In 1 Thessalonians 4, we find the premiere section of Scripture regarding the future rapture of the church. The Greek word translated “rapture” is harpazo. This is the word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which reads, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up [harpazo] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” As we study the 12 other uses of this Greek word in the New Testament, we can learn much more about the nature of this momentous future event.
When you consider the definition of harpazo and carefully study its other uses, it becomes clear that this harpazo (what we refer to as the rapture) is a sudden, physical snatching away. What’s more, there are several terms in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (the Bible’s primary rapture text) that are related to spiritual warfare. There we read of a “loud command,” the “voice of the archangel” (probably Michael the war angel), and the “trumpet call of God.” These terms all have warfare connotations.
This makes sense when you consider the fact that Satan is described as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2 NKJV), “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “the ruler of this world” ( John 14:30 NKJV), the ruler of “the kingdoms of this world” (Matthew 4:8), and, the deceiver “who leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9). As a result of the fall, earth has been title-deeded to Satan. The future rapture of the church will be a heavenly special-ops snatch-and-grab invasion of enemy territory.
Notice that this seminal future event will take place in the clouds—right in the middle of the enemy territory of the prince of the power of the air. At the moment of the rapture, the spiritual warfare in the heavenly realm will invade our physical world unlike any other time in history. The current scientific theories of naturalism and uniformitarianism will be shattered in an instant when millions of Christians supernaturally disappear from earth via the harpazo.
This event will be like a divine D-Day. It will be a game-changing spiritual war event initiated by God himself, and it will set a whole series of events into motion—culminating in the utter defeat of enemy forces. Much like D-Day, the enemy knows this event is coming soon. He just doesn’t know exactly when.
Unlike D-Day, the winning side will not experience any casualties. On the contrary, we will be more alive than we’ve ever been. The sacrifice has already been made by Jesus. Our spiritual salvation has been won. The D-Day-like rapture will complete the promise as our physical bodies are transformed to match our born-again spirits. “Therefore, encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). The second act of the two-part spiritual war event will occur at the end of the tribulation period when Jesus leads “the armies of heaven” (Revelation 19:14) in an all-out invasion to defeat the enemy and physically take back the earth.
The future rapture of the church will be a heavenly special-ops snatch-and-grab invasion of enemy territory.
Excerpted from Todd Hampson, The Non-Prophet’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2020, 78-79)
Todd Hampson is a speaker, illustrator, animation producer, and the bestselling author of The Non-Prophet’s Guide™ book series. He is also a cohost of The Prophecy Pros Podcast alongside Jeff Kinley. Todd’s award-winning animation company, Timbuktoons, has produced content for many well-known ministry organizations. He and his wife are the proud parents of three grown children and make their home in Georgia. toddhampson.com