Are you wondering what the Bible says about the rapture? In this article, we will explore the topic of the rapture and what the Bible says about it. Most importantly, we will review the pre-tribulational rapture doctrine and compare it to the light of scriptures. By the end, I hope to provide clarity and inspire further study and reflection on the topic of the rapture for all readers.
It is important to approach this topic with an open mind and a willingness to study and discern the truth. I want to encourage you to read this article to the end so you're able to see the full picture.
I have one last request for you, dear reader. If this article has challenged or blessed you, I kindly ask you to share it with a friend so that the effort and time put into it can be a blessing to others and the Lord can use it for His glory and most importantly prepare His bride.
I hope and pray that the points made will stir up a hunger for you to seek the Lord and His truth.
Grace and peace to you,
Table of Contents
- Laying a Foundation of The Rapture
- What the Scriptures Say
- Jesus places the rapture after the tribulation.
- Jesus Asked the Father To Keep Us Here
- Paul said that the relief of our sufferings will not be a “rapture”, but the coming of Jesus.
- We get our new bodies when Jesus comes, not in a rapture
- The Meek Inherit The Earth
- Persecution During the Tribulation Period
- Restoration of All Things
- The Tares and Wheat
- Day of the Lord as His Singular Return for Salvation
- Scriptures Used to Support Pre-Trib
Laying a Foundation of The Rapture
Before we delve into the scriptures, I would like to lay a foundation that will help us examine the scriptures more clearly.
You might ask yourself why is it even worth discussing this topic... can't everyone just believe what they want about the end times? I would like to challenge you on this. Having a correct understanding of eschatology is important for our holy faith. It aligns with biblical teachings, helps believers avoid false teaching, strengthens our faith, prepares us for persecution, fosters unity and gives us incredible hope. It helps us to live obedient lives, share the gospel, and remain faithful to the end.
Most importantly, Jesus asked us to discern and study the end times (Matt 16:2-3, Matt 24:32-33).
While many of us might differ on the rapture views, I believe it should not be a topic of division. We should all diligently seek the Lord about the doctrine so we can find ourselves approved and not fall into deception. While we can disagree on some points with the arguments that will be made, every Christian should agree on these basic doctrines:
- Both the Old Testament and New Testament teach that there is a promise of divine rule on this earth where Jesus Christ will reign as King.
- We must all anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ.
- There will be a resurrection of the dead.
- There is an eternal judgment at the end of the age.
We need to use these unifying doctrines to inspire hope. If you do not believe in these basic doctrines, which are part of the foundations of our faith, then you must seek the Lord immediately because you are in error.
Before we get into the meat of the scriptures, I want to define some of the words that I will be using in this article. For example many confuse the wrath of God with the tribulation. These are separate events and should not be put together.
Pre-tribulation: The pre-tribulation position advocates that the rapture will occur before the beginning of a seven-year tribulation period, while the second coming will occur at the end of it. Pre-tribulationists often describe the rapture as Jesus coming for the church and the second coming as Jesus coming with the church.
💡 Side note… As you go through the scriptures later in this article, note that the Bible doesn’t separate “rapture” from the second coming as pre-tribulationists do.
Tribulation: The tribulation period lasts for a total of 7 years and is divided into two sections: "The Beginning of Birth Pains" and "The Great Tribulation". The Great Tribulation is closely associated with the abomination of desolation, an act performed by the Antichrist. In Daniel 9:26-27, it is revealed that the Antichrist will establish a covenant or peace agreement with the world that will last for seven years. However, halfway through this seven-year period, the Antichrist will break the covenant. This period will be marked by intense persecution and suffering for believers which Jesus has promised will come to His disciples. It is important to note that the tribulation period is separate from the wrath of God, which occurs at the return of Jesus Christ.
Wrath of God: The Wrath of God is a significant event that occurs at the return of Jesus Christ. It is the pouring out of God's wrath upon all those who have been disobedient. This event is distinct from the tribulation, which is a period of 7 years characterized by the rule of the antichrist, rumors of wars, persecution of God's people, deception, and great distress caused by the antichrist. During the Wrath of God, Jesus will judge and punish the unbelievers for their disobedience, while the believers who have remained faithful will be saved and receive their reward. It is important to understand that the tribulation and the Wrath of God are separate events with different purposes and outcomes.
Day of the Lord: The Day of the Lord refers to the day when Jesus Christ will be revealed and return to earth. This day is described in the scriptures as a great and terrible day because it will be a time of wrath poured out on all of God's enemies. It is a day of judgment and justice, where God's righteous judgment will be executed.
On the Day of the Lord, believers will receive their new bodies and meet the Lord in the air, thus being spared from the wrath that will be unleashed. This event is often associated with the resurrection of the dead and the gathering of the elect.
💡 It is important to note that the Day of the Lord is distinct from the tribulation period and the wrath of God. The tribulation period is a time of intense persecution and suffering for believers caused by the antichrist, while the wrath of God is the pouring out of His judgment upon the disobedient. The Day of the Lord encompasses these events and signifies the final culmination of God's divine plan for the end times.
What is the rapture?
"The rapture" is an English term that refers to the event when believers will ascend to meet the Lord Jesus in the clouds. The term is often taken from Paul's remarks in 1 Thessalonians, where he used the Greek word "harpazo," which means "to snatch away" or "to seize." Paul also provided a detailed explanation of the rapture in 1 Corinthians 15.
The Old Testament taught two key points:
- God would "come" from heaven in the future to save His people.
- The dead would be resurrected or raised back to life out of the earth in the future.
The New Testament explains two key points:
- It states that both of these things occur simultaneously.
- It describes how those who are alive and dead in Christ when Jesus returns will experience the resurrection. They will receive a spiritual body and be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air."
❓ Does God change throughout the ages or is He the same yesterday, today and forever? If He is the same, we need to review our interpretations of the scriptures.
- Did God change His view on what was written in the Old Testament?
- Or did we teach it wrong?
Old Testament Foreshadows
There are stories in the OT which can be used to describe a rapture, but in all of them, the righteous were never taken out of the earth.
- Noah was protected from the flood but stayed on earth
- Lot was saved from God’s judgement but did not leave earth
While more examples can be used, Jesus only refers to these two in Luke 17:26-28
The Early Church
What further proof can we find to review our beliefs? If the Old Testament did not teach a rapture but rather talked about "a Day," what did the early Church believe? Studying this aspect will help us understand if we might have the wrong perspective on this issue.
The early Church fathers universally held a Post-tribulation view. In other words, they believed that the Church would experience the Great Tribulation and the rise of the Antichrist. There is no evidence to support the expectation of a pretribulation rapture.
💡 While we should not base our doctrines solely on these writings, they provide valuable insights into the early church's beliefs. If these writings do not align with the current canon of scriptures, we should disregard them. However, as you will see later in this document, everything will make sense.
The Didache (c.70–c.120) “[T]hen shall appear the deceiver of the world … and he shall commit iniquities which have never been since the world began. Then shall the creation of mankind come to the fiery trial and many shall be offended and be lost, but they who endure in their faith shall be saved … Then shall the world see the Lord coming on the clouds of Heaven.” (Didache 16:4–8)
Epistle of Barnabas (c.80–c.100) “The final stumbling-block approaches … That the Black One [Antichrist] may find no means of entrance, let us flee from every vanity, let us utterly hate the works of the way of wickedness… Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord.” (Epistle of Barnabas, 4)
💡 If the Church is already raptured before the tribulation (which is where the antichrist will reign), how can this man of lawlessness thrust us away from the Kingdom of God?
Pre-tribulation Rapture Is Not Historical
This typical believed theology about the rapture wasn't believed until the 19th century.
The concept of the rapture originated from a woman who claimed to have a vision, and later, the term rapture was modernized by men and applied to what they call "the first phase" of the Second Coming. This teaching was developed by a British preacher named John Nelson Darby in the 1830s. He founded the Plymouth Brethren Church and promoted a system of scriptural interpretation known as dispensationalism. Dispensationalists believe that God had different rules for different groups at other times, such as the law for the Jews and grace for the Church. Darby's teachings were later popularized by C. I. Scofield, an American lawyer and minister who authored the well-known Scofield Reference Bible in the early twentieth century. Through Scofield's influence, Protestant evangelicals began to widely accept the teachings of both dispensationalism and the secret rapture. Unfortunately, these ideas have led many sincere people astray from God's valid message to Christians in the end times.
Why Post-Trib is a Safer Option
If Post-Tribbers are wrong, we will be pleasantly surprised, but it will not hinder our faith - we patiently endured suffering on the earth, and the Lord will be pleased with us teaching the saints to endure tribulation and suffering.
If those who believe in the Rapture before the Tribulation are incorrect, it could lead to a lot of disappointment, confusion, and disillusionment. It may even cause some people to lose their faith altogether. The idea of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture goes against the teachings of bearing our crosses and appeals to shallow, western, self-centred Christianity.
What Are You Preparing For?
If you’re preparing to be snatched up before the tribulation, you do not need to “endure to the end.” There are many appeals in the scriptures to stay steadfast in our faith. It’s easy to live the Christian life currently in the Western culture, but what about when persecution arises?
Jesus has promised us persecution, and when the antichrist is in power, he will be waging war against all the saints - that’s why Jesus said we must endure. It will be a persecution on the earth like we haven’t seen before.
🔒 I would much rather prepare people for the worst and rejoice if it doesn’t apply rather than be surprised. As teachers, we carry a higher responsibility not to create false hopes or promises.
What the Scriptures Say
Jesus places the rapture after the tribulation.
📖 Mat 24:30-31 NASB95 - 30 "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. 31 "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.
- Jesus says after the tribulation and the anti-christ being revealed, we will see Him returning
- Jesus didn’t mention a “secret” rapture
- Everyone will see the Son of Man (Jesus) coming
- When He comes, it says He will gather all His elect
- If there is a rapture before the tribulation, then Jesus was lying
- If there is a rapture before the tribulation, then Jesus came three times while Jesus and the scriptures only talk about a second coming.
This scripture sounds very similar to the one in 1Thess, which is often used to describe the rapture. Look at the similar words used in this and the previous passage.
💡 I coloured the similar words used for easy comparison. See below.
📖 1Th 4:16-17 NASB95 - 16 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. 17 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.
📖 Mat 24:30-31 NASB20 - 30 "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. 31 "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET BLAST, and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
When Paul wrote 1Thess 4:15-18 and said “I say this to you by the word of the Lord,” He was directly rephrasing what Jesus has already said in the book of Matthew. They are both describing the same event. Here is a image that makes it very clear:
The scriptures speak about a resurrection when Christ returns - the gathering of the elect, the resurrection, and Christ’s return on the earth are all ONE event.
📖 1Co 15:51-53 NASB95 - 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
- At the last trumpet, the dead in Christ will be raised
- The last trumpet will sound when Christ appears
- This is an event everyone will see and they will mourn (Matt 24:30)
Jesus Asked the Father To Keep Us Here
📖 Jhn 17:15 NASB20 - 15 "I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them away from the evil one.
If we believe in a secret rapture, we are going against the prayer of Jesus. In the prayer, Jesus specifically asked the Father to keep us here on earth and protect us from the evil one, who is another name for the antichrist. By rejecting the idea of a secret rapture, we are affirming our trust in Jesus' prayer and his desire for us to remain in this world, guarded from the influence of the antichrist.
Paul said that the relief of our sufferings will not be a “rapture”, but the coming of Jesus.
📖 2Th 1:4-8 NASB95 - 4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 [This is] a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is [only] just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and [to give] relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
We once again observe a similar sentence structure used as in previous passages. When the Lord appears in heaven, He will gather His saints, provide relief for us (by giving us new bodies), and pour out His wrath on everyone who did not obey Him.
We get our new bodies when Jesus comes, not in a rapture
📖 1Co 15:21-23 NASB20 - 21 For since by a man death [came,] by a Man also [came] the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,
This passage states that all believers in Christ will be made alive, each in their own order. The order mentioned here is that Christ will be the first fruits of the resurrection (which happened), followed by those who belong to Him at His coming.
Therefore, it is clear that our new bodies will be received when Jesus comes (not in a secret rapture). Jesus said His coming after the tribulation.
The Meek Inherit The Earth
When God created the earth, He said it was good! God wants us to rule on earth and be a light to the nations. The issue is Satan is the ruler of this world because mankind gave the dominion to the kingdom of darkness. Nature is crying out for the true sons of God to be revealed because nature knows that once the righteous rule, and Satan is destroyed, it will be good again! Consider these verses of wonderful promises. We can see that the scripture never speaks about us leaving the earth, but rather inheriting it and the unrighteous being destroyed.
📖 Mat 5:5 NKJV - 5 Blessed [are] the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
📖 Psalms 37:11 (NASB20) But the humble will inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
📖 Psalms 37:29 (NASB20) The righteous will inherit the land And dwell in it forever.
📖 Mat 13:49-50 NASB20 - 49 "So it will be at the end of the age: the angels will come forth and remove the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Persecution During the Tribulation Period
It is commonly debated that Christians won’t be persecuted when the anti-christ will reign because of the rapture. This is far from the truth. There will be persecution from the antichrist for all those that call upon the God of Abraham, Isaak and Jacob.
If all the Christians are already gone, then we won’t be persecuted. Paul said it here that the Lord Jesus will only come when the antichrist is reveleaed.
📖 2Th 2:1-4 NASB95 - 1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for [it will not come] unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
- Verses 1-2 we come to the conclusion that the gathering with Christ aka rapture, is also known as “the Day”. The Bible describes “the Day” as a terrible day where God will pour out His wrath.
- This day cannot happen UNTIL, the anti-christ is revealed and is sitting in the temple. From there he will wage war against all the people of God.
📖 Rev 14:12 NASB95 - 12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
📖 Rev 12:17 NASB95 - 17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
📖 Rev 8:4 NASB95 - 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand.
If the raptures saves people who love Jesus, then why are so many saints present in the tribulation? Should they not be raptured up?
Restoration of All Things
Jesus can’t come before the tribulation because the Bible says He will stay seated on the throne in heaven until the restoration of all things.
📖 Act 3:19-21 NASB20 - 19 "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until [the] period of restoration of all things, about which God spoke by the mouths of His holy prophets from ancient times.
- Jesus came once, and now heaven has received Him
- When the period of full restoration has come, Jesus will be sent down
- Scriptures say our gathering with Him will be seen by all (Matt 24:30)
- If it’s seen by all, that means at that point He is no longer sitting on the throne
- The restoration takes places on earth
The pre-trib rapture says Jesus leaves heaven to rapture the Church 7 years before these things take place. Meanwhile post-trib view sees Christ return coinciding with the rapture where we will be transformed and go into Jerusalem with Christ to restore all things.
The Tares and Wheat
Jesus said that the righteous and unrighteous must stay together until the harvest comes. The harvest is the resurrection of the dead. The resurrection happens at the return of Jesus like outlined in previous passages (1Cor 15:21-23). If there is a pre-trib rapture, this scripture would get violated.
📖 Mat 13:24-25, 30 NASB95 - 24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 "But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. ... 30 'Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.
Pre-tribbers believe the resurrection happens at the rapture. If that were true, it would violate this scripture showing us when the resurrection happens. They came alive when Christ returns for the millennial reign.
📖 Rev 20:4-5 NASB95 - 4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.
- Resurrection happens when Christ returns, not at a rapture
- We receive our new bodies at the resurrection which happens when Christ returns
- We will be called up to Christ, when He appears in the clouds
The pre-trib believe that we will be resurrected, leave earth for duration of time, and then come back later. We don’t see scriptures talking about a “secret rapture” this will be a public event that everyone will see, and Gods wrath will be poured out.
Day of the Lord as His Singular Return for Salvation
Pre-trib says there’s two comings of Jesus while scripture clearly teaches one coming of Christ also known as the Day of the Lord. This is made clear from Genesis to Revelation and all the prophets were talking about this “day” that is coming. He came once for sins, and second time for salvation.
📖 Heb 9:27-28 NASB95 - 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this [comes] judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without [reference to] sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
- His second appearing is also linked with “eagerly waiting” for Him.
- We are currently waiting for Him, this will be His only return to save us from this earth and restore all things
Scriptures Used to Support Pre-Trib
Let's examine some key verses that are often used to support a pre-tribulation rapture. It's important to remember that when studying the Bible, we should not take a single verse out of context, but rather consider the full counsel of Scripture.
It was important for me to include this so you can see that arguments made against the verses used to support the pre-tribulation.
📖 Rev 3:10 NASB20 - 10 'Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing, that [hour] which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth.
Context: This verse was a promise specifically given to one particular Church in the 1st century — not to all Christians.
📖 Rev 3:7-11 NASB20 - 7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: 8 'I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have followed My word, and have not denied My name. 9 'Behold, I will make [those] of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie--I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and [make them] know that I have loved you. 10 'Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing, that [hour] which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth. 11 'I am coming quickly; hold firmly to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
No one in the church of Philadelphia was raptured to heaven in the 1st century - thus it would be impractical and illegtimate to use this to support the rapture.
The verse does not promise to rapture anyone. Instead, it promises the preservation (keeping) from the destructive effects of tribulations.
For example, COVID did not have as much impact on Christians compared to unbelievers. It was a worldwide trial, and it exposed the true from the false. The churches that were living by the Spirit and the word of God continued having fellowship and being obedient.
What we can learn from the verse is that when we are obedient and patiently endure, Jesus can keep us from various trials on earth. Not a rapture.
Church Is Not Mentioned After Revelation 4
Some people say after Revelation 4:1, the Church is never seen again, so Rev. 4:1 proves that we are raptured out before the rest of the Book of Revelation.
📖 Rev 4:1 NASB20 - 1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door [standing] open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like [the sound] of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
Revelation 4:1 simply describes John being taken into heaven to be shown what will take place in the Last-Days. It says nothing about the rapture of the Church whatsoever. John is also told to “come here” in Rev 17:1 and Rev 21:9
Secondly, although the word “Church” is almost never used throughout the rest of the Book of Revelation (except in 22:16), numerous other terms such as “saints,” “God’s people,” “our brethren,” or “God’s servants” are used multiple times throughout Revelation to describe the Church present on the earth throughout the tribulation.
Just because something isn’t mentioned, doesn’t imply it doesn’t exist. There term “trinity” is not mentioned in the Bible but yet the concept of the trinity is present Genesis to Revelation.
📖 Rev 8:4 NASB95 - 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand.
📖 Rev 12:10-11 NASB20 - 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers [and sisters] has been thrown down, the one who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life [even] when faced with death.
📖 Rev 12:17 NASB20 - 17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
📖 Rev 14:12 NASB95 - 12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
Thief in the Night
Often we hear Christians say that Jesus could come back and get us any moment because the Bible says He will come as a thief in the night.
This is a very common misconception among pre-tribbers. The Scriptures says that Jesus only comes as a thief for unbelievers
📖 1Th 5:1-6 NASB20 - 1 Now as to the periods and times, brothers [and sisters,] you have no need [of anything] to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord is coming just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers [and sisters,] are not in darkness, so that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then, let's not sleep as others do, but let's be alert and sober.
This one is harder to explain, whether you’re pre-trib or post-trib, both sides do not have enough scriptures to back up their claims. I will present to you a few different theories.
Scriptures with the restrainer:
📖 2Th 2:5-10 NASB95 - 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains [will do so] until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 [that is,] the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
Pre-tribbers claim this is the Holy Spirit, who will be removed from the world when the Church leaves. This cannot be true because the Holy Spirit is omnipresent, and as we’ve seen from the scriptures, there will be believers on the earth during this time.
Another theory is that the “he” is Michael the archangel. Michael is responsible for the security of Israel and once he steps out of the way, the antichrist has power to overrun them.
Another theory holds that this is actually referring to Satan, the accuser being cast out of heaven down to the earth.
📖 Rev 12:7-11 NASB95 - 7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
God has not destined us to wrath
Another scripture often used to support pre-trib is that we are not destined for wrath.
📖 1Th 5:9 NASB95 - 9 For God has not destined us for wrath (orgē), but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Jesus died for us so that we are delivered from eternal wrath and will instead inherit eternal salvation. Jesus didn’t die for us to deliver us from the tribulation. Pre-tribbers admit there will be many saints on the earth during the Great Tribulation. (They call them “tribulation saints”). If Jesus died for them to save them from the wrath of the tribulation, then why are they on the earth?
📖 Jhn 3:36 NASB95 - 36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath (orgē) of God abides on him.”
📖 Rom 5:9 NASB95 - 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath (orgē) [of God] through Him.
📖 Mat 3:7-8 NASB95 - 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath (orgē) to come? 8 "Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance;
The Blessed Hope
Some people refer to the rapture (or a pre-tribulation stand), to the blessed hope.
📖 Tit 2:13 NASB20 - 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
The issue with this interpretation is that “the appearing” is not a secret rapture but Jesus Christ returning back on earth. We cannot link this passage to a rapture occuring before the tribulation because Jesus uses this language describing His coming AFTER the tribulation.
Consider this passage:
📖 Mat 24:29-31 NKJV - 29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
We can come to this conclusion:
- Pre-tribulationists say the blessed hope of the appearing of Jesus appears before the tribulation
- Jesus is saying His appearing is AFTER the tribulation
Comfort One Another
This verse is often taken out of context without the whole chapter being read. We can quickly come to a dangerous conclusion by doing so. The argument is that if the rapture doesn’t occur until the middle or end of the tribulation, where’s the comfort in that?
📖 1Th 4:17-18 NKJV - 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.
Let's examine the context of this chapter to understand the believers' concerns. Were they concerned about tribulations or something else?
📖 1Th 4:13 NKJV - 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. 1Th 4:13 NLT - 13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
In this text, Paul is not referring to tribulations at all. We may have mistakenly interpreted it that way. He is specifically discussing those who have passed away (died).
The believers in Thessalonians had a question about what would happen to their loved ones who had already died. They were expecting Jesus to come back soon and wanted their deceased loved ones to be there when He came. Paul responded to them with comforting words:
📖 1Th 4:14-15, 17-18 NLT - 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. ... 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.
❓ Have more verses to add to this list? Feel free to email them to us or review at [email protected].
The concept of the rapture and its timing has been a topic of controversy and debate among Christians. I hope and pray this document presented different perspectives and examined various scriptures to shed light on the matter.
It is important to approach this topic with humility and a willingness to be wrong by looking at both sides of the coin. Ultimately, the timing of the rapture is not a salvific issue, and Christians can hold differing views while maintaining unity in Christ.
Regardless of our understanding of the rapture, the Bible encourages us to be watchful and ready for the return of Jesus Christ. Our focus should be on living faithful lives, serving God, and sharing the gospel with others.
Let us remember that our unity as followers of Christ is more important than our differences in eschatology. May we hold fast to the core teachings of the Christian faith and eagerly await the glorious return of our Lord and Savior.
That being said, I do hope and pray that the points made will stir up a hunger for you to seek the Lord and receive clarity on His return.
Special thanks to Joel Richardson, and other close friends who helped me put this together.