By Matthew Ficarelli
So much is said about the rapture, but what is it exactly? What is the point of it? Why is it surrounded by so much speculation and controversy? Lets put aside our opinions, and let the Bible do the talking.
The word "rapture" actually doesn't occur once in the whole Bible. It was derived from the word harpazo, which then the translators used the English word "caught." Strongs Concordance describe it as -
Caught in Greek means harpazo, which means to snatch or catch away. “Rapture” derived from the Latin word raptus, which means to seize.
So the word "rapture" was coined from the Latin word "raptus." But what is going to be snatched away? The answer is the Church. For all who follow Jesus Christ, God has not appointed to his wrath.
Romans 5:9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
I Thessalonians 1:10. And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
I Thessalonians 5:9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Just like God saved Noah and his family before the flood, so will he save all who follow his Son. Now that doesn't mean that we aren't going to go through some tough times, it means that we aren't going to receive the awesome and intense punishment that is God's wrath.
Before we start, we must understand the concept of the Jewish marriage traditions around 2,000 years ago. Once we do, we will better understand Jesus' parables and analogies. Jesus used this model as a description of the Church.
1. First the bridegroom (Jesus) would have to pay the dowry to the father (God) of bride (Church). This was done when Jesus died on the cross for the payment of sin for man kind.
2. Then the bridegroom (Jesus) would gather his party and travel to the house of the bride (Church) to gather her and her party to bring them back to his house (Heaven). This was done usually at night. The bridegroom would stand outside and shout to his bride to come and join him. The gathering of the bride is the rapture of the Church.
3. They return to the bridegroom’s house (Heaven) for the marriage supper When we are raptured up to Heaven, we will then have the marriage supper which is described in Revelation chapter 19.
4. Then finally, we have the joining of the bride (Church) and bridegroom (Jesus) in marriage. This is when Jesus and the Church live together in paradise for eternity.
This is why Jesus used the "10 virgins" in one of his parables.
Matthew 25:1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8. And the foolish said unto the wise, give us your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Jesus is clearly telling us to always be ready because we know not the hour in which he comes.
The first usage of the Church being "caught up" is in I Thessalonians.
I Thessalonians 4:15. 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 sleep. 16. 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: 17. 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.
What many people who argue against the rapture will state this next verse fro Matthew 24 -
Matthew 24:31. 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.
They argue that we must go through the great tribulation. But what they don't realize is that in Matthew, Jesus is talking about the Jews. In I Thessalonians Jesus Christ himself will come and get us, but in Matthew, Jesus will send his four angels to gather all that remain. Another verse where Jesus is specifically talking to the Jews is when he talks about the Sabbath day -
Matthew 24:20. But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:
As Christians, we don't have to obey the Sabbath because Jesus is our perpetual rest. Jesus knows of the strict rules the Jews have on their Sabbath, so he says "pray your flight be not on the Sabbath day." If the abomination of desolation would stand in the temple on the Sabbath day, the Jews would be sitting ducks because they wouldn't leave their house.
The rapture will happen so fast that we won't know what's going on.
I Corinthians 15:51. Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52. 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.
In II Thessalonians, Paul tells us that we will be gathered together unto him -
II Thessalonians 2:1. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
This next verse has intrigued scholars for years -
II Thessalonians 2:7. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The phrase "only he who letteth will let," might seem a little confusing. The English word “let” in earlier centuries meant to “hinder” or “restrain”(as does the Greek word here) rather than “allow.” So the meaning is that he who now restrains will restrain until he is removed.
So now we have "only he who restraineth will restrain, until he be taken out of the way." But who is "he who restrains"? Since the Church of Jesus can't exist without the Holy Spirit, it is believed that the Holy Spirit is he who restrains the world from being completely consumed from sin. "Until he be taken away" is when the Church will be raptured, and all hell will break loose.
In the book of Revelation, when Jesus talks about his beloved Church of Philadelphia, he states I will keep thee from temptation -
Revelation 3:10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
It is interesting to note that the hour of temptation will come upon the entire world, but the Church is not of this world -
John 15:19. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
In John chapter 14, Jesus says he is going to Heaven to prepare a place for us.
John 14:2. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
This doesn't mean that when you die you go straight to heaven if your good. In Genesis we see that when we die, we return back to the earth -
Genesis 3:19. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
And in I Corinthians 15, along with many other verses, we see that the dead in Christ shall be raised. So the only other option is all of his believers will be raptured into Heaven.
This brings us to the last analogy of the wedding model that Jesus used, the marriage supper. In Revelation chapter 19, it states that the bride of Christ is in heaven with him.
Armageddon: Appointment With Destiny. Grant Jeffrey
Nelson’s Compact Bible Commentary
Zondervan King James Study Bible
All Scripture Taken Form King James Version