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14.1. Is there a Rapture

A frequently-heard statement by Christians is, “There’s no rapture mentioned in the Bible!” As we shall see, this is an inaccurate statement on two counts:
  1. The term “rapture” is a biblical term.
  2. The teaching of the Rapture is found in Scripture even if the term is absent.
In the first case, we need to recognize that “the Bible” has changed form over time. Originally, the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek. But for most of the history of the Church, the Bible used by the majority of people was not in these original languages. Instead, people used a translation in their native language, just as we use an English translation today. And for the greater part of the history of the Church, the translation used by most in the West was the Latin Vulgate. This was “the Bible” for over a thousand years—and dominated Bible study and doctrine for a period far longer than any other translation.1 It reigned supreme in the West until the time of the Reformation when men began to return to study the original language texts and translate them into the vulgar tongues (e.g., German, English). The term rapture means “to seize” and “to carry off,” and is taken from the phrase “caught up” in 1Th. 1Th. 4:17 in the Latin Vulgate which reads:

Deinde nos, qui vivimus, qui relinquimur, simul rapiemur cum illis in nubibus obviam Christo in aera, et sic sempe cum Domino erimus. [Then we, who are alive, who remain, together will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, and so always with the Lord we will be.] [emphasis added]

So we see that the term “rapture” is in the Bible—it just depends which Bible you are talking about! If you mean one of the recent translations which have only been on the scene for decades, or even the KJV which is hundreds of years old, then you won’t find the term. But if you are talking about the Grand Daddy of all Bibles which ruled for a millennium (the Vulgate), then the term is indeed there! Even if we could not find the actual term “rapture” in a Bible, it would not indicate that the doctrine of the Rapture is not taught within Scripture. After all, we don’t find the terms Trinity, omnipresence, or omniscience in Scripture, but these doctrines are clearly taught by Scripture. So all that is necessary to establish the truth of a teaching is whether the concept is found in Scripture. Here too, the Rapture passes the test.

Notes

1 Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1986), 26.