Depending on which version of the story you wish to believe, John Nelson Darby either plagiarized or invented the pre-trib rapture theory that is the mainstay of most independent/fundamentalist/non-confessional churches. One version of history has the notion coming from the ecstatic utterances of a young Scottish girl, Margaret McDonald. And as the story goes, Darby picked up and capitalized on the idea in his founding of the Plymouth Brethren.
In either case, the theory did not exist in Christian theology until the 1830s when it took root in one part of England.
You said — “In either case, the theory did not exist in Christian theology until the 1830s when it took root in one part of England.”
In reference to the “idea” (being presented here and elsewhere) that the teaching (and/or preaching) about the so-called “rapture” (or “taking up”) is something that has not been taught before in history, prior to the time that you mentioned (around the 1800s) — there are written historical comments going back centuries that do mention the teaching.
The Catholic Church, which held sway for many centuries over teachings from the Bible (overwhelmingly) did not teach this and would actually persecute and/or kill anyone who taught different from their own doctrines (if they wouldn’t repent). So, it’s definitely not in the mainstream of Catholic teaching and they did hold a *major* position over the centuries, until just recently.
It’s been because it’s only recently (last few hundred years) that Protestants have been able to develop doctrines that proceed *out of the Bible* instead of “out of the traditions of the Catholic Church”. And that’s why you’ll find many recent teachings and developments from Protestants over the last few hundred years.
I mean..., the Catholic Church was persecuting those who tried to translate the Bible into the local languages (and English). And there are still (remaining today) many “anathemas” against Protestants, which are considered still binding (even if not mentioned as much these days), as they are infallible pronouncements from the Catholic Church.
Thus, there *are* documents from ancient history and church teachers/leaders/pastors/priests (whatever fits that category they were in) that show the teaching of the Rapture.
Mind you, there is a huge amount of documentation that has never been translated and/or has never seen the “light of day”. Since the search has gone on to find these documents (about these teachings from history), they have been found. I’m sure more will be found as scholars pore over the ancient documents from many church writers.
Here is a short article outlining three of them, which have been found...
“Yet, Another Pre-Darby Rapture Statement”
And this one is a sample of one of those documents...
“On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World (English)”
AND, in looking up the verses in 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 4, verses 13-18
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 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 thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
... here we see that the words “caught up” — which (when looking in the Strong’s Concordance) comes up with the following...
KJV using Strong’s
From a derivative of G138; to seize (in various applications): - catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).
That’s what is happening to those who are still “alive” at that time — they are “caught up” [or “pluck, pull, take (by force)”]...
And “together” all are with the Lord from then on... (that is..., together with those who were just taken up “out of the grave” — the ones who are “alive” [at the time] are “taking up” with them [who were just raised out of the grave]).
This is a pretty clear picture of the “Rapture”...
And, the word Rapture is a transliteration of the Latin word for this very same word that I’m referencing in Strong’s (the one that means “pluck, pull, or take [by force]). Since the Catholic Church held sway for many centuries and wouldn’t allow any other translations to come into existence (at the time they had the power to prevent it from happening), the “Bible” they used was the Latin Bible. And this word, in the Latin Vulgate (Jerome’s Vulgate), is — “rapiemur”.
Now, we’ve got the word “Rapture” which comes from that Latin version. However, the meaning is there in our English Bible (and in looking at the Strong’s Number Reference) — as “taken up”.
So, if anyone feels better using the words — “taken up” — that’s fine, too — as that is there in the English and it has the meanings (as we see in Strong’s) — to “pluck, pull, take (by force)”.
That should clear up a lot for everyone, I hope.
If one doesn’t like the use the word “Rapture” — simply substitute the words “taken up” and you will find that in the English...