Every time I discuss the so-called “rapture” with someone they take me to 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18, but I don’t see the concept there. In v. 15 I find the “appearing/coming of the Lord” (τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ κυρίου). When we consider other Pauline themes of the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s reign I don’t see why this should be about anything other than Christ appearing to inaugurate his earthly reign. Also, in vv. 16-17 I find the saints meeting the Lord in the air to forever be with him (οὕτως πάντοτε σὺν κυρίῳ ἐσόμεθα). This is a far cry from going somewhere other than earth with Jesus though.
If we find Paul coherent than why would he speak of the resurrection in similar language in 1 Corinthians 15.50-58 with the emphasis being on resurrection –a very physical, earthly act or why would he connect the resurrection event to the renewal of the cosmos in Romans 8.18-25? It seems more likely that the “appearing” of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4 has overtones of Daniel 7.13-14 where the Son of Man comes the judge the nations of the earth. This would fit quite well with the references from 1 Corinthians and Romans that I noted.
If we are read 1 Thessalonians 4.17 as saying we will remain in the sky with the Lord then this seems to leave little room for the future of the cosmos as Paul envisioned them and it doesn’t allow for an earthly reign of Christ unless we do hermeneutical gymnastics where the saints go with Jesus into heaven (something the text does not say) so they can be with him there temporarily (this is often proposed by borrowing outside Paul and then infusing interpretations of Paul back into what he said) in order the return again to earth.
I don’t see it.
Note: If by “rapture” you mean something vague like being caught up in the air then I don’t necessarily disagree with you. It is obvious Paul uses such language, whether figurative or literal is the debate. My contention is against a “rapture” where humans disappear from earth.