War figured prominently in their predictions of Armageddon, and other aspects of 1970s global politics were seen as having been predicted in the Bible. Lindsay believed, for example, that the 10-headed beast cited in Revelation was the European Economic Community, which at the time consisted of ten nations.

Many Christians continue to believe in the rapture, with their interpretations of biblical eschatology having been updated to reflect changes in world conditions.

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