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The Rapture

What, and when, is this event called The Rapture? To answer those questions, let’s begin with these principles:

  1. Having a good understanding of all scripture is required in order to teach any part of it. That means no cherry-picking or ignoring context.
  2. Every interpretation of the Bible hinges on whether there’s a sharp distinction between Israel and the Body of Christ. Disagreement on that point means disagreement on everything else.
  3. Neither of those main branches of the tree should call each other names. If one side is calling the other names, that side has a much bigger problem than prophecy views. Argue the idea, not the person. Neither side has been designated the infallible interpreter of scripture, so we must be humble and remember that we’re all imperfect in our understanding, and that genuine believers can disagree without one of them being a heretic, a false teacher, or a devil.
  4. The pre-tribulation Rapture is the most straightforward conclusion to reach from the basis of the Body of Christ not being Israel, as explained elsewhere in this book.

Following is a claim-and-rebuttal section, then additional analysis and a summary. Pre-tribulational Rapture will be abbreviated as PTR, and these are not in any particular order of importance.

Claims and Rebuttals

People who believe in the PTR are conceited and holier than thou

The opposite is true. PTR believers simply see the promise in scripture that Jesus will remove his Body before the wrath of God is poured out on the world. It doesn’t depend on the quality or maturity of Christians, but simply their being in Christ. No PTR believer bases their blessed hope on their own righteousness, any more than all the Christians who reject PTR base their salvation on their own righteousness. In fact, if anyone is holier than thou, it would be those who pride themselves on their alleged ability to overcome during the wrath of God.

The PTR teaches that Christians will not suffer, so it sets them up for falling away from the faith.

This is burning a straw man; PTR teaches no such thing. Jesus promised persecution to his followers (Mark 10:30), and Paul in 2 Tim. 3:12 said, In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Even today, many Christians are suffering terribly and dying for the Name of Jesus. So anyone who teaches that Christians will not suffer is clearly in error, regardless of their views on prophecy. The fact is that PTR only concerns the wrath of God and the time Daniel was told was for punishing the unbelieving world and bringing Israel back to God. Since the first 69 weeks of years of the prophecy of Daniel had nothing to do with the Body of Christ, then neither will the 70th. And since all other generations of believers escaped the Tribulation, why would only one generation require this extra refining?

Those who oppose PTR may in fact be unprepared for the sudden appearing of Jesus; they look for the Antichrist instead of the Christ. They will also not receive the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day— and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Tim. 4:8). If PTR is wrong, it will be time for those who boasted of their preparation and discernment to prove themselves. In contrast, PTR believers would never be fooled, since the Antichrist will not do any of the following:

We also know that we are already sealed with the Holy Spirit, so we will not accept any other seals. The Mark of the Beast is a pledge of loyalty and has to be taken knowingly and voluntarily, and Jesus would never say take this mark or starve to death.

The PTR is a recent invention.

The most common citation of this being a new teaching is a teenager named Margaret MacDonald, who claimed to have had a prophetic vision in 1824. But she did not have a vision of any Rapture at all, let alone a PTR (see this quotation from a preterist source). Further, no PTR teacher ever cites her or her alleged vision for any reason. Critics who would then allege a conspiracy to hide such a source would be arguing from silence, not to mention opening themselves up to similar charges. There are also earlier references to PTR.

Another historical fact is that between Constantine the 1st and the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had control of what the vast majority of people believed. So whatever they were against would not be written about extensively, especially by people who faced persecution for going against the RCC. So there were many things not written about during those centuries. And since the RCC did not teach any Rapture view, it should come as no surprise that the Rapture, regardless of timing, would not be found in the history of that era.

The PTR was a heresy started by Darby and made popular by Scofield.

Darby stated that he saw the PTR in scripture, three years before MacDonald’s (non-rapture) vision. Scofield was noted for his teaching of Dispensationalism, as well as his Reference Bible. The PTR is a logical conclusion to draw from a dispensational approach to scripture, but this approach is hardly heresy. The allegorical approach is at least as open to the same charge, as is so-called Covenant Theology wherein no distinction is made between the Body of Christ and Israel.

The PTR is escapist and cowardly.

In Luke 21:36 Jesus said to pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen; in Rev. 3:10 Jesus said, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. Is Jesus teaching that escape is cowardly? How about Isaiah 26:20? Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.

The PTR creates an extra coming of Christ.

By that argument, Jesus should not come back at all, since the Old Testament does not say the Messiah would come twice. And where does scripture even say how many times Jesus can or must come? Who decided that there is a Second Coming and not a third? We only know of the two comings in the Old Testament by hindsight, noting that there are two sets of Messianic prophecies that could not both be true for a single coming. This sets a precedent for the future as well. We see in the NT two sets of prophecies regarding Jesus’ return, and note that they both cannot be true for a single coming or appearing. So just as the Old Testament said nothing about how many times the Messiah would come yet we know it’s at least two, so also the New Testament says nothing about how many times Jesus will return yet we know it must be at least twice. And Jesus does not touch the earth when he comes for his Body; we meet him in the air.

The first resurrection isn’t until Rev. 20:5-6, after the Tribulation.

That passage identifies the people being resurrected as those who had been beheaded for not worshiping the Beast or taking the Mark. So no Christian who died by some other method than beheading will take part in this first resurrection. And what about all the Christians who die during the first half of the Tribulation, before the Mark is given? Also, these people only reign with Christ for the Millennium. Further, the passage contrasts this resurrection of the Tribulation saints with the resurrection of all the rest of the dead from all ages of history, at the White Throne Judgment in Rev. 20:11-15. Though it isn’t named as such, this is the second resurrection.

Neither of these two resurrections apply to the Body of Christ. As stated clearly in 1 Thes. 4:17, not all Christians will experience death, so not all Christians will ever be resurrected; a person must die in order to rise. If it is then argued that our resurrection is in Christ, then how many resurrections are there for those Christians who died during the Tribulation and are raised again at the end of it? How many times can the dead rise without dying again? We must conclude that the first resurrection in this context refers only to people who came to faith during the second half of the Tribulation and were martyred by beheading.

Another passage often overlooked on this matter is the scenario provided by Jesus in Mat. 25:31. This is the well-known judgment of the sheep and goats which clearly happens when he returns to earth after the Tribulation and sits on his throne to judge the survivors. We have already noted that this is not the final judgment of all the dead. Another reason it is not the judgment of the Body of Christ is that salvation is by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9), and the post-tribulation view agrees that the Body of Christ has been given immortality by this time. So we must conclude that this is a judgment of the still-mortal survivors of the Tribulation.

There are two groups of people before the separation of sheep from goat even begins: the ones to be judged, and the least of my brothers and sisters, But who are the least? It’s possible that they could be the Body of Christ, but it’s also possible that these are the Jews who fled to the place of safety when they witnessed the Abomination of Desolation (Rev. 12:6, 14). They are not being judged since God kept them safe for the entire duration of the Great Tribulation, out of the serpent’s reach. Their safety is proof of their being righteous.

Regardless of the identity of the least, the indisputable fact is that there will be righteous mortals repopulating the world after the Body of Christ has been immortalized and raptured. And since this is true, then there is no necessary reason for the saints of the Tribulation to be part of the Body of Christ.

The PTR ignores what Jesus taught in Mat. 24.

Anti-PTR ignores practically every other passage about end-times prophecy, putting Mat. 24 in a vacuum. Many are also confused by the signs and disasters in Revelation, thinking that all instances of earthquakes for example are one and the same event. But consider this: Jesus told of extreme cosmic events after the Great Tribulation which will make it clear that it is indeed the end (Mat. 24:29-31, ref. Isaiah 13:10; 34:4):

On the surface, the first four signs appear to match up with the 6th Seal of Revelation (Rev. 6:12-14), which is clearly not the end of the Great Tribulation:

There is at least one Old Testament reference to such things as well (Joel 2:31), and it too places them before that great and terrible day of the Lord:

I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

So we see that very similar signs both precede and follow the 70th week of the prophecy of Daniel.

The PTR is the strong delusion prophesied by Paul.

The delusion Paul mentions is sent from God to them (2 Thess. 2:10-13), not from Satan to Christians. So there is no basis in scripture for this ridiculous charge, and it can be made just as easily against opposition to PTR. Since PTR comes mostly from Paul in the first place, one would be hard-pressed to show how he would call his own teaching delusional.

Paul taught that the Rapture isn’t until after The Man of Sin is revealed.

The passage being referenced is 2 Thes. 2:1-12, specifically vs 3:

Don’t let anyone trick you in any way, for that day will not come until the Departure happens and then the Lawless One, the destroyer, is revealed.

But that day refers to the day of the Lord in the previous verse, which is not the Departure or Rapture. Moreover, the people Paul was writing to were afraid that they had missed the Departure and would now go through the Tribulation. Who fears an allegory, or is afraid they missed the Tribulation? Conversely, who should be comforted (1 Thes. 4:13-18) by a teaching that has them going through the Tribulation?

We tell you this by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive when the Lord appears will not be in line in front of those who have died. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with the loud command of the archangel and the trumpet of God; the first to rise will be those Christians who have died, and then we who are alive will be snatched away at the same time with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will always be together with the Lord. So comfort each other with these words.

Here is an example of how the PTR interprets 2 Thes. 2:1-8a:

Now about that question you asked regarding us meeting Jesus in the air. Don’t let anyone fool you! We said nothing like what that fake letter claimed, that the Tribulation has already started. The Tribulation cannot begin until after the Rapture, and then the Lawless One will be revealed. How could you forget what I told you? And you know what’s holding him back for now. Although lawlessness is already here, it’s only after the Body of Christ is taken out of the way that the Lawless One will be revealed.

The PTR invents a last trumpet before the last one mentioned in Revelation.

The 7th trump is not the last trump. The 7th is of an angel and a judgment (Rev. 11:15), while the last is of God and is a blessing (1 Thess. 4:16). There was a last trumpet for Israel before the time of Christ (Numbers 10:5-6), which Paul’s readers would have understood as a call to leave or break camp, as opposed to those of Revelation which had not yet been given.

The wrath of God does not begin until the Bowl judgments.

It is undeniable that Jesus, the Lamb, is also God. So any wrath coming from Jesus is, by definition, the wrath of God. This is acknowledged no later than Rev. 6:16, but note that it is the people of earth making this statement, not God or John or any heavenly angel. Also note that all of the Seals are opened by the Lamb, even though the results on earth are natural for the first four. That is, the Lamb instigates the Seal judgments, so they are all the wrath of God.

The Rapture is at the 6th Seal judgment.

This claim is based upon presuming the identity of the multitude in white robes from every nation in Rev. 7:9-17. But the Greek grammar clearly indicates their origin and scope: they come out of the Great Tribulation. There is no indication that this was a past, singular event, and their origin is not just tribulation but The Great Tribulation. This same expression is used by Jesus to describe a time of trouble never seen before and never to be seen again (Mat. 24:21), and this is immediately after Jesus quotes Daniel’s statement about the abomination of desolation. So the multitude comes from the time of the Bowl judgments, even though John sees them at the sixth seal.

There is nothing connecting Daniel to Revelation.

As already explained, Daniel 9:27 says that the Beast will break a seven-year treaty at the midpoint. We find that same event in Rev. 13:1-8, indicating the midpoint there:

Then I saw a beast rise out of the sea, and it had ten horns and seven heads… The whole earth was astounded at the beast, and they worshiped the dragon for giving jurisdiction to it. They said, Who is like the beast, and who can fight it? The beast was given a mouth with which to speak great and slanderous things, and its jurisdiction would be for forty-two months. It opened up its mouth to slander God and his name, and his sanctuary and all who live in heaven. And it was allowed to do battle with the holy people and conquer them, as well as to have jurisdiction over all tribes, people groups, languages, and non-Judeans. All the earth-dwellers will worship it, whose names have not been written in the scroll of life of the Lamb who had been slaughtered from the establishment of the world.

So both passages describe a world leader who confirms a seven-year treaty and then breaks it by declaring himself God and setting up an abomination in the temple. It’s reasonable to conclude that both Daniel and Revelation, which no one denies extend to the end of human history, describe the same period, which Daniel specifies is seven years.

The PTR contradicts where Rev. says the saints will be overcome by the Beast.

That passage was quoted above, but the holy people are not the Body of Christ. The terms holy people, saints, and elect were used of the righteous in the Old Testament as well, so they’re not exclusive terms for the Body of Christ. That is, though every Christian is a saint, not every saint is a Christian. And since saints preceded the Age of Grace, they will also follow it. This must be considered in context, and when the context is the point being debated, then the identity of these people depends completely on one’s view of dispensations. But if dispensationalism is the right view, then these are not Christians in the Age of Grace. We must also consider what Jesus said in Mat. 16:18, that the gates of Hades will not overcome his Congregation.


Recalling the quote of 1 Thes. 4:13-18 above:

  1. Jesus descends
  2. the archangel shouts
  3. the trumpet of God sounds
  4. the dead Christians are raised
  5. the living Christians are transformed in an instant (1 Cor. 15:52)
  6. the two groups are snatched up into the clouds to meet Jesus
  7. this is a message of comfort, not dread

Notice also that Paul makes no mention of a time of suffering to purge, test, or punish the Body of Christ before this event he is now describing. He is repeating what he had told them before, and the first thing is Jesus descending from heaven to the sky. No earthquakes, no signs, no nothing, but only a message of comfort and hope.

So there it is, in the simplest terms. It is that blessed hope for which there is a crown of righteousness for all who long for Jesus to come. May we all be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus, so that we can, as Jesus said, escape all these things to come.

Mapping Daniel to Revelation

The chapter on the prophet Daniel includes a section on the Seventy Weeks prophecy of ch. 9, where we see that a final seven years remains. It will begin with the confirmation of a seven-year treaty, and now we will see where this treaty and its violation matches up with Revelation:

Recalling the earlier quote of Rev. 13:1-8 and how it shows where the midpoint of the 70th Week is, the 7th trumpet must mark the midpoint. Therefore, all the trumpets are in the first 3.5 years. It is unknown whether the Seals are before or after the beginning of that time, as they may comprise a gap between the Rapture and the confirmation of the covenant for 7 years. The Rapture precedes the Seals because we must be gone before the wrath of God begins.

Other New Testament Prophecy Passages

Now about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him: Please, sisters and brothers, don’t be easily disturbed or alarmed in your minds or spirits, because no word or letter has come from us saying that the Day of the Lord is already here. Don’t let anyone fool you by any means, because that won’t happen until after the Departure, and then the Lawless One, the Destroyer, will be revealed. He opposes everything and elevates himself over every god or object of worship, even to the point of seating himself in the Temple of God and proclaiming himself God. You have forgotten that I told you these things when I was with you.

But you know what’s holding him back for now, to keep him from being revealed before his time. For although the secret of lawlessness is already in operation, it’s only after the Restrainer is taken out of the way that the Lawless One will be revealed. This is the one the Lord Jesus will do away with by the breath of his mouth, and will neutralize when he appears at his arrival. He will come when Satan is at the height of his power, which he held by means of signs and fake miracles and seduction. All this will happen to those who would rather die than love the truth that would save them. As a result, God will force them to take the wrong path and believe the lie. This is how all who rejected the truth and celebrated injustice will be condemned (2 Thes. 2:1-12).

Paul wrote to calm the people who had received a forged letter claiming to be from him, wherein they were told they had missed The Departure and were now entering the Tribulation. He was exposing the false teaching and restoring the true teaching he had brought them before. Had he taught them they’d go through the Tribulation, they would not be comforted by his words, nor would they be afraid they had missed the Tribulation (!!).

The Day of the Lord is not the same as The Departure. This has to be very clear. Paul states the order of events:

  1. The Departure
  2. The revealing of the man of lawlessness
  3. The Day of the Lord

Paul also gives important details about The Great Lie:

  1. It comes from God.
  2. It is given to them, who rejected the truth and celebrated injustice.

God will not delude his own people or accuse them of hating truth and loving wvil. Neither will true Christians accept any other seal than that of the Holy Spirit, the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (2 Cor. 1:22).


The continual slander against the PTR view is based upon failure to understand it or blind acceptance of lies from its enemies. We do not smugly watch the world decay, nor ignore the terrible persecution of Christians now or in history, nor wish for the suffering of the lost. Neither are we unprepared for suffering, as this was promised by Jesus to all his followers.

The truth is that we are highly motivated to spread the Gospel so others too can escape all these things as Jesus said. What things? Not the typical wrath of Satan and man, but the wrath of God to come.

Who will really be unprepared? Is it not the ones who disbelieve in the pre-trib Rapture? The Beast cannot duplicate all the requirements of Jesus coming for his Body, and instead of coming in the air the Beast will arise out of the earth.

As for the Mark, Christians are already sealed and would never be fooled into taking another one. But opponents of PTR will be caught off-guard by the Rapture, and may well be among those caught beating their fellow servants when Jesus arrives; just look at social media comments for examples of such beatings. Even mid-trib Rapture believers heap abuse upon PTR over a difference in timing of 3-1/2 years, and will call us stupid, wicked, deceived, evil, false Christians. Many believe that Christians today will be called to suffer in a way no other believers of any generation have suffered. Instead,

[We] wait for his Son from the heavens, whom he raised from the dead: Jesus, the One who rescues us from the coming wrath. ~ 1 Thes. 1:10

Don’t let disturbing thoughts fill your minds; trust in God, and trust in me. There are many residences in my Father’s home. If there weren’t, would I have told you I’m going there to get a place ready for all of you? That being the case, I will return to you and accept you as my own, so that you can be where I am. ~ John 14:1-4

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