A number of Christian groups and theologies are teaching that there is no such thing as a rapture. Their reason for making this pronouncement is not based on a Scriptural exegesis, presenting multitudes of verses showing this, but is simply based upon the fact that the word “rapture” does not occur in the Bible. In this they are correct. The word “rapture” does not occur in the Bible. It is a word that was believed to have been coined from something that William Shakespeare wrote. According to Etymology of the English Language by W.W.Skeat, Shakespeare coined the word “rapture” from the Latin term “raptus” which meant “to be seized” or “transported,” (both of which describe the event that the word “rapture” is used to describe today.) Shakespeare used the word “rapture” to mean “to be transported by a lofty emotion or ecstasy.”
One can only assume that whoever coined this term to apply it to what Scripture calls the “harpazo” a Greek term which means “to seize, catch up or away, take by force, pull, or pluck up” and which is translated in English as “caught up,” thought that it was a good description of that event, as no doubt people will not only be transported, but one can only believe they will be in a state of lofty emotion or ecstasy upon its happening. So that fact that the word “rapture” does not occur in the Scripture does not mean that the event that this word was coined to represent also does not exist.
The first thing that must be established is what the connotation of the term “rapture” is supposed to mean, as used by most Christian groups. It is understood by the groups who use this term that the rapture is an event that occurs when Christ returns. It occurs in conjunction with the resurrection of the righteous dead. The events as outlined by Scripture are that Christ comes back, the dead in Christ are raised to incorruptible bodies, and then the living Christians are changed from corruptible bodies to incorruptible bodies (the same bodies as the resurrected now have) and then they are gathered up with the assistance of angels, up to the clouds of the air, where Christ appears at that particular time, to meet Him there. From there they are taken to heaven where they undergo judgment to receive their rewards (or chastisement for lack of good works to have rewards). These then are the basic events surrounding the phenomena which has had the word “rapture” applied to reference it.
It can only be assumed that those who make the fallacious statement that the rapture, (as defined above, which is the catching up of the living saints at Christ's Second Coming) is not taught in the Bible, do not read the Bible. They are merely repeating what someone, who does not believe the Bible, has told them. They have not checked for themselves what the Scriptures say on the subject, or they would clearly see that they are wrong, and that there is an event where living Christians will be caught up in the air in the twinkling of an eye to be with the Lord.
It is simple to show how Scripture teaches this. First, the rapture of the saints is not the first time this sort of thing has occurred. There were two previous events at which this happened. One was Enoch, and one was Elijah.
Starting with Elijah and the story of him and Elisha and then working backwards to Enoch, we read in 2 Kings 2:1-12 “And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. 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. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.”
So here we see that Elijah and Elisha and a number of the sons of the prophets knew that Elijah was going to be taken that day from them. And it was not to be by death. Elijah was taken by a chariot and horses of fire, and caught up into a whirlwind into heaven, without dying. This is one of the reasons why, when we are told in Malachi 4:5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD,” that scholars believe that one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 must be this Elijah of 2 Kings. Elijah did not die, so it is possible for him to have been taken somewhere to await his return at the end of days before the Day of the Lord.
About Enoch we read first in Genesis 5:24 “ And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” That tells us precious little, and in fact does not tell us that Enoch was “raptured” as the term is used, but possibly could mean died, as we will often say about someone who has died, “the Lord took him home.” However, we are given more information in Hebrews 11:5 that tells us that Enoch did not die when God took him. “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.” [Enoch is also a candidate for one of the witnesses in Revelation.] So now we are told that Enoch did not die, but he did get taken off this world by God. The word used to describe what happened to Enoch is “translated.” In Greek this word is “metatithemi” which means to transport, exchange, transfer, change sides, remove, or translate. In other words, it means so be transported elsewhere, to be removed, and to change sides. Enoch changed sides by leaving this world behind for another one.
Now while both of these men were taken off the earth, one in a whirlwind, and one removed by translation (however that might have happened), we are not told that these men were physically changed from a corruptible body to an incorruptible body. If in fact they are the two witnesses, it would appear that they were not changed physically, as the two witnesses are still mortal, and will die. However the fact remains that God took them off planet and put them somewhere. So God has removed people from this earth without the benefit of death.
When it comes to the rapture of the saints, we are told a little more than that we will just be removed as Enoch and Elijah were. First we need to go to Corinthians 15:35-49 and read what the Scriptures tell us there about the resurrection as we are told that the resurrection will occur first.
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
Now what Paul is telling us, is that just as when we sow a seed in the ground, the plant that grows from it is not the same as the seed, so the same thing happens to our bodies. However we know that the seed (the DNA encapsulated therein) is the basis of what the plant becomes. Anyone who has ever grown any flowers knows that the seeds are tiny little bits of practically nothing, but the flowers that come from them are glorious creations that look nothing like that tiny seed. The seed and plant are still a part of that same creation, but one is gloriously more beautiful and only resembles that tiny seed in that you will find the tiny seed somewhere buried within the plant. The same will be true of our bodies, as we will have as the basis for our new body, the old body, but the new body will be more beautiful and improved. A flower seed does not begin to convey what the flower itself will look like. So it is with all plants. The same is true of our bodies. There is a terrestrial body, and a celestial one. One is corrupt, the other is incorrupt. We need only look at Christ's resurrected body to tell us that there is a difference. His followers did not even recognize Him. A couple of followers walked the road to Emmaus talking at length with Him and never knew it was He until He disappeared. This tells us a little bit about the body. While the seed of what we look like now will be there somewhere (Christ still had the marks in his hands), and we will recognize each other, we will not look exactly the same. Also our bodies will be capable of unusual feats. Christ could disappear and reappear someplace else entirely. He could transport Himself over distances. He did still eat and drink, as He ate with the disciples, but we do not know that it is a requirement for sustaining life. Life is eternal in these bodies. There is no corruption. Christ ascended into heaven without the aid of a chariot of fire. He simply ascended. So we see that there is a definite change in the physical body at the resurrection. Why is that necessary? Paul has already explained in this chapter why this is required. One reason has to do with the fact that this body is sinful. Because of this sin, it must die. In Christ we hope for a resurrection. Otherwise there is no hope of eternal life. 1 Corinthians 15:16-23 “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep (have died) in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.”
So now we are told that by man (Adam) and his sin, death came. If there is no resurrection, then Christ was not raised either and our faith and hope are in vain, for then we are yet in our sins, and death is the end of it all. But Christ was resurrected, therefore so will we be. The resurrection will occur at Christ's coming. Further, we are told that flesh and blood, as we now are, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Mortal man cannot look upon and live in his sinful state with God. We must put on an incorruptible body and immortality. Paul continues in this chapter to tell us that. Verses 50, 53-54 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption..... For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” So we know that to enter heaven, man must put on the incorruptible, immortal body. He must have sin and death removed from his body.
Now we come to the verses that are in the middle of all of this. Verses 51 and 52, which are in between the last passage about putting on the incorruptible body say this. “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, (die) 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.
These two verses tell us that not everyone will die. However they will all be changed. How will they be changed? Well, we are told that first the dead in Christ will be raised in incorruption (given their new bodies). Then in the time it takes for an eye to twinkle, which is far less than a second, those who are not sleeping (dead) will be changed. They will be changed into the same incorruptible bodies as those who sleep. This is necessary because flesh and blood cannot inherit the heavenly kingdom of God. To live in God's presence, one must have an incorruptible, immortal body. So those who are not asleep or dead in Christ, must be changed to have these incorruptible bodies. This will take less than a split second to occur. When will it occur? It will occur at the last trump after the dead are resurrected. It will occur at the seventh trumpet in Revelation. At that time the resurrection will occur and those who are not dead will be changed. Revelation 11:15-18 “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, (Second Coming) and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
So now we have Scriptural proof that at the time of the resurrection, those who are alive in Christ will also be changed into incorruptible bodies. But that does not tell us that there is a gathering in the air, as the rapture premise says. So we must look to see if there are any verses that clarify this part of the rapture event. We need only look to another of Paul's writings.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 “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 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.”
Paul is again addressing the problem of people not believing in the resurrection. He tells them that they should not be ignorant of this hope. That if Christ died and rose again, so will all those who have died in the Lord. Their spirits (which are temporarily housed in spirit bodies in heaven) will be brought back and resurrected into immortal bodies like Christ's. This verse tells us that the dead will be resurrected first, but then those who are alive and remain alive until the coming of the Lord (at the last trump) will be caught up with the dead resurrected saints to meet the Lord in the clouds and in the air, and then we will shall all be with the Lord forever. The words “shall be caught up” in Greek are “harpazo.” This word means “to remove, seize, or take away.” So the living saints will be taken away, just as Elijah and Enoch were. They will be removed from the earth, and taken up into the air, just as Elijah was to be with the Lord. But instead of a fiery chariot with horses of fire, we are told that the angels will be gathering God's elect. Matthew 24:30-31 “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
So clearly to say that because the word “rapture” is not in the Bible, that there is no such event as the the word is used to indicate, is to simply show a gross ignorance of the Scriptures. I'm sorry for being so harsh in my chastisement, but more and more I see people believing garbage that has nothing to do with Scripture. It is inexcusable and people need to have it pointed out very clearly to them, as subtlety does not seem to be changing their ways. Instead of believing what one's teachers and preachers are saying, everyone should be a Berean and see what the Scriptures say. Ignorance of the Scriptures is not an excuse with God, at least not for those who have Bibles readily available to them. While there are some countries where they are not so readily available, or even forbidden, one only has to go online these days to have one at their disposal. People should take advantage of this fact and not only read it, but study it to see what is true and what is not. God will not accept the excuse that “my pastor (or priest, or whatever) told me.” He expects us to study for ourselves. Believing what someone says without checking it out against the Scriptures might just land you in hell. I encourage anyone to check out what I say, for just to get them into the Scriptures is well worth it to me.