Common Misconceptions: The End Times

The Rapture

This idea is a Protestant misinterpretation of a Bible passage. First, let’s review the correct interpretation of the passage:

[1 Thess]
{4:16} For the Lord himself, with a command and with the voice of an Archangel and with a trumpet of God, shall descend from heaven. And the dead, who are in Christ, shall rise up first.
{4:17} Next, we who are alive, who are remaining, shall be taken up quickly together with them into the clouds to meet Christ in the air. And in this way, we shall be with the Lord always.

Verse 16 describes the general Resurrection. Verse 17 describes what happens “next” to those who are still alive at that point in time. They are “taken up quickly” along with those who have been resurrected. Thus, they are given the benefits of the Resurrection, without having to die and immediately rise.

The incorrect interpretation is the claim that the holiest of Christians will be taken up to heaven, prior to the tribulation, so that they will not have to suffer. That event is called the rapture, after the Latin text for the phrase “taken up quickly”. But as we can easily see from the previous verse, the event of verse 17 occurs after the general Resurrection, not before the tribulation. Since the tribulation (the end times; the apocalypse) occurs prior to the general Resurrection, the event of verse 17 cannot be a pre-tribulation rapture, in which holy persons are taken up from this life.

A Seven-Year Tribulation

The reign of the Antichrist lasts nearly seven years; this is the “week of years” described in Daniel 9:27. But it is a common misconception to think that the entire end times lasts only seven years. There is much material in Scripture and the writings of Saints and in Marian apparitions (e.g. La Salette) proving that the tribulation is lengthy, and the seven-years is simply the end part of that lengthy tribulation.

My understanding of the timing is as follows:

1. first part of the tribulation (2022 to 2040 AD)

2. inter-tribulation period, lasting a few hundred years

3. second part of the tribulation 2430 to 2440 AD, including:
* the reign of the Antichrist from 2431 to 2437 AD — less than 7 years
* the return of Jesus Christ in 2437 AD
* the last sufferings of the Seventh Seal 2438 to 2440

The First Horseman of the Apocalypse

The four horsemen of the apocalypse are a figure for 4 sets of events:
1. World War 3
2. Severe Civil unrest
3. Famine, more severe in wealthy nations
4. Death and the fear of death

The first horseman is a terrible war, in which the Muslim extremists conquer Europe and a vast territory. The common misconception is that the first horseman is Jesus. This interpretation makes no sense at all. The first four Seals are also called four horsemen to indicate that they are four interrelated sets of events: War, Unrest, Famine, Death. Substituting Jesus for War makes the first “event” not really an event, and not related to the other three.

Jesus is not the first horseman of the apocalypse.

Three Days of Darkness

The Three Days of Darkness is a supernatural event, caused by the miraculous power of God. It is not caused by a celestial event, blocking out the sun, nor by a comet, nor by dust or pollution, nor by any natural means. This event was foreshadowed by the miraculous darkness that was part of the ten plagues visited by God on Egypt in order to free the Israelites from slavery, and by the three hours of darkness while Jesus was on the Cross. All these events were supernatural, not natural.

During the Three Days of Darkness do NOT seal your home to be air-tight. That is dangerous and unnecessary. Simply keep all doors and windows closed, and keep blessed candles burning for light.

The False Prophet

It is clear from Sacred Scripture that the Antichrist is assisted by a false prophet. The misconception is that the prophet is male. My understanding is that the false prophet is a woman: the false prophetess. She is the Jezebel and the harlot described in Revelation. She is the head of the Antichrist’s false Church. So she has a Pope-like role, but not over the Catholic Church. She is called a priestess, and the Antichrist’s false Church has many priestesses, thus appeasing the demands of sinful society.

But neither the Antichrist nor the false prophetess become Pope, nor do they ever claim to be Pope. The false Church of the Antichrist is entirely distinct from the true Catholic Church. The Antichrist despises the true Church and wishes to destroy Her; he does not want to become the head of the Church.

The Antichrist and the false prophetess devise a formal structure for his false religion. The newly-devised church takes elements from Catholicism, Islam, Judaism and other religions. This false church worships the Antichrist, using perversions of Catholic sacraments. The perversion of the Eucharist is called the abomination of desolation. So the Antichrist’s religion is clearly in opposition to the true Catholic Christian faith. The two will not be confused during that time.

Neither the Roman Pontiff, nor the institutional Church, nor the majority of Bishops goes astray during the time of the Antichrist, for the Church is indefectible even during the Antichrist’s reign.

The Return of Christ

A major misconception is that Jesus returns only once, for the general Resurrection, immediately after the end of the tribulation.

My understanding is that Jesus returns at the end of the tribulation, after the fall of the Antichrist. But subsequently, He ascends to Heaven a second time. Then the world sees a time of great holiness and peace, during which time the Church rules over the world. There will still be sins within humanity during that time, but the reign of sin will have ended. Then, over 1200 years later, Christ returns for a second time, for the general Resurrection.

This idea is not millenarianism as Christ does not reign during the 1200 years, but rather the Church reigns on earth while Christ is in Heaven.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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