RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS; PRETRIBULATIONAL
Christianity has a hope that remains sure– a distinctive the world
does not have. The promise of life after death and eternity with God
is true only to believers in Christ. The Old Testament speaks of resurrection
Job 19:25-27 yet in my flesh
shall I see God.
Isaiah 26:19 - Thy dead men
shall live.. shall arise
Daniel 12:2. Many of then
that sleep..shall awake. Some to everlasting life.
The New Testament speaks of resurrection and life.
All will be raised, both believers and non-believers - John 5:28,29
Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in which all that are in
the graves shall hear his voice"; "And shall come forth: they
that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have
done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Believers are promised resurrection unto life with Christ - I Cor. 15:22,23–
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive; But
every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they
that are Christ's at His coming.
Nonbelievers are promised
a resurrection unto the second death - Rev. 20:7-15
I.Definitions necessary in
understanding the rapture
The word "rapture" does not occur in the original languages.
However, the Greek verb Harpazo occurs 13 times in the N.T. and is translated
"caught up." The Latin cognate used in this sense is Rapio.
Harpazo is a seizing, a carrying off by force, a snatching away speedily.
For instance, Paul was (Harpzo) caught up into paradise (II Cor. 12:2).
The saints will be (Harpazo) caught up...in the clouds (I Thess. 4:17).
Jesus spoke of the great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning
until now (Matthew 24:21). The tribulation is described as a period
of judgment on Israel (Matthew 24:9) The tribulation is described as
God's judgmental wrath on the ungodly(Matthew 24:29). The tribulation
is described in Revelation as a time of Satanic influence through the
Anti-Christ. Daniel speaks of this "tribulation" as the "seventieth
II. Timetable regarding the rapture.
A. Christ's Ascension
John 14:2,3 gives the promise that Christ left earth to prepare a place
for us. He will return again to receive us to Himself. Acts 1:11 says
This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come
in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.
B. Christ's rapture of the saints
I Thessalonians 4:14-17 is the touchstone passage for the doctrine of
the rapture. Verse 14 shows that the condition in vs 14 is a condition
assuming the fact. In other words, "we know Jesus died and rose...."
Verse 16 uses the word "Himself" as an emphatic: Christ Himself
is descending to meet us. Verse 16 shows that the trump of God is to
be distinguished from the trumpets of judgment. In verse 17 Then (epeita)
is a special word used to emphasize the enumeration of the order of
events. The snatching away in verse 17 happens only to the saints. The
Lord never sets foot on the earth at the rapture; it must be distinguished
from the second coming of Christ to earth. The rapture is not the complete
fulfillment of the second coming.
I Corinthians 15:51-53 emphasizes 3 important facts. The mystery (unrevealed
before) is that some saints will be caught up without dying. The suddenness
of the "change" is "momentary." A stroke of time
that cannot be divided. There is a distinction between this "Trump
of God" and the judgment trumpets in Revelation.
The Tribulation is described in Revelation 6-14. It occurs at a time
when the Holy Spirit's restraints will be removed (II Thess. 2:7).
D. Christ's Second Coming
The "Day of the Lord" is a time period of events. This time
period will include the Tribulation, Christ's return and judgments,
and the Millenium (Isa. 2:12, 13:6; Ez.13:5; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:8;II
Thess. 2:2; II Peter 3:10).
Three terms are used for
His coming in II Thessalonians-- arrival (parousia) II Thess 2:1, unveiling
(apokalipsis) II Thess 1:7, and appearance (epithonia) II Thess 2:8
These three terms all apply to Christ's second coming to earth after
the tribulation. They do not speak of the rapture (Christ in the clouds).
III. Main Scriptural arguments
for the Pre-tribulational view of the rapture.
There are a number of passages show that the tribulation period will
be a means of judgment.This judgment is delivered on the world (Rev.
3:10; Matt. 24:14-21) and on Israel to turn her back (Matt. 24:21; Isa.2:6;
Amos 5) This judgment is not meant for Christians.
Believers will be delivered
from the hour of "testing" (Rev. 3:10).The wrath described
in I Thess. 5:9 is an (orgas) anger exhibited in punishment. Orgas is
distinguished from anger reaching the boiling point. (thumas, LATIN-fumas)
Revelation 6:17 describes the great day of wrath as the (orgas) wrath.
Believers are promised deliverance from this wrath.
The church is not mentioned in the description given of the tribulation
in Revelation (Rev.6-19). The church is mentioned in the present age
The imminence of Christ's return is a prominent theme in the New Testament.
We are urged to watchfulness (Titus 2:13); we are urged to be ready
(II Peter 3:14). The rapture is presented as imminent (I Thess. 5:4-6)
No other interpretation can comply with Scripture when interpreted literally,
grammatically, and historically. Pre-tribulationalism is in harmony
with a consistant application of Scripture. I & II Thessalonians
present serious problems for the Post-tribulationalist and the Mid-Trib
views (I Thess 1:10, 2:16, 5:9, 4:13-18, II Thess. 2:6-8). No other
system can account for the absence of the church during the judgments
in Revelation. The Holy Spirit's influence through Christians will not
be felt during the tribulation ( II Thess. 2:6-8). Pre-tribulationists,
as opposed to Post-Millenialists, can account for the Christians present
and their positions during the millenium (Rev. 5:10, 20:6, 1:6). Pre-tribulationists
are the only ones who can explain the presence of the lost in the millenium
Pre-tribulationists present the only system that can explain the judgments.
Post Millenialists have to have one judgment. Pre-tribulationists account
for all four judgments mentioned in Scripture.
Judgment Seat of Christ - (Rev. 4:2); Rom. 14:10; Judgment of Israel
- ( Matt. 24.25; Judgment of the Nations - (Matt. 25: 31-46); Great
White Throne - (Rev. 20:11-15).
IV. Readiness for the coming
of the rapture.
Just prior to the coming of the Rapture two characteristics appear to
be prominent during the tribulation that develop just prior to the rapture.
First, II Thessalonians 2:11 says, And for this cause God shall send
them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. The mystery of
iniquity is already at work (II Thessalonians 2:7); yet prior to the
rapture the influence of the Holy Spirit who dwells in believers will
restrain that influence. However, the world's people will ultimately
prefer to believe a lie than to respond to the truth.
Second, there will be a compulsion for pleasure in unrighteousness (II
Thessalonians 2:12). Pleasure ultimately replaces truth. When these
things happen look up, for the Redeemer draws nigh!