Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Why a Pre-tribulation Rapture?
“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.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
For centuries, the subject of the Rapture has been a topic of debate among believers and non-believers alike. Today more than ever, the Rapture has been a point of contention among people of faith, consequently causing division within the church body. Some argue as to when the event of the Rapture will occur, while others question whether it will even take place at all. The doctrine of the Rapture should not be a matter of contention or division in the church. Although there are many different views as to when the Rapture will transpire, such as the Pre-trib, Mid-trib, Pre-wrath, or Post-trib views, my purpose is to discuss why I believe in the Pre-tribulation Rapture view from a biblical and historical perspective. We will examine the evidence for a Pre-trib Rapture according to Jesus and as He revealed it to Paul, analyze why it makes the most logical sense in light of scripture, and explore the symbolic parallels in the bible that all point to this conclusion.
First, I believe in the Pre Tribulation Rapture because of what has been taught biblically and what has been proven historically. Despite what many critics of the Pre-tribulation view espouse, John Nelson Darby was not the author of the Pre-tribulation view. On the contrary, it was Paul the apostle and many of the early church fathers who taught and believed in a Pre-tribulation Rapture, several centuries before Darby. Early church fathers, such as Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Tertullian, and many others held to a belief in a literal seven-year tribulation, a literal third temple, and the literal Millennial Kingdom. You can read about this in the book by Ken Johnson, The Rapture: The Pretribulation Rapture Viewed From The Bible and The Ancient Church. The belief that a “Raptura”, Latin term from the Vulgate, or a “Harpazo” (Greek term meaning to be caught up, to seize, or snatch away by force) would take place before the seven-year tribulation, was the central doctrine and the heartbeat of the early church. It was not until the beginning of the Middle Ages, during the 4th century that this belief began to change for political reasons. Augustine’s teachings and greatest work “City of God,” strayed from the widely accepted belief in a Pre-tribulation Rapture and ultimately led to the false belief of Replacement Theology and Amillennialism that has affected the doctrine in many churches to this day.
Secondly, I believe in the Pre-tribulation Rapture because Jesus himself taught this and He revealed this mystery to Paul, who would become the first and most prominent apostle to the Gentile nations. In Revelation 3:10, Jesus reveals to John the apostle that He will keep His people from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world, and will test those who dwell on the earth. The reference to “those who dwell on the earth,” in the bible, always refers to non-believers; “et terreo,” means they would be kept from the trial to come. In John 14:1-3, Jesus comforts His disciples by saying, “Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go and prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Jesus first revealed the mystery of the Rapture to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52. Paul begins to teach and write his letters to the early church affirming the doctrine of the Pre-tribulation Rapture. (1 Thess. 1:10 “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thess. 5:9-10 “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” Romans 5:9 “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him). There are many other scripture references that point to this blessed hope and God’s intentional plan to rescue His redeemed people from the wrath to come. Paul himself hoped that Jesus would return in his lifetime. A sound understanding of this doctrine would be a source of comfort for the early church. The believers would patiently long for His return and would be encouraged and motivated to ready themselves for His imminent return.
Thirdly, I believe in the Pre-tribulation Rapture because it makes the most logical sense in light of scripture. The belief in the Pre-tribulation Rapture is the only view out of all the end-time rapture views that supports the doctrine of immanence. This means that the Rapture is a signless event that can occur at any time. This could not possibly apply to a Mid-trib, Pre-wrath, or Post-trib view because then the day or the hour could be deduced based on the timing of the tribulation. James 5:8 states, “You also be patient, establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” And Titus 2:13 says, “looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Another compelling case for the Pre-tribulation Rapture is the mysterious absence of the Church after the third chapter of Revelation. The Church (Ecclesia) is mentioned at least 19 times in Jesus’ message to the seven churches (lampstands) in the first three chapters of Revelation. However, after this, there is no biblical reference to the Church; it is mysteriously absent throughout the rest of the book, until the very end. In addition, the bible clearly states in 2 Thessalonians 2, referring to the Great Apostasy, that the Antichrist will not be revealed until the Restrainer is removed. That Restrainer is the Holy Spirit who resides in every true believer. It appears that at this time, after the Restrainer is removed, and the Church is no longer mentioned, that God turns his attention back to the nation of Israel. Only Israel is referred to during the tribulation events in Revelation, which includes the 144,000, the two witnesses, and the nation of Israel, who will flee from the Beast to the mountains. In Jeremiah 30:7 it says, “Alas, For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” Jacob is a reference to Israel. I believe that the purpose of the Tribulation, therefore, is not for the Church, but for Israel; to bring the whole nation to repentance and belief in the true Messiah, Jesus Christ once and for all. Moreover, Daniel 9:24 states “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.” The seven-year tribulation is the 70th week that Daniel prophesied in scripture referring to the nation of Israel.
Lastly, I believe in the Pre-tribulation Rapture because the symbolic parallels throughout scripture are too compelling to ignore. God has a pattern of removing His people out of harm's way before He brings judgment upon the wicked. These parallels, therefore, demand that a rapture must take place before judgment is unleashed. In Genesis 5:24, Enoch gives us the first picture of the Rapture. “Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him.” Shortly after this, Noah, who found favor with the Lord, and his family were spared from the judgment of the flood that wiped out the whole ancient world. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, who by all accounts would be viewed as a weak witness for the Lord, was considered a righteous man according to 2 Peter 2:7 and was spared along with his two daughters from the judgment of fire and brimstone that fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Another example of the rapture is in 2 Kings 2 when Elijah is taken up in a chariot of fire, never to have tasted death. In addition to all of these many examples and types of raptures in scripture, is the beautiful significance of the ancient Galilean wedding customs and how accurately these customs depict, foreshadow, and point to a Pre-tribulation Rapture, in reference to the Bridegroom and the Bride of Christ. I would recommend watching the documentary “Before the Wrath,” which is currently available on Amazon Prime if you are interested in diving deeper into this topic.
More than ever before, I am confident in the Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church because of the biblical and historical perspectives of the early church, the evidence for the Pre-tribulation Rapture according to Jesus, and as He revealed it to Paul, the fact that it makes the most logical sense in light of scripture, and the symbolic parallels in the bible that all point to this ultimate conclusion. If you are reading this and do not know the Lord, I would encourage you to study the Word for yourself, and seek the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind, so that He will make Himself known to you. Matthew 7:7-8 declares, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Now is the time for repentance; now is the day of salvation. We are not in the last days, we are in the final hours. Perhaps today is the day. Please don’t wait till it’s too late. Seek Him today while He may be found!