Question:

Is there any evidence of the rapture being written or spoken of prior to 1909 and Scofield?

Answer:

It depends on which version of premillennialism you have in mind. At its root, premillennialism holds to the idea that Jesus reigns over an earthly kingdom. Such an idea originated among the Jews and it can be seen in the Gospels. "Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"" (Acts 1:6). They never understood that Jesus' kingdom was not of this world until later. "Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here"" (John 18:36). Premillennialists, in reality, refused to let go of this false notion.

It is not surprising that many early Christian writers continued to hold to this idea of an earthly kingdom and it was a source of quite a few debates. Eventually the idea faded only to reappear during the reformation. Scofield popularized one brand of premillennialism called "Dispensational Premillennialism," though he was not the originator of it. In past premillennial views, there is a period of tribulation, Jesus returns to set up an earthly kingdom, and then at the end of his reign there is a great resurrection of all the dead. One variation has the resurrection of the good coming when Jesus sets up his kingdom and the resurrection of the rest coming at the end of his reign.

In Dispensational Premillennialism, the good are resurrected before the tribulation and taken to heaven (what is commonly called the rapture). The good then return with Christ when he sets up his earthly kingdom. This concept is traced back to John Nelson Darby in the 1830's. Advocates of the idea claim that it is older, but usually they cite quotes which are discussing a different form of Premillennialism. But skipping over when the resurrection of the good comes, it appears that their version was taught far longer than it really was.

The entire premillennial system is false. Jesus never claimed to be setting up an earthly kingdom. As John 18:36 shows, Jesus directly states that his kingdom isn't of this world. The rapture theory, and some older forms of Premillennialism, requires two resurrections. But Jesus states, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation" (John 5:28-29). There is only one resurrection -- a single hour or moment in time.