Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reasons for a Pre-Trib Rapture

Having studied the subject of end-times Bible prophecy for many years, I have seen the topic of the timing of the Rapture addressed many times.  Indeed I had to go on my own journey of studying the scripture and the works of many other scholars before finally concluding that only the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory makes the most sense logically and, most importantly, scripturally.  Not only does it make the most sense, but the other ones make the least sense when compared to what the Bible has to say about the Rapture.  The topic can fill entire books, but I will limit to a simple, easy-to-understand summary for the purposes of this article.


One of the most exciting and resounding themes that support the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory is the concept that it is imminent: thus, it could occur at any time because there are no prophetic events that must precede the Rapture.  Thus, it could happen before you finish reading this sentence, complete this article, or it could happen the next time you are asleep.  Understanding that it is imminent inspires people to share God's Word with a sense of urgency, and to be sure they are living right and that their relationship with the Lord is where it should be.

The concept of an imminent Rapture also provides substantial strength to God's Word.  We read in Titus 2:11-14 that it is our blessed hope, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

We also read in 2 Peter 3:9-10 these assuring words, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."  

The early Church understood the Rapture could happen at any moment,  which further supports that the Pre-Trib Rapture Theory is correct.  In fact, one of the primary reasons 2 Thessalonians was written was because some false teachers had told the Church in Thessalonia that they missed the Rapture.  Paul, the writer of 2 Thessalonians, explained they did not miss it, and then goes on to explain the Antichrist (a key figure in end times events) would not be revealed until first a great rebellion happens (2 Thessalonians 2:3).  Paul continues to explain that, "the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way." (2 Thessalonians 2:7)  Many scholars believe that is referring to the Holy Spirit within the Church.  Obviously that lends further support to a Pre-Trib Rapture.

Other verses that support the Rapture will be sudden and unexpected (imminent) include:

  • "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36)
  • "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24:42)
  • "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:44).
  • "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." (Matthew 25:13).
One of the verses I like best can be found in Luke 21:36, where we are told by Jesus to "be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man".  Notice that Jesus says that we are to pray and that He is saying, "Pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen", not just certain parts, and certainly not only the end.

As we contrast the Pre-Trib Rapture Theory with all the other theories (shown below), we learn that they do not support the idea that the Rapture is imminent.  Rather, they would have Christians waiting until they saw the "abomination of desolation" before any expectation of the Rapture is thought or hoped for.  The Post-Trib Theory, among other major fallacies, steals the imminency of the Rapture the most because the timing will be something that can be calculated. For example, Daniel 12:7 and Revelation 12:6 explain that the Great Tribulation (the period after the "abomination of desolationˮ) will last 3.5 years. Revelation 11:3 and Revelation 12:6 reinforce the 3.5 year period, citing it will be precisely 1,260 days.


Related to the idea of it being imminent, I believe some of the best passages that alert us to be ready for the Rapture are found in Luke 17:26-36:

"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.  People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark.  Then the flood came and destroyed them all.  It was the same in the days of Lot.  People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.  But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.  It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.  On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them.  Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.  Remember Lot's wife!  Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.  Two men will be in a field; one taken, the other left."

The verses above describe people disappearing because of the Rapture.  (Note: Some scholars believe that it is the Second Coming, rather than the Rapture, that is being described; but I think careful examination reveals those verses best describe the Rapture for if it were the Second Coming (which happens after the tribulation), life will be far from usual.  Visit this link if you wish to explore that topic further.)  As we consider the Rapture, Jesus explained to us that it will be just as in the days of Noah, when people were going about their everyday life (eating, drinking, marrying, working, and building), which is just as we are today.  Again, we must note that the Bible explains The Rapture is an imminent event that will come when many do not expect it to.


We should appreciate that God will be merciful to the Christians who are living their lives according to His Word.  The precedent is clear, for God mercifully spared Lot, Noah, and their respective families.  Additionally, Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."  We also read in Revelation 3:10, "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth."


Related to the aforementioned concept that Christ will come back to save the Church (His bride), scripture also explains the event as our "blessed hopeˮ (Titus 2:13).  There would not be any "blessed hopeˮ if we were first going to have to endure the tribulation events described in Revelation.  Indeed we would be hoping that we were not the generation that lived during the end days if we thought that, rather than being raptured, we will have to endure hardship like has never been known before.

Support of a Pre-Trib Rapture can also be found within Jewish wedding customs.  There are several places in scripture where the Church is likened to the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27, 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:24; Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-2), so as we examine that concept further we learn that analogy is rich with comparison...

The Jewish wedding ceremony starts with the bridegroom paying a price for the bride (much like Jesus paid the price for the Church on the cross).  The bride shows she approves of the covenant by drinking a glass of wine (similar to how Christians drink the symbolic wine at communion) and she has a ritual cleansing bath (much like Christians get baptized).  The time between the betrothal and actual marriage can be quite some time, as the bridegroom must depart to build a place where they will live together, similar to what Jesus said in John 14:2-3, "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.ˮ 

After the bridegroom has finishes the task, he returns at an unexpected time for his bride: which is exactly what we read in scripture about Christ's unexpected return for the Church (e.g. the Rapture).  We also learn about that unexpected return in the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), where we notice that both the faithful and unfaithful virgins were not expecting the bridegroom's return.  Yet once the tribulation begins, particularly when the "abomination of desolationˮ is witnessed, there would otherwise be a great expectation that Christ is going to return.  Once again, we see that an imminence is emphasized, and only the Pre-Trib Theory supports a completely unexpected, imminent rapture.


In 2 Corinthians 5:20, we read that we are "Christ's ambassadorsˮ.  What is interesting about that is that before war breaks out, ambassadors are called home for their own safety.  It is done quickly and in secret so as to not alert the enemy.  Obviously that analogy can be applied to the Rapture of the Church.

Some people contend there is no rapture at all and blend the Rapture with the Second Coming.  The following chart briefly contrasts those two distinct events:

Christians will be taken from earth and will join the Lord in the clouds.  1 Thessalonians 4:17
Christians will return from heaven to the earth with the Lord. Revelation 19:14
Occurs before the Tribulation for the reasons discussed in this article.
Occurs at the very end of the entire tribulation period.  Revelation chapters 6-19
Will happen in an instant (in “the twinkling of an eye”).  1 Corinthians 15:50-54
Will be an event that is visible to everyone.
Revelation 1:7, Matthew 24:29-30
Is imminent 
Titus 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18,
1 Corinthians 15:50-54, Luke 17:26-36
Will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place.   2 Thessalonians 2:4, Matthew 24:15-30; Revelation chapters 6–18

We can also note that while the church is talked about abundantly in chapters 1-4 of Revelation, it's not mentioned once the text turns to describing the tribulation.  Moreover, John, the writer of Revelation, is taken up into heaven to describe the tribulation events at the beginning of chapter 4.  To many people who study those passages, John's being taken up to heaven at that time strongly suggests a correlation to the Rapture also happening before the tribulation begins.


Finally, we must examine a very important concept concerning the tribulation, and that is: what is its purpose and for whom is it intended?  Once you have a firm grasp on that fundamental concept, you begin to understand that the tribulation is not meant for the Church at all.  Rather, as explained in what is known as "Daniel's 70th Week", the tribulation is a time God has specifically set aside to deal with the Jewish people.  Understanding "Daniel's 70th Week" is so fundamental that I have devoted an entirely separate discussion about that very topic, which I have included in the "Related Links" below.


  1. Great article about the pre-trib rapture. I believe in the rapture but am still trying to figure out just when it will occure. Could you please explain the passage in 2Thes.2:1-4 where it clearly tells us that we will see the the revealing of the antichrist before that day happens.

  2. That is an excellent question. The verses in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 are extremely interesting. Your comment inspired me to post a Related Link entitled "The Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3" which you will find just above. My thanks to Dr. Thomas Ice for that contribution.

  3. I agree, the pre-trib rapture makes more sense to me and also matches the best with Scripture. The Lord always pre-warned and removed His people before His wrath was released.

  4. Your basing it on a lot of assumptions that pre trib rapture is more logical - also that the time period is literal and not symbolic. It's more logical to me that the creator will like he said keep the believers from his wrath which is the last part of the tribulation but there is an uncountible multitude that is saved in the tribulation and they certainly are not going to be under Yahveh's wrath.

    Matthew 24:
    “36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
    37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
    38 For as in the days that were before the flood THEY were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
    39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Emphasis added)

    But God told Noah 7 days before the flood the exact day.

    In Genesis 7:4 it says "For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth."

    The flood is God's wrath upon the wicked. The righteous are saved from his wrath. The 7 days our creator warned Noah before the flood are a likeness of the 7 year tribulation. The wicked knew not the day but Noah and his family were told and brought the animals into the ark.

    Revelation 3:3 says "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. IF THEREFORE THOU SHALT NOT WATCH, I WILL COME ON THEE AS A THIEF, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." (Emphasis added) - the thou that didn’t watch being the one who didn’t know the hour.

    “Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
    Why do we always assume "the son" in Mark 13:32 is the son of man? The son there could be the son of perdition - it could have been a dig against Satan in his pride who had access to heaven at one time. The wise men knew when and where Christ would be born but Herod didn’t.

    1 Thessalonians 5
    1 "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
    2 For yourselves know perfectly that THE DAY OF THE LORD COMETH AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT.
    3 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.
    The Churchins will be saying - we are at peace and safe in Christ.

    Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
    All believers have the spirit of prophecy because we all have the testimony of Christ which is the spirit of prophecy.
    Doug R

  5. Thank you for your post. I have responded below:

    A study of "Daniel's 70th Week" helps us understand that prophetic time periods are indeed literal. A good example of that is that Daniel thought so when he was reading Jeremiah's prophecy that Israel would be restored in 70 years. The "Related Links" area at the bottom of the post has more details about the important subject of "Daniel's 70th Week".

    I believe you are reading something into the text at "The Days of Noah" analogy that isn't there. THEY is simply referring to the people back during Noah's day. That's really the best word to use there. The whole point of the analogy Jesus used was that He was making a specific point to explain it would be as when things are going about as usual. It would take those that were not prepared by complete surprise. A detailed explanation of "As in the Days of Noah" is also in the "Related Links" area at the bottom of the post.

    I can appreciate you mentioning Rev. 3:3 which does suggest it will come as a surprise to people not paying attention. I agree with that. The signs that we are near the end days are all around us and those of us that study the topic fully understand we very close to the end days. We don't know the exact day the Rapture will happen, but it is imminent! Another parable to look at is the 10 virgins Jesus mentions at the beginning of Matthew 25. Neither the ones with nor the ones without oil knew exactly when the bridegroom would return. Five wise ones had some oil and were taken when He returned. The foolish ones that were not prepared were left behind and when they showed up later He said to them, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you." (I've read that parable several times, but as I think about that more, I'm not so certain people who had a chance to be saved will get a second chance during the tribulation. I'd have to study that topic more to say for sure, but that parable sure does suggest that to me. I've always said that taking that chance is foolish no matter what, for none of us know when our lives may end.)

    In 1 Thessalonians 5 is such a great set of verses. It says The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, but believers will not be surprised. As we continue reading we learn that it is because believers will be alert and self-controlled; because they won't be getting drunk, etc. Just as the five virgins did not know when the bridgegroom would return, but they were ready no matter what, for people that are ready it won't be like a thief. It still remains very imminent for we don't know when it will happen: just that we are to be ready WHENEVER it happens. We also read in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 that God did not appoint believers to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation.

    Amos 3:7 - Yes, thankfully the Lord did reveal His secrets to the prophets. As noted earlier, an understanding of "Daniel's 70th Week" is critical to understanding Bible prophecy.

  6. Doug, I see I missed addressing one of your comments. I think it would be really stretching the meaning of text to think that Mark 13:32 is mentioning the "son of perdition". The context is related to the fact the angels do not know His return, nor does the Son (at that time, at least); but only the Father. The context of that sentence points us to understand Jesus is talking about Himself (God the Son) and then God the Father. The capitalized word "Son" is also a strong hint the translators saw it that way too. Also, if Jesus wanted us to think it was the son of perdition, I believe He would have made it clear.

    The Book of Revelation was written later because once Jesus ascended to heaven, He assumed His omniscience again and then He shared more about the end times (to say the least). Philippians 2:7 tells us that Jesus “emptied Himself”, which means He did not have omniscience. Theologians call it “kenosis”. Of course Jesus remained as God while on earth, but He set aside His heavenly glory to become man and experience things as man. That is why we see Him in prayer so often, as that is how He communicated with the Father and knew much of what He did.

    The details of the Rapture were later revealed to Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15:51 Paul explains the "mystery" that was revealed to him. When we see that word "mystery" in the Bible like that, we know that it was something previously not known.

    As I said before, I do appreciate your comments, as they may be questions or misconceptions others have, and they are good things to talk about. It also challenges me to do more research and better articulate the topic.

  7. Thank you Jeff. God bless you brother.

    One this is certain and that is that Jesus is coming for a people who are looking for Him and ready for His return.

    "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."
    Luke 12:40

    todd tomasella

  8. Well said.

    In 1Thess 4 we see that the Rapture is something that the Thessalonian believers were ignorant of. But in ch 5 Paul reminds them of the day of the Lord - which they knew everything about. He says you know perfectly that the day of the lord cometh as a thief in the night etc.

    Clearly one cannot be ignorant about something and be perfectly informed about something unless they are two totally separate things.


  9. Very good point about the days of Noah. That's a good argument for the rapture, not the Second Coming. The Tribulation will so horrible that life won't be going on as usual.
    God bless,
    Kent Crockett (Prophecy Bible studies)