If you have read the first 5 parts of this series, hopefully you are beginning to see how difficult it is to try and create a scriptural basis for the pretribulation rapture theory. Simply stated, the Bible over and over gives specific timing on the return of Christ and His gathering together of the saints. Every time, the Bible is clear that it is AFTER the tribulation.
We can gain even more confirmation on the timing of the “rapture” by study of 2 Thes 1:3-10.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe,because our testimony among you was believed.
To understand this verse we need to consider some important Biblical context. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh. Then when Moses was given the law, the faithful were to work for six days, and then rest on the seventh. This seventh day of rest was a picture of the thousand year millennial kingdom on earth, when Christ visibly reigns as KING of kings and LORD of lords, and the earth is restored to the state God had originally intended. As believers, our blessed hope is to one day enter that rest, that thousand year millennial kingdom.
So, with that context, notice the timing of events in 2 Thes 1:3-10. Notice in the bolded text . . . When do believers escape their troubles and enter the rest of the Lord? Clearly they enter the rest when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His Mighty Angels to bring vengeance on the wicked. Clearly, it is Christ’s second coming when He reveals himself and takes vengeance on the wicked. We see that it is at this point that believers enter His rest. If this is the case, how could they have been raptured seven years earlier. If they had been raptured seven years earlier, would they have not entered his rest and escaped trouble then? The verse is crystal clear, we are delivered from our troubles and enter His rest at the end of the tribulation when Christ returns to bring vengeance on the world.
The first four parts of this series of articles point out significant scriptural problems with creating a Pretribulation “Rapture”. We can see when verses are read in context there is no way to create a coherent, consistent interpretation that will allow for two second comings of Christ. As pointed out in PART 4, this theory requires us to do much damage to scripture, and in effect, read into scripture things that are not there. For those who choose to believe the pretribulation rapture theory, they can find it in the most amazing places in scripture, yet they can not provide a single clear verse that indicates that Christ will return for believers before the tribulation. In effect, if you want to believe it, you can find it everywhere, even when it is not really taught anywhere. Quiet to the contrary, throughout the Gospels and the New Testament, we are taught that believers should expect Tribulation, Persecution, Hatred, and Martyrdom for their faith. We are told that any who would seek to live a Godly life will face persecution. The era of relative peace and tranquility believers in the west have experienced in the last two hundred years is a result of God’s Sovereign Mercy, not God’s promises. It is the exception, not the rule. Our brothers and sisters in Christ this very day are being martyred across the Middle East and Africa. Again, I must ask, where is their “rapture”. Is it only those of us in the West that God will rescue from persecution?
In this series, I have tried hard to focus on scripture, clearly presented and without interpretation. I have tried to simply let the scriptures clearly speak for themselves. I believe that we can continue to gain insight from scripture if we read two of the prayers of Jesus. The first is the Lord’s prayer, as found in Matthew 6:9-13
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Notice that Christ instruction to believers is that we should pray for His Kingdom to Come. His Kingdom comes to us at his Second Coming. He does not tell us to pray that God takes us out of the world but that He would return and bring the Kingdom to us. If we believe in a pretribulation rapture we must ponder why Jesus continues to NOT mention it. For further support of the assertion that Christ did not teach that we would be removed from the world, we should look at John 17:14-15. Notice than in the context of hatred and persecution of Christians, Christ’s prayer to the father is that He WOULD NOT take them out of the world but protect them in the world.
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.15I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
So if the specific prayer of Jesus Christ to the Father is that the Father would leave believers in the world when they are hated by the world, how could we possibly believe that there is this secret deal that Christ never mentions that Christians will be taken out of the world to protect them from persecution? I feel like I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but friend, the pre tribulation rapture is simply not in scripture and can not be defended scripturally. It is a huge money maker for those who write books and make movies, but it is not scriptural.
Certainly there are many mistakes in doctrine and many false teachings out there, so why have I spent so much time on this one? The answer is because it is one of the most dangerous. To believe we will never face persecution, tribulation, and martyrdom is to be spiritually unprepared when they happen. Many Christians throughout history and throughout the world today are being forced to choose between their faith and their life. Would you be ready if you had to face that choice? Friends, you can not deny Christ to save your life. This is not one of those things you do, and then repent of later. We must realize that as Christians we are called on to stand firm in the faith, even to the point of death.
If you have read PART 1 and PART 2 of this commentary, you can see that careful analysis of 1 Cor 15:51 and 1 Thes 4:13-17 provides 4 independent witnesses that the “rapture” is simply the Second Coming of Christ, which occurs at the end of the seven year tribulation period. Christ comes twice, period. First He came as Savior and Suffering Servant some 2000 years ago. Next He comes as KING of kings and LORD of lords. He comes twice, not two and a half times and not three times.
If you read PART 1 and PART 2, you might be scratching your head at this point. You probably can see the clarity of my analysis, yet it is hard for you to imagine that what you have been taught all your life is not clearly supported by the Bible. Perhaps at this point you just wish you could ask Jesus, and have him provide clarity. Luckily, the disciples did just that. In Matthew 24:3, the disciples asked Christ the direct, million dollar question:
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Friend, look at the clarity of the question. The disciples wanted to know precise details about Christ’s second coming and the end of the world. Much of their question is already answered in the Old Testament, but yet they wanted clarity. A clear answer directly from Christ himself. Christ responded by presenting a precisely worded and concise summary of end times Eschatology. Now, before reading Christ’s answer, we must realize that the question was clearly asked, it was asked by his Disciples, His most trusted believers, and He provided a clear, easy to understand, precise summary of end times events. Would He leave out the most important points? Would He mislead His closest followers? Would He deceive? Of course not . . . He would accurately give them a summary of the key end times events in direct answer to their clear question. Christ responded to their question with the following answer Matthew 24:4-29.
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for allthese things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,and earthquakes in various places.8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.25 See, I have told you beforehand.
26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
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.
Could Christ have been any clearer? In verse 29 He says, “Immediately AFTER the tribulation of those days”, and then goes on to describe his second coming, which clearly parallels the so called “rapture” verses described in 1 Thes 4:13-17 and 1 Cor 15:51-55. Have a child read the verse. What is the context? What is He trying to convey. Clearly, He is communicating to His closest followers that believers will be persecuted and martyred in the tribulation period. Did He not get the memo that believers would be beamed out before the tribulation? Did He intentionally deceive? I think not. The simple answer is, He is warning believers to Prepare for Persecution, even unto death.
I do not write these things to scare you, but I write these things so that you will not be deceived. Read the first part of verse 4 . . . His first warning was to be on guard for “deception” in the last days. What greater deception could the enemy use than to tell believers not to worry, they will never face persecution or tribulation.
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