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The pre-Trib 'Rapture': so called 'imminence' and other false proofs refuted

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Question #1:

I agree with your teaching concerning the "rapture"...even though I was taught otherwise. I have always had problems with this theory and the lack of scriptural evidence for it. I appreciate your teaching on this though there are other beliefs that I don't believe are backed up accurately with scripture but since they have to do with things that don't effect salvation I wont bother with them at this point. As I've gotten older with the Lord the thing that perplexed me the most with this teaching is that I don't see how we can claim we are a bride prepared for as glorious and perfect a groom as our Lord is. And fortunately or unfortunately enough, suffering seems to be the only way that we humans respond to the perfecting we so badly need.

However I have a question about 2 Thess. 2:7,8. This one particular scripture seems to be the one that is used to back up this belief. Do you have any insight to what Paul was referring to concerning the one holding back? I know simply it can refer to the Holy Spirit or simply God but I wonder if you have other thoughts or information regarding this. Does God simply stop holding back because its time? Also I just wanted to mention years ago when the prosperity teaching first came out the Lord warned me about it immediately tho when I shared this concern with our pastor I was rebuked. But through the years its gotten to a point that even defending most scriptural issues is fruitless because these same people now claim that all writings by Paul are heresy. I don't understand how people so seemingly grounded have wandered so far from the truth?!

Thank you for your time and help with this question.

Response #1:

Good to make your acquaintance. I'm happy to hear that we have found common ground on the so-called pre-Trib "rapture and also on the "prosperity gospel". They are both dangerous teachings, each in their own way, the former because it is leaving the very generation likely to enter the Tribulation unprepared for it, the latter because it puts our focus on the material here and now instead of the glorious hope of our eternal future, the proper focus of our godly thoughts.

As to the Restrainer of 2nd Thessalonians chapter two, He is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is most often the member of the Trinity who is charged with restraint (see the links below), as in the first few verses of the Bible where He is seen preventing continued satanic involvement on earth following the Genesis gap devastation. The reason, at least in my experience, why "rapture" advocates think these verses can be used to support their theory is a twisted bit of reasoning that goes something like this: "if the Spirit is removed, it must mean that Church Age believers who have the Spirit indwelling them have likewise been removed, hence it proves the "rapture" ". This is pretty ridiculous on the face of it. For one thing, the Spirit is of course omnipresent at all times, being God; for another, the verse doesn't say anything about Him being taken out of believers or about believers being taken out of the world (for the simple reason that neither thing happens). This is a typical sort of "rapture proof", that is, a specious argument three steps removed from what the Bible actually says. Here are some links on that:

Dangers of the Pre-Trib Rapture False Teaching

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've always said that the strongest evidence against it is that there is not a single verse in the Bible which even prima facie can be seen as definitively and positively teaching a pre-Trib rapture. Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit and we cannot be unsealed. The movement of the Spirit "out of the way" in the verses you ask about is not a negation of His omnipresence nor is it a removing of Him from believers but rather it is the end of His ministry of restraining the coming of antichrist and of the beast's nefarious tribulational activities: for the beast to "be revealed", the Spirit must first stop restraining that "revelation"; THAT is what 2nd Thessalonians actually says on the matter:

And now you know what is restraining (i.e., the Spirit), that he (i.e., the beast) may be revealed in his own time (i.e., not be allowed to come on the scene before the end of restraint).
2nd Thessalonians 2:6 NKJV

Here are those links:

Restraining Antichrist (in BB 5) 

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

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit (in SR #2)

The Restraining Ministry of the Holy Spirit (in Coming Tribulation 2B)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Professor, it's amazing how many so-called teachers I have caught misinterpreting the scriptures. Genesis chapters 1-3 along with the New Testament has been completely jacked up. The biggest issue that I see is them not accepting the truth of the time-gap in Gen. 1:1-1:2. Once you misinterpret that the rest of the bible is completely thrown out of sync.

Response #2:

I certainly agree. What I have found over the past four decades or so is that genuinely studying the scripture and seeking the truth puts heat on all one's positions that are either completely wrong, partially wrong, or not thoroughly thought out – but that with work and effort and consistency and persistence the Spirit does lead us to the right place on all issues. However, holding fast to a false or semi-false or poorly articulated position out of stubbornness (or whatever false motivation) inevitably undermines the integrity of one's entire theological system. Every truth learned and accepted builds up; every lie or falsehood or bit of "shoddy construction" makes figuring other things out more problematic. But generally speaking those who hold fast to false doctrines such as the pre-Trib "rapture" are not actually interested in looking for or looking into the truth, merely in fortifying their own positions. If a person consistently reads the Bible with an open heart – especially in the original languages – looking to be challenged and looking to get to the bottom of all things, that will happen eventually. But if a person only opens the Bible to look for support for what they already believe, nothing good will come of that.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Love most of your stuff brother except on the Rapture teaching. Why would you not talk about both Luke 21:36 and revelation 3:10 which are clearly rapture verses that show some will escape the coming wrath? Is it because it doesn't fit your agenda? That's how it appears. Very sad because your other stuff on eternal security etc. is very good.

What I especially don't like about your skipping very important Rapture verses is how you label anyone who disagrees with you as false doctrine. I believe there is a punishment for that correct? So if you are wrong (and you are), who misses the pre tribulation rapture? You do. The people who believe it lose nothing. The worst for them is they would have to endure the tribulation.

Your false doctrine of no pre trib rapture is much more dangerous than otherwise.

I hope God shows you the truth sooner than later.

Response #3:

Good to make your acquaintance – although I'm sorry to hear that the teaching of this ministry has upset you. I do want to make it very clear from the outset that I take my responsibility before the Lord more seriously than you can probably imagine. I wouldn't teach something I did not believe with all my heart was true. That is why I don't teach a pre-Tribulation rapture.

I will attempt to answer your question in some detail. I do ask for patience on your part as I work through this issue with you. I will get to your two verses, but not before I touch in some depth on some important preliminary matters. First, let me point out that I have received very many emails on this subject over the years, and so have had occasion to write about it quite a bit. So for example I have indeed treated both of these verses you mention numerous times in the studies at Ichthys, but not necessarily in the one(s?) you were looking at. Here is the latest thing at Ichthys on "the rapture": "Dangers of the Pre-Trib Rapture False Teaching" (it will lead to many other links and they to others still).

Secondly, let me also point out that this is not an apologetics ministry. This is a Bible teaching ministry. It is not my aim or purpose to debunk false doctrines. That is a noble thing (apologetics), but also a very specialized and time consuming occupation. I do touch on the refutation of false teachings where they intersect with the positive things I'm teaching at any given moment, and I also defend the teachings of this ministry where readers ask questions or voice objections – to a point. For someone like yourself, who apparently is benefitting from this ministry in other respects but disagrees on one point, I feel I have a responsibility to give a reasonable answer on that point of disagreement. For one thing, your ability to grow spiritually is constrained by your level of faith and trust in this ministry. If you really feel that I am "wrong" on such a large point (and especially if you question my motives), it can't help but make you less likely to believe teaching on other points. That causes me concern not for myself but for you: we are only benefitted by the truth we actually believe. Facts we "know" but don't commit to believing in our heart remain as gnosis; only epignosis, the truth we have believed in the Spirit, is of any spiritual use. Let me hasten to add that you are certainly free to believe whatever you wish and also to access whatever ministry you wish, but I do have a responsibility to the Lord to do all that I reasonably can do to point you in the right direction.

Third, on the issue of potential damage, it is important to recognize that all false teaching is damaging in many ways. For one thing, it's like building a house on rotten joists. That cannot help but compromise the structural integrity of the whole; in the spiritual analogy, the compromise often runs into areas we wouldn't even at first suspect. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1Cor.5:6; Gal.5:9), after all. Additionally, if we are talking about a major teaching, belief in the false teaching also deprives the misguided person of having the benefit of the true teaching.

As to which of the two positions in question is "more dangerous", I would have to differ, not as an argument in favor of the post-Tribulation position but as a prod to considering that it might be correct (which it is). Christians who are convinced they won't have to endure the Tribulation are depriving themselves of serious motivation for spiritual preparation – not only for the Tribulation but for personal tribulation as well (and persona; tribulation falls into every life, sooner or later). A pre-tribber reading about the Tribulation is analogous to someone reading about the experiences of men in the armed forces who trained for and went into combat: one can enjoy such reading (it's sweet in the mouth) without even having to contemplate actually enduring such things personally ("it'll never be bitter in my stomach"). But if we thought we might actually get drafted and have to go through boot camp and "hit the beach" somewhere in the very near future, it just might motivate us to run around the block a few times, do a few pushups, and get a bit more serious about the lives we're leading. The same applies in our analogy. Christians who are convinced they are not going to have to go through the Tribulation are not motivated to break free of the lukewarm attitude that afflicts the majority of Christians in our Laodicean era so as to start a serious course of spiritual growth and preparation in case they do find themselves negotiating that sea of trouble; because only serious, committed Christians are likely to get through.

Fourth, while no one has ever been able to show me a single passage in the Bible which can only be taken as teaching a pre-Trib rapture (the best anyone can do is adduce passages such as 1Thes.4:13-17 which seem at first glance to be "not inconsistent" with that false teaching), there are numerous passages in scripture where the issues of resurrection occurring at Christ's return is made crystal clear – for anyone not willing to twist the obvious meaning of scripture completely out of shape. For example:

Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 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. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 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.
2nd Thessalonians 1:6-10 NKJV

Here we see the vindication of believers at the second advent when our Lord destroys the armies of antichrist and "baptizes with fire" those with the mark who have "troubled" the believers – and please note that Paul is addressing the Thessalonians as "you" to include them (potentially) in this number (had the second advent happened in their day). The time is further nailed down by connecting it to the "revelation" of Christ. The verb in verse seven is apokalypto, from the same root as the noun apokalypsis in Rev.1:9 from which the title of the last book is derived: it is "the revelation of Jesus Christ" who is revealed when He appears in glory so that "every eye" will see Him (Rev.1:7) and His sign in the heavens on His return (Matt.24:7). The flaming fire on unbelievers is clearly a second advent event, not a pre-Tribulation event, and "this day" about which Paul speaks will be the one wherein we are assembled unto Him for His glorification – not prior to but after the Tribulation as this context throughout is one of the attendant second advent and following judgments.

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-4 NKJV

We are "gathered" at "His coming", His parousia (that is the Greek word); wherever this word occurs in the New Testament with an eschatological reference it is always speaking of the second advent (see the link). Paul in this passage assures the Thessalonians that they do not need to be troubled by some report claiming that Christ has already returned and that they have missed the resurrection because it "will not come" before 1) the falling away (i.e., the Great Apostasy, an event occurring during the Tribulation; see the link), or before 2) antichrist gains power and occupies the temple in Jerusalem – and I am sure you realize that this is a mid-Tribulation event, not a pre-Tribulation event. Without these events taking place first, there is no "gathering together", no resurrection of the Church. So the Tribulation has to happen first – that is what Paul is clearly saying, as anyone who reads these verses carefully and respectfully is surely aware. Please notice also that in both passages Paul speaks repeatedly of "the day" and "that day", being the day when our Lord returns – our great hope – to take us to be with Himself. Now those of the pre-Trib persuasion want to make "that day" before the Tribulation, but in both passages Paul places it after the Tribulation, clearly. So while there is no verse that unequivocally places the resurrection of the Church before the Tribulation by specifying the time, both of these passages do place the resurrection very clearly after the Tribulation at the second advent.

Our blessed hope is the Lord's return, and we look for that return with all our hearts. And it will not come out of the blue:

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Luke 21:25-28 NIV

Our redemption is the resurrection, and it takes place when He comes after the terrors of the Tribulation to rescue us at the second advent; we lift up our heads in anticipation of relief from the Tribulation; but how would that be possible if we were already "raptured". But the Lord in the passage above anticipates us still being on earth prior to His return. For that reason, we need to be watchful, comparing scriptures to the events of the Tribulation once it begins:

He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near."
Luke 21:29-31 NIV

I am sure that pre-Trib apologists have "answers" for all such very obvious scriptures. I have heard some of them before. They always involve reading the scriptures to mean other than what they mean on their face. But I am hoping that you will be willing to take a second look (and there is much more information at the link initially given leading to many other links).

Finally, to come to your two passages, let us begin with the Luke passage since we have just been quoting that very chapter. Let me give you the entire context beginning where we left off with the fig tree parable:

"Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it [i.e., "that {terrible} day] will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
Luke 21:32-36 NIV

"That day" is the second advent and the events of the Tribulation leading up to it; it is from the negative consequences of this (i.e., being counted an enemy for having lost faith) that we wish to escape on our Lord's return.

I understand that you want to take the phrase "that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen" in the sense of meaning "not have to go through it at all but be delivered from even having to enter it". However, 1) as I'm sure you are aware, more often than not God brings us through rather than delivering us from tests without ever having to face trouble. Noah and his family were brought through; Abraham was brought through; Jacob was brought through; Joseph was brought through; the children of Israel at the exodus were brought through – in a series of deliverances which deliberately parallel the Tribulation; and believers on the cusp of the Tribulation will likewise be brought through as well – not miraculously delivered from even having to see it with their own eyes before it even starts.

The immediate context above – built as we have seen on a broader context of believers negotiating the Tribulation – is also very clearly talking about problems of the Tribulation, specifically, the trap of being caught in bad behavior, losing faith and thus losing salvation in the Great Apostasy (see earlier link); whereas the Greek in the verse in question has the verb ekphygo, the "ek" being important because in combination with the verb meaning "flee" it contains the idea of getting safely out of /from some trouble one is already embroiled in – that is, getting through the Tribulation with faith intact (rather than never having to enter it in the first place): "escape out of" being a more accurate rendering.

Finally on this score, there is the question of watching and praying. All of our Lord's words in this verse have to be considered, not just the ones which may at first glance appear not inconsistent with a pre-Trib rapture. His commands to us all are indeed completely inconsistent with a pre-Trib rapture. If there were a pre-Trib rapture scheduled in the plan of God, we should hardly have to be concerned about watching for it, watching for the signs as in the parable of the fig tree (in case of a pre-Trib "rapture", there could not be any signs since all future prophecy has to do with the Tribulation and beyond); and in that false case we should hardly have to concerned about praying for the "rapture" to happen! If it is going to happen, it is going to happen, and no prayer from anyone will hasten it or prevent or, as in the false assumption here, cause it to happen. However, if what our Lord is saying here is that we may have to go through the Tribulation, then prayer for strength in getting through so that we may, faith intact, "stand before the Son of Man", having "escaped" all the trials to our faith that those most difficult seven years brought, then in that case prayer – and a good deal of it – makes perfect sense.

Lastly, on Revelation 3:10, just as surely as we presently find ourselves in the lukewarm era of Laodicea (as a Sunday morning visit to any one of 99% of churches in this country will make very clear), so also the era of Philadelphia preceded our era temporally (just as it does structurally in this chapter). The complete interpretation of the seven churches will be found in CT 2A (at the link); suffice it to say here that the era of Philadelphia has already come and gone and those believers did not, in fact, have to endure the Tribulation (they are all now with the Lord). Here is also something previously written on this verse:

Rev.3:10: Much ink has been spilled debating whether the Greek word ek here means "out of the midst of" or "out before contact with". The word is not inherently so specific (any more than our English word "from" is) and it really doesn't matter much in any case. Christ is telling the Philadelphians that they will not experience the tribulation. We are not the Philadelphians; they passed on to be with the Lord hundreds of years ago and so these words have been fulfilled in their immediate, literal sense (please see the link in Coming Tribulation part 2A:  "Philadelphia: the Era of Revival"). It is true that scripture, especially prophecy, often also has a future or more general interpretation. In the case of the seven churches, the broader interpretation is that of the seven ages of the church. Philadelphia is the penultimate generation of the Church; that is, the one before the last one. The era of reformation and reform (terminating, I believe, in the late 19th century) was indeed a great epoch in the history of the Church of Christ, and it can be rightly said of these great believers that they "kept My command to endure patiently" NIV. Like the historical Philadelphians, these "Philadelphia-era" believers have been spared the trauma of the tribulation. Not so the lukewarm Laodiceans, whose pattern our current generation is following (see the link: "Laodicea: the Era of Degeneration").

In hopes of your continues spiritual advance, and that "you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man".

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #4:

I have a revised golden rule of interpretation from Dr. David Cooper: Take every single thing absolutely literal to the word...yes in context...unless its impossible to do so.

Response #4:

I was given some book by him as a "reward" for scholarship at Talbot – in lieu of the tuition assistance that went to married students regardless of their scholarship (not that I'm still bitter about it . . . ). Couldn't get through it. He's another pre-Trib-er, so clearly he's not THAT literal. You can't be "literal" and find a pre-Trib rapture (just read 2nd Thess. chapters 1 and 2 carefully).

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #5:

We are not talking about the same Cooper as he went face to face in '65...however I am not about to get into another "discussion" with you from the Greek else I may become bitter...Hebrew maybe, Greek not so much...we will save it for our sit down at the first Feast of Booths in Jerusalem in the Kingdom...I assume you will be there...find me.

Response #5:

Thanks for the clarification.


Greek is not necessary for this one:

Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 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. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 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.
2nd Thessalonians 1:6-10 NKJV

The revelation of Christ, the fiery judgment on unbelievers, the glorification of the saints – the second advent and the resurrection – are near simultaneous.

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-4 NKJV

The second advent and our "gathering" are simultaneous; this all cannot happen until the events of the Tribulation "come first".

In any case, we'll know before that festival – in about nine years or so.

You pal in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

How can it be that our imminent gathering together to Him in the air per 1Thess4 and His Coming as an unannounced thief in the night per 1thess5 both of which by the way no man not even the Son knows the day per Matt 24...how can it be that these are the same as and simultaneous with the end of Daniel's 70th week, a literal 7 years, and 1260 days after the resurrection of the antichrist and his ceasing of the the sacrifices after the first 1260 days...how can all this happen and the former be simultaneous with the end of the broad 7 year-day of the Lord per 2Thess2 that God wrote apparently that it might be numbered to the day? How can this be...unless at the arbitrary interpretation of the reader, one is taken literally and one not, but which I ask is which?

Your friend in Him

Response #6:

Didn't mean to upset you. Probably shouldn't have kicked this hornet's nest, but you are my friend so . . .

This – the so-called "argument from imminence" – seems to have become the last fortress of defense for pre-Tribbers who've been forced finally to start defending that false doctrine with the Bible. Let me point out that it is a derivative argument. As clear from your email (and many such I receive), it always goes something like this: "the post-Trib position can't be right because of my understanding of certain passages, therefore the pre-Trib position has to be right". Please note that even if all objections against the post-Trib position were well-founded and based upon correct assessments of scripture, that would still not constitute positive proof that the pre-Trib position right: perceiving problems with opposing positions is not the same as proving your position.

As mentioned before, there are no passages which directly link a "rapture" with a time before the Tribulation. Confronted by clear evidence – the passages in 2nd Thessalonians for example or a careful assessment of the Olivet discourse – pre-Trib defenders often slip by that evidence and go directly to (lately) "imminence".

But "imminence" cuts both ways. Paul was looking forward to the return of the Lord. And yet, even if he "knew" that the "rapture" was coming before the Tribulation, he also certainly knew it was not imminent in our sense of the word. Obviously, the Church Age was going to last a while – two millennia. That is clear from the Jewish ceremonial calendar as well as from the model of the seven days of re-creation and also from the seven churches which give the Church Age trends. It must also have been quite clear to Paul that the Church would not be called out in only a few years: the gentiles around the world would be given the gospel (eventually), and there was still plenty to do on that score when he departed to be with the Lord (cf. Mk.13:10). And, finally, here we are, nearly 2,000 year later, and the "rapture" still has not occurred. So it was definitely not imminent in the English sense of the word when the New Testament was written. And what about the Greek (or Hebrew)? But this is all a bit of straw man argument since there is actually no passage which says that a "rapture" is "imminent". The main passages that talk about this sort of thing are in Revelation:

The one who recites this prophecy will be glad he did so, as will those who listen to the words of this prophecy and retain [in their hearts] the matters written in it. [This is true] because the time is near [for these events to take place].
Revelation 1:3

And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near."
Revelation 22:10

In both cases, the Greek is same: καιρὸς ἐγγύς. / ho kairos engus. The question is, "what time?" or "time for what?". Since the first instance is to be found at the beginning of the book of Revelation, the book of the revealing of Jesus Christ (His second advent along with all of the tribulational events which precede it) and since the second instance is to be found at its end, considering all that is covered in the book to be included (since nothing is exempted in this short phrase) would seem to be correct. So by "nearness" (not properly imminence), we are referring to the fact that from God's point of view, where one day is as a thousand years (Ps.90:4; 2Pet.3:8), now that the victory of the cross is a reality, the end of all things – the second advent – is not far away, even if it seems (seemed) far away to us. From the perspective of the first century when the NT was written, neither the commencement of the Tribulation nor the end at the second advent was "near"; but it was/is theologically "near": so we have always needed to be ready to meet the Lord (and all who have gone before have indeed done so, often not when they expected they would!). These passages certainly don't refer to or mention a "rapture" whereby we will be taken out of this world and not have to experience anything that happens within these two bookends in Revelation which describe everything that happens in the Tribulation and Christ's return as "near". And, interestingly enough, there is no such "rapture" to be found anywhere in the book of Revelation. Whereas "the first resurrection" is to be found therein, occurring simultaneous with the second advent (Rev.20:4-5); more about that below.

In the Old Testament as well, it is not a "rapture" which is described as "near" but "the Day", the return of the Lord (along with the seven years which precede His return):

Howl, for the Day of the Lord is near, all destroying from the Almighty. Therefore will every hand hang slack and every human heart melt, and they will be dismayed. Convulsions and pain will seize them, and they will writhe like a woman about to give birth. They will look at each other in astonishment, their faces ablaze. Behold, the Day of the Lord is coming, a mighty day of anger and intense wrath, to make the earth desolate and remove her sinners from upon her. For the stars of heaven and the constellations will not flash forth their light. The sun will grow dark on its course and the moon will not pour out its light. Then will I punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity. I will bring an end to the arrogance of the proud and bring down the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make men more rare than gold, and mankind than the choice bullion of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will quake from its place on account of the anger of the Lord and on the day of His fierce wrath.
Isaiah 13:6-13

As with your mention of the "thief analogy", the other main thrust of the argument for those who think that some "doctrine of imminence" is proof of a rapture seems to be the idea that since we have some definitive information about the timing of the second advent that therefore the resurrection for which we are supposed to be ready at any time couldn't possibly take place at the second advent. But scripture uses the thief analogy elsewhere for the second advent, and if that is the case in passage below (and it certainly is), then 1) it might be that the other "thief" passages are talking about the second advent too (they are); and 2) at the very least since both events in that case would be "thief-like", it's not permissible to use the fact of one being "thief-like" as a proof that the other cannot be (no logic there), and especially when it clearly is so in scripture:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
2nd Peter 3:10 NKJV

In the passage where our Lord uses this analogy, the "day" which comes "like a thief" is actually connected quite clear to the end of all things, that is, the second advent and everything which follows.

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 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."
Matthew 24:36-42 NKJV

The analogy to Noah seems pretty clear: believers are not miraculously delivered in an instant from the "sea of trouble" that surrounds them; rather, they are brought through the trouble by means of prayer, perseverance, and diligent prior preparation (the ark being analogous the edifice of spiritual maturity we are all supposed to building in order to have a faith strong enough to endure anything). In any case, the flood is clearly meant to be analogous to the Tribulation, and that is the context, the survival of a divinely caused catastrophe, on which the rest of this passage is based. We are supposed to endure until the end (Matt.24:13; cf. Matt.10:22; Mk.13:13), watching carefully just as the steward of the house needs to be on alert at all times. But if we were going to be "raptured" before all the trouble starts regardless, this command for perseverance in watchfulness doesn't make much particular sense. It does make a good deal of sense, however, considered in a context of the Tribulation, which is the context of this passage (the flood), where we have to avoid the false (deceit of antichrist) while waiting patiently for the true (the return our Lord Jesus Christ). In the analogy, the flood "destroys" (airo) the ungodly while Noah and family are delivered through; analogously, the ungodly people in the Tribulation are "left behind" (aphiemi from which "apostasy") at the end (the second advent) while the godly are "received" (paralambanomai); the latter referring to the resurrection during/at the and of the Tribulation at Christ's return.

As to no one knowing "the day or the hour" (v.36 above in the same passage), that is the literal day and the literal hour of the second advent (see the link). For we know that the Tribulation's exact count of days will be "shortened for the sake of the elect" (by an unrevealed tally) because otherwise "no flesh would survive" (Matt.24:22; Mk.13:20). We can't count on the exact day, so we have to be alert. And in fact, that is exactly what our Lord tells us:

He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near."
Luke 21:29-31 NIV

The kingdom of God's coming is clearly the second advent. And we are told to look for "these things happening" – which can only be the prophesied events of the Tribulation about which we have learned – so as to have some clear idea of just "how near" the second advent is. So while we don't know "the day or the hour", we do have some idea of the relative time, just as in the case of the Tribulation's commencement.

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Luke 21:25-28 NIV

Again, we are told – during the Tribulation – to observe the signs of His coming, looking forward to our redemption, which is our resurrection (Rom.8:23), even though we don't know precisely what day or hour. So we need to be alert, lest the day come upon us "like a thief". Since, although we do have a good idea of both the date of the start and end of the Tribulation, we don't know the exact day or time of either, the "thief" argument is no basis for concluding that a post-Trib resurrection is contrary to scripture.

(2) For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (3) For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
1st Thessalonians 5:2-3 NKJV

The context of this passage too is the Tribulation. Unbelievers will be "caught out" by sudden destruction right when they are saying "peace and safety" – which has to be a Tribulation event since we have some significant prophetic development referred to here (cf. the two Luke passages above: "when you see these things happening"). But the unbelievers are wrong as the second advent come upon them unawares, like a thief, and will result in the destruction of antichrist's armies and the baptism of fire upon all who took the his mark.

Even if you are not happy with this interpretation, please note that the passage in 1st Thessalonians chapter five is in no way inconsistent with a post-Trib resurrection (and in the next epistle to these same believers Paul makes it very clear that there is only one return of Christ, one parousia). The best that can be said about the above passage is that, viewed a certain way, it might appear "not inconsistent" with the pre-Trib theory. But that is not proof, and it is certainly not refutation of passages which make the truth quite clear.

(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

(4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them (i.e., they sat in judgment), namely the persons who had been executed (lit., "beheaded with an ax") because of their witness for Jesus and because of the Word of God, [that is] whoever did not worship the beast or his image and did not take the mark on their forehead and on their hand. For they came to life and began to rule with Christ for a thousand years. (5) This is the first resurrection (i.e., that of all believers). (6) Blessed and holy is the one who has a share in this first resurrection! Over these the second death (i.e., condemnation on unbelievers) has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him for the thousand years.
Revelation 20:4-6

I'll leave you with this question: If there are only two batches of those resurrected following Christ (as 1Cor.15:23-26 says), how can those resurrected above in the passage in Revelation both have lived on earth during the Tribulation (i.e., they "did not worship the beast" in v.4) and also be resurrected so as to rule with Christ for a thousand years (in v.6)? Answer: It's not possible with a pre-Trib rapture; it is only possible if the resurrection occurs after the Tribulation at the one and only parousia, the second advent. That is when we are gathered together to be with the Lord – and that is why our echelon of the resurrection is called "those who are Christ's at His coming" (parousia – the second advent).

(29) "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (30) Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven (cf. 1Thes.4:17) with power and great glory (cf. Zech.12:10; Rev.1:7). (31) And [then] He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, (cf. 1Thes.4:16) and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 24:29-31 NKJV

I don't understand what it is about this passage that pre-Trib defenders do not understand. The elect are gathered "after the Tribulation", not before, as it says quite clearly, literally, and unmistakably. This has to be the resurrection, doesn't it? How many resurrections are there?

Your friend in Jesus Christ whose return we breathlessly await,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Thank you but I probably don't fully understand you.

You think Jesus can return very soon? I think there are still things which were not fulfilled. I think we have time

Response #7:

That is a different question. However, regardless of when our Lord returns, whether soon or in a long while from now, we need to be diligent and behave as if He will be here any moment.

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.”
Luke 12:35-36 NIV

And regardless, you and I do not know yet if we have been given tomorrow. There is always the chance that this is our last day and that we will be with the Lord in the evening. So we do need to live our lives as if we will see the Lord almost immediately. No one knows for sure that they have "time" – that is an illusion:

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ ”
Luke 12:15-20 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Bob,

I was discussing the rapture by e-mail, with a friend of mine and related the following to him.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,

In verse 3 Paul talks about that Day, referring to verse one and then tells us the rapture will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed.

Are not these two events part of the tribulation? To me this confirms the time of the rapture as the second coming. What are your thoughts on this?

Here is his response:

The three verses you have quoted are key to the issue of the timing of the rapture. We must therefore pay careful attention to the exact details of the verses. V1 Speaks of two different things: a) the "coming of the Lord" (parousia) AND "our gathering together (episunagōgē) unto Him". When taking all of Scripture together, the "coming of the Lord" refers to the whole second advent, beginning with the rapture and ending with his physical return to the mount of Olives and the subsequent battle, but more specifically to his physical return to the mount of Olives. Our gathering together unto Him, I understand to refer specifically to the rapture. V2 speaks of "the Day of Christ", also known as the "Day of the Lord", in both the OT and the NT. An examination of all the texts that refer to the day of the Lord show that it it is a period of 1007 years, starting at the beginning of the Tribulation and concluding at the end of the Millennium. V3 refers to "that day". "That day" must be understood to refer to V2 (The day of Christ). It is not good exegesis to skip over v2 and connect "that day" of v3 to "out gathering together unto Him" in V1. In fact, it just cannot be done. So the entire period of the end (the day of the Lord) will not come unless the falling away comes first and the man of sin is revealed. The absence of these two things do not prevent the Rapture from taking place. (But I do believe that we are now beginning to see the great falling away and the stage is set whereby the church will accept the Antichrist - the way that Evangelicals have fawned over Trump is a clear sign of this). Verses 7&8 are specific that the Lawless One (Man of Sin, Antichrist) cannot come before "he who restrains" is taken out of the way. There is debate as to whether the "restrainer" is the Holy Spirit or the church (you are salt and light). But all are agreed that it is one or the other - there are no other possibilities. To me it does not matter as the Church and the Holy Spirit are intertwined. (The church began on the day of Pentecost and the promise is that He will be with us "forever" (John 14:16)). Thus the Holy Spirit goes when the church does and the other way around. (I find the suggestion that the Spirit will leave the church (comfortless) at the beginning of the Tribulation to be seriously heretical - Jesus' promise is that He will be with us forever). Therefore, according to 7&8 the Antichrist will only happen AFTER (note the word "Then" in v8) the church/Holy Spirit has been removed. As you know, I have many other reasons why I believe in the pre-trib rapture, but probably the most important is that any other view destroys the doctrine of imminence (that He can come at any moment) which is taught throughout the NT. The reason this destroys imminence is because if you hold to a post-trib or mid-trib rapture then you can calculate exactly when He will come, based on the manifestation of the AntiChrist, the signing of the peace accord and then the breaking of the accord, 3 1/2 years later. But Jesus is clear that we do not know when He comes and that we cannot calculate the day. I hope this makes sense. I will be happy to furnish you with scriptures to back each of the above statements. So the entire period of the end (the day of the Lord) will not come unless the falling away comes first and the man of sin is revealed. The absence of these two things do not prevent the Rapture from taking place. (But I do believe that we are now beginning to see the great falling away and the stage is set whereby the church will accept the Antichrist - the way that Evangelicals have fawned over Trump is a clear sign of this).

Since I know nothing about the Greek language, is he correct?

Thank you,

Response #8:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I hope you and yours are well and doing well.

(29) "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (30) Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven (cf. 1Thes.4:17) with power and great glory (cf. Zech.12:10; Rev.1:7). (31) And [then] He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, (cf. 1Thes.4:16) and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 24:29-31 NKJV (cf. Mk.13:24-27)

Pre-tribbers never want to consider this passage. When our Lord returns, He will "send forth His angels" and gather the elect together in resurrection – this is the resurrection, the only "rapture" there is, the resurrection that takes place when our Lord returns (note the trumpet – that is the trumpet of 1Thes.4:6). Honestly, I don't see how anyone can defend a pre-Trib rapture in the face of this passage. All a person has to do is to read it.

And you are absolutely correct that 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3 proves unequivocally that the resurrection follows the Tribulation. That is also very clear, by the way, in the first chapter of the same epistle:

Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 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. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 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.
2nd Thessalonians 1:6-10 NKJV

Here, the return of Christ, the "Day", the retribution and judgment on the wicked, the deliverance of the saints and the glorification of Christ among His saints all take place at the same time, namely, the second advent.

So while I will answer the questions raised, let us note at the outset that the scripture as any person would have to read it without twisting it makes it very clear that the resurrection occurs at the second advent, after the Tribulation, and not before. And let me also observe by way of preview that while there are many passages like these which make the issue very clear, linking the resurrection to the parousia or return of Christ, there is not a single passage in the Bible which even seems on the face of it to link the resurrection to some earlier time. That can only be "derived" by flawed deductive reasoning and foisted upon passages that do not directly teach the "pre-Trib rapture". Any adherent of that false view needs to have that brought to his her attention at the outset of any such discussion. In other words, "I know you believe in the pre-Trib rapture, but please show me one single passage that clearly teaches it directly, teaches that it must happen before the Tribulation – not one where you find it to be present, but one which demonstrates that the resurrection has to take place when you say it does".

1) When correspondent says that Christ's "return/parousia is an event "beginning with the rapture and ending with his physical return to the mount of Olives and the subsequent battle", that is nonsensical on its face. A return takes a moment, not seven years. Nowhere does Greek use the word parousia to indicate anything more than a single event: a "return". And nowhere in scripture can it be shown that "return" means something like "a long series of events lasting a number of years". That is ridiculous, not substantiated by the Greek, and only a dodge to get around the clear meaning of the passage. Anyone who is willing to play games like that with the scripture will be able to make any passage mean anything.

2) When correspondent says "The absence of these two things do not prevent the Rapture from taking place" he is directly contradicting scripture which has just said that it (the resurrection) cannot take place unless these two events precede. The nomenclature discussed prior has no bearing on that point and correspondent does not understand that the terms are synonymous in any case; see the link: "The Day of the Lord".

3) When correspondent says "I find the suggestion that the Spirit will leave the church (comfortless) at the beginning of the Tribulation to be seriously heretical", this straw man argument is a common defense of the the false view and a typical example of the false deductive reasoning (as opposed to positive scriptural teaching) which is used to find a "rapture". The scripture says that the Spirit will "stand out of the way", meaning very clearly in context that not that He will cease to indwell believers (or that indwelt believers must be removed), but that He will cease to resist the appearance of antichrist – that is what this passage is about, after all – so that the beast "may be revealed" (just as the passage says: "so that he may be revealed at the proper time"; 2Thes.2:6 NIV). It has nothing to do with the indwelling of the Spirit.

Aren't the 144,000 sealed by the Spirit, during the Tribulation, and don't they remain sealed by the Spirit, during the Tribulation? Even pre-Trib-ers accept that. But by their logic "out of the way" makes that impossible. 

Isn't the Spirit omnipresent? Everyone knows that. But their logic seems to suggest He is not. 

So there is no basis from these verses to suggest that the Spirit is taken away from believers. He is not. The passage doesn't say so. What pre-Trib-ers want so say is a) this passage says the Spirit will be totally gone (wrong); b) we are indwelt as long as we are here (right); c) so there must be a rapture (wrong: we are still here, and we still have the Spirit).

4) The concept of imminence. Paul died almost 2,000 year ago – but he wasn't raptured. He was looking forward to the Lord's return – even though he understood that the mystery of the Church meant that many more would be flooding into the Church. And for those who accept the seven millennial day interpretation of scripture (as many do, even from that party – since it is biblical), Paul and anyone else could look ahead and see that many years were yet to come. Yet they longed to be with Christ. We all long to be with Christ. That is better by far (Phil.1:23), and He can take any of us home any time. But there is no such "doctrine of imminence" (no such word or concept in the Bible . . . except as it treats individual departure from the world: 2Pet.1:14), if by that we mean that some rapture may occur at any time. Certainly we accept that nothing is impossible for God, but where in the Bible does it say this, exactly? All Revelation 1:3 says is that "the time is near". Now that was written more than 1,900 years ago, so clearly "near" from God's point of view does not mean imminent in the sense these people mean it because the resurrection hasn't happened until yet. And if lingering two thousand years does not invalidate "near", why should seven years do so? Once the Tribulation begins, in fact, "near" really will be "near" – seven years at the most. So this so-called "doctrine of imminence" is a red herring: another case of rapture proponents proclaiming that the Bible says X (when it say Y) and that X must mean Z (when it means nothing of the sort). "No one knows the day or the hour" to which this person alludes is a different issue and is also widely misunderstood – and provides no support whatsoever for a rapture (see the link).

Happy to answer any other questions. I have written a great deal on this subject. Please do see the latest link: "Dangers of the Pre-Trib Rapture False Teaching".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Bob,

How do you do it? A full time job, keeping up the web site and answering questions. I thought I would get an answer in about a week, instead it came the next day. I found your site 10 years ago and have been using it almost daily. Thanks for so many answers. I too was raised on the pre-trib rapture. Since my mother believed it and the church I'm was attending taught it, I naturally taught my children the same thing. I was challenged to prove it one day and turned to your site to prove it but found the truth. My problem was that I didn't do the research that I should have done. I now have informed all my children and everyone I can remember telling about the pre-trib rapture that I was wrong and got mixed results. I have always believed the gap theory, so thank you again for your great work of putting the scriptures into plain English. I am 97 years old and will probably get to heaven before you, so I'll look forward to meeting you there.

Response #9:

Thanks for the testimony and kind words.

Wow! 97! I'm sure I won't make it that far but congratulations to you for doing so and staying faithful to the truth all the while. One thing I learned from watching my mother make it to 96 (she passed last December): "gettin' old ain't for sissies" (as she used to say).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello Bob,

I received this email from a friend today and I want to respond in the correct way – I’m unsure if he is sending it with an ulterior motive and I would ask if you could look at it and give me your valued opinion on it as there seems to be a few things amiss.

As always dear Bob, with brotherly love,

A Little Used Rapture Passage by Dr. Tommy Ice: A number of years ago I was preaching the funeral of a dear lady who used to be in a church that I had pastored. Her husband, also a devout believer, asked that I build my sermon for his wife's funeral around 2 Corinthians 5. Since I had never taught through 2 Corinthians, I was somewhat surprised to discover during my preparation for the message that it spoke of our blessed hope-the rapture. Follow along with me and see what I mean. The Context of 2 Corinthians 5. Many of us are familiar with the second half of 2 Corinthians 5, but what about the preceding context? Paul is dealing with a group of people who were rejecting his authority as an apostle of Christ. Thus, they were reluctant to accept his advice. In chapter 4, Paul notes that he is pouring out his life for their sake. He contrasts this temporal life, which the Corinthians believers greatly valued, with the one to come. Since the life and world to come are of greater value, then, Paul reasons, believers should live this present life from the perspective that places a priority on things that will have "an eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17). The Corinthians, to which Paul wrote, had adopted the view that the physical body was of no value, since everything on the physical plane was inferior to things in the spiritual realm. Paul rejects this, and teaches that the physical is not in and of itself carnal but can be used to promote that which has eternal spiritual value. This Paul explains in his chapter on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. As he sets the stage for 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says, "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:17-18). A Tent Verses a Building: 2 Corinthians 3:1-2 says, "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven." Since verse 3 is based upon Paul's statements in verses one and two, we need to know what he is saying there. Paul tells the Corinthians believers that their current body is like an "earthly tent." Why did he choose the word "tent?" He most likely uses the word "tent" because it is a temporary dwelling for a person who is on a trip away from home. That is the status of a believer during the church age, he is a pilgrim, just passing through this world (Phil. 3:17-21). The term used for a resurrected believer in heaven is called "our dwelling from heaven." It is also called "a house not made with hands." Thus, our permanent dwelling place is clearly said to be in heaven and something to which we look. Since heaven is our home, then it makes sense that "building" is the description that Paul uses since it connotes a permanent structure. So our current physical body is called a "tent," while our future resurrected body is described as a "building." So what does Paul mean when he speaks in verse 3 of not wanting to be found "naked" in verse 3? Naked Believers Since the subject matter of this portion of Scripture relates to the state of the body, whether mortal or resurrected, Paul speaks of the interval between a believer's death and the resurrection. Robert Gromacki says, "This period between the physical death of a believer and his resurrection is designated as the time of nakedness. It is when the self has neither its old body or its new body. Theologians have called it the intermediate state of the soul."[1] This does not mean that when a believer dies he does not go to be with the Lord, since Scripture says, "to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8). Philip E. Hughes explains as follows: At the death the soul is separated from the body, and man's integral nature is disrupted. This important aspect of the disintegrating character of death explains the Apostle's desire that Christ should return during his lifetime so that he might experience the change into the likeness of Christ's body of glory (Phil. 3:21) without having to undergo the experience of "nakedness" which results from the separation of soul and body at death. . . . It still means a state of nakedness and a period of waiting until he is clothed with his resurrection body.[2] This passage, in its indirect way, is teaching the Paul was longing for the rapture to occur before he died, since the interval between Paul's death and the obtaining of his resurrection body would come at the time of the rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-58). Thus, 2 Corinthians 5 is a rapture passage. "It is the resurrection and the rapture which the new desire longs for," says Roy Laurin, "because the resurrection and the rapture will bring us this building which is "an house not made with hands."[3] Gromacki notes the rapture connection in the following: The verb "clothed upon" is a double compound (ependu" using three words epi, en, du"). It actually means to put one piece of clothing over another which is presently being worn. The usage in this context probably means that Paul wanted to be alive when the Lord returned. In that way, the new body could be put on right over the old one.[4] Paul further explains in verse 4 why he hopes for the rapture before his death. "For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." G. Coleman Luck explains, "The thing for which we groan is not death and dissolution of the body. We do not long to be 'unclothed,' so to speak, but rather to be 'clothed upon,' to have our mortal bodies transformed and perfected without dying at the time of the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Cor. 51, 52)."[5] This passage seems to teach that a believer during the church age who dies before the rapture is with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8), but do not yet have their new resurrection body. This seems to also imply that there is no New Testament basis for those who teach that we have an intermediate body (i.e. not a resurrection body) during the interval between death and the resurrection as we dwell in the presence of the Lord. Otherwise, how do they explain Paul's desire to not be naked? Further, this passage does not allow for "soul sleep" since the person is very much alive during the interval, it is the body that is "sleeping." Rapture Implications of 2 Corinthians 5 There are a number implications that flow from the fact that Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5 that he desired to be taken in the rapture rather than die. I will attempt to note some of those implications. First, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." This is significant in that the "judgment seat," or "bema" is the special judgment for church age believers only, not the end of the millennium great white throne judgment of unbelievers. Since verse 10 is part of Paul's passage where he has expressed his desire to be taken in the rapture, it supports the notion of pretribulationism since the bema will take place after the rapture of the church, while in heaven, in order to prepare the church for her return with Christ at the second coming (Rev. 19:1-10). Second, Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 the following: "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in 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 shall be changed." Here Paul taught the doctrine of the resurrection, while in 2 Corinthians 5 he links it with the rapture. Although 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 stands on its own as a rapture passage, it is further strengthened by Paul's rapture teachings in 2 Corinthians 5. Paul is writing to the same church in both epistles, thus, he is speaking of the same subject-the rapture-both times when he addresses the subject of the resurrection. Third, we learn from 2 Corinthians 5 that it is indeed a godly attitude to desire for the rapture to occur in one's lifetime. Since Paul desired to be taken to be with the Lord via translation so that he would not be naked, it is clear that he is modeling a godly attitude to be emulated throughout the remainder of the church age by subsequent generations. Yet, many Christians in our day disdain the rapture. Rapture hater Gary North says the following: Christians living today supposedly will escape this supposedly burning building because we all have been issued free tickets on God's helicopter escape. This escape never comes. The supposedly imminent Rapture has now been delayed for almost two millennia. . . . They care only about an imminent escape from long-term responsibility: the Rapture. Rapture fever destroys men's ability to reason theologically. It weakens God's Church.[6] How does North explain Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 5:8, which says, "we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord"? According to North's theology, Paul's attitude is sinful. Apparently the rapture has destroyed Paul's ability to reason theologically. Perhaps Paul's theology also weakens God's church, as North declares. Paul clearly states that he would really rather be "at home with the Lord." Was Paul one of those just sitting around waiting for the helicopter escape known as the rapture? Of course not, and neither do we who would rather be "at home with the Lord." Fourth, this passage does not teach one to shirk genuine biblical responsibilities as suggested by rapture haters like North. Instead, it teaches those of us who love His appearing that "we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him" (2 Cor. 5:9). Why? Because we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Tim LaHaye has said many times and in many ways that those who believe in the pre-trib rapture have three great practical applications: First, a motive for evangelism; second, a motive for world missions; and thirdly, a motive to live a godly life in an ungodly world. That is exactly what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 5:1-13, contrary to rapture nay-sayers like Gary North. Even though 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 is a little used passage relating to the pre-trib rapture, it is an important one that needs to be considered by anyone desiring a complete understanding of the New Testament teaching of the rapture. It provides another interesting piece of the puzzle concerning the nature and role of the church and how it fits into the blessed hope, which is the rapture of the church. It models for believers a proper motive for longing for the rapture, not because we cannot handle life in the present, but because "though you have not seen Him, you love Him" (1 Pet. 1:8). Maranatha!

Response #10:

Always a pleasure to hear from you, my friend.

There are many things "amiss" here. To begin, reading this article and its numbing lack of clarity couldn't possibly accomplish anything more than to confirm those who have already chosen to believe in the false pre-Trib teaching in the correctness of their incorrect position: the confusing nature of it skims over the important points of the issues at hand to leave a false impression that is exactly the opposite of what the text actually teaches. Corollary to this and also worthy of note, this sort of "proof" is the only type of "proof" to found for a pre-Trib resurrection ("rapture"), namely, derivative arguments which in some usually confusing and always indirect way are said to "prove" this false doctrine. In other words, there is not a single direct statement in scripture which would give anyone the idea that the resurrection precedes the Tribulation, absent already believing this false idea.

(1) Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, (2) not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. (3) Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, (4) who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (5) Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-5 NKJV

The passage above (and plenty of others) refutes directly the underlying "proof" that the article you include attempts to provide for a pre-Trib "rapture"; often called "the argument from imminence", the idea is that since Paul and the other early believers were looking forward to the Lord's return as something that might happen "at any time", the resurrection has to occur before the Tribulation because everyone understands that the Tribulation lasts seven years and includes many prophesied events which precede the second advent, so the resurrection can't be imminent unless it precedes all that.

But this "reasoning" makes many (incorrect) assumptions and also defies logic and basic human experience. First, scripture never ever says that the resurrection is "imminent", so using that word as a proof in itself is ridiculous. Secondly, even little children look forward to Christmas or to their birthdays when these events are weeks or even months away. We don't tell them they are silly to do so because these events are not "imminent", nor do we consider ourselves irrational to be looking forward to a summer vacation in the middle of winter even though "spring must come first".

Additionally, the "imminence" objection is directly contradicted by the passage just cited. We all accept that Paul and the other first century believers were eagerly looking forward to the Lord's return (that is the basis for the "imminence" argument), but in 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-5 Paul makes it very clear that our "gathering together to Him", our resurrection and reunion in the clouds with Him at His return for us (1Thes.4:13-17), cannot happen before the Great Apostasy does or before antichrist manifests himself, the two most prominent events/trends of the Tribulation's first and second halves respectively. Therefore the Thessalonian believers should not be "shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come" – because that Day, the Day on which we are united to Him in resurrection, cannot come before these events, that is, before the Tribulation. Paul was looking forward to being with Christ; but he did understand and teach that this would not happen prior to the Tribulation. The two things are in no way contradictory (except, apparently, in the minds of "imminists").

The fact of a few years (at least) necessarily preceding the resurrection did not in any way dim Paul's anticipation of it. That is to say, a delay of seven years (at least) does not take away the anticipation of the resurrection . . . any more than the delay of a few weeks (at least) does not take away a little child's anticipation of Christmas morning. Besides, this "argument" also fails to take into account that since being with Christ is "better by far" than life on this earth (Phil.1:23), we all eagerly anticipate (or should) our future with Him which is imminent for us all individually in any case . . . because no one knows when the Lord will call them home.

Sometimes "alertness" passages in scripture are also brought into this false construct, but of course Christians need to be alert for many reasons: 1) we might be called home today; 2) if we do survive to the end of the Tribulation, alertness during that time will be of absolute necessity; 3) we need to be alert to the devil's attacks at all times. So the fact that there will be seven years (at least) between the resurrection and where we are now (whenever that is) does not mean that the commands to be alert for our Lord's return are nonsensical without positing a "rapture" (see the link above and also in CT 1: "Because the time is near"). In any case, scripture only says (twice in Revelation at the beginning and the end: Rev.1:3; 22:10) that "the time is near", and that can only have been true when John wrote (ca. 68 A.D.) in a theological sense – because, obviously, nearly two millennia have already elapsed since he was given to write Revelation.

The nakedness argument used here is honestly more trouble to untangle than it is worth. Any reasonable reading of the passage will show that Paul's actual argument depends upon the fact that "being naked" would not be a desirable thing, and that in fact believers never ever are / will be "naked" in the sense of their spirits being unclothed without some type of body (the physical one here and now, an interim one for those presently in heaven, and a resurrected one for us all at the Lord's return; see the link). I say "spirits" because that is the biblical position. The "soul" as the English/Germanic word is used in the Bible to translate psyche and nephesh in Greek and Hebrew respectively, refers not to some ethereal part of us with independent existence but to our entire "person", very often focusing on our inner person, our "heart" – which is the combination of the body and the spirit (see the link). Misreading the obvious meaning of the entire passage in question – seeing nakedness as a possibility (!) when Paul is trying give comfort that it won't happen and can't happen – is turning it on its head exactly (in truth, we do not want to be naked and we shall not be – that is what Paul is clearly saying), and clearly will not prove fruitful in getting to the truth. There is also a textual issue here, but unnecessary to discuss at present since it doesn't affect this person's argument or its refutation (if interested, please see the link).

In short, this article is replete with convoluted reasoning all of which is dependent upon at least three major strains of misunderstanding of basic biblical truths. It reminds me of medieval philosophy or Talmudic argumentation where the process and the results can only be interesting for those who have bought into these false systems. I think I have hit sufficiently what I find to be the underlying fallacies here, but please do feel free to write me back if you have any further questions about the specifics.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Professor,

I recall at Asbury Seminary our ministry professors saying, "Only about 70% of you will actually retire as a minister...God will lead you to many paths of ministry, if you let Him!"

God has led this "Marketplace Minister" to so many wonder avenues of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, and to bring the gospel to the world. If you are on Linkedin, I will send you a request to connect.

Here's my Q: There are so few of us who hold a post-trib doctrine, (acknowledging Mr.'s Darby & Scofield influence) do you know of any church groups ("denominations") who ascribe to the doctrine?

Just found your site today and love it!

Response #11:

Very good to make your acquaintance – and thanks for your encouraging comment.

It's pretty rare to find post-Trib folks who are also solid on other things. I came out of a pre-Trib tradition as my frequent testimonies on the website affirm (the Bible convinced me otherwise).

Here's one other ministry I highly recommend: "Bible Academy" of Curt Omo.

Feel free to write me back any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Thank you! God always works his will best with remnants! I tell my pre-trib biblical worldview brethren, “I hope for a pre-trib rapture, but live like it is post-trib! Jesus said, ‘He who endures to the end will be saved!’ (Matthew 24:13)

That usually suffices for them.

Yet you and I both know that there will be a falling away, and we must be in place to offer love, acceptance, and discipleship to those who wake from disillusionment.

God led you to me. Will keep in touch.

Response #12:

It's a good come back – non-confrontational without compromise and also with the potential to get someone thinking.

Yes indeed, the Great Apostasy will claim a third of present day believers (link). But as I also like to point out the other two thirds of Laodicea who are for the most part all equally unprepared now for what is coming will either be martyred, honoring the Lord with their deaths for Him, or make it all the way to the end. Both things will take resilient faith and the truth necessary to underpin it. So I would imagine that once things begin to "get cooking" and it becomes undeniable that we are in the Tribulation, there will be many in need of a "crash course" in eschatology (and indeed in all aspects of the truth). That means more work for those of us who are taking pains to prepare spiritually here and now – but more (legitimate) work for the Lord means ever great eternal rewards and His good pleasure.

Feel free to write any time, my friend (and thanks for the good words and links).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Bob,

Thanks for getting back with me. Today I met with the state coordinator for Evangelism Explosion, whose ministry now touches EVERY nation on the globe, but has had great resistance in the United States...big surprise. However, three years ago there were only 2 churches still doing EE in Oklahoma...NOW there are 84! What is cool to me is that the state coordinator told me at lunch today that he is more inline with post-tribulation than any other position of eschatology.

My new friend and I and our wives are meeting in about an hour to pray and discuss what God could be doing to start a Post-tribulation church in Oklahoma City. We shall see what comes of this.

Do you know anything about co-ops? I am thinking of this as a method to set up a church, now, while there is some favor by the federal government, but would enable a church to continue to be effective and to quickly go underground, if needed, which I think is inevitable here in the united states of New Babylon. Just a thought.

Response #13:

Good to hear back from you, my friend.

Starting a new church is always exciting. I'm afraid I don't have much direct experience in that (this being an "on-line" ministry started out of a Bible study, not a church per se) – can't tell you anything about "co-ops" for sure.

I do think, as I have opined many times before, that there is likely to be a great need for pastor-teachers and other well-prepared Christians to share the truth once the Tribulation begins. Our present age of Laodicea is entirely lukewarm about the truth and complacent about the possibility of the Tribulation because of the false pre-Trib doctrine. Once the balloon goes up, if we can extrapolate from prophecy, many will "get their act together", spiritually speaking, because otherwise all would be swept up in the Great Apostasy and none would be left to be martyred or to "meet the Lord in the air" – each of which three categories constitutes a third of the actual Church which enters the Tribulation. This must mean, in my view, that these two thirds who "get with it" are mostly brought up to speed by good Christians like yourself who have seen the trouble coming and have properly prepared (spiritually) for it.

So it is a noble quest, my friend! Keep me in the loop as to what transpires.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

We met. Shared vision. Open to Holy Spirit. We will meet again.

The most dangerous approach of pretrib is prooftext vs context. I find that a lot. Example Eph 4:30, missing the whole point at what grieves the Spirit, when walk unworthy of the calling. Most of them rage like angrily dividing the Body. Redemption is not rapture but salvation from Hell.

Response #14:

Good to hear that your meeting went well.

Yes, there is a notable difference on the one hand between actually seeking the truth, listening intently to what the Spirit has to say to us through the scriptures, and only using the Bible as a hammer to prove things one already believes through tradition. The approach has a lot to say about how interested the person really is in pleasing the Lord – as opposed to his/her group.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Dear sir

I haven't written in nearly three weeks because I have been studying the series along with being busy and facing electricity problems too that meant that my phone was off a lot. I hope you are well, sir. Your last email was a great encouragement when I read it. Thank you very much.

Today, I want to ask you about 1 Thessalonians 5:1. What was Paul saying there? Was it like what our Lord told His apostles in Acts 1:7? In the SR and CT series, you worked out quite a bit in dates and times and as far as I know from the Bible, your work is sound. But then there is this verse. I don't know what to make of it, sir. Can you explain to me what you think of it?

Yours in our priceless Lord Jesus Christ

Response #15:

It's good to hear from you, my friend. I'm sorry to hear about the additional challenges you've been facing in your country, but I'm delighted that you are continuing to grow and to honor the Lord with your faith even so.

As to your question, it is true on the surface, in an English translation, 1st Thessalonians 5:1 seems to contradict Acts 1:7. It is not the case in fact, however. Our Lord actually says "It is not for you to decide the times and seasons . . . which the Father has ordained by His own power". In that instance, the disciples were, out of a clear desire for it, asking Him by way of petition (in the previous verse, Acts 1:6), "Lord, are restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?" But it was not yet the "time and season" for the Millennial Kingdom of the Messiah, because the Father had ordained first a two thousand year mystery age, the Age of the Church, in order to bring into His family the gentile portion of the Church (along with believers from Israel); and it was to that part of the Body that the disciples/apostles were now to give their energy and attention: "and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8b) – something they would come to understand better after the advent of the Spirit (Acts 1:8a).

The translation problem arises both from a failure to understand the context as explained above – the disciples at this point as with almost all of contemporary Israel wanted the kingdom "now" and still didn't understand the need for the cross or its significance – and also from a mis-appreciation of the force of the aorist of the verb gignosko here (it means "to make a decision" often in that tense and certainly does so here; this is called the "ingressive" use). You can read more about this point at the link: "Not for you to know?"

The verse you ask about, 1st Thessalonians 5:1, affirms the interpretation above. Many years later, after the gift of the Spirit and the provision of much additional revelation, Paul certainly has come to "understand the times and the seasons" and has duly shared these truths with the Thessalonian believers. So here we are told in scripture that in fact they DO know these things (or should), that when the Lord returns, there will be a resurrection with the dead rising first and those believers rising next to "meet the Lord in the air" – as Paul has just explained in the previous chapter. This happens at the second advent which follows the end of the Tribulation. At that time, the coming of our Lord and His Kingdom will catch unbelievers unawares. Just when they had thought they had peace and safety and that the dark times were at an end, those opposing our Lord (at Armageddon) will be destroyed, and those who took the mark of the beast (around the world) will be destroyed – but believers will be delivered. For these reasons, we must not let the darkness of those times overtake us, but stay awake, alert, and sober, since "God has not destined us to face His wrath (on that day) but to take possession of our deliverance (resurrection when our Lord returns)" (1Thes.5:8).

(34) "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. (35) For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. (36) Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
Luke 21:34-36 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dear sir

Thank you very much. I read the link and your explanation made a great deal of sense. So, Paul wasn't saying to the Thessalonians that they did not need any information about times and dates and seasons, rather he was saying that they already knew it so well that they knew that the Lord will come unexpectedly for unbelievers but not for us since we know what to watch for, therefore they did not need any further writing on the matter?

I have one other trouble [details omitted]

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ

Response #16:

Good to hear from you, my friend – though I am sorry to hear that the "job question" is still problematic. I can only give you general feedback, of course, since my knowledge of your country and your particular skills and ambitions is necessarily very imperfect.

It sounds to me as if you are doing a lot to try to find your way forward on this. I would encourage you to be patient and wait for the Lord's deliverance. He surely knows what you need – much better than you or me! And He will help you in this. So do keep praying (I will be doing likewise); and do keep trusting in Him.

One thing that I have found helpful in my life when faced with daunting objectives is the process of reverse planning. Trying to figure out just exactly "where" we want to get to (and for Christians the "why" is also very important of course), then charting reasonable steps backwards from that point to where we are now can often give us clues to better tactics for achieving our goals. With all such problems, thinking about them with greater flexibility is also a plus.

But the bottom line is that everything is in God's hands. To me you are asking the right question: have "I" done enough? If the answer is truly yes, then resting in that knowledge with faith in His deliverance is the place to be spiritually until things resolve. Because while we can always "do more", it seems, no plan can succeed without the Lord, and if the Lord ordains something, no one can stop it.

On 1st Thessalonians, yes, that is indeed how I see it – good for you!

Keeping you in my prayers day by day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Dear sir

I prayed again after that last email and read a little more out of Harmatiology and my heart quieted.

I considered Paul's story and understood that it is just the Mercy of God that makes our salvation and sanctification possible.

I'm at peace now. Not that I've worked it all out but I understand that when I stand before God, it is entirely the righteousness of Jesus Christ that gives me any hope of acceptance or reward, not mine. How I will live now is not entirely clear to me but I get that I can't stay fixated on personal purity anymore. I want to just learn Christ and try to copy Him as far as He enables me to.

God bless you for all your help, sir.

Yours in our priceless and merciful Lord Jesus Christ

Response #17:

Amen! We pursue sanctification with all of our hearts; but we cannot allow our lack of perfection in that or in anything else to paralyze us and prevent us from doing what the Lord wants us to do.

Good to hear that you are getting some peace – to that we have been called (Col.3:15).

Wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas and a happy 2018!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Very happy to have come across your site. You are the only one I have found to date to really dig into the issue of the reconciliation of the heavens and specifically the replacement of fallen angels. I have long suspected that this was the case in light of Revelation 12, especially vs 8. I would like to have your thoughts about this in respect to a rapture prior to the end of the tribulation. (I have no ax to grind on this issue, so please hear me out). I actually agree with you that what Corinthians and Thessalonians are talking about, at least to my reading, are an event near the end of the period. However, as I read Revelation 12 I believe, as I think you do (?) that this pictures an expulsion of Satan and his entourage from access to the heavenly realm prior to or near the beginning of the tribulation itself.

Is it not possible that the "catching up" to the throne of the man child refers to something else than the ascension of Christ as an individual? Notice how it comes immediately after the man child is born, which is not consistent with the biography of our Lord. In Romans 8 we know that the whole creation is groaning in travail for the revelation of the "sons of God". Later in Romans we are told that the hardening of Israel in part is until the "full number" of the gentiles is brought into the church. Could this "man child" be a reference to the body of Christ itself? I wonder this because immediately after this catching up, the war in heaven breaks out and it is said that Satan is cast down with his ilk and there is no place/room for them. Interestingly, the ones who overcome in the battle are plural and do so on the victory of Christ. They appear to be human. "They overcame" them by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives to the death. I am wondering if there is no place left for the fallen angels because they have, in fact, been displaced from the heavenly realm itself by the raptured church. Is it not possible that what God is waiting for prior to initiating the end is a full number of the church to come in for this very purpose of displacing the enemy from the heavens without leaving a void? If this were true, such a rapture would have nothing to do with escaping tribulation, but might actually involve going to war in the heavens as part of initiating the end times events.

I am trying to be brief as I am sure you have thought about these things as well, but I could not find this possibility specifically addressed in what I read. Sorry if I missed it. I would certainly value your thoughts regardless of what your opinion is.

In Christ,

PS: Kindly just use my first name if you chose to to publish this email. I am trying to keep a low profile online.

Response #18:

Good to make you acquaintance, and thank you for your encouraging words.

(6) And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (7) Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. (9) And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Revelation 19:6-9 KJV

This passage, describing the resurrection of the bride, the Body of Christ, occurs precisely before the second advent which is described two verses later. That is direct evidence of the resurrection of the Church at Christ's final return. There is much such evidence for a post-Trib position, but as I often point out, all vain searching for pre-Trib support inevitably finds itself dependent upon derivative arguments along, shaky assumptions that require many logical jumps for a passage to "mean this or that". And it would take some direct evidence for pre-Trib to refute the many such passages supporting post-Trib.

As to "the ones who overcome in the battle" who "appear to be human" and who "overcame them by the blood of the Lamb", all we have in chapter twelve is the following:

(10) And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Revelation 12:10-11 KJV

This refers to the martyrs of the Tribulation, accused by the devil, but winning the victory of faith, even though physically destroyed . . . "unto death"; but if they had been raptured, there would be no question of any death. That unique privilege of never facing physical death is given only to those who survive the Tribulation with faith intact and who are not called upon to suffer martyrdom.

Revelation chapter twelve begins with "a sign" as verse one says (Greek: semeion cf. "semiotics"), and signs are not literal – they stand for something else by definition. There is a common misunderstanding about Revelation, to wit, that it is filled with metaphors; in fact, unless we are told that we have such a thing (they are only a few: this chapter, plus the dragon, the beast, and the Lamb), then we have to do with literal descriptions. Here the woman represents Israel and the child represents our Lord while the dragon represents Satan. It is Christ who is removed from the world at the first advent many years ago; He is born of the woman Israel symbolically; and Israel's origins of course go back to Abraham. Throughout this metaphor, Christ is described as "a child" for the purposes of the symbolism here; but the Church is the Bride of the adult Jesus Christ, and never described as a child. I think I am within the bounds of normal hermeneutics here to say that if we were supposed to understand the Church as somehow being part of the child that there would have to be some additional signal here in the text to allow us to adopt that interpretation. As it is, it is the woman who represents the people of faith, Israel, those who flee into the desert to escape the dragon's wrath (they are not raptured away) and require help from the earth in drinking up the forces / waters sent by the dragon to destroy her; and we are also told in v.17 that "the rest of her seed" is then subject to the devil's persecution for having not escaped. Beyond all argument, the devil persecutes believers, and in this chapter there are two groups of believers, one fleeing for refuge and one subject to persecution, the Great Persecution in this case (link) – both groups still being on earth (not raptured).

I hope this helps – do feel free to write me back about any of this.

Also, no worries about anonymity – I don't use names at all when I post things, and always take care to remove identifying information of correspondents.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

As I was reading your study on the Great Tribulation Part 4, a question popped into my mind, and I need an explanation of the following: Here is your comment in this study: " The Seventh Trumpet (Revelation 11:15a): With the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the Great Tribulation begins." Is the seventh trumpet the last trumpet disclosed in 1 Corinthians 15:52, where it says that the "Dead in Christ shall rise first...." or is there another?

1 Cor. 15:52: " 52in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

As far as I can determine there are only 7 trumpets mentioned and the last trumpet. Can you please clarify this dilemma for me? Is this last trumpet not the seventh trumpet, or is there an additional one plus the seven. The reason I asked is: You say that at the seventh trumpet the Great Tribulation [last half of the tribulation] begins. I am wondering if I am misunderstanding something here or what. I am confused. Can you please help me. Surely there is no mistake here?

Thanks again so much Dr. Luginbill.

Your friend

Response #19:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

This is a common question and confusion. Trumpets in the ancient world were used for signaling, and there were specific trumpet calls for specific purposes (cf. Num.10:2-10; cf. 1Cor.14:8); we may compare the wide variety of bugle calls that were (sometimes still are) used in the army to signal different things. The trumpet judgments of Revelation are all warning calls – that is one of the uses of the trumpet, namely, to give warning (cf. Ezek.33:3-6). The single "last trumpet" of 1st Corinthians 15:52 and 1st Thessalonians 4:16 (also Matt.24:31; Zech.9:14) is a trumpet call of assembly – that is also one of the uses of the trumpet, namely, to gather the people of God together (cf. Ex.19:13; Lev.23:24; Num.10:2; Is.27:13).

It is the bowl judgments (link) which precede the second advent, each of which begins a punitive judgment upon the earth and its largely unbelieving population in retribution for what believers have been made to suffer during the Great Persecution. The seventh bowl judgment, described in Revelation 16:17ff., commences with voices, thunder and lightning seen and heard worldwide and a great earthquake which is likewise felt around the globe; it also includes the destruction of Babylon and a judgment of massive hail poured out on unbelievers around the world. These things are sequential and none of them instantaneous so they must precede the second advent – though not by much.

So the seven trumpets of Revelation are a sequence of warnings and these occur in the Tribulation's first half; the single trumpet at the end of the Tribulation is the signal for the resurrection.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you so much for your clarification and response. I knew there was an explanation, but I completely forgot about the other trumpets which were to be sounded. This explanation clears up my confusion and gives understanding to the meaning of your answer. I really appreciate all that you do for the Kingdom of God, but more so God appreciates what you do for Him.

Thanks again for your ministry an your great work.

Your friend

The title of my sermon this morning was "Good News of an extra-ordinary sort". To God be the glory He so richly deserves.

Response #20:

You're most welcome as always, .

I'm very encouraged by your continuing efforts for the sake of the Church of Jesus Christ!

Keep up the good work, my friend, and thanks so much as ever for all of your good words.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Response #21:

Hi Bob,

Apologies for the continuous flow of questions lately.

In my post 4.1 on the rapture, I mention 'the Last trump' of 1 Cor 15 as clear indication that the 7 tribulation trumpets, as a minimum, must precede the rapture. You also mention 1.Cor 15 first under the heading 'Passages that support a post tribulation rapture'. But I note that you don't seem to use this as your chief argument in your detailed discussion on the rapture. Neither do others, it seems. Is there any reason? Is there anything in the translation of 1 Cor 15 that would dilute my reasoning that this is the most obvious and clear verse stating that we have to pass through/endure the trumpet judgements?

Also, if someone were to discount the seal 'preview' theory and literally expect the second coming of Jesus at the sixth seal, prior to the trumpets, is there any way they could circumvent 1Cor 15? It seems to me that 1 Cor 15 prevents anyone from disconnecting the 2nd coming rapture from Jesus' appearance at Armageddon.'

Thanks once again for your help.

Question #21:

No need to apologize! It's always good to hear from you.

As to the last trumpet in 1st Corinthians 15:52, this is the same trumpet we find in 1st Thessalonians 4:16 (and Matt.24:31), the trumpet which signals the resurrection at Christ's second advent return. It is not, however, the seventh trumpet of the trumpet judgments; those seven trumpets all occur within the Tribulation's first half and are meant for warning – a common function of the trumpet (cf. Ezek.33:3-6) – to warn the earth not to worship the beast (see the link). The seventh trumpet, the last trumpet of these seven warning judgments (which is also "the third woe"), commences the Great Tribulation (Rev.11:15ff.).

But trumpets have other uses as well. Just as in the US Army bugle calls are differentiated and each one gives a command for a specific purpose (e.g., "reveille", "taps", "retreat"), so also was it the case in the ancient world and this is seen in Israel's use of the trumpet as well (Num.10:2-10; cf. 1Cor.14:8), one specific use being to assemble the people together – which is symbolic of assembling the Church in resurrection (cf. Ex.19:13; Lev.23:24; Num.10:2). So "the last trumpet" is a call to assemble, and that is seen clearly in the following passage:

(30) "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Matthew 24:30-31 NKJV

The passage immediately above, if read with any care and humility, eliminates on its own any notion of a pre-Trib rapture (especially if the context – which is all about the Tribulation – is considered). So as to "is there any way [rapture proponents] could circumvent 1Cor 15?", I have found that adherents of false doctrines are most adept at introducing concocted arguments that rely on their own parti pris interpretation of scripture, arguments, which, while they are obviously circular, entirely inductive, without any true scriptural support and build one falsehood upon another are nevertheless apparently wholehearted believed by them in their hardness of heart and unwillingness to be moved by the truth. I'm pretty sure that one such dodge in the case you ask about would be, "this 'last trumpet' is the end of the Church Age dispensation", an argument which finds no support in the Bible but one which is all the more readily accepted by hyper-dispensationalists who don't understand the truth about that doctrine either (see the link: "dispensations"); such individuals usually make a very firm distinction between Israel and the Church – as if we are not all going to be resurrected at the same time as the Body of Christ!

Keep up the good work, my friend!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

1 Corinthians 7:29 (NASB)
29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;

I) How should we understand the expression “the time has been shortened”? It sounds as if the length of time originally planned has been reduced.

II) It seems that the interpretation of τὸ λοιπόν has caused some controversy – to which part of this verse should it link? Most versions go with “from now on”, but could it refer to what has just been said, meaning “the remaining time has been shortened”?

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #22:

As to 1st Corinthians 7:29, here is how I translate the passage:

I mean this, brethren: there is not much time left. So in the future, let those who have wives be as those who don't have them, and those who weep as those who don't weep, and those who rejoice as those who do not rejoice – and those who make use of this world as those who do not take full advantage of it. For this world in its present form is passing away. And I want you to be free of worries.
1st Corinthians 7:29-32a

To take the two issues in reverse order, as you can see from the above I understand to loipon in the standard way Paul uses it: "in future" (were I punctuating the text, I might consider placing a period or colon just before to loipon). I'm not sure it makes too much difference if the first issue is rightly understood, however. The verb synestalmenos esti is a present perfect and describes a present state rather than focusing on a past action. So "the time is short so that in the future" or "the time is short in regard to the future so that". If Paul were weighing in on the English, I'm not sure he would want to decide between the two. The phrase hangs between both parts and is not without effect on both (the apo koinou construction; cf. Rom.1:17 "where the righteous by faith shall live" where the meaning is that those who are made righteous "by faith" shall live [eternally] "by [that same] faith").

As to how/why the shortening has taken place, I don't think Paul is talking about any special event other than the ones we know of from elsewhere (see the link: "present crisis" regarding Paul's comment earlier in the chapter). We live in the mystery age, the Church Age, which was not anticipated by believers before it came into being. And this age is the age that stands on the cusp of the end times with the result that this is how we are supposed to live our lives, namely, as if our Master might return at any moment (Lk.12:35-40), an important truth not overturned by our biblical knowledge of the architecture of the plan of God for history (i.e., even though we know that the "falling away" and the "rise of the beast" – that is, the Tribulation and all of its events must of course come first: 1Thes.2:4). So Paul often stresses this need for alertness and anticipation of what is to come (Rom.13:11-12; Heb.10:25; 10:37; cf. Rev.1:1). And, after all, this truth is certainly obvious when it comes to each of us individually: none of us is here on earth very long, we really don't have much time, and no one of us knows "how long?" before the clock as run out.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Dear Dr. Luginbill:

Hello, don't know if you remember, but I've written before...and again want to thank you for your responses and for all your resources that you have and which I use often but not enough. Thanks. Today, I am still wondering and praying for the Lord to use me, if He can...My heart is for even those Christians that seem to be encouraged (by misled Leaders) to not be encouraged to pursue knowing about the testing that they or their children will need to endure.

It occurs to me that some of the misleading occurs when "leaders" quote scripture (perhaps wrongly) to justify not Learning. With that in mind I recall my own experience in hearing Matt. 24:36 used to quote that essentially we cannot know when He may come. Another that I may have heard is 1 Th. 5:2 concerning the "thief in the night"

I searched on line and found a link: https://ichthys.com/mail-End-Times-Interpretation.htm that you wrote concerning these verses.

https://ichthys.com/mail-End-Times-Interpretation.htm
60. The "unknown day and hour" of Matt.24:36 and Mark 13:32 merely indicates that we may know an event is imminent without knowing the precise day of the year and hour of the day in which it will occur. After all, this comment occurs immediately following the parable of the fig tree where we are told by our Lord in no uncertain terms precisely to pay attention to scripturally significant events and not to ignore what the Bible has to say on these matters (cf. Matt.24:32-35; Mk.13:28-31). Acts 1:7 is often mistranslated "It is not for you to know", but should be rendered "It is not for you to decide the times and the seasons". The Greek verb gignosko commonly has this meaning of "decide" especially when it is in the aorist as it is here. The context strongly supports this revised translation since our Lord immediately adds "which the Father has ordained by His authority". That is to say, Jesus' point is that it is the Father who has decided these matters; they are not to be decided by your wishes. For our Lord's disciples had just very clearly expressed the wish through their question in the preceding verse six for Him to establish the Kingdom immediately. Therefore our Lord's reproof in verse seven is not a commendation of complete ignorance about the Father's timetable, but rather a reminder to them that it is His will in these matters that counts, not theirs; they would have to remain patient, even though from their perspective the time seemed ripe for the commencement of the Messiah's kingdom. We must also take into consideration the fact that this statement was given to the apostles prior to the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. The Spirit is the agent of inspiration, chronology included, who, as Jesus had already made clear, would be the One to relate to them "the things to come" (Jn.16:13; cf. 2Pet.1:16-21). Since they will later come to understand the "things to come", verse seven must also be understood in conjunction with verse eight: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you . . .", a statement that clearly includes the previously promised further revelation of the Spirit (not excluding information about the end times). This is why, a few short years later, Paul can tell the Thessalonians the exact opposite of Acts 1:7 (that is, as it is generally misconstrued): "concerning the times and the seasons, you have no need that anyone write you, for you know very well . . ." (1Thes.5:1-2).

My questions are:

Does the "know" in acts 1:7 meaning "...not to be decided..." also apply to Matt.24:36? It seems to me, that 1Thes.5:2 is also used to be dismissive of the need to know by leaders, especially when the later verses are not explained or even quoted. Do you know if that assumption is true? Are there other verses or claims used by misguided leaders to ward off concern about the times to come?

Thank you again for your service.

Response #23:

Yes indeed I remember you – and it's good to hear from you!

As to your questions:

1) Matthew 24:36: The verb here may seem the same but it is different; in this context we have the standard verb "to know" (oida) as opposed to gignosko (which admits of a wider semantic range as discussed), and "no one knows" is what it means here (as normally translated). Note three things, however:

a) Our Lord says "day" and "hour", and these are very specific points of time used not arbitrarily but literally and for a good reason. When our Lord says "day" and "hour", He means, strangely enough to the lights of some, "day" and "hour" – not "year" (for example) or "month/season". These things (year and probably month) we can know from the information scripture provides – just not the precise day or hour of the day. Why not? For one thing, our Lord tells us in the context just prior to this that "unless the days were shortened" no one could survive the Tribulation (v.22). So the days will be shortened – meaning that the full count of days other scriptural information gives us to compute this question will be reduced by an unspecified amount . . . and therefore we cannot know the precise day. As to the precise hour, the day of the second advent will be . . . "a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light" (Zech.14:7 NIV). So the hour will also be not predictable. This is important information for all His saints to have, both as an encouragement (it may come sooner than expected) and also as a warning (we can't compute so precisely as to be relieved of all anticipation).

b) Just prior to this statement about the day and the hour, in vv.32-33, our Lord tells us very explicitly that we SHOULD pay attention to these signs and scriptural information He is giving us in great detail – the Lord Himself giving us specific information not so that we might ignore it but profit from it – in the same way in which we can judge the nearness of spring from the progress of the fig tree. So we CAN know about the time of the second advent by paying attention to the signs and other information scripture gives us – and in fact our Lord tells us explicitly that we SHOULD do so: "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree" (Matt.24:32 NIV).

c) In consonance with this last point, all of these signs and details in this section of Matthew clearly have to do with the second advent – NOT with the time of the commencement of the Tribulation. This is important because most who want us "not to know" want to preserve the illusion of the false doctrine of the pre-Tribulation "rapture". There is no such thing. We will know when the Tribulation begins, very clearly (cf. Rev.8:5).

2) On 1st Thessalonians 5:2, the "Day of the Lord" mentioned is the second advent and the destruction of the ungodly at our Lord's return. Preceding that is the resurrection. Paul speaks about that resurrection in the prior chapter at length – and of course these chapter divisions are modern, not ancient, so Paul makes no distinction between the end of what we call chapter four and the beginning of what we can chapter five. The only way a person can read the verse in question as ammunition for ignorance is to ignorantly ignore the verses immediately preceding in chapter four. And of course Paul has plenty to say about eschatology throughout his epistles, odd if we are "not to know". The next epistle in our order written to the very same church begins with two chapters dedicated to the end times.

3) The extent of false teaching knows no bounds so I would not want to proclaim false teachers incapable of using any truth to twist the truth. But here is what I read:

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Revelation 1:3 NASB

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Hope you are doing well during these cold, ice and snowy winter days. As I was reviewing John Chapter 11 and came to verse 24, I suddenly saw something I had never (seen) before. I thought to myself: This is another proof which invalidates the so-called pre-trib rapture.

" Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day

So, even Martha herself invalidated the pretrib rapture hoax. Why can't Christians who have been duped into believing this false doctrine really see for themselves, the Truth of what God's Word really says? Martha, and Christians should all know that the "last day" refers to the seventh day, the day of the millennial reign of Christ, the seven thousandth year, the last day.

I am thinking that they don't want to see. and want someone else to tell them what they see.

Waiting for the soon return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Your friend,

Response #24:

Great observation! Of course, any scripture can be twisted, but your point is well-taken that making "the last day" the day before the Tribulation begins is not only forced but not indicated by scripture anywhere.

How is your teaching coming?

I've been keeping you in my prayers on this, my friend.

Hope all goes well with you and your family. I am hanging in there in spite of the cold.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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