Question: “Will there be a partial rapture?”
Answer: There are some believers who hold that only faithful Christians will be taken in the rapture, with unfaithful Christians left on earth to suffer through the tribulation. The problem is that the Bible does not support such a concept. The passages which describe the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) definitely seem to apply universally to all Christians, mature and immature, faithful and disobedient. Verses like Romans 8:1 and 1 Thessalonians 5:9 tell us that God does not pour out His wrath on Christians. There is no biblical evidence whatsoever for a partial rapture. Every believer will be taken to heaven in the rapture.
Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 has been for some the “proof” of a partial rapture. However, the five virgins whose lamps did not have any oil are not symbolic of believers being left behind; rather, it is describing unbelievers being left behind. The key is verse 12 where Jesus says to those left behind, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” Those whom Jesus knows are believers in Him, whether vigilant or not. The essential element in the parable is the oil in the lamps, oil being symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Those who have the Holy Spirit living in their hearts will be taken in the rapture because they are truly Christians. Those who profess faith in Christ, but who do not possess His Spirit, will be left behind.
The lesson for us is to be ready because Christ is coming again for His own, but He will come as a “thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:4)—suddenly, unexpectedly and unannounced. Only those whose lamps (hearts) contain the oil (the Holy Spirit) will be taken. The rest, regardless of their professions, will be left behind. Jesus knows His own, and when He calls us, we will respond. To the rest He will say, “I never knew you.” Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2), and if there are any who do not know the Savior, they dare not delay another moment.