In PART 1: we showed how the foundational “rapture” verse (1 Cor 15:51-58) used by the Pretribulation Rapture proponents provides three independent witnesses to place the “rapture” at the end of the tribulation and coincident with the Second Coming of Christ. The other foundational rapture verse is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.
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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 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.
We can see that this passage perfectly parallels the passages in 1 Cor. 15:51-58, and these two passages are clearly speaking of the same event . . . the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Just as in 1 Cor., we are given clear information on the timing of this event. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4.
2 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
In this passage Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit clearly tells us that this “rapture” spoken of in 1 Thess 4:13-17 does not happen until AFTER a great apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin, that is, the antichrist. Clearly the antichrist is revealed at the midpoint of the tribulation when he goes into the temple and declares himself to be God. So, there is no way that this “rapture” could occur before the tribulation.
With this, we now have four clear Biblical witnesses that indicate that the “rapture” of the church is simply Christ’s second coming at the end of the tribulation period.
The reason this is important is that as believers we will be here for the tribulation. We need to prepare for that. By “prepare” I do not mean we need to buy a generator and bury food in our back yards. I mean that spiritually we need to prepare to have to choose between our faith and our life. Christ taught that anyone who would seek to live a Godly life would face persecution 2 Timothy 3:12:
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
As the western church, we have enjoyed a season of peace and lack of persecution. This is the exception and not normal. Throughout time, and even now in many parts of the world, followers of Christ are being persecuted and martyred for their faith. To believe that as westerners we are so favored by God that we get a “ticket out” before the tribulation starts is to not understand the promises of God and not understand what we are clearly told to prepare for.