(Some of the Bible verses quoted in this study have had comments added in brackets. The sole purpose of this study technique is to emphasise or introduce a line of thought. All verses KJV unless otherwise stated).
None who have studied the Bible will deny the fact, that Jesus is soon coming to gather His faithful.
However, at what point in time this will happen is sometimes disputed. A doctrine of teaching referred to as
'the secret Rapture' (or Pre-tribulation rapture) was devised in 1830; which teaches that 'the church' will be taken to heaven before the tribulation begins, instead of after the tribulation as more traditionally believed.
They say that being "caught up together…to meet the Lord in the air" of 1Th 4:15-17, refers to this pre-trib rapture event. And to accommodate the fact that verse 16 states "the dead in Christ shall rise first", the Pre-trib teaching states that the first resurrection also occurs at this time, before the tribulation begins.
This however would also make the Second Coming occur before the tribulation;
1Co 15:22-23 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (resurrected). But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (the Second Coming)
If the Second Coming is before the Tribulation, then it would create the need for a Third Coming at the end of the tribulation!
The pre-trib teaching states that the first resurrection described in Rev 20:5, occurs prior to the tribulation commencing. However, this creates some major problems with the theory; as the context of Rev 20 clearly shows that the first resurrection occurs at the end of the tribulation (ie, the Second Coming);
Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
Rev 20:2 A nd he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
The first point worth noting in this Rev 20 time slot, is that Satan is restrained at this point in time. Would he be restrained before the tribulation, or after the tribulation? Other verses (eg, Rev 13) reveal that the tribulation is when Satan is most active. Note also that this point in time marks the start the 1000-year period. The pre-trib view would therefore need the 1000-year period to be counted from the beginning of the tribulation, rather than from the end.
Let's read on;
Rev 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Note that there is no deception on Satan's part from this point; so can this be before the tribulation?;
Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Rev 20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
If this resurrection is prior to the tribulation as claimed; how can they have "not worshipped the beast" or "received his mark", when these things do not occur until during the tribulation?
The truth of the matter is, that the whole purpose of the Great Tribulation is to test the living; it is designed to separate the sheep from the goats. To obtain a correct understanding of the timing of these events, it is important to consider EVERYTHING that the Bible reveals on this topic. Too many Christians twist the meaning of one or two verses, concluding with a 'doctrine of truth' that conflicts with so many other verses.
Unfortunately, believing something is truth, does not make it truth. God's truth will prevail regardless of what we want to believe is truth. If for example we chose to believe that repentance is unnecessary today; do you think that God would just change His truth to accommodate our belief?
Notice what Peter wrote about Paul's writings, which now make up a major portion of our New Testament;
2 Pet 3:16 …His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. NIV
The pre-tribulation rapture theory is a very dangerous teaching to follow, as many Christians who believe in this doctrine, will become disillusioned when they enter into the period of tribulation; thinking they are among the un-worthy, who have missed out on ascending to heaven. Satan is counting on people believing this deception, to further his efforts in destroying mankind. Don't think that Satan is not capable of initiating such deceptions; did he not deceive 1/3rd of the highly intelligent heavenly angels! How much more will he deceive mankind in these end times. Read on, so that you don't become one of the fooled!
The Newness of the Doctrine
The Pre-trib Rapture theory was devised in 1830. (Following is an Encyclopedia text on the Rapture)
It may come as a surprise to many Christians, but the doctrine of the Rapture is not mentioned in any Christian writings, of which we have knowledge, until after the year 1830 A.D. Whether the early writers were Greek or Latin, Armenian or Coptic, Syrian or Ethiopian, English or German, orthodox or heretic, no one mentioned a syllable about it. Of course, those who feel the origin of the teaching is in the Bible would say that it only ceased being taught (for some unknown reason) at the close of the apostolic age only to reappear in 1830 A.D. But if the doctrine were so clearly stated in Scripture, it seems incredible that no one should have referred to it before the 19th century.
This does not necessarily show that the teaching is wrong, but it does mean that thousands of eminent scholars who lived over a span of seventeen centuries (including some of the most astute of the "Christian Fathers" and those of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods) must be considered as prophetic dunces for not having understood so fundamental a teaching. We are not denigrating the doctrine in mentioning these historical facts. That is not our intention. But we do feel that the Foundation should show the historical problems associated with the teaching. This lapse of seventeen centuries when no one mentioned anything about it must be a serious obstacle to its reliability. The first person to teach the doctrine was a young woman named Margaret Macdonald. Margaret was not a theologian or Bible expositor but was a prophetess in the Irvingite sect (the Catholic Apostolic Church).
Now let's see what light the Scriptures can shed on this 'pre-trib rapture theory'.
2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.
Keeping the above verse in mind, we will now begin our study of the Scriptures. To avoid any confusion, each time I refer to the Second Coming, I am speaking of the point in time after the tribulation.
The apostles ask Jesus;
Mat 24:3 …what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Mat 24:4 … Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Mat 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.(Notice how the above verse is being fulfilled today. Many Christian leaders who come in Jesus name, saying that "Jesus is the Christ", are deceiving many with erroneous teachings).
Mat 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Mat 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Mat 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Mat 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
(Notice that Christians will suffer for Jesus' name sake).
Mat 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
(Read on to establish whether this 'Margaret Macdonald prophetess' comes under the above category);
Mat 24:12 And because iniquity (lawlessness or transgression of law) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Mat 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
(So far we can see that God's faithful are to endure times of trouble, until the end).
Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Mat 24:21 For then (ie, at that time) shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
(Notice that Jesus' Second Coming hasn't occurred yet; neither has anyone been raptured away).
Mat 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake (ie, the elect are still here) those days shall be shortened.
Mat 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Mat 24:25 Behold, I have told you before.
Mat 24:26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
Mat 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
(Notice Christ's coming is not a secret event; it will be very visible; a grand and glorious event).
Mat 24:28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles (vulchers) be gathered together.
Mat 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
(After the tribulation, is the first reference to the Son of man coming. This is the Second Coming, yet the pre-trib theory would have us believe this is a Third Coming! These verses clearly show that Jesus comes AFTER the tribulation).
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
We see that the 'gathering of the elect' occurs at this Second Coming. Next we are given more details about the Second Coming of Jesus, which we have seen occurs AFTER the tribulation. In the following verses, Jesus makes an important comparison about His coming, with events, which occurred in Noah's day;
Mat 24:37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Mat 24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
Mat 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them ALL away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
What does the Bible mean by "took them all away"? Luke's account provides the necessary clarification;
Luk 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
So to be "took" or "taken", means to be destroyed.
Jesus is making an important comparison here. He tells us that just as the flood destroyed ALL the wicked in Noah's day; so it will be with the wicked at His coming. He goes on to say;
Mat 24:40 Then shall two (1 bad + 1 good) be in the field; the one shall be taken (ie, destroyed), and the other left. (Greek word for 'left' aphiemi = forgive, lay aside, send away, yeild up)
Mat 24:41 Two women (1 bad + 1 good) shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken (destroyed), and the other left.
Mat 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
These verses make it clear, that we need to be among the group who are left;
1Th 4:17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…. NIV (at the Second Coming of the Son of man)
The Bible provides further evidence to show that 'Taken' = Destroyed
2Pe 2:12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be TAKEN and DESTROYED, … and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
Rev 19:20 And the beast was TAKEN, and with him the false prophet….These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Let's now see how Luke describes these same events;
Luk 17:22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye (believers) shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.
(Jesus makes it clear we are to endure).
Luk 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
Luk 17:27 They (the wicked) did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Luk 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
Luk 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Luk 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (at His Second Coming).
Luk 17:34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken (destroyed), and the other shall be left.
Luk 17:35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken(destroyed) , and the other left.
Luk 17:36 Two men shall be in the field: the one shall be taken(destroyed) and the other left."
Luk 17:37 And they answered and said to Him, "Where, Lord?"(ie, "taken where Lord?") and he said unto them, "Wheresoever the body is, thither the eagles (vultures) will be gathered together."
Here Jesus is referring to the fact that those taken (destroyed) at His Second Coming, will become a feast for vultures;
Rev 19:21 And the remnant (of the wicked) were slain with the sword of him (Jesus) that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
So according to the above gospels, the wicked are taken (destroyed), BEFORE those 'left' are gathered to Christ. Being 'left' is a good thing;
Zec 13:8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left…
Isa 10:14 And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth…
So do other Scriptures agree that THE WICKED ARE DESTROYED FIRST, before the righteous are gathered?
2Th 2:1-8 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not … be troubled… as that the day of Christ is at hand. 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 … that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
It is important to note that 'our gathering' can't happen until 'the lawless one' is revealed and destroyed by 'the brightness of His coming'. This order of events is again confirmed;
Mat 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Mat 13:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares (wicked) among the wheat (righteous), and went his way.
Mat 13:26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
Mat 13:27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
Mat 13:28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them (the wicked) up?
Mat 13:29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Mat 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest (the Second Coming): and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together FIRST the tares (wicked), and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat (righteous) into my barn.
Yet again we have confirmation that the wicked are destroyed (taken) first, then the righteous who are LEFT, are gathered to meet Christ in the clouds. Jesus elaborates on this further;
Mat 13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
Mat 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom (take) all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (transgression of God's law)
Mat 13:42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked FROM AMONG the just,
Notice the just are still here when the wicked are separated.
These following verses give a very powerful message, against a pre-trib rapture;
1Th 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the (Second) coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep (have previously died).
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Notice in the first verse it says 'we who are still alive', who remain (ie, are left); speaking of living beings at the Second Coming. It goes on to say that the dead in Christ must rise FIRST. Nothing indicates that some of the living have had a secret rapture; because none of the living are gathered until after the dead in Christ are raised.
And Scripture tells us the dead are raised in the last day; not before the tribulation;
Joh 6:39-40 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Again we have confirmation that the dead in Christ are raised at His Second Coming. Remember this has to happen before any gathering of the living;
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Co 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his (Second) coming.
Remembering that the 7 trumpets commence the Great Tribulation; yet notice the last trumpet marks the first and only resurrection of God's faithful;
1Co 15:51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Again this shows we are here until Jesus Second Coming. The wicked are destroyed FIRST, the righteous dead are raised, and then the righteous living (those 'left') are 'caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air'.
In the following verses, we again see that there is no separation of wicked from the righteous until Jesus' Second Coming;
Mat 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
Mat 25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep (righteous) from the goats (wicked):
Mat 25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
So, WHEN Jesus returns, THEN the righteous and wicked are 'divided'. The events transpiring through the tribulation are what will separate the sheep from the goats, (those who accept the mark of the beast, from those who do not. Those who accept man-made laws, from those who stand for God's law. Those who are willing to live by faith, from those who do not).
Now we'll look at some of the many verses, which indicate that believers are to endure tribulation,
(remember these verses are specifically referring to believers).
Notice Jesus' prayer to His Father;
Joh 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth TO THE END shall be saved.
Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The Apostles fully understood that believers were to endure tribulation;
Act 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
2Co 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble…
2Th 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
2Th 1:5 … that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when (ie, not before) the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
Again we see that our endurance ends WHEN Jesus returns. How can a 'pre-trib rapture' believer, ignore SO MANY verses which indicate the saints are to ENDURE the testing process of the tribulation.
Following is a misinterpreted verse, on which some base the 'secret pre-trib rapture'.
Rev 3:10 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.
The Greek word for 'Trial' (Peirasmos), simply means 'temptation'.
Also, the Greek word 'from' (ek ex; 1537), should more accurately be translated as 'through'.
Notice the use of the same word (1537) below;
Rev 18:3 ….the merchants of the earth are waxed rich4147 through1537 the abundance of her delicacies.
So this verse doesn't say Jesus will keep us 'from' the hour of trial (or Tribulation), but 'through' the hour of trial. Although, from a certain perspective, it is also true that He will keep us 'from' the hour of temptation.
Those in Christ, who through the tribulation period will "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Rev 14:12), will be empowered to bear any temptations;
1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
The whole purpose of the Great Tribulation is to TEST the living. The Tribulation TEST is the means by which God will separate the sheep from the goats.
How can the living be taken to heaven before the TEST? This would require a pre-trib judgement.
The Tribulation is the judgement of the living, and is specifically designed to test the living, to separate those willing to "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus".
God cannot allow anyone into His kingdom who is unwilling to submit to His authority.
Remember, He is 'not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance' (to turn from ALL sin) 2Pe 3:9.
So as you can see, probably the only verses in the Bible about a 'pre-trib Rapture' are;
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;