The Rapture

We believe that the Bible teaches the rapture will happen before the tribulation. The word rapture is a word we use for the Greek Word harpazo which is translated as caught up in 1 Thess 4:17, here is the verse:

After 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. NIV

This word means to snatch away and can mean to snatch away right before something is about to happen but this is not always its meaning. Picture a little child walking out in the street in front of a bus. To snatch that child away from the bus would be a picture of a rapture. Sometimes this word is simply used to denote a snatching. This Greek word, harpazo appears throughout the New Testament, here are some examples of its uses:

Matt 13:19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. NIV

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. NIV

Acts 8:39 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 NASB

2 Cor 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know-God knows. NIV (cf. vs 4)

Jude 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. NIV

This word is used in First Thessalonians to teach that before the wrath of God on the earth, Jesus will appear in the clouds and with a trump of God, will harpazo us out of this world first. Paul taught us in 1 Cor. 15:52 that this will happen in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. If we continue to read into First Thessalonians chapter five, it explains to us that we (the body of Christ) are not of the night (darkness) but of the light. Note what is said:

1 Thess 5:1-5 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. NIV

The “peace and safety…destruction” will be during the actual tribulation period (see Matt. 24; Rev. 6; 2Thess. 2). Because we are not of the darkness but of the light we will not go through that period. Paul goes on to say in this context:

1 Thess 5:8 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV

A good understanding of the book of Revelation will also help shed light on this question. It tells us that it was given to tell us of things seen, what is now and what will take place later (Rev. 1:19). An outline could be given that would show that chapter 1 is the things seen, 2-3 are the things present and 2-22 are things yet future. As we read of the seven Churches, they represent the age in which we live in now, that being the Church age. But after chapter four begins, we will no longer read of the Church on earth. But we will read of the church in heaven with Christ. The beginning of chapter four gives us a picture of the rapture: Rev 4:1-2 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. NIV After the last letter to the Churches in Revelation chapter three, the tribulation begins on earth after the body of Christ has departed. This will be a time never to have been experienced on earth before. The great wrath of God poured out upon this earth can be escaped only by believing on Him now as our savior.

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