Admittedly, early in my walk as a Christian I was in the process of readying myself for the eschatological (end times) phenomena known as the rapture. I was reading the Left Behind books and studying everything else that Timothy Lahaye and Jack Van Impe had to offer on the subject. Somewhere along the line, though, I began to wise up and see that any theology of the rapture is largely a gross misinterpretation of the biblical texts used to support such a view.
One of the keys to gaining an overall understanding of the Bible is to know what kind of literature you are reading. The bible is made up of several kinds of literature and written to a multitude of different audiences. In addition to the ancient biographies (Matt, Mark and John) and the ancient historical monographs (luke-Acts), we have several letters and sermons that look like letters in the New Testament. Lastly, we have exactly one book of prophecy in the New Testament - the book of Revelation. As Ben Witherington points out, this is no "ordinary, garden variety prophecy like we find in Amos or Micah or Obadiah. Rather, it is apocalyptic prophecy that can be traced back to Zechariah, Daniel and Ezekial-visionary prophecy by its very nature." As such, this book requires a special sort of reading to get at the heart of its true meaning and the message it hopes to convey.
I'll say more about this in my next post, pointing out the various errors that have been made and continue to be made to support the notion of the rapture.