Setting the Record Straight on Rapture
By Holly Deyo
The purpose of the following material is not to debate the existence of Rapture or when that event would occur, as it is to establish that this is a doctrine of long-standing. A well-circulated notion says that John Darby was the first to begin teaching Rapture in 1828. This may be an effort to discredit Rapture, to remove people's hope and dispirit them, or it may be perpetuated through ignorance. Whatever is the case, it is simply incorrect.
Consider that while the word "rapture" was not used until Jerome in 400 AD with the Latin word rapimur, the Dead Sea Scroll concept of Rapture pre-dates the birth of Christ!
As frequently seen with things posted on the Internet, people grab a thought and run with it without performing due diligence. It is our hope that the following documentation will put the Darby rumor to rest.
"In 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, the Apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth,
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
"And to the church in Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
"The mystery being spoken of here is a truth that had not previously been revealed in the Old Testament but is now being revealed in the New Testament. Although the idea of the resurrection is clearly taught in the Old Testament, the teaching of the Rapture is not. This is the first mention of the Rapture of the Church.
"The context of what Paul is talking about is the resurrection and the order of the events taking place at the time of the resurrection. Paul says that before the Rapture, the dead in Christ will rise first. These are those who have died from the time after the death and resurrection of Jesus until today. And then, we who are still alive at the time of the rapture will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. And in that moment our mortal bodies will be changed in the "twinkling of an eye" * and we will receive our new glorified bodies.
"Paul makes this very clear. Corruption putting on incorruption is a reference to the saints who have died and decaying and that their bodies are corrupt. Then the mortal putting on immortality is referring to those alive when He comes.
"Now, look at the immanency of Christ’s return. Notice how Paul expects to see the Lord in his lifetime. Verse 52 shows the immanency. Notice how he uses the word “we”. He was including himself in the event of the Rapture. He lived his life in the light that Jesus could return and rapture the church at any moment. Paul’s take on it shows that the Rapture was of course a Pre-Tribulation rapture because he felt that it was so imminent.
"Now listen to what Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 17:26-30 (Amplified Bible).
“And [just] as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the time of the Son of Man. [People] ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, right up to the day when Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. So also [it was the same] as it was in the days of Lot. [People] ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; But on the [very] day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed [them] all. That is the way it will be on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”
"Jesus is making a reference to the Rapture. He is telling the disciples that it will happen much as the days of Noah and Lot were. Taking place as it was in the days of Noah, how they were caught surprised. They were going about their normal day to day business. Then when Noah and his family stepped onto the ark, the flood came. As with Lot, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were going about their own sinful ways as well and when Lot and his family were removed from the city, then God’s judgment came down upon the cities. Likewise will it be with the Rapture. Once the Lord removes His Church from the sinful world, then the Tribulation will begin.
"He mentions that He will come as a thief in the night indicating that he will not be seen by everyone. But when talking about the Second Coming, He says that every eye will see Him. Notice some are sleeping and some are working indicating that it will be night some places and daytime in others. No one will see Jesus at that time except for those who meet Him in the air. Carrying on with life as usual until the Lord comes and disrupts their scene.
"God has not appointed His church to wrath. The wrath of God is the Tribulation period. The Bible tells us that we have tribulation now but that comes from the world and Satan. The Tribulation period is the wrath of God, and God is not going to punish His bride.
"You'll notice that the Rapture takes place at the sound of a trumpet. The trumpet sounding is what signals the Rapture. Notice also that it is called the LAST trumpet. Now having said that we know that there are 7 angels that are given 7 trumpets to sound and when they do sound there are 7 judgments that come upon the earth. There are those that say that the last trumpet is the 7th trumpet being spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:52. That would mean that the Rapture does not take place until the middle of the Tribulation. So in order for the church to hear the last trumpet the church must go through the first half of the Tribulation.
"This is just simply not true.
"The church is not going through the Tribulation. Why would God the Father want to punish His bride? The Tribulation is referred to as a time of Jacob’s trouble. It has to do with the Jews. It's at that time that God wakes up the Jewish people and brings them to salvation. When will the rapture take place? When will the trumpet sound? At the end of the church age. When the last person who needs to get saved, gets saved.
"Revelation 2-3 is an overview of church history. Even though they were written to 7 churches existing at that time, each of these has a secondary application as often does in Scripture, especially prophecy. They actually are a reference to the 7 different stages of church history as God sees them from beginning to end.
"Then John says in Revelation 4:1, once he is finished writing about the churches,
“ After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."
"After these things (pertaining to the church), after the church ages are over, a door in heaven was opened and a voice that sounded like a trumpet saying come up hither and I will show you things AFTER this. After the church age. I believe this is the Rapture right here.
"Does this ring a bell?
"When the church ministry on earth is complete a door will open and a trumpet will sound and the church will be caught up. Paul wrote in Romans 11:25,
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
"Until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. Since the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah, God is now working among the Gentile nations to bring a bride unto Himself. Once that last Gentile who needs to be saved comes to salvation, God will focus His energy on Israel.
"Many claim that the whole concept of a Pre-Tribulation rapture was never even heard of until 1828 when John Darby first began teaching it. Well, these people are wrong who believe this because there is ample evidence of the Church teaching the Rapture 1100 years before John Darby." 1
"Without doubt, this is the most important discovery in the history of Biblical archeology. The scroll, written in Aramaic, the language spoken in the Holy Land during Jesus time on earth, was found in a cave on the shores of the Dead Sea by geologists conducting a survey for the Israeli government."
The scrolls read:
"The Rapture will occur suddenly. And countless thousands will vanish from the earth. Swept up to heaven to live with Jesus and escape the torment of the Tribulation, the others will be left behind." The Dead Sea Scrolls
Many others believed and taught this long before John Darby
95-150 AD, the Rapture idea was preached by the Shepherd of Hermas. 2
"You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly." (documented by Larry V. Crutchfield) 3
270-303 AD, Victorinus, the Bishop of Pettau, a Catholic ecclesiastical writer preached it.
Victorinus said he saw another great and wonderful sign in his commentary on Book of Revelation in AD 270:
"Seven angels having the last seven plagues, for in them is completed the indignation of God. And these shall be in the last times when the church shall have gone out of the midst."
No doubt about it, St. Victorinus proclaimed the pretrib Rapture. 4
306-373 AD Ephrem the Syrian. One of the most important evidences for rapture is an apocalyptic sermon from the 4th century titled “Sermon on the End of the World”. It is credited to Ephrem the Syrian, a Syriac deacon, theologian, and hymnographer of the 4th century who wrote many biblical commentaries. Some suggest it may not have been written until a later date of 565-627 A.D. The exact date doesn’t matter. Even if it were as late as the 7th century, it is still 1100 years prior to John Darby. Ephrem wrote:
“Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world? Believe you me, dearest brother, because the coming (advent) of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it is the very last time. Or do you not believe unless you see with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: “Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!” For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.” 5
400 AD, Jerome in the Latin vulgate (in the Catholic Bible) used the word rapimur which means "rapture", or "caught up" to describe the Rapture. Jerome is actually the man who first coined the term Rapture. 6
Why has the Pre-Tribulation doctrine emerged so
prominently over the past 200 years?
The Bible, prior to 200 years ago, was kept out of the hands of the common people. It was locked in museums and monasteries for 1000 years during the Dark Ages. It wasn’t until the Bible was translated into the common people's language and that then the hope (the Blessed Hope the Rapture) of the pre-millennial return of Christ was once again established in the Church. When the Scriptures were available to everybody the ancient truth of the Rapture before the Tribulation period was again discovered.
Pre-Tribulation Rapture beginning around the end of the Dark Ages.
1304 AD, Reverend Dolcino
Francis X. Gumerlock believes that Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren taught pretribulationism documented by the following statement:
"Again, [Dolcino believed and preached and taught] that within those three years Dolcino himself and his followers will preach the coming of the Antichrist. And that theAntichrist was coming into this world within the bounds of the said three and a half years; and after he had come, then he [Dolcino] and his followers would be transferred into Paradise, in which are Enoch and Elijah. And in this way they will be preserved unharmed from the persecution of Antichrist.And that then Enoch and Elijah themselves would descend on the earth for the purpose of preaching [against] Antichrist. Then they would be killed by him or by his servants, and thus Antichrist would reign for a long time. But when the Antichrist is dead, Dolcino himself, who then would be the holy pope, and his preserved followers, will descend on the earth, and will preach the right faith of Christ to all, and will convert those who will be living then to the true faith of Jesus Christ." 7
1400 AD, Bible translations in the native tongues led to a new propagation of the Pre-trib Rapture.
1627 AD, Joseph Mede ** , a literalist, used the word "rapture." 8
1639-1723 AD Increase Mather pastor, scholar, and the first President of Harvard College. Paul Boyer has noted that this Puritan scholar proved "that the saints would be caught up into the air beforehand, thereby escaping the final conflagration." This teaching from Mather was an early formulation of the rapture doctrine. 9
1687 AD, Peter Jurieu; in his book Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687) taught that Christ would come in the air to rapture the saints and return to heaven before the battle of Armageddon. He spoke of a secret Rapture prior to His coming in glory and judgment at Armageddon.
1700 AD, John Asgill, who wrote a book in 1700 about the possibility of translation (i.e. rapture) without seeing death. 10
1738 AD, Philip Doddridge
Philip Doddridge's commentary on theNew Testament (1738) and John Gill's commentary on the New Testament (1748) both use the term "rapture" and speak of it as imminent. It is clear that these men believed that this coming will precede Christ's descent to the earth and the time of judgment. The purpose was to preserve believers from the time of judgment.
1748 AD, John Gill **
Dr. John Gill was one of the most brilliant scholars of his day. This Calvinist Baptist theologian wrote a full commentary set on the Bible in 1748. In this commentary he made a statement in his notes on 1 Thessalonians 4 that supported a time difference between the rapture of the saints and the coming of Christ to earth. He said:
....here Christ will stop and will be visible to all, and as easily discerned by all, good and bad, as the body of the sun at noon-day; as yet He will not descend on earth, because it is not fit to receive Him; but when that and its works are burnt up, and it is purged and purified by fire, and become a new earth, He'll descend upon it, and dwell with his saints in it: and this suggests another reason why He'll stay in the air, and His saints shall meet Him there, and whom He'll take up with Him into the third heaven, till the general conflagration and burning of the world is over, and to preserve them from it.... 11
1763 AD, James McKnight **
1744 AD, Morgan Edwards The clearest reference to a pretrib rapture before Darby comes from American Baptist pastor, educator and historian, Morgan Edwards. He is also founder of the Ivy League school, Brown University. Edwards saw a distinct rapture 3½ years before the start of the millennium. Edward wrote about his pretrib beliefs as a student in 1744 and then later published them in 1788 in an essay titled, Two Academical Exercises on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties. His pro-Rapture stance is impossible to dismiss. He taught the following:
II. The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years.
I say, somewhat more-, because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ's "appearing in the air" (Thess. 4:17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many "mansions in the father's house" (John 14:2), and disappear during the fore said period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for "now the time is come that judgment must begin," and that will be "at the house of God" (IPet. iv. 17) . . . (p. 7; The spelling of all Edwards quotes have been modernized.) 12
Thomas Ice further explains:
"Edwards clearly separates the rapture from the second coming by three and a half years. He uses modern pretrib rapture verses (1 Thess. 4:17 and John 14:2) to describe the rapture." 13
1792 AD, Thomas Scott **
James MacKnight (1763) and Thomas Scott (1792) taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven, where they will be secure until the time of judgment is over. 14
And then in 1830 AD, John Darby enters the picture. Without question, John Darby was not the originator of the Rapture doctrine.
* "twinkling of an eye" (I Corinthians 15:52). Scientists at General Electric Company have timed the twinkling of a human being's eye, and it amounts to eleven one-hundredths of a second.
** Peter Jurieu in his book Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687) taught that Christ would come in the air to rapture the saints and return to heaven before the battle of Armageddon. He spoke of a secret Rapture prior to His coming in glory and judgment at Armageddon. Philip Doddridge's commentary on the New Testament (1738) and John Gill's commentary on the New Testament (1748) both use the term rapture and speak of it as imminent. It is clear that these men believed that this coming will precede Christ's descent to the earth and the time of judgment. The purpose was to preserve believers from the time of judgment. James MacKnight (1763) and Thomas Scott (1792) taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven, where they will be secure until the time of judgment is over. 15
Signs of the Times
Signs pointing to the End of this Age have never been more abundant than they are in today's headlines. They herald a time of great change, which has been promised for millennia. But today is different.
What is unique about this time revolves around Israel and man's intellectual evolution.
First, Israel has always been God's prophetic clock. In Matthew 24:32, Jesus tells us to watch for the rebudding (re-establishment) of the fig tree a symbol of Israel. He warns two verses later when this happens, that generation who sees Israel once again attain statehood "will not pass" until the judgments and the Lord's return take place. This is THE key and often overlooked.
Israel became a nation once again in 1948 and they finally recaptured all of Jerusalem in June 1967. This is quite a feat since Jews were dispursed throughout the world for 2,534 years, managed to hold onto their language and their heritage. When this has happened to other people, they have assimilated into the culture where they live and their heritage becomes just a memory.
Israel's re-establishment set the Lord's clock in motion and He warns that "when you see these signs, all taken together, coming to pass, you may know of a surety that He is near, at the very doors." (Matthew 24:33). So while that we may know only "the times and the seasons", not a specific date, the Lord could arrive literally at any moment.
The second puzzle piece unique to this time is man's scientific advancements. We literally could not have designed and built cars, planes or atomic bombs 200 years ago. We needed computers to effectively distribute the Gospel worldwide and the Internet to disseminate vast amounts of information. Computers and chips are critical to accomplish the global 666 numbering system waiting in the wings and to keep track of those who will allowed to buy or sell when they take this chip. These are all new technologies compared to using horseback for your main means of travel.
Individually many of the signs listed in the Gospels have always been present. It's when ALL these things happen after the formation of the State of Israel that they become truly prophetically significant.
In closing, we are taught in 1 Thess. 5:10-11 to encourage one another:
He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
So be encouraged! Maranatha!
1] Behold, I Shew You A Mystery The Beginning of Wisdom, Daniel, August 2008; http://jesusmessiah.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/behold-i-shew-you-a-mystery/
2] The Shepherd of Hermas 1.4.2.
3] Sermon entitled Sermon on The Last Times, The Antichrist, and The End of the World. For more information on this see Timothy J. Demy and Thomas D. Ice, "The Rapture and an Early Medieval Citation," Bibliotheca Sacra (Vol. 152, No. 607; July-Sept. 1995), pp. 306-17.
4] Dr. Jack Van Impe, "The Moment After" in Perhaps Today, March-April 2000, http://www.jvim.com/pt/2000/00004.html
5] Larry V. Crutchfield, "The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation in the Apostolic Fathers", in Thomas Ice & Timothy Demy, editors, When The Trumpet Sounds (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1995), pp. 88-101. what does this go to????
6] Dr. Jack Van Impe, "The Moment After" in Perhaps Today, March-April 2000, http://www.jvim.com/pt/2000/00004.html
7] Francis X. Gumerlock, "Before Darby: Expanding the Historical Boundaries of Pretribulationism", paper presented on November 14-16, 2001 to the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Colorado Springs. http://www.pre-trib.org/article-view.php?id=76
8] Mede is considered the “father of English pre-millennialism,” having written Clavis Apocalyptica (“Key of the Revelation”) in 1627 in which “he attempted to construct an outline of the Apocalypse based solely upon internal considerations. In this interpretation he advocated pre-millennialism in such a scholarly way that this work continued to influence eschatological interpretation for centuries.”
9] Mal Couch, Thomas Figart, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Thomas Ice, Russell L. Penney A Biblical Theology of the Church, p. 141, August 1, 2006
10] The entire title of Asgill's work is as follows: An argument proving, that according to the covenant of Eternal Life revealed in the Scriptures, Man may be translated from hence into that Eternal Life, without passing through Death, although the Human Nature of Christ himself could not be thus translated till he had passed through Death.
12] Thomas Ice, "Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist"; http://www.tribulation.ws/featured/tt3.html
13] Morgan Edwards, "Two Academical Exercised on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties" (Philadelphia: self-published, 1788). See Thomas Ice, Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist, Pre-Trib Perspectives (Vol. II, No. 4; Sept/Oct 1995), pp. 1-3. http://www.pre-trib.org/article-view.php?id=76#_edn7
14] Paul N. Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), pp. 197-98.