The Rapture of the Church

When Will the 
Rapture Be?

Defending the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

by Todd Strandberg

The Different Views of the Rapture in Relation to the So-called "Great Tribulation"
| Reasons Why the Church Will Not Be in the Tribulation Period |
Reasons Why the Church Will Not Go Through the Great Tribulation
Defending the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

After reading countless messages and articles that attack the pre-tribulation rapture, I've noticed that there was a certain number of arguments that are repeatedly sent to me.

Instead of trying to answer every individual e-mail I receive, I thought it would be a good idea to create a web page that addresses the most commonly mentioned points of debate. This way I can diminish the need to repeating myself so many times, which will also help me maintain my sanity.

The Margaret MacDonald Origin

One of the most widely circulated attack against the pre-tribulation rapture is the notion a girl named Margaret MacDonald started this theological view back in 1830. The claim is typically made that MacDonald received a demonic vision, passed it on to John Darby, who in turn popularized it.

Disproving this assertion was rather easy. Pre-tribulation scholars have discovered a host of rapture writings that predated Margaret MacDonald.

Epharaem the Syrian who said in 373 AD, "For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins."

One post-tribulation author offered a reward to anyone that could find a quote that predated MacDonald. He had to quickly cough up the money when someone pointed him to a scholar that wrote about the pre-tribulation rapture several years before MacDonald.

As of late, dozens of examples have been found, and the literary surface has hardly been scratched.

With the revealing of all these pre-MacDonald quotes, you would think that this argument has been debunked. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We seem to be involved in a tug-of-war with the truth.

Apparently, do to their lack of research, pre-tribulation opponents continue to pump out a flood of information that cites MacDonald was the originator of the pre-tribulation rapture.

The Last Trumpet Argument

Because Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 said believers would be raptured at the sounding of a trump, many folks have tried to make it appear that the rapture trumps are the same trumpets found in Revelation 11:15-18, Joel 2:1, and Matthew 24:31 -- which all occur during the tribulation.

When you have trumpets commonly used throughout the Bible, I think it's foolish to just assume any two of the 62 trumps or trumpets are prophetically related. To be able to make the claim that the tribulation trumpet soundings are the same as the rapture trumps, you would need a direct statement saying this is the case.

In the movies Ben-Hur and The Wizard of Oz, I recall hearing the sounding of trumpets. Are both these trumpets somehow prophetically related?

If your friend John said he went to his favorite restaurant last night, and another friend Larry said he also went to his favorite restaurant last night, is it logical for you to assume they both went to the same restaurant?

Obviously not, because even though John and Larry went to their favorite restaurant, they may have had two different eating establishment in mind. The same logic should apply with the word trumpet.

Pre-wrath proponent say that the Seventh Trumpet blown in Revelation 11:15-18 is the same last trump Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 15:51. However, they fail to take into account the fact that John wrote Revelation 40 years after Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. How could Paul refer to something that was not yet revealed?

Post-tribulationists use a trumpet sounding in Joel 2:1 as evidence for a post-tribulation rapture on the Day of the Lord. I have three problems with Joel 2:1:

1. Joel clearly says the purpose for blowing the trumpet is to "sound an alarm."

2. The rapture is something that occurs in the twinkling of an eye. Joel 2:1 says the Day of the Lord is nigh at hand. In order for Joel's trumpet to be the same one in 1 Corinthians there would have to be a time delay between the sounding of the trumpet and the rapture of the Church.

3. The fact that there is another trumpet being sounded in Joel 2:15 further clouds the possibility that these trumpets could have anything to do with the rapture.

When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, he specifically said "the" last trump. During the Feast of Trumpets, the Jews blow short trumpet blasts. They end the feast with a long blast from what is called the last trump - which is blown the longest. Judaism has traditionally connected this last trump with the resurrection of the dead. Paul also made the connection.

For many Christians the association between the rapture and the Feast of Trumpets is so strong, they look for the rapture to someday occur on this feast.

The First Resurrection

The argument is made, "There can not be a pre-tribulation rapture because to have one would require a second resurrection at Christ's return to earth." This conclusion is drawn from Revelation 20:5-6:

"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:5-6)

One pre-tribulation writer explaining this passage said, "The first did not mean first in time, but rather first in kind." The first resurrection was for God's people the second will be for the unsaved.

A quick way to shoot down the notion the first resurrection is tied to a specific date, as opposed to a more general time frame, is to take note of the tribulation rapture of the two witnesses and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists.

At the mid-point of the tribulation, the two witnesses are killed by the Antichrist, resurrected by God, and then caught up into heaven. (Revelation 11:3-12)

Revelation chapter 7 describes the sealing of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists just before the Beast issues his mark. Sometime during the later half of the tribulation, Revelation chapter 14 indicates they will be "redeemed from the earth," standing before the throne of God.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-6

Because Paul in 2 Thessalonians said the Antichrist would be revealed before the Day of the Christ, post and pre-wrath adherents frequently try to cite this passage as one that refutes the pre-tribulation rapture.

Paul told the Thessalonians that the Antichrist must first be revealed, because he was attempting to clear up their misunderstand that the Day of the Lord was about to take place.

Post-tribulation and pre-wrath folks consistently fail to realize that pre-tribulation doctrine calls for a rapture and a second coming. Because they only look for one event - the second coming - they're unable to recognize the pre-tribulation rapture references.

Here in 2 Thessalonians 2, "The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him" is obviously the pre-tribulation rapture, and the "day of Christ" is a referral to the second coming.

2 Thessalonians 2:6, "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time."

Persecute Me Please

You would think the desire to go through the tribulation would be as popular as the desire to jump into a pit filled with vipers and broken glass. As illogical as it may seem, there appears to be a large number of Christians that fully expect to get roughed up before Christ returns.

Many Christians argue strongly for the right to suffer persecution at the hands of the Antichrist and the one world government. These Tribulation saints wannabees constantly harp, "Because Jesus and his disciples suffered persecution we should expect no better."

It's been my experience that people with the weakest faith are generally ones that talk the boldest. When the slightest difficulty comes their way, they cry to high heaven.

I hate to be the bearer good news, but the word of God clearly states that believers will escape the tribulation bloodbath.

"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ," (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Revelation 3:10)

By having the rapture before the tribulation, all those that finds themselves facing the wrath of God will be without an excuse.

No Secret Rapture

"There is no secret rapture" is the beginning declaration of a large percentage of messages that attack the rapture. Rarely is this statement backed by supporting Scriptural evidence. A few people will cite Revelation 1:17 "every eye shall see him" as proof that the rapture will not be a secret event. Of course, I would immediately note that "every eye shall see him" is the second coming.

I have a hard time understanding how these folks could think pre-tribulationists preach a secret rapture. We seem to be doing are very best to popularize the rapture before it takes place. I doubt afterwards, with all the car wrecks, plane crashes, and missing persons reports, the rapture will remain a secret occurrence.

The only people I know that are attempting to keep the pre-tribulation rapture a secret are its critics. Pre-wrath and post-tribulation folks have the national media and the liberal churches as their allies in their ongoing effort to silence all knowledge of the "blessed hope."

No Imminency

Because an imminent or any moment rapture is one of the major teachings of pre-tribulationists, opponents of this view attempt to dismantle the imminency of the rapture.

Although Jesus said, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:42), advocates for knowing the "day" will claim this only applies to the unsaved.

I hear arguments like, "Surely a loving father would tell his own children when he's coming for them."

To try to get around "no man know the hour," a popular Scripture often cited is: "But yea brethren, are not in darkness that that day should over take you as a thief." (1 Thessalonians 5:4)

Despite all their monkeying with Scripture, pre-tribulation rapture detractors just cannot escape Jesus' restriction against knowing the time of the rapture.

In fact, Our Lord was so restrictive about the rapture he said its occurrence would come as a total surprise. "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:44)

Now when it comes to the second coming, the Bible couldn't be more open. It clearly states that Jesus will return 1,260 days from the moment the Antichrist sits in the Temple of God and declares himself to be God.

Because there exists both a known and an unknown date, many scholars have logically conclusion that their must be two different events occurring - the rapture and the second coming.

The Restrainer

In 2 Thessalonians the apostle Paul speaks of a "he" that will restrain the advent of the Antichrist. The restrainer's removal is required before that the Antichrist can be revealed.

2 Thessalonians 2:6-8, "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 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:"

A debate has erupted over the identity of the Restrainer because if this "he" is the Holy Ghost, the only real explanation for his removal would be the rapture of the Church, which is indwelled by him.

The strongest argument offered against the Holy Spirit being the Restrainer is the belief that if God's Spirit was ever removed from the earth, no one could then be saved.

The removal of the Holy Ghost does not have to be an all or nothing proposition. I believe his being "taken out of the way" will only be a degree of removal.

Before the Church age, people were able to find salvation, which obviously meant the Holy Spirit was at work on earth. When the outpouring of the Holy Ghost occurred at Pentecost, we didn't have a second Holy Spirit come to earth. His removal at the rapture will only be a reversal of or ending of the Pentecostal outpouring.


Because Revelation places a strong emphasis on Israel during the tribulation and not on the church, most post-tribulationists have adopted a replacement theology view in order to maintain the focus on them.

Replacementism is the view that Israel, having failed God, has been replaced by the Church. The Church is now seen as spiritual Israel and spiritual Jerusalem. This teaching claims that all the promises and blessings, in fact Israel's entire inheritance, now belongs to the Church. However, all is not lost for Israel; it gets to keep all the curses.

Dispensational theology, taught by nearly all pre-tribulationists, teaches that God has separate strategies for dealing with the Church and the Jews.

When you consider the change in focus, during the tribulation, from the Church to Israel, the pre-tribulation rapture provides a good a explanation for this transfer of attention.

To say that Israel is no longer God's chosen people is really playing with fire because the Antichrist will likely be saying the same thing when he tries to destroy the Jews during the tribulation.

"The Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance." (Psalm 94:14)

"This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar - the Lord Almighty is his name: 'Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,' declares the Lord, 'will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.'" (Jeremiah 31:35-36)

Nowhere in the Bible can you find the word "rapture"

I've always been amazed that some folks would try use the fact the word rapture does not appear in the Bible as an argument. The issue should be whether or not the concept appears in the Bible.

There is a whole host of words that don't appear in the Bible including the word "Bible". Because God's Word was originally written in Hebrew and Greek, one could truthfully say that all English words are not in the Bible.

For the record, the word "rapture" comes from the Latin word "rapare", which in turn was a translation of the Greek verb "caught up" found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. You can call it the pre-tribulation rapture, the pre-tribulation rapare, or the pre-tribulation caught up--it's all the same thing.

Nowhere in the Bible does it directly say the Church will be raptured before the tribulation

Pre-tribulation opponents should have thought this one through because any pre-tribulationists has the same right to say, "Nowhere in the Bible does it directly say the Church will go through the tribulation."

The Different Views of the Rapture in Relation to the So-called "Great Tribulation" | Reasons Why the Church Will Not Be in the Tribulation Period |
Reasons Why the Church Will Not Go Through the Great Tribulation
Defending the Pre-Tribulation Rapture
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