This question was sent to Elijah at The Underground Bible.
“I researched the word ‘raptos’ of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. I came up with raptos is Latin, the original Greek word for this ‘harpazo’ (anglicized) means either to ‘snatch, catch up or pluck’ or to ‘save or rescue’. Even though I have problems with preachers who turn one word into a whole theology, especially one with multiple interpretations, in this research I can only say that Paul is saying snatched. BUT, is Paul a prophet i.e. should every word that he writes be taken as a future prophecy? Or as a missionary and disciple whose letters to exhort converts get zealous?” -William
The first problem is any person doing private research, who is not familiar with the actual language or languages they are researching, results in a non-solution situation. Since, all languages are not translatable without a full understanding of the language. Words cannot be transferred independently, because all words used in a language are dependent upon the text surrounding the word and the use of the word decided upon by the society at the time of its recorded usage.
For example: if the word ‘gay’ in the English language were to be translated from a text today, it would come up as either ‘homosexual’ or ‘happy’ depending upon the text. Yet, if the text were written during Shakespearean times, it could carry a different meaning. Therefore, the time period in which the text was written has a very profound influence upon the words used in any ancient text.
Although translators have been wrestling with the ancient Biblical texts for thousands of years, even the Apostle Paul admits in the book of Hebrews that he is unaware of the actual meaning concerning an Old Testament text written about 1,000 years prior to his birth.
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
Adding to the dilemma is the fact that colloquialisms, slang, and idioms used during the writer’s time period also add to the problem facing a translator who is thoroughly familiar with a language hundreds or even thousands of years later.
An additional problem is the Hebrew language, which is part of the Aramaic language used in the New Testament, was lost for nearly 2,000 years before it was re-invented by today’s Israeli Jews; plus the same problem facing the use of the Greek language, which is the other part of the Aramaic language of the New Testament. Just take a look at the changes that have occurred in the English language over the past 500 years, from Shakespeare’s time to the re-invention of American English.
Therefore, all this to say: It is an impossible task for a person uneducated in foreign languages to research dead languages. Trying to unravel the use of words in foreign texts is best left to experts who have dedicated their lives to such things. It is even extremely difficult for people who actually live in foreign countries where the specific language or languages are in use as everyday language, because of the changes caused by society as it evolves over time. A person born in a country learns to sense the use of phraseology from birth; which is why they call it the person’s Mother Tongue. Since no one is alive on earth that actually experienced the Biblical languages as a Mother Tongue, it is safe to say unraveling lost languages is not a science.
In your e-mail, you refer to researching the Latin word Raptos. This causes an even greater problem for the translator of Biblical Text, because Latin is referred to as a dead language. This means the language stopped being used by the public thousands of years ago, except for a handful of people known as priests in the Roman Catholic Church: whose dependability and truthfulness has come into question thousands of times during the past 2,000 years. Not to mention that the Romans are the ones who destroyed original scriptures, letters and documents, during the Roman Crusader Wars (10th to 14th centuries AD), or perhaps they have kept the written documents secret.
The documents seized by the Roman Crusaders were produced by the early Church of Jesus and the Apostles. The result of these document seizures was the Roman Church’s Latin Vulgate Bible. Rome had specifically chosen writings of the early church translated into Latin to hide the writings of the Apostles from the public. The Roman authorities then passed a law forbidding anyone, except Roman clergy, to read the Latin Bible, under penalty of death.
The next point concerning the translation of foreign languages like Greek and Hebrew or Aramaic is the many meanings attached to words. You admit this fact in your letter. The Greek word ‘harpazo’, which can be traced to the Latin word ‘raptos’, has at least four meanings that may or may not be similar in meaning; and must be translated according to the immediate surrounding text and the text recorded elsewhere in the Bible concerning the same topic.
I found it interesting that you decided to choose the meaning of the word in question to be ‘snatched’, which shows me that you might be prejudiced against other meanings and have chosen one that suits your beliefs or an idea you have pre-determined to be true. In any research, one must keep an open mind or the research will not render truth.
For example: When a person prays for a new Cadillac automobile, they have already precluded God must give them their desire. Otherwise, they would be praying in God’s will, which is only recorded in the Bible. Since, we are supposed to be following Christ, and Biblical records only show Jesus walking everywhere, except for one incident of riding on a donkey to fulfill a prophecy, I conclude praying for a specific expensive car is not exactly in the will of God.
If a person has any precluded ideas that originated with the Roman Catholic Church about 1,000 years ago to deceive the world, then that information will deter any truth hoped for by research. The Rapture is an idea that did not begin with Darby in England. He merely re-introduced an old Roman idea. Deception can only be overturned by having an open mind.
Since, the scripture you quoted in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is not the only place in the Bible that speaks on the subject known as the Rapture, and there are many passages that teach the opposite is true, then my advice is to research the Bible for information on the subject and not just words in foreign languages.
My choice of translating the word ‘harpazo’ is totally opposite the Roman’s choice of ‘raptos’, which is where the word ‘rapture’ originated. My choice of translating the word ‘harpazo’ is the same as the original translators who worked for King James of England centuries ago. My choice is ‘to catch up’, which is the infinitive form of the verb ‘caught up’. A verb that carries a simple meaning: complicated by deceitful or ignorant preachers. It means, you go first and I’ll catch up with you later.
When you apply this meaning to the text surrounding 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which text must also be kept within the boundaries of all the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, then you get a very different picture than that presented by modern Rapture promoters.
The ideas presented in 1 Thessalonians must include the essence of Christianity, which is the resurrection of the dead. This essence can only be interpreted as meaning a person must physically die to experience the phenomenon of being resurrected from the dead. One must also physically die to follow Jesus, who by-the-way also died physically. Jesus also taught us, if it happens to us, it happened to him first. If anyone deserved to be Raptured, it would have been Jesus.
When the pretentious ideas perpetrated by a false Roman theology are stripped away by the application of all the writings Rome made the mistake of publicizing, then the truth floats to the top like oil on water. Rome’s only mistake was allowing anything from an original text to make it into the light.
Rome was deluded by believing they could keep the Bible’s truths a secret, by choosing the most difficult captured documents, and then isolating them from the public by translating them into Latin. Their delusion resulted in the birth of the Protestant Reformation.
The Reformation began an era of protesters opposing the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Rome believed their endeavors would give them the ability to easily spin their web of deceit around the world, so they could re-introduce buying and selling. Their plan wasn’t easy, but has been mostly successful to date.
Rome’s web has encircled the globe using the name Christianity, but salvation is of the Jews. So, the Roman Catholic Jews left over from the days of the Pharisees, from the Roman Pope down to the Monsignors, should have read the book of Revelation more carefully and paid heed to what Jesus said to the churches while exposing the Romans for what they are:
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. -Revelation 2:9
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. -Revelation 3:9
The text in Thessalonians plainly tells us that the people who remain alive on earth, shall catch up with their brethren who have fallen asleep (physically died) who are (spirits), with the Lord in the air. The word ‘clouds’ is a metaphor used to describe God’s children who have been given clean white robes signifying their sins have been forgiven (see Zechariah 3:1-5).
1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Do not separate verse 17 above from the context of the verses below, where I have underlined the key phrases:
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so (will) them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep (from coming with the Lord).
1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain (for the coming of the Lord) shall catch up together with them (who have physically died and are coming with the Lord) in the clouds (of dead people) (10,000 times 10,000 who have physically died), to meet the Lord in the air: and then we shall be with the Lord forever.
Here is a simple technique I have taught many people, to gain understanding. Take out extra parts of the sentences to get to the subject matter.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 + 17
I do not want you to be ignorant concerning them who have died. Because, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so (will) they which also died (rise again). This we say, that we who are alive and remain (alive) shall not prevent them which are dead (from being resurrected from the dead and being with the Lord).
Then we who are alive and remain (alive for the coming of the Lord) shall catch up with them (by physically dying) and then we shall be with the Lord forever.
I do hope this helps you unravel the meaning of ‘raptos’.