(Old Facebook Post – Revised)
Here’s some good exegesis from Phillip Long related to the verb “will be raptured [caught up]” found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. (The Bible never mentions “The Rapture” in noun form.)
“The purpose of this catching away is to “meet with Lord.” The word translated “to meet” (ἀπάντησις) is often used of a delegation sent from a city to greet a dignitary or king, usually in order to escort that important person into a city… When the great king comes, his followers will be gathered to him in order to be a part of his great entourage escorting him back to the world he created.”
I find this understanding more convincing than the explanation I grew up hearing, which imported far too many end-times assumptions into the text without listening carefully enough to the text itself in its own historical and cultural context.