We are about faith not fear, suggesting for people to be prepared, not scared. Anyone labeling us fear mongers is totally misunderstandingRead more...
Elenin, is a heavenly body which is currently depicted on NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory site as moving away from earth...Read more...
Why We Must Suffer
So many ministers and faiths are preaching almost exclusively about the pleasant side of being a Christian in today’s worldRead more...
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front, so there is no misunderstanding of what it means to be an authentic Christian.Read more...
There are an increasing list of natural and man made disaster threats that couldRead more...
There exist few subjects that hold greater potential for fatal damage to a Christian’s faith and belief;
and in particular at a most vulnerable time in their lives, than a flawed understanding of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the modern notion of the “rapture.” This article is designed to offer you a brief analysis of the two main positions on the “rapture” of Christians. It is inclined towards defending the Orthodox “post trib” position, but does attempt to explain the “pre-trib” position. "Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21).
Jesus warned His disciples about a coming time of tribulation such as the world has never known that He said would take place right before He was to return (Matt. 24:3-31). For centuries, Christians have expected to face this difficult time before the return of their Lord however in the past two hundred years, some began to teach a way of escape—a crown without a cross. Originally, it started with a small group in Britain led by John Darby, but today it has spread so far that to some people, it is gospel truth. Could this new idea, that the Church has not known be true? Didn’t our Lord warn us of this time of tribulation so that we would be prepared for it?
Many do not see this as an important issue; perhaps this is because they don't know what real tribulation is like, or perhaps they simply believe the escapism as that is all they were ever taught, or because it sounds so much better! The widespread appeal of a pre-tribulation rapture is simple to understand. It certainly is comforting to put faith in the concept that Christians will be spared the final tribulations of the approaching end times. Given the choice of enduring global persecution and unimaginable suffering for your Christian beliefs or being far removed to a celestial kingdom with God, observing the devastation from a protected vantage point of comfort and security, who would choose the first option? Few would be willing to endure years of torture, persecution and self-denial, in the testing and validation of the depth of their Christian faith. Few would want to risk testing their faith “through the fire” and risk being too spiritually weak to “pass” God’s test of our total faith and trust in Him, and our willingness to endure persecution for Him. The hope that Christians will be spared all of this evil is indeed very comforting.
Comforting as it is, it is not consistent with the persecution that has been perpetrated on Christians dating back to the time of Jesus, and to those who have followed God since He called His chosen out of Egypt. Christ suffered terribly and was crucified. During the times immediately following Christ’s resurrection, the apostles suffered greatly for believing in and witnessing for Christ. All Apostles experienced persecution and all but one (St. John) were murdered for their faith and belief in Christ.
History shows that more often than not, God's people went through the hard times, not around them. Why should we be any different? Jesus said that the time of His second coming approaches, many would fall away and would even turn on one another and betray one another (Matt. 24:10). He also said that the love of many would grow cold (Matt. 24:12). This rapture timing can hardly be considered an unimportant issue. Consider, at least, the arguments put forward in this article and critically evaluate whatever position you may hold in comparison with the word of God. Part of this introduction was paraphrased from a book by Dave MacPhearson titled: “The Incredible Cover-up: Exploring the Origins of the Rapture Theories.”
WHAT IS THE RAPTURE?
The phrase rapture (Greek-harpazo, in Latin-rapere) means to be caught up or taken away suddenly. The rapture is the gathering of the elect by Jesus Christ at the end times before the battle of Armageddon. It refers to the sudden removal of God's people on the earth. In the twinkling of an eye, born again Christians will suddenly be transformed out of our human bodies and will rise up into the air to join Jesus Christ.
WHAT ARE THE 2 MAIN POSITIONS ON THE RAPTURE?
The “pre-trib” rapture goes back to the 19th century, thought its exact origin is uncertain. One theory is that a Scottish woman named Margaret McDonald was given the pre-tribulational rapture doctrine through a series of trances in 1830. The pre-tribulational rapture as an established belief can definitely be linked to John Darby and the Plymouth Brethren. The pre-trib rapture doctrine holds that all Christians will be secretly evacuated from the earth, into God’s heavenly kingdom before the beginning of the 7 year tribulation, and will look down as God’s wrath is poured out on the world from a celestial sky box.
The position of the Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church and mainstream Protestant Churches is one of a “post-tribulational” rapture which plainly states that Christians will be alive physically on earth until the very moment of the second coming of Christ. At that moment, Christians dead and alive will be caught up in the air to meet Christ as He comes down on the clouds of heaven, and they will be changed into their glorified new bodies. After Christians meet Christ, Christ sweeps down and conducts the final battle with Satan in the battle of Armageddon.
HISTORICAL ORIGIN FOR EACH POSITION
- John Darby, via Margaret McDonald circa 1830.
Most pre-trib supporters point towards John Darby and the beginning of the dispensationalist movement in the early 1800’s as the origination of the doctrine of the pre-tribulational rapture.
POST TRIB BACKGROUND
- There is no record of the pre Tribulationists position before the 19th Century
It has long been pointed out that pre-tribulation is a relatively new doctrine. With few exceptions, there is no record of it being believed by anyone at all before the 19th century. Several pre-trib dispensationalists have tried for many years to find anyone who postured a pre-trib rapture in the ancient times and all have come up short. Space does not permit an in depth analysis of this article here, but suffice to say that those Orthodox who have studied it carefully find it totally lacking any support for a pre-trib Rapture. T. L. Frazier, in his watershed book “A Second Look at the Second Coming” is so thorough in his research, so astute at pinpointing the contradictions and out of context assertions of the pre-trib sect and so compelling in asserting his points in support of Orthodox Christian post-trib doctrine, that frankly, he leaves the subject of the pre-trib rapture utterly decimated.
- Post trib Rapture is the long held belief of Christians since the early church was founded in 33 AD
BURDEN OF PROOF
If pre-tribulationism is not specifically taught in Scripture, then the post-trib rapture is the default position. It is up to the pre-trib camp to demonstrate that there are 2 separate events and that the first of these takes place before the Tribulation. Unless it can be demonstrated otherwise, we are left to trust that the "blessed hope" of the believer is the second coming of Christ after the Tribulation.
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES FOR EACH POSITION
- Revelation 3:10 10Because thou hast kept the word of my perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those that dwell upon the earth.
This verse is used as the main doctrine of pre-trib believers that God has ordained their escape. Pre-trib doctrine believes that the words “keep you” refer to evacuation from the earth via a pre-tribulation rapture. They believe that God has commanded that Christians be spared from the coming tribulation.
POST TRIB REBUTTAL
As T.L. Frazier writes, “Christ is not promising to remove Christians from the hour of testing but to keep them from evil through the hour of testing. The basis for this belief is John 17:15: I do not pray that you should take them out of the world (as in a rapture), but that you should keep them from the evil one.”
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 16For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Somehow the pre-trib camp asserts that this verse defends their position, but no where does this verse infer Christ’s return is BEFORE the tribulation.
POST TRIB REBUTTAL
This verse is the clearest statement in the bible of precisely how the rapture will occur, yet no where does it really lead the reader to infer that the rapture will occur before the tribulation. Pay particular attention to the first 8 words of verse 16, which refers to the Lord Himself descending. This sounds like a “coming” of our Lord. If He is coming down (descending), which is what the verse states, and it is not at the end of the tribulation, then this would require a third coming of our Lord, for He clearly is coming at the end of the tribulation to judge everyone and establish His eternal kingdom. Doesn’t the pre-trib position require a THIRD coming of Christ? Does scripture reference a 3rd coming at the beginning of the tribulation? These are the questions that the pre-trib believers must definitively answer if their position is to hold merit.
POST TRIB RAPTURE
- Matthew 24: 21-22 21“for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. 22And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.”
POST TRIB POSITION
This verse clearly addresses that the tribulation days shall be cut short for the sake of the elect. Post trib doctrine takes this scripture at its face value. There really is not much upon which to expound. The argument by the pre-trib camp that this clear and compelling scripture is not Christians from before the tribulation began, but rather only those who accepted Christ after the pre-trib rapture and became Christians DURING the tribulation; is a great example of the pre-trib camp taking liberty to twist the obvious into their own agenda, regardless of how out of context it must be molded.
PRE TRIB REBUTTAL
Pre-Trib’s interpret that the “elect” referred to in this scripture is not Christians from before the tribulation began, but rather only those who accepted Christ after the pre-trib rapture and became Christians DURING the tribulation.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 1Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, 2that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself above every so called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
POST TRIB POSITION
This verse clearly addresses that both the coming of our Lord and our gathering together to him (vs. 1), is directly connected to occurring AFTER the man of lawlessness is revealed (vs. 3), who is clearly depicted as the Antichrist in (vs. 4). This is very straight forward, and each point is very hard to dispute in any way, despite how hard the pre-trib camp tries.
PRE TRIB REBUTTAL
In Tim Lahaye’s book, Rapture [Under Attack], on page 79, Tim postures that Holy Apostle Paul intended in 2 Thess 2:1-12 that there would be a seven year period between the “our gathering together to him” and the “Glorious Appearing”. Does an honest study of 2 Thess 2:1-12 lead to Tim’s pre-trib conclusion or the post trib position? Tim’s pre-trib position requires a “third coming” or a complete denial of the words of 2 Thess 2:3 “Let no one deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first…”
- Matthew 24: 29-31. 29“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. 30and 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. 31And 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.”
POST TRIB POSITION
This verse clearly states that after the tribulation of those days the Son of Man will gather His elect from the four corners of the earth. The scripture speaks for itself. As T. L. Frazier states in A Second Look at the Second Coming, page 188, “the pre-trib rapture is a perversion of historic Christian teaching that allows a fear of the end times to supersede the proclamation of the gospel”.
PRE TRIB REBUTTAL
As in Matthew 24: 21-22, the pre-trib interpretation is that the “elect” referred to in this scripture is not Christians from before the tribulation began, but rather only those who accepted Christ after the pre-trib rapture and became Christians DURING the tribulation.
- John 17:15 15“I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”
POST TRIB POSITION
The interpretation of this scripture can be paralleled to I Corinthians, 10:13, regarding temptation. In Corinthians, the apostle Paul is writing that God will give us the tools to endure the temptations, not that we will be removed from them. Relating this to John 17:15, the apostle John is stating that God will somehow provide means for protecting us from the evil one, not removing us from the earth. Although there is no direct association of this scripture with the end times and the tribulation, it does maintain the consistent pattern throughout the bible that Christians are protected from evil not evacuated from trials.
PRE TRIB REBUTTAL
Pre-Trib’s assert that this verse does not apply to the end times, but rather to the times of Christ’s first coming.
CONTINUITY OF THE LEGACY OF SUFFERING
Righteous believers suffering is a continuous theme throughout the old and new testaments of the bible as well as after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ set the example of suffering by dying on the cross for our sins. All throughout history, apostles, saints, monastics and many other Christians from all walks of life suffered greatly and many ultimately gave their life to serve God’s will. This legacy of suffering is well documented throughout the bible, and the last 2000 years. It serves God’s will in a many ways.
Suffering allows us to experience a deeper understanding of our faith and a better appreciation of the security and value of God’s promise of eternal salvation
There are numerous examples God using suffering in the bible to test the faith and character of the believers.
Suffering in the Old Testament
- Job 1:6-12. Job is the classic example of God testing the righteous through suffering.
Suffering Post Crucifixion
- All 12 apostles were blessed to experience extreme suffering, and 11 of them died a violent death. Only the Apostle John died of natural causes, and even he experienced extreme suffering and long term imprisonment during his life.
Seven died of Crucifixion, two died of beheading, one was burned in a fire, and one was stoned.
- Christians were harshly persecuted when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD.
- Christians were severely persecuted during the Roman Catholic “crusades” of the 11th and 12th centuries.
Since the righteous have been blessed with the opportunity to suffer all throughout biblical and modern Christianity, why would God deny His children the privilege of suffering at one of the greatest, most cataclysmic events in the history of the world? Why would God stop testing His children’s faith at this pivotal time?! This would be totally inconsistent with all recorded history!
PRE TRIB THEOLOGY REQUIRES A 3rd COMING OF CHRIST
The new testament is extremely clear that after Christ’s visited the apostles for a period of 40 days after his death, that he would return once and ONLY once more at the end of the tribulation to resurrect all Christians (post trib rapture), bind Satan and judge all people. If Christians are to be resurrected before the 7 year tribulation, Christ would have to return a third time, which is nowhere in the bible.
**DANGEROUS RISK OF FALSE BELIEF IN A PRE-TRIB RAPTURE**
If the pre-trib rapture is incorrect, Christians who hold this false belief will have a major component of their Christian faith; that God will spare them from the suffering that is only intended for the unjust, utterly destroyed. The timing of the “revelation” of this false belief could not be worse, as it will come at the same time that the “mark of the beast” will come into widespread implementation. The false doctrine of a pre-trib rapture could be one of the most diabolical deceptions that Satan ever concocted. Here’s why!
- The Antichrist and his minions will have a golden opportunity to use the timing of this “revelation” to assert to these disillusioned Christians that the doctrine of rapture is not the only false belief they hold; they should also stop believing in Jesus Christ altogether and start following him (the Antichrist). For many lukewarm Christians this will pose a compelling argument, particularly when the Antichrist begins performing the miracles and other wonders that the bible prophecies he will do (Rev 13 1-14). Many Christians will be deceived by the pre-trib rapture; many of these will be further deceived by the Antichrist into following him and forsaking Christianity!
- Christians who believe in the pre trib rapture without allowing for the possibility of a post trib rapture will find themselves totally unprepared to endure the persecution of end times. Think about it, if you think that you will be spared from the terrible wrath that God hands down to the earth during the end times, why would you prepare for surviving the end times. How could you be emotionally, spiritually or physically prepared to endure it? Pre trib believing Christians will be caught so totally off guard that they will be in for the shock of their earthly lives.
- While Christians ponder whether they should hold onto their belief and faith in Christ, the antichrist will torment them for their faith in Christ and will also force them to take the mark of the beast if they want to buy or sell anything. With their pre-trib hope crushed, their Christian belief seriously shaken and their bellies aching for food and nourishment, many will succumb to the Antichrist for sustenance and face eternal damnation. (Rev 14 10-12)
- The evidence is so compelling that the pre-trib rapture is one of Satan’s greatest lies, that it is hard to believe that anyone who takes an objective look at the biblical proof texts would come to the conclusion that a pre-trib rapture is likely or certain. Friend, please pray for God to reveal His truth to you, the evidence supporting a post trib rapture is compelling.
The goal of this condensed 4 page tract is to simply start the earnest Christian in a deeper search of this debate. T. L. Fraziers book, A Second Look at the Second Coming well defends the Orthodox position & Tim Lahaye’s book Rapture [Under Attack] does the most comprehensive job of trying to defend the pre-trib position. Read them both, pray about it, and see what conclusion God leads you to.
Very Reverened Thomas Hopko
Father Hopko is one of the most prominent Orthodox Christian lecturers and speakers alive today; well-known in bothRead more...
John & Lisa Bevere - Bait of Satan
John Bevere has a phenomenal ministry that truly cuts to the core of some of the greatest challenges restraining Christians from livingRead more...
David Wilkerson Inspiring Emails
David Wilkerson’s various ministries have deeply touched the lives of millions of Christians all over the world for over 50 years.Read more...
Journey to Orthodoxy
Among the hundreds of websites on Orthodox Christianity and the dozens of Orthodox website links available from our “LINKS” tab, one of the very best sites forRead more...
Graham Cooke Spiritual Warrior
Graham Cooke’s exceptionally powerful ministries are for those who are looking to engage the enemy at aRead more...