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Question #1: 

Hi Doc

My question today is who will be raptured, the wicked or the righteous? Is there going to be a rapture at all, if so when? So many people have told me so many conflicting ideas about the rapture and they all seem biblical, leaves me confused.

Thanks

Response #1:  

Good to hear from you. When people say "rapture", they mean the living resurrection of believers (not unbelievers) who are transformed into their eternal state when Christ returns – and without ever experiencing physical death (this is the subject of the end of 1st Thess. 4 and 1st Cor. 15). In contemporary Christian circles, however, the word "rapture" is usually used to convey the (false) idea of a pre Tribulation resurrection (which would allow us to "escape" the coming Tribulation). In fact, the Bible is very specific about there being only one return of Christ (or parousia in Greek), namely, the second advent. The passages above, therefore, are actually referring to the blessed event at the end of the Tribulation, not before it commences.

You will find out all about these matters and get many more links at the following links (feel free to write me back if you have any further questions about all this):

The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory.

When is the Rapture?

Yours in Jesus for whom we breathlessly wait,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Dear Brother bob,

I am writing an essay on the rapture and I am against the pre trib rapture but I need a case against 2 Thessalonians 2:7 many Christians say that is the rapture but I have always believed that it is the holy spirit removing the restraining power and not departing as some would say is that the difference between to' katechon verse 6 and ho' katechon verse 7

Any insight into this puzzling verse is most welcome,

In his love,

Response #2: 

Good to hear from you. Yes, I entirely agree with your assessment. The Spirit ceasing to restrain the appearance of antichrist is what the passages means (it has nothing to do with any "rapture"). The only argument I have ever heard made about this passage in regard to the false pre-Tribulation rapture theory goes along these lines: "Since the Restrainer is the Spirit, and the Restrainer is removed at the beginning of the Tribulation, the Church much be raptured in order for this removal of restraint to have occurred, since the Spirit indwells the Church". As you note, there are many leaps of logic in this highly derivative argument, not the least of which is the fact that the Spirit need not indwell anyone in order to restrain (His first restraining ministry is noted at Genesis 1:2). Indeed, the argument is so clearly a stretch and a half that it occurs to me that it is good evidence against any pre-Tribulation rapture because it shows what lengths proponents have to go to find any biblical "evidence" for it. Sometimes resorting to exceptionally weak evidence is evidence of having no true evidence at all. On that and other restraining ministries of the Spirit, please see the following links (the 2nd Thessalonians passage is treated in all three below):

The Holy Spirit: Blasphemy against, Restraining Ministry, and Gender.

The Holy Spirit's Restraining Ministry

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

I have been struggling with the pre and post-trib interpretations of when the rapture will occur relative to the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. I was examining the post-trib view and verse Rev 2:22 came to my attention; the letter to the church of Thyatira: "Behold I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into Great Tribulation, except they repent of their deeds." This verse implies that those who DO repent of their deeds will NOT be cast into Great Tribulation. This seems to counter the post-trib view!

My overall view of the rapture is: Christ Himself (with no help from His angels), and without setting foot on the earth will rapture His Church (Body). That brief instant when the Groom returns for His Bride while still dwelling in Heaven after having prepared a place for her in His Father’s mansion. (Jhn 14:2-3, 1Th 4:16-18) This is the day that no man knows except the Father, and hence the imminence of His RETURN (Jhn 14:3). On the other hand, the Tribulation saints that "read and understand" will know the day of His COMING for all to see by counting down the 1260 days from the day of the abomination of desolation. (Rev 13:5). (I sense a big difference between His Return and His 2nd Coming.)

If the Church age extends into the 70th week, this means that all saints regardless of which group they belong (Church, Tribulation, Old Testament), will be caught up as a whole and given glorified bodies. There would be no one left to enter the Millennium in his/her natural body--all the reprobates will have been wine-pressed. If, on the other hand, the living Trib-saints were left to populate the earth, this scenario would conflict with 1Th 4:17 where those, which are alive, will be translated.

In Rev 19:7 "…and His wife hath made herself ready." implies that she could only have made herself ready in heaven after she had been returned for at the midnight call, and is now coming with the Groom to receive the guests (the Trib-martyrs and Old Testament Saints) which are then called (caught up) to the marriage supper. There is no accommodation in heaven for the living Trib-saints in this scenario (in my opinion).

Given that the antichrist will be revealed before Christ’s second coming, looking for this event to occur would be a mistake as opposed to looking for His imminent return during the present Church age to which imminency applies, outside of the 7-year period. If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, the return of Christ would not be imminent--many things would have to occur before His physical coming. By the way, I equate imminence with the five wise virgins.

I believe that during the first half of the "week" the two witnesses and the 144,000 will be there to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the die-hard rabbinic Israelis (and the rest of the world) of which, that 7-year period is allocated to deal with and is focused on (Dan 9:24). The martyred of that period will be caught up on the Last Day when Christ comes, as the ongoing first resurrection advances and concludes with the raising of the Old Testament saints.

The Post-tribs will be "looking" for the Antichrist first, and the coming of Christ second.

In that order, the day of His coming would be known, and the element of surprise of the rapture (midnight call) prevented. I agree that the catching up of the Tribulation martyrs--not the living saints--will occur on the Last Day. They will rule with Christ on earth but do not constitute His Body; neither do the Old Testament saints. Christ’s own is His Church, His Body (as in Adam’s rib); the Old Testament saints could not know Jesus, and the Trib-saints only turned to Him after very difficult times of severe testing.

The Day of the Lord in my view is Christ’s physical appearance, coming not as the Groom, but as a Lion with His two edged sword, to have His angels gather the elect (Trib-martyrs/saints Mar 13:27), while at the same time, other angels will be thrusting their sickles to reap the ripe grapes for the winepress to be trodden by our Lord (Rev 14:18-20), an act of judgment not characterized in the old Jewish marriage tradition, and a far cry from the Groom returning just for His Bride. The rapture (His return) will be secret and instantaneous (1Cr 15:52). The second coming will be visible to all (Mat 24:30).

I believe that some believers in Christ in this Church age, have in the past gone through and will inevitably continue to go through persecution, trials and tribulations of men, that is, past persecutions and inquisitions, and other future persecutions and possible genocides until the end of this Church age. Other believers, due to their geographic location or circumstance might not have experienced or will experience persecution just as those already dead in Christ, and the Old Testament saints will not be tested in the Great Tribulation. (Why would they be exempt from severe testing?)

If I am baptized and the Holy Spirit resides in me, why would I be cast into Great Tribulation? What about the models of the rapture that remove the few before God’s wrath is carried out: Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah; Noah and the great flood? I must say that just the thought of having to endure the Great Tribulation is very discomforting!

I don’t think that Paul taught how to prepare for the final Great Tribulation (wrath of God) as this would go against the principle that Christ suffered once for His Church (1Th 5:9-10). Daniels 70th week following the church-age gap is decreed for the rabbinic Jews (Israel); the final seven years designed to ultimately bring them to their Messiah; the Church will have long since been dealt with.

This is my view that might contain some misinterpretations and overlooked Scripture. Your rendering of what Scripture actually teaches, implicit or explicit regarding this subject  will be of much value and genuinely appreciated. I was brought up with the pre-trib view.

The post-tribs seem to be increasing in number in many web sites visited; I want to be on the side of God’s written and elucidated Word and not just a tradition.

P.S. I did not intend for this to be this long, I got carried away. Please excuse.

My best regards,

Response #3:  

Good to hear from you. As you are probably aware, I have written quote a lot about this subject, not only in the Peter series (see especially the link: in Pet.#27, "Tribulational Security"), and in the Coming Tribulation series, (see especially the link: in CT 5, "The [post-Tribulation] Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride"), but also in numerous and often quite lengthy compilations of email responses (see especially the links: "The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory", and "The Timing of the Resurrection"). Most if not all of the issues you raise are addressed in these links (at least in principle), but I will do my best to respond here in brief (and do feel free to write back if you would like me to clarify further).

First, as to the point with which you open your email, the substance of the letter to the church at Thyatira, this can be dealt with succinctly enough. The seven churches, in their prophetic application, represent the seven eras of the Church Age in chronological order (for an explanation of why this must be so see the link: in CT 2A, "The Seven Churches of Revelation"). Thyatira represents that era of Christendom when the Roman church (Jezebel) was beginning to compromise its principles in a serious way and was negatively affecting all of Christianity as a result. The main point here is that the eschatological part of Revelation does not begin until John is told at Revelation 4:1, "Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things!" The phrase "after these things" must refer, coming in context where it does immediately following the seven churches, to the Church-Age-trend prophecies contained in chapters 2 and 3. Therefore none of the information contained in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 has any direct application to the Tribulation or beyond. There are certainly many general applications which apply to believers of all ages, but the prophetic element stops at the end our age, that of Laodicea, precisely when the Tribulation begins.

I don't find any irreconcilable conflict between being told to "read and understand" on the one hand, and "no man knows the day or the hour" on the other. Even if we could extract from "understand" the meaning "have a perfect understanding of the precise chronology down to the very day and hour", Jesus' statement to the effect that the days of the Great Tribulation will be shortened "for the sake of the elect" (Matt.24:22; Mk.13:30) can only be read, in my view, to mean that the full complement of days has been reduced by some (probably small) amount – so we cannot know the exact day in any case (for much more on this passage please see the link: "Prophecy Questions").

The argument that "the baptism of fire" as it is sometimes called will mean the elimination of all unbelievers at the Second Advent is not supported by scripture. All of these passages are speaking about the destruction by our Lord at the battle of Armageddon of the (admittedly mammoth) horde of antichrist which has invaded Israel, not to the entire unbelieving population of the world at that future time. In addition to there being no scriptural support for a complete cleansing of the entire earth, it would also be well to consider that there will be a significant percentage of the world's population at that time who have not yet reached the age of being accountable for their decision about eternal life. Babies and young children certainly do not seem to rate such a destruction of wrath.

Revelation 19:1-10 is prospective and prophetic even in the context. The passage also says, " For our Lord God Almighty reigns" (v.6) even though He is really on the point of taking up His reign (it hasn't actually happened yet); and "For the wedding of the Lamb has come" (v.7; cf. *v.9*), even though the wedding supper occurs even after Armageddon (covered in the CT 6: "Last Things": "The Wedding Supper of the Lamb").

The imminency issue is also not dispositive (see the link: in CT 1, "Because the Time is Near"), and of course it cuts both ways: we certainly know and have always known that there would be many years between Christ's first and second advents (on the basis of the millennial day interpretation and also given the necessity for the Church to be composed of very large numbers which would take many years to achieve), so while imminency may make sense now for the pre-Trib position, it certainly would not have done so in centuries past (see the previous link for an explanation of how this principle actually works). The parable of the virgins I take to have a very straight-forward, eschatological application (consider its context: Matthew 24-25 is all about the end times): five have faith and last to the end; five do not, fail in their faith, and are not allowed into the wedding supper (cf. Lk.18:8 NIV: "when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"). In fact, this parable is wonderful evidence for the post-Trib rapture: only in the Tribulation will faith be tested to this degree; the victors partake in the wedding supper of the resurrected; those who lose faith are excluded.

Your next paragraph I do not entirely understand. Now we seem to have an additional resurrection. But there is nothing in scripture to support such a theory. In fact, 1st Corinthians 15:23-24 assures us that between Christ's resurrection and the end of the millennium there will only be one other phase of resurrection: "those who are Christ's at His coming" – and His "coming" (Greek parousia) is indisputably the second advent. I would argue that any natural reading of this phrase in English or in Greek points so unequivocally to the second advent that anyone with pre-Trib sympathies should take it to heart. The problem you raise of martyred tribulational believers is a large one for the pre-Trib position, and it cannot be solved by adding other phases to the resurrection which scripture does not include. Indeed, these martyrs are resurrected at the second advent . . . along with every other believer from Adam and Eve until Christ' return.

The substance of the objections in this paragraph have been addressed above. However, I would wish to note two things here: 1) the complicated nature of the explanation surely suggests prima facie that there is a problem or two with this schema; 2) it is incorrect (and in my view extremely dangerous) to try and separate out Israel and the Church as being somehow fundamentally separate as that is no longer the case (cf. Rom.10:12; Col.3:11; Eph.2:14). I understand that this is a well-respected theological point of view in the evangelical world, but it is not supported by a single scripture. The shadows of the Old Covenant have been replaced because they have been fulfilled in Jesus. He is the One to whom the Law looked (and the pre-Law prophecies and sacrifices as well), and it is on the basis of accepting God's promise of a future sacrifice for sin in Jesus that, for example, Adam and Eve were saved (e.g., "your Seed" is Jesus; the coats of skin show the need for His death in our place). The righteousness that Abraham had through faith is the same righteousness that we have through faith (Rom.4). And in fact, Israel is the ultimate organization of the Church (cf. Rev.21:12, and see the link: in SR 5 "God's Perfect Standard"). This is an involved subject, but an important one (happy to discuss it at length later). Hyper-dispensationalism has many problems associated with it, but the most pernicious is the tendency it instigates to draw theological proof from this seriously flawed system (i.e., the "doctrine" comes to generate "truth" of its own rather than having adherents look to the scriptures exclusively). Please see the link, "Dispensationalism".

"The Day of the Lord" is an eschatological concept well-known in the Old Testament and (objectively considered) comprises all of eschatology: i.e., it includes the Tribulation (the precursor to the return and the most visible part of the "Day" and Millennium down to the end of history). It can focus on the single day of Christ's return (second advent) but it is almost always necessary to understand it as the entire "extended time period" which precedes and follows that return (please see the links: in CT 1 "The Day of the Lord"; and "The Day of the Lord Paradigm"; see also "The Day of the Lord II").

I agree (and teach) that personal tribulation is a part of the Christian life; in fact the tenet is central to this ministry. I don't see how it follows that we would be automatically exempt from entering the Tribulation. Indeed, the opposite would seem to me to pertain: we are being prepared.

Yes, the idea of entering the Great Tribulation is (and is meant to be) very discomforting. It ought to motivate Christians to grow as close to the Lord as quickly as possible. It ought to help them put this life into perspective. It ought to have them living for Jesus instead of just "nodding to God". In fact, the false teaching of the pre-Trib rapture does much to away that (scripturally legitimate) discomfort, and in doing so is putting this generation of the Church in the greatest of danger. That is because so many Christians are going to be completely unprepared for that Day when it does "fall upon them unawares". They may survive with faith intact (who can say?), but they will most certainly be the worse for wear for not having made the most of the opportunities we have now to prepare before that dark day descends because of foolish complacency brought on by this false doctrine (please see the link: "The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory").

As to Paul, I'm not sure what it would be that he is supposed to have left out. Paul's epistles are filled with the practical aspects of how to endure suffering and live for Jesus. If we perfectly understood what Paul taught and were perfectly carrying out those principles, we would be perfectly prepared for the Great Tribulation.

I certainly commend you for your diligence and determination to get to all the truth of the Word of God. This is indeed an important doctrinal point, because, as I say, in my view the pre-Trib position, in addition to being wrong, also encourages Christians to dispense with a major portion of the motivation scripture gives to pursue spiritual growth aggressively. That would have been bad enough 100 years ago. Today, on the cusp of these things actually occurring, such a view also makes believers very vulnerable to the extent that they can be lulled into the mistaken belief that life is "nice" and that, whatever else may happen, at least they will be spared the Tribulation. This wrong approach 100 years ago would render a person very vulnerable to the personal tribulations which have always come the believer's way; at our present point in the plan of God, it is going to help land a good many believers in the Tribulation with a faith that is not capable of surviving. The Great Apostasy (see the link) will unquestionably be contributed to mightily by this false doctrine.

Finally, I would ask you not to base your decision merely upon the above. I have answered point by point as best as I could, but the "meat" of the proof of the post-Trib rapture is mostly in the links quoted at the outset of this email. If you really want the full story, I strongly advise you to spend some time reading these as well as the abbreviated discussion above. Reading the entire Coming Tribulation series (see the link) wouldn't be a bad idea either.

In Jesus our dear Lord, whom we serve and for whom we breathlessly wait.

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Dr. Luginbill,

I don't believe in the pre-trib rapture, nor do I believe in "once saved always saved". Therefore, I'm not too popular with my friends/family when it comes to discussing these topics. A few of my friends have told me that it really doesn't matter if you believe in pre-trib because it doesn't endanger your salvation. He believes that as long as you accept Jesus as your Savior, you won't lose your salvation over differing doctrines such as a literal earthly, millennial reign, pre-trib vs post-trib, etc. Can you please tell me your opinion on that? It's hard for me to imagine that God would give us His Word, to read and study, and then He wouldn't care if we all came up with different doctrines. But on the other hand, I find it hard to believe that you would not be saved just because you chose to believe in the pre-trib theory. So, I guess I'm pretty confused that.

Thanks in advance for your time. I look forward to hearing from you!

Response #4: 

Good to make your acquaintance. First, let me commend you for preferring the truth of the Word of God to worldly popularity. For many Christians in the course of the history of the Church (and particularly for those who have been Christians in name only), "belief" and "denominational affiliation" have been one and the same things. That is to say, "doctrine" is for many a political decision more than it is a matter of conscience. I am no expert on Roman Catholicism, but I have met many of that group whose actual position (even if it is not their stated one) is "I believe whatever the church tells me to believe". The church/denomination in such cases is the real choice, not choosing to look into the Bible to see what is true and then believing the truth once it is found. There are, of course, Christians in every era of the Church who are truly determined to fulfill Christ's mandates for them (and in doing so there is great eternal reward). The more we do it Jesus' way, the better we grow, progress and minister; the more we do it some other way, the more we are impeded from growing up spiritually, advancing in maturity, and helping others do the same through our spiritual gifts and ministries.

The process of spiritual growth is very simple as you have no doubt read many times on the site. The "fuel" for our growth is the truth of the Word of God. In order to grow, we need the truth – and every bit of it is important, often in ways not obvious when we learn it. Lies, half-truths, mis-information, mistaken ideas and the like will not contribute to our spiritual growth (no matter how well-meaning their sources). We can all get a to certain point on our own with the use of a Bible and the help of the Spirit, but progressing past that initial stage of growth inevitably means being fed by someone else's teaching ministry. Even those who are given the gift of teaching cannot feed themselves initially. It takes years of accessing other Christian teaching, years of academic preparation, and years of learning how to actually put the knowledge, the skills, and the gift together to begin to "feed" oneself, let alone others. And in this process of growth the same principle is true for all: every bit of truth is important. Ideally, Christians would be able to learn, believe, apply, and minister according to everything we are given in scripture. For we cannot minister what we have not ourselves learned to apply to our own lives, and we cannot apply to our own lives what we have not believed and taken into our hearts by faith, and we cannot take into our hearts by faith anything other than truth we have received, either directly from scripture or from a teaching ministry.

I understand your dilemma and I think you have posed the question perfectly. All truth is important, but not all believers at all times have known or chosen to believe all the truth of scripture. It really is amazing to me personally how much God accomplishes with "dull axes" (Eccl.10:10). Some Christians do seem to have accomplished quite a lot for the Lord with a minimum of truth in their hearts – and there is no doubt about the fact that the gospel is of primary importance because without accepting the divinity and sacrifice of Jesus no one can be saved. However that may be, the truth is the Holy Spirit's leverage, the "sword of the Spirit" (Eph.6:17; cf. Heb.4:12) which He uses when He uses us; the more spiritually mature we are through learning and believing the truth, the more spiritually advanced we are through applying that truth to our lives and passing the tests of life with it, the more useful we are to the Lord, the more use the Spirit can get out of us, and the more we are fulfilling God's purpose for us in this life. We can be saved without knowing anything about eschatology and we can even be useful to the Lord and earn a good reward; however, if we understood everything the Bible says about the end times perfectly and believed it completely, as with all other areas of biblical truth, that 'spiritual capital' in our hearts gives us untold spiritual advantages.

The New Jerusalem will be divided into four quadrants and our eternal habitation will be determined by the quality of our work here on earth: good, better, best . . . or simply just "there" (please see the link: in CT 6: "The Reward and Judgment of the Church". The less we are interested in what the Bible has to say, the less likely we will be to end up in the "best" quadrant and the more likely we are to end up in the "just there" quadrant. Mind you, I would rather be the last person on the list in the New Jerusalem than top of the list in the lake of fire! But our Lord wants us to excel, not to underachieve. And the more we are interested in learning and the more determined we are to learn and believe whatever the Bible has for us, the more likely we are to achieve what Jesus has put us here on earth to achieve. Without spiritual growth, we are not even likely ever to come to the point of finding out what it is we are really here to achieve in the first place. Only through growing and test-passing do we start to see clearly what our gifts are and how we are supposed to employ them for Jesus Christ and His Church.

Ultimately, those who really are interested in the truth will be led to the truth, even on issues such as you relate where there are "differences of opinion". Life is not an non-refereed event. God is in control of everything. He knows the hearts of all. False doctrines serve the purpose of distinguishing between the hot and the cold (and between the hot and the lukewarm). More biblical truth is available today than has ever been the case before, since the days of the apostles at least, but the resistance to it from all manner of opposition is correspondingly tremendous. If a Christian really wants to grow without limits and achieve everything Jesus has prepared in advance for him/her (Eph.2:10), then he/she will find that God provides. But that provision in today's lukewarm church-visible will usually have to be found in small fellowships and in out-of-the-way places. It will take commitment and dedication to find a good source and great determination to stick with it. Such Christians will find opposition coming from friends and family, from the exigencies of life, and from every aspect of the world and its evil ruler. But for all who really do purpose in their hearts to follow Jesus Christ wherever He may lead, making Him and His truth and the service thereto the number one priority in their lives, God provides everything necessary. There are no limits to achievement in the plan of God for those who refuse to limit themselves or to let themselves be limited by others.

There is no question that the Reformers are in heaven, and no doubt they have earned wonderful rewards. However, there is so much that we, creatures of very limited perception that we are, cannot really know, such as who is/was great outside of the Bible. Paul tells us that he made a point of not trying to do this personally (and he was one of the greatest who ever lived: 1Cor.4:3). I have always been disappointed by the Reformers' complete lack of interest in eschatology. They may have some excuse. They were in a literal life and death struggle with Rome, and the issues with which they were primarily engaged were the fundamental tenets of the faith: what constitutes salvation. They also had much less access to the tools necessary for spiritual growth. Today we all have Bibles and anyone can learn Greek and Hebrew (anyone with a lot of time to spare and a good deal of persistence, that is), Church History, systematic theology. There are libraries, seminaries, the internet – and a whole host of churches, denominations, and even some genuine, Bible-teaching ministries. As the French say, we have "an embarrassment of riches". The generation of the Reformers had none of these things in easy access and those who came centuries before them had even less. But what is our excuse?

It is also the case that those who believe what is false for any length of time actually do so because that is what they choose to do. God has all of human history under the tightest of control – it has all been decreed. There are no mistakes. God placed every believer in the proper time and place for him/her according to the choices He knew each of us would make (see the link: BB 4B: Soteriology). This world, this life is not about what meets the eye. It is, in fact, all about the choices we make. Choosing to go the easy way, to believe what everyone else is saying without bothering to check it out, to pay no particular attention to the truth of scripture, to care little whether one doctrine or another be preferred – all of these are choices. Good choices bring us closer to the Lord. The best one can say about bad choices is that they may in some cases not do us terrible harm. But this lukewarm generation of Laodicea (see the link), the generation which, especially in this country and at this time, has had more opportunities to learn more biblical truth and more opportunities to achieve their full spiritual potential than any other in the history of the world, seems to me to be failing the test worse than any previous era of the Church (even if we have not yet plumbed the depths of some of ancient Israel's most idolatrous spiritual rebellions – there is still time).

This a very long way of saying that I agree with you that doctrine, what the Bible actually says and means, what the truth really is, is of the utmost importance in every way. Declining the opportunity of knowing, learning, believing and applying the wonders and the treasures of God's holy scriptures (and sticking with what is false is just a "comfortable" way of doing just that) may not cost a person his/her salvation, but it is not going to produce any sizable crop for the Lord. And it is dangerous. Apostasy is the natural result of allowing the attitude of disinterest to pick up speed. It may not be an endemic problem at the moment, but it is prophesied to be a horrific problem once the Tribulation begins (please see the link: "The Great Apostasy"). As is always the case, the Christian life is usually not going to be a static experience. One is generally always moving forward, or backward. It is one of the remarkable things about the present era of Laodicea, that so many have proved so capable of "crawfishing" sideways for so long. Once the trouble starts, that is likely to be impossible, and the false doctrine of the pre-Tribulation rapture will be a major contributor to the undoing of many, precisely because it teaching them that there is no pressing need to get as much spiritual preparation as possible before those terrible days begin (which is precisely what those who accept it want to believe).

See the link: The Origin and Danger of the Pre-Trib "Rapture" Theory.

Thank you for your question! Please feel free to write me back about any of this.

In Jesus our dear Lord, Him who is the very Truth.

Bob Luginbill

Question #5: 

Color me confused. You suggest that anyone who is reasonably acquainted with the original languages, reads his Bible everyday should see how false this view is. Yet, you seem to recommend R.B. Thieme ministries. R.B. Thieme was the strongest Pre-Trib guy around. He ministered for 53 years. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Dallas theological seminary. He had a total of nine academic years of Greek and Five of Hebrew. He used the original languages in all of his lessons and studied numerous hours daily. All the while teaching Pre-Trib more than anybody. I don't wish to debate this with you, I studied under him and still listen to his recordings, so I am pre trib all the way. But how can you say such unflattering things about a particular eschatological view and then recommend someone who stands as a beacon against you, and I would guess knows the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic head and shoulders above you. What am I missing?

Response #5:  

Believe it or not, it is possible for me to respect the man, be grateful for his teaching, acknowledge my debt, and still part company when it comes to serious issues of faith. Isn't the real question here what the Bible teaches, that is, "what is the truth?"

If you are interested in my qualifications you can find my C.V. at the following link: Current C.V.. To use a rather outlandish example, I would not dare to compare them with those of John Calvin, but I would not for that reason embrace Calvin's amillenialism. Qualifications are just that. They do not guarantee success or accuracy, let alone produce infallibility, especially in spiritual matters. At my university, there are any number of other professors who likewise have doctorates, multiple publications, and wonderful academic track-records, yet who are not even saved.

I certainly endorse the principle of finding a good Bible teacher and sticking with his ministry through thick and thin. Such ministries are rare enough these days, and such loyalty equally hard to find. However, we are all responsible to Jesus Christ for what we believe, and for this reason every Christian should read scripture for themselves. I have no doubt whatsoever that anyone who is genuinely seeking the truth on this issue will, as with every other issue, be led to the truth (which in this case is unequivocal: the resurrection occurs when Christ returns at the second advent).

The most recent treatments on this subject at Ichthys can be found at the following links:

The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory.

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride

The Timing of the Resurrection.

Aspects of the Resurrection.

Aspects of the Resurrection II.

Please feel free to write me back about this. An incorrect appreciation of the timing of the resurrection has generally not proved fatal to the spiritual safety of those who hold with this incorrect view, at least not necessarily so. However, given that the Tribulation is impending, the misguided idea that contemporary Christians will be exempted from it has contributed to the lackadaisical spirituality of our current Laodicean age (see the link), and certainly sets up individual Christians who believe it for some serious disappointment and spiritual shocks should it occur on their watch.

In our dear Lord Jesus who is the only truth,

Bob Luginbill

Question #6: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill!

I have a question about the imminent return of Jesus and the timing of the rapture. I believe that the rapture occurs after the tribulation because if there is a pre-trib rapture, then there would be a 2nd and 3rd coming of Christ. 2nd coming when Christ secretly comes to rapture His church before the tribulation, and a 3rd when He comes to reign on earth. The Bible only teaches a 2nd coming and not a 3rd. A pre-trib proponent told me that if the rapture occurs after the tribulation then Jesus' return cannot be imminent, nor would He come as a thief since the Antichrist would have to appear first along with the judgments mentioned during the tribulation. How do you reconcile the imminent return of Jesus with the post trib rapture? Thanks for your answers.

Response #6: 

I completely agree (and have written quite a bit about this issue; please see the links: "The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory.", and "The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride [in CT #5]"). The return of our Lord is indeed imminent, for as Revelation 1:3 and 22:10 both say, "the time is near". But proponents of a pre-trib rapture who use this as an argument or a proof of their position have not thought things through, at least biblically speaking. "The time is near" neither says nor means that the resurrection cannot be at least seven years in the future from where we are now, but that is what the phrase would have to stipulate precisely for this to be any argument for a pre-trib rapture. "Near" just means "near", and since we know that John penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "near" does not even mean "within a very short period of time from the human point of view", since Revelation was written some two millennia ago – and the scriptures cannot be broken. We know that with God, "a thousand years is like a single day" (Ps.90:4; 2Pet.3:7-13), so the fact that nearly two thousand years have passed since Revelation was written does not invalidate the statement "the time is near". This phrase expresses the prophetic truth that with Christ's sacrifice and resurrection now being historical fact, nothing is left to be fulfilled before the beginning of the end times. That is "the time" which is near, not the resurrection alone. For the resurrection is part of an entire panorama of prophetic events known as "the Day of the Lord" which encompasses everything from the beginning of the Tribulation to the end of human history. That is the "time" which is "near", prophetically speaking (please see the links: in CT 1 "The Day of the Lord"; and "The Day of the Lord Paradigm"; see also "The Day of the Lord II").

And let us give careful attention to one another['s ministries] as motivation for [our own] love and good works, not abandoning your mutual assembling (as some have made it their practice to do [and which makes this impossible]), but rather encouraging each other [to persevere in this work of the Lord], and doing so to an ever greater degree to the extent that you see the day [of the Lord] drawing [ever] closer.
Hebrews 10:24-25

Pre-trib rapture adherents are reading an awful lot into this phrase which is just not there. They are making several assumptions which are incorrect. They assume 1) the phrase is speaking about the rapture (whereas it is speaking of the entire Day of the Lord); 2) they assume that "near" means "no other prophetic events can possibly proceed it, otherwise it would not be 'near' " – (whereas the Greek word engus refers to temporal proximity only, and most certainly does not imply that the rapture has to be absolutely the next event in the sequence – and after all under any construct the Lord returns first); and 3) they assume that literal "nearness" is meant rather than prophetic nearness (whereas if they were correct, it would be impossible to square these words with the 2,000 year interval already passed which, in the human terms these individuals would proffer, is anything but "near"). This is a good example of people taking a theological construct, elevating it to the status of a biblical truth, then applying this "truth" backwards as a lever to fit scripture into a particular mold. That is a flawed method even when the construct has validity. Scripture must be allowed to speak for itself in each and every instance, and should never be subordinated to our preconceived ideas, even when these are fairly accurate, doctrinally speaking. When we are off-base in our ideas, then this method creates theological mayhem (this is the sort of thing that gave us medieval Roman Catholic theology).

To put this another way, it is only in the heads of people who believe that this is a "doctrine" that "imminency" means "the next thing that must happen is Jesus' return". The Bible never actually says any such thing, and that would be inconsistent with what has actually happened so far. The Bible merely says, "the time is near", and what that means is that the end times are now prophetically imminent: they might begin at any time because there is no unfulfilled prophecy between Pentecost and the beginning of the Tribulation. This is true, by the way, even though the seven days of human history is a valid, biblical teaching, for there were always going to be 2,000 years between the cross and our Lord's return (see the link: "The Seven Days of Human History"). In spite of the need for a two thousand year Church Age, scripture nonetheless insists on the "nearness" of Jesus' return because of the prophetic reality of the victory of the cross, and our Lord's subsequent resurrection, ascension and session removing all the barriers and fulfilling all the prophecies which had to be taken care of before the Day of the Lord could commence. Nearness means that nothing is standing in the way of the Day of the Lord. What is abundantly clear, moreover, is that no careful reading of the Greek text of Revelation 1:3 and 22:10 (or any other passage) will produce the conclusion that Jesus' return cannot possibly be proceeded by the Tribulation. In fact, all scriptures which deal with the subject say precisely the opposite.

(3) And when He sat down on the Mount of Olives, His disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us when these things will be, and what the sign is of your return and of the end of the age?" (4) And Jesus answered and said, "See to it that no one deceives you. (5) For many will come in My Name, saying, 'I am the Christ', and they will deceive many people. (6) And you are going to hear about [actual] wars and impending wars. Make sure you do not become [overly] alarmed [by such things]. For [these things] must happen, but this is not yet the end [of the Tribulation]. (7) For [before that end] a nation will rise against a nation (i.e., in general terms, the Japhetic pan-nation against the Semitic pan-nation), even a kingdom against a kingdom (i.e., Babylon and revived Rome versus the southern alliance; cf. Dan.11:25-30; 11:40), and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. (8) But all these things are [merely] the beginning of the birth pangs (i.e., the first half of the Tribulation).
Matthew 24:3-8

As this passage shows very clearly, "your return" which the disciples have asked our Lord about is preceded by all the events of the Tribulation. The time when all these things will happen is (prophetically speaking) "near", and has been since our Lord's resurrection, ascension and session. But that is no proof of the (erroneous) pre-trib rapture view. I have written more about this prophetic imminency at the following link: "Because the time is near" (in CT #1).

"Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll."
Revelation 22:7 NIV

Yours in our Lord Jesus, for whose imminent return we breathlessly wait.

In Him.

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

In regard to your "Tribulational Security" section, some questions have surfaced. I am definitely coming around to the post-trib position, but there are a few points that seem to be conflictive that I would like clarified. Following are some excerpts of the section. My comments are enclosed in brackets:

We are to be diligent with the resources God has given us, like the faithful stewards, because our Lord's return is imminent and can come without any warning.

[I agree that the day of His appearance at the end-time (Mat 24:29-30) of the Great Tribulation would be imminent, but in our present times, how can His coming be imminent if the signing of the 7-year peace treaty; the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; the revealing of the Son of perdition, and even the Great Tribulation itself, if these events are still future? The warnings are many! All these signposts, among others, must happen first, and all will signal that the end, and His coming will be literally at hand. Some might think that they may have time to live foolishly until these signs begin to surface. During the Tribulation though, we can safely say that Christ’s return is imminent only after the number of shortened days of that period approaches zero. Conversely, if His return is absolutely unknown, meaning not preceded by any known significant event, His return could be today or sometime in the near or distant future, only then can His return be considered imminent since Pentecost. In my humble reasoning, imminency could not be associated with the post-tribulation return of our Lord.]

When He does come back, those who have let their faith expire will not enter the Kingdom with the bridegroom (cf. Rev.19:5-10), but will be excluded. Both parables clearly set the 2nd Advent, the time of Christ's final return following the trials of the Tribulation, an event to be anticipated, hoped for and watched for, not a rapture that precedes the Tribulation and our Lord's final, glorious return.

[I am concerned that the Tribulation period would likely tend to have a negative effect on my faith. I therefore, would be inclined to not anticipate, hope or even watch for its arrival as this deference would collide with my anticipating, hoping and watching for His glorious coming, and the fulfillment of my redemption, the only reason for which I keep my lamp of faith burning brightly. I hope to be ready if the coming Tribulation does arrive in my lifetime. I am mindful that I will be subjected to severe persecution suffering and exhaustion. My strength and will to persevere to the end will be determined by my unmovable faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.]

Regards,

Response #7:  

To take your second question first, I think you and every other Christian are quite right to be concerned about the Tribulation. Indeed, my own concern, not only for myself but for the faith of my brothers and sisters who stand to find themselves in the midst of it, has much to do with the current focus of this ministry. The Satanic Rebellion series is a prologue to the biblical study of the end times, and the Coming Tribulation series is all about what the Bible has to say on the subject, including as a very large part of its focus how we will need to negotiate that difficult time should the Will of God so will (please see the links). But while we can be concerned, we learn in the Christian life not to fear and not to worry. We have been biblically mandated not to do either, and that goes not just for little things but also for big things – and I can't think of a time or circumstance where such complete trust and faith in our Lord will be more necessary than the midst of the Great Persecution in the Tribulation's second half. Clearly, it is "easier" for believers to be marginal in a time of relative peace and plenty that it will be when they may have to risk or even give up their lives for Jesus Christ. That is all the more reason for us not to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the gathering storm (no doubt one major reason why the pre-Tribulation rapture theory is so dear to so many), but instead to strive might and main to grow up as best and as fast as we can in Jesus Christ so as to meet the test when it comes. Soldiers train for battle constantly; as we used to say in the Marines, "more sweat now, less blood later". The spiritual warfare we Christians face is constant and continual, but without any question things will be worse once the Tribulation begins. For one thing, the way scripture reads, there will be little time or opportunity to "train" once the end times begin. We will "go to war with what we have", and for many, sadly, that will be not very much – not very much truth stored in the heart, not very much doctrine understood and believed, not very many tests successfully passed . . . not very far down the road at all of learning to see the Invisible One and put aside all care and anxiety as a result. But do take heart; I believe there is still ample time for you or anyone else who has a mind to do so to prepare adequately for that crucible to come.

As to your first question, I certainly admit that the issue of "imminency" seems to be a problem, but in reality only if it is misunderstood. First, the word "imminency" is not biblical so that using this word as if it meant something in Bible terms leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of what scripture actually says and means. Revelation 1:3 and 22:10 both actually say "the time is near". That is a relative statement, because "nearness" is in the eye of the beholder. These biblical statements were made some 2,000 years ago. That means that 2,000 years ago "the time was near"; and although that was an inspired truth, it is also clear that the time is even closer today, and, as it always has been, closer day by day until the time arrives. So the first point to make clear about true, biblical nearness (as opposed to false imminency) is that the time factor is really a relative one: in God's eyes, one day is like a thousand years; that is why something 2,000 years away and counting can be called "near" and still be true.

The second point is equally important. "The time is near" is a far different thing to say than "Jesus could come back at any moment". He certainly could, since God is always free to change the rules in any way He pleases. But I don't expect that to happen in terms of the biblical time-line laid out in scripture. When His disciples asked Him, to "tell us when these things will be" and "what is the sign of your return", Jesus gave them a synopsis of the entire Tribulation – because that is when He returns and takes us to Himself, namely, at the end of the Tribulation (Matt.24:3-8). So "the time is near" means for me "the Tribulation could commence at any moment". That has always been true, even though the interpretation of the Church Age as lasting two millennial days (suggested by, among other things, the Millennium's duration and the seven days of Genesis and the statements about one day equaling a thousand years made by Moses and Peter) by now seem to have been validated in full. So when people say "the resurrection is imminent, therefore there cannot be any intervening prophecy which we know must happen first, therefore there must be a pre-Trib rapture", they are completely misconstruing scripture. The word "imminent" does not occur in scripture in this regard, and, clearly, being close is not the same thing as being imminent, for the later suggest just what concerns you, namely, "that there can be no prior events of which we know from scripture" before Christ's return because of said imminency, whereas "nearness", and especially a biblical "nearness" which has already lasted 2,000 years or thereabouts, suggests nothing of the sort. For "the time" is the Day of the Lord, when all these things happen (including the seven year Tribulation), and not specifically the resurrection per se.

Please see the link: The Day of the Lord

Yours in the One for whose return we long – Marana Tha! – our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Thank you also for replying to my questions. Im sorry but i must disagree with you on tribulation. Please dont be offended by what i mean i only feel that if i just did not respond and let it go i would not be showing my love for our brothers and sisters in Christ . There is so much biblical evidence on us not being here it amazes me that i and so many people dont or didnt see it before . I have been reading Rev. Since i was 8 it was the first book i stared reading in the bible . And all these years not coming with a conclusion of when it will happen its funny that there are so many scriptures proving we are not here for Gods wrath. his wrath is for the UNGODLY not the godly it is called Jacobs trouble Rev 9;20 says The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent . This is before the seventh trumpet and Rev13;8 says ALL inhabitants of the earth WILL worship the beast . That means if we are on earth we will worship him and 13;14 the second beast deceived the inhabitants of the earth . I believe Gods wrath is not for us i will not be on this earth to worship the beast or be deceived by him there are so many other proofs of us not being here . I have been back and forth many times in my life and im not saying im more educated than anyone . My point is sometimes we can read scriptures hundreds of times over and miss the meaning or a sentence that was so important to by pass or not notice. I finally from believing almost all known understandings on tribulation from last to mid to pre . I have finally come with the understanding and insight that God gives me that we are not here for any of it. I am not trying to make a dispute over it. I am keeping in prayer everyone so that we may all be in one accord in in the holy spirit . I know there are so many opinions on this. May Gods grace always be with you in Jesus name amen.

Response #8: 

No offense taken, but I don't agree. Let's start with the fact that there is not a single verse in the Bible which directly teaches (or can even be made to teach unequivocally) a pre-Tribulation rapture. Further, two very important features of the Tribulation which are the subject of many Bible verses are 1) the persecution of believers (the "Great Persecution"; see the link) and 2) the falling away of a third of the faithful (the "Great Apostasy"; see the link). Beyond all argument, there can be no persecution of believers without there being believers present, and there can be no falling away of believers without believers present. Therefore, rapture or no rapture, there have to be believers present during the Tribulation, and in significant numbers at that.

With that in mind, let us examine the three scriptures you adduce as evidence. Revelation 9:20-21 would seem to support your argument at first glance, but it is well to remember that the book of Revelation very often couches things in absolute terms and deliberately so for emphasis. After all, we can be sure that the 144,000 witnesses were not worshiping idols, yet they are still on earth at this time as their martyrdom is not detailed until chapter 14. If Revelation 9:20-21 proves that there are no believers on earth at the time, therefore, it would have to be the case that the 144,000 are not believers (which clearly is not the case). These verses are concerned with the vast majority of mankind and do not definitively state (nor do they actually imply, correctly translated and interpreted) that there are no believers left on earth. In fact, that would be inconsistent with what we know from elsewhere in Revelation and other scriptures (e.g., the 144,000, just as an example).

As to Revelation 13:8, here John is lead by the Spirit to provide a qualification: "all" means "all, that is, whose names are not in the book of life". The book of life contains the names of every human being created by God; the name is only blotted out through unbelief, either passively at death for those who, while they do not renounce Christ, yet never come to saving faith, or actively for those who, while still alive, like the great majority of the population during the Tribulation, do renounce Jesus and, during the Tribulation, embrace the beast (please see the link: "The book of life"). This verse, therefore, is speaking specifically of unbelievers, and that is what the qualification "not in the book of life" is meant to explain.

As to Revelation 13:14, that verse does not say that all human beings alive at the time will worship the beast. In fact, a little later in the chapter it explicitly states that the system of idolatry is set up as it is so that "those who refuse to worship" may be killed – an unnecessary step if there is no one who has not already embraced the beast and/or no one who will refuse. The imposition of the economic penalty is a further indication that some will resist. This brings up another important point against the notion that no believers will exist during the Tribulation. Since it is true that all who receive the mark of the beast are damned and will be destroyed at our Lord's return (cf. Rev.14:9-10), then to whom could Jesus return? That is to say, if the whole world of that time worships the beast, the whole population of the world will have to be destroyed at Armageddon. Who, then, will populate the world (and repopulate it as prophesied ubiquitously in the Old Testament) during the thousand year reign of Christ, if every single human being is killed when He returns?

For these and many other reasons, I find the notion of a pre-Tribulation rapture fanciful – and spiritually dangerous. For one might well ask why the Lord has included in His holy word so much information about the Tribulation and how to navigate it if there were no possibility of believers having to do so (the Bible is written for believers)? But if we stick our collective Christian heads in the sand and ignore the possibility, we will only find ourselves panicked and unprepared when no rapture delivers us from the difficult days ahead.

It is true that Revelation speaks of judgment and that the judgment is meant for the wicked, not for the faithful. But just as Jeremiah and the believers of his day had to live through the judgment of the Southern Kingdom, and just as the believers of the Northern Kingdom of Israel had to live through the judgment at the hands of Assyria on account of the faithlessness of their fellow citizens, so it may be our lot to live through a period of worldwide judgment, even though it is not meant for us personally. As the Lord protected the innocent in the two previous examples, so He will protect us. The Exodus generation was present in Egypt when Egypt was hit with ten exceptional plagues. Egypt was not spared on account of the remnant of the faithful and the remnant of the faithful was not removed prior to the plagues in order to be protected from them. But the Israelites were protected – they were delivered through these troubles, not entirely from them. There are significant indications that tribulational believers will be spared many of the dire consequences of the trumpet judgments of warning and the bowl judgments of punishment (as the Coming Tribulation series details; see the link), but there is every indication that believers will be delivered through and not from the Tribulation. The latter is only wishful thinking, and is not supported by any scriptural evidence.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi i wanted ask you a few questions if you can help me. Me and my husband have been reading your studies and i think you are a blessed man and your knowledge is amazing. We are not the most educated people i dont understand alot of the high tech words that are in the studies. We were looking at tribulation and i believe we are raptured before the seven years and my husband says after because of Mathew 24 and Thesalonians – which is it that you belive? If you dont mind me asking are you Jewish? Are you a minister in a church? We have been studying the end times alot lately and sad to say were a little confused on what to believe anymore. His dream is to one day be a minister if God willing. Thank you and God bless.

Response #9:  

Good to hear from you again. Thank you for your email, and for your kind and encouraging words about this ministry.

To begin with your questions about me personally, no, I am not blessed to be Jewish, nor am I a minister in a church. My dad was a Presbyterian minister, and at one point I entertained committing to ministry in that church myself, but I am very grateful that things worked out the way they did. I work full-time as a Greek and Latin professor at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky (please see: "Current C.V.", "About Ichthys", and "Luginbill Biography FAQs", for more details). So Ichthys is very much a "tent-making ministry", so to speak. I certainly want to encourage your husbands desire to serve the Lord in this way, and would be more than happy to answer any questions he might have. I have no denominational advice (except to stay away from any denomination). In my view, the best work for our Lord being done today in the ministry in teaching the Word of God is happening outside of multi-church organizations.

There is quite a bit already posted to the site on every aspect of this subject. As I say, I am happy to answer specific questions via email, but the following links should be helpful (these will lead to other links on the topics at hand as well):

How important is education for a pastor?

Pastoral Support, Pastoral Preparation, and the Purpose of Assembly.

The Local Church and Personal Ministry I

The Local Church and Personal Ministry II

The Local Church and Personal Ministry III

The Local Church and Personal Ministry IV

As to the pre-Tribulation rapture, this was the view I was taught, not by the Presbyterians, but by the church through which I was mentored, and I held to it for quite some time in my younger years. However, I came to find out through many years of diligent personal Bible study that there is no true biblical basis for the view that says the Church will not go through the Tribulation. The need for all Christians to prepare for the Tribulation is an essential premise behind the Coming Tribulation series (which includes a complete exegesis of the book of Revelation; please see the link). The best link to begin with on this subject is "The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory" (this link will lead to other links as well).

I am very pleased to hear of your husband's interest and also of the interest you are both demonstrating in learning about the end times. They are fast approaching, and any prudent Christian will make it a point to learn as much about them as possible before that day arrives.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #10: 

Dear Robert:

I’ve read quite a bit of your work. Really great effort in all cases. I especially like the "Three False Doctrines" page.

Thank God you don’t believe in that damnable "Rapture Doctrine"—which is no more taught in the Scriptures than evolution is. You have a good eye and obviously plenty of self-confidence to go against that mega-monster trend.

I’ve been fighting against this nonsense since Hal Lindsey resurrected the doctrine back in the early 1970s. His definition of the Rapture at that time was this: "At some unknown time in the future, the Lord will return from heaven and stop midway to snatch all true-believing Christians away to heaven for seven years." I have challenged him to show me where this is in Scripture—no attempt at all on his part.

I have also challenged him on his claim that Ezekiel 37 has been fulfilled: the dry bones have been wetted and the sticks have been rejoined, and this supposedly happened in 1948. I have written and called him many times over the years—to no worthwhile result.

This teaching, of course, goes directly against Ezekiel 37.14 and 26-28. Lindsey will only say that I am "baiting him." Whatever that means.

When I come into contact with a fellow-Christian who is able to work in the Scriptures and think for himself—which is, as I’m sure you know, not very often—I like to start the relationship in this manner: We both make the assurance with each other that we believe that Jesus Christ is God and Savior of the universe and this we must agree on—specifically.

However, because of different training and perhaps our settling on different linguistic concepts and translation theories, along with interpreting methods, we shall agree to remain collegial and cordial in respect to the areas where we disagree—and that we shall listen to each other without condemning and slandering no matter what the case of disagreement after our first specific agreement.

If that suits you—or you may want to alter the statement in some way or the other and we can then discuss that alteration—then we shall proceed with discussions and differences for the purpose of honing our doctrines and building our faith.

I have found that this carried our seriously makes for a foundation to a long-standing, worthwhile relationship.

Either way, I seriously appreciate your prompt reply to my first email. This shows me you’re a gentleman and a serious scholar—as does your work. I’m sure the Lord will reward you with His many and wonderful spiritual gifts.

I remain, always for Christ and the faith

Response #10: 

Very good to hear from you again. Indeed, Jesus is my Lord and Savior, the One who made me, the One who died for my sins in the darkness on Calvary's cross, the One in whom I have put my faith for eternal life, believing in His perfect work in facing judgment for my sins and in His perfect person, undiminished deity and true humanity in one person forever.

As to your ground rules, they are nothing other than good manners. I try to maintain this perspective even with those who are less than well-mannered in their approach (as I hope some of the extended email exchanges posted to the site will show):

[The servant of the Lord must] in humility be correcting those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them to repent and acknowledge the truth, and that they may come to their senses, [escaping] from the devil's trap, though they have now been taken captive by him to do his will.
2nd Timothy 2:25-26

As to the pre-Trib rapture, it is a very wide-spread false doctrine as you no doubt know. My latest (and most comprehensive) work on that can be found at the following link: The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory. As to the correct, post-Tribulation biblical teaching, you can find that covered in part 5 of Coming Tribulation: "The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride".

You are most certainly correct about Ezekiel 37. There are, after all, correct canons of interpretation. We are not allowed to have anything mean whatever we want it to mean in prophecy. Prophecy is governed by very specific rules, and I find the laissez faire "anything goes" attitude towards prophecy of much of independent evangelicalism just as disturbing as the highly restrictive hyper-literalism of much of conservative Protestantism (e.g., prophecy does employ analogy and typology – one simply has to get it right). The latter (effectively) refuses to have anything to do with the search for eschatological truth in scripture while the former makes up its own truth treating scripture as little more than a personal haiku (for a synopsis of some of the more important hermeneutic principles in this regard please see the link in part 1 of Coming Tribulation: "Hermeneutic Issues"). Scripture means what it means, and that is true whether or not we like what it means (pace evangelicalism free spirits) and whether or not we have to work very hard to discover what it means (pace hyper-conservative eschatophobes).

One of the basic principles of eschatology, very easily established from what the Bible does say about the end times, is that, apart from the general trends of the Church Age given in Revelation chapters 2-3 (please see the link: "The Seven Churches of Revelation"), there simply is no unfulfilled prophecy in scripture prior to the commencement of the end times. That is to say, while we will know when the Tribulation begins (since it will be inaugurated by unmistakable heavenly signs detailed in Rev.8:5; see the link: in Coming Tribulation part 2B, "Signs of the Coming Tribulation"), the Bible does not detail any of the specific events on earth that may lead up to this highly significant occurrence. So while there are many things that may be deduced as having a possibility or even a high probability of occurring before the Tribulation begins, that is quite a different thing from saying, for example, "Ezekiel 37 prophecies the foundation of Israel" (which it most certainly does not). Clearly, it is hard to imagine how the events of the Tribulation as described throughout scripture would be possible without a large number of Jews regathered into the land of Israel (so that such a regathering might have been hypothesized a thousand years ago as a precursor to the Tribulation); nevertheless, how and when and why is a subject upon which the Bible is silent – as it is silent on a whole host of likely developments which, as events seem to be demonstrating, were/are likely occurrences in the years and decades which precede the Tribulation. For example, if the Tribulation is less than two decades away at present, it is not unreasonable to suppose that beast is already alive on earth (since scripture does not seem to represent him as a mere boy at the time of his domination of the earth). But that is a far cry from proclaiming that Micah 5:5 (or similar passages) is proclaiming the birth of antichrist in a particular place or a particular time (or that we may be able to identify him with any certainty before the Tribulation begins).

As with all things in the exegesis and interpretation of scripture, one has to avoid straying too far to the left or the right. The "sweet spot" is ever in the middle, actively seeking the truth rather than sitting in place, but doing so in a manner that does not shy away from the hard work necessary to get it right.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Would you explain to me 2 Thessalonians 2. Who is the restrainer and who is he restrainer? I have heard it is the Holy Spirit, Michael and also Messiah himself. You may already have it in your archives but I was not able to easily locate it. Also is there a Bible or book available that would have the Greek or Hebrew words from scripture and then below these words the English translation. I find in my studies that the translation is not always what the original text says. Since I can not read Greek or Hebrew but want to know what it originally said without some help I am not able to do so. Thanks for your help.

Blessings,

Response #11:  

Always good to hear from you.

The best thing for the type of Bible study you are interested in is an interlinear translation. They have these for both Greek and Hebrew, and you can find older editions online at Google Books for free. For example:

Greek: (entire NT): <http://books.google.com/books?id=q6c9AAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=
greek+interlinear&hl=en&ei=zk3HTIT-DcP68AaNn8TvDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=
result&resnum=12&ved=0CGYQ6AEwCw#v=onepage&q&f=false

Hebrew: (book of Genesis only): http://books.google.com/books?id=YjQvqf7r4jwC&pg=PA5IA8&dq=Hebrew+interlinear&hl=
en&ei=tU7HTITYAYKr8AbW89Ut&sa=X&oi=book_result
&ct=result&resnum=68&ved=0CIADEOgBMEM#v=onepage&q&f=false

In the two examples above, the Greek is actually in Greek whereas the Hebrew is transliterated into English characters. To get any traction, one really needs to learn the Greek and Hebrew alphabets and become comfortable with pronouncing the words. This can take some doing, particularly without classroom help. There are websites where one can get some help (including sound files). For a list of helpful links, please see the links pages at Ichthys: 1) Greek Language Resources; 2) Hebrew Language Resources.

On the question of the Restrainer in 2nd Thessalonians chapter two, this most definitely is the Holy Spirit, and I have written this up in very great detail. Please see the following links:

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit (where 2nd Thes.2 is exegeted).

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit in Genesis chapter 2

Please also feel free to write me back about any of this.

Keep up the good work of digging into the Word of God!

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #12: 

Hi Doc, Thanks for your quick response. To follow up about the Holy Spirit, the pretrib rapture believers hold to the idea that the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit and thus proves that all believers will be raptured from the earth before the tribulation. However, during the tribulation there will be people who accept Jesus as their Messiah, correct? So then does the Holy Spirit just allow the antichrist to rise up while he is lying low but still here for those who accept our Lord?

Thanks also for the Google sites. It may be a challenge beyond my ability but I will give it a go.

Response #12: 

It is true that pre-Trib rapture adherents often make the convoluted argument that since the Holy Spirit indwells believers, His "going out of the way" is a reference to the "rapture". Of course, however, the Holy Spirit is God and was certainly present in the world before the first Pentecost of the Church. After all, Jesus said "He is with you, but will be in you" (Jn.14:17), and David prays "take not thy Holy Spirit from me" (Ps.51:11 KJV). More to the point, the restraining ministry of the Spirit referred to in 2nd Thessalonians chapter two is, as a restraining ministry, much different from the empowering ministry He has for believers. The Spirit is the power provider in the Plan of God, and His actions in restraining are fundamentally different from His actions in empowering. Simply put, as omnipresent God, He does not have to be resident in believers in order to restrain antichrist from appearing (antichrist did not appear in Old Testament times either when there was no universal indwelling of believers by the Spirit). In fact, the first restraining ministry of the Spirit mentioned in scripture, His work in preventing the dead, condemned earth from being trifled with until the Father's perfect time (Gen.1:2), occurs before human beings have been created in the first place. All of the other restraining ministries likewise show a fundamental difference from His empowerment through indwelling of believers (see the previously provided links for a complete listing), so that this is hardly a compelling argument in favor of a pre-Trib rapture, let alone "proof". As your question indicates, it also makes little sense when conditions during the Tribulation are considered. Clearly, the Spirit will continue to minister the truth to believers and unbelievers alike, but the Tribulation cannot occur until Christ releases the seven seals on the book (which likewise represent Holy Spirit restraint of the coming of the end times; see the link: "The Seven Seals"). Therefore the Spirit's "moving out of the way" refers not to any complete abandonment of the earth but to the cessation of His restraint on the coming of antichrist and the beginning of the end times only.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

 

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