1999 James A. Fowler
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I. Biblical usage of the word "rapture"
A. The Bible does not use the word
found in Biblical concordance
found in Biblical dictionaries or encyclopedias
B. English word "rapture" derived
from Latin word rapio (rapere, raptus)
to carry away, to be caught up, to snatch, seize, pluck, drag
away, carry off, abduct, plunder,
word "rape" derived from this Latin root
C. English usage of word "rapture"
usage: "carried away with emotion, ecstasy, passion"
usage: "caught up in clouds to meet the Lord"
Recent theological origin
Emphasized in premillennial/dispensational theology since middle
of nineteenth century
Not found as definition in Webster's Collegiate Dict.
Questionable choice of English word as equivalence for Biblical
D. Singular Biblical passage that refers
to being "caught up" at end time.
1. I Thess.
4:17 - "we who are alive and remain shall be caught up
together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air..."
word for "caught up" is harpazo - used 13 times
translated "snatch" - Matt. 13:19; Jn. 10:12,28,29;
Acts 8:39; Jude 23
translated "take by force" - Matt. 11:12; Jn. 6:15;
translated "caught up"- II Cor. 12:2,4; I Thess 4:17;
interpretation of I Thess. 4:13-18
Not an attempt to outline sequential events of final times
Context of concern, consolation, condolence, comfort
the hope (confident expectation) of the Christian
the resurrection of the body of the Christian
the equal opportunity of those who have died and those who remain
those remaining alive are "caught up"
the comfort that Christians have in these realities
II. "Rapture" in premillennial/dispensational
eschatology and theology
A. The "catching up" of
believers, the Church, was separated in time from the Second
Coming of Jesus
Christ to earth in the teaching of the Plymouth Brethren of Britain,
creating a two-phase Second
Coming of Christ.
- Jesus' coming for His saints
- Jesus' coming with His saints
C. History of this interpretation
MacDonald (1830) - personal prophecy in Glasgow
Irving (1832) - Scottish charismatic preacher
Nelson Darby - Irish lawyer and Plymouth Brethren leader
H. Brookes - American Presbyterian preacher
L. Moody - Moody Bible Institute
Scofield - Scofield Bible
Theological Seminary (Chafer, Ironside, Ryrie, Walvoord)
Lindsey - Late, Great Planet Earth
interpretation of fundamentalist evangelicals
D. Variant opinions of the time of "rapture"
rapture - church removed from tribulation
rapture - church removed prior to severe tribulation
rapture - (variant of mid-tribulation rapture)
rapture - church endures tribulation
tribulation - faithful remnant of Christians removed at beginning
of tribulation; others
E. Elements of "rapture" in
pretribulation, premillennial dispensationalism
- any time, any moment, soon coming
secret, invisible disappearance of Christians
III. Concluding observations concerning the "rapture"
A. Affirming the reality of being
"caught up with Christ" (I Thess. 4:17)
irrelevance of using the word "rapture"
the hope of Christ's return
B. Questioning the elements of pretribulational
basis for two-phase Second Coming
"caught up," "meet," descend" same time
basis for imminence of expectation
His return is impending
His return will be sudden, unannounced
Christians are to be expectant, prepared, waiting and watching
basis for secret rapture
His return will be public
His return will be visible
basis for silent rapture
His return will be with shout
His return will be with trumpet
claims of new revelation
C. Avoiding the effects of pretribulational
pride, superiority, gnosticism
mentality, avoidance, withdrawal
attitude toward society; disengaged
ecclesiology; ghetto mentality; church relegated to tossing out