Does John 14:1-3 support the rapture?

David Jeremiah writes,

Three New Testament passages tell us about the Rapture: John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Jesus’ words in John 14:1-4 were spoken to His disciples—men who were obviously believers. He assured them that He would prepare a place for them in His Father’s house; they were members of the family of faith in the same way Christians are today. “I will come again and receive you to Myself” (verse 3) describes what we call the Rapture—the uniting of Jesus Christ with His faithful followers."

(David goes by “Dr” but as this is an honorary degree from Cedarville, I will avoid using it).

I’ve never believed that Scripture teaches a Rapture, so I was a bit surprised to see that the evidence for the Rapture is Jesus saying, “I will come again and take you to myself.”

However, as I tried to enter into David’s interpretation with empathy, I see that if I already believed in a Rapture, then this would be compelling, obvious proof. On the authority of Jesus, he tells his disciples he will come again and take them home! What more do we need? It’s an interesting argument.

Still, I think it helps to consider other interpretations of this passage, as they are also worthy of our consideration.

Let’s pause to look at these four verses (John 14:1-4):

Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.

I think Dr. Craig Keener provides helpful insight on this passage. He is especially sensitive to tying the Scriptures together in a way that recognizes the cultural and theological expectations of the original authors. In doing so, I believe he guards against reading into the text our modern expectations for the meaning of various phrases. He writes:

The “Father’s house” would be the temple (2:16), where God would forever dwell with his people (Ezek 43:7, 9; 48:35; cf. Jn 8:35). The “dwelling places” (NASB, NRSV) could allude to the booths constructed for the Feast of Tabernacles but probably refer to “rooms” (cf. NIV, TEV) in the new temple, where only undefiled ministers would have a place (Ezek 44:9-16; cf. 48:11). John presumably means this language figuratively for being in Christ, where God’s presence dwells (2:21); the only other place in the New Testament where this term for “dwelling places” or “rooms” occurs is in 14:23, where it refers to the believer as God’s dwelling place (cf. also the verb “dwell”— 15:4-7).

In this context, John probably means not the Second Coming but Christ’s return after the resurrection to bestow the Spirit (14:16-18). In Jewish teaching, both the resurrection of the dead (which Jesus inaugurated) and bestowal of the Spirit indicate the arrival of the new age of the kingdom.

In another commentary on these verses, Dr. Mounce suggests,

Perhaps it is best to understand the passage as blending all three suggested interpretations: in the resurrection Jesus comes back from the dead, in the current age he lives among us by the Spirit, and at the consummation he will come again for his own.

So as I read John 14, here’s what I see:

Jesus explains to his disciples that he will soon depart from them (in the crucifixion, but especially in his ascension).

However, though he is physically departing, they still know “the way” to be with him .

As Thomas asks and Jesus clarifies, Jesus is “the way” to be with God. By knowing Jesus, we also know our Heavenly Father.

And as those who know the Father and the Son, Jesus promises that he will continue to be with them by the Holy Spirit, who “remains with you and will be in you” (14:16-17).

Jesus is not leaving them as orphans. Rather, even though he is physically departing, he is coming to be with them (14:18).

We see this fulfilled both in how he revealed himself to the disciples after the resurrection and in how he revealed himself to the disciples by the Spirit after his ascension.

This question touches on a very sensitive topic: when do we get to be with God?

Is it in the future when Jesus comes back to get us?

Or has Jesus already prepared a place for us, and we are already and always in his presence?

As I understand the New Testament, we are individually and corporately God’s dwelling place, as the Spirit inhabits the hearts of believers and unites us in the church.

That is, my understanding is that Jesus has already come again and taken us to himself. How sad would it be if Jesus had not already come, by the Spirit, to bring his disciples into his presence?

To go down a potential rabbit trail, I found it interesting that Dr. Thomas Ice at Liberty University, and the Executive Director of The Pre-Trib Research Center (which he co-founded with Tim Lahaye) provides a diagram of a potential connection between John 14 and 1 Thessalonians:

He argues that this strengthens the idea that John 14 is about the rapture. However, if as Dr. Imes has shown, 1 Thessalonians is about Jesus returning to earth with his disciples, then these connections provide additional reason to think that John 14 does not support a Rapture.


Hi @Carson,

Thank you for sharing these different interpretations concerning John 14:1-3. After considering the different viewpoints, I too don’t see this verse as a strong indication for rapture.

While agreeing with Dr. Keener’s insight that Father’s house is a temple where God would forever dwell with his people, we also know that Jesus went to a heavenly place after his crucifixion. Some verses that support this idea are -

  • Jesus went to a place where the disciples would follow him later (John 13: 36).
  • Jesus did not want the disciples to cling to him before his ascension to heaven (John 20:17)
  • Jesus prays for all believers to be where he is and be able to see the glory he has in the Father’s presence as before the creation of the world (John 17:5, John 17: 24)
  • Jesus was taken up to heaven (Acts 1:11)

Is Jesus’s promise in John 14:1-3 fully accomplished through the promised Holy Spirit ?

I don’t think so. Jesus did come back to the disciples but the promise of being ‘taken to where He is’ is not fully accomplished. Jesus came back to them with the Father by the Holy Spirit (John 14:18-19, John 14:23, John 16:7, John 16:15). However, the promise of disciples following him later to the place where he was going to was yet to be fulfilled (John 13: 36). Jesus’s prayer in John 17:24 echoes the hope he promised in John 14:1-3.

So, I find myself agreeing with Dr. Mounce’s interpretation that the ‘coming’ mentioned in John 14:1-3 encompasses all the three interpretations - of Jesus appearing to disciples after resurrection, living in them by the Spirit and his coming at the consummation.

John 14:1-3 simply gives us information that Jesus will come back to take us but it doesn’t necessarily suggest rapture. We have no information of ‘how and when’ Jesus will take us. From 1 Thess 4: 16-17, we know that when Jesus comes again, the dead will rise first and then the living and will be ‘caught up’ (Greek: harpazo - to grab or seize suddenly, to be taken up). They would then ‘meet’ the Lord in the air and as Dr. Imes explained the Greek word for ‘meet’ here is ‘apantesis’, a word that is often used for inhabitants of a city to greet dignitaries with celebration and accompany them back to the city.

When we read 1 Thess 5:1-11 in continuity after 1 Thess 4: 13-18, we learn that Paul is most likely referring to the same event when he talks about “meeting the Lord in the air”, the “day of the Lord” and “the day of God’s wrath”. How exactly it will all unfold is unclear but what is clear is that we have a promise of being protected from God’s wrath as believers in Christ.


Thanks Lakshmi! This insight helps me get to the core of the question.

We’re guaranteed that Jesus will come and take us to himself. 100%.

But the how and when, we are not given specific details in John 14.

So we need to look more broadly at the Scriptures to see if this question is answered.

I agree with you and Mounce, we’re told that he brings us to himself by his Spirit and, in addition, will bring us to himself in the new Creation (and he also brought the disciples into his presence between the resurrection and the ascension).

I’m grateful for how you’ve extended and clarified my thinking.


Thank you for starting a new discussion on John 14: 1-3. Likewise it helped clarify my thinking too. The next verse on rapture to consider is Matt 24:40-43.