The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is not in the Scriptures
Many sincere Christians believe in a theory called Pre-Tribulation Rapture. The theory is that Jesus Christ will rapture all the Christians on Earth before the Great Tribulation that is prophesied in Revelation, and then return when the Tribulation is over to found His Kingdom. While this is a very popular theory, mostly because it provides an easy way out, it actually has no Biblical support. There is not, in fact, a single verse anywhere in Scripture stating that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation. Also, for the theory to be true, the Second Coming of Christ would have to be in two parts, something else which is never mentioned in the Bible. The theory of Pre-Trib. Rapture is based on conclusions that have been drawn from reading things into Scripture that aren’t really there. And unfortunately, that is enough evidence to satisfy the majority of modern believers.
To begin with, a person should never accept a doctrine that isn’t explicitly stated in the Bible. A basic rule of thumb is to make sure there are at least two Scripture verses that support the doctrine before one embraces it as truth. This very principle is found twice in the Bible: Deuteronomy 19:15 says 1 “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.” II Corinthians 13:1 states this: “Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” But the Pre-Trib. rapture provides no solid evidence to support itself. It is a concern in and of itself that people are so willing to accept a belief without studying it themselves. There are many verses in Scripture that talk about examining things in order to discern the truth. 2Test everything. Hold on to the good. – I Thessalonians 5:21. And in Acts 17:11, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Italics added.)
So what proof substantiates the Post-Tribulation rapture? These verses in Matthew 24 are just the beginning: “But immediately after the Tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Here’s a condensed version: “Immediately after the Tribulation of those days… He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” What are these elect? Followers of the Pre-Trib. claim that the elect is either Israel, or the Jewish Believers that are converted after the Church is taken up, but this is never stated anywhere in Scripture. And Jesus, who is speaking here, does not mention a previous rapture. A word-study can even be done on the word ‘elect’ to show that it is used in the New Testament to refer to all Christians. The Greek word is ‘eklektos’, which can be translated as either ‘the elect’ or ‘the chosen’. It is used 24 times in the New Testament to refer to the 3disciples, Jewish and Gentile believers, angels of God, members of the Church, and Christ Himself. Jewish and Gentile believers; the elect refers to both, not one or the other. As for eklektos meaning Israel, one must look no further than Romans 11:7, which declares 4“What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did.”
Incidentally, the word ‘rapture’ is never actually used in the Bible; what people call the Rapture is referred to as the ‘First Resurrection’. It comes from the Greek word ‘rapturo’, which means ‘caught up’. Information about the Tribulation and the Rapture, or First Resurrection, can be found throughout the whole Bible, in both Old and New Testaments, but it is discussed more than anywhere else in Daniel and Revelation. Regrettably, some churches have been encouraged to skip over Revelation because “it doesn’t apply to them”, despite the fact that Revelation begins, in chapter 1, verse 3, with the statement 5“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation is a beneficial book to read for anyone who wants to find out more about the End Times. Chapter 20, verses four and five, talks about the First Resurrection and the martyrs who have died during the Tribulation. “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.” (Italics added) This ‘First Resurrection’ cannot take place before the Tribulation, as John, the author of Revelation, speaks about those who have been martyred because they did not worship the Beast or take his mark. The Beast, or Antichrist, comes to power during the Tribulation. He declares himself to be god and commands that everyone worship him after the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken of in Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15. So how can Christ come to earth and take away the Church before the Tribulation, and then come back afterwards? He would have to come twice, and that would mean that the martyrs (Commonly believed to be those who converted to Christianity after the Rapture) would come to life in the second resurrection, not the first.
Speaking of words, where does the phrase ‘Post-Tribulation’ come from anyway? Again, it is useful to go back to earlier translations of the Word. Matthew 24:29 begins with “But immediately after the tribulation of those days…” and in Mark 13:34 it says “But in those days, after that tribulation…” The prefix ‘post’ comes from the Latin meaning ‘after or following’. So that’s where the term ‘Post’ comes from. And what about ‘Post-Tribulation’? Here is Matthew 24:29 and Mark 13:34 again, this time from the Latin Vulgate: “Statim autem post tribulationem dierum illorum…” and “Sed in illis diebus post tribulationem…” Post tribulationem! Not only is it clearly declared in the Bible that Christ will come for His Church after the Tribulation, but the Latin translation of Scripture even uses the term ‘Post-Tribulation’ when talking about His return.
It may seem peculiar that so many people believe in a doctrine that isn’t Biblically sound. Of course, they do quote Scriptures to support the theory, so it would be a good idea to look at those. The most popular verses are located in I Thessalonians 4:13-17, which says this: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we, who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” Another one is I Corinthians 15:51-54, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will 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 will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘death is swallowed up in victory’.” There are many more passages that they reference, but, like both of the Scriptures above, these verses don’t say anything about when the Rapture will take place.
In point of fact, the Word actually contradicts a Pre-Trib. Rapture. It is impossible for a resurrection to occur before the Tribulation if the First Resurrection happens after the Tribulation, as seen in Revelation 20:4-5. How can there be a resurrection before, if the First Resurrection takes place after? And if one looks at I Corinthians chapter 15 again, one can see, in verses 51-52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will 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 will be changed.” If the ‘last trumpet’ is blown before the Tribulation, can there be another trumpet at the end? Acts 3:21 has this to say about Christ’s return: “…whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” It’s easier to understand what is being said here in the New International Version: “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets.” It makes no sense for God to restore everything before the Tribulation! When Christ comes again, God will restore the Earth. He certainly won’t do that before or during the period when the Antichrist is in power, when He will be pouring out catastrophe after catastrophe on the Earth and all of her inhabitants.
To conclude, though there is much, much more to discuss on the subject, it is imperative that people know what is going to happen. If a person expects to be taken up before the trials and tribulations, when the bad stuff comes they will be unprepared. One should test everything, being sure that these things are firmly rooted in Scripture. So one should also not believe all that has been written by the author; rather, one should search it out in the Word and be sure of it for themselves. The Truth is there, in plain sight. All that is left is to take it
Sources Used: New American Standard Bible, New International Version, Last Days Mystery website. (www.lastdaysmystery.info)
1. All Scripture verses unless otherwise noted are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
2. Quoted from the New International Version (NIV).
3. Verses can be found here: Matthew 24:21-31, Mark 13:20-27, Matthew 20:16, Matthew 22:14, Luke 18:6-8, Luke 23:35, Romans 8:29-33, Romans 16:13-17, Colossians 3:12-15, 1 Timothy 5:21, 2 Timothy 2:10, Titus 1:1, 1 Peter 1:1-2, 1 Peter 2:4-10, 2 John 1:1-2, 13, Revelation 17:14
4. Quoted from the NIV.
5. Quoted from the NIV.