Biblical Evidences for
a Pretribulational Rapture
by Mike Vlach
President of Theological Studies.org
Vlach: Introductory matters concerning the Rapture.
his introduction, he makes a good Biblical case for the FACT of the rapture
including the validity of the term “rapture” based on the Latin. There is
nothing to disagree with in this first section.
Vlach: A Biblical defense of Pretribulationism Of these five
views why is Pretribulationism to be preferred? The following are biblical
evidences for a Pretribulational Rapture:
The pillars of Pretribulationism The foundation of Pretribulationism
has four elements:
Consistent literal interpretation The literal method of interpretation
attempts to explain the original sense of the writer according to the normal
usages of words and language. The literal method interprets all of the Bible
in a normal and plain way, all the time understanding that the Bible, at
times, uses symbols, figures of speech and types.
true that the literal method of interpretation needs to be followed. But it is
not true that the literal method lead to a pretribulational rapture position.
In fact, holding to a pretrib position actually violates the literal method of
interpretation in many ways.
These will all be discussed as this analysis progresses.
The pretrib position fails to follow the entire context of Matthew 24 and keep
the ONE second coming of Christ in view.
2. The pretrib position fails to compare scripture with scripture concerning
many of its claims.
3. The pretrib position fails to follow a literal hermeneutic by interpreting
Rev. 4:1 as a rapture passage.
4. The pretrib position fails to follow a literal hermeneutic by disallowing
specific rapture promises as referring to the rapture, but to Christ’s descent
at Armageddon instead.
5. The pretrib position fails to follow a literal hermeneutic by defining
terms by supposition rather than by direct statements of Scripture.
Vlach: Distinction between
Israel and the Church
According to Thomas Ice, ((Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, The Truth About The
Rapture, pp. 25-26) ) "If Israel and the church are not distinguished,
then there is no basis for seeing a future for Israel or for the church as a
new and unique people of God. If Israel and the church are merged into a
single program, then the Old Testament promises for Israel will never be
fulfilled and are usually seen by replacement theologians as spiritually
fulfilled by the church. The merging of Israel's destiny into the church not
only makes into one what the Scriptures understand as two, but it also removes
a need for future restoration of God's original elect people in order to
fulfill literally His promise that they will one day be the head and not the
tail (Deuteronomy 28:13).
The more that believers see a distinct plan for Israel and a distinct plan for
the church, the more they realize that when the New Testament speaks to the
church it is describing a separate destiny and hope for her.
Prewrath does not violate dispensations. It does not merge Israel and the
church. But it does recognize that -
1. There are transitional periods between the dispensations.
2. That the 70th week of Daniel is NOT a time of Israel’s national
favor with God. The nation was under discipline from God for the first 69
weeks, and continues that way until the end of the 70th week.
3. Accordingly, it is the church that remains on the earth at the beginning of
the 70th week in order to be used by God to bring the gospel not
only to Israel but to the entire world (Matthew 10:21-23; 24:14).
4. God’s plan for Israel
does NOT begin until the end of the 70th week.
5. See PreWrath and Dispensations
Vlach - via Ice: The church
becomes more distinct in the plan of God. Israel's future includes the
seven-year tribulation, and then shortly before Christ's return to Jerusalem
she will be converted to Jesus as her Messiah. . . . On the other hand, the
distinct hope for the church is Christ's any-moment return.<
fails to properly define the tribulation. It is NOT seven years long. It is
not the same as the 70th week of Daniel. The tribulation begins at
the midpoint of the week and ONLY at the midpoint of the week. Matthew 24:29.
In addition, the hope of the church is to be delivered FROM WITHIN the time of
persecution by the GLORIOUS return of Jesus with His mighty angels in flaming
fire. 2 Thes. 1:6-10.
It is not imminent but must await several things, among which are
1. The prophesied fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Luke 21:20-24
2. The arrival and death of Paul in Rome. Acts 23:11; 27:23-26
3. The return of Israel to the land as an independent nation.
For details on Imminency see:
The 8 blows to imminency
Vlach: Futurism Pretribulationism takes a
futuristic interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 and the book of Revelation. Daniel
9:24-27 gives the seven-year chronological framework of the Tribulation while
Revelation 6-18 details the judgments that make up this period. Futurism sees
prophecy as being fulfilled in the future, namely with the Tribulation period,
the Second Coming of Christ to earth, and the Millennial Kingdom. Futurism is
opposed to preterism, which sees prophecy as already being fulfilled in the
past, predominately in A.D. 70. Futurism is also opposed to historicism which
sees prophecy being fulfilled in the current Church Age.
I will announce at every
opportunity when the pretribbers fail to properly define the tribulation.
Jesus made it perfectly clear that the tribulation will begin at the midpoint
of the 70th week of Daniel. Matthew 24:15-29.
Furthermore, even Daniel clarified that the tribulation would be expected to
last 3 ½ years. Dan. 12:1-7.
Vlach: Premillennialism At the end of the seven year Tribulation
period, Jesus Christ will return to earth in power and glory to set up an
earthly Kingdom from Jerusalem that will last for a literal one thousand years
(see Rev. 20:1-6).
This is not the definition of premillennialism.
Premillenialism is the return of Christ before the 1000 year millennium
begins. Pretrib and prewrath are simply views within premillenialism. But
according to all the passages, Jesus will return BEFORE the end of the 70th
week, while the church is being persecuted by the beast. This is the clear
irrefutable view of Paul at 2Thes. 1:6-10.
after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict
you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as
well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels
in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not
know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9 These
will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the
Lord and from the glory of His power,) 10 when He comes to be
glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have
believed--for our testimony to you was believed.
At this time, Jesus will come “to the earth” in the clouds of the sky in power
and great glory” (Mat. 24:30), which is the blessed hope of the church; “the
appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Christ Jesus.” (Titus
See 2 Thes. 1:6-10
See: Titus 2:13
descent of Jesus prophesied at Revelation 19 is when he sets foot on the earth
to battle the world’s armies that have assembled at Armageddon. It is NOT the
second coming, but rather an event that comes several months after the second
Vlach: What is the proper method for addressing this
issue of the timing of the Rapture?
Examine the Rapture and Second Coming passages Go first to the portions
of Scripture that speak directly about the Rapture and the return of the Lord
to earth. Study John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; and 1 Thessalonians
4:13-18 for the Rapture. Examine Zechariah 14:1-21; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark
13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27; and Revelation 19 for the Second Coming to earth.
The problem here is that he
just does not categorize or label the passages properly.
There is only ONE second coming of Christ. It begins with his arrival in the
clouds of the sky in power and great glory. All the passages Vlach has listed
refer to the second coming except for Revelation 19. And he has left out some
very important ones at that.
Titus 2:13; 2 Thes. 1:6-10; 2 Thes. 2:1-3
Vlach: Examine implications of conclusions Proper
methodology does not stop with an examination of the primary texts addressing
an issue. As John Feinberg says, "While one should begin with passages that
speak directly about the doctrine under consideration, one must also pay
attention to the implications of the doctrine. This is especially important
if, as in the case of the rapture, the passages about the rapture and return
of the Lord do not determine the question of the rapture's timing in relation
to the time of the Tribulation. . . . Implications and relations of doctrines
to one another are crucial. If one's position on a given theological issue is
correct, it will fit with other known theological and biblical truths rather
than contradict them. (John S. Feinberg, "Arguing for the Rapture: Who Must
Prove What and How" in, When the Trumpet Sounds, Thomas Ice and Timothy
eds. p. 191).
Feinberg is quoted, but makes a
false statement. “This is especially important if, as in the case of
the rapture, the passages about the rapture and return of the Lord do not
determine the question of the rapture's timing in relation to the time of the
Tribulation. . ..”
There are passages that do in fact determine the
timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation. The pretrib position
simply ignores them or rationalizes them.
The pretrib is divided about whether Matthew 24:36-44 should refer to (1) the
coming that is mentioned in verses 29-31, which they claim to be the coming at
Armageddon, or (2) the rapture which they claim is not referred to in verse
So I shall state in reference to #2, that IF verses 36-44 refer to the
rapture, then the literal interpretation DEMANDS that verses 29-31 refers to
the arrival of Jesus that is promised to the church and verse 31 refers to the
gathering of the saints at the rapture.
In that case, verse 29 is explicit and irrefutable. “But immediately after the
tribulation of those days.”
Of course, it has to be realized that the tribulation is NOT the 70th
week of Daniel.
And also that it will begin at the midpoint of the 70th week, and
be CUT SHORT from its expected duration. Thus the statement that He comes
after the tribulation is perfectly consistent with “no one knows the day or
the hour,” because the tribulation will be cut short by the decree of God at
some unknown day and hour prior to the end of the 70th week.
THIS IS EXPLICIT.
2 Thes. 2:1-3 is also explicit when one does not rationalize the meaning of
the noun, apostasy. The Day of the Lord, which is clearly indicated to occur
in direct connection with “the coming of the Lord” and “our gathering together
to Him,” will not occur until there first comes that apostasy and the man of
lawlessness is revealed. In other words, the gathering (rapture) will occur
after the midpoint of the week; after the tribulation has begun.
Vlach: Putting it all together "The key point to remember is that
proper theological methodology dare not allow us to ignore either the
rapture and parousia passages or the doctrines that have implications for
one's views on the rapture and second advent. Although study should begin with
passages that speak directly to the topic at hand, both are equally important.
It is surely no victory to uphold one's views on the timing of the rapture at
the expense of denying what God's Word says, for example, about the relation
of the church to God's judgmental wrath." (John Feinberg, p. 192)
Certainly this is true.
However, this time of “God’s judgmental wrath” must be properly defined.
Nowhere in Scripture is the tribulation described as a time of God’s wrath. It
is clearly a time of Satan’s wrath against God’s people. The deeds of the
beast (antichrist) are not expressions of God’s wrath. And as was clearly
established above, the rapture occurs AFTER the tribulation has been cut short
by the sovereign decree of God.
It is then that God’s wrath will be poured out on the earth via the trumpets
The first 5 seals represent the time of the antichrist, and do not involve the
wrath of God.
It is at the 6th seal that Jesus appears to the human race, and
they proclaim, “hide us from the wrath of Him who sits on the throne and from
the wrath of the Lamb.” Rev. 6:16.
They recognize that “the great day of their wrath has come.” It is at the 6th
seal that the Day of the Lord begins and the wrath of God is about to be
poured out. God’s wrath will not be present in the first 5 seals, and it is
erroneous to claim that the first 5 seals are judgments from God or
expressions of God’s wrath.
Vlach: Biblical evidence for Pretribulationism The Bible does not
explicitly tells us the timing of the Rapture. Thus, no one verse tells us
that the Rapture will be pretribulational (or midtribulational or
posttribulational for that matter).
As already shown above, the Bible is very explicit
that the rapture will occur AFTER the tribulation (Matthew 24:29-42) and
DURING the tribulation (2Thes. 1:6-10). But I must repeat that the tribulation
is NOT the 70th week; does not begin at the start of the 70th
week; and does not end at the end of the 70th week. It begins at
the midpoint of the week, and is ended, by being cut short at an unknown day
and hour prior to the end of the week.
Vlach: Does this mean that the doctrine of pretribulationism is unbiblical?
Not necessarily. . . Likewise a harmonization of biblical texts shows the
pretribulational rapture view to be biblical. The following are the biblical
Vlach: God has promised the Church deliverance from divine wrath (1 Thess.
1:10; 5:9; Rev. 3:10) God made a special promise to the church that it
will be delivered from the future, tribulational wrath of God. It is best to
take this deliverance as a physical removal (Rapture) from this time of divine
While it is true that the
church is promised deliverance from divine wrath, the Bible never assigns
divine wrath to the tribulation, but to the DAY OF THE LORD, which follows the
tribulation. Pretribbers seem to pride themselves in Biblical accuracy, but
they have failed to properly define terms, and accordingly have adopted a
system based on supposition and un-provable theory.
1 Thess. 1:9-10 The Thessalonians were wait[ing] for His Son from
heaven. . . that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. Why
does this wrath refer to the Tribulation? First, the context of 1 and 2
Thessalonians deals with the Day of the Lord and the judgment of God that
precedes the coming of Christ. Second, the text states that it is a future
wrath ("wrath to come"). Third, it is a wrath one can be rescued from by the
return of Christ. Thus, The wrath referred to then is the wrath of the
Tribulation period and not God's eternal wrath in general.
The question that is asked:
“Why does this wrath refer to the Tribulation,” is not proved by his
1. The Day of the Lord is NOT the tribulation, but begins AFTER the
Just compare, Joel 2:15 and Matthew 24:29-30, and it is obvious that it is the
same event that is in view, which Joel designates as The Day of the Lord.
2. A “future” wrath does not require that it take place in the tribulation.
The tribulation is NEVER designated explicitly as a time of divine wrath. On
the other hand, the Day of the Lord is explicitly identified as a time of
3. Yes, the believer is delivered out from, that is BEFORE the time of wrath
begins, but that does not prove that it is the tribulation, or that the
believer is removed before the trib.
Vlach: 1 Thess. 5:9 For God has not destined us
for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Why
does this wrath refer to the Tribulation? The immediate context is the wrath
of the Day of the Lord (5:1-8). Plus, this must be the same wrath as 1 Thess.
But never is divine wrath
associated with the tribulation. The Day of the Lord is not the tribulation.
Vlach: The whole seven year Tribulation period is a
time of God's divine wrath so the protection promised must be for the whole
seven years. Some have tried to say that divine wrath does not
characterize the whole seven year Tribulation period. They say that the early
judgments (the seals) of the tribulation are the wrath of man and Satan. The
following points, however, show that the whole Tribulation period is a time of
This person continues to make
the statement that the tribulation is a time of God’s divine wrath, but fails
to provide even one passage of Scripture that even HINTS that the statement is
Vlach: Jesus is the One who directly opens all the
Tribulation judgments including the seal judgments which begin the Tribulation
period. In Revelation 4 and 5 Jesus is the One found worthy to open the
seals which He begins to open in 6:1. The opening of the seals by Christ
indicates that the seal judgments are divine wrath.
This is an unfounded
1. There is no divine wrath involved in the first 5 seals. No wrath is
mentioned or even hinted at. The first five seals are not even JUDGMENTS from
God. Instead, the events of the first 5 seals represent the activities of the
beast expressing the wrath of Satan toward God’s people.
2. Just because Jesus opens the seals does not mean that they involve divine
On what basis do the actions of Christ demand that those actions are
expressions of wrath? The 7-sealed book represents the expression of God’s
wrath via the trumpet and bowl judgments. Before that wrath is expressed and
the judgments are poured out on the earth, the events portrayed by the seals
must occur. The seals must be opened before the book can be read.
Vlach: The seal judgments which open the Tribulation are consistent with
divine wrath "The judgments of these four seals include the sword, famine,
pestilence, and wild beasts, frequently used in Scripture as the expressions
of divine wrath. Indeed, they are all included and named when God calls His
'four severe judgments upon Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague'
(Ezek. 14:21)." (Gerald B. Stanton, "A Review of the Pre-Wrath Rapture of the
Church, Bibliotecha Sacra, vol. 148 #589, January 1991) Plus, plagues
such as pestilence and wild beasts can hardly be caused by man.
presence of these items does not require that it comes from God.
Sometimes God uses things to discipline nations.
Sometimes these things are “directly” administered by God and sometimes they
are “natural consequences” of the way a society manages itself.
Just because a famine occurs does not mean it is “from” God, let alone WRATH
from God. Permitted by Him, most certainly, but not necessarily directly from
Him. This applies to each of the other factors as well.
In the case of the first 5 seals, these are things that are caused by the
oppressive actions of the beast, and not by God.
Vlach: As early as the sixth seal, unbelievers declare
that God's wrath "has come" (Rev. 6:16-17). Unbelievers recognize that all
six seals that have happened so far are the direct wrath of God. Robert L.
Thomas says "The verb elthen ('has come') is aorist indicative,
referring to a previous arrival of the wrath, not something that is about to
take place. Men see the arrival of this day at least as early as the cosmic
upheavals that characterize the sixth seal (6:12-14), but upon reflection they
probably recognize it was already in effect with the death of one-fourth of
the population (6:7-8), the worldwide famine (6:5-6), and the global warfare
(6:3-4). The rapid sequence of all these events could not escape public
notice, but the light of their true explanation does not dawn upon human
consciousness until the severe phenomena of the sixth seal arrive." (Robert L.
Thomas, Revelation 1-7, pp. 457-58)
This is an erroneous
understanding of the use of the aorist tense here. It does not require a
retrospect to the events of the previous seals. These people are reacting to
the arrival of Jesus, not to the things that have ALREADY happened, and in
fact, have been going on for several months. The expression of these people is
made IN VIEW of what is about to come upon them because they see the presence
of Jesus, who has arrived in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
They say, “for the day of their wrath has come.” That means that it is NOW
TIME for God’s wrath to begin to be poured out on the earth.
This is perfectly consistent with Matthew 24:29-30 and 1 Thes. 5:3.
“While they are saying peace and safety, then destruction will come on them
suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”
In the previous 5 seals, it is not the general populace of the world who are
affected, it is the ones who fail to accept beast worship. The others are
living in peace and security until Christ arrives in the clouds of the sky and
pops their balloon, bringing them the reality of impending wrath and judgment
Vlach: Revelation 3:10 Because you have 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 who dwell
upon the earth. Here is a promise to the Church of preservation outside of
the time of Tribulation. Thus, believers are not only promised deliverance
from divine wrath but from the time period ("hour") of divine
wrath. This rules out the possibility of the Church being on earth during the
Tribulation. As Ryrie says, "It is impossible to conceive of being in the
location where something is happening and being exempt from the time of the
Basically, there is nothing in
the context that identifies this “hour of testing” as the tribulation. This is
pure speculation. There are other options, so it is certainly a weak argument
to use in defense of a pretrib rapture. According to the PreWrath view, it
refers instead, to the Day of the Lord which will begin AFTER the tribulation
has been cut short by the sovereign decision of God, and Christ arrives on the
So any appeal to this passage alone is a draw.
See details for Revelation 3:10
Vlach: Differences between Rapture passages and Second
Coming passages indicate that the two are different events happening at
different times. The central passages dealing with the Rapture are
John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The central
passages dealing with the Second Coming to earth are Zechariah 14:1-
21; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27 and Revelation 19. A
careful examination of these texts will show that there is enough reason to
conclude that the Rapture and the Second Coming to earth are not the same
I suggest that a careful
examination shows just the opposite!
See: The rapture and second advent contrasted
Vlach: The Second Coming is preceded by signs but the Rapture is presented
as imminent with no signs preceding it. "In passages that deal with the
Second Advent there are signs or events that lead up to and signal the return
of Jesus Christ (e.g., Matt. 24:4-28; Rev. 19:11-21). In each of these
passages of Scripture there is the careful and extensive itemizing of details
that should alert believers in that day that the Second Advent is about to
occur. . . . On the other hand, there is no mention of any signs or events
that precede the Rapture of the church in any of the Rapture passages.
The point seems to be that the believer prior to this event is to look, not
for some sign, but the Lord from heaven. If the Rapture was a part of the
complex of events that make up the Second Advent, and not distinct from it,
then we would expect that there would be a mention of signs or events in at
least one passage." (See Paul D. Feinberg, "The Case For The Pretribulation
Rapture Position," in Gleason Archer, Paul Feinberg, Douglas Moo, The
Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post Tribulational? p. 80)
There is no similarity between
Matthew 24:4-28 and Revelation 19.
Matthew 24:29-31 is clearly the return of Jesus to gather His elect.
Revelation mentions nothing like this.
Of course the believer is to look for the coming of the Lord rather than the
signs. But that does not mean that no signs will occur. In fact, the Bible
makes it clear that there are certain specific things that must occur before
the Lord can return. These have already been shown in this article.
Vlach: The Rapture is presented as a coming in blessing while the Second
Coming is a coming for judgment. "In the clear Rapture passages, the
Lord's coming is presented as a coming in blessing for the saints. Nothing is
said about His coming for judgment. On the other hand, passages about the
second advent speak of the Lord's coming in judgment upon His enemies (Rev.
19:11ff; Joel 3:12-16; Zech. 14:3-5)." (John Feinberg, p. 198). "In each of
the Rapture passages there is no mention of trial before the event. Rather,
there is the bare promise of Christ's return for His own." (Paul Feinberg, p.
This is simply a false
statement. 2Thes. 1:6-10 makes it very clear that when Jesus comes to give
relief to the church which will be under extreme persecution pressure, He is
likewise coming to judge those who are doing the persecuting (quoted above).
How or why can Mr. Feinberg totally ignore this passage?
Yes, at the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky to gather His elect from
the earth, he will come IN JUDGMENT with His mighty angels in flaming fire.
1Thes. 5:1-3 is another very clear statement that when the Day of the Lord
arrives it will be a time of great judgment on the earth-dwellers, for then
“sudden destruction will come upon them like birth pangs of a woman in labor.”
And speaking of coming “in blessing,” there is the promise at Titus 2:13, that
the coming of Jesus for His saint is described as “the appearing of the glory
of the great God and our Savior Christ Jesus.”
Vlach: Second Coming passages are in the context of
the setting up of the Kingdom while the Rapture passages make no mention of
the Kingdom. "Second advent passages are invariably followed by talk of
setting up the kingdom after the Lord's return (e.g., Matt. 24:31; 25:31ff;
Zech. 14; Joel 3; Rev. 19-20). So, the second advent is preparatory to the
establishment of the millennial kingdom. On the other hand, clear rapture
passages give no hint that after the rapture the Lord establishes the
kingdom." (John Feinberg, p. 198)
This is an empty argument.
There is no need to mention the establishment of the kingdom at the very
moment of the rapture. There are several things that must occur before that
kingdom is set up. In the Old Testament, the arrival of the Messiah is
portrayed as the arrival of The Day of the Lord. During that “day” there are
several things that will occur – all leading up to the establishment of
Christ’s earthly reign.
There is only one second coming. It is a TIME PERIOD with a single INCEPTION
event, and several subsequent events.
Matthew 24:29-31 (32-44) deals with the INCEPTION event, at which time the
gathering of the saints will occur.
Matthew 25:31ff deals with the TIME PERIOD that begins with Christ’s arrival
(the inception event) and involves the establishment of the earthly kingdom.
Likewise, the Day of the Lord is a time period with a single inception event
and several subsequent events.
1Thes. 5:2 deals with the inception of the Day of the Lord, as does 2Thes.
2 Peter 3:10-13 deals with the time period.
Failure to deal with ALL the
passages with a consistent hermeneutic has resulted in the theory that the
arrival of Jesus to rapture his saints is NOT the second coming, and that His
descent at Armageddon IS His second coming.
In actuality, the arrival of Jesus to rapture His saints is the INCEPTION
EVENT of the second coming and His descent to the earth at Armageddon is one
of the subsequent events that occur during the TIME PERIOD of the second
Vlach: Glorified bodies at the Rapture "It is very
clear from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51ff that at the
rapture those gathered to the Lord will be glorified. On the other hand,
second advent passages say nothing about anyone (living or dead) receiving a
glorified body." (John Feinberg, p. 198) "Nowhere in the texts that deal with
the Second Advent is there the teaching about the translation of living
saints." (Paul Feinberg, p. 82)
Still a confusion of terms. The
second advent IS IN FACT, when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky,
fulfilling the promise He made to the disciples at Acts 1:11, and prophesied
later by the apostles. There is only one second coming.
The descent of Jesus at Armageddon is NOT the second advent, but and event
that occurs several months after His arrival.
And the fact that Armageddon passages do not mention the glorification of the
saints is perfectly consistent.
Vlach: No mention of meeting in the air in Second Coming passages
Nowhere in the Second Coming passages is a meeting in the air mentioned.
Again, simply the failure to recognize that the
second coming inovles both an INCEPTION event and a TIME PERIOD with many
Vlach: Differences in timing of resurrections
"There seems to be an inconsistency between the time of the
resurrection at the Rapture and at the Second Coming. In the central Rapture
passage dealing with this issue, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the time of the
resurrection of dead saints in clearly stated to be during the descent
of Christ of to the earth. Those raptured, living and dead saints, will be
caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Contrast that information with what is
found in Revelation 19-20. There, the order seems to be: the descent of
Christ, the slaying of His enemies, the casting of the Beast and the False
Prophet into the lake of fire, the binding of Satan, and then the
resurrection of the saints. It seems as though the resurrection of the dead
will be during the descent at the Rapture, but after the descent
at the Second Coming." (Paul Feinberg, p. 84)
1. At the arrival of Jesus in
the clouds of the sky, the living saints and the dead saints of all ages will
be resurrected. Mat. 24:31; 1 Thes. 4:14-17. This is the rapture.
2. After the rapture, there will be new converts to Christ and new martyrs.
3. After Armageddon, those additional martyrs will be resurrected. This is
what Rev. 20:4 is talking about. Notice that it is very restrictive. It is
talking ONLY about those who were killed at the hands of the beast. That must
refer to those who were killed between the rapture and Armageddon.
Vlach: Differences in destiny at time of comings "There seems to be an
inconsistency between the destination of those who are raptured in the Rapture
and the destination of those who participate in the Second Coming. In the
posttribulation understanding of the events that surround the Second Coming,
the church will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and will immediately
accompany Him on His continued descent to the earth. Compare that with John
14:3. In the Rapture the Lord is going to come and take those raptured to be
with Him. The clear implication is that the raptured saints will be taken to
heaven, not earth. If this is so, then the destination of those caught up in
the Rapture will be heaven. According to the Second Coming passages, however,
the saints involved are headed for the earth." (Paul Feinberg, p. 84)
1. This ASSUMES that the “armies” at Rev. 19:14 are
saints. It is more likely that they are angels, for the groom does not bring
his bride into battle with him. And there is no promise in Scripture that says
that the church will be involved with this battle.
2. So while it certainly is “A CLEAR IMPLICATION” that the raptured saints
will be taken to heaven, it is definitely NOT a clear implication that Jesus
will bring believers with Him at Armageddon.
Vlach: The role of the angels in the comings At the Second Coming, the
angels are the ones who will gather the elect (Matt. 24:31). At the Rapture
Jesus is the direct agent of the gathering (1 Thess. 4:16).
When Jesus USES the angels to gather the saints, it
is STILL Jesus who is doing the gathering. It is CLEARLY understood by those
who heard Jesus and those who wrote down His words that it is JESUS himself
who gathers the saints THROUGH the agency of the angels. There are dozens of
things that are done BY God, but He uses agents to carry out the actions.
Once again, the proponents of this pretrib theory fail to properly evaluate
ALL the passages involved. They use Mat. 24:31 to show a difference between 1
Mat. 24:31, “And HE will send forth His angels with a Great Trumpet and THEY
will gather together His elect from the four winds, form one end of the sky to
1Thes. 4:16-17, “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 shall be caught up
together with them in the clouds of the sky.”
This passage does not say HOW the saints are gathered. It simply states that
they ARE gathered.
But to answer the argument, all we need do is look at Mark 13:27.
“And then He will send forth His angels, and HE will gather together his elect
form the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth, to the farthest end
Jesus is the one who gathers
the saints USING the angels.
Vlach: The "mystery" nature of the Rapture "Paul speaks of the Rapture
as a 'mystery' (1 Cor. 15:51-54), that is, a truth not revealed until it was
disclosed by the apostles (Col. 1:26). Thus the Rapture is said to be a newly
revealed mystery, making it a separate event. The Second Coming on the other
hand, was predicted in the Old Testament (Dan. 12:1-3; Zech. 12:10; 14:4).
(Thomas Ice in "The Biblical Basis for the Pretribulational Rapture," in
Basic Theology Applied, p. 269)
This is a pointless argument. The rapture occurs AT
the second coming. It is part of the second coming; a part that was not fully
revealed in the Old Testament. That does not mean that the second coming and
the rapture occur at different times. It has already been shown irrefutably
that there is only one second coming that involves both an INCEPTION event and
a TIME PERIOD. The rapture occurs at the INCEPTION event, and Armageddon is a
subsequent even within the time period, but is not the actual second coming.
Vlach: No mention of the
Church in Revelation 4-18 Revelation 4-18 gives the most detailed account
of the seven year Tribulation period. If the Church were to be in the
Tribulation period, surely one would expect at least one reference to the
Church in this time period. The Church, however, which is referred to nineteen
times in the first three chapters of Revelation, is suddenly silent and never
referred to in chapters 4-18. "It is remarkable and totally unexpected that
John would shift from detailed instructions for the Church to absolute silence
about the Church for the subsequent 15 chapters if, in fact, the Church
continued into the tribulation." (Richard L. Mayhue, Snatched Before the
Storm, p. 8)
The absence of the word CHURCH does not mean it is
not present. Furthermore, the mention of the church is not an issue one way or
Of course, the right chronology needs to be adhered to.
According to the PreWrath view, the church is here during the first 5 seals,
and is raptured at the 6th seal. This is at an unknown day and hour
after the midpoint of the week, when the tribulation will be cut short by the
sovereign decree of God and Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power
and great glory. During this time the church is identified by the term,
“saints” and those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony
After the 6th seal, the church will be gone and during the trumpet
and bowl judgments it will not be present. However, even then, there will be
“saints” on the earth, who are converted after the rapture.
For a detailed refutation of this argument see:
THE REVELATION 4:1 RAPTURE THEORY;
THE CHURCH IN
Vlach: Pretribulationism best explains the
presence of non glorified saints who will enter the Millennial Kingdom.
This is not a problem with the Prewrath view, for
there is plenty of time after the 6th seal rapture for people to
Vlach: The nature and purpose of the Tribulation
excludes the Church from being part of it.
Nature of Tribulation centers on Israel According to Daniel 9:24-27,
the "seventy weeks" prophecy including the final "one week" (seven years) is
for Israel ("your people"). Jeremiah 30:7 refers to the Tribulation period as
a time of "Jacob's distress." "While the church will experience tribulation in
general during the present age (John 16:33), she is never mentioned as
participating in Israel's time of trouble, which includes the great
tribulation, the day of the Lord, and the wrath of God." (Ice and Demy, The
Truth About The Rapture, p. 36)
1. The 70 weeks does not CENTER
on Israel. It is simply the remainder of time promised to the nation. There is
a TRANSITION period where the church is still present to minister to Israel
and prepare her to once again take over the function of being the evangelistic
agent of God on the earth after the 6th seal.
2. The tribulation as the time of Jacob’s distress is NOT a time of divine
wrath. It is a time of great persecution from Satan and man on both
unbelieving Israel and any who believe in Christ at that time.
3. The tribulation is not the day of the Lord and not the wrath of God. No
where is God’s wrath ever associated with the tribulation or the Time of
Vlach: Purpose #1: Preparation of Israel "The Bible teaches that the
Tribulation is a time of preparation for Israel's restoration and conversion
(Deuteronomy 4:29, 30; Jeremiah 30:3-11; Zechariah 12:10)." (Ice and Demy, p.
There is no conflict with this idea. A purpose for
Israel does not negate a purpose for anyone else who might be present. It does
not mean that the church MUST be gone.
And of course, there are passages that indicate the church will in fact be
present during the time of the tribulation. 2 Thes. 1:6-10; 2:1-3
Vlach: Purpose #2: Judgment for an unbelieving world Revelation 3:10
refers to the Tribulation period as "the hour of testing, that hour which is
about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth."
The second major purpose of the Tribulation, then, is to test the unbelieving
world. "Those who dwell upon the earth" refers to those who are unbelievers on
earth during the period described in Revelation 4-19. (Thomas Edgar, "An
Exegesis of Rapture Passages," in Issues in Dispensationalism, p. 216)
The problem here is that Rev. 3:10 does
not describe the hour of testing as the tribulation.
It refers to the Day of the Lord which will begin after the tribulation is cut
short by the sovereign decree of God and the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of
the sky in power and great glory.
Instead, according to 2Thes. 1:6-7, the tribulation will be on-going at the
time of deliverance from “the hour of trial.” And the church age believers who
are alive on the earth at that time, “who are being afflicted (who are
experiencing tribulation – Greek word, thlibo),” will be given relief, and the
ones who are left will then be repaid with “affliction (tribulation).” But the
affliction (tribulation) that they will encounter is not THE tribulation, but
the Day of the Lord wrath and the judgments of the trumpets and bowls.
Vlach: The nature of the Church If the nature of
the Tribulation is Jewish and the purpose of the Tribulation is to bring
Israel to belief and to judge the unbelieving world, what purpose does the
church have in relation to this period? As shown already, the church is
promised deliverance from this time of wrath (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 3:10).
There are so many suppositions here.
1. The tribulation is not Jewish.
2. The purpose of the tribulation is NOT to judge the world. The purpose of
the Day of the Lord judgments is to judge the world.
3. The purpose of the tribulation is NOT to bring Israel to belief. The
purpose of the church is to bring Israel to belief. Mat. 10:23; 24:14. And it
is actually, the rapture of the church at the arrival of the Lord in the
clouds of the sky at the 6th seal, that then triggers so many to
believe. Rev. 6-7.
4. The church is promised deliverance from the time of wrath that begins at
the Day of the Lord. The tribulation is not that time of wrath, but precedes
Vlach: The expectation of the Church is the imminent
coming of Christ not the Tribulation period.
The false theory of an imminent rapture has already
been dealt with.
Additional information: Rosenthal's article refuting
Vlach: "It is incongruous then that the Scriptures would be silent on such a
traumatic change for the Church. If posttribulationism were true, one would
expect the epistles to teach the fact of the Church in the tribulation, the
purpose of the Church in the tribulation, and the conduct of the Church in the
tribulation." (Mayhue, p. 9)
Actually, the epistles do in fact teach us how to
live during the tribulation. It is no different from any other time of
persecution. And Paul does in fact indicate that the Lord will return at His
official one and only second coming while the church is experiencing the
tribulation. 2Thes. 1:6-10.
Vlach: The Thessalonian's expectation That Paul had taught a
Pretribulational Rapture can be inferred from 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3. In this
passage, Paul notes that the Thessalonians had been "shaken" and "disturbed"
because they had been led to think that they were presently in the Day of the
Lord (i.e. the Tribulation period). <
This is simply false. It is
clear that the Day of the Lord is not the tribulation, but is a period of time
that will begin AFTER the tribulation has been cut short by the sovereign
decree of God and Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky in power and great
Mat. 24:29-31; Joel 2:31; Rev. 6:12-17
Vlach: The fact that they were disturbed is significant.
If Paul had taught a posttribulational rapture, the Thessalonians would have
had no reason to be disturbed since they would be expecting signs and
persecution before the coming of the Lord. Thus, they could joyously look to
the soon coming of the Lord after the Tribulation. However, the fact that the
Thessalonians were shook up indicates that they did not expect to be in the
Day of the Lord. A fair inference is that, in line with Paul's previous
teaching, the Thessalonians expected to be raptured prior to the Day of the
BUT – they WERE going through
tribulation. They just did not know if it was in fact THE tribulation. So Paul
assures them that the sign of the tribulation will be the revealing of the man
of lawlessness. And their concern about being in the Day of the Lord, from
which they were promised deliverance (for it is the day of the lord that is
WRATH), is eased because Paul assures them that that day won’t come until the
man of lawlessness is revealed.
Their concern is not about the tribulation. It is about the Day of the Lord –
and these are two different time periods.
All of these issues must be evaluated by the believer and each one must become
fully persuaded in his own mind.
1. Definitions must be based on biblical language and passages; not on
2. Literal interpretation is correct, but it must be followed consistently.
3. All passages need to be considered concerning this subject. It has been
shown how errors exist because of a failure to consider all the passages.