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Looking Deeper At The Rapture & Second Coming Only Theology Teachings!


(The Partial Rapture Debated)


The partial-rapture theory is not a widely held one but it is gaining some popularity; especially among some extreme charismatic groupings.

The parable of the virgins is just one of a number of scriptures used by proponents of this theory in support of their particular belief.

Partial Rapturists will seize hold of particular verses and use them as proof texts. Such verses center on the idea of 'watchfulness' and 'readiness' - sentiments held, of course, by all believers of the imminent return of the Lord.

The return of our Lord is not imminent; the Day of Redemption must occur first
otherwise there is no Day of the Lord, being the Day of Our Redemption (Eph. 4:30).

Some of the so called proof texts are as follows:

"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day comes upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all that dwell upon the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."( Luke 21 vv.34-36)

The Day will overtake the world, that is a given. Thus, Jesus' obvious concern in the above solely addresses Christians. Christians are to "take heed unto yourselves," lest the Day catch them unawares. Indeed, it is the Christian who is always to pray and escape, not the unbeliever who doesn't even believe, much less have the promise of escaping!

'Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching; verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants'. (Luke 12 vv. 37-38)

What shall we believe? Blessed are those servants who don't put on faith that works by love? Who don't watch? By the way, biblical watching is to put on faith that works by agape love (1 Thess. 5:6, 8.)

'.... unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation'. (Heb. 9 v.28)

All in the Church will not look for Him. Despite the teaching of the at-once Rapture, biblically we are to watch. Sardis & Thyatira are great examples of this. So then, we are to crucify the cares of the world through a growing and loving faith, which has everything to do with effective Christian living. This is to watch, which is to look for His next appearing--the second time
! Of meaningful note, far too many bona-fide Christians haven't put on faith that works by agape love, nor will they in time for the Tribulation Night. Moreover, biblical watching, the command of the Lord, is an incompatible doctrine to many in the Church who esteem the Trib-positions over Scripture.

'And now little children abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming' (1 John 2 v.28).

This reminds me of those who teach: never in Scripture is it taught that the Rapture appears as a reward for those who watch. What? There won't be Christians who will be ashamed at His coming? (Rev. 16:15)! What? We are not to abide in Him that we may have confidence in Him that when He appears. . .  ? My point is that not all Christians abide!

No rewards? Conversely, Jesus said, in the direct context of watching: "Verily I say unto you, That He shall make Him ruler over all His goods" (Matt. 24:47)!!!

In the first of these verses - Luke 21 vv.36-38 - much emphasis is made by Partial Rapturists of the phrase, 'Accounted worthy to escape' suggesting that only the watchful will avoid the Tribulation.

Proponents against the Partial-Rapture often point out that it is Israel who must pray to escape "all these things," however, the direct grammatical context of Luke's passage decidedly differs, hinging on the Summer Harvest (an earlier partial harvest) for the Church (Luke 21:30), and watchfulness for That Day (Luke 21:34).
Simply, it isn't Israel who is to see the Day approaching, but the Church (Heb. 10:25; 2 Pet. 3:12!). Indeed, it the Church who is to provoke one another to love and good works (watching), and even more so as the Day approaches. Besides these two facts, judgment begins with the Church, the Household of God (1 Pet. 4:16-17), not end-time Israel.

In Luke 12 v.37 the emphasis again is on the blessedness of those watching, as opposed to the slumbering believers who will 'miss out.' Hebrews 9 v.28 is said to imply that the rapture is only for the watchful, and it is inferred from 1 John 2 v.28 that some believers will 'lose out' when the Lord returns for His church.

Clearly, Hebrews 9:28 and 1st John 2:28 speak for themselves. Suitably, contrary to the opinions of some, inattentive Christians can, and do, spiritually sleep (Mark 13:36; Rom. 13:11; Eph. 5:14; 1 Thess. 5:6--Heb. 9:28; 1 John 2:28).
No, all in Sardis will not watch. Speaking of Sardis, Sardis, a spiritual segment of the end-time Church, has breached the Word of God. For which reason, Christ not only told Sardis to repent, but to watch, lest He come upon her as a thief in the night (Rev. 3:3). Now only a few in Sardis will walk with Christ in white (Rev. 3:4). By no means are "a few" to be understood as an entire denomination saved at the Second Coming, much less the whole Body of Christ in an earlier at-once pre-trib Rapture of the entire Church.

Another line of argument used by Partial Rapturists is the repetitive use of the phrase 'To him that overcometh' in the Lord's letters to the seven churches of Revelation. The implication being that those who have become spiritually strong and mature enough will be spared the refining process of the Great-Tribulation, and will instead be translated into the presence of the Lord. In support of this it will be asserted that Enoch's godly walk and maturity was very much the basis of his translation.

In five out of the seven letters, the Lord's return appears. In seven out of seven letters we are told to overcome. What? We are not to overcome? We are not to keep His works until the end? "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations" (Rev. 2:26)? No rewards for overcoming? Watching?!

Again Partial Rapturists will often use the phrase, 'the victorious church'. The implication being that the church divides into two parts; the ' victorious church' is spared of the Tribulation whereas the 'slumbering church' is refined by the same.

It is in conjunction with all of these ideas that the parable of the ten virgins is brought into play. The interpretation being that the five wise virgins represent the ‘victorious church' whilst the foolish ones represent the ‘slumbering church'.

On the surface the partial-rapture theory looks plausible but one soon finds that the theory is full of holes and doesn't tie in with other tenets of the faith.

Personally, I don't even see one hole, much less holes.

Let us firstly consider the parable of the virgins. It has to be said, first and foremost, that it is a dangerous thing to try to build a doctrine from parables. Parables are simple stories told usually to convey one simple truth. To emphasize and spiritualize every detail in a parable can often lead to erroneous conclusions.

Admittedly, parables are allegorical depictions; nevertheless, clear and divine pictorial truths invariably remain in each parable. With that said, it must be borne in mind that just because parables are allegoric in composition, doesn't mean that they lack absolutes, or that the warnings within parables are not absolute.

Knowing this, Christ gave parables for a distinct purpose: so that all who search for a clear-cut definitive would have a special joy in seeing it. For the record, those who are really spiritual know the mysteries of the kingdom through parables (Matt. 13:10-11!!!). By no means, then, is the victorious church to be understood as just the wise, the foolish will come out of the Great Tribulation victoriously waving the palm branches (Rev. 7:9-17). By the way, the tenets of faith taught in the New Testament never indicate an at-once redemption of any kind for the entire church.

Clearly the truth conveyed in the parable of the ten virgins is that of readiness - a tenet of the partial-rapture theory. Beyond this any attempt to support the theory though the parable is questionable.

It has to be said that there are a number of interpretations to the parable and its questionable whether it refers to the church, or to the Jews or to Christendom in general. It is also arguable whether the virgins represent the church or if they are attendants at the marriage feast. Good evangelical scholars over the years have been divided on these interpretations.

There is not a number of worthwhile interpretations, because only the living end-time Church has the promise of going to Heaven for the marriage (John 14:1-3), not end-time Israel, or any other nation--or any other religion or people. Certainly, then, the virgins, who can only be pure by Christ's merit, remain to be representative of the living end-time Church.

The partial-rapture theory comes into difficulty on a number of points. Gavin Hamilton in his Olivet discourse has this to say:

"There is no ground here to warrant the belief that only saints that are watching will be caught up in the rapture, and those not watching will be left to go through the Great-Tribulation. In the first place it is not the rapture that is in view but the coming of the bridegroom to begin the Kingdom festivities; and, in the second place, the emphasis is not on watching but having oil.

Not so. Allow me to explain: faith only increases by the use of Ch
rist's love. Indeed, faith works by agape love, no other way. Thus, this is to increase the Spirit of Christ within us, or the oil of the parable. Ironically, again, this is biblical watching (1 Thess. 5:6-8)! Speaking of the Olivet Discourse: Will not the meek inherit the Earth? Are we not to be found of Him without spot, living in peace with all men at His appearing (2 Pet. 3:14)?

Moreover, the parable doesn't symbolize the beginning of the Kingdom, but the return of the Bridegroom for the Bride that He might take the Bride back to Heaven. This is an open door. Later, after a closed-door return for the foolish (Luke 12:36; Rev. 3:30, 7:9-17; James 5:9), Christ will return for the third time at the traditional Second Coming with all His saints to set-up the Kingdom at the traditional Second Coming (Duet. 33:2; Zech. 14:5; 1 Thess. 3:13).

Speaking of refinement, it is Christ who threatens to cast parts of Thyatira into the Great Tribulation if she doesn't repent: ". . . I will cast . . . them . . . into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds" (Rev. 2:22), not Christians who believe in the Partial Rapture!

To prove that Thyatira's Great Tribulation is yet to come, we must only realize that the faithful of Thyatira must "hold fast till I come . . . unto the end . . ." (Rev. 2:25-26). In retrospect, the unfaithful of spiritual Thyatira exist in these end-times and will enter the latter-trib period after the faithful of Thyatira are redeemed.

Many expositors want to escape the fact of Christ's Closed Door Return in Luke 12:36 for the foolish (Greek: A return from the Wedding Feast which is already in progress), calling it parabolic. Thus, in their view, meaningless. Now the reason they refer to it as parabolic is because in their thinking they've never seen another witness stating this return from the Wedding Feast in Scripture. Contrary to their assumption, however, we find other parabolic and nonparabolic witnesses of Scripture to the same effect. And this just happens to be the case of the closed door in question. Although that door isn't literal, WHO CAN DENY THAT IT WON'T HAVE LITERAL EFFECTS (Matt. 24:33, 25:10; James 5:9; Rev. 3:20)? Thus, in Luke 12:36, when the Scripture says there is a return by Christ from the wedding Feast, it means exactly that--for the surrounding language there is literal as literal gets.

Wholly unlike the foolish, the wise understood the events that occur after midnight. Indeed, right before their austere separation, the wise told the foolish: ". . . not so, lest there be not enough for us and you: but go rather to them that sell, and buy (oil) for yourselves" (Matt. 25:9). Contrary to the idea that the wise will instill a false hope in the foolish, there will be a Remnant-Rapture for the foolish. Fitting this exact scenario, knowingly, the wise told the foolish: go back to God in the persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, or go back "to them that sell" (Isa. 55:1-3). 

Perceivably, if one is to go back to them "that sell," they must again seek Christ as He Himself so pertinently testified to the already saved Church at Laodicea: "I counsel thee to buy of me" (Rev. 3:18).

Furthermore, if, as the Partial Rapturist asserts, the five foolish virgins represent the ‘struggling church' left to face the Tribulation, and be refined by it, then why does the bridegroom say in verse 12, ‘I know you not.' Also in verse 10 the door is shut on these people. Is it conceivable that the Lord would ever close the door on his people? Did he not say, ‘Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out?!

"I know you not"? To know God is to know His love in action for others (1 John 4:8). The foolish didn't know God. In other words, they lacked a faith that works by love relationship with Him. Although they were Christians, or pure (virgins) by the merit of Christ, their lights faded into darkness.

Failing to renew themselves in the Spirit (the oil), their faith lacked activity and growth, not to mention agape love--their lamps went out. Conversely, if one "agape loves" their brother, they ABIDE in the light and there is NONE occasion of stumbling (2 John 2:10).

Quite apart from the flaws raised above in connection with the parable of the virgins, there are also fundamental reasons for rejecting the partial-rapture theory. Not least of these is the doctrine of grace. The theory does lean strongly towards legalism and seems to set human works and effort as the criterion for salvation from God's period of wrath. This is quite contrary to grace. Romans 6 v.14 states that ‘We are not under law but under grace'.

The whole doctrine of grace implies that we have no human merit and all that we receive is an undeserved favor. Our sufficiency is in Christ and not in ourselves. To mix human merit with grace is to take away from Christ the glory that is due only to Him. Salvation from beginning to end is all of grace so that none may boast.

True, Christians are saved by grace, the unmerited favor of Christ, the moment they believe (John 6:47). But does this negate "by grace are you saved THROUGH faith" (Eph. 2:11)? Through that process? In other words, as longtime Christians, Are we saved apart from the measure of faith that is dealt to every Christian (Rom. 12:3)? Apart from God's love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:5)?
God forbid, forever joined, "faith which worketh by love" is very much a part of the continuing Grace of God, enabling us to overcome sin by the growth of grace.

And more importantly, this is the correct understanding of God's will  for a Christian under the Grace of God! Indeed, the use of Christ's love is the way to assure our hearts before Him (1 John 3:19), that our works are worked in God (John 3:21)!

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works (faith and love works, not law works), which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Indeed, it is His power of Grace working and growing within us that gives us no credibility in boasting. Even so, we must be willing to walk in the Spirit--or walk in His power of love, lest we fulfill the deeds of the flesh. Indeed, righteousness, or living right after one becomes a Christian, remains to be a ongoing choice of whom we will serve; abiding is not automatic: "he that overcometh."

Partial Rapturists are also forced into believing in a partial resurrection if they are not to be left inconsistent. 1 Thessalonians 4 v.16-17 states that 'The dead in Christ shall rise first then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.' There is no mention here of being selected on the basis of readiness or watchfulness. The criterion is to be 'In Christ' - that means all believers.

Inspired, Paul used the phrase "alive and remain" twice in the supposed
Rapture passage. First, to show that those who are "alive and remain" are so before the dead are caught-up. (1 Thess. 4:15). And lastly, to express that the same, who are "alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord," will remain so until the dead are caught-up first. Subsequently, those who are "alive and remain" unto the coming of the Lord will remain until the traditional Second Coming, which is not the earlier, supposed, at-once Rapture. For the survivors of that group are those who will be "alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord," while the dead of that group are those who are commanded to be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10; 12:11).

By owning the Blessed Hope, the present Church is appointed to marriage, not death ("Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."). So then, it isn't the present-day Church who "shall not all sleep" (die), but the later Great-Tribulation converts who are "alive and remain" upon the Second Coming--these shall not all die.

Indeed, these "shall not all sleep." Accordingly, the words, "we shall all be changed," don't apply to an earlier at-once catching-up of the entire pre-tribulation Church. But to those deep Tribulation converts who "shall all be changed" at the Last Trump (1 Cor. 15:52), or at the Resurrection of the Just (at the traditional Second Coming) on "the last day" (John 6:40).

No, those who accept the Partial-Rapture are not forced into believing in two separate resurrections, but realize that the traditional "Rapture passage" is really a Second Coming passage. Fittingly, the Lord Himself will descend with a shout, or with a battle cry, and not with the words of a loving bridegroom, accompanied by two male witnesses. Afterward, He then will return with all His saints (1 Thess. 3:13), which will include all those who sleep in Jesus at the beginning of this supposed at-once Rapture passage (1 Thess. 4:14), because this is really the Second Coming.

Surely, Michael the Archangel of Israel will also have His say at the time of battle, For the Lord himself shall descend . . . .with the voice of the archangel, being Michael, who will accompany Christ at the Last Trump--and this, to do battle with the enemies of Israel. Then, every eye shall see the Lord Jesus. That is to say, when the Lord actually comes with all His saints at the traditional Second Coming in all of His glory (1st Thessalonians 3:13; Jude v. 14).

God, the Lord of All shall come, again, bringing with Him those who sleep in Jesus (1 Thess. 4:14), which proves that this isn't an at-once earlier Rapture passage, wherein the saints go to Heaven for the Wedding Feast. But quite the contrary, it is the Second Coming of Christ to setup His Kingdom here on Earth--for the dead--or those alive souls who sleep in Jesus who accompany Him to regain their resurrected bodies at the resurrection (Their bodies are sleeping, not their souls!).

For we, the living Church, long before the Kingdom is setup here on Earth,  "are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels . . . and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:22-23). Thus, again, the spirits of just men made perfect are awaiting us, and they don't return at the supposed at-once Rapture. Conversely, they return at the Second Coming to regain their dead bodies (See the last day John 6:40.), and this is the reason that the dead in Christ shall rise first at the Second Coming in Paul's supposed Rapture passage. In fact, the Thessalonians, who would all die, were to comfort one another with this fact: "That they'd be caught up before the living, and this to join their resurrected bodies with their alive spirits!"

Moreover, if the at-once Rapture Doctrine were true, then we wouldn't come unto the spirits of just men made perfect. Rather, we would come unto whole Christians with their new spiritual bodies made perfect at the at-once Rapture. But we can readily see, that this is not what the Scripture teaches!

If the partial-rapture theory were true, and if only the selected were raptured, then of necessity the same basis of selection would have to be applied to the resurrection of believers gone before, but in verse 14 Paul states that, 'ALL those that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him'. Also in 1 Corinthians 15 vv.51-52, which refers to the rapture, the statement is clearly made that 'we shall ALL be changed.'

Not so; again, the above refers to the traditional Second Coming, wherein the Lord returns with all His saints, including those who sleep in Jesus. Thus
, again,
all those who are alive and remain, coupled with the dead in Christ who rise first--shall all be changed in a moment--in a twinkling of the eye--not the presently wise of the Church, who shall be made to be like Christ at His initial appearing (1 John 3:2), or the present foolish, who will later wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb and finally attend the Wedding Feast (Rev. 7:9-17), and this, before the Second Coming.

Also arising from the above is the problem of dividing the body of Christ. The apostle Paul at times goes to great pains to emphasize the unity of the body of Christ under the headship of our Lord. The partial-rapture theory effectively divides that body and establishes a two tier Christian order based on spiritual maturity. The lower order being left to face an 'earthly purgatory' in the form of the Great-Tribulation whilst the rest of the body enjoys the benefits and blessings of being in the presence of the Lord. This seems to go against all the scriptures showing the unity of the church as depicted by a bride, a body and a building fitly joined together in Christ.

Is not the Body of Christ already divided on many issues? Furthermore
, are not the dead in Christ in Heaven, while the living are here on Earth? In other words, Are we not already divided in more than one sense? Moreover, do not the firstfruits follow the Lamb in Heaven wherever He goes, while all of those who are not the firstfruits remain here on Earth? Moreover, What, no such thing as firstfruits of the initial harvest?

This writer is of the opinion that there is a certain arrogance about the partial-rapture theory. Surely the spirit of humility and grace which the Lord desires to see in all of us creates a feeling of unworthiness as opposed to delusions of self worth. In any case we might well ask how do we know if we have reached a point of worthiness or readiness to be included in the partial-rapture? At what point can the believer be assured that he is among those to be taken if this theory be true?

Not to be too personal, but, Is your faith active by Christ's love for others? Do you serve others that your faith might be increased (Luke 17:5-10)? Have you passed from death unto life because you love the brethren (1 John 3:14)?
Is there "NONE OCCASION OF STUMBLING IN YOU BECAUSE YOU LOVE THE BRETHREN"? Do you walk in the light, as He is in the light, having fellowship one with another (1 John 1:7)? Have you put on the whole armor of God? Or would you rather accuse the brethren of having a type of arrogance?

Let us remember that the Tribulation is a time of outpoured wrath on a Christ rejecting world, and more particularly, a time of 'Jacob's troubles.' Paul writing to THE WHOLE BODY OF BELIEVERS IN CHRIST at Thessalonica said: 'God hath not appointed us unto wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

True, the Day of the Lord's Tribulation is a Day of Wrath, but what is often forgotten is that it is also the Day of our Redemption in earlier That Night (Eph. 4:30), wherein, we are redeemed. It is no wonder, then, that the Tribulation period and the Day of the Lord both begin with birth pangs (Matt. 24:8 NASB; 1st Thess. 5:3).

Therefore, let us not sleep as do others. Indeed, let us be wise in the prior night of the Day of Christ. Indeed, "beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be DILIGENT that you may be found of Him in peace (with others), without spot, and blameless" (2nd Pet. 3:14). 

In other words, "Watch therefore" (Rev. 16:15) in That Night; and you who are pure already by His Grace, purify yourselves (1 John 3:3). God Bless!


If the chapter division is removed between 1st Thessalonians 4 & 5, we don’t see an at-once pre-trib Rapture, but a return of Christ within the Day of the Lord, which in that passage Paul describes as the birth pangs of That Day, or the night of the Tribulation. Additionally, we immediately behold the "times and seasons," and Christians are then told to watch (1 Thess. 5:6). Yet the world will face "sudden destruction," which in the Greek means "inescapable destruction," and this, as the Day progresses until the Second Coming dawn (2nd Pet. 1:19). Then, at that time God, who is Christ, returns with all of those who sleep in Jesus, and "all His saints."



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