The "Rapture"
The "Snatching Away"

by James Coram

Question: "Since the word 'rapture' does not appear in the Bible, why do you use it?"

Answer: It is true that the word "rapture" is not a scriptural expression, but only in the same sense that "millennium" is not a scriptural expression. That is, both terms are close equivalents of scriptural phrases. Just as "millennium" and "the thousand years"(Rev.20:5,6) are synonymous, "rapture" and "snatch away" (cf1Thess.4:17) are synonymous.

Actually, it is not the custom of the Concordant Publishing Concern to use this word("rapture") in its teaching ministry; the only exception would be in speaking informally, or if we should make reference to the teachings of others, ones who use this term quite freely.

The word "rapture" itself, however, is a perfectly good English word. Indeed, one of its definitions is in reference to the Pauline prophecy of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 in which the apostle declares that, in that day, the believers will be "snatched away" (or "raptured") to meet the Lord in the air. This is because the English "rapture" is a close derivative of the Latin word for "snatch [away]" (viz., rapere) which was used in the Latin Vulgate translation of the New Testament.

The question at issue does not at all concern this word itself (much less the popular prejudice of many, ones on both sides of the actual issue), but only whether this "snatching away" (or "rapture") of which Paul speaks is before or after the time of Israel's great affliction ("tribulation," AV). Fundamentally, the question is whether the presence of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a distinct event, an eventwhich is not a phase of or otherwise connected with the presence of Christ as recorded in Matthew 24, at the time of His return to the earth.

Concerning this question of the "snatching away"(or "rapture") , some have pointed out that, prior to the early nineteenth century, "church history" does not record the teaching of the pre-tribulational position. While this may well be so, such a consideration cannot be decisive for those who base their faith not upon church history but upon the Scriptures themselves. Much truth was lost very early, and at any given time, simply may not as yet have been recovered. Indeed, this could have easily been so insofar as those groups of believers which are recognized in extant historical works are concerned.

Over the centuries, the great majority have denied the thousand-year , terrestrial reign of Christ itself. So it is not so surprising that church history would have no record of those who affirmed a pre-tribulational resurrection preceding it.

In light of these facts, it becomes evident that those who, in their quest to repudiate the pre-tribulational, presence-of-Christ teaching, deride the word "rapture" or make appeals to church history, only expose their own ignorance and bias.

If we are able to do so, let us by all means decide the question, Shall we go through the great affliction? But in any case, may we freely be anticipating that happy and glorious day - let its relationship to other events be what it will - when we will be "snatched away" (or "raptured" ) together, to meet the Lord in the air, and thus always to be with Him (1 Thess.4:17). Accordingly, then, we are waiting for God's Son out of the heavens, Whom He rouses from among the dead, Jesus, our Rescuer out of the coming indignation (1 Thess,1:10).

James R. Coram
Concordant Publishing Concern
15570 Knochaven Rd., Santa Clarita, CA 91350