We continue to receive many questions concerning the "Rapture" of the church and its apparent contrast with the "Second Coming" of Jesus Christ. Where does this strange view come from? Is the term "rapture" even in the Bible?
The mysterious event known as the Rapture is most clearly presented in Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, in which he encourages the grieving Christians that, at the "great snatch," they will be reunited with those who have died in Christ before them.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
In verse 17, the English phrase "caught up" translates the Greek word harpázô, which means "to seize upon with force" or "to snatch up."
There are those who claim that the word "rapture" isn't in their Bible. That's because they aren't using the Latin translation. The Latin equivalent of the Greek harpázô is the Latin verb rapio, "to take away by force." In the Latin Vulgate, one of the oldest Bibles in existence, the appropriate tense of rapio appears in verse 17. (Raptus is the past participle of rapio, and our English words "rapt" and "rapture" stem from this past participle.)
The Bible teaches us to expect Him at any moment. At the Rapture, living believers will be "caught up" in the air, translated into the clouds, in a moment in time, to join the Lord in the air. There are many that hold to the view that emerged in the Medieval church (Catholic and Protestant) that the "Second Coming" of Christ and the "Rapture" are somehow the same. Yet there seems to be a number of indications that these are distinct and separate.
There are, of course, many differing views on the subject of the Rapture. Chuck examines these viewpoints in more detail in his study on The Rapture. To learn more about this subject, click on the links below.
• The Rapture - Audio CD - Special Offer!
• The Rapture - MP3 Download - Koinonia House
• Date Setting? - From Our Mailbag
• Bible Study Resources: The Rapture - Koinonia House