Since there is such an argument about the rapture I decided to do my own investigation. I used the bible as one source. I also used statements by Early Christian Writers. Early Christian Writers provide very important and accurate information about the rapture.
I have researched the rapture and this is what I found. I can tell you the evidence is very clear and very compelling. The antagonists say a theologian named Darby invented this concept in 1828. The antagonists say there is no record of a rapture before Darby invented this. The antagonists are very wrong. The antagonists say the rapture and The Second Coming of Christ makes no sense.
Where did the word rapture come from? According to Holly Deyo St. Jerome, son of Eusebius, first used the word rapture. He used the word, the Latin word rapimur which means rapture or caught up in English. In 400 AD, Jerome in the Latin vulgate (in the Catholic Bible) used the word rapimur which means "rapture", or "CAUGHT UP" to describe the Rapture. Jerome is actually the man who first coined the term – Rapture. Once again, when the antagonists say the rapture is not in the bible they never bothered to check bibles written in Latin.
Let me refer to the verse in the bible. " For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be "CAUGHT UP" together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians chapter 4:16-17). The apostle Paul wrote this.
This rapture is called the blessed hope. "While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ". If you have a bible handy this versed is Titus 2:13. Don't let anyone take your hope away.
I would now like to show the evidence that the early Christian Fathers supported the rapture. I see nowhere any one can argue that the 2nd Coming of Christ and the rapture are the same thing.
The following comes from the General Epistle of Barnabas. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the Lord will deliver up the sheep of his pasture, and their fold." He did not say the last day. He's not talking about the 2nd Coming.
Barnabas was a companion and fellow teacher of Paul. This epistle had significant canonical authority support. This epistle was cited by Clemens, Alexandrinus, Origen Eusebius, and Jerome and other early Christian fathers. These are all very reputable early Christian fathers.
Cyprian was an Early Christian Writer as well as being Bishop of Carthage in the 3rd Century.Cyprian speaking of the imminence of the rapture, wrote, "Who would not crave to be changed and transformed into the likeness of Christ and to arrive more quickly to the dignity of heavenly glory." After telling his readers that the coming resurrection was the hope of the Christian, he points out that the rapture should motivate us as we see the last days approaching. Cyprian says that "we who see that terrible things have begun, and know that still more terrible things are imminent, may regard it as the greatest advantage to depart from it as quickly as possible." Referring to his hope of the approaching rapture, he encouraged his readers as follows: "Do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an early departure you are taken away, and delivered from the shipwrecks and disasters that are imminent?" Cyprian concludes his comments on the translation of the saints with these words: "Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us hence, and sets us free from the snares of the world, and restores us to paradise and the kingdom." (Treatises of Cyprian - 21 to 26)
The Sheperd of Hermas was a Christian literary work of the 1st or 2nd century. The book was considered canonical by the Early Church including Irenaeus."You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly." (documented by Larry V. Crutchfield)
One of the most important evidences for rapture is an apocalyptic sermon from the 4th century titled “Sermon on the End of the World”. It is credited to Ephraim the Syrian, a Syriac deacon and theologian, and of the 4th century who wrote many biblical commentaries. Some suggest it may not have been written until a later date of 565-627 A.D. The exact date doesn’t matter. Even if it were as late as the 7th century, it is still 1100 years prior to the John Darby allegation. It is common knowledge, however, that those who were mentored would write down the words of the original speaker at a later date. It was normal for it to happen this way.
This is a statement by the late Grant Jeffreys. Dr. Paul Alexander, perhaps the most authoritative scholar on the writing of the early Byzantine Church, concluded that Ephraem's text on The Antichrist taught that the Lord would supernaturally remove the saints of the Church from the earth "prior to the tribulations that is to come." Ephraem wrote that the saints will be "taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins." Other scholars, including the German editor Professor Caspari who wrote a German commentary on this Latin manuscript in 1890, believed that Ephraem's manuscript was written by the genuine Ephraem in A.D. 373. Professor Cameron Rhodes, professor of Latin at Tyndale Theological Seminary, translated Ephraem's Latin text into English at the request of my friend Dr. Thomas Ice and myself.
This is from section 2 on Ephraim's sermon called, "Sermon On The End Of The World."
"For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins. Please notice we are initially rescued from the confusion. The elect is gathered lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins. Again, as I previously quoted clearly relates to Jesus stating, " For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. (Matthew 24:24-25) The elect wouldn't be confused because they wouldn't be here. The initial reason for the rapture is to protect us from confusion. This is missed by many studying prophecy who predict a mid tribulation rapture.
If you didn't know The Dead Sea Scrolls were kept by a Christian sect named the Essenes. A journalist named David Augustine reported a scroll from The Dead Sea Scrolls was found and it contained information that shows there would be a rapture. Concerning this find Dr. William Harold writes, "Without doubt, U The scroll, written in Aramaic, the language spoken in the Holy Land during Jesus time on earth, was found in a cave on the shores of the Dead Sea by geologists conducting a survey for the Israeli government." Dr. Harold is a professor of Canon Law. The scroll says, "The Rapture will occur suddenly. And countless thousands will vanish from the earth. Swept up to heaven to live with Jesus and escape the torment of the Tribulation.
Now listen to what Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 17:26-27. 26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
Before the 2nd Coming of Christ will be anything but peace and safety. Two very big armies will be gathered (Armegeddon) to fight each other. Billions of people will have died by then. It makes no sense at all to say this is the Second Coming.
Now look at Paul's passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:1. "Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." The Lord will not come like a thief at the Second Coming. He comes as a conquering King of Kings of the Earth.
Next we look at what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 1:10. " The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." Why in the world would
Here is even more evidence of the rapture. 270-303 AD, Victorinus, the Bishop of Pettau, a Catholic ecclesiastical writer preached it. Victorinus said he saw another great and wonderful sign in his commentary on the Book of Revelation in AD 270:"Seven angels having the last seven plagues, for in them is completed the indignation of God. And these shall be in the last times when the church shall have gone out of the midst."
No doubt about it, St. Victorinus proclaimed the pre tribulation Rapture.
1639-1723 AD Increase Mather pastor, scholar, and the first President of Harvard College. Paul Boyer has noted that this Puritan scholar proved "that the saints would be caught up into the air beforehand, thereby escaping the final conflagration." This teaching from Mather was an early formulation of the rapture doctrine.
1687 AD, Peter Jurieu; in his book Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687) taught that Christ would come in the air to rapture the saints and return to heaven before the battle of Armageddon. He spoke of a secret Rapture prior to His coming in glory and judgment at Armageddon.
Philip Doddridge's commentary on the New Testament (1738) and John Gill's commentary on the New Testament (1748) both use the term "rapture" and speak of it as imminent. It is clear that these men believed that this coming will precede Christ's descent to the earth and the time of judgment. The purpose was to preserve believers from the time of judgment.
1748 AD, John Gill Dr. John Gill was one of the most brilliant scholars of his day. This Calvinist Baptist theologian wrote a full commentary set on the Bible in 1748. In this commentary he made a statement in his notes on 1 Thessalonians 4 that supported a time difference between the rapture of the saints and the coming of Christ to earth. He said:
....here Christ will stop and will be visible to all, and as easily discerned by all, good and bad, as the body of the sun at noon-day; as yet He will not descend on earth, because it is not fit to receive Him; but when that and its works are burnt up, and it is purged and purified by fire, and become a new earth, He'll descend upon it, and dwell with his saints in it: and this suggests another reason why He'll stay in the air, and His saints shall meet Him there, and whom He'll take up with Him into the third heaven, till the general conflagration and burning of the world is over, and to preserve them from it.
Thomas Ice explains the following. 1744 AD Morgan Edwards, the clearest reference to a pre tribulation rapture before Darby comes from American Baptist pastor, educator and historian. Edwards is also founder of the Ivy League school, Brown University. Edwards saw a distinct rapture 3½ years before the start of the millennium. Edward wrote about his pre tribulation beliefs as a student in 1744 and then later published them in 1788 in an essay titled, Two Academical Exercises on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties. His pro-Rapture stance is impossible to dismiss. He taught the following:
I say, somewhat more-, because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ's "appearing in the air" (Thess. 4:17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many "mansions in the father's house" (John 14:2), and disappear during the fore said period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for "now the time is come that judgment must begin," and that will be "at the house of God.
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk] from the city. (Acts 1:11-12) As you can clearly see Jesus will return in the sky. That certainly isn't The Second Coming when Jesus actually stand on the Mount of Olives.
Finally, it is important to note that those watching for the appearing and following the prophecies will receive a crown of righteousness. Paul said, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8) This is compelling proof that the Lord wants you to follow the prophecies. Those ignoring the prophecies he wrote will never receive this crown.