“But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36)
The word “Rapture,” a term found in Christian eschatology does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Most Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias do not mention the Rapture at all. The word “Rapture” derived from the Latin word “rapare” means “seize,” “snatch,” “being caught up” or “take away.”
In the article “Rapture what does it mean?” published in the Belgian Christadelphians’s website, the author lists several bibles that translate the word “Rapture” as:
- Rapt: Etheridge
- Caught up: ABU, ACV, AKJV, AMP, ASV, AV, BWE, Cath.Seredipity B, CAB., CENT, CJB, Common, Darby, Diaglot, EMTV, ERRB, ERV, Evid, GSNT, HCSB, HNV, IAV, ISV, JB2000, JSV, KJ21, Lamsa, Lit, LITV, MKJV, Mont, MRC, Murdoch, NAB, NASB, NET, NHEBJ, NiRV, NIV, NLT, Noyes, NSB, RNKJV, RSV, Rev.Mur., RWebster, RWP, Ryrie Stu.B., Sawyer, TCNT, TNIV, TRC, Twenty, Tyndale, UKJV, WEB, Webster, WORNT, Worrell Rev&Tr, Worsley
- Caught away: Rotherham, Synaitic
- Gathered up: GNB, NCV, the Script.1998,
- Snatched away: CEV, CLV
- snatched up: Orth.JBC, Wyc
- be seized and snatched away (carried off by force): JMNT
- Taken up: BBE, Douay, GWV, LO, CPDV
- Swept up: Phil2007, Philips
- To meet: ECB, Amp, ESV, ABU
- Seized … for meeting: ABP
- Ascend (together) to meet: PNT
- Conveyed together: Mace
Modern traditions of Christian eschatology use the term Rapture in at least two senses; as a general synonym for the final resurrection, and in the view of pre-tribulationists, where a group of people would be left behind on earth after the events mentioned in Matthew about “The Coming of the Son of Man”:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)
During Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica along with Silvanus and Timothy, a doubt arose among the Thessalonians about the fate of those Christians who would die before the return of Christ. Would they miss the glorious events of Christ’s second coming and the resurrection? Paul assuaged their fears. He assured them that God would save those who had already died, as well as those still living with these words:
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Here are some passages from the New Testament that describe the resurrection of the dead, and gathering in of the faithful when Jesus comes again: (Matthew 16:27, 24:29-31, 25:31-32, 26:64, Mark 12:18-27, 13:26-27, Luke 17:26-35, John 5:21, 5:28-29, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 6:14, 15:12-32, Philippians 3:20-21, Colossians 3:4, 2 Peter 3:8-10, Revelation 1:7).
These passages use various descriptions and images to describe wondrous events that we cannot fully fathom (1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13:9-12).
None of these passages depicts the image of the faithful caught up in the clouds, and meeting the Lord in the air nor did Paul use that description again in his later writings.
A few years after the crucifixion of Jesus up to the present day countless groups and people have compared the events of their time to Bible prophecies, and concluded that Jesus would be returning soon. Some even set a date for the Rapture and led their followers into the deserts, to the mountains, and into the wilderness, to await the Rapture. Though every one of those predictions turned out wrong, that has not deterred people from making modern-day predictions that Jesus will be returning soon. Most mainstream Bible scholars, however, do not think current world affairs are evidence of the imminent return of Christ.
Even so, we still do come across certain Christians who believe in the Rapture as the centerpiece of the second coming of Jesus – a glorious, dramatic event with Jesus appearing and literally taking the believers physically along with him up into the sky. Among these Christians, there are several theories about the timing of the Rapture.
In recent years, the Rapture and the second coming of Christ have spawned a lucrative industry. Besides the many books written on this subject, there are thousands of self-styled television evangelists with websites, radio stations, lecture series, audio recordings, videotapes and other Paraphernalia. Many of these accouterments feature imaginative and vivid embellishments of the Bible prophecies, and not surprisingly, in most cases properly classified as fiction, and not as Bible prophecy.
- Rapture (en.wikipedia.org)
- Views of End Times (thesimplewomansdaybook.com)
- Rapture what does it mean? (belgianchristadelphians)
- Many people have asked me this year, “What is the Rapture”? Here’s what I tell them. (vineoflife.net)
- Evangelist Harold Camping predicts biblical end of days is in October (miamiherald.com)
- Biblical References to the Rapture (christianity.about.com)