Warning: This post may be a highly controversial because this topic is highly contested and argued over in Christianity.
The doctrine of the rapture and the second coming of Christ is a very controversial topic in the church today. Scripture is not 100% clear on when the rapture and the second coming will be exactly, nor is this issue a salvation issue per se; however, I do believe that having a systematic understanding of what the Word of God says regarding this topic is important for every believer as we all fight to hold the faith and await the Lord’s return.
3 Things Christians Agree On
- There will be a tribulation with the coming of the antichrist, a false prophet, and a false teacher.
- There will be a second coming of Jesus Christ.
- There will be a rapture of believers where the believers will be caught up to meet the Lord.
Many Christians, however, disagree on when the rapture will happen.
3 Main Beliefs Regarding The Tribulation
- Pre-tribulation: This is the most commonly held belief today that became popular post-19th century. Those who hold this view believe that the Bible does not prophecy that the Church will be a part of the tribulation because the Church is no longer mentioned after Revelation 3. Therefore, believers will be raptured prior to the tribulation, which is the season of the pouring out of God’s wrath. This view holds the position that God will save us from His wrath by not allowing us to go through the tribulation.
- Mid-tribulation: This is the least commonly held position which teaches that the Church will go through the first 3.5 years of the tribulation, followed by the rapture. The Church will, therefore, not endure the last 3.5 years, or the Great Tribulation.
- Post-tribulation: This is the longest held position in the church history. This position holds the belief that the Church will undergo the entire 7 years of the tribulation, followed by the rapture, and Christ’s second coming. Therefore, the rapture and Christ’s second coming are the same event.
Let me preface this by saying that I hope the rapture happens first and the tribulation follows.
As Christians, we should pray for pre-tribulation but prepare for post-tribulation.
This view is highly uncommon in the western world because of the lack of persecution that exists in comparison to other parts of the world. Nobody knows for certain what will actually take place, but let’s look at the Scriptures for a better understanding.
7 Reasons To Support The Position Of A Post-Tribulation Rapture:
1. The Bible talks about only one Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
If the rapture were to happen 7 years before the second coming of Jesus, and the Bible clearly states that during the rapture we will meet the Lord in the air (signifying the Lord is coming), this would mean that His second coming will happen twice. The Bible makes it clear there is only one second coming—the first coming, to die, and the second coming, to reign. If we will meet Him in the air while He is coming down, this is describing the second coming of Jesus when the rapture will take place.
2. The rapture to the Lord and His coming are the same event.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
There will be a shout, a trumpet sounding, and the voice of an archangel when He comes. This verse also does not specify that we are going to heaven, but just that we will be with Jesus.
This is consistent with the following:
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
In these verses, we see the sound of the trumpet mentioned to describe His descend from heaven and us meeting Him halfway.
3. Jesus’ second coming is happening after the tribulation and not before.
“…Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” Matthew 24:29-30.
There is only one second coming of Jesus. The descension talks about His coming. There is no verse that indicates that He is coming only halfway. He will come all the way, but we will meet Him halfway in the air. This verse indicates this coming is after the tribulation.
4. There is not one clear Scripture that indicates that the Church will skip the tribulation.
This view often comes from Revelation 4, when John is asked to go up to heaven. But this is not a clear indication that the Church has gone up prior to the tribulation. The literal interpretation is that John was taken into the spirit realm to see what is going to happen. Can John represent the Church? Yes, but he can also represent you being in the secret place with God. The argument that the Church is not mentioned during the tribulation is also not a clear indication.
5. The first resurrection happens right before the thousand year reign of Christ, not before the tribulation.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6.
During the tribulation, people will be saved, but people will also die for Christ—those who refuse to worship the beast and receive his mark. The Pre-Trib view holds that those who are killed are the people saved during the tribulation because the church is raptured. But if the church has already been raptured, the Holy Spirit will also be removed with the Church. How, then, can new believers be saved without the Holy Spirit on earth?
The people who die and didn’t worship the beast or take his mark, will rise again and reign with Christ for 1000 years. This is the first resurrection. If there is a resurrection happening with the rapture 7 years before that when we are changed, and the dead will rise, then which resurrection is that?
The first resurrection does not happen until Jesus sets up His 1000-year reign on the earth. There will only be one first resurrection at His second coming.
6. Wrath of God
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:9
This is talking about the eternal outpouring of God’s wrath. There is a certain level of consequences of sin we suffer under even though we are saved—things like death, sickness, and certain attacks. Just because we are saved from the wrath of God, that doesn’t mean we are not under the effect of evil and its consequences.
God is able to keep Christians from His full wrath as we go through the tribulation.
Revelation 3:10 says, “…I will deliver you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the earth.”
This could mean two things: either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. This is similar to how God did not take Noah out of His wrath but took the bad away from Noah. Noah had to endure the flood.
Another example is the Israelites. God did not take Israelites out of Egypt during the 10 plagues; God protected Israel in Egypt as the plaques intensified. It is possible to be saved from the wrath of Jesus Christ, but this does not mean there won’t be any pain or trials, or tribulation on this earth. The wrath of God will still await the ungodly.
It is possible to be saved from the wrath of Jesus Christ, but this does not mean there won’t be any tribulation on this earth.
Another example is Daniel’s 70 weeks.
According to Daniel 9:27, there is a seventieth “seven” (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel’s entire prophecy of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:20-27) is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention, especially on Israel. The seventieth seven, the tribulation, must also be a time when God deals specifically with Israel. While this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present.
God’s wrath will still await the ungodly.
We speculate and we hope that we will not be here during the tribulation, but prepare for it as if you were going to go through it.
7. What makes the believers so special in the last days that they will be spared from persecution?
Nothing makes believers special to be exempt from the tribulation.
Suffering weeds out compromising Christians.
Believers for the past 2000 years have undergone great suffering, death, and persecution for the cause of Christ. Just because the Western Church enjoys freedom, for many believers around the world, tribulation is a normal experience (see 2 Timothy 3:12, John 16:33).
Dr. Michael Brown says,
“tribulation is the normal experience of believers in this age. Not experiencing affliction is a blessed exception that we should enjoy when we have it, but we should not count on it as if it were our right in Christ. We should always be ready to suffer for Christ and always be ready for Christ’s return.”
Jesus is coming.
Tribulation is coming.
We will meet Him regardless of when it happens. We need to prepare for persecution and for tribulation, but we pray that we escape it.
I hope this helped answer some questions, please share it and let me know what you think!
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