Harpazó (ἁρπάζουσιν) is a Greek word used in the New Testament, Strong’s Number 726: It’s definition is: to seize, catch up, snatch away, properly, seize by force; snatch up, suddenly and decisively – like someone seizing bounty (spoil, a prize); to take by an open display of force (i.e. not covertly or secretly), and can be used to describe being rescued suddenly, quickly, and forcefully from danger as in when a child starts to run out into a road and you would run to “harpazó” them from the ongoing car so that they do not get hit.
Just because I think it looks pretty, here’s what Greek would look like for Matthew 11:12, using this verse as one of the ones that uses this particular word, “ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται, καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν (harpazó) αὐτήν.” This would be the actual writings from the Apostles from the Bible. Cool.
This word is used 14 times and we’ll try to get a context of what this unique phrase is talking about:
Matthew 11:12 – GRK: καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν – 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence (or has been taken violently),[d] and the violent take it by force. 1
Matthew 12:29 – GRK: σκεύη αὐτοῦ ἁρπάσαι ἐὰν μὴ – 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters”
Matthew 13:19 – GRK: πονηρὸς καὶ ἁρπάζει τὸ ἐσπαρμένον – 18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
John 6:15 – GRK: ἔρχεσθαι καὶ ἁρπάζειν αὐτὸν ἵνα – 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
John 10:12 – GRK: ὁ λύκος ἁρπάζει αὐτὰ καὶ – 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
John 10:28 – GRK: καὶ οὐχ ἁρπάσει τις αὐτὰ – 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
John 10:29 – GRK: οὐδεὶς δύναται ἁρπάζειν ἐκ τῆς – 29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Acts 8:39 – GRK: πνεῦμα Κυρίου ἥρπασεν τὸν Φίλιππον – 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Acts 23:10 – GRK: στράτευμα καταβὰν ἁρπάσαι αὐτὸν ἐκ – 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.
2 Corinthians 12:2, 4 – GRK: θεὸς οἶδεν ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον, GRK: ὅτι ἡρπάγη εἰς τὸν – 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—
1 Thessalonians 4:17 – GRK: σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁρπαγησόμεθα ἐν νεφέλαις – 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Jude 1:23 – GRK: ἐκ πυρὸς ἁρπάζοντες οὓς δὲ – 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment[g] stained by the flesh.
Today, I want to discuss what we call, “The Rapture.” This term is not found in Scripture as it is a word that has been created to describe an event. Another example of a term that we have created is, “The Trinity,” which we know refers to the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit in one. We do not find this term referenced in Scripture at all, but this term has been created to identify this concept so we can better understand.
So, knowing this, rapture = harpazo. It is the catching away of the body of Christ up to the His throne room. Though the term, harpazo, is used to describe seizing in other regards, there are two particular passages when it is referring to what we call the rapture, and now that we can understand the context of this word and the urgency that it means, we can evaluate 1 Thessalonians 4 & Revelation 12 to understand that there is in fact a rapture.
- “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
- “51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53
In order for the body of Christ to celebrate the marriage feast of the lamb, the body must be changed and raptured up to heaven as the celebration takes place in heaven and not on earth prior to the future reign of Christ. After the celebration, the entire body of Christ will come back to earth to fight the battle of Armageddon, to rule with Christ for the 1,000 year millennial reign, and then to help execute the final judgement. (We will not discuss the actual seals, trumpet, or bowl judgements in this study, but will probably cover them in a later study. So we will assume for this study, that those have already been completed, or are in progress at this time)
- FIRST THERE IS A WEDDING IN HEAVEN TO CHRIST: “6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said[a] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:6-9
- SECOND THE WEDDING GUESTS JOIN CHRIST TO COME BACK TO FIGHT THE ENDING BATTLE: “11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in[b] blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses (The Church, or those at the wedding feast, are the armies of heaven because we are arrayed in linen & pure. The angels are not clothed in linen nor do they ride horses.) 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule[c] them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Revelation 19:11-16
- THIRD FIGHTING THE BATTLE WITH THE LORD: 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave,[d] both small and great.”” Revelation 19:17-18
- JEWISH & TRIBULATION CONVERTS ARE RAISED TO LIFE REIGNING WITH CHRIST ON EARTH FOR 1,000 YEARS: “4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6
- FIFTH SATAN IS RELEASED AGAIN FOR HIS FINAL BATTLE & JUDGEMENT 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven[b] and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Revelation 20: 7-9
- SIXTH FINAL JUDGEMENT FOR PEOPLE 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15
- Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?” 1 Corinthians 6:2
- SEVENTH NEW HEAVEN & NEW EARTH – THE BOOK CLOSES & A NEW ONE BEGINS “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:1-5
Father God, Thank you that you have promised us a time when those who are in Christ will be raised up to heaven to celebrate a wedding feast. What a time it will be! Though we don’t deserve it, we are thankful to be ruling and reigning with you instead of against you as we know that your way it the right and holy way and your way will be victorious in the end. We long for the day when the new heaven and earth are here forever when there will be no more deception, sin, pain, tears, and death, a place where love and holiness only remains. You are the one way, the great and powerful I Am. Praise be to God, for you are good and eternally merciful. Amen!