Is the Rapture in the Bible?


rapĚture - The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven.

No, the word "Rapture" isn't found in the Bible. That being said, this could be the shortest webpage on this site. However, events which are commonly defined as rapturing are clearly discussed many times in both the Old and the New Testaments. The Bible speaks of rapturing in both the past and the future. This is an examination of the scriptural basis for the Rapture.

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Genesis 5:21-24 KJV

According to the Book of Genesis, Enoch was 65 years old when he became the father of Methuselah. Methuselah was the longest-living man in the Bible. During the next 300 years Enoch had other sons and daughters. Logically, Enoch lived a year's worth of years: 365 years. (That would be using the current standard of a 365 day year. Most of the years in the Bible were 360 days versus the current 365 day year. A cursory study will show that all of the world's calendars were changed before the birth of Christ). History's first demonstrated Rapture event occurs as God takes Enoch. One moment he's dwelling on Earth and in the blink of an eye he's transferred to Heaven.

The Bible does not state Enoch died. It states that God took him. The Bible clearly differentiates between what is commonly referred to as a rapture and when a person dies. The term "die" first appears in the Bible at Genesis 2:17. It is repeated again before verses 5:21 at 3:3, 3:4. My point being the word "die" appears three times before the scriptures regarding Enoch. It is also referred to 23 times in the same book after 5:24, at Genesis 6:17, 19:19, 20:7 26:9, 27:4, 30:1, 33:13, 38:11, 42:2, 42:20, 43:8, 44:9, 44:22, 44:31, 45:28, 46:30, 47:15, 47:19 (twice), 47:29, 48:21, 50:5, and 50:24.

This same subject is discussed again in the New Testament. In the book of Hebrews it clearly states that Enoch did not die, but was taken by God.

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Hebrews 11:5 KJV

The second rapture that I know of, is found in the Book of 2nd Kings. The background to this story is Elijah, the prophet of God, has finished his Earthly ministry and is going to be taken up to heaven, leaving his spirit with his successor Elisha.

And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee , here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

II Kings 2:1-12 KJV

In my estimation, 2nd Kings 2:11 clearly says that Elijah went to heaven without dying. In every other translation of the Bible that I have come across, the same point is made. Here is 2nd Kings 2:11 from a number of other translations:

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

II Kings 2:11 Webster's Translation

And it cometh to pass, they are going, going on and speaking, and lo, a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and they separate between them both, and Elijah goeth up in a whirlwind, to the heavens.

II Kings 2:11 Young's Translation

And it came to pass as they went on, and talked, that behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire; and they parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into the heavens.

II Kings 2:11 Darby's Translation

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

II Kings 2:11 ASV Translation

It happened, as they still went on, and talked, that behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both apart; and Eliyah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

II Kings 2:11 HNV Translation

And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Eli'jah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

II Kings 2:11 RSV Translation

This next passage is very interesting. First, an Angel of the Lord speaks directly to Philip (one of the early Apostles). The Angel tells Philip to head for the desert. It appears that Philip went by conventional methods, most likely by walking. Along the way, Philip meets an Ethiopian eunuch. The Spirit tells Philip to go to the Ethiopian's chariot, and to stay near it. Philip does so. Philip asks the Ethiopian if he understands the prophecy he is reading. After inviting Philip to enter the chariot and explain the prophecy concerning the Sacrifice of Christ, the Ethiopian then asks Philip to baptize him at a nearby body of water. In verses 39 and 40, Philip is supernaturally removed from the desert and appears at the city of Azotus where he continues preaching the Gospel in several cities.

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

Acts of the Apostles 8:26-40 kjv

Verse 39 once again shows that a person was transferred from one place to another by supernatural means. The other translations that I have come across convey this same point

And when they had come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts of the Apostles 8:39 Webster's Translation

and when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more, for he was going on his way rejoicing;

Acts of the Apostles 8:39 Young's Translation

But when they came up out of the water [the] Spirit of [the] Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no longer, for he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts of the Apostles 8:39 Darby's Translation

And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts of the Apostles 8:39 ASV Translation

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Pilipos away, and the eunuch didn't see him any more, for he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts of the Apostles 8:39 HNV Translation

And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

Acts of the Apostles 8:39 RSV Translation

In verse 39, the Greek word "harpazo" is translated in the King James Version as "caught away". "Harpazo" means "to seize upon suddenly, with force". This same word is translated as "caught up" in 1st Thessalonians 4:17, where the Rapture joins believers, both dead and alive with the Lord in the blink of an eye, but I will get to that verse later.

In the following passage, the Apostle Paul describes the transformation of the believer into the Heavenly Kingdom of God. A perishable, mortal human body cannot enter the Kingdom, therefore believers will be given new bodies that are imperishable and immortal. Paul reveals a mystery: every believer will not die but some will be transferred to the Kingdom of God in the blink of an eye. In verse 51 Paul uses the term "sleep", which was a common Greek idiom (or metaphor) for physical death. It appears that during the Rapture, living Christians will enter the Kingdom directly without experiencing death.

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 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.

1st Corinthians 15:50-54 KJV

In the following passage, the apostle Paul again uses the term "sleep" for physical death. This time clearly explaining that those Christians who have experienced physical death will be resurrected by Christ. Here the Rapture is in the 17th verse. That is where the Greek word "harpazo" is translated into English as "caught up".

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 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.

1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 KJV

The same word "harpazo" is again translated into English as "caught up" in Revelation 12:5. Here it is used to describe the Ascension of Christ into Heaven, which is another Rapture.