In Mark Hitchcock’s book, The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, he writes concerning the Rapture (pp. 220-221):
“Our word rapture comes from the Greek word harpazo in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which is translated “caught up.” It means to seize, snatch, or even to seize forcibly. The Greek word harpazo is found 13 times in the New Testament. This Greek word was translated to the Latin word rapio by Jerome in the Latin Vulgate, and that’s where the word rapture originates.”
Hitchcock points out that, “many people find the idea of a rapture, a simultaneous, sudden snatching away of millions of people to heaven without dying, difficult to accept. It just seems too strange and bizarre to be true. After all, they say, nothing like that has ever happened before. But that’s not true. Many are surprised to learn that according to the Bible, there have been at least six rapture events in history:”
In summary: First, the rapture of Enoch (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5)–Second, the rapture of Elijah (2 Kings 2:1,11)–Third, the rapture of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-3)–Fourth, the rapture of Jesus, through His ascension from earth to heaven. (Revelation 12:5)–Fifth, the rapture of Philip (snatched away, not to heaven, but to another location) (Acts 8:39-40)–Sixth, the rapture of Paul (when he was “caught up” to “Paradise” and then returned to earth.) “When Paul spoke of believers being “caught up” or raptured in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, he knew what he was talking about. He had experienced his own personal rapture. And he couldn’t wait for all believers to experience what he had known.”
Based on what Dr. Hitchcock said above, it is important for you to know that the rapture of the true church is still future and will be sudden, literal and shocking to the world. Many have spoken about a “secret rapture.” While I believe the rapture will be sudden and unexpected to the world, it will definitely leave much of the world in a state of shock and perplexity at the unexplained disappearance of perhaps millions of people. I believe the graves will be burst open, and many planes and vehicles will crash, and much of the world economies will nearly collapse. Yet, the rise of the Antichrist will occur after the rapture and will bring a temporary feeling of “peace and safety.” But this peace will not last long, as the Great Tribulation begins and the mark of the Beast, 666, is soon revealed along with the Beast himself. (Revelation 13)
Are you ready for the Lord’s sudden return for believers? Or will you be left behind? It is a good day today, through prayer, to trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior who died for your sins and rose again. Why not pray to receive Him right now? “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on His name” (John 1:12).