Is ‘Rapture’ a Biblical Term?

A reader wrote:
This is my complaint against using the word rapture to discribe what is clearly taught in 1 Thes. 4.

Forget everything else and answer me this: what comes into your mind when you hear the English word “rapture” (as it is currently used)? I don’t know about you — you tell me — but I always interpreted that word like the typical dictionary definition given below …

n 1: a state of being carried away by overwhelming emotion;
“listening to sweet music in a perfect rapture”- Charles
Dickens [syn: ecstasy, transport, exaltation, raptus]
2: a state of elated bliss [syn: ecstasy]

James replied:
I don’t use the term in my writing except to talk to others that ask about it, because people like you resent the term. It is a Bible term, just not the English one. My thinking is that it is a name that is applied to a concept in the Bible that is not specifically in our English version, just like the Trinity is applied to a Bible concept, but the word is not in our English versions. I make none of these associations you mention myself, because the Rapture is always mentioned in the context of the Second Coming and is therefore not confusing.

Your comments make it sound like the proponents of the Rapture purposely designed a doctrine to deceive people. I don’t think that’s the case. It was designed to harmonze I Thess 4:14ff with the millennial theory that erroneously places the Millennium at Christ’s second coming. Maybe the motivation was to give some people hope that they would not have to experience the tribulation (another word to describe the series of plagues at the end of the earth) or would not have to die since they would be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye.

The idea of being “caught up” (the KJV rendering of “raptura”) is a Bible term that describes the concept of the righteous being raised and caught up from among the people of the world and lifted into the air to be with Christ. It will be an exciting time for Christians because they will rise from the dead and both they and Jesus will begin their eternal reigns. I know I am looking forward to rising from the dead, and the Bible describes Jesus coming as a time of joy for the righteous.

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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