When I actually began walking with Christ some years ago, He gave me a passion for certain areas of His Word that Christians can sometimes get bogged down in, specifically Creation, prophecy, eternal salvation and the rapture. I don’t believe God is ambiguous in any of these areas and you must believe that in order to come to the correct conclusions.
My feelings on the issue of the rapture is that it’s not something that needs to divide Christians because there is a truth about it we can all know and so I’ve written this to encourage discussion and study.
I have published much about the timing of the rapture and still have more to come, but I want to give a quick rebuttal to 2 objections often raised. I want to ask you a very good question for consideration and I’m also going to provide a definition of the rapture based on what I believe Scripture to be teaching.
The 2 objections:
One of the common arguments is to use 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (and other passages from the 2 books) to show that Scripture teaches a pre-trib rapture. I’m going to compare this passage with Christ’s own words to show you it does not teach a pre-trib rapture scenario. I will also use this all-important passage in defining what the rapture really is and who it is really for.
Another common argument in favor of a pre-trib rapture is that born-again Christians will not suffer God’s wrath, therefore we will be raptured before the Tribulation.
The 2 quick points:
1, Consider that born-again Christians have already escaped God’s judgment through the finished work of Christ on the Cross [John 3:36; Romans 5:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9]. We will never experience God’s wrath. That is the Gospel. Consider that you can’t even participate in the rapture unless you are already saved from God’s wrath. Therefore, the rapture is not a vehicle of salvation from God’s wrath. That’s not it’s purpose.
A born-again Christian is already saved from God’s wrath and so this is not a good argument to use.
So, the issue only becomes where does Scripture place the rapture?
2, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 does not teach a pre-trib rapture because Christ doesn’t teach it. Let us focus on Christ’s own words in the Olivet Discourse. In it, Christ, who has told us everything in advance [Mark 13:23], tells us when the rapture takes place:
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
[Matthew 24:29-31 NASB]
Jesus’ own words should settle the matter for us. if Jesus tells us here when it takes place, then the other Scripture people often quote to argue in favor of a pre-trib rapture cannot be correct because we know that the Holy Spirit, the Author of Scripture [2Pe 1:20-21], who teaches us in the Word [John 14:26] cannot contradict Himself [John 16:13] since He is God [Acts 5:3-4]. therefore, multiple interpretations leading to inconsistent conclusions in His Word cannot be true.
Scripture places the rapture immediately after the Tribulation.
Read through 1 Corinthians chapter 15. My question for you to consider is: is Paul teaching about the rapture or the resurrection? This is a bit of a trick question so please spend some time thinking about this.
A definiton of the rapture:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 defines the rapture for us.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NASB]
What’s going on here? The dead in Christ rise first, those who have already passed on. Those who are alive at this time “will be caught up together with them” as they return with Christ. The rapture is defined within the context of the resurrection of the Saints. Therefore, the rapture is the part of the resurrection for those who are alive at the time of Christ’s return to be gathered to Him. Those who are dead in Him are already with Him [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]. Again, the rapture is only for those who are alive at this time so if you die before Christ returns, you won’t be participating in the rapture but you will, indeed, be resurrected.
The purpose of the resurrection is to give all believers their eternal bodies and the resurrection includes the rapture.
And when does the resurrection take place? It takes place at the end of Revelation in chapter 20 – the end of the Tribulation.
My encouragement to you:
On the right hand side of my home page you will see that one of my ministry’s focus areas is “Heeding Christ’s command to be spiritually prepared by establishing a correct timeline of events for the Last Days.” I am passionate about this because I believe there are many dangers associated with the idea of a Pre-Trib rapture. Despite Christ’s many warnings to watch and be spiritually prepared for the time ahead, a great deal many Christians will not be because they think the Church won’t be here and will end up suffering needlessly during the time of the Tribulation at the hands of Satan and Man.
There’s a great deal more than can be said on this topic and, God-willing, that’s something I’ll tackle at a later date. For now, you are invited to browse through the links on the right-hand side of my home page under “An Examination of the Pre-Trib rapture and the Timeline of the End”. As you do so, I would encourage you to start your investigation with this excellent exercise.
5 responses to “Pre-Trib or Post-Trib? 2 Quick Points, a Question and a Definition”
The portion of Mark (the Olivet Discourse) that you quoted is concerning the end of the age, literally. It is about the end of the Tribulation that comes AFTER the last 3 1/2 years just prior to the second coming of Christ. When Christ comes the second time very publicly so that EVERY eye will see Him, He immediately judges all on the earth who have rejected HIM and taken the mark of the beast. They along with the Beast and the demons who have been loosed to run rampant and torment humankind will be judged and punished at that time, but the ELECT, those who have accepted Christ due to the evangelism during the Tribulation (i.e., the 144,000 Jews, the 2 witnesses and angels flying through the earth ministering the Good News), who have rejected the Beast and refused to take his mark, who have survived death and persecution, will be gathered together. They will not be given glorified bodies as the Church and the saints because the earth will be repopulated for 1,000 years before the new heaven and new earth. These ELECT will be the survivors who will repopulate the earth. The Rapture of the Church is quite a different and singular event. Christ will not come to earth; he will call us to meet Him in the air. You may want to read some of John MacArthur’s sermons, which are very clear. A link to one: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/41-67/the-future-tribulation#top and http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/41-69/the-final-generation-part-1.
hi Charlotte. thanks for the links, i finally have a chance to respond!
i agree with a great many things MacArthur teaches but when it comes to the idea that Christ will first only return to the clouds/air and not the earth, i just don’t see the need to make that distinction. i don’t think the text makes it either. i think it’s much simpler than that and here’s why:
there is only one Second Coming of Christ and Paul says right here that the dead in Him will come back with Him and those who are alive at this time will be gathered to Him… when He comes… on His way through the clouds to the earth.
in other words, we’ll be meeting Him in the air as He is returning to the earth. He has to pass through the clouds to get to the earth. then His feet will once again touch the Mount of Olives as it says in Zechariah [Zechariah 14:4]. it is one continuous action/event, otherwise, we’d all be flying around with Him in the air for 7 years doing what, exactly, i don’t know.
here’s a thorough analysis of the following:
the angels told the Disciples in Acts 1:6-12 that Jesus would return in the same way He left. how did He leave?
1. Jesus’ feet are on the ground at the Mount of Olives
2. He ascends to Heaven to a cloud
since He returns in the same way, which also happens to mean at the same place, we can reverse the order:
1. Jesus descends from Heaven from a cloud
2. His feet, again, touch the ground on the Mount of Olives [Zechariah 14:4]
there’s no Scriptural reason to believe He will only stay in the clouds. Revelation 19:11-16 tells us He then goes on to lead His armies in battle to defeat the Antichrist. those who are following Him “clothed in fine linen, white and clean” are us because we were all just gathered to Him on His way!
ON PAUL & THESSALONIANS
i don’t believe it was Paul’s intent to give a full accounting of the events of that day when he wrote that letter to the Thessalonians. his purpose was to comfort those he was writing to because they wanted to know about their friends who had passed on before them. so, when Paul stops writing about that event at that point, i think it has appeared to some that he is leaving Jesus in the clouds and they are inclined to make a separate event out of it.
now Scripture is all important, but also, consider some human reasoning on the matter as well.
returning to the clouds/air of the earth is considered returning to the earth. what if you were flying here in a spaceship and set it in orbit around the earth. suppose someone contacted you wanting to know where you were? what would you tell them? you’d tell them you were at the earth.
even more than the above illustration is this: suppose we’ll get a chance to ask those who were raptured/gathered at the time of Christ’s return whether He came back to the earth for them or not. what do you think they would say? my answer would be a resound YES! what i wouldn’t say is, “no… He only came back to the clouds” because there’s no reason to make that distinction.
WE WILL ALL BE RAISED ON THE LAST DAY
it’s one continuous event that takes place on the Last Day:
Pretrib Rapture Pride
Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
Ice’s mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn’t find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 – and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers “the early pretribulationists” (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including “Pseudo-Ephraem” and a “Rev. Morgan Edwards,” taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist’s arrival as the only “imminent” event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an “imminent” pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards’ historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google “Morgan Edwards’ Rapture View” and journalist/historian Dave MacPherson’s “Deceiving and Being Deceived” for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read “pretrib” into phrases like “before Armageddon,” “before the final conflagration,” and “escape all these things”!
BTW, the KJV translators’ other writings found in London’s famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) don’t have even a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib “proof” in the KJV that its translators never found?
Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up “Famous Rapture Watchers” (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
Pretrib didn’t flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby “explanatory notes” in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield’s criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book “The Praise of Folly” which is available online.
Biola University’s doctrinal statement says Christ’s return is “premillennial” and “before the Tribulation.” Although universities stand for “academic freedom,” Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases – non-essentials the founders purposely didn’t include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
Ice, BTW, has a “Ph.D” issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn’t authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he’s working on another “Ph.D” via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice’s scholarliness, Google “Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “be careful in polemics – Peripatetic Learning,” and “Walvoord Melts Ice.” Also Google “Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)” – featured by media luminary Joe Ortiz on his Jan. 30, 2013 “End Times Passover” blog.
Other fascinating Google articles include “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “X-raying Margaret,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart,” “Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrets,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” and “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism” – most from the author of “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate documentation on pretrib rapture history) which can be obtained by calling 800.643.4645.
Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?
(Postscript: For another jolt or two Google “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up.”)
/Saw the preceding on the net. /
that is some great info. i feel like if people would just read Jesus’ own words the matter would be solved.
~ “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
[Matthew 24:29-31 NASB]
He describes the gathering of the living – the rapture – within the context of His second coming. he does it again in verses 26 – 42.
[Hi there, p2alm. Sharing what I found on the worldwide web.]
PRETRIB RAPTURE SCHOLARSHIP !
How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 2:34,35 reveal that Jesus stays at the Father’s right hand in heaven until He leaves to destroy His foes at the second coming to earth. Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven with the Father “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. (“The Rapture Question,” by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn’t dare to even list, in its scripture index, the above verses! The same Acts verses were also too hot for John Darby – the so-called “father of dispensationalism” – to list in the scripture index in his “Letters”!)
Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The “rest” for “all them that believe” is also tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who’d be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the end of trib “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which Scofield views as Israel’s posttrib resurrection!) It’s amazing that the Olivet Discourse contains the “great commission” for the church but not even a hint of a pretrib rapture for the church!
Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this “rapture” was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” [“gathering”] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Google “Walvoord Melts Ice.”
Other Google articles on the 183-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart,” “Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” and “Morgan Edwards’ Rapture View” – most by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate and documented book on pretrib rapture history which is obtainable by calling 800.643.4645).