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Dangers of the Pre-Trib Rapture False Teaching

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Question #1:

Dear sir, I just discovered your site. I am glad to note that you don't accept pretribulation rapture, while most churches don't want to hear it any other way. It's painful to consider that a great deal of thought is necessary to become comfortable with the idea of tribulation, and there won't be time for this. So panic will ensue. Question: do you give lectures on the topic?

Thanks!

Response #1:

Good to make your acquaintance. I think you have this exactly right, and that is one of the reasons why I am so forceful about this subject. I don't give lectures (I have a full time job and this ministry is a labor of love done on the side), but the materials posted to Ichthys on this topic are voluminous. Allow me to give you some links, and do please feel free to write back any time:

When is the Rapture?

Parousia

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

No Rapture

Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith

Misplaced Faith in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride (in CT 5)

Tribulational Security (i.e., why belief in a pre-trib rapture gives a false sense of security; in Peter #27)

The Resurrection (explains the timing of all of the echelons of the resurrection; in Peter #20)

Pre-, mid-, or post-Tribulation rapture?

Faith and the Pre-Tribulational "Rapture"

Pre- or Post-Tribulation "rapture"?

What is your view of the rapture?

More on the Rapture

What is the evidence for the "rapture"?

Partial rapture theory

'Genesis rapture'

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Dr. Luginbill,

I was searching issues re: the pre-trib rapture and I came across your website. I was shocked and amazed to see so many issues clarified that I myself have seen as sticking points to the mainstream evangelical (e.g. The gap theory and the pre-fallen state of Lucifer). There’s not very much out there on Ezek. 28 and Isa. 14 and I was so encouraged to see what you’ve written. I went to DTS in the 90’s and I’ve pastored an EV Free church for 20 years since. I’ve spent lots of time training pastors in different countries by teaching a course on a panoramic study of the Plan of God; so many of the themes parallel with so much of what you also deem thematic. I’ve found that I’ve always had to begin with the character of God and then the Creation story from eternity past, surveying the original creation of the angelic realm and the fall of Lucifer etc. From there I’ve surveyed God’s plan from eternity past through to eternity future. And really the only way to truly develop eschatology is the develop what happened long before man was created. What I was amazed with (and I shouldn’t be) was so many of your conclusions and especially your development of Lucifer’s pre-fallen state, are what I’ve come up with too. Nothing’s original – but the plain teaching of the Scripture is often tainted by our theological paradigms. I’m including a link for my (small) book on the Plan of God. And yes, I’ve been staunchly pre-trib for about 30 years, but over the last 3-4 years have been looking at it exegetically and am seeing the same things as I’ve been reading on the website. I was very encouraged.

Response #2:

Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for your encouraging and interesting email. I do think it's the case that if a pastor-teacher really is gifted and appropriately prepared, then the scriptures and the Spirit will lead him inexorably to the truth of all things – even if kicking and screaming. As you may have read in one of the many "rapture" pieces posted at Ichthys, I came to realize that it wasn't biblical in the process of trying to defend it (and it wasn't a quick or an easy journey). The main point of departure for me, before getting into specific exegesis of passages, is that there is not a single place in the Bible where a pre-Tribulation semi-return of Christ is affirmatively taught. I noticed in your draft that you have a number of passages listed as ambiguous as to whether they are speaking of the 2nd advent or "rapture". But considering that they were all written to individuals who would have had no way to understand that they weren't 2nd advent passages (that is the parousia; link), without a footnote or some sort of textual indication that this passage is "not the 2nd advent", how would one assume otherwise? Since the 2nd advent is the default, it seems to me that "pre-Trib rapture" advocates would have to explain what in any given passage makes it indisputable that the passage can't be the 2nd advent, not the other way around (which is how they usually argue).

Given that there isn't a scintilla of evidence for the "doctrine", it amazes me (now) how vehement defenders of it are and how impenetrable to biblical reasoning. A sign of the times in our Laodicean age it seems (link).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3:

Thank you for getting back to me. And yes I agree, it is no easy transition. I do appreciate the simple logic of the first century Church or for that matter, the first 18 centuries -- not having any scriptural or theological impetus for a rapture.. and yes, having to take a lot of time in this transition with people in my church. I'm sure it's going to be a long process. There are many that are very convicted about the matter. Thankfully all of the elders are very gracious and open. I do believe that if word gets out in "my world," I will probably suffer loss of credibility and reputation to a degree; that's unfortunate.

Thank you for your words of encouragement. There are many men that I love and respect and have learned a tremendous amount from who may not be very happy with me if they hear that I've changed my views on this. That's disheartening. But God is good and He can preserve the relationships that He wants. I appreciate your work in the word and your commitment two plane, normal, sound exegesis.

The Lord bless you brother.

Response #3:

I hear what you are saying. Doing what's right and following the Lord wherever He leads often tends to make a person a pariah . . . in the world's eyes (Rev.14:4). But we care more about what the Lord thinks than about anything or anyone else (Lk.14:26-27).

In my experience, far too many Christians today – even in that part of the church-visible which ought to be the most enthusiastic for the truth – are lukewarm about the truth of scripture, even though they may talk a good game. After all, given our common experience – and that of so many others with whom I have communed and corresponded over the years – merely reading the Bible occasionally and paying attention to what it says ought to have deep-sixed this false doctrine decades ago . . . among all who really do put scripture over tradition. I suppose it's easier to go with the flow and not worry about the truth, at least for those who are really more attached to this present world than to the one to come. And I suppose too that it probably seems to those who hear our objections that it doesn't make a great deal of difference. But it does make a great deal of difference. The truth is always important, whereas anything else is always spiritually deadly. And in terms of this issue, it's all the more important still with every passing day, because we are getting ever closer to the time when the prospect of actually finding oneself in the Tribulation may be a reality. At that point, the most salient problems for pre-Trib rapture-embracers will be twofold: either 1) they will have to cope with having one of their most cherished beliefs proved wrong by events and have to make up decades of learning very rapidly and at the worst possible time, or 2) they will continue to deny the truth and be all the more vulnerable to the deception of the beast.

Thanks so much for all of your good and encouraging words, my friend. Please do feel free to write me back any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Dear Bob

Hello again - I have a friend that has wrestled with this pre Trib no pre Trib issue for some time now. I have done a little research myself and have seen lengthy arguments on both sides. Is it fair to say it is their opinion supported by how they interpret scripture. It is not a black versus white argument?

Response #4:

I don't see it quite that way. There are abundant verses and passages in scripture which describe the resurrection and the second advent. All of them present these two events as essentially simultaneous on their face. The Greek word "parousia" meaning "return" is always said to be the time of the resurrection and it always refers to the second advent – not to some hypothetical, prior, temporary, partial, semi-return. But while there is overwhelming support for the biblical position, there is not a single passage in scripture which even suggests a prior partial return of Christ (or whatever we want to call it) before the Tribulation – much less a resurrection before the Tribulation. The best pre-Tribbers can do is to present convoluted arguments wherein they miraculous find this supposed event where it doesn't exist (by some sort of fancy, complicated and incorrect exegesis). 1st Thessalonians chapter four, for example, says in verse fifteen: "we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord (parousia), will not precede those who have fallen asleep". No one hearing these words when Paul wrote them (this is one of his earliest epistles) would have had any grounds to imagine a pre-Tribulation return (?!); and if this is what the passage meant, that would have to be explained SOMEWHERE SOMEHOW – especially since every other place the parousia-return is mentioned it is the second advent, and that is clearly the only natural way to take this passage too (whereas there is nothing whatsoever in that passage necessitating that it refer to a pre-second advent return).

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming (parousia), and of the end of the age?"
Matthew 24:3 NASB (also parousia throughout the chap. at Matt.24:27; 24:37; 24:39)

I think it is indisputably true that no one today could possibly ever come up with even the idea of a pre-Trib rapture if they hadn't been previously taught it. How then did it get to be so prominent? False teaching occurs in every generation of the Church, and the devil has a vested interest in promoting the false over what is true. This pre-Trib false doctrine is particularly dangerous in our day as we get ever closer to the Tribulation, encouraging weak Christians not to prepare spiritually for what is clearly going to be a terrific test of faith, and setting them up for major doubts when this dearly loved false "doctrine" they have counted on so long proves to be demonstrably false. Here are some links where these matters are discussed at length:

When is the Rapture?

Parousia

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

No Rapture

Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith

Misplaced Faith in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride (in CT 5)

Tribulational Security (i.e., why belief in a pre-trib rapture gives a false sense of security; in Peter #27)

The Resurrection (explains the timing of all of the echelons of the resurrection; in Peter #20)

Pre-, mid-, or post-Tribulation rapture?

Faith and the Pre-Tribulational "Rapture"

Pre- or Post-Tribulation "rapture"?

What is your view of the rapture?

More on the Rapture

What is the evidence for the "rapture"?

Partial rapture theory

'Genesis rapture'

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Thanks Bob

I really meant to focus on the rapture. Would you present the same response if it was about the rapture?

Response #5:

That's exactly what I was talking about. The "rapture" or "pre-Trib rapture" generally means the false idea that the Church will be resurrected immediately before the Tribulation (pre-Trib), and thus rescued from the seven years of trouble; but scripture presents the resurrection as something that happens when Christ returns at the second advent – i.e., it is a post rather than a pre-Tribulation event.

So I guess the answer is yes – unless I'm completely missing your point (it's happened before!).

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hello My Friend,

Its easy to get lost in the Revelation forest of words. Regarding the Rapture - we have all seen some biblical arguments from respected theologians supporting the rapture - Is this not just their opinion. And to not agree is this also not just opinion.

With great respect

Response #6:

As I said in my initial long response (i.e., not the last email but the one before that where I also include all the Ichthys links), in my opinion it is not just a matter of opinion – for a reader of the Bible who accepts what the Bible says without jamming in theories which are clearly not there without such addition. For "theologians" and other "experts" who build doctrine on doctrine rather than on scripture and who give great credence to the authority of scholars and to the authority of tradition, perhaps that would be true. But you can't read the actual scriptures (e.g., Matthew chapter 24) and have any real doubts about the fact that the living resurrection (or "rapture") occurs at the second advent when Christ returns, not seven years earlier just before the Tribulation.

Happy to resend that email and/or the pertinent links.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

You wrote: The issue is of some consequence. Even in times of little spiritual pressure, alertness toward these future events helps to develop a more heavenly, less earthly point of view. For, after all, we may be in this world, but we are not of this world (Jn.17:11-16). A belief in Tribulational Security allows a false compartmentalization of all the issues of biblical eschatology,(1) shutting out of our hearts a rich, valuable part of the Bible, and pulling our thoughts back down to this earth with its earthly pursuits (1Cor.7:29-31). Instead, we should be eagerly looking forward to that future day, striving for a heavenly reward rather than the transitive things of this life.

When you say that the teaching about pre-tribulational security allows "a false compartmentalization of all the issues of biblical eschatology" and, similarly I'm not entirely clear about this point; also, how does it contribute to "pulling our thoughts back down to this earth with its earthly pursuits (1Cor.7:29-31)"?

Response #7:

That is because then (in that false case), in essence eschatology would no longer concern us personally but only be theoretical (like a song we enjoy hearing but don't have to do anything about; cf. Ezek.33:32).

"The word of the Lord you have spoken [concerning future disasters] is good," Hezekiah replied. For he thought, "Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?"
2nd Kings 20:19 NIV

However, to the extent that we understand the imminence of the Tribulation (true, theologically speaking, at all times), to that extent we are more readily able to see the evanescence of this world and to focus instead on the things to come. But to the extent that we wrongly believe it will not befall us, to that extent we are robbing ourselves of all motivation to prepare spiritually.

Question #8:

You wrote: Since the teaching of Tribulational Security has the effect of redirecting the believer's focus entirely away from any concern for eschatology (for the end times would then be, essentially, non-applicable to one's own life), that focus naturally comes to rest, not on heavenly things, but on the ebb and flow of worldly events (cf. Col.3:1-4).

Although I'm aware of the damage the pre-tribulation security causes to a believer, here you make a point that it "has the effect of redirecting the believer's focus entirely away from any concern for eschatology", but isn't it the case that it redirects the focus away from the preparation for the tribulation? A pre-tribulational believer does not believe he will have to suffer through the tribulation, but that doesn't seem to automatically imply that he doesn't consider eschatology - resurrection, eternal rewards, etc.

Response #8:

While to some extent this is, it is true, an individual thing, nevertheless I believe this point to be true in principle. There may some concern with "what's next" but it comes in the context of the false idea that everything will just magically end without any trouble. By short-circuiting the entire process of what actually will happen, the tendency is induced to short-circuit to an equal degree one's involvement with any sort of concern for that incipient future. It is often the case that pulling one brick out of a wall, while it may not immediately bring down the whole wall, will certainly weaken it. Masking the truth about the resurrection – that it actually will only occur on the other side of the seven years – is pulling out many bricks. I think when one looks at the sad state of the church visible today, we can see that this false doctrine (the pre-Trib rapture) and the general lack of any interest in doctrinal issues generally go hand in hand. The one feeds the other. So while what you say may be theoretically possible to some extent, in practical terms it has had precisely the effect described. It is often the case that failure to believe a true point of doctrine – or alternatively believing something untrue – vitiates at least to some degree the integrity of the entire spiritual edifice one ought to be constructing in the heart. In this case, since the false teaching negatively affects every aspect of an entire area of the truth, namely, eschatology, our eternal future – one which is looming larger in importance with every passing day – the effect is dire indeed. I will also note that it is a very common thing for people coming to this ministry to tell me that they had independently come to the same conclusion – just from reading scripture – that the pre-Trib rapture was untrue. So I can also affirm anecdotally that since turning to the truth with genuine interest leads to rejecting this untruth, likewise being satisfied with this false doctrine is an indication of lack of interest generally in growing spiritually. We may not be able to prove cause and effect, but the correlation is so high as to be evidence in and of itself.

Question #9:

You wrote: Another, particularly damaging aspect of the worldly focus caused by buying into the false doctrine of Tribulational Security is that it has a tendency to cause believers to be complacent about personal tribulation (see lessons #25-26). This complacency in turn makes them vulnerable when particularly severe waves of testing hit. The reason is simple enough: the belief that you personally will not have to experience the actual Tribulation, an event of severe testing upon which the scriptures focus much attention, tends to nourish the assumption that one's own personal testing will also always be of a moderate type.

Here also it seems to me that this might be a possibility rather than an automatic consequence for all pre-tribulationists.

Response #9:

See above. To use an analogy, it may be possible for some people to swim a mile wearing a backpack containing fifty pounds of rocks, but most of us would drown in the attempt. The fact that there may be some ability to fight off complacency present in some people who accept this false doctrine is not a recommendation of it. And I would add that in all cases of which I am personally aware (including my own), once a person gets serious about actually learning the truth of scripture for its own sake, the problems with the "rapture" become instantly troubling – and everyone I have known or known of who has gone down this positive road of seeking the truth has always come to the same place of accepting the truth that the resurrection comes at Christ's return; whereas those who are not concerned enough to investigate the issue or change their view in the face of overwhelming biblical evidence to the contrary demonstrate a love of tradition and mythology over loyalty to the scriptures and the will of God – things which are certainly

Question #10:

Thiessen draws a distinction between our Lords' coming into the air and His coming to the earth - what is your take on that? Is it not the case that the former simply precedes the latter? He writes that the tribulation is the period between the two events, which I understand is not true, but I wanted to know if there is any substance to his division if we assume a correct timing of the tribulation and the resurrection thereafter?

Response #10:

Here is what the passage T is talking about actually says:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
1st Thessalonians 4:16-17

This passage doesn't say that Christ is "coming into the air"; it says that He will come down from heaven and that we will rise up to meet Him "in the air" – and so we will. We are marshaled in the sky to then watch our Lord's destruction of antichrist's armies at Armageddon – "and thus shall we ever be with the Lord". This is the clear sense of the passage and it is absolutely consistent with all of the other passages which speak about the second advent and the resurrection, along with the Lord's conduct of His "Armageddon campaign" thereafter (see the link). But pre-Trib people grasp at straws to defend their dearly loved false doctrine; they imagine that Christ comes down to get us and then, I suppose, that we go back up to heaven . . . again . . . with Him. That would make three advents if I'm counting correctly (not good at math, I admit). However, there is not a single indication of any retreat to heaven in this passage (or anywhere else in the Bible). And we know from the gospels that "where the body is, there will the eagles gather", namely, this gathering of eagles (believers) is a second advent prophecy (Lk.17:37), not some pre-Trib fantasy.

Question #11:

Hello Again Mr. Luginbill:

Thank you for responding Sir. I do have a question if permitted. In your writings I did, I believe, see where you are not in agreement w/the common belief, mine included, that the Church is not in Heaven at the Great Tribulation Hour. I did not see where you believe the Church is at that time. Your response would be most welcome & appreciated.

Thank you again,

Response #11:

There is an abundance of material at Ichthys dealing with this issue (I'll give you a few of the pertinent links below). Suffice it to say here when you say "I did, I believe, see where you are not in agreement w/the common belief, mine included, that the Church is not in Heaven at the Great Tribulation Hour" (emphasis added) that 1) I also do not believe that the Church is removed before the Tribulation (or during it) but is resurrected at Christ's return, His parousia in scripture (and the only advent after His first advent); and 2) I would disagree that this is the "common belief": most of our fellow believers today seem to think, wrongly, that they will be "raptured" out of trouble before the Tribulation begins. There is not a scintilla of biblical support for that false position – which no doubt explains, as in the case with most false doctrines, the vehemence with which adherents tend to defend it.

Here are those links (feel free to write back – I do understand that Ichthys is a very large site and can take some time to learn how to navigate):

When is the Rapture?

Parousia

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

No Rapture

Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith

Misplaced Faith in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride (in CT 5)

Tribulational Security (i.e., why belief in a pre-trib rapture gives a false sense of security; in Peter #27)

The Resurrection (explains the timing of all of the echelons of the resurrection; in Peter #20)

Pre-, mid-, or post-Tribulation rapture?

Faith and the Pre-Tribulational "Rapture"

Pre- or Post-Tribulation "rapture"?

What is your view of the rapture?

More on the Rapture

What is the evidence for the "rapture"?

Partial rapture theory

'Genesis rapture'

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hello once again Mr. Luginbill.

Thank you for responding. I will offer Scripture that I believe supports the Rapture if I may.

1 Thes. 1:10, 1 Thes. 5:9, Rev. 3:10: I understand that the term Rapture is not in Scripture, but the words caught up, rescue which means in Greek to deliver, or draw to oneself. Jesus was the only Man in Bodily form ever to ascend to Heaven, yet in chapter 4 of Rev. verse 4 the four & twenty elders were seated, clothed in White raiment. Verse 3 states NO MAN in Heaven able to open the book. There had to be a type of physical body present in Heaven that could be clothed in White raiment. Clothing would not stand w’/out a body to support it. The 4 Beasts are a physical presents in Heaven. The Rapture of the Church occurs in chapter 4 & 5 of Rev., w/the Tribulation hr. beginning in chapter 6. Rev. chapter 1:1 John looked and behold, a door was opened in Heaven and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking w/me, etc. (Rapture )GOD’S wrath is not directed toward the Believers, only the unGodly, Evil, Wicked of the world, as the book of Rev. is God’s judgement upon the world, not Jew or Gentile, but all mankind. We as True Belivers have made peace w/God, & He like now, is our protector. His anger is not toward us. The Unbelievers will suffer greatly, the greatest sin in the Bible. Yes, the common theme from many that I’ve listened to thru the years agree that a Rapture will be a reality, & I Sir am at the top of the list. The Scripture says it, the 4th & 5th chapter of Rev. confirms it. The Tribulation hr begins in chapter 6. We as Believers will meet Christ in the Clouds at the Rapture, & 7 yrs later will follow Christ back to Earth for the final battle. If the Rapture did not occur no one would be following Christ back to Earth dressed as He, in White. No doubt at all what the Scriptures say. I respect your right to see it differently, I just don’t agree & I believe the Scriptures support what I say. As you say, many false doctrines are in place, & the devil is having a field day w/them, each one.

Many thanks for your time & efforts explaining your research. Many years must have went into your efforts & I admire your dedication to the Holy Word. If I wore a hat I’d take it off to you. Please keep in touch as I am truly a student of the Bible & Love it Dearly. Again, many thanks Mr. Luginbill

Yours in Christ,

Response #12:

Thanks for your good words. I think if you will read the links carefully, you'll see that most of these issues are discussed at length. The issue regarding a "rapture" is not the terminology but timing. Almost all true Christians accept the truth of the resurrection. The question is, "when does it occur?" Scripture very clearly teaches that it occurs at the second advent when our Lord returns and not before; however, as you agree – at least as your prior email seemed to indicate – most people out there in evangelicaldom erroneously suppose that the resurrection will occur seven years before Christ returns. That is clearly incorrect (as the exegesis in the links shows).

My apologies in advance if I have misread either of your emails on this topic. In addition to the links provided, the nine part "Coming Tribulation" series provides a detailed verse by verse explanation of the book of Revelation including the subjects you broach here (please see the link).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hello Mr. Luginbill:

Thank you once again for responding, & you’re very welcome Sir. Of course Christ does not return until after the Tribulation Hr. But as I stated last email, as the Scriptures support that I gave, the Church will leave before the Tribulation. begins. The antichrist & the false prophet will appear once the Church has been Raptured out. The Church has to be Raptured before the Tribulation. begins, because when Christ returns to earth at the great last battle, the armies which were in Heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, etc. This happens at the conclusion of the Tribulation. Christ and his Bride return to earth at that time & out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that w/it he should smite the nations. If the Bride of Christ is not in Heaven, how are we to return w/him at the conclusion of the Tribulation, as the armies in Heaven, if we are not in Heaven? There is one thing satan cannot imitate, as he is the great imposter & is allowed to duplicate the powers of GOD, except for the Rapture. When an imposter, on earth claims to be Christ, as many have in the past, & says come over here, I am Christ, don’t believe him. As Christian True Believers, we know that Christ will not set foot on earth till after the Tribulation is complete & not to believe NO man on earth, that claims to be Christ. When the trumpet sounds & the voice from Heaven says come up hither, the Church is gone to meet Christ in the clouds, to be changed, first the dead in Christ, & then those that are alive & remain will be caught up to be w/Christ. We do seem to differ in out belief about the Tribulation, whether the Church will be here during that time, & respectfully, I believe the Church is in Heaven for that 7 yrs, w/Christ awaiting our return w/Him for the last battle, & not to do battle w/Christ but to just return w/Him. The Word of God will destroy the evil that remains. I intend to view the links you provide & I very much appreciate our discussion. This is how Truth is found, exposed, for those who seek it can be enlightened. The Truth indeed will set you free. An my apologies to you Sir if I have misread your emails. Again, many thanks Mr. Luginbill for your time & dedication to our 1 True God. May God’s Blessings in the Truth, abound for you.

Yours in Christ,

Response #13:

You're very welcome. Do have a look at the links because all of these issues are addressed there one way or another. In fact, I would strongly suggest that you download the entire Coming Tribulation series (archive file at the link); that way, if you find yourself unexpectedly in the middle of the Tribulation not too many years hence, you'll at least be able to give yourself a "crash course", even if antichrist is very swift in his censoring of the internet.

My main plea for my brothers and sisters in Christ who insist they will not have to endure the Tribulation is to please find a scripture which actually says any such thing. A natural reading of the Bible always has the resurrection linked with the second advent – always. All defenses of the pre-Trib rapture inevitably do what you are doing here, namely, using deductive logic rather than any Bible verse which says so plainly in order to "find" the pre-Trib rapture in passages where it is not directly taught.

For example, take your first argument, namely, that because the armies in heaven accompany our Lord at the battle of Armageddon that THEREFORE there has to have been a prior resurrection. That is certainly true enough, but please realize that you are assuming that this prior resurrection comes seven years earlier when there is no reason to think it didn't occur just prior to the event described. There is no logical reason, therefore, to deduce a pre-Trib rapture from that event. As I say, I used to believe in this fantasy as well; reading scripture in the original languages for many years and trying to find evidence to defend this false view brought me to the firm conviction that it is not true. I was never was able to find a single scripture to connect the resurrection to a point before the Tribulation; on the other hand there are many verses which connect it to the second advent (please see the links given previously).

Happy to discuss individual passages but, please, one at a time (not en masse as you provide it here because that only results in confusion and talking past each other).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello again: In the interest of fairness to yourself, I have 2 questions. Why would the Church be among the evil, etc during the Tribulation period, when upon Believing we as Believers are Sealed by the Holy sprit & not among those that are subject to God’s Wrath, which is the purpose of the Tribulation, mainly directed toward the Jew because of their Unbelief. 2nd question, where is the Believer kept during this time of suffering of mankind if we are still on Earth? Would offer 3 Scriptures that say what I believe better, than I ever could. 1Thes. 1:10 Which DELIVERED us from the wrath to come. Already done. 1Thes. 5:9 For God hath NOT appointed us to wrath, etc. Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the Holy Sprit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. We belong to Christ & His wrath is not directed at the Church. The Church has made peace w/God as True Believers in Him. Please forgive my rambling on in prior emails, & I will, God willing view your links. Again, many thanks Mr. Luginbill

Believers in Christ

Response #14:

I'm happy to answer your questions. As I have said many times now, if you are really interested in the truth (as opposed to a debate), I can assure you that you will find all these things answered in great detail at the links previously given (and also the Coming Tribulation series; see the link).

As to wrath, yes we believers are sealed, but the "purpose" of the Tribulation is not said to be by scripture what you relate here – there are many purposes for it. Just as the people of God were preserved in Egypt when the plagues landed on the Egyptians, so during the Tribulation believers will be insulated from the trumpet and bowl judgments. It is true that we will not have an easy go of it – for one thing there will be much pressure to apostatize during the first half of the Tribulation and a Great Persecution of the true Church during the second. And of course life is difficult now we have "tribulation" in this world, as our Lord tells us (Jn.16:33), and yet our Lord says that He does not ask the Father to remove us from that tribulation:

"I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one."
John 17:15 NIV

Believers who keep faith with the Lord during the Tribulation will be kept from the evil one (just as is the case now) and will not be the object or target of God's wrath but will be shielded from it (just as the believers of the exodus were – and the exodus is a deliberate and scriptural analogy of the Tribulation; see the link). Thus this supposed proof is, as mentioned before, merely a logical deduction which is faulty because it is based upon a faulty premise.

As to the verses you mention:

1) NKJV on 1st Thessalonians 1:10:

For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1st Thessalonians 1:9-10 NKJV

We have indeed been delivered from the wrath of condemnation, that is "the wrath to come" (the lake of fire; cf. e.g., Rom.2:5); that does not mean that we will not have trouble in this world, or that we will not still be on earth during the Tribulation – that is an assumption which is no way warranted by scripture. We, believers, will not be subject to the wrath of God poured out in His judgments; that does not mean we will not suffer from the depredations of the beast:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"
Revelation 6:9-10 NIV

There will be many martyrs during the Tribulation and many apostates. Where, I ask you, do all these many martyrs (and even apostates) come from if there are no believers on the earth because of a pre-Trib rapture? But the truth is that, ready or not, willing or not, many millions of believers are going to enter the Tribulation, and in not too distant future time at that. That is why getting this doctrine right is so important. Most of our brothers and sisters are not at all concerned about the Tribulation which is right on our doorstep because they erroneously believe they will not have to go through it. But no scripture says that – not a single one.

2) On 1st Thessalonians 5:9, indeed we are not appointed to wrath (condemnation at the last judgment; e.g., Rom.2:5; 2:8; 5:9; 9:22; Eph.2:3; Col.3:6); doesn't mean we won't be alive when the Tribulation begins.

3) We are indeed sealed by the Holy Spirit. That does not prevent a believer from, say, being killed in combat today (if that is God's will), or dying of a heart attack (if that is God's will) . . . and it won't prevent entering into the Tribulation. Why would it? That does not even follow logically without making a whole host of assumptions which are not supported by scripture.

So, respectfully, I do understand that this is what you were taught; it is what I was taught . . . and what I defended as long as I could until the overwhelming testimony of scripture proved it wrong.

I do understand why you have not advanced any scriptures which take about a pre-Trib resurrection – because there aren't any. I hope the above is sufficient to demonstrate that all "proof" of the pre-Trib rapture is merely wishful thinking resulting from twisting passages to mean what they clearly do not actually say.

We are waiting for the Lord to return – and He is only returning once, at the second advent.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

1. On the subject of the false doctrine of a "Pre-Trib" rapture, I want to share this with you.

a. In 1 Cor. 15:51 & 52 it talks about the dead being raised imperishable, then we will also be changed:

"50Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

b. In 1 Thess. 4:13-17 it says:

15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Finally, in Revelation 20:4-6 It talks about a "First Resurrection":

" 4Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5[This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection]; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

How do the Pre-tribbers explain the fact that there is only one "First Resurrection" and these verses in 1 Cor 15, and 1 Thess. 4, are also talking about a resurrection? In fact, the so-called heresy of the Pre-Trib rapture does not make logical sense. If were to occur secretly before the second coming of Christ then the scripture in Rev. 20 is not true, but we know that God's Word does not lie.

Response #15:

Good point! I will definitely post this when the subject comes up. There are only two phases of the resurrection of believers following Christ's resurrection as Paul tells us:

(23) But each [will be resurrected] in his own echelon. Christ [is the] first-fruits (i.e., the initial person and echelon of resurrection). Next [will be] those belonging to Christ at His coming, [all believers at the 2nd Advent]. (24) Then the end [of human history, the resurrection of millennial believers], when He will hand the Kingdom over to the Father, after He has brought an end to all rule, all power, and all authority (i.e., hostile human and angelic control). (25) For He must rule until He has placed all His enemies under His feet.
1st Corinthians 15:23-25

Assuming a pre-Trib rapture would necessitate another "secret" phase before the Tribulation. In fact, it's so "secret" that it's not even in the Bible (because of course it doesn't exist).

p.s., the portion of Revelation 20:5 in your text which I have taken the liberty to bracket is not a part of scripture but a later interpolation (a gloss or explanation . . . which in addition to not being part of the Bible is also incorrect; see the link).

Question #16:

Hello,

Kindly permit me to clarify two things:

1) I read one of your articles that says that the 144,000 are martyred. Do you have any biblical proof to show that they are martyred? How would anyone be able to harm these 144,000 who have the special seal of God on their foreheads? I believe the purpose of the seal on them is to make it impossible for anyone to harm them. On completion of their ministry, they are seen in heaven in Revelation 14. I believe they were most likely raptured just as the Two Witnesses are raptured in Revelation 11:11-12.

2) I'd like to ask a question regarding the Great Multitude mentioned Revelation 7. I am having a hard time understanding the identity of the great multitude in Revelation 7:9-17. One reason I would like to get it right is the fact that I usually assist with teaching Bible studies at my local Church. I have consulted a number of online sources and they say the great multitude in Rev. 7 are the martyred tribulation saints. Other sources (by post-tribulationists and mid-tribulationists) suggest that the great multitude are raptured saints. I hold the pre-tribulation view, but I am sort of finding it a bit difficult to reconcile it with the events described in Revelation 7:9-17. I am doubtful whether the great multitude in Revelation 7 are indeed martyred saints and I'll explain why below. Here are my questions:

A martyred group of souls was found in the opening of the fifth seal in Revelation 6:9. So, the question begs, why would we see another group of martyrs between the sixth and seventh seals? If the Great Multitude mentioned in chapter 7 are martyred saints, why didn't the Bible describe them as "souls" just as it did in chapter 6:9 and in Revelation 20:4? In Revelation chapter 6:9, we're told: "And when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony they had upheld." In this verse, the Bible refers to the martyred saints as "souls of those slain for the Word of God". Then again in Revelation 20:4, the Bible says: " I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God..." Why doesn't the Bible use the same word "soul" to describe the multitude in chapter 7 if indeed they belong in the same category as the group in Chapter 6 and chapter 12? Instead, the Bible refers to the group in chapter 7 as "a Great Multitude".

If the great multitude in Revelation 7:9-17 are understood to be the souls of the martyred Tribulation Saints, then we must assume that they are souls without glorified bodies, right? This passage tells us that the great multitude were actively worshiping God and the apostle John was able to recognize them as being of different racial and ethnic backgrounds from all nations of the world. In addition, they were wearing white robes. If the great multitude are souls of martyred believers without glorified bodies, would John have been able to recognize them as distinct individuals of different races and ethnic groups? Notice that no one in heaven told John that the great multitude came from different racial backgrounds. By simply looking at the multitude, he was able to tell that they came from different racial/ethnic backgrounds. This suggests that there was perhaps something in their appearances that suggested their racial/ethnic background as well as other individual features. Would John have been able to make this observation if he was looking at the souls of these people without their glorified bodies? I am not sure that the souls of people convey any information about their racial/individual characteristics.

If the great multitude were souls without glorified bodies, would they have had to put on white robes and be involved in heavenly worship? Doesn't the fact that they were wearing robes suggest they possessed bodies? Well, I know that nothing is impossible with God and souls could put on robes with God.

If the souls of the martyred saints were worshiping God in heaven in John's vision, shall we conclude that the souls of all departed believers today are likewise worshiping God in heaven? The Bible teaches that when a believer dies today, he goes into the presence of God to await the resurrection of the body. (2 Cor. 5:8 says, "..to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord.") But I am not sure what the souls of the departed believers are doing today in God's presence - are they resting quietly in the presence of God as they await the resurrection of their bodies at the rapture? Or are they worshiping God meanwhile? I'd like to know whether the Bible says anything about this. I will appreciate your insights.

I would very much appreciate your insights.

God bless you.

Response #16:

Good to make your acquaintance. I'll try to respond to everything you have here (at least in principle), but since you do cover a lot of ground, and since many of these issues are actually interrelated in a way the makes one solution dependent on another, apologies in advance if I miss something (or if you feel you need more depth from me); please feel free to write back in any case.

On the 144K and their martyrdom, the main place where this is discussed is in CT 4 at the link, "The Martyrdom of the 144,000". I think if you will read this section, the next section in the posting which follows as well (where you will see that the entire context of Revelation chapter fourteen is about martyrdom), and this link about the Great Persecution, you will see that viewing the 144K as mid-Trib martyrs really is the only way to understand what the book of Revelation has to say about them. In a nutshell, these are Moses' and Elijah's disciples in a parallel sense to the way the twelve and the seventy-two were our Lord's special team to spread the gospel to Israel in His day. Just as Moses and Elijah are specially protected – until their time of ministry expires at the middle point of the Tribulation and just at the inception of the Great Tribulation – so also 144K have at this point fulfilled their ministry and their mission (at which point their special protection also expires as it does for Moses and Elijah). After all, we see in Revelation chapter twelve that those of Israel who have responded to the call for repentance given by the two prophets and by that of the 144K will be led to a protected haven in the desert to ride out the Great Tribulation in safety.

No one can touch the 144K . . . before their time . . . and I would have no problems, even given the close parallel that we should in any case assume between their fate and that of their directors, Moses and Elijah, with at least admitting the possibility that the 144K too were kept safe until the Lord's return . . . if it were not for Revelation 14:1-5 which makes the situation quite clear. In that passage we see these evangelists not on earth any longer (although at this point in Revelation we are only in the middle of the Tribulation), but standing with Lord on the heavenly Mount Zion (cf. Heb.12:22), being given a special privilege even before their resurrection. The song John hears them singing comes "from heaven", so that is where they are at this point, following the removal of believing Jews to the desert (Rev.12:1ff) and the inception of antichrist's Great Persecution (Rev.13:1ff.), and just before the angelic proclamations which warn of what is to come in the about-to-start Great Tribulation (Rev.14:6-13). After that, we see two signs in heaven which foreshadow the rest of the three and a half years, namely, the harvesting of the martyrs (the Great Persecution – note that the 144K have already been martyred so that their deaths can also be seen as a sacrifice to allow the believing Jews who are not part of their number to flee), and the vintage of Armageddon (the "payback" to the world which has followed antichrist in persecuting the Church), which comes at the end. No more mention of the 144K hereafter because they are now in heaven.

There is no pre-Tribulation rapture. There is only one resurrection of the Church, and it occurs at the only second advent when our Lord returns, His parousia or "return", and that return is always linked to the end of the Tribulation, the battle of Armageddon, and Christ's millennial rule.

I was an adherent of the erroneous pre-Trib view in my youth, but in studying scripture in the original languages it became very clear that there is not so much as a single verse in scripture which teaches that view, whereas all passages which talk about the resurrection in terms of timing speak of our Lord's return, His second advent. No so called proof-passage for such a pre-Trib rapture can be shown to actually link the resurrection to the time before the Tribulation. For more depth please see the following links:

When is the Rapture?

Parousia

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

No Rapture

Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith

Misplaced Faith in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride (in CT 5)

Tribulational Security (i.e., why belief in a pre-trib rapture gives a false sense of security; in Peter #27)

The Resurrection (explains the timing of all of the echelons of the resurrection; in Peter #20)

Pre-, mid-, or post-Tribulation rapture?

Faith and the Pre-Tribulational "Rapture"

Pre- or Post-Tribulation "rapture"?

What is your view of the rapture?

More on the Rapture

What is the evidence for the "rapture"?

Partial rapture theory

'Genesis rapture'

As to the individuals in Revelation chapter seven, in verse fourteen the angel with whom John is speaking answers this question directly: "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation" (NIV). So they are the martyrs of the Great Persecution. These same individuals are seen in John's description of the sixth seal (Rev.6:9-11). To interpret correctly, it's important to understand what the seals, on the outside of the scroll, really are: the seals are the "art work", so to speak, on the cover of the book of Revelation by which the reader may get an idea of what is contained inside the book before they are broken and the book is opened so that the Tribulation may begin (the Tribulation only begins after the seventh seal is opened). So we do have to do here with the same event, the Great Persecution (one of the two defining trends of the Tribulation's second half; for more on all this see the link: "The Seals"). In that context, chapter six, these same individuals of chapter seven say "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" (Rev.6:10), making it quite clear that they are the same individuals, the tribulational martyrs requiring their blood to be avenged (which it will be at Armageddon).

As to "souls", there is nothing of special significance in the use of this much misunderstood word here. The English word "soul" does not really mean the same thing as the Greek and Hebrew words where in some versions we find the word "soul" in the English text. In the Bible, a "soul" is a person, with special emphasis (sometimes) on the inner person (so that "heart" is a commonly used English synonym which is often employed in translation of nephesh / psyche). The immaterial part of the human being is the spirit (ruach / pneuma), not the heart/"soul" (nephesh / psyche), which word represents the inner life of the "whole person" or the whole "person" in toto as a combination of body and spirit. This misunderstanding of what "soul" means in the Bible is responsible for many mis-interpretations of scripture (please see the link which will lead to others: "Soul vs. Spirit").

As to the question of why use "persons" (souls) in chapter six and not in chapter seven, note that in chapter seven John describes a great "crowd" (ochlos), one so great that it cannot be numbered "from every nation, tribe, people and language". So in this second instance, John is given by the Spirit to emphasis the group as a whole (one "crowd"), but in the former, the individuals (many "souls/persons"). Between the two pictures, we thus receive an idea of the individual challenges we are going to have to face in the Tribulation (chap.6), and also of the magnitude of the persecution to come (chap.7).

As to bodies, only Jesus Christ has been resurrected, and no one else will be until the entire Church is resurrected at His return. What happens in-between? There is no soul sleep, but how can a spirit function without a body? We know from our Lord's description of Lazarus and the rich man in the underworld (respectively in paradise, to which the saints went before our Lord's ascension, and Torments, where unbelievers all still reside after death), that after death everyone is conscious, everyone is recognizable as who they were/are, everyone is apparently dressed and going about activities in much the same way as on earth, with the exception that we see no material interaction the way we have now and will have in resurrection (eating and drinking, e.g.). Thus it is clear both from the passage in Luke and also from the ones in Revelation which we are discussing that there is no such thing as a disembodied human spirit. Once God creates a spirit within a body at birth, that spirit will always have a home: a physical body at birth, a resurrection body at the Lord's return (for believers; unbelievers await the resurrection of judgment at the end of history), and in-between what we may term an "interim body" or "covering" which can be seen in all of these passages (n.b., this is also taught directly in 2Cor.5:3, although that is not obvious from many English versions which are translating the wrong Greek text). That is the state described in Revelation chapters six and seven, an interim state with a "body" which is temporary and not tied to the material realm as the first body is, but also not as capable or permanent as the final "resurrection body" is. "Body" is not used in scripture, but we see human forms in Luke, are told of "white sheets" in Revelation, and informed in 2Cor.5:3 that even when we put of this body "we will not be found naked". For more on this see the links: "Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State" and "Biblical Anthropology III: Soul versus Spirit, "Soul Sleep", and "the Interim Body".

Finally, if you have borne with me this long, I hope that you will realize just how interconnected all of these questions are. Indeed, everything in scripture is interconnected, and every correct answer, correct solution, correct interpretation leads to illuminating other problems and previously difficult passages; on the other hand, the reverse is also true. This is one reason why, for example, an unwarranted faith in a "pre-Trib rapture" is inimical to coming to a correct understanding of many other things in eschatology and biblical anthropology as well.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions. I appreciate it.

On the timing of the rapture, I believe the correct position of the Bible is the pre-tribulation position. You cited 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 in your writing on "Parousia" but there is nothing in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 that contradicts the pre-tribulation rapture view. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 only describes the rapture; it doesn't talk about the timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation.

In Luke 21, Jesus talks about end-time events and then in verse 36, He says: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." What things are we to escape? We're to escape the wrath poured out during the tribulation because God has not appointed us unto wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). The tribulation period is a time when God's wrath will be unleashed upon the earth. It is also a time when satan will inflict serious harm and suffering on those who refuse to worship him. God will remove faithful believers prior to this tribulation. This wouldn't be the first time that God would be removing the righteous prior to the punishing of the wicked. There are several precedents in the Scriptures. For example, God removed Noah and his family to a place of safety before the flood came on the whole world (Genesis 7). Similarly, God asks Lot and his family to get out of Sodom prior to the destruction of the city (Genesis 19:12-13).

The rapture is an event likened to a thief coming in the night because it is not known exactly when it will happen (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4). But like Noah, we will escape before the Great Tribulation. No born-again believer who is watching for the Lord's return will have to go through the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:36-41). We have not been appointed unto wrath (1 Thess. 5:9). The Bible says: "Because you have obeyed my command to endure, I will keep you from the hour of testing that is coming to the whole world to test those living on the earth." (Revelation 3:10). When Jesus returns to set His feet on the Mount of Olives and establish His kingdom on earth, we will come with Him (Jude 14-15). The only group of believers who will go through the rapture and face the possibility of martyrdom are the Tribulation Saints who get saved during the tribulation.

That there is a rapture and then a Second Coming of Christ should be no surprise because this is what the Bible teaches. There are clear-cut differences between the rapture and the second coming. Some of these differences are:

1) The timing of the rapture is imminent and the rapture can occur unexpectedly at any time. But the timing of the Second Coming is not so and can be easily calculated.

The Scriptures clearly teach that there is an aspect of Christ's return which can happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Jesus said, "No man knows the exact day and hour" when this will happen. Not even the angels in heaven know the exact day. (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). When Jesus said "No man knows the day or hour", this includes believers and unbelievers alike. This event concerning which no man know the exact day or hour is the rapture. It is an imminent event which can occur anytime and suddenly. Jesus admonished us to always be watchful and prepared because it could happen at any time. It will take both believers and unbelievers completely by surprise. Concerning this event, Jesus said: "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). This is the rapture. It is this event that is illustrated by the parable of the thief in the night and the parable of the wise and foolish virgins.

But there is a second dimension to Christ's return which is not going to take believers by surprise at all. That is the Second Coming of Christ which will happen at the end of the tribulation. This will not take believers (tribulation saints) by surprise, because the Bible has given us a formula to calculate the timing of this event. According to Scriptures, this Second Coming will occur exactly 3.5 years after the abomination of desolation when the antichrist will move into the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem to declare himself God. So, believers can then easily calculate the day of Christ's return by counting about 3.5 years (1260 days) from the day of the abomination of desolation. It's obvious that this second event will not be like a thief in the night since it can easily be estimated or calculated using the formula in the scriptures. A careful study of the scriptures will reveal that this second event is completely different from the first one (the rapture) whose timing is completely unpredictable and no one has any idea when it will happen.

2) At the rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17) whereas at the second coming, believers return with the Lord to the earth (Revelations 19:14).

3) The second coming occurs after the great and terrible tribulation (Revelation chapters 6–19). The rapture occurs before the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).

4) The rapture will be secret and instant (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). The second coming will be visible to all (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:29-30).

5) The second coming of Christ will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15-30; Revelation chapters 6–18). The rapture is imminent; it could take place at any moment (Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).

During the tribulation, the raptured believers will be in heaven with Jesus Christ for the marriage supper of the Lamb/wedding of the Lamb and his bride (the Church) (Revelation 19:7-10), the appearance of all raptured believers before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Bema Seat Judgment), and other heavenly events.

It is clear from the above that the rapture is a distinct event from the Second Coming.

Thank you.

Response #17:

It's my pleasure. I'll try to respond here to everything you've written here, but, again, since you cover a lot of ground, apologies in advance for anything missed. Also, if you really are interested in giving this true teaching a fair hearing – as opposed to merely attempting to refute it – then reading all of the links provided is the thing to do (apologies here too if you have indeed already done so). This is a Bible teaching ministry, after all, not an apologetics site.

That said, in terms of 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17 not containing the word parousia, that is true, but the Bible is not a mathematical textbook, so that it is often the case that a teaching will be presented without using some key, technical vocabulary which may be present elsewhere. What I mean to say is that in this passage the return of our Lord is clearly in view, for He returns from heaven for us – that is what a return is, even if the word "return" / advent-parousia is not directly used. After all, the word "rapture" isn't used either (here or anywhere in scripture). It is also important to point out that there is only one return. When Paul lists the phases of the resurrection, he does so as follows:

(23) But each [will be resurrected] in his own echelon. Christ [is the] first-fruits. Next [will be] those belonging to Christ at His coming (i.e., the 2nd Advent). (24) Then the end, when He will hand the Kingdom over to the Father, after He has brought an end to all rule, all power, and all authority. (25) For He must rule until He has placed all His enemies under His feet – (26) and death is the final enemy to be done away with.
1st Corinthians 15:23-26

Christ is first (that has happened); the end is last (the millennial believers), and in-between there is only one resurrection phase, that of the Church. If this happens before the Tribulation, what happens at the second advent; what about the eagles gathering at Christ's return? Even more to the point, notice that we are told here that this intermediate phase of the Church's resurrection consists of those who are Christ's "at His coming" (parosia/advent), as in only one further return. If this is pre-Trib, then the second advent, the "coming of Christ", would have to be before the Tribulation too since that would then be "His coming" – but that of course is impossible since we all know that Christ returns to destroy the beast and his forces at Armageddon then rule the world Himself at the end of the Tribulation, not the beginning, and all of the passages in scripture which describe the second advent, the parousia/coming of Christ, in the Old Testament and the New, connect it with those final events, not with some event prior to their occurring. And that is the biggest problem for those with this theory, namely, a singular lack of evidence for it unless one assumes it first and then looks for it (the very reverse of proper hermeneutics). So when you say, "there is nothing in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 that contradicts the pre-tribulation rapture view", while as noted I vigorously dispute that, the real point is that there is nothing in that passage which even suggests the pre-Trib view . . . without assuming it before the fact. How were the Thessalonians to make that same assumption you are making without the "doctrine" being taught somewhere else in the gospels or elsewhere in the epistles? And it is nowhere taught directly.

Finally here, this passage, 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17 is completely in line with all of the other passages in the Bible which teach the resurrection at Christ's return. Nothing in this passage, small or large, indicates that this resurrection will take place at any other than what would have been the expected time, that is, the second advent – aren't we all taught by Christ to look for His return and the beginning of the the Millennium? We are certainly not taught to look forward in anticipation to the Tribulation. No one reading this passage without already believing in a pre-Trib rapture would ever take it to mean that the resurrection happens before the Tribulation and not at the second advent. It may be true that this passage is not absolute proof that there is no pre-Trib rapture, but that is not the same as being proof that there is a pre-Trib rapture (it really is almost impossible to prove a negative, after all, especially to those who are not really listening). This passage is certainly no proof of any such event, however translated.

Luke 21:36: Let me first point out, in addition to the situation in the previous passage, how greatly the evidence is stacked against the pre-Trib position. While there are many passages which on their face teach that the return of Lord happens only once (at the time of all the other Armageddon related events), and that this is when the resurrection occurs as well, pre-Trib-ers are always reduced to making this sort of weak deductive argument you include. That is to say, this passage doesn't say anything about a pre-Trib "rapture"; it can only possibly mean that indirectly if it is interpreted in a very narrow way which disallows any other interpretation and ignores everything else in the context (which has to do with the Tribulation and its end, not its beginning). That is not very strong evidence for affirmatively believing this "doctrine". Let me also say at this juncture that because of this fact, viz., the lack of positive evidence for this teaching, the pre-Trib rapture is not a teaching which anyone would ever come up with reading the Bible for him/herself – it is only ever believed by those who are taught it irrespective of the Bible (and can only be defended by these indirect means).

To get to the specifics, our Lord says not "escape the Tribulation" or even "escape it", namely, the time of Tribulation, but "escape these things" – which "things" have already been defined in the near context as the collapse of faith and debauchery into which many will fall during the Tribulation with the result that they will lose their salvation (the Great Apostasy which occurs in the Tribulation) and thus will not be allowed to "stand before the Lord". Consider: if believers were to be raptured before the Tribulation even starts, how then would this verse have any meaning? Those addressed are told that by "staying alert" and active in prayer they may "escape these things" (tribulational apostasy). But if there were a pre-Trib rapture, then, no worries, we'll be delivered from the Tribulation as long as we are Christians whether or not we pray or stay alert. So this passage is only consistent with a post-Trib resurrection, not with a pre-Trib rapture.

1st Thessalonians 5:9 gives the two alternatives: wrath on the unbelievers who've taken the mark of the beast at Armageddon and salvation/deliverance (ultimate) in resurrection for believers who make it through the Tribulation with faith intact. Wrath comes from God upon unbelievers. Believers in the Tribulation will be subject to all manner of persecution from the evil one and his minions but not to God's wrath – in the same way that Egypt was virtually destroyed by the wrath of God and the Israelites, while oppressed by the Egyptians, were shielded from the plagues of God's righteous fury. Indeed, He brought those plagues on behalf of the oppressed people of God! And so it will be in the Tribulation. This is one of the reasons why the pre-Trib rapture teaching will be damaging to the faith of those who believe it but end up in the middle of the Tribulation: they will be completely emotionally and spiritually unprepared for it, completely misunderstanding their role in it and what God is accomplishing by it.

Noah was brought through the flood but was present while the flood was going on – he was not kept from having to be around during it, merely protected from its consequences. We too shall be protected, as if in an ark, and brought through the Tribulation (unless on the one hand we succumb to apostasy or on the other hand are destined to glorify the Lord through martyrdom – which is also a deliverance). Lot was brought out of Sodom only on the very point of its destruction; likewise, believers are resurrected at the second advent right on the cusp of the destruction of the beast's armies at Armageddon (where the days are shortened "for the sake of the elect"; Mk.13:20). Again, in all these passages and examples, at first glance they may seem "not inconsistent" with a pre-Trib teaching, but that is far from being affirmative evidence for it – and on closer examination always, as in these cases, all have problems that can easily be pointed out in trying to match them up with that false doctrine whereas they are completely consistent with the post-Trib truth.

1st Thessalonians 5:1-4: Again, nothing affirmative here that would lead an objective observer – or someone who has never heard of "the pre-Trib rapture" – to assume from these words that by the Day of the Lord a time before the Tribulation is meant. Indeed, everywhere else "the Day" focuses on the second advent and the preceding troubles and judgments during the Tribulation (see the link).

Matthew 24:36-41: Please note that this passage is all about the second advent and the events that precede it. Nothing in this passage points to some third, partial "coming back" beforehand. After all, our Lord is responding directly to the disciples' question in verse three: "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (NIV). "This" is the destruction of Jerusalem which occurs during the Tribulation, "coming" is the second advent (parousia) and "the end of the age" is the end of the Tribulation (the end of both the Church and Jewish ages). But even if a person would wish to quibble about that, it is very clear throughout the context that our Lord is describing in this passage tribulational events: they are the sign and it is at their end that our Lord returns and resurrection takes place. If it were not so, it is powerfully odd that our Lord would go on to describe here events which would not concern the disciples or us at all, except as a matter of curiosity. Why wouldn't our Lord have told them not to worry at all about it because they would not be involved in such events as He goes on to describe in great detail, even should they have lived so long? In fact, of course, He uses "you" – meaning the disciples and so by extension "us" – when He describes events within the Tribulation! How can that make any sense if they/we are not even possibly going to be in the Tribulation? Why would He say, just for example (since we don't have time to go through every verse), and as the very first thing He says in response, "Watch out that no one deceives you" (Matt.24:4 NIV)? We know that antichrist will deceive many during the Tribulation (and our Lord gives more details about this later in the discourse), but why would there be a worry that they/we might be so deceived in the course of the events of Matthew 24 . . . if we are not going to be going through the Tribulation even if we live up to the day it happens (since we will be pre-Trib raptured, ostensibly)?

Revelation 3:10: The seven churches represent primarily the seven eras of the Church age. This is the age of Laodicea, the age of lukewarmness (as ought to be patently obvious to any Christian who really does have a heart for the Lord), the age when Christians think they are doing so well but are really "blind and naked and poor" since they have no genuine love for the truth, having substituted emotionalism, entertainment and ritual for Bible teaching. The era of Philadelphia is the preceding era and all of the believers who lived therein have long since gone to be with the Lord. So they were kept from the Tribulation. Not so lukewarm Laodicea; we are the era which will spill into the Tribulation. And that will be the great furnace of testing. Those who are prepared will be able to handle it and also martyrdom if it be our lot. Those who are not, the great majority, will either rise to the challenge (through a very painful "crash course" readjustment of their beliefs, behavior, attitudes and approach), or fall away in the Great Apostasy destined to claim one third of the believers who enter the Tribulation.

As to the specifics of the verse, it does not say anything about a pre-Trib rapture or resurrection nor is there anything here to point to such timing. As mentioned earlier, believers who enter the Tribulation will not be subject to the wrath of God but if not prepared will find the pressures of that time hard or even impossible to bear. God is doing and has done and will do His part, but it is often the case that believers who refuse to do their job (of seeking, learning, believing and applying the truth) flounder spiritually, sometimes even falling away from the truth, and then, often, blaming God for their own failures (Prov.19:3). So again, this passage is completely consistent with the post-Trib truth, but has problems when applied (in full understanding of the correct interpretation) to a pre-Trib model, and once again does not affirmatively teach a resurrection prior to the Tribulation. I.e., there are many ways to be "protected from" something other than being resurrected; Noah was "protected from" the destructive power of the flood without resurrection, and was "brought through" the trouble rather than being raptured to heaven so as not to even have to see it with earthly eyes.

Jude 1:14-15: I am very surprised that you would quote this passage since it fixes the time for these matters as the end when judgment is brought upon the earth. That judgment begins at the second advent, not before the Tribulation even commences. The resurrection itself is, furthermore, not specifically present in the passage at all. The "holy ones" are the angels – they return with the Lord to earth, then the resurrection does occur, then the second advent judgments, then the Millennium, then the last judgment (the subject of verse 15). So Jude with this quote gives the briefest of synopses of eschatology – which fits his point here nicely (in the Spirit), but gives no affirmative evidence of any pre-Trib rapture; whereas the passage fits perfectly the clear and evident post-Trib teaching which is ubiquitous in scripture.

The unknown hour: This command to be ready is given in the context of describing events which occur during the Tribulation. Clearly, then, it cannot refer to any pre-Trib rapture since it is given to people who are considering and imagining themselves already within the Tribulation. No one knows the precise day or hour of the second advent, so once we find ourselves in the Tribulation, we can't count a specific day and hour; but we are ordered to consider the example of the fig tree, meaning, that there will be signs and prophecies about that time fulfilled therein which will give us a general idea of when these things will take place so that we can "lift up our heads" because, even though we don't know the precise time – the very "day and hour" of our Lord's return – we can know that our salvation is near (Matt.24:3; Mk.13:29) – and please note what the companion passage in Luke says:

Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
Luke 21:31 NIV

The "kingdom" comes when our Lord returns at the second advent, not before the Tribulation even begins.

So the bottom line is that this imminency argument – a twice removed deductive argument which depends on numerous false assumptions – neither precludes a second advent resurrection nor commends (let alone "proves") a pre-Trib resurrection. The Lord gives the fig tree parable directly connected with the "no one knows the day or the hour" specifically to command us to keep watch during the tribulational events just described even though we can't calculate the precise day or the precise hour: that is what He actually said and, believe it or not, that is what He literally meant. You have to ignore the fig tree parable and take our Lord's words as "not really literal" in order even to make this argument of imminency – again, with nothing said about a resurrection in anything that can even be construed as a pre-Trib context.

#2: 1st Thessalonians 4:17 and Revelation 19:14: These passages describe the same event. Angels return with the Lord; deceased believers are resurrected first, then directly after living believers are resurrected; subsequently, all participate in viewing our Lord destroy antichrist's armies. Please note that nothing in either passage contradicts, is inconsistent or incompatible with the other – except for folks who have already made up their minds.

#3: Passages already dealt with; conclusions here not warranted from these scriptures.

#4: 1st Corinthians 15:50-54: Please note that while nothing in these verses fixes the date of the resurrection to before the Tribulation, in the very first verse you cite Paul speaks about "inheriting the kingdom of God" – and we do know that the Kingdom only begins on earth at the second advent when Christ replaces the beast's kingdom with His own. The resurrection will occur "instantly" – that point has never been at issue but there is no reason whatsoever to assume that while it could be instant before the Tribulation it couldn't be instant afterwards. Also, Paul does not say it is "secret" (not sure how that would help your case); he says he's telling us "a mystery", and the "mystery", which was not known before the special revelation of the New Testament, is that while some will sleep, some will be resurrected while still alive (as he also teaches in 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17) – and there is also nothing whatsoever in this point to recommend a pre versus a post-Trib resurrection. So your assumption that no one will see the resurrection is incorrect – scripture never says that at all. And, in any case, you are comparing apples to oranges in comparing the glorious appearance of Christ to the resurrection of the saints since they are two very different things. They do occur sequentially at the same time of course, the one being obviously visible to all, the other apparently visible too (scripture doesn't say one way or another), but even if it weren't seen it would not indicate pre versus post-Trib in any way.

#5: Already dealt with above. Also, let me point out that it is dangerous to try to put God in a box and tell Him what He can and cannot do, then make doctrine out of it (many false teachings have been concocted using this flawed methodology). Your logic here: 1) the resurrection could happen at any time, so 2) therefore it has to happen before the Tribulation and not afterwards. That is missing many steps and is presumptuous. Also, it is not exactly any kind of "proof" that therefore there must be a pre-Trib rapture. And indeed the entire first premise is in error, at least the way you are understanding "imminence" (a derived word rather than a biblical term at that; cf. Lk.10:9; 10:11: "the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you" = imminence . . . but that was nearly two thousand years ago, and we know that there were things that had to be fulfilled first).

We know that the Church Age, just as the Jewish Age, just as the Age of the Gentiles, has approx. two thousand years, and that the Millennium has one thousand years. There are approx. seven thousand years of human history paralleling deliberately and divinely the seven days of re-creation (e.g., the Sabbath foreshadows the Millennium). So anyone seriously interested in eschatology throughout the Church Age has been in a position to know – or at least strongly suspect – that the Tribulation was nowhere near even close. The upshot is that of course also "the rapture" – if there even were a pre-Trib rapture – was not "imminent" in the sense in which you are using the word for the vast majority of the time of the Church age. Of course you may reply, "well, but we don't know the exact timing so one could never be absolutely sure and ought to follow therefore the commands to alertness". With that I would agree and would also point out that 1) that absolves both positions of having to apply some doctrine of "imminence" in a Procrustean way (which defeats your argument against post-Trib here), and 2) that "being alert" matters most in the sense used by our Lord in describing events of the Tribulation for those in the Tribulation . . . not for those who would theoretically be miraculously delivered from it without ever having to worry about it (and thus having no real need to be alert in regard to its arrival either).

While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Titus 2:13 NIV

The return of our Lord is our blessed hope, and that is a legitimate hope even if we are post-Trib-ers and understand that He will not return to us until after the Tribulation, or as pre-Trib-ers of all generations past who understood that the events of the end times were likely very far away and that there was little to no chance of living long enough to see them. We are given the details and we rejoice in them – and it is also true that even if we do not live to see Him return to us He will bring us to Himself and we will be with Him . . . which is "better by far" (Phil.1:23), whenever and however it occurs.

Revelation 19:7-10: As is very clear from the context, this hymn describes the aftermath of the second advent (e.g., Rev.19:6: "For our Lord God Almighty reigns" NIV); as is also very clear from where these events are talked about elsewhere in scripture, the "wedding supper" occurs after the second advent (see the link), to celebrate the King's return and His wedding to His Bride, the Church – that only necessitates a second advent resurrection and indeed argues strongly for it because it is described in the context of the second advent in the second half of the chapter.

You have done the best job possible with a weak brief. I would commend you for that, but it's never advisable to encourage anyone to stick up for a bad cause, especially when we are talking about the truth of the Word of God. I hope that at least you will realize in poring over these things that there is not a single, affirmative passage which directly teaches any sort of pre-Tribulation resurrection, even if a person were to agree completely with everything you have to say. That in itself is a powerful argument against your position, especially when placed against the massive amount of evidence for there being only one return of Christ when these things all occur – and given that all of the passages upon which the derivative, deductive arguments you proffer are actually better explained by using the post-Trib model (i.e., "the truth").

So while I see absolutely no serious evidence for your final conclusion, I do know that this false doctrine is leaving the majority of those believers in the Church who actually are somewhat interested in the truth woefully unprepared for that great crisis of faith which is fast approaching. That is no doubt why the devil is so enthusiastic about promoting it. Please don't take this personally. You are clearly a very intelligent person who loves the Word, but this is a bad cause, and a very dangerous one. I urge you to have a serious, objective look at the links previously provided, and consider carefully that while there is no discernible spiritual disadvantage to contemplating the possibility of having to go through the Tribulation (indeed, considering it helps prepare an individual for the personal tribulations that of course do come), there is by way of starkest contrast a tremendous liability in assuming that there is no possibility that one will have to face the actual Tribulation – if it turns out one does but one is completely unprepared because of believing a false doctrine which is never actually taught in scripture. That is like assuming it will snow in August so one does not need to study for that Algebra test because there will be a snow day. But what if it doesn't snow? Likely the test will be failed. There is no convincing evidence that it will snow in August; likewise, there is no positive evidence whatsoever that there will be a pre-Trib rapture. And failing the test of faith by falling into the Great Apostasy because a brother or sister is unprepared is worse than anything else that could ever happen in this life.

The stakes are high. Please don't let ego get involved in this. I could care less if I ever hear you say "Dr. Luginbill, you're right!" It doesn't matter which of us gets to "count coup". The truth is what matters, and in this case it matters a very great deal indeed.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Bob, Your argument about the pre-tribulation rapture being based on deductive reasoning is seriously flawed and baseless. Of course, we must of necessity combine scriptures in order to get the full picture of what God is communicating to us. Scriptures do not contradict scriptures. On the contrary, scriptures explain scriptures. The Bible challenges us to "study to show ourselves approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth." I notice that you didn't really have a concrete answer to the specific question I posed to you. You have all the while been arguing that the rapture and the Second Coming are one and the same thing, but you have not satisfactorily explained why the Bible says that one aspect of Christ's coming is going to happen at an unexpected time unknown to any man or angel but at the same time the Bible teaches that the Second Coming of Christ will occur at the end of the 7-year tribulation, exactly 1290 days after the antichrist breaks his agreement with Israel and desecrates the temple in Jerusalem. Your explanation is extremely weak at best and for the most part, you failed to answer the question. It is obvious to any open-minded student of the Word of God that the two events cannot be the same. How do you explain the fact that one of the events will occur on a day that no man or angel knows anything about while the second event, according to the Bible, will occur exactly 1290 days after the abomination of desolation (Daniel 12:11)? Yes, believers may not know the hour but they will definitely know the day of Christ's Second Coming, because the Bible provides detailed information with which to calculate the exact day of His Second Coming. As already pointed out, the exact day of Jesus' return to earth (the Second Coming) can be calculated by counting 1290 days after the abomination of desolation, according to Daniel 12:11. The day of Christ's return will be known to those who can count 1290 days from the date of the abomination of desolation. Tell me, if I know for sure that day of the abomination of desolation, why wouldn't I be able to count exactly 1290 days in order to correctly determine the day of the Second Coming of Christ? While this is easy to calculate, no one knows the day of the RAPTURE. Your post-tribulation rapture doctrine stands on shaky ground and is NOT supported by Scriptures. This is the reason you're unable to explain the difference between the part of scripture that says "No man knows the day or hour" and the part of scripture that says that Jesus will return after a specific number of days following the abomination of desolation. You may try as much as you can to downplay the significance of this difference and try to explain away the scriptures which firmly show this difference between the rapture and the Second Coming, but the truth of God's Word will always stand no matter how hard you try to downplay it. Rather than attempting to downplay the significance of those scriptures which do not agree with your theology, it is wiser to let the Scripture speak for itself. What does it profit a man to explain away the Word of God in order to secure a false doctrine? Let God be true and every man a liar. I will respond point-by-point to each of the issues you raised but, before I do that, I want to first say some things. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says that the day and hour of His return is unknowable by men, and even unknowable by angels. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." To give this idea the strongest emphasis, Jesus said that this knowledge was reserved for His Father only. If Jesus Himself - at least during His earthly ministry - did not know this day and hour, then there is a dilemma. Based on what He had told us about the abomination of desolation, we might have expected that the exact day and hour could be known. After all, Daniel set the day of Jesus' return as being exactly 1,290 days after the abomination of desolation (Daniel 12:11). How then could Jesus say nobody, no angel, and not even Himself knows the day of His coming except the Father? In this, there is a dilemma. How can the day of Jesus' coming be both completely unknown, and at the same time be known to the day according to Daniel 12:11? The dilemma is resolved by seeing that there are actually "two" second comings. One is in the air, for the Church - commonly known as the rapture. The other is to the world, coming with the Church, commonly known as the Second Coming of Jesus. The "contradictions" in Matthew 24 (and the much of the rest of prophecy) are often solved by seeing there are really references to "two" returns of Jesus. In Matthew 24:40-44, Jesus cautions His disciples to be ready for an unexpected coming. "Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." In this passage, Jesus pointed to curious disappearances; to a catching away of some at the coming of the Son of Man (as also described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). "Taken" is the same verb used; it implies to take someone to be with you, and therefore here points to the salvation rather than the destruction of the one 'taken'. Jesus says: "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." Since the day and hour of this coming are unknowable, Jesus' followers must be on constant guard for His coming (i.e. the rapture). The most dangerous lie is not "There is no God", not "there is no hell"; but the most dangerous lie of Satan is "there is no hurry. Jesus is not coming today, or for several years". This is why the post-tribulation rapture view is so dangerous; it is a heretic teaching from Satan. The post-tribulation rapture teaching inevitably eliminates the imminency of Christ's return because according to this heresy, Christ will not return for His Church until we have witnessed the emergence of the antichrist, the abomination of desolation, the great tribulation, and the other end-time events. On the contrary, the Bible teaches us that we need to be ready for the imminent return of Jesus Christ. The New Testament is consistent in its anticipation that the return of Christ for the Church (the rapture) is imminent and might occur at any moment. From the very earliest days of the Church, the apostles and first-generation Christians nurtured an earnest expectation and fervent hope that Christ might suddenly return at any time to gather His church to heaven. James, writing what was probably the earliest of the New Testament epistles, expressly told his readers that the Lord’s return was imminent: "Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!" (James 5:7–9). Peter echoed that same expectation when he wrote, "The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be serious and watchful in your prayers" (1 Peter 4:7). The writer of Hebrews cited the imminent return of Christ as a reason to remain faithful: "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24–25). He wrote, "Yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry" (v. 37). And the apostle John made the most confident pronouncement of all: "Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18). When John recorded his vision in the book of Revelation, he prefaced it by saying these things "must shortly take place" (Revelation 1:1). The New Testament writers often wrote of Christ’s "appearing," and they never failed to convey the sense that this could happen imminently. "And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (1 John 2:28; cf. 3:2; Colossians 3:4; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). All those texts suggest that in the early Church, expectation of Christ’s imminent return for the Church ran high. A solid conviction that Christ could return at any time permeates the whole New Testament. When the apostle Paul described the Lord’s coming for the church, he used personal pronouns that show he clearly was convinced he himself might be among those who would be caught up alive to meet the Lord: "We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord . . . we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17). He obviously looked for Christ to return in his lifetime. He furthermore made it plain that a watchful, hopeful expectancy about Christ’s Coming is one of the godly attitudes divine grace teaches all believers: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11–13). Unfortunately, the post-tribulationists today insist Christians should not have any immediate expectation of Christ’s return for His bride (the Church). Instead, they say, we should be looking for the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation period, the fulfillment of certain judgments and preliminary signs, the rise of the Antichrist - or all of the above. When they talk about future things, the emphasis is heavily weighted toward dread and disaster for the people of God. As far as they are concerned, "the blessed hope" becomes relevant only after the church has gone through the Tribulation. This is heresy of the highest order. It is a serious departure from the tradition that was handed down to us by the early Church apostles and by the Scriptures. My prayer for you is that God will open your eyes and enlighten your eyes of understanding so that you will be able to discern the truth of God's Word regarding the timing of the rapture. It's not about how well you can argue and articulate your points which you have rehearsed over the years. It's not about your eloquence and academic prowess. It's about the truth of God's Word. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal that truth to you but you must be open to Him. One reason why I fear for you and all others who teach the heresy of posttribulation rapture is the fact that there is a curse awaiting all those who teach such things. Revelation 22:18-19 says: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll." This is very scary! Now, let me respond point-by-point to some of the things you said in your mail. Your words are in black while my comments are in red. See my comments in purple below, after your statements: That said, in terms of 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17 not containing the word parousia, that is true, but the Bible is not a mathematical textbook, so that it is often the case that a teaching will be presented without using some key, technical vocabulary which may be present elsewhere. Indeed, this passage says nothing about a post-tribulation rapture. You were trying to insert a post-tribulation interpretation into this passage because you wanted the passage to fit with your theology. That's not the right approach to studying the Scriptures. I think it's better to be open-minded rather than approaching Scriptures with a preconceived theology. You seem to be attempting to interpret every scripture from the perspective of a post-tribulation rapture even when that particular scripture says nothing about a post-tribulation rapture. A case in point is this passage, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. You're seeing a post-tribulation rapture in this passage even though the passage says nothing about a post-tribulation rapture. I think it's best to let the Bible speak for itself. In your first e-mail to me, it was as if 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 was your classic proof text of a post-tribulation rapture, but after I asked you to show me the proof from this passage, you seem to have backed down and admitted that there was indeed nothing in this passage to support a post-tribulation rapture. I'm glad that you've admitted that there is in fact no proof of a post-tribulation rapture in this passage. What I mean to say is that in this passage the return of our Lord is clearly in view, for He returns from heaven for us -- that is what a return is, even if the word "return" / advent-parousia is not directly used. Well, a pre-tribulation rapture is in view here. I'd like you to take a look at verse 17 of this passage. It is obvious that verse 17 is talking about living believers being caught up together with the resurrected dead believers to meet the Lord in the air. This scripture does NOT teach that Jesus would touch down on the earth. He will NOT touch down on the earth. We, along with the resurrected believers, will meet Him in the air and we will all go to heaven from there. This is in sharp contrast to what happens at His Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation when Jesus will physically touch down on the earth and His feet will stand on the mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). In other words, the direction of movement of the Church at the rapture is UPWARDS, not DOWNWARDS whereas at the Second Coming, the direction of movement is downwards, not upwards. Furthermore, at the rapture, only the believers will see Jesus whereas at the Second Coming, all eyes shall see Him - everybody (including unbelievers) will see Him at His Second Coming. (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:30). Yes, only believers will see Jesus at the Second Coming, and this might be similar to what happened immediately after the resurrection of Jesus Christ when He showed Himself to ONLY the believers. It is also important to point out that there is only one return. There is a rapture, followed after 7 years of tribulation by the Second Coming. This is what the Bible consistently teaches. When Paul lists the phases of the resurrection, he does so as follows: (23) But each [will be resurrected] in his own echelon. Christ [is the] first-fruits. Next [will be] those belonging to Christ at His coming (i.e., the 2nd Advent). (24) Then the end, when He will hand the Kingdom over to the Father, after He has brought an end to all rule, all power, and all authority. (25) For He must rule until He has placed all His enemies under His feet – (26) and death is the final enemy to be done away with. 1st Corinthians 15:23-26 Christ is first (that has happened); the end is last (the millennial believers), and in-between there is only one resurrection phase, that of the Church. If this happens before the Tribulation, what happens at the second advent? Even more to the point, notice that we are told here that this intermediate phase of the Church's resurrection consists of those who are Christ's at His coming (parosia/advent). If this is pre-Trib, then the second advent, the "coming of Christ", would have to be before the Tribulation since that would then be "His coming" -- but that of course is impossible since we all know that Christ returns to destroy the beast and his forces at Armageddon then rule the world Himself at the end of the Tribulation, not the beginning, and all of the passages in scripture which describe the second advent, the parousia/coming of Christ, in the Old Testament and the New, connect it with those final events, not with some event prior to their occurring. Note that the phrases "Glorious coming/appearance" and "His Coming" do not necessarily always mean the same thing. it depends on the context of the passage. The phrase "His coming" does not always refer to the Second Coming. It could mean the Rapture. It is the context of a Bible passage that determines the meaning of this phrase. In the context of the passage in 1 Corinthians 15:23-26, the phrase "at His coming" refers to the coming of Christ for His Church. This is the rapture. It is not the Second Coming/advent to judge the world. Jesus said: In my Father's house, there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go, ye know, and the way ye know." (John 14:2-4). So, the rapture is the coming of Christ for His Church (His bride). It is a distinct event from the Second Coming for the battle of Armageddon and for judgment and the millennial reign. Finally here, this passage, 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17 is completely in line with all of the other passages in the Bible which teach the resurrection at Christ's return. Sorry, but there is no passage in the Bible that teaches the resurrection of the Church at the Second Coming of Christ. The resurrection only occurs at the rapture. The rapture and the Second Coming are two distinct events. I challenge you to give me one scripture that supports your teaching that all the believers who died in Christ prior to the Tribulation and all those who are alive at the time of Christ's return will all be raptured at the end of the Tribulation. I can guarantee you that no matter how hard you search, you will NEVER find such a scripture. The only scripture that talks about resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation is Revelation 20:4, and this verse is speaking about the resurrection of the Tribulation Saints who were martyred during the Tribulation. If all the believers who have died during the Church age are to be resurrected after the Tribulation, why didn't the book of Revelation talk about it in this chapter (chapter 20)? Why would the book of Revelation omit such an important event (the rapture of the Church) at Christ's Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation if indeed the rapture of the Church is going to take place at that time? Why would Revelation 20 talk about the resurrection of the martyred Tribulation Saints and omit the resurrection of the Church if indeed both events are taking place at the same time? This would have been a perfect place to talk about the resurrection of all the believers who died during the Church age if indeed a post-tribulation rapture teaching is correct. This chapter talks about the resurrection of only the martyred tribulation saints at the end of the tribulation and says nothing about the resurrection of the rest of the saints of the Church age. The only reason it doesn't talk about the resurrection of the Church age saints is because these saints were already resurrected prior to the start of the Tribulation. Nothing in this passage, small or large, indicates that this resurrection will take place at any other than the expected time, that is, the second advent. Nothing in this passage indicates that this resurrection will take place at the Second Coming. No one reading this passage without already believing in a pre-Trib rapture would ever take it to mean that the resurrection happens before the Tribulation and not at the second advent. It may be true that this passage is not absolute proof that there is no pre-Trib rapture, but that is not the same as being proof that there is a pre-Trib rapture. This passage is certainly no proof of that, however translated. If one were reading this passage without already believing in any type of rapture, one of the things that will strike him is the fact that the raptured believers are ascending to meet the Lord in he air instead of the Lord descending to tocuh down on the earth. The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ does NOT touch down on the earth during this event but rather, the believers ascend to meet Him in the air, strongly argues in favor of a pre-Trib rapture, much more so than a posttrib rapture. This does not have any connection whatsoever with the Second Coming at which time the Lord will physically touch down on the earth. Luke 21:36: Let me first point out, in addition to the situation in the previous passage, how greatly the evidence is stacked against the pre-Trib position. While there are many passages which on their face teach that the return of Lord happens only once (at the time of all the Armageddon events), and that this is when the resurrection occurs, pre-Trib-ers are always reduced to making this sort of weak deductive argument. That is to say, this passage doesn't say anything about a pre-Trib "rapture"; it can only possibly mean that indirectly if it is interpreted in a very narrow way which disallows any other interpretation. That is not very strong evidence for affirmatively believing this "doctrine". Let me also say at this juncture that because of this fact, viz., the lack of positive evidence for this teaching, the pre-Trib rapture is not a teaching which anyone would ever come up with reading the Bible for him/herself -- it is only ever believed by those who are taught it irrespective of the Bible (and can only be defended by these indirect means). I put it to you that this is exactly what the post-tribulation theology does. It uses deductive reasoning. To get to the specifics, our Lord says not "escape the Tribulation" or even "escape it", namely, the time of Tribulation, but "escape these things" -- which "things" have already been defined in the near context as the collapse of faith and debauchery into which many will fall with the result that they will lose their salvation (the Great Apostasy which occurs in the Tribulation) and thus will not be allowed to "stand before the Lord". Consider: if believers were to be raptured before the Tribulation even starts, how then would this verse have any meaning? Those addressed are told that by "staying alert" and active in prayer they may "escape these things" (apostasy). But if there were a pre-Trib rapture, then, no worries, we'll be delivered from the Tribulation as long as we are Christians whether or not we pray or stay alert. So this passage is consistent with a post-Trib resurrection but not with a pre-Trib rapture. This passage is not consistent with a post-tribulation rapture. You need to understand that in this verse does not necessarily apply to Jews but to the Church. The seven-year Tribulation period is primarily meant for the Jews as a people; it is not meant for the Church. The rapture is for the Church, not for the Jews. You need to get this. Besides the Jews, this passage also applies to those believers who will go through the Tribulation (the Tribulation Saints) but it does not apply to the Church. Tribulation saints are not the Church. The tribulation saints are those who get saved during the tribulation. We must pray always, that we may be found worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass. The good news in Jesus is that we don't have to go through this calamity that is coming. He will take as many as are ready before this calamity begins. Regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, those who listened to and obeyed Jesus escaped the horrible destruction that came upon the city. Regarding the far greater destruction that is coming upon the whole earth, those who listen to and obey Jesus can escape the horrible destruction that will come. 1st Thessalonians 5:9 gives the two alternatives: wrath on the unbelievers who've taken the mark of the beast at Armageddon and salvation/deliverance (ultimate) in resurrection for believers who make it through the Tribulation with faith intact. Wrath comes from God. Believers in the Tribulation will be subject to all manner of persecution from the evil one and his minions but not to God's wrath -- in the same way that Egypt was virtually destroyed by the wrath of God and the Israelites, while oppressed by the Egyptians, were shielded from the plagues of God's righteous fury. Indeed, He brought those plagues on behalf of the oppressed people of God! And so it will be in the Tribulation. This is one of the reasons why the pre-Trib rapture teaching will be damaging to the faith of those who believe it but end up in the Tribulation: they will be completely emotionally and spiritually unprepared for it, completely misunderstanding their role in it and what God is accomplishing by it. Noah was brought through the flood but was present while the flood was going on. We too shall be protected, as if in an ark, and brought through the Tribulation (unless on the one hand we succumb to apostasy or on the other hand are destined to glorify the Lord through martyrdom -- which is also a deliverance). Lot was brought out of Sodom only on the very point of its destruction; likewise, believers are resurrected at the second advent right on the cusp of the destruction of the beast's armies at Armageddon. Again, in all these passages and examples, at first glance they may seem "not inconsistent" with a pre-Trib teaching, but that is far from being affirmative evidence for it -- and on closer examination always, as in these cases, have problems that can easily be pointed out in trying to match them up with that false doctrine whereas they are completely consistent with the post-Trib truth. It is incorrect and somewhat disingenuous to say that Noah was brought through the flood. it shows that you're not allowing the Scripture to speak for itself. Instead, you're trying to bend the scripture and make it fit with your preconceived posttribulaton theology. That is not right. It is very clear that Noah was not brought through the flood as you claim. You can't be brought through something that you were never exposed to. Noah and his family were NEVER exposed to the flood in any way. They did not experience the flood. How could they have been brought through a flood that they never experienced? They were taken into the ark and the ark was shut seven days before the rains started. They were removed and placed into the ark BEFORE the wrath of God was unleashed on the earth. They did not experience the flood at all. Genesis 7:1-8 tells us that seven days before the rains started, the Lord instructed Noah to enter the ark with all his family and all the animals. While in the ark, Noah and his family had no idea what was going on outside the ark. The lesson here is that God removes the righteous before punishing the wicked. Yes, Noah was not taken up to heaven but that doesn't matter. The simple main lesson here is that God will not allow punishment to be unleashed without first removing the righteous. The ark was a type of pre-trib rapture while the flood represented the tribulation. The same thing happened in the case of Lot. God was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but He first made sure that Lot and his family left that city before unleashing His wrath on the city. I am somewhat disappointed that you have to misinterpret these passages simply because you're trying to find an explanation that fits your post-tribulation rapture theology. I think that's very unfair to the Word of God. 1st Thessalonians 5:1-4: Again, nothing affirmative here that would lead an objective observer -- or someone who has never heard of "the rapture" -- to assume from these words that by the Day of the Lord a time before the Tribulation is meant. Indeed, everywhere else "the Day" focuses on the second advent and the preceding troubles and judgments during the Tribulation (see the link). You're completely missing the point here. The Day of the Lord refers to the day of God's judgment which will commence after the rapture. Now, let me explain this passage to you. In the preceding chapter (1 Thess, chapter 4), Paul already discussed the rapture. As a follow up to his previous discussion in chapter 4, Paul now comes to chapter 5 and tells the Thessalonians the following: "Brethren, you’re not in darkness that the Day should overtake you like a thief." In other words, Paul is saying to them, "You don’t belong to the day of the Lord. That’s not for you. You’re not in darkness; you’re children of light. You don’t belong in the day of the Lord; you belong in the Rapture, not the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord is for those who are walking in darkness. You are the children of light and so, you won't even experience the day of the Lord if you remain in the light; the day of the Lord is meant for those who walk in darkness and who, therefore, will miss the rapture." The Day of the Lord is not for believers in Christ. He says you don't have any need of anything to b written to you. You're not going to be there. Verse 9 says, "God hasn't destined you for wrath," on an eternal level, and God in verse 4 he says "hasn't even destined you for the day of the Lord." In 1 Thess. 5:1-4, Paul says that the wrath of the tribulation/day of the Lord will come suddenly (like a thief in the night) on the unsaved people while they're talking peace and safety. The phrase "like a thief in the night" simply implies that an event will happen unexpectedly. The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night to the unsaved people. While they're talking peace and safety, then suddenly the Day of the Lord (the day of God's wrath) will come upon them unexpectedly. In that sense, it will be like a thief in the night to the unbelievers, not the believers who are walking in the light. Those walking in the light will not even experience the wrath of the day of the Lord. 1 Thess. 1:10 says: "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who delivered us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:10). The Day of the Lord's wrath is applicable only to the unsaved. Matthew 24:43-44 has the parable of a "thief in the night". Again, the phrase "thief in the night" means "unexpectedly". In this passage, Jesus is speaking to believers and He is referring to the rapture occurring unexpectedly on a day that no one knows in advance. Jesus was speaking to the believers in this parable and he said: "But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have left his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." This parable is clearly a reference to the rapture. The rapture is the one event that will occur at an hour we do not expect. Matthew 24:36-41: Please note that this passage is all about the second advent and the events that precede it. No, this passage is not talking about the second advent. This passage is talking about the rapture. This should be obvious as the rapture is the ONLY event whose day of occurrence is unknown to any one; the Bible teaches that the rapture will occur at any moment and no one or angel knows the day of the rapture. One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out the fact that this passage is talking about the rapture, which is the ONLY event that the scripture describes as IMMINENT. The Second Coming (the advent) is not imminent. Nothing in this passage points to some third, partial "coming back" beforehand. After all, our Lord is responding directly to the disciples' question in verse three: "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (NIV). "This" is the destruction of Jerusalem which occurs during the Tribulation, "coming" is the second advent (parousia) and "the end of the age" is the end of the Tribulation (the end of both the Church and Jewish ages). No, the destruction of Jerusalem does not occur during the Tribulation. The prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Roman empire invaded the city and burnt it down along with the temple. (The attack on Jerusalem was led by General Titus). So, obviously, there are some aspects of the discourse in Matthew 24 which have already been fulfilled, and there are other aspects which are still future events. We should not mix them up. But even if a person would wish to quibble about that, it is very clear throughout the context that our Lord is describing in this passage tribulational events: they are the sign and it is at their end that our Lord returns and resurrection takes place. You still have not provided a single scripture to support your assertion that resurrection takes place at the end of the Tribulation. I am still waiting for the scripture that says that the resurrection of the Church age believers will occur after the tribulation. Here, you're guilty of deductive reasoning, the very same thing that you accuse others of. This passage NEVER said anything about the resurrection of the Church occurring at Christ's Second Coming. You inserted that thought into the passage because that's what you would like the passage to say. You have not approached the Word of God with an open mind. You're not letting the scripture speak for itself. If it were not so, it is powerfully odd that our Lord would go on to describe here events which would not concern the disciples or us at all, except as a matter of curiosity. Why wouldn't our Lord have told them not to worry at all about it because they would not be involved in such events as He goes on to describe in great detail, even should they have lived so long? In fact, of course, He uses "you" -- meaning the disciples and so by extension "us" -- when He describes events within the Tribulation! How can that make any sense if they/we are not even possibly going to be in the Tribulation? Why would He say, just for example (since we don't have time to go through every verse), and as the very first thing He says in response, ""Watch out that no one deceives you" (Matt.24:4 NIV)? We know that antichrist will deceive many during the Tribulation (and our Lord gives more details about this later in the discourse), but why would there be a worry that they/we might be so deceived in the course of the events of Matthew 24 . . . if we are not going to be going through the Tribulation even if we live up to the day it happens (since we will be raptured, ostensibly)? Again, you miss the point here. I will explain this passage to you. In verse Matthew 24:4, Jesus said "Take heed that no one deceives you". Jesus was not necessarily referring to deceit during the Tribulation. He was referring to deceit during the interval between His ascension to heaven and His return for the Church (rapture). In this verse, He is not necessarily referring to being deceived during the Tribulation. How do we know this? His very next sentence provided the answer. He says: "See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." The kind of things Jesus mentions in this section are not the specific signs of the end. Things like false messiahs, wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes have certainly marked man's history since the time of Jesus' Ascension - but were not specific signs of the end. In effect, Jesus says "Catastrophes will happen, but these will not signal the end." In the midst of any great war or any great famine or any great earthquake, it is natural to believe that the world is coming to an end. But Jesus said there is a far more specific sign that would indicate His return, and He describes this later. From the outset, Jesus warned the disciples that many would be deceived as they anticipated His return. There have been times in the history of the church when rash predictions were made and then relied upon, resulting in great disappointment, disillusionment, and falling way. One notable example of this was the prophetic expectation in 1846 with William Miller in the United States. Because of his prophetic interpretations, calculations, and publications, there were hundreds of thousands in the United States who were convinced that Jesus would return in 1846. When He did not, there was great disappointment, with some falling away and some cultic groups spawned from the prophetic fervor. In verse 8, Jesus said "All these are the beginning of sorrows". Though none of those events are the specific sign of the end of the age, collectively they are a sign. When Jesus described these calamities as the beginning of sorrows He literally called them the beginning of labor pains. Just as is true with labor pains, we should expect that the things mentioned - wars, famines, earthquakes, and so on - would become more frequent and more intense before the return of Jesus - without any one of them being the specific sign of the end. One clear aim of this passage is to prevent premature excitement about the parousia. Another point is this: Even if it was the case that Jesus was specifically referring to being deceived during the Tribulation period (which, as we have seen above, is not the case), don't forget that there are aspects of Jesus' discourse in Matthew 24 that were primarily directed at the Jews and not the Church. I think we should be careful not to mix things up here. God deals with the Jews and Gentiles (Church) separately. The rapture will mark the end of the Church age. The rapture is NOT meant for the Jews but the Church. In this passage, Jesus speaks to the disciples as Jews. The Jews will go through the Tribulation. The seven-year tribulation period is meant primarily for the Jews although some gentiles will also get saved during this period. So, the Jews will be going through the Tribulation as a people (not as individuals, since those individual Jews who accept the Lord Jesus before the tribulation would be raptured along with the Church). So, I think the content of this passage will make more sense when you separate the Jews from the Gentiles and recognize that the rapture is not for the Jews, but it is for the Church. In Daniel 9:24, the angel Gabriel said to Daniel: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." So, God determined 70 weeks of years upon Daniel's people, the Jews. Of these 70 weeks, 69 weeks have already been fulfilled. We have one more week (7 years) remaining for God to finish His program and timetable for the Jews. This remaining 7-year period is the future Tribulation period. So, you must understand that the Tribulation period is primarily for the Jews. It is not meant for the Church (the gentiles). God's program for the Church will end with the rapture. As soon as the rapture has taken place, then God's final week of 7 years for the Jews (the Tribulation) will begin. It is the rapture that will trigger the beginning of the 7-year tribulation period (Daniel's 70th week). Revelation 3:10: The seven churches represent primarily the seven eras of the Church age. This is the age of Laodicea, the age of lukewarmness (as ought to be patently obvious to any Christian who really does have a heart for the Lord), the age when Christians think they are doing so well but are really "blind and naked and poor" since they have no genuine love for the truth, having substituted emotionalism, entertainment and ritual for Bible teaching. The era of Philadelphia is the preceding era and all of the believers who lived therein have long since gone to be with the Lord. So they were kept from the Tribulation. Not so lukewarm Laodicea; we are the era which will spill into the Tribulation. And that will be the great furnace of testing. Those who are prepared will be able to handle it and also martyrdom if it be our lot. Those who are not, the great majority, will either rise to the challenge (through very painful "crash course" readjustment of their beliefs, behavior, attitudes and approach), or fall away in the Great Apostasy destined to claim one third of the believers who enter the Tribulation. I am not aware that this is the age of Laodicea while the preceding era is the era of Philadelphia. One thing I can tell you is that I believe that God deals with us as individuals, not as a group in a specific era. Salvation is a personal and individual thing. Even within the same Church denomination, there is no such thing as a group salvation. It is an individual thing. In each era, you will find people belonging to each of the seven Churches described in Revelation. When Jesus comes back for His Church, He will come for the rapture of faithful individual believers. Within our present era, there are those who belong to the Philadelphia Church as well as those who belong to the Church at Laodicea, Sardis, etc. You will find all seven churches represented in every era. As to the specifics of the verse, it does not say anything about a rapture or resurrection. As mentioned earlier, believers who enter the Tribulation will not be subject to the wrath of God but if not prepared will find the pressures of that time hard or even impossible to bear. Well, there is no Scripture that specifically says that the wrath of God (the natural upheavals) will not indiscriminately fall on everyone. For this reason, God has to specifically put a seal on the 144,000 ministers in Revelation 7, so that calamity will not fall on them. Revelation 7:2 reveals that power was granted to four angels to harm the earth and sea, but God sends another angel to tell these four angels not to harm the earth and sea until the 144,000 have been sealed. Apart from these 144,000 ministers, the rest of the tribulation saints are not sealed, which implies that they could be at risk. Even if the Tribulation saints were protected from the natural upheavals, what about the wrath of the anti-christ during the tribulation? Are believers in the tribulation shielded from the wrath of the anti-christ? The answer is NO. Many of them are beheaded and martyred by the antichrist. God is doing and has done and will do His part, but it is often the case that believers who refuse to do their job (of seeking, learning, believing and applying the truth) flounder spiritually, sometimes even falling away from the truth, and then, often, blaming God for their own failures (Prov.19:3). So again, this passage is completely consistent with the post-Trib truth. Sorry, but there is nothing in this passage that suggests a post-tribulation rapture. but has problems when applied (in full understanding of the interpretation) to a pre-Trib model, and once again does not affirmatively teach a resurrection prior to the Tribulation. I.e., there are many ways to be "protected from" something other than being resurrected; Noah was "protected from" the destructive power of the flood, but he was "brought through" the trouble rather than being raptured to heaven so as not to even have to see it with earthly eyes. Again, you're wrong. Noah was NOT brought through the flood, because he wasn't exposed to the flood in the first place. He wasn't even exposed to the flood in the first place. He and his family were taken away to a place of safety even before the flood began. In other words, Noah was removed from hams way before the wrath of God could be poured out (the flood represented God's wrath on the world). Before the wrath of God (the flood) was unleashed, God made a solid provision in advance to get Noah and his family out of the way and into the ark. It was only after Noah was removed into the ark that God poured out His wrath. Even though Noah wasn't physically taken to heaven, the lesson is clear - God will REMOVE the righteous to a place of safety BEFORE pouring out His wrath on the unrighteous. It's NOT as though God will pour out His wrath on both the righteous and the unrighteous, and then try to protect the righteous in the midst of the wrath. No! God will NOT pour out His wrath until the righteous has been removed. He removes the righteous so that the righteous so that the righteous will not experience the wrath. In any case, your argument about God protecting the saints through the Tribulation period makes no sense because large numbers of Tribulation Saints are martyred during the Tribulation. The Book of Revelation tells us in several places that a very large multitude of saints are martyred. These are the saints who got saved during the Tribulation. Jude 1:14-15: I am very surprised that you would quote this passage since it fixes the time for these matters as the end when judgment is brought upon the earth. That judgment begins at the second advent, not before the Tribulation even commences. The resurrection itself is, furthermore, not specifically present in the passage at all. The "holy ones" are the angels -- they return with the Lord to earth, then the resurrection does occur, then the second advent judgments, then the Millennium, then the last judgment (the subject of verse 15). So Jude with this quote gives the briefest of synopses of eschatology -- which fits his point here nicely (in the Spirit), but gives no affirmative evidence of any pre-Trib rapture; whereas the passage fits perfectly the clear and evident post-Trib teaching which is ubiquitous in scripture. My Bible says: "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints." (KJV). My Bible uses the word SAINTS. The word "saints" is used to refer to believers in Christ who have been saved and sanctified. My king James version uses the word "saints" and not "holy angels" as some other versions use. In 1 Corinthians 1:2, Paul defines the meaning of the word "saints". He says: "Unto the Church of God at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Jesus Christ, called to be saints.." This clearly confirms to me that the word "saints" refers to those who are sanctified in Christ. That is, the Church. In case you're not convinced about Jude 14, you can check out the following scriptures: Colossians 3:4: "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory." Clearly, you can't dispute this meaning of this verse of scripture. It says we the Church will also appear with Christ in glory at His glorious Return. Yes, the believers will appear with Christ in glory at His Second Coming after they have first been raptured and taken to heaven. Then at Christ's Second coming, they will appear with Christ. This is what is taught throughout Scriptures. This verse (Colossians 3:4) is clear enough! 1 Thessalonians 3:13: "To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." This scripture again says that Jesus will come with all His saints at His Second Coming. The unknown hour: This command to be ready is given in the context of describing events which occur during the Tribulation. Clearly, then, it cannot refer to any rapture since it is given to people who are considering and imagining themselves within the Tribulation. No one knows the precise day or hour of the second advent, so once we find ourselves in the Tribulation, we can't count a specific day and hour; but we are ordered to consider the example of the fig tree, meaning, that there will be signs and prophecies about that time fulfilled therein which will give us a general idea of when these things will take place so that we can "lift up our heads" because, even though we don't know the precise time -- the very "day and hour" of our Lord's return -- we can know that our salvation is near (Matt.24:3; Mk.13:29). No, the command to be ready is not given only in the context of the Tribulation. The command to be ready is given in the context of the entire end-time events. In His Matthew 24 discourse, Jesus touched on all aspects of the end-time, including the events prior to the very end-times, the rapture, the tribulation, and His Second Coming. Specifically, the command to be ready refers to the rapture. The rapture is the only event regarding which the timing is unknown. Not even the angels in heaven and not even Jesus Himself during his earthly ministry knew the time the Church will be raptured. The exact time of the Second Advent of Christ is not unknown, because it is spelt out in details in the scriptures (see Daniel 12:11). It is also spelt out in details in the book of Revelation. Your interpretation of the statement "No man knows the precise day or hour" is extremely weak and lacks merit. (NOTE: The Jews as a people will go through the tribulation. After all, the seven years of tribulation is primarily meant for Daniel's people, the Jews. It is also called Daniel's 70th week. The rapture is not primarily for the Jews. The rapture is meant for the Gentile Church. The rapture will mark the end of God's dealings with the Church and the beginning of His dealing with the Jews in the final week of Daniel's 70 weeks. Note what Luke 21:24 says: "And they {the Jews} will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away captives into all the nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." The prophecy about the Jews falling by the edge of the sword and being led away as captives into exile has already been fulfilled, the times of the Gentiles ruling Israel is now over, and the nation of Israel has been re-established (this was fulfilled in 1948). But there are other aspects of the discourse in Luke 21 that are yet future events.) Although Matthew is the gospel that is specifically addressed to the Jews, it is also the only gospel that mentions the word "Church." So Jesus can both address the disciples as Jews and speak of prophecies for the Jews, but He can also address the same group of people (the disciples) as members of the future Church. For example, everyone understands that Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission, is addressed to the disciples as members of the Church, not primarily as Jewish people. Note also the two references below. These imply that the disciples sometime represent believers in the church. For example, consider the following verses in which Jesus used the word "Church" while speaking to the disciples: Matt. 16:18: And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. Matt. 18:17: If he pays no attention to them, tell the Church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the Church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. So, while it is true that Jesus spoke about the Tribulation and the Second Coming in the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24, it is obvious that He also spoke about the rapture (which is meant for the Church) because He specifically said "No man knows the day or hour". This was a reference to the rapture of the Church. This cannot be referring to the Second Coming of Christ, because the Tribulation Saints will definitely know the day of Christ's return to earth. How will they know? The Bible provides a formula for calculating it. One can calculate the day of Christ's return by counting 3.5 years (1260 days) from the day the anti-christ moves into the temple to declare himself god and to demand to be worshiped as God - the abomination of desolation. and please note what the companion passage in Luke says: Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Luke 21:31 NIV The "kingdom" comes when our Lord returns at the second advent, not before the Tribulation even begins. This does not prove a post-tribulation rapture neither does it disprove a pre-trib rapture. So the bottom line is that this imminency argument -- a twice removed deductive argument which depends on numerous false assumptions -- neither precludes a second advent resurrection nor commends (let alone "proves") a pre-Trib resurrection. The Lord gives the fig tree parable directly connected with the "no one knows the day or the hour" specifically to command us to keep watch during the tribulational events just described even though we can't calculate the precise day or the precise hour: that is what He actually said and, believe it or not, that is what He literally meant. You have to ignore the fig tree parable and take our Lord's words as "not really literal" in order even to make this argument of imminency -- again, with nothing said about a resurrection in anything that can even be construed as a pre-Trib context. No, that's not what Jesus meant. When He said "No one knows the day, He meant no one knows the day". He meant nobody has any idea whatsoever when the rapture will happen. But we can't say the same thing about the Second Coming whose day of occurrence is clearly known from the Scriptures. The Second Coming can easily be calculated once the Tribulation gets underway. You describe the imminence argument as a "twice removed deductive argument which depends on numerous false assumptions". In effect, you're saying that Jesus' teaching on the imminence of His return was based on false assumptions. The imminency of Christ's return was taught by Jesus Christ Himself and re-interated by the early apostles. The entire New Testament is replete with warnings about the imminence of Christ's return. Within the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 alone, Jesus gave several illustrations/parable to drive home His message about the imminence of His return. So, Jesus Himself is the author of imminency. To challenge the authenticity of this teaching is to challenge the authority and authenticity of the Scriptures. In every age Christians have been expecting the return of Our Lord. Twice in the last chapter of the Revelation He tells us, "I am coming quickly." (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20). Paul referred to this ever-present possibility of Christ's return as "the blessed hope." (Titus 2:13). Jesus also taught that His coming will be like a thief in the night. John also spoke often of Christ's appearing: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3). The pre-Tribulation position is the best from this point of view. If the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation, we can truly expect it "any day." If it is delayed to the end of the Tribulation, we could not honestly have that expectation now. #2: 1st Thessalonians 4:17 and Revelation 19:14: These passages describe the same event. Angels return with the Lord; deceased believers are resurrected first, then directly after living believers are resurrected; subsequently, all participate in viewing our Lord destroy antichrist's armies. Please note that nothing in either passage contradicts, is inconsistent or incompatible with the other -- except for folks who have already made up their minds. I respectfully disagree. These two passages do not describe the same event at all. You see both passages as describing the same event because you've already made up your mind that both verses must say the same thing. In fact, the two verses describe different events. 1 Thess. 4:17 describes the pretrib. rapture and the resurrection of dead believers with both resurrected and living believers being caught up in the air to meet the Lord in the air without the Lord touching down on the earth. In contrast, Revelation 19:14 says nothing whatsoever about rapture or resurrection of anyone or the catching up of anyone; instead, Revelation 19:14 - 15 is all about the Second Coming and talks about the Lord being physically present on earth on a white horse to rule the nations. In fact, these two passages clearly show that these two events (rapture and second coming) are very different. #3: Passages already dealt with; conclusions here not warranted from these scriptures. #4: 1st Corinthians 15:50-54: Please note that while nothing in these verses fixes the date of the resurrection to before the Tribulation, in the very first verse you cite Paul speaks about "inheriting the kingdom of God" -- and we do know that the Kingdom only begins on earth at the second advent when Christ replaces the beast's kingdom with His own. The resurrection will occur "instantly" -- that point has never been at issue but there is no reason whatsoever to assume that while it could instant before the Tribulation it couldn't be instant afterwards. Also, Paul does not say it is "secret" (not sure how that would help your case); he says he's telling us "a mystery", and the "mystery", which was not known before the special revelation of the New Testament, is that while some will sleep, some will be resurrected while still alive (as he also teaches in 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17) -- and there is also nothing whatsoever in this point to recommend a pre versus a post resurrection. So your assumption that no one will see the resurrection is incorrect -- scripture never says that at all. And, in any case, you are comparing apples to oranges in comparing the glorious appearance of Christ to the resurrection of the saints since they are two very different things. They do occur at the same time of course, the one being obviously visible to all, the other apparently visible too (scripture doesn't say one way or another), but even if it weren't seen it would not indicate pre versus post in any way. Do you mean the kingdom of God does not exist until the millennial reign begins? That's strange. #5: Already dealt with above. Also, let me point out that it is dangerous to try to put God in a box and tell Him what He can and cannot do, then make doctrine out of it (many false teachings have been concocted using this flawed methodology). Your logic here: 1) the resurrection could happen at any time, so 2) therefore it has to happen before the Tribulation and not afterwards. It is not my logic. It is what the Bible teaches. That is missing many steps and is presumptuous. Also, it is not exactly any kind of "proof" that therefore there must be a pre-Trib rapture. And indeed the entire first premise is in error, at least the way you are understanding "imminence" (a derived word at that). We know that the Church Age, just as the Jewish Age, just as the Age of the Gentiles, has approx. two thousand years, and that the Millennium has one thousand years. There are approx. seven thousand years of human history paralleling deliberately and divinely the seven days of re-creation (e.g., the Sabbath foreshadows the Millennium). So anyone seriously interested in eschatology throughout the Church Age has been in a position to know -- or at least strongly suspect -- that the Tribulation was nowhere near even close. The upshot is that of course also "the rapture" -- if there even were a rapture -- was not "imminent" in the sense in which you are using the word for the vast majority of the time of the Church age. Of course you may reply, "well, but we don't know the exact timing so one could never be absolutely sure and ought to follow therefore the commands to alertness". With that I would agree and would also point out that 1) that absolves both positions of having to apply some doctrine of "imminence" in a Procrustean way (which defeats your argument against post-Trib here), and 2) that "being alert" really only matters in the sense used by our Lord in describing events of the Tribulation for those in the Tribulation . . . not for those who will be miraculously delivered from it without ever having to worry about it (and thus having no real need to be alert in regard to its arrival). Once the Tribulation gets underway, why would the Second Coming of Christ be described as something that will happen like a thief in the night? It is illogical to say that the Second Coming will be like as thief in the night when believers would already have known that the Second Coming will happen exactly 1290 days after the anti-christ desecrates the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 12:11). And why would believers be told to watch during the tribulation for "no man knows the day or the hour". Watch for what? Are they to watch for wrath or what? Of course, any believer experiencing the tribulation would already know that something serious is happening. Why does he need to be told continuously to watch? You have not provided a convincing explanation. Terms such as "Watch" and "No man or angel knows the day or hour" only make sense in the context of imminence. Period. There is no other way to get around this, o matter how much you try to explain it away. People need to be on the alert and to watch only for something they have no idea when it will happen. If I know that something will happen in 3.5 years' time, what's the point in asking me to watch? Watch for what? while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13 NIV The return of our Lord is our blessed hope, and that is a legitimate hope even if we are post-Tribbers and understand that He will not return to us until after the Tribulation, or as pre-Tribbers of all generations past who understood that the events of the end times were likely very far away and that there was little to no chance of living long enough to see them. We are given the details and we rejoice in them -- and it is also true that even if we do not live to see Him return to us He will bring us to Himself and we will be with Him . . . which is "better by far" (Phil.1:23), whenever and however it occurs. Revelation 19:7-10: As is very clear from the context, this hymn describes the aftermath of the second advent (e.g., Rev.19:6: "For our Lord God Almighty reigns" NIV); as is also very clear from where these events are talked about elsewhere in scripture, the "wedding supper" occurs after the second advent (see the link), to celebrate the King's return and His wedding to His Bride, the Church -- that only necessitates a second advent resurrection and indeed argues for it because it is described in the context of the second advent in the second half of the chapter. You have done the best job possible with a weak brief. I would commend you for that, but it's never advisable to encourage anyone to stick up for a bad cause, especially when we are talking about the truth of the Word of God. I hope that at least you will realize in poring over these things that there is not a single, affirmative passage which directly teaches any sort of pre-Tribulation resurrection, even if a person were to agree completely with everything you have to say. That in itself is a powerful argument against your position, especially when placed against the massive amount of evidence for their being only one return of Christ when these things all occur -- and given that all of the passages upon which the derivative, deductive arguments you proffer are actually better explained by using the post-Trib model. So while I see absolutely no serious evidence for your final conclusion, I do know that this false doctrine is leaving the majority of those believers in the Church who actually are somewhat interested in the truth woefully unprepared for that great crisis of faith which is fast approaching. That is no doubt why the devil is so enthusiastic about promoting it. Frankly speaking, the post-tribulation is the false doctrine engineered by Satan to deceive many in the Church. Why? Because the devil knows that once he is able convince people that the return of Christ is not imminent, everyone in the Church would relax and let down their guards, and become complacent instead of watching for the Master's soon return for His bride, the Church. Please don't take this personally. You are clearly a very intelligent person who loves the Word, but this is a bad cause, and a very dangerous one. I urge you to have a serious, objective look at the links previously provided, and consider carefully that while there is no discernible spiritual disadvantage to contemplating the possibility of having to go through the Tribulation (indeed, considering it helps prepare an individual for the personal tribulations that of course do come), there is by way of starkest contrast a tremendous liability in assuming that there is no possibility that one will have to face the actual Tribulation -- if it turns out one does but one is completely unprepared because of believing a false doctrine which is never actually taught in scripture. That is like assuming it will snow in August so one does not need to study for that Algebra test because there will be a snow day. But what if it doesn't snow? Likely the test will be failed. There is no convincing evidence that it will snow in August; likewise, there is no positive evidence whatsoever that there will be a pre-Trib rapture. The Church will NOT have to go through the Tribulation. Just as Noah was removed to safety prior to the onset of the flood, believers will be removed from the earth prior to the unleashing of God's wrath on the earth. Just as Lot and his family departed the city of Sodom prior to the destruction of the city, the Church will depart this earth prior to the unleashing of God's wrath. According to the Scriptures, God has not appointed us unto wrath. The danger of the false doctrine of post-tribulation rapture is like telling a student who has an imminent Algebra test to not worry about prepare for his test, because the test is not coming up anytime soon. Then the student relaxes and does not study for his test, only for the teacher to administer the test suddenly on a day the student thought was a regular school day. Then the student fails the test because he did not prepare for it. He went to school on the day of the test without knowing he was going to write a test that very day. He had thought it would be business as usual on that day. False teachers in the Church are very dangerous indeed. They will lead many astray. And failing the test of faith by falling into the Great Apostasy because a brother or sister is unprepared is worse than anything else that could ever happen in this life. Let me once more summarize for you some of the clear-cur differences between the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. These two events are not one and the same thing. They are clearly two different events happening at different times, and this has a sound biblical basis. It is incorrect to say that the teaching of a rapture as a separate event from the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is based on deductive reasoning. For the avoidance of doubt, let me summarize some of the differences between the rapture and Second coming here, with scriptural references. Thereafter, I will respond to some of the specific statements you made in your mail. Here are some of the differences between the rapture and the Second Coming: 1) The timing of the Rapture is unknown. It is a secret. No man, nor the angels, not even the Son, knows when this time shall be (Mark 13:32). Only a pre-tribulation Rapture position supports this vital Biblical truth. On the other hand, the timing of Christ's Second Coming is known, which is at the culmination of the 7-year Tribulation (or, Daniel's 70th week). The Rapture starts the calendar clock for Daniel's 70th week. From the moment the antichrist moves into the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem to declare himself God (the abomination of desolation), the second half of the tribulation will last exactly 3.5 years (1260 days). The Scriptures tell us that the second half of the tribulation will last exactly 3.5 years (1260 days). See Daniel 7:25, Daniel 9:27, Revelation 11:2-3, Revelation 12:14, Rev. 12:6, Rev. 13:5-7). The exact day of Jesus' return to earth (the Second Coming) will be 1290 days after the abomination of desolation, according to Daniel 12:11. The day of Christ's return will be known to those who can count 1290 days from the date of the abomination of desolation. Tell me, if I know for sure that day of the abomination of desolation, why wouldn't I be able to count exactly 1290 days in order to correctly determine the day of the Second Coming of Christ? While this is easy to calculate, no one knows the day of the rapture. 2) The Rapture can happen at any time; it may even occur right now, which is why we are to be WATCHING for the return of Jesus Christ! (Revelation 3:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6). But the Glorious Appearing or Second Coming will occur at the end of the seven-year tribulation period. (Daniel 9:24-27, Matthew 24:29-30, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8). Anything other than a Pre-Tribulation Rapture Removes the Prophesied Element of Surprise. One of the strongest evidence in the Bible of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the PROPHESIED ELEMENT OF SURPRISE! Plainly, the Lord Jesus taught that NO MAN KNOWS THE TIME of His return. Matthew 24:44, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Luke 12:40, "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not." Anything other than a Pre-tribulation Rapture (in time of event) totally REMOVES this Biblical element of surprise. The Bible tells us that the rapture will be unpredictable, imminent, without warning, and will be visible only to THE SAINTS. When Jesus rose from the dead, 1st Corinthians 15:6 teaches that the Lord appeared bodily to over 500 BRETHREN AT ONCE. The Lord did not appear to any unsaved people after His resurrection. The Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene, His 12 apostles, over 500 disciples at once and others (1 Cor. 15: 4-8). There is no record of any unsaved person seeing the Lord in His resurrected body. Likewise, the Lord will only appear to the saints at the Rapture when He comes. 3) At the rapture, the Lord gathers the saints (2nd Thessalonians 2:1) whereas at the Second Coming, the angels gather the saints (the elect, Matthew 24:31). 3) At the Rapture, Jesus comes FOR His Church. (John 14:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). At the Glorious Appearing (Second Coming), Jesus comes WITH His Church. (Zechariah 14:5, Colossians 3:4, Jude 14, Revelation 19:14). 4) At the Rapture, Christians are caught up to meet Jesus in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). At the Glorious Appearing (the Second Coming), Jesus' feet touch the earth (Zechariah 14:4, Revelation 19:11-21). 5) At the Rapture, Jesus will gather His Bride, the Church, unto Himself in preparation for the Marriage of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:6-9). At the Glorious Appearing (Second Coming) Jesus will execute judgment on the earth and establish His Kingdom. (Zechariah 14:3-4, Jude 14-15, Revelation 19:11-21). 6) The Rapture will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (Blink. It's over!). (1 Corinthians 15:52). The Glorious Appearing will be a slow coming. Everyone will see Jesus coming with great power and great glory! (Zechariah 12:10, Matthew 24:30, Revelation 1:7). 7) At the Rapture, only those who are looking for Him (Christians) will see Him. (1 John 3:2, 1 Corinthians 15:52). At the Glorious Appearing, every eye will see Him and those who have rejected Him will wail. (Revelation 1:7). 8) At the Rapture, Jesus doesn't return riding a white horse. At the Glorious Appearing, Jesus will return riding a white horse. (Revelation 19:11). In Christ,

Response #18:

With all due respect, it's very clear that you are not particularly receptive to disagreement on this issue. When you call one of the principle teachings of this ministry "a heretic teaching from Satan", it really doesn't appear that there is much flexibility in your approach. Ichthys is a teaching ministry. I went to a good deal of trouble preparing to teach (fifteen years of higher education, for one thing), and have spent many year laboring in the vineyard over this and many other issues. I don't intrude on other people's ministries, even if they are in error. I do answer questions about this ministry and its teachings, and I also do give a defense of what I believe and why I teach what I teach to those who ask for it – but not ad infinitum when it becomes clear that there is no further point to it (I'm not at a loss to find things that need doing).

We all want to be with the Lord. But that is not a proof of a pre-Trib "rapture", nor does the fact that our Lord returns at the end take away our hope – certainly not mine. He can take any of us home at any time, after all. Eternity is always "imminent" for everyone.

This is still a semi-free country, and you are still free to believe (if not to say) what you want. I can tell you with certainty that you are standing up for a bad cause, and I fear that you are putting yourself and those you love/teach in serious spiritual jeopardy. That is between you and the Lord. But I do think if you gave the material I sent you and also the links I gave you serious consideration, you would realize the truth of what I have been telling you.

If you ever find a verse that directly teaches a pre-Trib "rapture", feel free to send it along.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior whose return we joyously await,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Dear Bob,

Please, do not take my comments personally. I have nothing against you as a person. I think you're someone who loves the Word of God and is zealous about it. Otherwise, I would not have contacted you in the first place. However, I felt I should tell you the truth in my email of yesterday - the posttribulation rapture theology is dead wrong and unscriptural. This is not an attack on your person or ministry. After all, when you described the pre-Tribulation teaching as a false teaching, I did not take it personally. Here is an excerpt from your email to me on August 29:

"So while I see absolutely no serious evidence for your final conclusion, I do know that this false doctrine is leaving the majority of those believers in the Church who actually are somewhat interested in the truth woefully unprepared for that great crisis of faith which is fast approaching. That is no doubt why the devil is so enthusiastic about promoting it. Please don't take this personally. You are clearly a very intelligent person who loves the Word, but this is a bad cause, and a very dangerous one. I urge you to have a serious, objective look at the links previously provided, and consider carefully that while there is no discernible spiritual disadvantage to contemplating the possibility of having to go through the Tribulation (indeed, considering it helps prepare an individual for the personal tribulations that of course do come), there is by way of starkest contrast a tremendous liability in assuming that there is no possibility that one will have to face the actual Tribulation -- if it turns out one does but one is completely unprepared because of believing a false doctrine which is never actually taught in scripture."

I did not take offence at the words you used in the above excerpt, because I chose not to take it personally. I have spent a long period of time carefully, prayerfully, and objectively studying this subject in the Scriptures. I have carefully and prayerfully searched the Scriptures and examined both the pre-tribulation and post-tribulation views from a position of non-bias and with an open mind. I have come to the conclusion that the the only view that make sense from a scriptural perspective is the pre-Tribulation rapture teaching. It is a scripturally sound teaching. The post-tribulation doctrine leaves many questions unanswered and leaves many of Jesus' own statements unexplained. I have no doubt that anyone who objectively and prayerfully studies this subject with an open and unbiased mind would come to the same conclusion as I have. The whole of the New Testament is permeated with passages warning about the imminence and any-moment return of Jesus Christ. Any teaching that, in any way, undermines this imminence is clearly a very dangerous and unscriptural teaching. Period. The New Testament is consistent in its anticipation that the return of Christ for the Church (the rapture) is imminent and might occur at any moment. From the very earliest days of the Church, the apostles and first-generation Christians nurtured an earnest expectation and fervent hope that Christ might suddenly return at any time to gather His church to heaven. James, writing what was probably the earliest of the New Testament epistles, expressly told his readers that the Lord’s return was imminent: "Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!" (James 5:7–9). Peter echoed that same expectation when he wrote, "The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be serious and watchful in your prayers" (1 Peter 4:7). The writer of Hebrews cited the imminent return of Christ as a reason to remain faithful: "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24–25). He wrote, "Yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry" (v. 37). And the apostle John made the most confident pronouncement of all: "Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18). When John recorded his vision in the book of Revelation, he prefaced it by saying these things "must shortly take place" (Revelation 1:1). The New Testament writers often wrote of Christ’s "appearing," and they never failed to convey the sense that this could happen imminently. "And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (1 John 2:28; cf. 3:2; Colossians 3:4; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). All those texts suggest that in the early Church, expectation of Christ’s imminent return for the Church ran high. A solid conviction that Christ could return at any time permeates the whole New Testament. When the apostle Paul described the Lord’s coming for the church, he used personal pronouns that show he clearly was convinced he himself might be among those who would be caught up alive to meet the Lord: "We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord . . . we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17). He obviously looked for Christ to return in his lifetime. He furthermore made it plain that a watchful, hopeful expectancy about Christ’s Coming is one of the godly attitudes divine grace teaches all believers: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11–13). Unfortunately, the false doctrine of post-tribulation rapture today insists that Christians should not have any immediate expectation of Christ’s return for His bride (the Church). Instead, they say, we should be looking for the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation period, the fulfillment of certain judgments and preliminary signs, the rise of the Antichrist - or all of the above. When they talk about future things, the emphasis is heavily weighted toward dread and disaster for the people of God. As far as they are concerned, "the blessed hope" becomes relevant only after the church has gone through the Tribulation. This is heresy. It is a serious departure from the tradition that was handed down to us by the by the Scriptures and by the early Church apostles.

Response #19:

My point is that you have locked yourself into this position and seem wholly disinterested in giving any serious consideration to the possibility that you might be wrong. That, as I say, is between you and the Lord. I would advise you very strongly, however, not to teach this "doctrine" to others (Jas.3:1). This false teaching is doing much to render those who take it seriously completely unprepared for what is soon to occur. Spreading it or giving others false comfort in it would be very bad for them, not to mention for you.

Throughout the Old Testament, the prophets prophesied about the Day of the Lord, the culmination of all future events in His coming to earth once and for all – which we now know is His return (second advent). There is not a single verse in the New Testament which opposes the previous, universal and biblical expectation that the resurrection will therefore take place at that time, following the events of the Tribulation. If it did occur prior instead of after, there would be at least some indication of that in scripture. There is none. You are laying an inordinate amount of weight on your own personal understanding of what "scripture has to mean" regarding our desire for His return. I reiterate my observation that this false teaching is not one a person would ever find in the Bible without looking for it specifically.

No verse in scripture teaches that the resurrection occurs before or apart from our Lord's one return. As you would need to find one to convince me otherwise, there is little further point to this particular discussion.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Dear Dr. Luginbill:

Its been a while since I've had a reason to write, but you name and your work are often in my thoughts. Thank you for your work and especially the apparently more recent work on eschatology. The men's group I’m in is using your work as we struggle with our attempt to understand Revelation etc.

This group, is mainly Lutherans and some former Catholics (now Lutheran), so our former teaching on this subject has been limited and when taught it was probably from a amillennial perspective.

One of the guys in the group however is pretty well versed in the teachings of Mr. Feldick who, I’m suppose you know of, anyway he teaches the rapture doctrine, so that issue is one in our group. I know that you have written how you once believed it (the rapture) also, but after more studying presently now do not. I’ve review this matter from your public emails and from other places online, but am not satisfied that I could present a factual presentation of the pro’s and con’s on this issue. Could you advise me on where I might find that kind of an analysis?

Thanks for any suggestions you might have.

Response #20:

Good to hear back from you. I'm afraid I'm not the one to present the "pro" side since I firmly believe that the so-called pre-tribulation "rapture" is a very dangerous false doctrine. It is true that I was taught this (not in the Presbyterian church where I grew up, but in the evangelical environment where I cut my theological teeth – Talbot Seminary, for example, where I attended is pre-trib). However, after years of careful consideration of the matter I don't believe any sort of honest intellectual case can be presented for it. Simply put, it is not a doctrine anyone would ever get from reading the Bible independent of being taught it pro-actively. But as I usually challenge adherents to do, no one has ever been able to show me a scripture where the "doctrine" is overtly taught, that is, where one would read a verse and have an "aha!" moment in seeing that, indeed, passage X "can only be talking about a pre-Trib rapture". There are some passages in the New Testament which will, if their contexts are willfully ignored, seem not inconsistent with a pre-trib rapture if one is already convinced of that false doctrine. That, however, is not any sort of evidence to recommend the false teaching. On the other hand, the New Testament is very consistent about looking forward to Christ's return, His parousia, and throughout the NT there is only one return described. That "return" we all know to be the second advent; but accepting the pre-trib rapture turns the second advent into a third advent – with no actual passages of scripture describing the new intervening one.

"Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:3b-14 NIV

The "coming" (parousia / second advent) and "the end" of the Tribulation (and thus of the Church and Jewish ages) are simultaneous – that is when the resurrection occurs.

I hear what you are saying about reviewing what Ichthys has on this, but since that material is really voluminous, in an abundance of caution I'm going to give you some Ichthys links here which possibly may have been overlooked

When is the Rapture?

Parousia

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

No Rapture

Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith

Misplaced Faith in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride (in CT 5)

Tribulational Security (i.e., why belief in a pre-trib rapture gives a false sense of security; in Peter #27)

The Resurrection (explains the timing of all of the echelons of the resurrection; in Peter #20)

Pre-, mid-, or post-Tribulation rapture?

Faith and the Pre-Tribulational "Rapture"

Pre- or Post-Tribulation "rapture"?

What is your view of the rapture?

More on the Rapture

What is the evidence for the "rapture"?

Partial rapture theory

'Genesis rapture'

I'm certainly willing to answer any specific questions you or your group may have as well.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Just wanted to check in with you and let you know that I'm still here. It's nearing the end of 2016 and I'm currently finishing up your study on Pneumatology. This will complete my studies of all of your material at Ichthys (not including all email postings, which I have found very useful in answering some questions along the way). I plan to start over again in the new year, gotta own it, as much as possible, before the end.

Thank you once again for the material provided and thank you for your obedience to the Spirit in accurately handling the teaching of His Word.

I have yet to find anyone here in the middle of evangelicaldom who is truly interested in the truth of scripture, once the truth nips at the heels of some favorite pet doctrine they seem to tune out. I've read in some of your emails where you've said that many of us will be busy with catching up church in crash courses in what the scripture really teaches once the tribulation begins, you are correct sir. Right now they are comfortably waiting for the rapture and have no need of the truth, this will result in much confusion. Many ear tickling doctrines out there, to quote Pastor Omo "the false teachers are in the church".

Stay strong in the Lord sir, my prayers are with you. Merry Christmas to you and your family. May God continue to bless you and your ministry in the name of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Response #21:

Thanks so much, my friend, for your good words and even more for your dedication to the Lord. It's not easy working through this material (a lot of it is pretty dense). I think it would be of benefit to put working through the email responses on the list as well, especially now that you've done a once-through of the major postings.

Yes, it is depressing to contemplate the low spiritual state of the church-visible today. It's exactly as our Lord says in Revelation: "you say 'I am rich and have become wealthy and know no lack'. And you do not realize that it is you who are the one who is wretched and pitiful and poor and blind and naked" (Rev.3:17). As you suggest, the coming years are going to be quite a shock. But since one third of the Church will be martyred and one third will make is safely through, I think that there will be much work to do for that small and dedicated group who have actually made preparations for the storm ahead. Lots of rewards to be won – that is at least one way to think about the Tribulation (even if it is not an easy way to think about it).

A very merry Christmas to you and your family as well, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Dear Dr.

Here is my comment:

Revelation 20:4-5.
"4I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection.

No mention here of any saints from the so-called Pre-tribulation rapture, since they don't exist. The only ones mentioned are those that had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. These are the only ones who take part in the first resurrection (the resurrection of Christ). Another support against the heresy of the "Pre-Trib rapture. There is only "first resurrection." What is your observation?

Response #22:

The portion of Revelation 20:5 you include in this translation ("The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended"), is a later interpolation and not part of the Word of God (see the link). The tribulational martyrs are designated for special emphasis here because of the focus of the book of Revelation on God's judgment on the wicked in vindicating the righteous (this vindication is part of the victory following the retribution on those who took these believers' lives).

And you have an excellent point on "this is the first resurrection" meaning that there cannot have been a pre-Tribulation resurrection or rapture since those specially noted here as being resurrected died during the Tribulation – good for you! I will surely use this point in the future.

When the offending parenthesis is taken out it is clear that by focusing on the martyrs who are a big part of the book it does not mean that all the other believers who we know take part in the first resurrection are not therefore included (e.g., 1Thes.4:13 ff.; 1Cor.15:51 ff.); it's just that this one group comes in for special attention for the reasons mentioned (this is covered in more detail in the BB 2B study; see the link).

Also, where does this great crowd of martyrs come from . . . if all believers have been raptured away before the Tribulation even begins?

Question #23:

A much more important area in which I completely agree with everything of yours I have read so far is the fallacy of the so-called pre-tribulation rapture. This is something that concerns me. So many true Christian brothers and sisters that I see in various media who are otherwise good sources of biblical knowledge become suddenly completely blind and almost rabidly defensive about their belief in a pre-trib rapture. It actually scares me. If you can imagine my position for a minute - I am here in Los Angeles, with no friends left after my salvation five years ago (they tried to keep in touch, but we really have no common interests anymore). The only saved people I know are my husband (and I thank God for that huge gift every day), my distant mother, and a fascinating pastor from a terrible part of town who comes looking for financial support only once a year in spite of my very large donations. So I see myself as an extremely unlikely ambassador of Jesus Christ (think Gideon as a mighty man) isolated in the middle of a very populated outpost.

Then, on top of that, I see there are still a few real children of God left on the Christian cable channels - so, of course, I watch them often. But it is actually crushing when I see most of these very few lights in the fast-growing darkness of this country go dim when they speak in conspiratorial tones of the impending rapture of the church, next on the prophecy schedule.

Then I truly feel alone on this desert island.

Anyway, this has led to my own personal study of the rapture. True, I have a late ticket and a back seat on the end times prophecy bus. But to me, it seems that there is one definitive chapter to simply and finally end the discussion, yet I have never seen any proponent of a Second Advent gathering of the church cite this scripture. And I wonder why?

2 Thessalonians 1:7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

Do not these verses clearly marry the church to the tribulation and the Second Advent?

Unless the translation here is substantially flawed (and your opinion of that would be of great value), it seems to me this is a slam dunk. Done. Cooked. Finit.

I mean, unless the church (whom Paul is speaking to here) is going to be raptured ahead of the tribulation with flaming fire and vengeance, etc.

Or unless "you who are troubled" is a group other than the church.

What do you think of this argument?

Response #23:

Good stuff, my friend. Not so much an argument as pointing out that this passage clearly teaching believers being delivered in resurrection at the second advent, not before the Tribulation even begins.  I will definitely add this email to a future posting on the "pre-Trib rapture".

I very pleased to hear also about your continuing efforts across the board on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ. As to your lament, I just received an email from old seminary pal pastor Curt Omo (Bible Academy at the link), and I will share the pertinent part with you:

Curt: Bob, it still amazes me the emails some of these people send, including those from overseas. Outside of the U.S. its the U.K. and then Australia. They find no bible-teaching church or bible teaching. I know it is not true but sometimes it sounds like only thee and me are the only ones teaching.

Me: I know what you mean. There aren't many places a person can go to get what they really need to grow. Despite the wide variety of churches on every corner almost, when it comes to the real specifics, they are all the same inside (or almost all): spiritually hollow (regardless of what flavor they are or whether they lean toward ritual and tradition or emotional hoopla and showmanship).

I do hope that the Lord sends some good fellowship your way that is doctrinally solid. I know I wouldn't have made it through seminary – or at least wouldn't have gotten much out of it – were it not for the cadre of us five men who probably learned more debating theology with each other than we did in classes (that was at Talbot in La Mirada, by the way, but the place was a trial then and has gone a bit more looney in the last 35 years or so, from what I can see at a distance).

Just remember that you are not alone. People can be alone and not feel it when surrounded by false friends or the like. Having the Lord close and keeping Him close through a careful walk in the Word is better than belonging to a close-knit congregation of hundreds who don't have a spiritual clue – or care. Many of us (myself as well) have banged our head against this principle with great pain and trouble resulting. In the end, the peace of being "right" and "right with the Lord" is better than any music program, coffee hour, or fellowship circle. It's also much better preparation for what lies ahead.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

 

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