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The Word Translated Rapture

May 28, 2015

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.”

How many times have you heard that the word “rapture” isn’t found in scripture?   How many times have you heard that those who use the word rapture must be labeled unorthodox, blasphemers, illiterate, or heretical?  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. T his 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.”

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!

The Origin Of The Word Translated “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 harpazō.   Harpazō, [ἁρπάζω G726] means to be seized or plucked up by force, to catch (away, or up), pluck, pull, or to take by force. This term has the image of someone who has been grabbed by the hair and yanked out of trouble.  One could easily use harpazō to describe the actions of a parent yanking a child out of the path of an approaching vehicle, yanking the child out of harms way.  Whether or not the child is aware of the approaching danger is irrelevant – it is the parent that removes the child from the situation in which the child finds themselves.

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 harpazō.  Other Latin translations use rapturo or raptus,  both forms of the verb rapiemur.  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.

Rapiemur and rapturo are two forms of the same verb, as are: rapio, rapere, rapui, raptus.  All forms of the verb mean: to catch, snatch, or seize.  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).  The English word, rapture, simply comes from the Latin translation, rapiemur, of the Koiné Greek word, harpazō, 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.

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 harpazō, a rapiemur, or a rapture is definitely propounded by the holy scriptures.  A simple study of the origins of this word proves otherwise.

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.

Throughout the Newer Covenant scriptures, we see an image of the meeting with Yeshua Ha’Mashiach upon the resurrection/rapture as a blessed, joyful, wonderful event.  At the resurrection, we receive our immortal, incorruptible bodies in which we will spend eternity.  Now that is a blessed hope.

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, harpazō.  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 Rapture for many will be like that of a child being yanked out of danger.  When The Rapture (rapiemur, rapturo, raptus, or harpazō) occurs, it may be that some of you will be simply caught up and some will have to be yanked out of here!  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.”

The snatching away, the catching up, the seizing, or the harpazō, 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.

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!

Final Thought
Prophecy continues to unfold as foretold by the Hebrew Prophets.  Today we are one day closer to the return of Yeshua than we were yesterday and tomorrow we will be even one day closer.  For almost two thousand years the Jews would proclaim “Next year in Jerusalem!”  I now proclaim “Next Yom Teruah in the clouds!”  Time is short – Yeshua Ha’Mashiach is coming soon – get busy reaching the lost.

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