Is the word "rapture" in the Bible?


Clarify Share Report Asked September 16 2013 Mini Della Wells

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No, the word rapture is not in the Bible (in english, latin, or greek). In English translations, what some people refer to as the rapture is one specific use of the term "caught up/Caught away" in I Thess 4:17. 

The english word 'rapture' derives from the first person plural passive of the latin "rapio/rapere" (drag off, snatch, seize, carry off) which is "Rapiemur" in the Latin Vulgate translation. [The english word 'rape' also derives from rapio/rapere, so you can see how even rapiemur is not equivalent to 'rapture']. 

This latin word, which was used in the Latin Vulgate translation in I Thess 4:17, is itself translated from the greek "arpagēsometha", the second future passive indicative of "harpazo", which means to catch/sieze/carry away/snatch/obtain by robbery. A good way to picture this word is to imagine a king forceably taking his spoils of war.

As such, "rapture" is an English word with a couple of degrees of separation from the original Greek, and it is not used in the Bible itself. 

Greek 'harpazo', Latin 'rapere', English 'to seize by force/snatch up': This "seizing" does not imply a specific set of locations, nor does the word define who is doing the seizing, why, or to whom. The context and surrounding words/details must be relied on for that, so it varies by verse. (II Cor 12:12, Matt 12:29, Acts 8:39, Rev 12:5, John 10:28, Acts 23:10). Harpazo does, however, refer to an open and overt display of force, and focuses on the sudden, forceful, and decisive action of the one doing the seizing.


The English word "rapture" generally refers not to the translation of harpazo, but rather to specific theories regarding that set of locations, people, or purpose referred to in I Thess 4:17. One modern, popular theory is that Christ in I Thess 4:17 is secretly returning for his church to take them away before the tribulation begins.

However, these are just theories/interpretations of men - and their merit must be determined from other scriptures.

The use of the word harpazo itself only shows that the events occurring in I Thess 4:16-17 (Christ coming on the clouds, us meeting Him) will be sudden, public, and via force and might (in this instance, by the might of Christ).

August 25 2014 6 responses Vote Up Share Report

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