Eschatology Series: The Rapture (Posttrib or Pretrib?)




The Rapture



What is the rapture? The word rapture comes from the Latin translation of the phrase “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. It says, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.” In 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, Paul taught the Thessalonians that when Christ descends from heaven, believers who had died will immediately be resurrected with glorified bodies to meet Christ in the air, and after that, living believers will be immediately glorified and raised to meet them there. Though the phrase “caught up” refers specifically to living believers being glorified and meeting Christ in the air, the word “rapture” is generally used of all believers receiving glorified bodies when Christ returns. Other passages that mention the rapture are John 14:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. John 14:1-3 says,


Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too.


First Corinthians 15:51-53 says,


Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.


There are differing views about the timing of the rapture, but the two most popular are the posttribulational rapture and the pretribulational rapture. In the posttribulational rapture, Christ will publicly return in the sky, saints (both deceased and living) will be raptured to meet him in there, and then Christ will come down to the earth to judge the lost, reward the faithful, and set up his kingdom. In the pretribulational rapture, Christ will return in two stages. He will return silently to rapture his saints and take them to heaven, the tribulation will occur, then Christ will return publicly with his saints to judge the lost, reward the faithful, and set up his kingdom on the earth. We will consider both of these views more thoroughly, but primarily from a premillennial perspective.


Posttribulational Rapture


The posttribulational rapture is the most commonly held view historically. It is the view of amillennialists, postmillennialists, and historic premillennialists. It is held by Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and many Protestant denominations. This view teaches that the rapture occurs at the end (or near the end) of the tribulation period. Therefore, the rapture and Christ’s second coming will happen almost simultaneously. We will consider arguments for the posttribulational rapture in contrast with the pretribulational rapture.


1. Support for the posttribulational rapture is verses that teach a one-stage return of Christ, not a two-stage return.


Often when the second coming is referred to in Scripture, the Greek word parousia is used. It means “coming,” “arrival,” or “appearing.” It is used in passages like Matthew 24:27, James 5:8, 1 John 2:28, and other NT passages, which clearly refer to the second coming of Christ. However, pretribulationists use verses like 1 Thessalonians 4:15, which uses the same word, to refer to a secret rapture. It says, “For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep.” The problem with this is every other time in Thessalonians the word parousia is used, it refers to the second coming.[i] For instance, 1 Thessalonians 3:13 says, “so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” Second Thessalonians 2:8 says, “and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival.” There is nothing in the context of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 which says the word should be interpreted differently. The same could be said for the use of the word in 1 Corinthians 15:23. It says, “But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him.” Scripture does not explicitly teach a two-staged second coming, only a one-stage one.


2. Support for a posttribulational rapture is how Christ taught that he would return after the tribulation period, in which believers would experience extreme persecution.


In describing the tribulation period, Christ said this in Matthew 24:9-10:


Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name. Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another.


Then in Matthew 24:22, Christ said: “And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” These verses clearly teach that believers will be on the earth during the tribulation period and that God will cut the days short because of them. Likewise, Revelation 6:9-10, 7:3-17, 13:7, and 20:9 teach that there will be saints on the earth during the tribulation period. It is only after the tribulation that Christ will return to rapture his saints. In Matthew 24:29-31, Christ said:


Immediately after the suffering of those days, … Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.


It should also be noted that in Matthew 24:31, Christ describes the gathering of his saints happening with a trumpet blast, which seems to refer to the same thing Paul described happening at the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. They say:


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, 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, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.


Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.


This gives further evidence for Christ’s return and the rapture happening at the same time.


3. Support for a posttribulational rapture is verses that seem to teach that all believers will be resurrected at once, not in different stages.


Posttribulationists typically believe there will be one general resurrection of saints at Christ’s return, which will include believers from all time periods. Scriptures that support a general resurrection of believers are ones like Daniel 12:1-2 and John 5:28-29. They say:


At that time Michael, the great prince who watches over your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress unlike any other from the nation’s beginning up to that time. But at that time your own people, all those whose names are found written in the book, will escape. Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake—some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence.

Daniel 12:1-2


Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out—the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.

John 5:28-29


This general resurrection of saints is important since 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 seem to refer to this and not necessarily bodily resurrections of saints that happen at different times as pretribulationists believe. Pretribulationists believe the church (which includes only believers saved since Pentecost) will be raptured at Christ’s secret return, and then there will be a future resurrection of believers from all time periods, including Old Testament saints, after Christ returns and establishes his millennial kingdom on the earth (Rev 20:4-5).


Pretribulational Rapture


What are arguments for the pretribulational rapture? Though Scripture does not explicitly teach a two-stage second coming, including a secret return of Christ to rapture his church and a later public return to judge the world, it may be there implicitly when all the eschatological texts are compared. This is similar to how Old Testament prophetic texts about Christ’s coming do not explicitly separate it into a first and second coming (Is 9:6-7, Is 53); however, the two comings are there implicitly when the eschatological texts are compared. The same may be true with the New Testament in separating the rapture and the second coming. In what ways might Scripture present a pretrib rapture?


1. Support for the pretrib rapture is the apparent differences between the rapture and the second coming.


· The rapture is a mystery only revealed in the New Testament, whereas the second coming is prophesied throughout the Old Testament.


In 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, Paul said:


Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.


By using the term “mystery,” Paul was saying the rapture was a new revelation given by the apostles which had not previously been taught. Certainly, the Old Testament prophesied about the resurrection of the dead (Dan 12:2) and the second coming—that Christ would come on the clouds to judge and bring his kingdom (Dan 7:13-14, 27, Zech 14:4; cf. Jude 1:14-15), but it never taught that living believers would be instantly changed from perishable to imperishable, as they met Christ in the clouds (1 Thess 4:16-17). Therefore, the rapture and the second coming are two separate but connected eschatological events.


· At the rapture, Christ comes in the air and returns to heaven, but at the second stage of the second coming, Christ comes to earth to judge and reign.


John 14:1-3 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 describe the rapture. In John 14:1-3, Christ describes how he went to heaven to prepare a place for the disciples and that he was coming again to take them to it.


Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. And you know the way where I am going.


Many see this as representing the ancient wedding. A couple would get betrothed, the groom would go to the father’s house to prepare a place for his bride, he would return to get his bride, and then return to the father’s house. Apparently, that’s what Christ does at the rapture: he meets his bride in the air and takes her to heaven. First Thessalonians 4:16-18 says,


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, 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, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.


In contrast, at the second stage of the second coming, Christ will return to the earth with his saints to judge the earth and establish his kingdom. Revelation 19:11-16 says,


Then I saw heaven opened and here came a white horse! The one riding it was called “Faithful” and “True,” and with justice he judges and goes to war. His eyes are like a fiery flame and there are many diadem crowns on his head. He has a name written that no one knows except himself. He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood, and he is called the Word of God. The armies that are in heaven, dressed in white, clean, fine linen, were following him on white horses. From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful. He has a name written on his clothing and on his thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords.”


Matthew 25:31-32 also describes Christ’s coming to earth to judge:


When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.


· At the rapture, believers depart from the earth, but at the second stage of the second coming, unbelievers depart from the earth.


Again, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 demonstrates Christ taking saints from the earth. “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.” However, in Matthew 24:36-41, at the second coming, unbelievers are taken from the earth. It says,


But as for that day and hour no one knows it—not even the angels in heaven—except the Father alone. For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; one will be taken and one left.


Some have tried to say Christ is referring to the rapture in this passage; however, since he compares it to evil people being swept away at the flood, it clearly refers to the lost being judged. At the second coming, unbelievers will be taken from the earth to hell. Other verses also emphasize this, especially in the parables. In the parable of the weeds and wheat, the weeds (representing unbelievers) are taken away from the wheat and thrown into the fire (Matt 13:30, 40). It’s the same with the parable of the net, the bad fish (representing unbelievers as well) are taken away from the good fish and burned (Matt 13:48-50).


In addition, the detailed texts about the second coming in Revelation 19 and Matthew 24 never clearly describe believers being raptured from the earth, only unbelievers being judged and thus taken from the earth. In Matthew 24:31, when it describes angels gathering the “elect” at Christ’s coming, for pretribulationists, this refers to Christ gathering believing Israel to himself and giving them the promised land (cf. Zech 14:4). This is promised many times throughout the Old Testament.


Then if you and your descendants turn to the Lord your God and obey him with your whole mind and being just as I am commanding you today, the Lord your God will reverse your captivity and have pity on you. He will turn and gather you from all the peoples among whom he has scattered you. Even if your exiles are in the most distant land, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. Then he will bring you to the land your ancestors possessed and you also will possess it; he will do better for you and multiply you more than he did your ancestors. The Lord your God will also cleanse your heart and the hearts of your descendants so that you may love him with all your mind and being and so that you may live.

Deuteronomy 30:2-6


Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Ezekiel 11:17-20 (ESV)


When I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, I will accept you along with your soothing aroma. I will display my holiness among you in the sight of the nations.

Ezekiel 20:41


I will bring them out from among the peoples and gather them from foreign countries; I will bring them to their own land. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams and all the inhabited places of the land.

Ezekiel 34:13


To support this, pretribulationists would argue that the context of Matthew 24 is Jewish in nature. Christ’s teaching begins as an answer to the disciples’ question about when the Jewish temple would be destroyed (v. 1-3). Also, during the teaching, Christ warns that when the abomination of desolation is put in the Jewish temple, those in Judea should flee because of the intense persecution that they would experience (Matt 24:15-22). Though the Jews will be scattered during the tribulation period, God will eventually regather his “elect” Jews to Jerusalem (Matt 24:31). In describing Israel, Paul said this in Romans 11:28, “In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers.”


· At the rapture, unbelievers remain on the earth, but at the second stage of the second coming, believers remain on the earth.


In Matthew 25:34, Christ will say to believers on the earth, “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” These believers will then begin to rule with Christ in his earthly kingdom. But, in Matthew 25:41, Christ will say to unbelievers, “‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels!” Consequently, they will be taken from the earth to hell.


2. Support for the pretrib rapture is the fact that the early church seemed to believe the second coming was imminent—that it could happen at any moment during their lifetime.


Consider the following verses:


Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Matthew 24:42-44


then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee

Matthew 24:50


For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians 5:2


So be patient, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s return… You also be patient and strengthen your hearts, for the Lord’s return is near. Do not grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged. See, the judge stands before the gates!

James 5:7-9


Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near!

Philippians 4:5


Obviously, there is a conflict with the fact that other verses teach the need for various signs to happen before Christ comes (cf. Matt 24), like the gospel being preached to all nations, believers being persecuted and hated by all nations, the revealing of the antichrist, his making a seven-year covenant with Israel and then breaking it, all the nations of the earth gathering to fight against Israel, etc. How can Christ’s coming be imminent with all these signs? Some simply say Christ’s coming is not imminent—it cannot happen at any moment. It would be better to say it is “impending”—that it will happen soon. Others say the signs have already happened so Christ can come at any moment. However, most students of Scripture do not believe they have, especially when considering how Christ taught that “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven” (Matt 24:29-30). A thief does not give signs that he is coming, which means he can come at any moment. Only the two-stage second coming fits with this understanding of imminency. There are no signs needed for Christ to come for his saints—it will truly be like a thief in the night. However, there are clear signs that must be fulfilled before Christ returns to rule on the earth. This is one of the strengths of the pretrib rapture view.


3. Support for the pretrib rapture is verses that seem to indicate that the church will not be on the earth during the tribulation period of God’s wrath.


In 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, in the context of talking about the day of the Lord (5:1-3), Paul said this:


For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing.


Since the day of the Lord probably refers to the tribulation period (cf. Zeph 1-3)—a time of God’s judgment on the earth which will end with Christ coming to judge and rule the earth—many see this as proof that the church will not be on the earth during this period of God’s wrath.[1] Revelation 3:10 seems to say the same thing as Christ spoke to the church of Philadelphia and all who had ears to hear: “Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth.”


The tribulation is primarily to judge unbelievers (2 Thess 2:11-12, Rev 3:10, 6:16-17) and to prepare the nation of Israel to accept their messiah (Dan 9:24, 27, Zech 13:8-9, 12:10, Jer 30:7, Rom 11:26-27). It is not to judge the church. In fact, when Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 that Christ “died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him,” many pretribulationists believe he is referring to the rapture as the way God will deliver believers from his wrath, which Paul discussed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul encouraged those who were “alive” (v. 17; “alert” in 1 Thess 5:10) that dead believers (“those who have fallen asleep” v. 15; “asleep” in 1 Thess 5:10) would not miss out on Christ’s coming kingdom. The dead would be resurrected at Christ’s coming and those alive would be raptured to meet Christ in the air. Therefore, pretribulationists argue that the rapture will be how God keeps the church from his wrath during the tribulation period.


To further support that the church will not be on the earth during the tribulation period, pretribulationists often point out that in Revelation 6-18, which describes God’s wrath during the tribulation period, the word “church” is never mentioned. In Chapters 1-3, “church” is mentioned nineteen times, but never during the period of God’s wrath. The church is pictured in Revelation 19 as the bride of Christ who will return to judge and rule with Christ on the earth.


Furthermore, in Revelation 4 and 5, soon before the seven-sealed book, representing the tribulation, is opened, there are twenty-four elders with crowns in heaven. Revelation 4:10-11 says,


the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!”


Since angels do not age, many believe this represents the church in heaven before the tribulation begins in Chapter 6. The fact that they are crowned also supports this. The church is promised crowns for faithfulness throughout the Scripture (cf. 1 Cor 9:24-25, Jam 1:12, 2 Tim 4:8, etc.), but they will not be rewarded until after their resurrection, which happens at the rapture. As an encouragement for believers to be hospitable to those who cannot pay them back, Christ said those who are hospitable to the needy “will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Lk 14:14). Believers will not be rewarded until after their resurrection at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10). This provides strong support for believers being raptured and rewarded before the tribulation period.


Finally, another support pretribulationists use to say the church will not go through the tribulation is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8. In it, Paul comforts the believers who were apparently distressed because they believed the tribulation had already began and that they might have somehow missed the rapture. Second Thessalonians 2:1-8 says,


Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction … And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time. For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival.


It must be considered that if the Thessalonians believed that the rapture would happen after the tribulation period (the day of the Lord) and that the tribulation had begun, they would have welcomed it because it meant Christ was coming soon and they would be delivered. But if they believed the rapture happened before the tribulation, it would indeed disturb them as is the case in this text. That would mean they had been left behind. Therefore, Paul encourages them by correcting their eschatology. He taught that a major apostasy of believers had to happen, and the antichrist needed to be revealed before the tribulation (the day of the Lord) began (v. 2-3) and that someone was holding the antichrist back. This someone will be removed before the tribulation begins and then the antichrist will be revealed (v. 6-7). The person is not named but most believe that the person is the Holy Spirit. He will be removed not in the sense that he will not be present on the earth. He is omnipresent since he is God, but he will not be present in the form he currently is during the church age. Before Christ died, resurrected, and ascended to heaven, he said that he had to leave so the Holy Spirit could come to his disciples (John 16:7). After Christ ascended to heaven in Acts 1, the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples in Acts 2, baptizing, indwelling, filling, and empowering them for ministry. It seems that before the tribulation begins, the Holy Spirit will leave so Christ can return. Pretribulationists point to this verse as referring to the rapture. Before Christ returns, the Holy Spirit will leave, as far as permanently indwelling and empowering believers on earth. The church will be raptured to heaven, and the Holy Spirit will be present in the way he was in the Old Testament. He will come upon people to empower them for works, but he will not indwell them permanently as he does the church (cf. Ps 51:11, 1 Sam 16:14). When the church who is indwelled by the Spirit is gone, Satan will be set free to complete his end-time agenda through the antichrist (cf. Eph 6:10-18). At the end of the tribulation period, Christ will return with his saints to judge the antichrist and the unbelieving world.


With all that said, it must be known that other eschatological systems believe that the church will be on the earth during the tribulation period and yet God will still keep believers from his wrath (cf. Rev 6:9-11), but not necessarily Satan’s wrath or man’s wrath. Certainly, this is possible. However, many of the judgments promised during the tribulation period will affect all people, even if only indirectly, such as famines, earthquakes, stars falling from the sky, etc. With that said, the pretribulation view does believe that there will be followers of God on the earth during the tribulation. However, it will be people saved after the rapture, and they will go through the tribulation period, including being persecuted by the antichrist (cf. 2 Thess 2:9-12, Rev 7, 13:15).


4. Support for a pretrib rapture is the fact that a rapture which is separated from the second coming seems to be needed to have a separation of sheep and goats at Christ’s coming and for the sheep to populate the millennial kingdom (Matt 25:31-46).


In Matthew 25:31-32, Christ says,


When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.


After Christ returns, he will gather the sheep and goats—sending the sheep into his kingdom and the goats into eternal fire (v. 34, 41). If the rapture of believers happens immediately upon Christ’s coming, it would be redundant to then separate the sheep and goats since they had already been separated. A rapture that is separate from the second coming best deals with this parable, which provides an answer for how people with unglorified bodies will still give birth to children who struggle with sin and rebellion during Christ’s millennial reign (cf. Is 11:6-8, 65:20, 23; Is 11:4, Zech 14:16-19). Some posttribulationists deal with this parable by saying it happens when Christ judges unbelievers at the end of the millennial kingdom (Rev 20:7-10). They would say there is a prophetic gap in the passage between “When the Son of Man comes” and “all nations will be assembled before him.” They would also say that many of the people rebelling against Christ in the millennium are the children of unbelievers who submitted to Christ without trusting him and were allowed to enter the kingdom (Zech 14:16). This is a difficult conclusion since so many passages teach about Christ eternally punishing unbelievers at his coming (cf. Matt 13:41-42, 49-50). For example, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 says,


and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength.


Conclusion


The posttribulational rapture has been the most popular view throughout history—believed by postmillennialists, amillennialists, and historic premillennialists alike. However, the pretribulational rapture is probably the most popular view today. They both have biblical support and difficulties. The pretribulational rapture has difficulties with the fact that no verse explicitly says there will be a two-stage second coming. The posttribulational rapture has difficulties with answering how there will be sin and unbelievers from various nations in the millennial kingdom since believers will be raptured at Christ’s coming.



Reflection


1. What stood out most in the reading and why?

2. What is the rapture?

3. What are supports for the posttribulational rapture?

4. What are supports for the pretribulational rapture?

5. What view do you believe best represents Scripture and why?

What other questions or applications did you take from the reading?

[1] Posttribulationists believe that the day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 refers to the end of the tribulation period when Christ returns to judge instead of the entire tribulation period like pretribulationists believe. Therefore, believers are delivered from God’s wrath because they will be gathered to Christ, whether they are “alert” or “asleep,” when he comes (v. 9-10).

[i] Accessed 1/26/2021 from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/the-rapture-question/ [ii] Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (p. 575). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

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