People Love To Have It So: The Rapture

by Gary McDade

Human nature has changed very little since Bible times as is evidenced by comparing a statement in the Book of Jeremiah with a seemingly unabated infatuation with a contrived doctrine commonly known as "the Rapture." In the sixth century BC Jeremiah said, "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" (Jerermiah 5:30-31).

"The Rapture" is contrived from the footnotes contained in the Scofield Reference Bible that was edited by C.I. Scofield, copyrighted, and first published in 1909. The 1917 edition is infamous for its propagation of the false teaching known as premillennialism with "the Rapture" being a popular part of that system of belief. This system of belief holds forth the view of multiple "comings" and judgments and resurrections that are separated by a great span of time, e.g., 1,000 years (cf. pp. 1226-1228 -comments on I Cor. 15; pp. 1350-1351 - comments on Rev. 20). Yet, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of his coming and the final resurrection and the judgment occurring in the same day and hour! In Matthew 24:36 he said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." He spoke of his second coming, the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment as happening in "that day and hour." When he compared his second coming to the days of Noah he spoke of "the day that Noah entered into the ark" and said, "So shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (v. 39; emphasis added). As he spoke of the two women grinding at the mill, one taken in a prepared state the other left unprepared, he said, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (v. 42; emphasis added). The good man of the house who was robbed illustrated "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (v. 44; emphasis added). The evil servants who began to riotously behave were told, "The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of" (v. 50; emphasis added).

Anyone who is honest with the inspired text of the straightforward statements of the Savior in John 5:28-29 must admit that Scofield and his followers like John Walvoord, Hal Lindsey, Adrian Rogers, and Charles Stanley have gotten it wrong. Scofield and his students affirm many centuries between the resurrection and judgment of the righteous and the wicked (cf. the pages of the Scofield Reference Bible mentioned earlier), but the Son of God said, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (emphasis added). Notice that both the righteous and the wicked are resurrected in the same hour. This is not what the men listed above teach!

Scofield's followers-use the word "Rapture" even though they know and admit that it is not a Bible word. Listen to Hal Lindsey, "Sometimes misunderstood terms provide the red flag an unbeliever needs to turn him from the simple truth of God's Word. 'Rapture' may be one of those words. It is not found in the Bible, so there is no need to race for your concordance, if you have one" (The Late Great Planet Earth, p. 137). Observe that Lindsey admits that using words not found in the Bible may turn unbelievers away "from the simple truth of God's Word," but he went ahead and used such a word anyway! Observe further that when novices today intimate that the word "Rapture" is in the Bible, they stand corrected by their own guides.

Charles F. Stanley, President and Publisher of In Touch monthly magazine, wrote, "When the Bible says that believers will be 'caught up' in the air with the Lord, the literal Greek phrase calls for us to be 'snatched away.' Our term 'Rapture' is the derivative of this wording" (February 2003, p. 25). Observe that he called "Rapture" "our term." He got the term from Lindsey and Scofield (p. 1349). "Rapture" is not a Bible term, but premillennialists would "love to have it so."

Premillennialists talk about this word the KJV renders "shall be caught up" in I Thessalonians 4:17 as if that is the only time it appears in the Bible. Rest assured it is not! The Greek word in I Thessalonians 4:17 is from harpazo and is found fourteen times in the New Testament. Examples include Acts 8:39, "And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught awayPhilip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing" (emphasis added); II Corinthians 12:2-4, "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (emphasis added); and Revelation 12:5, "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne" (emphasis added). Consider Stanley's definition "snatched away" for this Greek word, and see how it works in these passages. You would have the Spirit "snatching away" Philip following the conversion of the Eunuch. The man Paul knew who was transported to heaven would have been "snatched away" to paradise. And, the reference in Revelation 12:5 is to the Lord himself ascending to the throne of God. Compare the account in Acts 1 of Christ's ascension, and see which fits the context better "caught up" or "snatched away." For certain, "Rapture" will not work in any of the fourteen passages where this Greek word is found. Even the premillennialists, who are desperate to hold on to the word "Rapture" as it has descended from their guide Scofield, would not take such a position because then they would have to explain how the Bible teaches not one so-called "Rapture" but fourteen! Was Philip "Raptured" in Acts 8:39? Was the man Paul knew "Raptured" in II Corinthians 12:2-4? Was the Lord "Raptured" when he left the earth? The premillennialist will not so suggest because although his system contains multiple "comings," resurrections, and judgments, he wants only one "Rapture." Again, "a wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land ... and my people love to have it so."

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