Instantly Instantaneous :: By Jeff Van Hatten

We use many words to define the word instant, including: abrupt, fast, immediate, instantaneous, prompt, quick, rapid, sudden, and unexpected. Scripture, likewise, uses many different words that are translated as instant or instantly.

Instant Defined in the Older Covenant

In the Older Covenant, raga [H7280] and rega [H7281 from H7280], which both mean: a very short space of time – as in a wink of the eyes – are two words that Jeremiah uses frequently {see Jeremiah 4:20; 18:7; 18:9; 49:19; 50:44; Isaiah 47:9; Lamentations 4:6}. Isaiah also uses the word pith’owm [H6597 from petha H6621], which both mean: in a wink, i.e., moment {Isaiah 29:5; 30:13}. We need to understand that a wink is not a blink but is just a very short space of time, as in quickly. Wink and Blink are not equal in length.

Instant Defined in the Newer Covenant

In the Newer Covenant, Matthew, Mark, and John prefer euthus [G2117] or eutheos [G2112 from G2117], which both mean: directly, i.e., at once or soon {see Matthew 20:34; Mark 1:42; 5:29; 9:24; 10:52; John 6:21; 18:27; Revelation 4:2}. Luke uses two different words but seems to prefer parachrema [G3916], which means: at the thing itself, forthwith, presently, straightway, soon {see Luke 8:44; 8:47; 18:43; 22:60; Acts 3:7; 5:10}. Only once does Luke use stigme [G4743], which means: a point of time, i.e., a moment {Luke 4:5}. Again, we see the image of something that takes place soon, in a very short time, as in quickly, but this does not equate to an indivisible moment of time.

Paul introduces us to the words atomos [G823] and rhipe [G4493], which together mean: in the instantaneous, indivisible blink of an eye, which today we define as a nanosecond of time when he is teaching about the resurrection. {1 Corinthians 15:52}. Only in this singular verse do we find the concept of an event that takes place in an indivisible moment of time.

Instant Defined Today

Today we have all kinds of instant food items: instant coffee, instant noodles, instant potatoes, instant rice, and instant milk. These items are considered instant if they can be prepared in less than one minute. However, even using a microwave oven, it often takes at least one minute to boil the water for the coffee, noodles, potatoes, or rice, and much longer to cool the water for the milk! I don’t see any nanosecond of instant occurrence here – do you?

We have instant communications, but again, it takes time to dial the number, time for the dialed number to ring, and more time for the person to answer the phone that is ringing. I don’t see any nanosecond of instant occurrence here – do you?

The same can be said for lightning. We say lightning flashes instantly, but a single flash is formed by a series of about four lightning strokes. Each stroke lasts for about 30 microseconds, so a flash of lightning can take up to 120 microseconds, substantially longer than a nanosecond. I don’t see any nanosecond of instant occurrence here, either – do you?

And yet, we generally apply the rhipe definition of an indivisible, instant blink of the eye; in other words, in a nanosecond of time, to most items we consider instant. Me thinks our definition of instant needs a little fixin’ – what do you say?

HARPAZO – Taken by Force

Taken by force are the words used by scripture in numerous places to translate the Greek word harpazo [G726], which means: to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away. If we compare the Newer Covenant word harpazo with the Older Covenant Hebrew word laqach [H3947], we find that laqach also means: to take, seize, send for, fetch, carry away.

Here are some examples of those words:

Violent men “take the kingdom of heaven by force” {Matthew 11:12}. This process has been ongoing for roughly 6,000 years! Not even close to a nanosecond of instant occurrence!

The evil one “snatches away the words of Yahweh if that person fails to understand their meaning” {Matthew 13:19}. This process usually happens over a period of time – we call this a falling away or apostasy. Not even close to a nanosecond of instant occurrence!

Yeshua knew that people wanted to take him by force, so he departed to the mountains {John 6:15}. Yet another example of a harpazo that did not occur in a nanosecond of time.

The centurions were afraid the crowd would kill Paul, so they took him by force and brought him to the barracks {Acts 23:10}. This removal from the public arena to the barracks did not happen in a nanosecond.

Robbers come to plunder and steal and to carry off the goodies they have found {Matthew 12:29}. This usually takes a bit of time. When the SWAT team shows up at the door to seize the criminal and carry them off by force, rarely does the SWAT team instantly remove someone – how many times have we seen on TV the hours-long standoffs. Rarely do criminal activities and the arrest of those same criminals happen in a nanosecond.

Elijah was “taken” {2 Kings 2:3, 2:5, 2:9}, but again, Elijah did not disappear in a nanosecond.

HARPAZO – The Rapture

The nanosecond definition is also applied to the Rapture, which is puzzling. The most commonly applied definition of the word translated rapture, or caught up, harpazō [G726], is: to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away. I prefer the third definition: to claim for one’s self eagerly. Regardless of which definition one uses, the imposition of a nanosecond event simply does not conform to the many instances of the word harpazo describing an ongoing process that is anything but instantaneous.

But, what about Philip, you ask?

Acts 8:39-40 – “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Ashdod, and as he passed through, he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.”

Seriously, you really think this is a nanosecond occurrence? Do you have children? Ever taken them to the store? Humph. Let me translate the above scripture for you using a more modern, family approach: “When you were studying the nutrition label on a product, the Spirit of the Lord snatched the child away, and you saw not where they went. But the child found themself in the candy aisle as they passed through the movie aisle and the shoe aisle until they came to the toys aisle.” Now, you may not have been as joyful as the eunuch, but the child’s disappearance did not take place in a nanosecond – the child was not instantly transported to the candy aisle.

I find no grounds for imposing an instant transportation reading on the disappearance of Philip – the Spirit did not beam him away ala Star Trek technology. The spirit simply required Philip to depart immediately without saying goodbye to the eunuch, and the eunuch was so filled with rejoicing that he simply went on his way. Neither he nor Philip saw each other again. I don’t see any nanosecond of instant occurrence here, either – do you?


You have heard it said that the rapture is an instantaneous event that happens at the same time as the resurrection of the dead. But I say scripture presents an entirely different scenario. For instance, we have the bodily resurrections of the following people:

The Seven

  • The son of the Shunammite woman (1 Kings 17:21-22, and 2 Kings 4:31-35)
  • The dead man placed into the tomb of Elisha (2 Kings 13:21)
  • The prophet Jonah (Jonah 2:1-10)
  • The daughter who is only “asleep” (Matthew 9:23-25; Mark 5:35-42; and Luke 8:52-55)
  • The only son of a widow (Luke 7:11-15)
  • Lazarus (John 11:11-44)
  • Dorcas/Tabitha (Acts 9:37-42)

Not one of these seven resurrected people instantly disappeared when they came back to life. Just the opposite. ALL were seen alive by many after their resurrection. I don’t see any nanosecond instant disappearance here – do you?

The Holy Ones in Jerusalem

Matthew 27:50-53 – “The graves were opened, and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life; and after Yeshua rose, they came out of the graves and went into the holy city, where many people saw them.”

Those who were already in the grave were resurrected at the moment Yeshua died and later were seen by many as they witnessed in the city of Jerusalem. I don’t see any nanosecond instant disappearance here – do you?


Matthew 28:7 – “He has been raised from the dead, and now he is going to Galilee ahead of you.”

Mark 16:9 – “When Yeshua rose early on Sunday, he appeared first to Miryam of Magdala.”

John 20:17 – “Stop holding onto me,’ Yeshua said to her, ‘because I have not yet ascended to the Father.”

When Yeshua rose early on Sunday, he appeared first to Miriam of Magdala and commanded her not to cling to him as he had “not yet ascended to his Father,” saying he would meet them in Galilee. I don’t see any nanosecond instant disappearance here – do you?

The Two Witnesses of Revelation

Revelation 11:11-12 – “But after the three-and-a-half days a breath of life from God entered them, they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then the two heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up into heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them.”

The two witnesses are resurrected, stand on their feet, were called to come up, finally were raptured. I don’t see any nanosecond instant disappearance here, either – do you?

As was the case of The Seven, neither the Holy Ones, nor Yeshua, nor the Two Witnesses instantly disappear after their resurrection. Just the opposite. ALL were seen alive by many after their resurrection.


We need to understand the word instant is more accurately defined as quickly, not as an instantaneous, indivisible nanosecond of time – that a wink is not a blink, but is just a very short space of time. Wink and Blink are not equal in length.

Imposing an instant, nanosecond interpretation on the word harpazo, which means: to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away, is unnecessary. The most common usage of the word harpazo simply shows a removal by force over a period of time – short or more prolonged. Furthermore, Scripture does not reveal one single resurrection that culminates in a rapture of any kind, much less an instant, nanosecond disappearance.

I believe the instant disappearance rapture paradigm is as flawed as our definition of the word instant. Me thinks our definitions and interpretations need a little fixin’ – what do you say?

Final Thought

The prophetic signs are burgeoning and not abating. Time is incredibly short – Yeshua Ha’Mashiach is coming soon – so be of great cheer, keep looking up, and keep maintaining an attitude of gratitude. Be sure you are believing The Truth, not The Lie. Be sure Yeshua is your Redeemer, King, and High Priest, and your sins are forgiven.