I have always had a serious problem with not only the “doctrine or belief” in a rapture (especially a pre or mid), but with the use of the Latin word itself. Especially when it is used by Christians in a sense of being ‘caught up’ to God before or at His Second Coming. I see it as most of the early Apostolic Church does…a bodily Resurrection of those who are alive at Jesus’ Second Coming. The modern day Church uses the word ‘rapture’ almost to the point that they are beating a dead horse. Let’s see why this term “rapture” is not our blessed hope.
Just for a second, let’s forget about escaping tribulation or your interpretation of what you think the timing of it is. The Latin word ‘rapture’ isn’t actually in the English Bible. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). It was then translated into Latin for the Catholic Church. Now here is were the problem lies. Strong’s Concordance identifies ‘caught up’ from the Greek word ‘harpozo’ (ἁρπάζω). The original Greek doesn’t actually use ‘harpazo’ (ἁρπάζω), but instead Paul uses the word ‘harpagesometha’ (αρπαγησομεθα). Jerome translated ‘harpagesometha’ (Second person future passive indicative) into the word ‘rapiemur’ (first-person plural future passive indicative) of rapiō, “we shall be snatched, we shall be grabbed, we shall be carried off”. It went from 2nd person to a 1st person plural? But, but, but…isn’t rapture in Latin ‘rapturo’? No it isn’t. Most people will then say that all these words (in Latin) mean the same and it just refers to different tenses and phrasing of the words. Wrong again. Cell doesn’t mean sale doesn’t mean sail doesn’t mean sell now does it? Confused yet? Yeah, they want to make it seem like its not confusing and they are all the same words.
After Jeromes translation, then the 1800’s came around and brought this “rapture” back in full circle. This is the bad fruit that we are dealing with now. I personally believe that around the 1800’s something sinister started happening., not only with Christians but with those who were related to esoteric or occult beliefs. We have the likes of John Darby, Wescott and Hort and CI Schofield bringing in abdominal doctrines and Bible translations. My personal belief is that some in the ‘Church’ around that time were influenced by other “worldly” spirits. And there is substantial proof for these claims.
According to Google Books Ngram Viewer you can see the percentage of books that used certain words. Notice around 1800, the word ‘rapture’ started being used more and more for some unknown reason. Why would all of these men start using this word, in particular, when it had never (and I mean ever) been used prior to 1500? Look at the chart below and you can see exactly what I’m talking about.
So let’s look into what other linguists are saying about this Latin word translated to rapture. Here are a few interesting excerpts on the use of the word ‘rapture’ and where it comes from.
“rapture and raptor are not only phonologically similar, they’re also etymologically related: both deriving from Latin rapt-, the past participial stem of rapere “to seize, to snatch, to carry off”. Also from Latin rapere are subreptitious “snatching under”, rapacious “(greedily) snatching (with the intent to eat)”, and rape (originally “carrying off”, then “carrying off, esp. with the intent of sexually despoiling”, later coming to refer specifically to “forced sexual intercourse”). Raptor in classical Latin meant “robber, thief”, which is its meaning also in early English, later on in English it can also mean “rapist”. From the 18th century, it was applied to “birds of prey”, whence its later extension to refer to a particular “dromaeosaurid dinosaur”, the Velociraptor “swift seizer”. Rapture, on the other hand, is not found in classical Latin, though it does appear in mediaeval Latin. The earliest citation the OED provides is from an 8th-century British text, in the form raptura, referring to “poaching”. Its use in English, however, originally is confined to the sense (attested from the 16th century) of “extreme joy, intense delight”. Though it was also used in the 17th and 18th centuries to refer to the “carrying off” or “rape” of women. And not until the 18th century does rapture acquire its Millenarial sense (associated with ideas originally advanced by the Puritans Increase and Cotton Mather in Massachusetts). The word rapture in this Millenarial philosophy apparently picks up on the Latin word rapiemur (from rapere, see above) used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to refer to the faithful being “carried up” into the air (to meet Christ) in the Latin Vulgate.” (http://staefcraeft.blogspot.com/2011/05/rapture-now-with-more-harpies.html)
“The earliest English descendent of Saint Jerome’s rapere is rape — but already in the 14th century it had a distinctly negative connotation, which the OED glosses as “The act of taking something by force; esp. the seizure of property by violent means; robbery, plundering”; and by the 15th century it also and mainly meant “the act or crime, committed by a man, of forcing a woman to have sexual intercourse with him against her will”. So “the Rape of the Saints” was never a plausible candidate.” (http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3151)
We can see that the word rapture is related to words like raptor, rapacious and rape. All having negative meanings that don’t really fit well for Jesus coming back for those who are alive for the resurrection. But some still want to use this term when referring to this ‘blessed hope’. After seeing what connotations it has and where this word comes from, its not hard to understand why it has been used the way it has in the last 200 years. For all these years, the Roman Catholic church has been using men like Lacunza, Irving, Darby and Schofield to deceive and can I say, rape the Church of its solid foundations. They have replaced a ‘rap(e)ture’ with The Resurrection. For 200 years they have ‘raped’ the hearts and minds of Christians into believing a lie. Into believing that they would escape the things that were to come. Even if this ‘rapture’ (pre or mid) were true, could you honestly say that the modern church in America is more pious and deserving than Christians in the past who have suffered persecution, to be taken away by force to escape the Great Tribulation? I think not.
So after all of this now what? The Resurrection is our blessed hope, not some mystical ‘rapture’ that quite honestly doesn’t sound very appealing to me after reading all of this. Jesus comes to those as a thief because they are in darkness. We aren’t children of the night…so He wont come as a thief to us. 1st Thessalonians 4, when read in context talks about the Resurrection, just like 1st Corinthians 15. They are in fact one coin with two sides. The question that the Thessalonians had was this, “will those who are dead in Christ receive the same benefits as those who are alive at His Second Coming/Resurrection”? There was no question to about a secret rapture…just the Resurrection. This ‘harpagesometha’ will need to be a quick catching away when Jesus returns because all flesh will be in jeopardy. He will literally snatch us from the fire so to speak.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Knowing what you know now about the etymology of this translation for the word rapture, should a Christian even use it when talking about escaping 7 years before (or three and a half in some circles) the return of Jesus or even at His second coming? Is this how you want to see your blessed hope? Or do you wait for the bodily resurrection of the saints and the return of Jesus, our true blessed hope?
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” – 1st Thessalonians 5:2-6