Some Calvinists explain why we would do well to question the commonly accepted rapture interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17:
1Th 4:17 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.
Excerpted from CalvinSeminary.edu:
The term apantesis occurs only twice elsewhere in the New Testament, where it has this same meaning. When the Roman Christians learn that Paul the prisoner is approaching their city, they send a delegation “for a reception” of the apostle to meet him and then escort him on the last part of his trip to Rome (Acts 28:15). In the parable of the ten virgins, the women go out “for a reception” of the bridegroom in which they meet and then escort him to the wedding banquet (Matt. 25:6). The meaning of this word here in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is now clear: when Paul speaks about believers being “caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” he is claiming that they will be the reception party that not only meets the returning Christ but also escorts him on the last leg of his journey to earth. In other words, believers do not escape to heaven for the seven years of the tribulation but remain on earth where the final judgment and restoration of creation take place. The meaning of the word apantesis, therefore, delivers a virtual deathblow to the popular Dispensational view of the rapture.
This seems to correspond to its only mention by an Orthodox (Eastern) Church father, whose name escapes me. In any case the patristic consensus is strongly against the pentecostal interpretation of this verse, not to mention the addendum gleaned from Revelation about the “seven year” thing.
Yeah, it doesn’t seem like a very strong case can be made for a full-scale rapture event. NT Wright takes this verse figuratively, saying Paul is mixing metaphors.
The only patristic writer who comes near to the ‘rapture’ idea would take this heartily accurate translation of the Greek as well. The “seven year” thing gleaned from Revelation they would see as unreliable, too. (Revelation is not even read as Scripture in Orthodox liturgy, largely because of the misinterpretations indemic from the book that promote heresy, e.g. pentecostalism.)