The Rapture Question Answered
The Pre Tribulation Rapture vs. Post Tribulation Rapture is primarily a question over when the Church will be gathered to meet the Lord in the air.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up [raptured] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Both the Pre Tribulation and the Post Tribulation groups agree on much of the prophetic picture as presented in Scripture. For example, both groups agree about the following sequence of prophetic events:
There will be a Fourth Beast Kingdom, Daniel 7:23
The Antichrist will rise to power out of that kingdom, Daniel 7:24-25
The Antichrist will confirm a covenant with many (Israel), Daniel 9:27
After 3 ˝ years the Antichrist will cause temple worship to cease and he will set himself up in the temple of God declaring that he is God, Daniel 9:27 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4
Then there will be Great Tribulation for 3 ˝ years, Daniel 7:25, 12:1 and Matt. 24:21
After the Great Tribulation Christ will return and gather the elect from earth and heaven, Matthew 24:29-31
Then Christ’s reign on earth will begin, Revelation 11:15, and last for 1,000 years, Revelation 20:6
Both groups, also agree that here is a rapture of believers, those left alive at the return of Christ.
However, the Pre Tribulation group believes that this rapture of the living believers will occur before the Tribulation, or Pre Tribulation
The Post Tribulation group, on the other hand, believes that the rapture of the living believers will occur immediately after the Tribulation, or Post Tribulation.
Both groups also use the same Bible passages, below, to support their position.
The # 1 Rapture Passage:
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
The # 1 Rapture Passage beautifully describes the resurrection of the dead and the rapture (catching up) of those left alive at the return of Christ. However, since there is no mention of the Tribulation or the Antichrist in the text it is impossible, by this passage alone, to determine when this resurrection and rapture takes place. This passage appears to provide no support for either belief.
However, when compared with other Scripture there is support for the Post Tribulation belief. Notice in the passage that Jesus comes down from heaven. He has left heaven. Now read Acts 3:21.
He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:21).
The Word of God says that Jesus must remain in heaven until it is time to restore everything. All bible students are certain that God does not restore everything before the Tribulation. Therefore, the # 1 Rapture Passage is describing a Post Tribulation rapture since it will be after the Tribulation when everything is restored.
Now, let's see what the # 2 Rapture Passage says.
The # 2 Rapture Passage:
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, 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. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:51-54)
Once again the passage itself does not identify when the resurrection and rapture will take place. Again, there appears to be no support for either the Pre-Trib or Post-Trib position. However, when compared with other Scripture we find there is support for the Post Tribulation position. Notice in the passage that the dead will be raised imperishable, and we (the living) will be changed at the last trumpet. The last trumpet in Scripture is referred to two times in Revelation.
But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets (Revelation 10:7)
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).
Therefore, the # 2 Rapture Passage also supports a Post Tribulation Resurrection and rapture. Because, at the seventh and last trumpet the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of Christ, forever. Everyone agrees, that the Kingdom of Christ on earth comes after the Tribulation.
Now, let's see what the # 3 Rapture Passage says.
The # 3 Rapture Passage:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:1-3).
Jesus is still here on earth with the disciples when He makes this statement. He says that He is going to the Father in heaven and if He goes He will come back. Therefore, when He has come back he will have left heaven and returned to earth. Then He says He will take us to be with Him. The Greek word which is translated into “take” is paralambano. Paralambano means to receive unto oneself in a personal way.
Therefore, in this passage Jesus is saying that He is going from earth to heaven and when He comes back from heaven to earth, He will receive or gather us to Himself. Therefore, the # 3 Rapture Passage also supports the Post Tribulation Rapture position because we, the Church, is received when Christ comes back to earth and establishes His Kingdom which is after the Tribulation.
Letting Scripture interpret Scripture, we find that Scripture always supports a Post Tribulation resurrection and rapture of the Church, just as Jesus said.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days … They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds [earth], from one end of the heavens [heaven] to the other (Matthew 24:29-31).