The Rapture

The Rapture – Part One – Rapture Definitions

The Origin Of The Word Translated “Rapture”
1 Thessalonians 4:17 – “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with the resurrected dead in Yeshua in the clouds to meet Yeshua in the air, and so we will always be with him.

One can continue to be obstinate and declare that the word or term, rapture, is not found in (English) translations, but this does not negate the concept that a catching away, a harpazo, a rapiemur, or a rapture is definitely propounded by the holy scriptures. A simple study of the origins of this word proves otherwise.

As the language in the church changed from Greek to Latin, Saint Jerome was given the task of translating the scriptures from Greek to Latin, and used the word “rapiemur” to translate the Greek word harpazo. Other Latin translations use rapturo or raptus, both forms of the verb rapiemur. Rapiemur and rapturo are two forms of the same verb, as are rapio, rapere, rapui, raptus. All forms of the verb mean to eagerly catch, snatch, or seize to one’s self. Rapiemur is the first person, plural, future, indicative, passive form (as in: We will be snatched away). Rapturo is the dative/ablative singular form (as in: I will be snatched away).

One example of a Latin translation is the following translation which uses the full verb rapiemur is the Latin Vulgate: Dominus in iussu et in voce archangeli et in tuba Dei descendet de caelo et mortui qui in Christo sunt resurgent primi deinde nos qui vivimus qui relinquimur simul rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Domino in aera et sic semper cum Domino erimus.

The English word, rapture, simply comes from the Latin translation, rapiemur, of the Koiné Greek word, harpazo, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Almost all modern Bibles translate this word as: “caught up”. This same word is used in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 by Paul to describe a man he once knew that had been caught up to the third heaven, into paradise.

Harpazo – Taken By Force
The most commonly applied definition of the word harpazo [G726] translated rapture, or caught up is: to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away. Taken by force, snatched, and carried off are the words used most often by scripture in numerous places. The definitions of harpazo are descriptions of the amount of energy or force expended to accomplish an action, not descriptions of how much time it takes.

If we compare the Newer Covenant word harpazo with the Older Covenant Hebrew word laqach [H3947] we find that laqach also means: to take, seize, send for, fetch, carry away.

Here are some examples of harpazo [G726] which are in boldface:
Violent men “take the kingdom of heaven by force” (Matthew 11:12). This process has been ongoing for roughly 6000 years! Not even close to a split second or nanosecond of instant occurrence!

Robbers come to steal and plunder the goodies they have found (Matthew 12:29). This usually takes a bit of time. When the SWAT team shows up at the door to seize the criminal and carry them off by force, rarely does the SWAT team instantly remove someone – how many times have we seen on TV the hours long standoffs. Rarely do criminal activities and the arrest of those same criminal happen in a split second or nanosecond.

The evil one “snatches away the words of Yahweh if that person fails to understand their meaning” (Matthew 13:19). This process usually happens over a period of time – we call this a falling away or an apostasy. Rarely ever does this happen in a split second, nanosecond, or instant!

Yeshua knew that people wanted to take him by force so he departed to the mountains (John 6:15). Yet another example of a harpazo that did not occur in a split second or nanosecond of time.

The centurions were afraid the crowd would kill Paul so they took him by force and brought him to the barracks (Acts 23:10). The Roman barracks were a fair distance away from the public square. This removal from the public arena to the barracks did not happen in a split second or nanosecond.

Here are some examples of laqach [H3947] which are in boldface:
Elijah was taken away and took his mantle (2 Kings 2:3, 2:5, 2:9).
Enoch was taken by Yahweh (Genesis 5:24)
Neither disappeared in a split second or nanosecond.  Both, in fact, were witnessed as they were carried up to the clouds.

The harpazo, the snatching away, the catching up, the seizing, or whichever verb one uses, will not be something that human beings accomplish. When Yeshua shouts, he will be expecting us to comply or be forcibly taken, not asking if we would mind coming up once we’ve gotten showered and dressed in our finest linens!

Harpazo – Eagerly Claim For One’s Self
2 Thessalonians 2:1 – “Now we request you, brothers and sisters, with regard to the coming of our Lord Yeshua Ha’Mashiach and our gathering together to him.”

You have heard it said that when the Rapture happens Yeshua will yank us out of here by the hairs of our head. This teaching is based on a definition of the Greek word harpazo [ἁρπάζω G726] defined by several dictionaries as follows:
1) to seize, carry off by force
2) to snatch out or away

This teaching, quite frankly, makes Yeshua seem to be an abusive, bullying individual who brutally forces one to be raptured whether one wants to be or not. That seems to be very out-of-character, don’t ya think? I mean, what loving husband goes to his bride’s house, grabs her by the hair, and drags her to the altar. Only an abusive bully would do that.

I prefer the third definition: to eagerly claim someone or something for one’s self. This better describes the action of Yeshua when taking his Bride home to his father’s house, as Yeshua does not force someone to take actions against their own free will. But how much more awesome it will be if one is found waiting and willing to be caught up when he calls!

There are many scriptures which speak about people willingly gathering together. Luke 24:33, John 20:19, and Acts 2:1 are just three. Gathering together for festivals, gathering together to give thanks and praise, gathering together for reading of the good news, gathering together to be in Yeshua’s presence all sound like joyous occasions to me – not something one is forced to attend by a bully.

Yahweh/Yeshua Asks
Genesis 22:2-4 –“Yahweh said to Abraham, ‘Will you please take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac – and go to the land of Moriah and there offer him up as a burnt offering?’.”
Revelation 3:20 – “Here, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me.”
Yahweh and Yeshua both honor their commitment to giving each individual free choice – to obey or not. Abraham could have refused – good thing he did not. The church can and frequently does ignore Yeshua’s knocking, leaving him standing outside. Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” Yahweh doesn’t command one to “Take whatever you want without asking, break down the door and go in at your pleasure.” Forced compliance is not a godly method of operation.

Harpazo – Not Necessarily in a Split second or Nanosecond
Regardless of which definition one uses, it is not necessary to impose a time dependent connotation upon the word Harpazo or its definitions: taken by force, snatched, and carried off. The imposition of a split second or nanosecond event upon the rapture is puzzling and simply does not conform to the many instances of the word harpazo describing an ongoing process that is anything but instantaneous, no matter how forceful.

For example, Jude 1:23 tells us to “Rescue any who need to be saved, as you would rescue someone from a fire” which may or not be an action that occurs in an instant. Any firefighter can tell you that a rescue of this kind can take quite a bit of time.

But, what about Philip, you ask?
Acts 8:39-40 – “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Ashdod, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea.”

Seriously, you really think this is a split second or nanosecond occurrence. Do you have children? Ever taken them to the store? Humph. Let me translate the above scripture for you using a more modern, family approach: “When you were studying the nutrition label on a product, the Spirit of the Lord snatched the child away and you saw not where they went. But the child found them-self in the shoe aisle as they passed through the movie aisle and the toy aisle until they came to the candy aisle.” Now, you may not have been as joyful as the eunuch, but the child’s disappearance did not take place in a split second or nanosecond – the child was not instantly transported to the candy aisle.

I find no grounds for imposing a split second, nanosecond or instant transportation reading on the disappearance of Philip – the Spirit did not beam him away ala Star Trek technology. The spirit simply required Philip to depart immediately without saying goodbye to the eunuch and the eunuch was so filled with rejoicing that he simply went on his way. Neither he nor Philip saw each other again.

Harpazo is not the only word used in scripture to indicate a rapture.
The words used in the Newer Covenant describing a seizing, snatching, or carrying away are:
G726 ἁρπάζω harpazo – to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away, to claim for one’s self eagerly
G305 ἀναβαίνω anabaino – to ascend, to go up, to rise, mount, be borne up, spring up
G359 ἀνάλυσις analusis – a dissolving (into separate parts), a departure (as a ship from its moorings)
G867 ἄφιξις aphixis – (properly) arrival, (by implication) departure
G1841 ἔξοδος exodos – to exit, depart (from life), one’s final fate, to become deceased
G4872 συναναβαίνω sunanabaino – to ascend at the same time, come up together with to a higher place

Not An Unorthodox Teaching
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 – “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Many who use the word rapture are labeled unorthodox, blasphemers, illiterate, or heretical because the word “rapture” isn’t found in scripture. True, one will never find this word in an English translation of scripture. But does this mean that it doesn’t exist at all?

The terms “millennial reign” and “millennium” aren’t found in scripture either, but the phrase “reign for a thousand years” is found in Revelation 20:4-7! In Greek it reads: basileuō chilioi etos [βασιλεύω G936 χίλιοι G5507 ἔτος G2094]; and in Latin: regnabunt cum illo mille annis – from which we get the English term: “millennial reign”. Millennium comes from mille annis – literally 1000 years.

Neither can the phrase “second coming” be found anywhere in the Bible. In 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, and 5:23 Paul writes about the coming of the Lord Yeshua. This coming is also mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:1. It is called the second coming because Yeshua already came once before! Yeshua’s first coming is mentioned in both Acts 19:4 and 2 Peter 1:16.

Likewise, the word “trinity” isn’t found in the Bible, but we talk freely about God in three persons, the blessed trinity, based especially on Yeshua’s command in Matthew 28:19 – “Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” and also on numerous translations of the Hebrew word Élôhîym [אֱלֹהִים H430] into the English word “God” ( Elohim is a plural word in Hebrew)

None of these words or phrases (millennial reign, second coming, or trinity) gets anyone labeled unorthodox, a blasphemer, an illiterate, or a heretic, except the word rapture!

True, one will never find this word, rapture, in an English translation of scripture. The term, caught up is, however, found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 – “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught-up[G726]”. This term, caught-up, is the Greek word harpazo. Harpazo, [ἁρπάζω G726] means to be seized or plucked up by force, to catch (away, or up), pluck, pull, or to take by force. But it can also mean to eagerly claim someone or something for one’s self. This is the definition I prefer as it better describes the action of Yeshua when taking his Bride home to his father’s house, as Yeshua does not force someone to take actions against their own free will. But how much more awesome it will be if one is found waiting and willing to be caught up when he calls!

The Rapture Is The Blessed Hope
How many times have you heard that the Church/Bride of Christ will have to endure either part of or the entire tribulation period? Apparently these people are not looking for “the blessed hope”, as scripture calls it. But is the rapture really the same thing as the blessed hope? Indeed, it is!

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 – “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13 – “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”
1 John 3:2-3 – “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
1 Peter 1:3 – “Blessed be Yahweh, the Father of our Lord Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, who according to his great mercy became our father again to a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach from the dead.”
Shedding this mortal, earthly, fleshy body for a body that will be like Yeshua’s – glorious, radiant, honorable, powerful, undying, and spiritual is a blessed hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 – “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet Yeshua in the air, and so we will always be with Him.”
Titus 2:13 – “We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great Lord and Savior, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, will be revealed.”
1 Peter 1:6-7 – “In this you greatly rejoice, despite immediate trials, for there is wonderful joy ahead . . . even honor and glory at Yeshua’s appearing.”
Leaving this earthly realm to always be with Yeshua when he appears and is revealed is a blessed hope.

How many times have you heard that the Church/Bride of Christ will have to endure either part of or the entire tribulation period? Apparently these people are not looking for “the blessed hope”, as scripture calls it. But is the rapture really the same thing as the blessed hope? Indeed, it is!

Throughout the Newer Covenant, we see an image of the meeting with Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus, The Messiah) upon resurrection as a blessed, joyful, wonderful event. At the resurrection, we receive our immortal, incorruptible bodies in which we will spend eternity.

Conclusions
The word Rapture, is indeed used in scripture. But one has to do one’s homework and trace its origins. Greek to Latin to English! The English word, rapture, simply comes from the Latin translation, rapiemur, of the Koiné Greek word, harpazo. Using this word does not make one an illiterate individual. Just the opposite, for a literate person knows its origins. Neither does using the word make a person out to be a heretic or a blasphemer.

The most common usage of the word harpazo simply shows a removal by force over a period of time – short or more prolonged. None of the definitions is a time-sensitive definition, but a definition of the amount of energy or force applied to engender a specific action, not descriptions of how much time it takes. Imposing an instant, split second, or nanosecond interpretation on the word harpazo, which means: to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away, is unnecessary.

When The Rapture (rapiemur, rapturo, raptus, or harpazo) occurs, it may be that some of you will be simply caught up and some will have to be yanked out of here! So, is there another definition of harpazo that my better fit the compassionate Yeshua who asks the willing to gather? Indeed there is and that definition is: to eagerly gather together those who are loved. And it is this definition that best fits the Rapture pattern. Yeshua comes to gather us together in love, not to brutally force us to head up to the clouds.

The snatching away, the catching up, the seizing, or the harpazo, whichever term one uses, will not be something that human beings accomplish. When Yeshua shouts, he will be commanding our immediate presence, not asking if we would mind coming up once we’ve gotten showered and dressed in our finest linens! But how much more awesome it will be if one is found waiting and willing to be caught up, or raptured, when he calls. Which person will you be? It is my prayer that you will accept Yeshua as your Lord and savior, and be one who goes willingly when He calls out: “Come up here.”

Are you looking forward to The Resurrection / Rapture with joy, with a living hope, and overwhelming gladness? Are you looking forward to the blessed hope? Or are you simply expecting to be taken up with nary a whimper, leaving your clothes behind in a crumpled heap? Not much fun in that, is there!