Those crusading against the pretribulation Rapture really need to get a life because their arguments do not have a biblical leg to stand on. Every week I get emails or comments from some crusader wanting to inform me that the Bible does not teach a pretrib Rapture. They tell me that my pretrib Rapture teaching will send people to hell, so I need to repent of my teaching or I will be going to hell myself.
They make the unfounded claim that those teaching a pretrib Rapture are leading Christian people to hell because they think that many Christians that were expecting to be taken in the pretrib Rapture will then lose their faith when they find themselves under persecution in the tribulation.
First, let’s start with the essentials. Christians losing their faith under tribulation is an oxymoron. True Christians do not lose their faith. They never have and they never will. The claim that Jesus cannot keep those the Father gave Him through the power of the Holy Spirit is an insult to the triune God that many of these kind also deny.
Those making this claim obviously have other theological problems than just the timing of the Rapture. They do not believe that all given to Christ will be saved. In other words, their point of view comes from a theology that one’s own actions determine salvation. They do not believe in sovereign election. Many of these think that believers only remained saved if they have no unconfessed sin in their lives or what they will define as grave sins that disqualifies you.
These same people claim that the Bride needs to go through the tribulation to make herself spotless and acceptable to Jesus. They do not understand that Jesus already paid the blood price for all sin past, present, and future as God’s Lamb sacrifice for sin. Only immersion in Christ, the one that sacrificed Himself for sin and rose again, makes His Bride spotless and justified before God.
These wrong-headed people think that salvation is something you earn by staying sinless, and tribulation is used by God to help you pay for your sins, so that you can be saved. They have much in common with the Catholics that teach unconfessed mortal sin will send you to hell. However, none of this is taught in the New Testament for those born into the Body of Christ. Many of these even will say that salvation comes by grace through faith, but then they dogmatically say that you need to keep their list of commandments to keep it.
If Jesus is waiting for the Church to make herself spotless, I am afraid that He will have to wait until Hell freezes over. It simply is not going to happen as long as we live in these temporary bodies of flesh. It is the blood that Jesus shed for us that covers the sins of those alive in Him. If you say that in your human flesh you have become sinless, you are lying and lying makes you a sinner. Yet, many holiness churches believe this heresy. They give salvation with one hand but love to take it away with the other.
There is no amount of tribulation that Christians go through that will ever make us any more justified before God than what Jesus did to save us. The bride is washed and made clean of sin by the blood of Christ, she is not made spotless by going through tribulation. Therefore, the first argument that the blessed hope robbers use against pretrib Rapture believers is simply heretical.
They also will claim that the Church never taught the pretrib Rapture until recently. That is not true, Paul taught it. The Rapture and the second coming became the same event through the teaching of men that made the prophetic scriptures allegory and spiritualized them. Even so, what the churches taught through the centuries does not determine what is sound doctrine. All the reformers knew that or they would have remained under the Roman Catholic Church.
What the Bible teaches is the only infallible guide to use. We have better access to the scriptures today then they had in the dark age and have better understanding of the manuscripts then the prejudiced clerics that only interpreted prophetic scripture through their own errant theology.
So what does the Bible say about the Lord’s coming for His Church? Paul and the New Testament taught a pretrib Rapture of the faithful Church. We are told to be looking for and awaiting the return of Jesus Christ. The faithful doing that are told that they will be spared from the great trial that will try all on earth (Rev 3:10). We are told that the Church is not appointed to wrath (1Th 5:9). We are not told to look for the Day of the Lord (Am 5:18) or the Antichrist. We are told to be looking for Jesus who can come for the Church at any time.
The teaching of the NT makes it clear that Jesus will come unexpectedly. You cannot come unexpectedly when people are counting down the last seven years. For example, in the beginning of those last seven years the two witnesses will show up for 1260 days of testimony. They will give signs and be able to call down judgments upon the nations as often as they wish to prove that the last seven years have begun.
So, Jesus will not come unaware to those on earth in those days. Those that enter the last days for Israel, just before her spiritual restoration, will be quite aware of the timing of when Jesus will come with His Saints. That however, will not stop the Antichrist from deceiving people to war against Jesus at His coming. It is not that the world will not know the timing of the Lord’s coming after the two witnesses give their testimony, they will want to prevent Jesus from coming to set up His kingdom at all.
The Antichrist and the False Prophet deceive the kings of the earth and gather the armies of the world to war against Jesus at His coming. Obviously then, people will know when and where Jesus will return. That fact however, does not explain all the passages that say people will not know the timing of the Lord’s coming. Only the pretrib Rapture of the Church explains all the passages that indicate that people will not be aware of the timing of His coming or be ready when He comes.
The timing of the snatching away of the Bride to Heaven is set by the Father alone. The Bride must be taken and the marriage in Heaven must take place before the King can return in Glory with His Bride. The taking of the Bride and the coming of Jesus in glory with His Saints is not the same event. There are at least seven years between those two events.
Some of the reason that people do not understand these two phases to the second coming is because they take passages meant for Israel and apply them to the Church. All signs are to Israel, there are none to the Church because the taking of the Church has always been imminent. The Church is grafted into the new covenant promise by grace. Once the fulness of the Gentiles comes in, God will deal with Israel again (Ro 11:25). There remains seven years that have not been fulfilled yet for Israel. All the prophets speak of these times.
Anyone that does an honest study of what Paul said, should come to the conclusion that early in Paul’s ministry that even Paul thought the Lord could come at any time. It was only after He was given special revelation that he would die in Rome, that Paul realized that it would not happen in His lifetime.
A long time ago I wrote an article on the proofs for the pretribulation Rapture. You might want to read it for many additional arguments on the pretrib Rapture. One passage in the article that I did not give justice to was 2Th 2:3. I think we really need to take a good look at what Paul is really saying here.
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
Let’s examine what verse 3 and this passage is saying. Some in Thessalonians were teaching they were already in the time that Jesus would come for the Church. Maybe certain people just wanted to con the Thessalonians, or more likely, some believed what they were pushing came from special revelation. Who knows, perhaps they wanted others to follow them and wait on some mountain top for Jesus (there is nothing new under the sun).
Paul warns them and reminds them that he already taught them that the Day of Christ will not come until there is a “falling away” (apostasy) first and the Son of Perdition be revealed. Some apparently forgot what Paul taught or did not understand what Paul taught them earlier, as some still do not understand today. Some of what Paul taught them is written in 1st Thessalonians.
In this second epistle, Paul corrects the false teaching that was going around. Many people today still do not understand what is spoken about here because they do not understand that Paul was expounding upon his previous teaching. Paul is explaining to them why they should not be believing anyone telling them that the Day of Christ is at hand because two main events have to happen first before they even arrive to the Day of Christ (when Jesus comes in power and glory).
The word translated as “falling away” is the word “apostasy”. Some like to translate it “falling away” but the word really means to depart from something or someone. Dr Thomas Ice in this link will explain all that and also tell you in very scholarly terms why he believes Paul is talking here about the departure of the Church in the Rapture.
I will continue to tell you why it is talking about the departure of the Church through my more common sense approach.
Paul had to make it clear that whatever was in the letter or prophecy is false and not what he taught them before. Paul says, the second coming when the Lord comes in power and judgment will not come until two things first happen. First, the departure or falling away (apostasy) and second, the “man of sin is revealed”. That really is saying the Rapture will occur first and then the Antichrist has to be revealed before the Day of Christ can even come. In other words, the Rapture, the first part of the tribulation, and the great and terrible Day of the Lord have to happen in sequence before the Day of Christ.
Some think the “apostasy” is talking about the “falling away” from the Christian faith. That does not make common sense. There were false converts falling away from Christendom even back in those days, so how would they even recognize this supposedly greater apostasy? They did not have IPAD’s to communicate. If they could not know the time that this supposed “great” apostasy from Christendom began, why would Paul even mention it to them as some proof that they were not there yet?
Most Bible believers in Christendom today think that Paul is saying here that there will be a falling away from Christianity or Christendom. We have had departure from Christendom since the beginning. Teaching that true believers would fall away from the faith is really teaching a different gospel than the one that Paul taught. False converts can depart from Christian identify, but I do not see how the Thessalonians or even the Church through history could measure just when the “great” apostasy had arrived?
How will the Church know what degree of apostasy from Christendom is the one that Paul spoke of? The Catholic Church so departed from Christian doctrine that the Protestants called them antichrist and departed from them. Does apostasy from the faith once delivered to the saints get greater than what it was in the dark and middle ages? Perhaps. But, how would you know what degree of apostasy is to take place to fulfill 2Th 2:3? And if you cannot know what degree of apostasy to look for, why should it even be mentioned as one of the two things that need to take place first before the Day of Christ? Why would Paul pair what cannot be ascertained, with the revealing of the one person (Antichrist) that can be ascertained? It just ain’t logical.
Don’t take me wrong, I think Apostasy has been increasing ever since Christianity started and it will continue to grow worse and worse until it is identified as a great world harlot. However, on the other hand, true Christianity has also been growing through the Church age. The Holy Spirit does not become a slacker as we approach the end of the age. The Holy Spirit is still drawing those that belong to Christ. A lot of salvation is still going on in China, the America’s, and Africa and I personally do not think the Holy Spirit will leave the 10 x 40 window without the gospel, before the Church is complete. So along with the counterfeit Harlot of these last days we also have a very healthy true Bride of Christ on earth. There is no great apostasy from the faith for those within the Bride of Christ.
Logically then, Paul was not talking about departure from Christendom or the faith. Paul was talking about the departure of the Church in the Rapture. 2Th 2:3 is really supporting what Paul already taught the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians. This follow-up epistle was needed to make some things clearer, but most still get it wrong.
Paul says nothing about a great apostasy from Christendom in 1 Thessalonians or elsewhere. So if we are going to error on the meaning of a word, let’s error on the side of logic and common sense. Paul was saying that the departure (apostasy – Rapture) of the Church had to happen before the man of sin would be revealed.
We also know the Son of Perdition cannot come until the hinderer is taken out-of-the-way. And we know the Son of Perdition is the Antichrist. So again, Paul is talking about an occurrence that happens some years before the Day of Christ. The Day of Christ is the day He returns in glory and defeats the Antichrist, it is not the Rapture.
In 2:2 Thessalonians Paul was giving the Thessalonians instruction about what they obviously asked him about. It is common sense then to believe that Paul was correcting what they were being told wrong through some false letter or prophecy. Paul told them, don’t be deceived by anyone, that day will not come until first, the apostasy (Rapture) happens, then the Antichrist has to have his 42 months on earth to deceive those that did not believe the truth. Only after these two major events could the Day of Christ be at hand.
In the remaining verses in this passage, Paul tells them why what he said has to happen first. At that time the wicked on earth that reject the love of the truth have to be revealed, judged, and removed before the Kingdom of Heaven is established on the earth. Paul told them to hold fast to the doctrine that they were taught. Apparently, even back then, some were distorting the doctrine Paul and others taught them by teaching something different. The fact that some with legalistic theology are also doing it today, should be no big surprise, but don’t buy into it. The pretrib Rapture is the blessed hope for the Church that is watching and waiting for the Lord to say… come up hither.
Don Koenig is the founder of ThePropheticYears website. He has been publishing articles on the Internet on Bible prophecy, biblical discernment and Christian worldviews since 1999. You can find well over a thousand articles and thousands of comments written by Don from the homepage of this website.