The “parousia” or coming of Christ is often interpreted to mean that believers literally go and meet Jesus in the air and then follow Jesus back to heaven. But the word parousia was a word that was used when a king or a Caesar would come to visit a town. The people would line the road leading into the town to welcome the king into the city. This is the PICTURE Paul is painting here and not a literal gathering in the sky and certainly not a caravan back up to heaven somewhere.
Once the doctrine had been established ( in the 1800’s mind you) then other verses were being poured through the filter of the rapture doctrine instead of being left in their original context.
It seems that if believers were indeed waiting on such an event as a rapture, there would be much more mention of it throughout the scriptures, but instead we have to heavily rely on two verses which have been poorly interpreted (in my opinion) for evidence of such an event.
And of course the Rapture has become one of those non negotiable doctrines that one MUST believe in order to be saved. When discussing this a few weeks ago with a friend, he said to me… “but what happens if the rapture happens tomorrow, what will you do?” I didn’t know for one to be “caught up in the air with Christ” one had to believe in the rapture. I responded, “I guess I’ll be very surprised as I am floating up.”