Pre-Trib Rapture


The Differing Theories

Before I go into why I believe that a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the most correct, doctrinally based interpretation of scripture, I feel it fair to at least present the other views of rapture timing held by other people. There are five main views for the timing of the rapture. The diagram below lays them out on a timeline with the Tribulation:

The Pretribulational Rapture The Rapture will occur before the tribulation period begins.

The Midtribulational Rapture The Rapture will occur at the midpoint of the Tribulation.

The Posttribulational Rapture The Rapture will occur at the end of the Tribulation right before the second coming of Christ back to earth; believers will be raptured up to meet Christ in the air and then will return immediately with Him back to the earth.

The Partial Rapture Faithful, devoted believers will be raptured before the Tribulation, but the rest of believers will be left to go through the purging of the Tribulation.

The Prewrath Rapture The Rapture will occur about three-fourths (five and a half years) of the way through the Tribulation, when the wrath of God begins to be poured out on the earth.

Of these views the Pre and Post Tribulation Rapture theories are the most common.

What is the Rapture?

The Rapture is the Blessed Hope among Christians. After it occurs those who are left behind will be in a state of confusion and sorrow, they will be searching for answers. There are those who may call it the Vanishings, the disappearances or one of many other names, but you will know that millions of people vanished in the twinkling of an eye. There will be those that try to concoct many different stories of what occurred. It may be alien abductions, some freak nuclear accident or they may even say it was God removing "evil" from the world. Be mindful, it was not one of those things, it was what Christians call the Rapture. In <1 Thess 4:13-18>, and <1 Cor 15:51-58> it can be seen what has occurred, the Lord himself has returned for his Church.

The word rapture comes from a fourth century Latin vulgate translation of the Greek word harpadzo(occurring in 1 Thess 4:17) and has been picked up by many as the best single word to express the event it describes. Some translators have rendered the word "caught up" or "snatched". Basically the Lord will return and with the sound of a trumpet all both those who have died in Christ (accepted Christ prior to their death) and those who are alive in Christ (current believers) will be taken up to meet the Lord in the air in the twinkling of an eye (by the way that's 1/1000th of a second).

Why do I feel the Pre-Trib Theory is the best?

I have many reasons for believing that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position is the correct one. When one reads through the primary and supporting verses of the Rapture and takes into account the prophecies relating to the Tribulation and the Second Coming it really becomes quite clear. Also the Rapture is not a unique concept in the Bible, for example Enoch experienced something similar to the Rapture...really? An Old Testament Rapture?...Sure, take a look at

A book I recently read lays out seven key points to support a Pre-Trib view and even had an acronym to make it easy to remember:

P - Place of the church in the book of Revelation.

R - Removal of the restrainer

E - Exemption from the divine wrath

T - Twenty-four elders

R - Rapture of the Church versus the return of Christ

I - Imminence

B - Blessed hope.

P - Place of the church in the book of Revelation.

None of the key New Testament passages that deal with the Tribulation mention the presence of the church.

R - Removal of the restrainer

Though it may be hard to believe, the age in which we now live is described as the age of restraint 2 Thess 2:6-7>. Something or someone is holding back the full blast of evil that is to come when the Antichrist is unleashed. That someone is the Holy Spirit working through the church. When the church is removed, the Holy Spirit will be "removed" thus the restrainer is removed. The way I see it is at this point in time (now) the Holy Spirit is both working through the church and actively "knocking" on the hearts of men. Following the Rapture the Holy Spirit will be waiting to be asked in (so to speak).

E - Exemption from the divine wrath

The Bible promises that God's people are exempt from the coming Tribulation <1 Thess 1:9-10>, <1 Thess 5:9>, along with others).

T - Twenty-four elders

In Revelation there are 12 references to a group of beings called the "twenty four elders" (Rev 4:4,10;5:5;6,8,11,14;7:11,13;11:16;14:3;19:4). The fact that they are mentioned twelve times makes them key players in Bible Prophecy. There are four main views concerning the identity of these elders. There are clues throughout Revelation that lead me to believe that they represent the Raptured church. They are "the Title", "the Number", "The Position", "The Crowns", "The Clothing", "the Praise", "the Distinction" and "the Location".

R - Rapture of the Church versus the return of Christ

Set the events of the Rapture parallel to the Second Coming and you decide:

Rapture Second Coming

Jesus coming FOR His Church. John 14:1-3, 1 Thess 4:14-17 Jesus coming WITH His Church Col 3:4, Zech 14:5, Jude 14, Rev 19:14

Caught up with Him in the air 1 Thess 4:13-18 Jesus' feet touch the earth Zech 14:4, Rev:11-21

Christians taken first, unbelievers are left behind. 1 Thess 4:13-18 Wicked are taken first, the righteous (Tribulation saints) are left behind.Matt 13:28-30

Purpose: To present the Church to Himself and to the Father 2 Cor 11:2, Rev. 19:6-9 Purpose: To execute judgment on earth and set up His Kingdom Jude 14-15,Rev 19:11-21, Zech 14:3-4

MARRIAGE: Marriage of Lamb in heaven after the Rapture WAR: Marriage is followed by war on earth at the 2nd coming

Happens in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (too fast for eyes to see) 1 Cor 15:52 Slow coming, people will see Him come back.Zech 12:10 Matt 24:30, Rev 1:7

Only Christians will see Him 1 John 3:2, 1 Cor 15:52 Every eye will see Him Rev. 1:7

Jesus descends with a shout(for resurrection) 1 Thess 4:16 No shout mentioned Rev. 19:11-21

A resurrection takes place 1 Thess 4:13-18, 1 Cor 15:51-54 No resurrection mentioned Rev 1:7, 19:11-21, Zech 12:10, 14:4-5

Can happen at any time Rev 3:3, 1 Thess 5:4-6 Occurs at end of 7 years of Tribulation Dan 9:24-27Matt 24:29-30, 2 Thess 2:3-8

No angels are sent to gather (resurrected people don't need angels to help them) Angels sent forth to gather people together for judgment Matt 13:39, 41, 49, 24:31, 25:31, 2 Thess 1:7-10

Spirits of those dead in Christ return with Jesus to receive their their resurrected bodies 1 Thess 4:14-16 Christians return with Jesus in already resurrected bodies riding on white horses. Rev 19:11-21

Jesus does not return on a white horse Jesus returns on a white horse Rev 19:11

For the Church only (those in Christ) 1 Thess 4:14-17 For redeemed Israel & Gentiles Rom 11:25-27, Matt 25:31-46

A message of hope and comfort 1 Thess 4:18, Titus 2:13, 1 John 3:3 A message of judgment Joel 3:12-16, Rev 19:11-21, Mal 4:5

I - Imminence

The Rapture is presented in the NT as an even that from man's viewpoint could occur at any moment, and believers are to be looking for it all the time (1 Cor 1:7; 16:22, Phil 3:20; 4:5; 1 Thess 1:9-10; Titus 2:13; Heb 9:28; Jude 1:21). Only the pretrib position allows for an imminent, any moment, signless coming of Christ for His own.

B - Blessed hope.

The truth of the Rapture is intended to be a comfort and blessing to the Lord's people. It is our "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13). The blessed hope of the Rapture is that Christ will come for the faithful prior to a time of worldwide devastation.

What Bible passages support the Pre-Trib Rapture?

There are three primary verses that teach about the Rapture: 1 Thess 4:13-18, 1 Cor 15:42-56, and John 14:1-3.

Furthermore there are MANY verses that support the Rapture position in what they speak of in context to the end times and the Rapture. Here are several supporting verses: Romans 8:16-25; Romans 14:10-12; 1 Cor 3:13-15, 4:5, 7:29-31, 15:22-23; 2 Cor 4:14, 5:1-5,10; Eph 4:30, 5:27; Phil 1:6,10, 2:16, 3:9-11; Col 3:4; 1 Thess 1:10, 2:19-20, 3:12-13, 5:9, 5:23; 1 Tim 6:14-15; 2 Tim 1:12, 4:8; Titus 2:13; Heb 10:25,37, 11:35; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:5,7,13, 4:7, 5:4; 2 Peter 1:11; 1 John 2:28, 3:2-3; 2 John 1:8; Rev 4:1-11, 5:1-14, 22:12.

Isn't the Pre-Trib Rapture a recent view?

One of the arguments most opponents to the Rapture use is that it can't be right as it was a theory developed much later in comparison to other views. They all say that it began around 1830 through the ministry of J.N.Darby. Actually the pretrib rapture position does have historical precedent. A sermon was delivered in AD 373 by the Byzantine leader Pseudo-Ephraem entitled "On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World" or "Sermon on the End fo the World". This includes a concept very similar to the pretrib rapture.

When will the Rapture Occur?

Honestly, time will tell. There are no specific dates nor events that are required for the Rapture to occur. And to set a date for a projected return is not a good thing to do, no one knows but the Father (Matt 24:36, 42, 44; 25:13; Acts 1:7). If you hear someone setting a date for the Rapture you can know two things right away...He's wrong and he's not paying attention to what's written in the Bible.

Are those left behind lost? Will they have a second chance?

Since God is the God of second chances, I believe everyone will have a "second chance" if you will. If you read through Revelation, it has a purpose to cause people to repent. More importantly look at the Two Witnesses and the sealed 144,000. Their sole purpose is to evangelize and bring people back into the fold. Furthermore there are references in Revelation to the innumerable amount of people who were saved in the Tribulation (Rev 7:9-17).