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Post Tribulation Rapture

In Christian eschatology, the Post Tribulation Rapture doctrine is the belief in a combined Resurrection and Rapture (eg., Resurrection-Rapture) of all believers coming after the Great Tribulation.

Doctrine and implications

This doctrine holds that there is a Resurrection-Rapture of living believers in Jesus Christ at the end of the age (or the "End times"). Posttribulationists believe that Christians will not be taken up into Heaven until Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation.

24 ''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:: 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.: 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: — Matthew 24, Book and verses of the Bible

In pretribulationism and midtribulationism, the rapture and the Second Coming (or Greek, paraousia) of Christ are separate events; while in posttribulationism the two events are identical or simultaneous.

The belief is that God's Elect from all ages will be translated from mortal bodies into immortal glorified bodies at the Second Coming of Christ and that this will be at the end of the age. This event, it is believed, will come at the conclusion of what is termed the 70th Week of Daniel, the final seven years of this present age. This view was held by the early Church Fathers and has been held by Christians since that time. The doctrine of the Post-Tribulation Rapture is today held by a growing number of evangelical Christians. For Post-Tribulationists concerned about the recent declension of Christian faith, doctrine, and morale in the western church, an important reason to advance the Post-Tribulation Rapture doctrine relates to the importance of preparation of believers for "witness under trial".

The "witness under trial" issue was of major concern to evangelist Corrie Ten Boom, whose family suffered in Nazi prison camps during World War II for the crime of protecting Jews. Corrie Ten Boom preached that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture would leave the Christian church ill-prepared for witness under persecution, just as it had in China when Mao Tse Tung rose to power, and warned that Pre-Tribulationism was the sort of false doctrine that Jesus warned about.

Opposing doctrine and Biblical Case Against the Pretribulation Rapture

Opposing doctrines include:

* Pretribulationists believe that all Christians then alive will be taken bodily up to Heaven (called the rapture) before the Tribulation begins. Those who become Christians after the rapture will live through (or perish during) the Tribulation. After the Tribulation, Christ will return.
* Midtribulationists believe that the rapture of the faithful will occur halfway through the Tribulation, after it begins, but before the worst part of it occurs.

The relatively new opposing doctrine is termed the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, the doctrine of an early Rapture of Christian believers occurring before the final seven years (or three-and-a-half years) begins and before the Tribulation of the End Times. This has become the most widely accepted eschatological doctrine in the United States during the past century. It is commonly taught in the vast majority of evangelical churches to the exclusion of all others. (See Dispensationalism for additional information about the root of Pre-Tribulation Rapture theology.)

The belief in the pretribulation or midtribulation rapture theories of dispensationalism is often criticized, on the grounds that it results in the division of Christ's single return into two stages. Some see it as an impossible "apartheid of the Elect" of sorts which is not seen in scripture. Pretribulationists defend it on the basis of a scripture passage which affirms that God has not appointed His people to wrath. Posttribulationists counter that the tribulation associated with the final witness of the saints is in no way connected to the wrath of God. This wrath of God will only come at the last day, and it will fall upon the heads of the wicked at the last judgment.

'''The Biblical Case Against the Pre-tribulation Rapture TheoryBackground'''

The very popular books in the Left Behind series, and many popular preachers, describe an event they call "The Rapture." Many mistakenly believe that all Bible believing Christians believe in the "Rapture" theory. This is not the case. For all practical purposes no Christians held to this theory before about 1840. For example, none of the great reformers, Luther, Calvin, or Zwingli believed in a "Secret Rapture to Heaven" theory. There was good reason â€" it is not biblically sound.

Basic Components of Secret Rapture Theory

There are three elements of the Secret Rapture scenario.

1. Christ returns secretly to the clouds above the earth

2. He raptures (picks up) the Christians that are on the earth to join him in the clouds

3. He then takes them to heaven so that they do not experience a time of terrible suffering referred to as "the tribulation" in the King James Version of the Bible.

This theory is based primarily on two scriptures, I Thess. 4:13-18 and Luke 34:35. Careful analysis of these passages shows that the "Secret Rapture to Heaven" theory is not biblically based. Let's look at the scriptures.

Where the Secret Rapture Theory Goes Wrong

I Thess.4:13-18 is the text on which the Secret Rapture Theory is based. This text does not support the Secret Rapture Theory for the following reasons:

(1)The event described in I Thess. 4:13-5:11 is not secret.

In the "Left Behind" scenario some passengers in airplanes are mysteriously disappear while others are left behind. There is no announcement that a great event is taking place. It is secret.

This event described in I Thess. 4 is not a secret event. The Lord is uttering a "loud command." (NIV) Archangels are speaking and there is a trumpet call. It may be argued that the event is secret because 5:2 says that "will come like a thief in the night." But the reference to the coming of the thief does not indicate secrecy. It refers to its surprising character as indicated by verse 5:4.

(2) The text never says that Jesus changes direction and returns to heaven.

The text says that "the Lord will come down." It never says that he turns around and returns to heaven. If the Bible wants to describe an event in which the direction changes it has the vocabulary to do so. For example, in Acts 10:11 Peter sees a vision in which he sees something like a large sheet "coming down." In verse 16 the "thing was suddenly taken up to heaven." But I Thess. 4 does not describe a change in direction.

(3) The text instead describes the wonderful day in which Christ returns in victory and Christians are taken up to meet him (raptured) so that they can join his triumphal march to earth.

The key to understanding this text is the phrase "to meet the Lord." The word "meet" is an English translation of the Greek word "apantesis." When a Roman emperor approached a city, the leading citizens went out to welcome him and had the honor of processing into the city with him. This whole event was described as the "apantesis."

As St. Chrysostom commented on this passage: "If he (Christ) is about to descend, on what account shall we be caught up? For the sake of honor. For when a king drives into a city, those who are in honor go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge within."Acts 28:15-16 uses the word in a similar way. It describes an event that occurred as Paul is approaching Rome. It reads as follows:15 The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged. 16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. The Christians in Rome came out of Rome to meet Paul honor and usher him into Rome.In this text the Christians are caught up into the clouds to meet him so that they can share in the true Lord's glorious return to earth.(4) The texts that say "one will be taken, one will be left behind" do not describe a rapture event in which Christians are taken up to heaven.The other text upon which a pre-tribulation rapture is based is Luke 17:34-35 (parallel Matt. 24:40-41)In English we often express the direction of a verb by adding an adverb to it. This we say "take in, "take up," take down" take away." In Greek the directional aspect of a verb instead is often expressed as a prefix to the verb. For example, in vs. 40 the word to "take" is the Greek word "paralambano" whose primary meaning is to "take to oneself." If the writer had wished to express the direction "up" he would have place the prefix "ana.." to "lambano. He did not. He added the prefix "para."

The author could also have used another Greek word to express the idea of "lifting up." "Epairo" means "to lift up." The verb "epairo" is used to describe God taking Jesus up to heaven in Acts 1:9. Luke wrote both the gospel and the book of Acts. If Luke in Luke 17:34 had wanted to say that we are going to be taken up into heaven would he not have used the same word that Luke did to describe Jesus being "taken up" in Acts? Why would the same writer not use the same word to express the same idea?

It is not clear what Luke17:34 means. It may mean that the person in the field is to be taken to Christ when he returns to earth. Or it may describe an arrest by the Roman or Jewish police. In Matt. 27:27 and John 19:16 the word take â€" "paralambano " is used to describe Jesus' arrest. One thing is clear. It does not mean to "take up."

(5) The assumption that Christians will avoid the types of events that are described as the "tribulations" in Revelation is wrong.

First, the obvious. If Paul were writing to reassure Christians that they would escape a future time of tribulation, I Thess 4. would be the place to say it, but he does not. Nowhere in the Bible in one spot does it say "Christians will be taken up by Christ and avoid tribulations."The book of Revelation does not support the idea that Christians will avoid suffering in the end times. If one reads the book of Revelation literally it should be read chronologically. There are three sets of tribulations described in Revelation. First, the seal tribulations occur (Ch. 6), then the trumpet tribulations(Ch. 8) and then the bowl tribulations.(Ch. 17) But if one reads Revelation chronologically one cannot avoid the fact that both between the seals and the trumpets, and between the trumpets and bowls the text says that Christians are enduring suffering. To wit:Revelation 7:13-14 (NIV)

13 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robesâ€"who are they, and where did they come from?" 14 I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (This text is between the seal tribulations and the trumpet tribulations.)

Revelation 13:10b (NIV) states"This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. "(This text is between the trumpets and the bowls.Revelation 14:12 (NIV)12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (This statement is between the trumpets and the bowls.)Revelation clearly states that Christians are present during the tribulations.

At this point the pre-tribulationists argue â€" "The saints referred to in Rev. 13 and 14 are people that have become Christians during the tribulation." How do you know that, one might ask? They respond, "because the pre-tribulation Christians are gone to heaven." Of course, this is a circular argument.

It makes far more sense to accept the plain meaning of Revelation 7:13-14, Rev. 13:10b and Rev. 14:12 â€" and reject a pre-tribulation rapture â€" than it does to presume a pre-tribulation rapture and then have to explain away the Christians the book of Revelation says are present during the tribulation times.

In fact, Christians have already experienced many of the type of events that are described as tribulation events in the Book of Revelation â€" including war, pestilence and natural disasters.

Finally, does it make sense that sinners that the Church failed to preach to before the tribulation will have to suffer the tribulation, even if they become Christians, but that the Church which is guilty of failing to preach to them avoids the tribulation? Does not the Psalmist say that "The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings?" -- Psalm 145:17

In sum, the theory of a pre-tribulation rapture of Christians in which they avoid times of persecution and suffering is not biblically sound.

See also


Albrecht Dürer's woodcut, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Events and ideas

* Rapture: event in certain systems of Christian eschatology (the study of the end times) whereby it is believed that all Christians will be taken from Earth by Jesus Christ into Heaven.
* Apologetics: field of study concerned with the systematic defense of a position.
* Exegesis: extensive and critical interpretation of a text, especially of a holy scripture.
* Bible prophecy: concept that many Bible verses contain prophecies.
* Internal consistency and the Bible and Biblical inerrancy
* Futurism: interpretation of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel generally in the future as literal, physical, apocalyptic and global.


* Augustine of Hippo, The City of God, Chapter 23.
* Barnabas, The Epistle of Barnabas, chapter 4
* Caecilius Cyprianus (Bishop of Carthage; Post-Tribulationist) [Treatise 7.2]
* Didache (speaks of Jesus gathering the elect after the Tribulation)
* Ephrem the Syrian (Post-Tribulationist)
* Hermas, The Shepherd of Hermas
* Hippolytus (Writer of the early Christian Church; Speaks of the Antichrist's reign and persecution of the Church )
* Irenaeus (Post-Tribulationist; Disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John the apostle)
* Justin Martyr (Christian apologist and Post-Tribulationist)
* Tertullian (Father of the Latin Church; Post-Tribulationist)
* Victorinus (third or fourth century; Book of Revelation first commentary writer)
* John Gill (Held the view that the Church was not raptured out in any event prior the tribulation)
* Matt Slick (Evangelical Calvinist Christian hold to a post-tribulation rapture)

External articles and further reading

References and citations

* William Arnold III, Post-Tribulation Rapture, 7. History of Pre- and Post-Tribulationism

Relevant Biblical verses

* 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (Resurrection of the righteous dead in connection with the Rapture)
* Matthew 24:29-31 (Jesus about the Resurrection-Rapture)
* Ezekiel 34:12 (Prophet Ezekiel about the Resurrection-Rapture)
* Revelation 20:4-5 (Resurrection taking place after the Tribulation)

Other Biblical sources

* Luke 17
* Matthew 24
* John 14
* Acts 2 and Acts 3
* Peter 1
* 1 Corinthians 15
* 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Thessalonians 5
* 2 Thessalonians 1 and 2 Thessalonians 2
* Titus 2:13
* Revelation 14:14-20 and Revelation 20:1-6

Post-Tribulation Rapture books

* Gundry, Robert, "First the Antichrist". Baker Books, May 1997. ISBN 0801057647
* Perry, Richard H., "Of the Last Days: Listen, I Tell You a Mystery". Essence Publishing (Canada), Jul 2003. ISBN 1553065956
* Moesta, Louis, "The Crucible and the Crown". WordFire Press, October 1999. ISBN 0967354803
* Woods, Dennis James, "Unlocking the Door: A Key to Biblical Prophecy". Vital Issues Press, June 1994. ISBN 1563840391
* Dave MacPherson, "The Incredible Cover Up". June, 1975. ISBN 0931608066


*Tim Warner, The Last Trumpet
** Tim Warner, Popular Rapture View is both Recent and Unbiblical. Waterford News (Religion section), Stanislaus County, California, Feb. 2002.
** Tim Warner, Baptist Pre-Trib Revisionism; Dr. Ken Johnson's Revisionism of Baptist Writers. April 2003.
* Gavin Finley, The Post-Tribulation Resurrection-Rapture
*Dan Dudley, Post Tribulation Rapture
* William Arnold III, Post-Tribulation Rapture
* Dan Dudley, The Posttribulation Rapture


* The Post-Tribulation Rapture Chart. BPRC Ministries, 2005.
* Post-Tribulation Rapture Timeline. Christian Konnections, 2005.
* Post-Tribulation Rapture Timeline. End Time Pilgrim, 2005.


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