Understanding the term, Rapture
The term Rapture indicates a swift catching up or rescuing of God’s people prior to the outpouring of God’s wrath during the Tribulation. A time when Satan will greatly persecute the people of faith. The English term Rapture comes from 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4. The Greek text of the New Testament uses the word harpazo, and it means to seize upon with force or to catch or snatch up. The Latin translators of the Greek New Testament Bible translated that word, harpazo, rapturo. The Latin, rapturo, became the root word for the English term Rapture.
Through the Rapture, God has caught up his church so that they would not have to experience the upcoming time of tribulations and wrath. John, the writer of the book of Revelation, said it this way, The church will be “kept from the hour of testing that shall come upon the world” (Revelation 3:10). Paul, writing of the quick and sudden nature of the Rapture wrote,
“Behold I show you a mystery we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment in the twinkling of an eye…for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised…and we shall be changed.”
Writing to the Thessalonian Church, Paul wrote,
“For the Lord himself will 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.” (1 Thess. 4:16-17)
This is what Jesus said about the Rapture.
- “There will be two in the field, and then suddenly one will be left.” (Matt. 24:40)
- “There will be two women grinding at the mill. One will be taken, and one will be left.” (Matt. 24:41)
In Luke 12 Jesus spoke of the importance of expecting His return. In Matthew 24 Jesus spoke of the need to be watching and waiting and ready for his return.
There are many allusions and references to the Rapture throughout the Bible. The fall Festival, the Feast of Trumpets, for example, foreshadows the Rapture. The phrases, no one knows the day or the hour and the thief in the night are associated with that ancient Festival, as is the blowing of the trumpet, the days of awe, and a new beginning for all humanity. All of these associations have Rapture and tribulation connotations.
The Old Testament book, The Songs of Solomon, is about an unworthy bride being told to wait for the promised return of her wonderful Groom. However, she’s unfaithful, and when He returns, she is not ready. He comes like a thief in the night and she is left behind. Jesus’s parable of the ten virgins and His teaching on the wedding banquet also reference the Rapture.
Scriptural Support for the Pre-tribulation Rapture View
Historically, there have been three prominent views regarding the timing of the Rapture. The I Am A Watchman ministry concurs with the majority of Bible scholars and teaches that the church will be raptured (caught up to be with Christ) at some point before the commencement of the seven-year tribulation period. Noted below is the Biblical foundation for that position.
- The Tribulation describes a period of suffering unsurpassed, “such as was not since there was a nation, no, nor shall be” (Dan. 12:1). The Tribulation period will be a time of wrath (Rev. 6:16-17,11:18; 14:19; Zeph. 1:15, 18). However, we see in 1 Thess. 5:9 that the Church is not appointed unto wrath, but unto salvation. The Rapture was the Lord fulfilling His promise to rescue from a future time of ‘wrath.’
The church will be “kept from the hour of testing that shall
come upon all the world.” (Rev. 3:10)
- Scripture notes that the Holy Spirit 1) dwells in the hearts of believers 2) holds back or restrains Satan and 3) will one day be taken away. The taking away of the Spirit/Restrainer points to the Rapture, as removing the Spirit will require removing committed Christians from the earth.
“And you know what restrains him [Satan] now…For…he [the Holy Spirit] who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.…” (2 Thess. 2:6-7)
This taking away of the Spirit is linked to the removal of the Church and the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 supports the pre-tribulation view:
“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 prevent (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 Corinthians 15:51-55 supports the pre-tribulation view:
“Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
- Many Scriptures note the “Jewishness” of Tribulation events profiled in the Bible. It is said to be the “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” it concerns “Daniel’s people,” a “false Messiah,” the city of Jerusalem, the twelve tribes of Israel, the “son of Moses,” and a “flight on the Sabbath.” The Church is not specifically mentioned in the book of Revelation after the judgments begin. The I Am A Watchman ministry taught that the Church was not specifically mentioned because it was to be raptured before of the Tribulation.
- Jesus’ teaching on the end times (Matt. 24) indicates that the timing of the Rapture is immediately after the ‘Birth Pains,’ and before the beginning of the Tribulation.
“Immediately after the distress of those days…he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds…“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 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. “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matt. 24:29-44)
- The Rapture was foretold.
- The Rapture represents Jesus fulfilling His promise to come again (John 14:3; Acts 1:9) and rescue His people, the true Church, from the upcoming time of wrath (Rev. 3:10).
- The call is to:
- Believe in Jesus. Accept Him in your heart as Lord and Savior. Commit to follow Him (John 1:12, 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10; Eph. 2:8-10)
- Watch for His “glorious appearing” at the end of the 7-year Tribulation period (Matt. 25:13; 24:42).
- Beware the Antichrist. Do not take the Mark of the Beast.
- Be active—do the right thing, the right way, with the right heart, and don’t stop (Matt. 24:46; Gal. 6:90.
- Warn others—this is part of the “Great Commission” challenge (Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 12:8-9; 1 Peter 3:15).