"For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we who 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
"Caught up" is the King James translation of the Greek word "ἁρπάζω" (harpazō), which occurs seventeen times in thirteen verses in the New Testament. It is translated "take it by force" in Mt. 11:12; John 6:15; Acts 23:10;"catcheth away" in Mt. 13:19; Acts 8:39; "catches" in John 10:12; "pluck" John 10:28, 29; "caught up" in 2 Cor. 12:2, 4; 1 Thess. 4:17; Rev. 12:5; "pulling them out" in Jude 1:23. Notice that in each case, something or someone is removed by the actions of another; it is not the act of one's own volition. This is in contrast to the Ascension of the Lord in Acts 1:9 where the Greek word is ἐπαίρω (epairō), and Ephesians 4:8 where the Greek is ἀναβαίνω (anabainō): both words indicate that the one rising is doing so by choice.
The best and clearest passage on the topic of the Rapture of the Church is found in John 14:1-3 which says:
"Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
Some other passages shed light on the reason for God's timing of the Rapture:
* The Tribulation following the Rapture is a time of God's wrath appointed for the Jews (Dan. 9:24).
* The Tribulation is also known as the Time of Jacob's Trouble (Jer. 30:7).
* The Church is not appointed to experience God's wrath (1 Thess. 5:9).
* Jesus promised to keep the Church out of the Tribulation (Rev. 3:10).
* The Apostle John, representing the Church Age, is called up into heaven (Rev. 4:1). The Book of Revelation is divided into three parts: past, present, and future. John was to write what he had already seen; what he saw happening at that time; and what would happen in the future (Rev. 1:19). Notice Ch. 1 was past; Ch. 2-3 was the present Church Age; and Ch. 4-22 referred to the future.
BELIEVERS LONG FOR HIS RETURN; UNBELIEVERS SHOULD BE TERRIFIED!