Where Does the Church get the term Rapture?

Anything God did in the Old Testament had a purpose. Many shadows were seen in the Old Testament about things that would occur in our present time. There are events that were prophesied and came to pass and others are still to come. This is why the Bible is called “Alive”. Things that were written down centuries ago can also apply to us today. It truly is amazing how that can occur. God is amazing and his word is a life giving source. 

* Term Rapture *

Let us begin by examining where the term “rapture” came about. As a new believer I remember hearing lots of terms I had never heard of. Being a follower of Christ brings you into a new way of speaking, understanding and living. 

If we read the definition of rapture it has 3 definitions listed:

1. The state of being transported by a lofty emotion; ecstasy.

2. An expression of ecstatic feeling.

3. The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven, by supernatural means.

The third definition fits exactly what is described in the scripture and coincides with what image is being portrayed after the trumpet sounds.

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. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 KJV

In the Latin Vulgate the word caught up is “rapiemur”. The Greek word in the Septuagint version is known as “harpazo”. When these words were translated into English the translators used the terminology “caught up”. In order for someone to meet the Lord in the air a person would have to be lifted, taken or caught up. This would not be unusual when we are talking about God and the spiritual kingdom. We can also read several accounts in the Bible where we have read someone was caught up, such as Elijah and Enoch, a person translated to another place, which was Philip, Jesus himself was taken up into heaven after 40 days with the disciples after his resurrection. 

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5 KJV

And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:39 KJV 

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 2 Kings 2:11 KJV (went up – Hebrew ālâ – also means to be taken up, or taken away)

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Acts 1:9-10 KJV (taken up – Greek word – epairō)

Although in the last two scriptures in 2 Kings and Acts 1 the author used a different word in Hebrew and Greek we must remember we too have words in English that we can interchange and mean the same thing. Both these languages have many more words that can be used in a circumstance compared to the English language but we can see the meaning is the same. 

* Conclusion *

So in conclusion, the church has adopted the term “rapture” to sum up the meaning of taken away or caught up. There is an event prophesied in the Bible when the church will be caught up to meet the Lord Jesus as he descends to earth in his second coming. Many people argue the actual word “rapture” is not found in the Bible so this event will not happen. Even though the word rapture itself is not found there are plenty of instances which give us the same meaning as we have read in this teaching. This includes the term “rapiemur” which is similar to the English word.