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The Rapture: Origins & Early Beliefs

The word 'Rapture'

You may have heard the term, “The Rapture” from a relative or friend or those within the Charasmatic or Pentecostal movements. Although the word itself doesn’t appear in Scripture, the idea that Messiah will come back to rescue the “elect” from the coming period known as the 'Great Tribulation' is only about 185 years old. 

It's a very new doctrine and is taken largely from a faulty interpretation of Scripture.

The word “Rapture” is taken from the Latin Vulgate translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16‐17, which says:

"For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of

command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the

trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are

alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds

to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord."

1 Thessalonians  4:16‐17

The Koine Greek of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 uses the verb form ἁρπαγησόμεθα (harpagisometha) and is rendered as harpazō (ἁρπάζω). The Latin Vulgate translates the Greek as rapiemur from the Latin verb rapio

It’s interesting to note that those who usually reject the Latin Vulgate as a “perverted” translation, will randomly adopt some of its terminologies, such as “Rapio” which is where we get the word rapture from.

There are many denominations within Christianity that do not hold to a Rapture Theology, and many within the Messianic or Nazarene Israelite communities do not accept this theology based on its lack of scriptural support.

The Origins of the Rapture Doctrine

Rapture theology finds its origin in the 1830’s, when an English Protestant minister named John Nelson Darby began teaching this new idea to his followers. Although he studied Law at Westminster School and Trinity College ‐ Darby chose to enter the diaconate of the Church of Ireland instead of practicing law. He was later ordained as a priest in that church.

Over the next several years, his theology developed and changed to the point where he rejected the very idea of a clergy claiming that it limited the Holy Spirit from speaking through any and all members of the Church. He eventually broke away from the Church of Ireland, found some like‐minded believers and formed The Plymouth Brethren ‐ a conservative, low church, nonconformist, evangelical Christian movement. It was around this time that he began to formulate and preach a new doctrine: “The Rapture”.

There was no Scriptural basis for Darby’s “Rapture” Theology. Neither was there a basis for it in Tradition since it had never been a teaching of the historic Christian Church. Since then, Darby’s novel invention has been picked up by many newer Protestant groups, that is, groups which have sprouted up over the last 100 years or so. It has also become the topic of many books and films, such as the “Left Behind” series.

The Bible is clear that the Second Coming of Yahusha/Jesus will be preceded by a period of persecution (Matthew 24:20‐31; Mark 13:19‐27; 2 Thessalonians 2:1‐4) commonly referred to as the “Tribulation”. However, there is no mention of Yahusha/Jesus coming a second time to rescue his believers only to return a third time. 

When we read 1 Thessalonians 4:17 in context with the other Scripture verses that mention the Tribulation and the Second Coming, it is clear that is speaking about what is going to happen when the Lord returns at the end of this current age not before.

It is interesting to note that none of the Protestant Reformers taught about this supposed event.

Before the 1800’s, every Protestant denomination agreed that this event of being “caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” would occur simultaneously with the Second Coming of Messiah. Like many other aberrant pseudo‐Christian teachings, belief in the Rapture has become widespread among Evangelical and Fundamentalist groups.

The idea that God’s people will be rescued on earth from earthly persecutions is completely Non‐Biblical. At no time in human history did God ever pull His people out of worldly danger. The early Christians suffered horribly at the hands of their persecutors. They were crucified, fed alive to wild animals, beheaded and set on fire for following the Messiah. The idea the Christians in the future will be spared persecution is wishful thinking especially when Yahusha/Jesus called it a blessing  (Matthew 5:10).

On the contrary the Scriptures are full of admonitions that we will indeed suffer for Christ (Matthew 10:38, 16:24, Mark 8:34, John 12:24, Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 1:5‐7, Ephesians 3:13, Philippians 1:29, 2 Timothy 1:8, 1 Peter 2:19‐21, 4:1‐2).

Yahusha/Jesus told His disciples that they would be hated by the world because it hated Him first. He stressed the fact that those who wished to be His disciples must pick up their cross DAILY and follow Him (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27). Messiah promised His followers everlasting joy when His Kingdom came but not here on earth in this present age.

Darby’s Rapture theology gave rise to what became known as “Dispensationalism”. Dispensationalism is a timeline, dividing history into about 6 "dispensations". They represent various ages in which God interacted with humans in distinct ways. Darby taught that we were currently in the Dispensation of the Church, which was started during the Apostle Paul’s ministry.

His “Premillennialist” position was adopted by another 19th century man named C.I. Scofield. He picked up on Darby’s teachings and taught this view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible although he had no formal training in theology. It was widely distributed in England and America and many Protestants accepted this view without question as completely authoritative.

Scofield, who later abandoned his wife and 2 daughters and married another woman, added the title “D.D.” (Doctor of Divinity) to his name even though there is no record of his having earned a doctorate in Divinity

Consequently, the Rapture Theology spread like wildfire which is evidenced by the fact that it has become a cottage industry. Along with the millions of adherents who blindly follow this false teaching, it has spawned countless books, songs, movies and websites all dedicated to something that was invented by a guy in England less than 200 years ago and promoted by another guy who had no formal theological education.

Sadly many preachers today use the rapture doctrine as a way to get people saved and join their church instead of preaching salvation as the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah, putting fear into the minds and hearts of the people as opposed to teaching them that it's through much tribulation that we will enter the Kingdom of God Acts 14:22.

The Three (3) Rapture Camps

Rapture believers are divided into 3 camps:

Pre‐Tribulation -   The belief that the Rapture will occur before the coming Tribulations.

Mid‐Tribulation - This view claims that the Rapture will occur during the middle of the Tribulation.

Post‐Tribulation This is the belief that the Rapture will occur after the coming Tribulation.

The Mis-interpreted “Rapture” Verses

As with 1 Thessalonians 4:16‐17, there are a few other verses that have been taken out of context to promote the false idea of a “Rapture”.

For example ‐ the “Left Behind” series of books and movies get their name from the following passage of Scripture:

Matthew 24:40‐42

Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women

will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for

you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

The problem with this is, that when we read these verses in their full context– we see that those who are “left behind” are the ones who are SAVED not the ones who are taken.

As with any verse of the scripture we need to read twenty (20) verses before and twenty (20) verses after the text to get its correct context.

So to save you the time let’s examine the 3 verses prior to this passage:

Matthew 24:37‐39

As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in

those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and

giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not

know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of

the Son of man.

We see here that the ones being “taken away” are being taken away in judgment not to Heaven as incorrectly preached and believed by many.

In Luke 17:34‐37 we see a similar comparison:

Luke 17:34‐37

I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken,

the other left.

And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the

other left.They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?”

A person who believes in the rapture might answer this question by saying that the ones being “taken away” here are being “Raptured”. HOWEVER – Yahusha/Jesus tells the Apostles:

Verse 37

And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

Does that sound like Heaven to you?

Throughout the history of the world, man has never been satisfied with what God has taught and has instead tried to find his own way.

The myths and fairy tales started by John Nelson Darby and proliferated by his adherents has catapulted the world into complete confusion regarding the End Times. ALL along, the answers have been right there in Scripture we just went on believing what we were taught without examining scripture.

Below are those from the scriptures and historical accounts notice only the mention of the resurrection and no mention of any Rapture whatsoever.

Those in the Scruptures that believed in the Resurection

Early Church Fathers on the Resurrection of the Body

Please note that Seed of Abraham Apostolic Fellowship does not accept and believe many of the doctrines 

believed by the following  historical people.

(This information is presented for educational & informational purposes only)

Closing Remarks

When we read Matthew 24:29-31 correctly and in context of scripture we will no doubt know what Yahusha/Jesus said.

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

  • That it is immediately after the tribulation that:

  • Messiah will send His angels to: 

  • Sound the Trumpet this is the last and seventh final trumpet (1 Thessolonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 Revelation 11:15-19 and:

  • Will gather His elect (Thats all those who have been saved) according to Scripture from one end of heaven to the other