The English Bible doesn’t have the word “Rapture” in it, but the meaning of the word is in the Bible and can be translated as “Rapture”.
The English word “rapture” was derived from the Latin word, rapio, which means “caught up”.
In the Latin Bible, the related word “Rapiemur” was used in a Bible verse that talks about this “caught up” phenomenon, which is the “Rapture” we talk about today. It was in the 5th-century Latin Bible Vulgate, in 1 Thessalonians 4:17:
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up [Rapiemur in Latin] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
The same word has appeared in the following verse as well, which described the supernatural transportation of apostle Philip.
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
The biblical Greek word for “Rapture” is harpazo, which means “snatch away”, “carry off”. In the context of its usage in the Bible, it usually involves an object being physically or figuratively transported from earth to heaven, or from one place to another, by external forces.
So what is “Rapture”?
Rapture is a supernatural event in which God snatches up part of His Church to heaven in “the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52), before the 7 years Tribulation that is prophesied in the Bible begins.
The Tribulation is the final seven years of earth as we know it now, but after that, everything on earth will be changed forever. Christ and His followers will reign for a thousand years on earth, follow by another conflict with Satan and his followers, and then a new heaven and a new earth will replace the old ones after the last evil is dealt with.
Some believe that Rapture will happen in the middle of the Tribulation (mid-trib), some believe that Rapture happen after the sixth seal (pre-wrath), and some others believe that it will happen right before Jesus’ second coming (post-trib), when He and His heavenly army will eliminate every wicked men on earth and bring in the end of the Tribulation.
Some even believe there are multiple raptures that begins with a pre-tribulational, secret, conditional, and sudden Rapture, and after the Tribulation begins other raptures will follow. I think this theory is more plausible than other rapture theories that deny a pre-trib rapture all together.
I will further analyze the possibility of a second and even a third rapture in the next post.
Scriptural Support For The Rapture Phenomenon/Phenomena (Regardless of its timing)
“15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever..” (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17)
“20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
“49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we[a] bear the likeness of the man from heaven.50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[b]55“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”[c]” (1 Corinthians 15:49–55)
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” (Matthew 24:36-41) (Post-trib proponents think this verse isn’t about Rapture, but it is about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The verse that actually talks about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is Luke 17:35, not this one)
When is the Rapture?
I have every scriptural reason to believe that the (first?) Rapture will happen before the 7 years Tribulation, which will be the most horrible period of the entire history of earth.
As for the exact date of the Rapture, no one is supposed to know (Matt 24:36). The Bible says not even the angels and Jesus Christ Himself know when it’s going to happen.
The post-tribulational Rapture theory doesn’t make sense (if there is only one rapture), because once the Tribulation starts, the timing of Jesus’ second coming to end the Tribulation will be measurable, which is 7 years from its start.
So Matt 24:36-41 can’t be talking about Jesus’ second coming. Jesus’ second coming will be a timed, calender marked, and public event once the Great Tribulation starts.
By calculating the obvious timeline and major events of the Tribulation that are clearly prophesied in the Bible, the Bible reading believers who remain on earth for any reason will know when their own version of Rapture will come if the event is to take place at mid-trib, prewarth, or post trib.
But the Bible says that “no one knows about that day or hour” (Matt 24:36) when the Rapture will take place, and therefore we have to “keep watch!” (Matt 24:42)
Therefore, the only logical timing for the Rapture, if we read the Bible carefully and if there is only one Rapture, is pre-tribulation.
If the above scripture passages I just quoted on the secrecy of the Rapture don’t convince you, let me add some more passages here:
34“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36
1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
The above passages should put an end to any argument about the timing of the Rapture– it has to be before the Tribulation.
Otherwise, how can that day close on people unexpectedly like a trap, while people still have the luxury and wealth to be “weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness…”? How can people say “peace and safety”? During the 7 year Tribulation, there are famines, disasters, gigantic wars, mass slaughters, and divine wafts from heaven, and people will not be merry their way like that and no one with a sane mind can say “peace and safety”!
To make the big picture a little bit more clear, let me add one more passage to seal the deal:
19 But your dead will live; their bodies will rise.
You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy.
Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.
20 Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.
21 See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins.
The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer. Isaiah 26:19-21
Now I guess it can’t be more obvious. The above passage says that there will be resurrection, that God’s people will hide themselves in rooms while His divine wrath pass by, and that God will come out of heaven to punish evil people on earth.
What does that sounds like? It sounds like the Rapture with it’s resurrection (1 Thess 4:15-16), the escape from divine wrath in secret chambers/rooms (i.e. heaven), and God leave His heaven to punish evil people on earth. (The Battle of Armageddon, see Revelation 16:16 and 19:11-21)
In fact, there are more parallels to the Rapture in this passage than what I just listed above. I will develop this point further in future posts if I have a chance.
An Inclusive Rapture For Every Christian?
No, I believe the Rapture is conditional and secret. Most pre-tribulation Rapture believers believe that every Christian will be included in the Rapture, but the Bible says very clearly that there are conditions for Rapture. Here are some obvious Bible verses that talk about the conditions:
“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” Revelation 3:10
Not every Christian has keep Christ’s command to endure patiently, and the above verse only speaks to one of the seven Churches in the Book of Revelation, but for the other Churches, the Holy Spirit usually has something to rebuke them about.
If anyone fulfills the command to endure patiently, God will keep him from “the hour of trail that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” The only way God can keep us from the time of the worldwide Great Tribulation is to keep us away from earth.
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36
“that you may be counted worthy” – it’s not unconditional gift. Anyone who participates in the Rapture has to be counted worthy.
If you want more scriptural proofs that the Rapture is secret, and conditional, please click into my article: Rapture Of The Saints: Will Some Christians Be Left Behind?
After The Rapture, People May Deny That It Happened, Or They Call It Aliens Mass Abduction
The population that will be caught up during the Rapture might be so little that the world will deny it ever really happened. They might even blame it on the ET Aliens abduction.
The Church that has been left behind might be disillusioned and therefore many will give up on their faith (Matt 24:24; 1 Tim 4:1), and join Satan’s side in the final struggle during the Great Tribulation. Other Christians will wake up to the fact that they will have to face the Antichrist, Satan, and a hostile world, and that they have been left behind.
Some of them will be very angry with their pastors, who teach them an all inclusive pre-trib Rapture, which do a major disservice to them because it fails to teach them to be alert, nor does it prepare them for the conditional Rapture.
Many will realize they have been sinning and refused to repent before the Rapture, and that they have no one to blame but themselves for being left behind, and this time they will be willing to die for Christ when the Antichrist and his one world government force them to worship him instead of the biblical God. They will go through a great deal of temptations and persecutions, but they will overcome (Revelation 12:17; Revelation 20:4-5).
Those left behind Christians who believe in Mid-Trib and Post-Trib might realize that they have mistaken, and therefore some of them will be disillusioned and join the enemy like the other, and some of them will repent and remain faithful till the end.
Many of them might actually believe that the Rapture is yet to come since they don’t believe in the pre-trib Rapture to begin with.
The genuine Rapture is a conditional, secret one that happens before the Tribulation, so believers of Mid-Trib and Post-Trib Rapture might not even realize that the Rapture has already taken place until mid way through the Great Tribulation, or even till the very day when Jesus descends from heaven to end the Tribulation.
I am not saying that believers of Mid-Trib and Post-Trib will be left behind because of their doctrines on the Rapture. Everyone will have to meet the same conditions to be qualified to the Rapture in order to “be counted worthy” for it (Luke 21:36).
Conclusion: There Is A Pre-Tribulation, Secret Rapture For Those Who Are Counted Worthy!
Whether there is a second Rapture or not, we know one thing for sure, that is, there will be a pre-Trib, secret Rapture for those who are worthy. I will show you in the next post why a second Rapture, though plausible, is not clearly guaranteed by the scripture.
And there are hints that may suggest that a second Rapture doesn’t even exist, let alone a third one.
So if we want to escape the Great Tribulation, and enjoy the honor for being a VIP in heaven for 7 years, we better get on the first train.
An excellent article that defends the Pre-Trib Rapture theory. (But they believe the Rapture is for every Christian, I disagree)