"Rapture" is derived from Middle French rapture, via the Middle Latin raptura ("seizure, rape, kidnapping") from Latin raptus, "a carrying off"
- 1: an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion
- 2a : a state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion
- b : a mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things
- 3: often capitalized : the final assumption of Christians into heaven during the end-time according to Christian theology
The rapture is a reference to the "being caught up" referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, when the "dead in Christ" and "we who are alive and remain" will be caught up in the clouds to meet "the Lord".
The term "rapture" is used in at least two senses in modern traditions of Christian eschatology; in pre-tribulationist views, in which a group of people will be "left behind", and as a synonym for the final resurrection generally.
There are many views among Christians regarding the timing of Christ's return (including whether it will occur in one event or two), and various views regarding the destination of the aerial gathering described in 1 Thessalonians 4. Denominations such as Roman Catholics (as described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676 and 677), Orthodox Christians, Lutheran Christians, and Reformed Christians believe in a rapture only in the sense of the final resurrection generally, when Christ returns.
Pre-tribulation rapture theology was developed in the 1830s by British evangelist John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and popularized in the United States in the early 20th century by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible.