The English word rapture does not appear in any of the current English translations of the Bible. If you are wondering where the English term originates from, it is an Old English word that was used in literature (including some Charles Dickens novels) that refers to being carried away. Christians have adapted it in the modern vernacular to refer to the event described in scripture where Jesus returns to the cloud level and pulls his church out of the earth. Those Christians who have already died and gone to Heaven appear to get their new glorified bodies at that time, along with those who are raptured.
Those asking this question usually fall into two categories. Either you are genuinely wondering about the word being found in scripture somewhere, or you are an anti-rapture person looking to support your viewpoint because you already think that you know the answer. Hopefully I have already answered the former group, and God bless you. If you belong to the latter group and your mind is not closed to receiving information (that is, you are actually interested in truth) read on.
Yes the word rapture is found in the Bible. I wrote that to get your attention. But it isn’t a false statement if we just want to argue semantics. Keep in mind the scriptures were not originally written in English. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. If you have ever studied a foreign language then you already know that some words cannot be accurately translated. A great example is the word love, used many times in the New Testament, but having at least three different meanings. This is because there is no accurate translation to English for the three different Greek words that have all been translated as love in the New Testament.
For example, if you love dark chocolate, you would Philia dark chocolate in the Greek. You Agape your family and close friends. You Eros your wife after a romantic dinner at bedtime, but of course you also Agape her. If you ever go to Bible college you will spend considerable time studying Greek and Hebrew and will begin to understand that a “word being in the English Bible” or not isn’t grounds for any kind of intelligent debate.
Along these lines I can argue that the word rapture is indeed in the Bible and can be found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 when Paul described believers being caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. The Greek word translated as caught up is harpazo, which translates just as accurately to taken away (or being carried away as Dickens used it in the old English). None of the English translations (so far) have chosen to use the word rapture in translation – but no Greek scholar who understands English vernacular is likely to object if somebody does.
Is this really important? Yes and no. If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, and you truly love the Lord, you are going up in the rapture whether you believe in it or not. On the other hand if you are like a borderline Christian and are not quite sure what you believe in, then maybe you will get left behind and be forced into a serious decision for Christ. That is up to the Lord.
What I do know is that to argue against the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture simply because the English word rapture does not appear in any English translations of the Bible is ridiculous. The word Christianity does not appear in any of the English translations of the Bible either. Does that mean Christianity does not exist? These are simply reference words that we use for convenience. It is a lot easier to say the rapture than to say the first second coming of Christ, or to say the event that Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55.
What I worry about, if you claim to be a Christian who does not believe in the rapture, is the condition of your heart. Most of these people that I meet have not studied the Bible enough to even know that the Battle of Armageddon takes place in a specific valley in Israel (in the Valley of Megiddo). A lot of these guys think they will be fighting it in Montana or something, and are stockpiling canned food and ammunition in preparation. For crying out loud – open your Bible, man. Read it with a pure and humble heart, seeking truth, and get rid of these crazy preconceived notions that did not come from the Lord.
If society does collapse, and you end up needing that stockpile of canned food, what do you plan on doing when your hungry neighbors show up at your door? Are you going to point your gun at the hungry mom with her children, telling them to scat? Is that keeping with the command from Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself? Is that following Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8? If your attitude is that they should have prepared like you did, I must question whether you are really a Christian at heart or merely in politics. Maybe when the rapture does occur it will give you the proper wake-up call.