THE RAPTURE

Rapture after TribulationRapture is a common word that is often heard within today’s society even though it is not written in the Bible. The word “rapture” originated in approximately AD 405, from the Latin Vulgate, which is Jerome’s version, written from the original Greeks and Latin. Traditionally, it has been known as a Catholic Church translation. “Caught up” is the English version. The Greek translates “caught up” as harpazo, meaning “gathering together.”

Many people are very closed minded on the timing of the rapture. Three traditional views exist about it: pre-tribulation, pre-wrath or mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation. Pre-tribulation means that the rapture happens prior to the tribulation taking place. Belief that it happens in the middle of the tribulation is called the pre-wrath or mid-tribulation doctrine. Post-tribulation signifies that the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation.

In Christian eschatology, or end times events, the post-tribulation rapture doctrine is the belief in a combined resurrection and rapture of all Believers coming after the tribulation. This view is that there is a resurrection rapture of living Believers in Jesus Christ at the end. Post-tribbers trust that Christians will remain on the earth through the seven-year tribulation period. Pre-tribbers think that they will be taken out, prior to the tribulation, in a secret rapture where Christ is unseen by the world. Escapism is a good way to explain that view. They use various analogies in support of their doctrine, such as Noah and the Ark, due to the fact that he and his family were saved during the flood. A problem with this analogy is Hebrews (eleventh chapter). It debunks it by showing that half of the heroes of faith are saved by their faith, yet the other half suffered for their faith. Some are sawn asunder, chained, and jailed. Look at both sides of that coin.

A reference to the rapture is found in Matthew 24:27. Mark 13:24-27 and Luke 21:20 and 28 are parallel passages. An important thing to understand about the Bible is that whenever a doctrine is established, it does not contradict itself. The Bible does not say one thing in one place and then oppose itself in another. When trying to understand what it is saying, first seek the plainest and most simple explanation; the others must fit into it.

In Matthew 24:27 Jesus is talking about his return. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. The idea of imminence is an important thought. Pre-tribbers argue that post-tribulation theories cannot be true because of imminence. However, in light of the post-tribulation view, imminence applies to the wicked and spiritually unprepared people who are still alive before the return of Christ. In other words, they do not understand when His return will be.

Most Christians look for the signs and are not taken by surprise. God’s elect are the only ones who will have a fully clear understanding of Christ’s second coming and its timing. He will not return and catch them off guard or unprepared. On the other hand, He will catch the spiritually ignorant, unbelieving and unsaved in complete surprise.

Pre-wrath (mid-trib) sees the rapture and the second coming of Christ, or the Parousia (another name for the second coming) as separate events and think Christ will secretly return. This view is portrayed in the Left Behind series where Believers are snatched away but no one else sees it happen. Their clothes are nicely folded on the seat, plus planes and cars crash all over the place.

Post-tribulationists believe the resurrection and the rapture are identical and happen at the end of the tribulation. Christ returns once. In order for the pre-trib view to be true there has to be three returns, which is not taught in the Bible. Scripture must be twisted as a means to validate the pre-trib doctrine. The post-trib doctrine is broadly based on the complimentary concepts that a two-face pre-trib rapture is never mentioned in the Bible. Furthermore, the whole counsel of Scriptures plainly teaches that the resurrection and rapture of the church will be the result of Christ’s physical second return to the earth.
In 2 Thessalonians 2, the apostle Paul talks to the church at Thessalonica in an epistle.

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

Now, this refers to the fact that the Antichrist will be seen prior to Jesus’ return. The following Scripture talks about the son of perdition.

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (a reference to the mystery of iniquity) (Revelation 2:4).

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep (means those who are dead) in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (a more recent word would be proceed) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.

A trumpet makes a clear, loud sound and is not quiet. This fact blows the whole idea of a secret rapture. Furthermore, remember Matthew says that every eye shall see Him from the east to the west when He comes. In addition, it also says here that Christ comes with a shout, the voice of an archangel, and a trumpet. These are more details that totally rule out the pre-tribulation view of a sneak-in-the-dark, thief-type rapture. What the Word is saying is that when Jesus returns in the clouds, every eye sees him. Everyone who is dead in Christ will be resurrected, join him in the clouds at the same time, and return to the earth with him. Again, this is synonymous with Matthew 24:27.

In Matthew 24:29-30 it says: Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days” is quite clear. To believe the pre-wrath or pre-tribulation view, people must twist Scriptures around somehow because these verses are very plain. “… and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

When Jesus went to heaven, He went as a suffering servant. However, when He returns, He does it as King. He will be here to rule. And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:31).
A secret rapture of the church will not happen nor will the rapture occur prior to his second coming. Although pre-tribbers recognize 1 Thessalonians 4:17 as being the rapture of the church, they have failed to see the harmony of the Scriptures. They disqualify Matthew 24 and Mark 13. Please note, harmonizing the Scriptures that the rapture will take place immediately after the tribulation, at the sound of a trumpet, with a loud voice, and a shout, is important. These verses must match one another. None of them can be interpreted singularly or on their own. A lot of pre-tribbers take these verses out of context and use symbolism to make them say what they are not actually stating. Pre-tribbers maintain the position that God would not put his church or his saints through such horrible things. Nevertheless, 1 Thessalonians 3:4 proves the opposite.

For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. The church does not get a free ticket out of tribulation. Tribulation and persecution are part of what Christ’s followers go through. As previously discussed in this book, the people who were under the throne of the Lamb are those who were beheaded for Christ. Being beheaded for him certainly means that they were Christians. Therefore, saints are on the earth during the tribulation.

Pre-tribulation rapture theology was introduced in 1827 by John Nelson Darby. This doctrine was accepted among many of the Plymouth Brethren movements in England, and spread throughout the United States by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible, which still remains a very famous Bible today. Of course it impacted Christianity in America and Christian eschatology, as a whole, in fundamentalism.

Reminder, “caught up” or “taken away” is a verb and the Greek word harpazo has the same meaning. “Rapture” is not found in any version such as the King James Version; it is only a word that was used in the Latin Vulgate. The original early Christian Church was called the early Church Fathers. They wrote within the first 500 years of Christianity, as well as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion, and many Protestants. Calvinist denominations do not have any eschatology referring to a pre-tribulation rapture; thus, they reject it as doctrine.

In John 17:15, John highlights the idea that Christians are preserved by God through tribulation rather than removed.

”I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world (this is Christ talking), but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”

See, Jesus prayed that His people be not taken out of the world. He prayed that they be kept from evil. For historical reference purposes, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 was quoted and mentioned by Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian in two different treatises. Methodius mentioned it in The Didoche as well. In addition, every human being on the earth will see Jesus in the air when the saints meet him. As mentioned earlier, the opposing doctrines are the pre-tribulationists and pre-wrath, or mid-tribulationists. They believe that the rapture will occur halfway through the tribulation, prior to God’s wrath being poured out upon the world. Plus, they claim that the Body of Christ will be taken up with Him in a secret rapture, prior to the tribulation, removing all saints from any trouble. This doctrine is so popular that it is nearly the only doctrine that Baptists teach. Unfortunately, it is only a feel-good doctrine. Oftentimes that is why I say I am a pan-trib Believer. However it “pans-out” will be fine with me but I doubt that anyone will get snatched away from here in the middle of the night. Whenever pre-tribbers use the term “in the middle of the night,” I always want to ask them, is that night in America or is that night in Israel? Which one is it, because they oppose each other?

Early Church Fathers who were post-tribulationists include Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, Justin Martyr (one of the earliest writers in church history), and Tertullian. Another good group of verses that support the post-tribulation belief are found in the fifth chapter of 1 Thessalonians.

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night (but it goes on to qualify that by saying). For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4).

This is not talking about Christ rapturing the church like a thief in the night; it is saying that he is coming to the world in such a way that it will be turmoil as talked about in the Book of Revelation. Many people are not expecting him and that is when he returns. Again, these verses cannot be taken out of context.

Symbolism is also another matter that was discussed in this book. An important point that must be made and remembered is that the rapture cannot be compared to the Jewish wedding model. Pre-wrath proponents want to use different symbolisms such as the Ark or the Jewish wedding as representations to support their theory that they are going to be snatched out of here and in no trouble at all. Some cite John 14:1-3 as well for an example of the Jewish wedding model of the pre-tribulation rapture.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Seeing that here are certain distinctions between the Church and Israel, why would anyone consider this to be a message to the Church when the language and implications are just as Jewish as the language of the Olivet Discourse. The audience of John 14:1-3 is the very same one as that of Matthew 24, namely the disciples.

Again, he is not talking about the rapture, he is simply talking about heaven and that was told to the disciples privately upon the Mount of Olives. When considering what he says and who he speaks it to, he is actually talking to Israel as a nation. The church was not even born until Pentecost. Everything has to be looked at properly in order to see that using certain symbolism’s causes things to be taken out of context. Such is the situation with those pre-tribbers who trust that they will be saved because it happened in the case of Noah and the Ark.

What about all those people who perished? Read the eleventh chapter of Hebrews; it starts out talking about the great men and members of faith but that is only half the chapter. The other part discusses those who did not make it to their promised land. They were sojourners on the earth and lived in caves. Some were sewn asunder and chained, resulting in them dying for their faith.

Without a doubt, everyone has to balance the entire counsel of God. Unfortunately, it often happens with the Bible and eschatology that people pull things out of context, only using bits and pieces of things in order to suit their beliefs.

As far as understanding the Bible, take the simplest verses first, those that cannot be misunderstood. In other words, “When he returns, every eye shall see him from the east to the west” is very simple. One does not have to be extremely educated to understand it. Every other verse that refers to his coming has to fit into, or with, that verse.

The above quote leaves no evidence of Jesus secretly sneaking in here during the middle of the night to zap the church out of here without anyone seeing Him. Those ideologies are contrary to one another. The whole idea of Him sneaking in totally goes against everything referring to the Day of the Lord in the Old Testament. Oftentimes, the Day of the Lord means the same thing as His return and it is a day of awe. He comes back as the Conqueror, not as a meek and mild thief with something to hide. Thus, reject such beliefs. When He returns, all will see Him.

Know by the signs how close it is to His second coming. The world, even up to the very point of His return, will not see it. They will be asleep as they are today, with their minds upon something else, and believing false things. However, when Christ speaks to His Church, they are prepared and not taken by surprise. Conclusively, with scriptural evidence as support, plus events of modern time that serve as signs of the Lord’s second return, the only reasonable view is that of the post-tribulation doctrine.

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