In the Epistle to the Thessalonians we are reminded again and again of the imminent (any time with no sign) coming of the Lord Jesus for the Church. In the first chapter of the epistle we read, “Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10) There are seven references to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in this First Epistle to the Thessalonians alone.
In relation to the coming of the Lord Jesus. We are told that “we shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) It was these words, “caught up,” that arrested my attention (4:17). It is true that the term “rapture” is found nowhere in the KJB. But that does not mean that “rapture” is a false Biblical doctrine. Like the term “Trinity”, a term also not found in scripture; both terms combine a group of scripture words or doctrines to describe in one word a true Biblical doctrine.
This word that we have here translated “caught up” is a very forcible one in English and Greek. Greek is not necessary to understanding the word of God—but proper use and knowledge of the Greek Textus Receptus (from which the KJB NT was translated) to supplement the English of the KJB is permissible. The English word “catch” is defined in the English Dictionary as:
“to seize or capture, especially after pursuit: to catch a criminal; to catch a runaway horse.
to trap or ensnare: to catch a fish.”
Used as an adjective “caught up”: “To be involved involuntarily.”
(Sadly, many so-called “Greek experts” that criticize the KJB do not know how up to date and accurate the ‘old archaic English’ terms are!)
The Greek word harpazo, translated “caught up,” means to take away by force, as when a wild beast seizes and carries off its prey, or as when one snatches a thing from another.
We might also add that the English phrase “caught up” may imply the same meaning as the Greek term “harpazo” or unlike Greek, apart from scripture, in secular use have even more meanings. Proper Greek (or any language) usage in Bible study never corrects the word of God but serves to confirm and enhance KJB English inerrancy, understanding and study.
It is of interest to notice where the same Greek word occurs in the New Testament. In Matthew 11:12 it is translated “take by force,” in speaking of the violent taking the kingdom of heaven. In John 6:15 the same term is given, “take by force,” where reference is made to the Jews, who would make Christ a King. In John 10:12 the word is given “catcheth,” in speaking of the wolf catching the sheep, through the cowardice of the hireling shepherd. Acts 8:39 the word is translated “caught away,” in speaking of Philip being caught away by the Holy Spirit after he had been speaking to the eunuch. Twice the word is translated “caught up” in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, in referring to the apostle being caught up to the third heaven. Revelation 12:5 the term is rendered “caught up.”
From all these references we see at once the forcible meaning of the word, which means “to snatch away.” When the Lord Jesus Christ comes for His own, we read that He is going to snatch us away and take us to Himself.
One possible reason the rapture will be a “snatching out” and “taking by force” is that the LORD knows between the time promised, and when it will occur, causes a deadened anticipation by the church. The very length of time between the promised “catching out” of the body of Christ to meet the Lord in the air and its occurrence (2000 years now) has affected singing and preaching! (Added to this is the Bible apostasy—many Christians do not believe there exists an inerrant, infallible Bible) Most hymns the church sings are about dying and going to Heaven—the rapture is a forgotten doctrine from choir to pulpit. God is not unaware that it has been 2000 years by man’s calendar since He commended the first century believers for waiting on the event. God’s timetable does not depend upon man’s calendar.