Rapture - Art by Pat Marvenko Smith

Meaning of Rapture: 10 Things Every Christian Should Know


The second coming of Christ happens in two phases, according to biblical prophecy. First, Jesus comes in the clouds, and believers meet the Lord in the air, the rapture. It includes both living and dead. And it is imminent; it happens without warning, and thus, the term rapture ready was born.

Second, Jesus comes to stand on the Mount of Olives to complete God’s plan on earth. The Bible tells us this plan was cut off, but not for himself. God’s plan is postponed but not cancelled.


“Harpazo” is a Greek word that means to be caught up or snatched away and to go up into the air. It refers to the rapture, when Jesus returns, and God’s people will be taken out of this world. 

The Latin translation is “rapio,” which comes from the past participle “rapt.” It is still used in the Latin Vulgate, which is used in the Catholic Church today. It refers to the same event: the rapture when the Lord will descend to rapture believers in the Savior Jesus Christ to bring them to be with Him forever.

The famous English term rapture comes from the Latin verb “rapio.” 

RAPTURE - Greek, Latin, English Translations
RAPTURE - Greek, Latin, English Translations


1 Thessalonians 4:17

Paul’s words in his letter to the Thessalonians are to use the rapture message to comfort one another. The rapture’s timing matters because there is no comfort in going through a seven-year tribulation. 

1 Thessalonians 4:17: “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 

1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Paul wrote about the rapture in his letter to the Corinthians – a trumpet call and the bodily resurrection of those who had fallen asleep, the dead in Christ. Only God knows the time of Christ’s return, but it is imminent, and the rapture will happen in the twinkling of an eye in a split second.

1 Corinthians 15 “51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Titus 2:13

In Titus, we read about our blessed hope of Christian believers waiting for the moment Jesus appears and the rapture occurs. It is a glorious event!

Titus 2:13: “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”

Revelation 3:10

The rapture is the great escape from the great tribulation. 

Revelation 3:10 “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that will come on the whole world.”

#2 WHEN?


The disciples asked Jesus about His second coming and Jesus told them about the “end of the age.” 

Matthew 24:3-4 “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered…. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

The present age is the Church Age, from Pentecost to the rapture. It deals with Jews and Gentiles who respond to the gospel’s invitation of grace. It is also known as the age of grace. In prophetic history, it falls between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel. See more…

Jesus compares the end of the Church age with the birth pains of a woman before her child is born, a painful time. Though we do not know the day or the hour of birth, we can anticipate the birth around nine months. Similarly, we can understand and grasp the end of the age, being rapture-ready but not knowing when it will happen.

#3 WHEN?


Christian denominations agree that Jesus Christ will come again to rapture believers in Him at His second coming to have eternal life. They disagree about the timing of the rapture: pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation.

The tribulation period lasted seven years, the 70th week of Daniel. It ushers in Jesus Christ’s literal thousand-year reign on earth. Some believe the Church will endure the seven-year period of difficulty, including Armageddon. 

Others believe that God brings His own out before; this is down as the pre-tribulation rapture.

Dr Charles Ryrie gives a good illustration:

“As a teacher, I give exams. Suppose I announce an exam on such and such a day. Then, I promise the students who average an A throughout the semester that I will keep them from the exam. 

I could keep my promise in two ways. Either they attended, and I gave them a sheet containing all the answers. They would live through the exam but not suffer the trial. It explains post-tribulation protection while enduring.

Otherwise, they do not need to attend the exam and are exempt from being present during the trial. It explains pre-tribulation


The Old Testament prophecies are filled with the words “the day of the Lord” or “that day.” It always refers to a day of reckoning against the ungodly.

God is warning us today, calling everyone to turn to Jesus Christ, the only door to an exit: the rapture. Once justified by the blood of Christ, you will be saved from God’s wrath.

Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!

God always warns before He intervenes in history to accomplish His will and purpose for humanity and the world. He had done this before:

When NOAH entered the ark, God sent the flood for the ungodly. 

When LOT was taken out of Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent brimstone for the ungodly. 

When RAHAB had a red marker for her house, the walls came tumbling in, and her house was saved.


Chuck Missler famously said: “To believe in anything else than a pre-tribulation is to believe that Jesus will beat up His bride and then marry her.”

According to ancient tradition, every man who got married in Galilea had his bride raptured at the right time. See more Ancient Jewish Weddings. It makes total sense that Jesus will use this example for His bride, the Church, since He, too, was a Jew from Galilea.

The rapture will bring the Church and Jesus Christ together for the glorious wedding banquet in Heaven, the wedding of the Lamb.

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.

The rapture is the one event that will bring God’s own behind Heaven’s doors to safety before He punishes the wicked. 

Isaiah 26:20-21 “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins.”

Rapture Timeline
Rapture Timeline


The law of double jeopardy implies judging and punishing the same crime twice would be a sin. That is to say, once in the body of my substitute, Jesus Christ, and then again in my body. It cannot be.

Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible tells us that Jesus died for His bride. Her sins had been dealt with. By His blood, the Church can escape God’s wrath through the rapture. Judgement is for those who willfully refuse God’s offer of a free pardon.

The Church comprises individuals who accepted the gospel invitation and received Jesus as their personal Savior. Their sins had been dealt with, and they were punished in Christ on the cross. There is a blood covenant in place. See more  The rapture applies.


God is not done with unbelieving Israel as a nation. He will return to complete His mission on earth. 


At His first coming, Jesus left without ever sitting on the throne of David, as promised in bible prophecy. 

Psalm 89:30: “If his sons forsake My law

And do not walk in My judgments,

31If they break My statutes

And do not keep My commandments,

32Then I will punish their transgression with the rod,

And their iniquity with stripes.

33Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him,

Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.

34My covenant I will not break,

Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.


God did not cancel the works of His hands; He postponed it.

Acts 1:6 “Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? 7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”


Israel rejected their Messiah 2000 years ago, but the Bible says that one day they will. The first time is by invitation; the second time, trouble will bring them to seek their Savior.

Zechariah 12:10 “They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”

Believers in Christ have no place in the calamity that will bring Israel to repent. In fact, the Church is in the way, but the rapture will take care of it.


The Church is mentioned repeatedly in Revelation 2 and 3, and never again until Revelation 19. Most scholars believe that the rapture of the Church occurs in Revelation 4. See more on Revelation 4.

It is noteworthy that after Revelation 4, the rapture, Scripture returns to use Old Testament titles and descriptions like “See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.” See Revelation 5.


Paul speaks of the rapture as a mystery, concealed in the Old Testament and revealed at the right time, see 1 Corinthians 15. It is not the same thing as a secret.

People refer to a secret rapture because no one knows the timing of Jesus’s coming to rapture the Church. Paul describes it “as a thief in the night,” And the gospel writers compare it with 10 virgins who fell asleep while waiting.

In contrast, Jesus’s coming to set foot on earth is precisely after the seven-year tribulation and at Armageddon. 


The Bible tells us that God had raptured people before Enoch, Elijah, Philip, and Jesus Christ at His ascension. The rapture is not a new act of God.


Genesis 5:24: “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”

Hebrew 11:5: “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”


2 Kings 2:11: “As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”


Acts 1:9: “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”


Acts 8:39: “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”


If you do happen to wonder, yes, I, too, believe in the rapture of the Church. The Bible tells us so, and there is some interesting evidence about the beliefs of early Christians on this matter. See more The Rapture Controversy, New Insights.



Books about the “harpazo” or rapture:

The Rapture: Christianity’s Most Preposterous Belief by Chuck Missler

The Rapture: Don’t be Deceived by Billy Crone

Can we still believe in the Rapture by Mark Hitchcock and Ed Hindson


More sources for “harpazo” or rapture: – online bible and commentaries – online bible and commentaries