With all the talk of blood moons and the putative “probability” of the rapture being today (September 28, 2015), I decided to reprise this…
All Bible-believing Christians are expecting the rapture; we all just define that event differently. My earlier post, Secret Disservice: Problems with the term ‘Secret Rapture,’ generated some questions I’d like to address.
1) What is the rapture?
The word ‘rapture’ comes from the Latin rapturo, meaning, “I seize, I snatch, or I carry away” which is the Vulgate’s translation of the Greek word harpadzo, meaning “I catch up, I carry away.” As a half-Greek etymology geek I can’t resist mentioning that English sailors sourced their word “harpoon” from the Greek for the implement used to snatch a large fish out the water.
“Harpadzo” or “Rapturo” is rendered “caught up” in 1 Thess 4:16-17 where Paul says,
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord, (ESV).”
Also, 1 Cor 15:51-53 refers to the fact that believers will not all die, but will all be changed in the twinkling of an eye.
This is why I could provocatively claim that all Bible believing Christians are expecting a rapture. We all agree that at some point Christians will be snatched up into the clouds to meet Jesus. The vexing question is: “When?!”
Some say, “Any moment now, before God judges the earth for seven years, which precedes the final return of Christ to usher in his 1000 year earthly reign.” (
The correct This writer’s view).
Others aver all of the above, except for the “any moment” part. They’d put their money on a rapturing of the church after the seven years of tribulation. Time would fail to mention the variations of this view, like the “midway through” crew and the “before the worst” bevy, and other combos I may be rudely neglecting.
Still others (and to be fair, most others) assume the tribulation is currently occurring and will be ended by a single event which encompasses rapture, judgment, return, and consummation of all things resulting in the eternal state.
2) Why pick on the ‘secret rapture’?
The reason I took issue with the antiquated use of the term ‘secret rapture’ to describe these events is because I keep bumping into those who misunderstand the pre-trib rapture view, and ridicule the notion that rapture will be covert.
Note please, that I don’t have a problem with what premills believe about the so-called secret rapture, just that some call it ‘secret.’ That designation leaves room for people to misunderstand what we mean.
One admittedly hilarious parody of our view that is worth the four minute video is: “Messing With Dispensationalists.”
‘Secret’ should refer only to the fact that its timing is unknown. We cannot predict when rapture will occur. But in discussions with opponents of the view, ‘secret rapture’ is caricatured as positing that no one except believers will be aware of the shout, the trumpet, and the appearing of Christ. I dealt with this last week.
3) Why ought Christians to have a view on the rapture?
Because 1 Thess 4:18 (the verse after the description of the rapture) tells us to “encourage one another with these words.” Paul thought he was speaking plainly enough that the description he just supplied would be encouraging to the believers who were longing to be with Jesus. It seems that the encouragement is to expect a sudden catching away to be with our Lord. If one’s view relegates this truth to an unimportant part of theology, you miss out on one of the great blessings the Holy Spirit gives included in the “all things pertaining to life and godliness” package.
These issues are not salvation issues, and great men have differed for centuries. We all agree (well, most of us who can read) that no one can know the day or hour of the event, so in that sense it is a ‘secret.’
Let’s keep the healthy perspective that whoever is mistaken in their view can still have the gospel perfectly clear, and they will have their mind changed in a twinkling of an eye, it’s just a matter of the timing.