Rapture - The blessed hope: Part 01

April 13, 2012 | Pr. Finny Samuel |

What is Rapture?

... We wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ ...

Titus 2:13

Every person in Christ passionately looks forward to a day of meeting Jesus Christ in person. The joy arising from this deep desire and expectation is the driving force of a Christian, to endure the sufferings and meaninglessness in this world. If the first coming of the Christ was to save the sinners, the second coming will be to reward the obedient and judge the disobedient. Since none of the promises and the prophecies of the Holy Bible has gone without fulfilling, this promise is also sure to happen in God's time. Right from the first century, saints have been waiting and preparing themselves for this. Though most Christians agree about the second coming of Christ, considerable differences of opinion exist as to when and how this will happen.

Though the doctrine of the Second coming of Jesus Christ is as old as Christianity itself, unfortunately, it has been under attack in recent years leading many to question its truth. These attacks range from the personal assaults on those who stand for the Word of God to the injection of confusion in believers by the false teachings based on gross distortions of the facts. This article is an earnest attempt to analyze the biblical teachings and the false theories related to this subject.

The second coming of Jesus is the most mentioned doctrine in the Bible. Scholars have calculated that there are around 2100 references [1800 times in the Old Testament and 321 times in the New Testament] about this subject in the Holy Bible. Based on the analysis of all these verses, we can understand that the second coming of Jesus Christ is a multiphase event which involves a phase called Rapture of the Church when saints are translated to receive glorified bodies and taken with Him to heaven [1 Thessalonians 4] and another phase called Glorious Appearance which happens after a 7 year tribulation period in the earth when Jesus comes back with His saints to set his feet in Mount Olive. [The different theories related to the sequence of the events in Jesus Christ's second coming are analyzed in another part of this study] - Note that this article presupposes a premillennial and pre-tribulational rapture of the Church.

Etymology of Rapture

The word Rapture is not found in most of the common English translations of the Holy Bible. However, it is used for communicating the Biblical concept of the translation of the Church at Christ''s second coming. The  English word "Rapture" is derived from Middle French rapture, via the Medieval Latin raptura ("seizure, kidnapping"), which derives from the Latin raptus ("a carrying off"). In the Latin Vulgate Bible, this is the word used to translate the Koine Greek word harpadzō, in the Greek New Testament manuscripts of 1 Thessalonians 4:17.  The sense of "spiritual ecstasy" to this word was first recorded in the 1620s. In many modern English translations of the Bible, harpazo is translated "caught up" or "taken away." Rapture of the church is one of the major considerations of New Testament eschatology. [Eschatology: The branch of theological science concerned with ‘the four last things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell’]. It refers to the instantaneous metamorphosis of our finite body to an eternal physical body like that of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the physical transfer of the believers of the Church Age from earth to heaven and is based on the Scriptural passages John 14:3, 1 Corinthians 15:51,52, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and 1 John 3:2. Hebrew vocabulary does not provide a concrete reference to this doctrine since this was a comparatively new subject among the first-century Christians. On the other hand, the Greek language, which was the base language of all the original writings of New Testament Books, uses multiple words as synonyms to describe this event. The usage of major words in this context are discussed below [Thanks to hbcpinellas.org]:

Root WordWord MeaningReferencesInsight from meaning
Apantēsis (n)Meeting/encounter
Personal rendezvous
1 Thessalonians 4:17The Church will meet with the Lord Himself face to face, in an intimate and individual manner
Apokalupsis (n)Revelation
Uncovering / disclosure
1 Corinthians 1:7
1 Peter 1:7,13
For the first time in history, Jesus Christ will be publicly revealed to the Church.
Harpadzō (v)Catch up
Seize by force
Snatch out or away
1 Thessalonians 4:17Emphasizes the power involved and focuses on the aspect of the Deity of the Son that is the behind resurrection. We are dependent upon God for this event to occur, and no believer in the Church Age has a choice of exclusion
Apolutrōsis (n)RedemptionRomans 8:23
Ephesians 1:14, 4:30
A release that is secured by the payment of a ransom – the sacrifice of Christ for sins also secured the ultimate freedom for the body.
Elpis (n)Hope
Confident expectation
Titus 2:13
1 Peter 1:3;
1 John 3:2,3
Expresses our anticipation of the event as well as our confidence that it will occur.
Epiphaneia (n)Appearing
Sudden manifestation
1 Timothy 6:14;
2 Timothy 4:8;
Titus 2:13
Emphasizes both the suddenness of the appearance and the overt evidence that He is Deity.
Hēmera (n)Day
A unit of time
Matthew 24:50
1 Corinthians 1:8,
1 Corinthians 3:13
1 Corinthians 5:5
2 Corinthians 1:14
Ephesians 4:30
2 Timothy 4:8
Indicates that the Rapture will occur on a literal day, at a particular point in time.
Parousia (n)Coming
A personal presence,
Arrival or adven
1 Corinthians 15:23
1 Thessalonians 2:19
1 Thessalonians 4:15
1 Thessalonians 5:23
James 5:7,8
1 Peter 3:4
1 John 2:28
Stresses that Jesus will return bodily to do all that He has promised and that believers will individually encounter Him face-to-face.
Sotēria (n)SalvationRomans 13:1
1 Thessalonians 5:9
Hebrews 9:28
1 Peter 1:5
A deliverance that provides or procures safety from harm or loss. Emphasizes that this event delivers the Church from the events of the Wrath.

To be continued...


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