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Many believers may have seen or heard the words “parousia” and “rapture”. This article clarifies their origin and meaning. It will be shown that they do have a biblical background. However, that does not mean that the various dogmas that have been created around those words would be biblical.
The noun parousia occurs in 24 places in the Greek text of the New Testament. (It was used in such meanings as “coming” and “presence”.) And so, it certainly is a biblical word. But, this does not mean that the various parousia-related dogmas would be biblical.
The first occurrence of that word in the Greek NT text is found in this verse:
Matthew 24:3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming [Greek parousia], and of the end of the age?” (NKJV91, comment added)
In several passages in the Greek NT text, the word parousia refers to the time when Jesus was to come for his own (the saints [a]). Here are some of those passages: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37 and 39, 1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 4:15 and 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, James 5:7 and 8, 2 Peter 1:16, 1 John 2:28.
a In this article, the word “saints” refers to people who received the Holy Spirit in biblical times, first century CE or earlier.
A note: For instance in the 1769 KJ version, parousia is translated 2 times as “presence” and 22 times as “coming”. The Latin Vulgate version translates it 3 times as praesentia, “presence” and 21 times as adventus, “coming”.
The English noun “rapture” comes from the Latin word raptus which is a form of the verb rapio which refers to such things as “snatching away”, “carrying off”. It appears that the concept “rapture” is derived from 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where the Latin text of the Vulgate version has the verb rapio. That verse with its context records how the apostle Paul told the saints in Thessalonica that they would be carried away, to meet Jesus in the clouds. So, in that way, even the word “rapture” has a biblical background. But, this does not mean that the various rapture-related dogmas would be biblical.
Here is the passage in question:
1 Thessalonians 4:16 […] and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up [b] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (WES, note sign added)
b Verse 17, “caught up” – the Latin text of the Vulgate version has rapiemur which is a form of the verb rapio which refers to such things as “to snatch away”, “to carry off”. The Greek text has harpagêsometha, a form of the verb harpazô which has to do with “seizing” (hastily), “snatching”, “carrying away”, and so on.
Now, that is something Paul wrote in the first century to the saints in Thessalonica, concerning what was about to happen to them. So, how is it, do 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and similar scriptures have any bearing on people of our day? The article rga042.htm provides some food for thought, in regard to that question.
As was noted above, it appears that the word “rapture” is connected to a word in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 in the Latin text of the Vulgate version. In the Greek text, the corresponding word is the verb harpazô. That verb is found in 13 passages in the Greek text of the New Testament. Here are two more examples:
2 Corinthians 12:2 I knew a man in Christ, above fourteen years ago (whether in the body I know not, or out of the body I know not; God knoweth) such an one caught up [c] to the third heaven. 3 […] That he was caught up [c] into paradise, 4 and heard unspeakable things, which it is not possible for man to utter. (WES, note signs added)
c “Caught up”, verses 2 and 4 – the Latin text of the Vulgate version has raptum and raptus. The Greek text has the verb harpazô in the forms harpagenta and herpagê.
Revelation 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who shall rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up [d] to God and to his throne. (WES, note sign added)
d “Caught up” – here, the Vulgate’s Latin text has raptus. The Greek text has hêrpasthê, a form of the verb harpazô.
The Scriptures contain several prophecies that have not been fulfilled yet. This world is still in the hands of wicked powers. In the future, Jesus will return and destroy those wicked ones. Before that, God will send his two witnesses. During their work, there will be a great persecution of those who turn to God. It is in those coming times that the great, innumerable multitude of the book of Revelation will be formed. There will also be a time of Judgment, and there are many other prophesied things that still remain to happen.
But, many prophecies have already been fulfilled.
The article rga042.htm considers such passages as 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17, and the question what happened to the saints, why they vanished from the scene, some time after the middle of the first century. That article considers even Matthew 24:31 and 34, 1 Corinthians 15:51–52 and other related scriptures. The article rta051.htm has some notes on such things as the difference between trumpets of God and those of the seven angels, and what the apostle Paul meant and referred to when he wrote about a “last” trump or blast.
Parousia (the event when Jesus came back, for his own) and rapture (when the saints were carried away by angels and taken up to Jesus) certainly are mentioned in the Scriptures. Jesus, Paul and others made it clear that those people were to be caught away. Several New Testament passages show that that event was imminent, and that it was to happen while some of Jesus’ disciples still remained physically alive. The article rga042.htm has more on this.
See also the “recommended reading” section, below.
Please send or mention the address to this site to others. Please also link to this site. The address to the table of contents page is biblepages.net/contents.htm
An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → rsa092.htm
Easy keys to deeper understanding of the Scriptures. → rga021.htm
On the word “saint” and what it means and refers to, in the Bible. → rga032.htm
What happened to the saints of the New Testament? Why is there no record of their doings, after the middle of the first century? → rga042.htm
On the different kinds of prophetic trumpets that are mentioned in the Bible – trumps of God, and those of the seven angels. Also: What did the apostle Paul mean and refer to when he wrote about a “last” trump or blast? → rta051.htm
Who are the 144000 and the great multitude of Revelation 7? Also, who are the first-fruits or virgins of Revelation 14:1–4? → rta032.htm
On what the Bible says about the matter of resurrection. → rba082.htm
The two witnesses of the book of Revelation. Also: Similarities between their work and that of Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist. → rta011.htm
On Matthew 24:21 and Revelation 7:14 and what the Scriptures say about the “great tribulation”. → rta042.htm
What does the Bible say about Heaven? Were the saints to go there? What about others? What does it look like, in Heaven? → rba043.htm
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