The idea of a Pre-tribulation rapture is NOT consistent with scripture
Those who believe the fantastical theory of a pre-tribulation rapture have either never studied the bible thoroughly for themselves, or never stopped to think seriously about what they believe, or they don’t want to think.
Paul says the “change” that happens to those believers who survive the Great Tribulation is a secret. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 and 2 Thesalonians 4:15-17. But that doesn’t mean a secret revelation. When considering other passages of scripture where Paul boasts about the revelations he received, one might think that he came to understand this matter of the “change” in the survivors, as another revelation. However after examining all the relevant details that the scriptures provide concerning the last days, it becomes clear that this “change” was actually a logical conclusion that suddenly dawned on Paul, rather than a supernatural revelation. Consider the relevant details.
Scripture provides the following information concerning the last days:-
- The Kingdom of God will appear after a time of great distress and destruction that God will bring upon the earth in Judgement of the inhabitants.
- Only a small number of people will survive the coming great distress and destruction.
- In Paul’s day, many people (including some very deserving servants of God) had died or would die before the Kingdom of God appears.
- Yeshua (Jesus) and Paul promised that deserving servants of God who died before the Kingdom of God appears would still be resurrected so as to enter the Kingdom.
- All those who deserve to be rewarded in the Kingdom would be subjects of the same Kingdom, whether they enter through death and resurrection or if they survive on earth through the Great Tribulation.
These five facts are all well-established on the basis of the scriptures. The logical conclusion then (without further information about a rapture) is that the Kingdom of God would include both resurrected human beings and ordinary living human beings – the survivors.
NOTE: If any bible scholars don’t allow the rules of logic to apply in our faith, then ignore them because it means you would have to become illogical to accept their opinions. And illogical people don’t realize when they have lost the plot.
These five facts, (undeniable conclusions from scripture) introduce a problematic situation:- (1) Resurrected human beings would have an unfair advantage in God’s Kingdom – for example the very old and frail ordinary living people who survived would be in need of regular help and healing. (2) The survivors might feel cheated of the unique supernatural abilities and privileges of resurrected beings. (3) The resurrected husbands and wives from previous marriages would complicate relationships and loyalties for the ordinary humans. These were some of the logical conclusions the Sadducees raised with Yeshua to scoff at the very idea of eternal life.
As Yeshua explained to the Sadducees, only one type of existence would be found in God’s Kingdom – all would become immortal, even if they have different responsibilities and rewards according to what each deserves. Paul came to the logical conclusion that any humans who survive on earth until the King appears would also have to take on the unique supernatural abilities and privileges of resurrected beings, like Yeshua. Having concluded that much, the question to ask is when do the survivors become immortal?
Paul concluded that it would take place at the very end of the age – at the last trumpet. That’s completely reasonable. If the change from mortal to immortal were to take place before the time of great distress and destruction, then there would still be a problem with the others – those who survive on earth until the end when the King appears. The scriptures are very clear on this fact – some will survive right through and “out of” the Great Tribulation. Then there would have to be another change from mortal to immortal for those who missed the first boat and still survived. But the idea of a first and then a second rapture (rescue boat) is not what the scriptures say.
We do read about the resurrection taking place in three successive stages – first, Yeshua and some of the saints of old; then immediately after the judgement of the world, those who are resurrected to take part in the millennial reign of Yeshua; and finally those who did not achieve the righteousness required to enter God’s Kingdom but still deserve some rewards according to what each did during their lives. But we do NOT read about the “change” taking place in two or three stages. There’s only one “change” – at the last trumpet.
A Contradiction apparent in descriptions of the Advent of Yeshua
1 The puzzling contradiction
The numerous descriptions of the second coming of Yeshua, also called the Day of the Lord, or the Day of Judgement can be puzzling. On the one hand, certain passages of scripture warn the disciples to be constantly vigilant for that day and to be ready at all times so that this day would not come and take them by surprise.
On the other hand, several other passages of scripture describe that day as a sudden event that happens without any warning. In other words, it’s so sudden and unexpected that there’s no sense in trying to anticipate the day and make any relevant preparation. So there is an apparent contradiction on this subject that cannot be overlooked or denied.
- A possible but problematic solution
This apparent contradiction has led many bible scholars to accept an explanation put forward in a theory that has been around for almost 200 years, but not part of traditional Christian doctrine. These bible teachers theorize that the second Advent of the Messiah takes place in two separate stages – first an invisible Advent to gather the faithful followers and take them to Heaven, followed by another visible Advent some years later for the judegment of the rest of the world who were not included in the first Advent. They say the invisible Advent or the presence of Christ (Greek word PAROUSIA) is used distinctly in describing the rapture event and that it’s very different than the visible Advent (Greek word EPIPHANEIA) used in describing the majestic appearance some years later. They try to make a big thing of these two words but actually, that argument does not apply consistently in the scriptures.
For example, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 “the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming.” The Greek word PAROUSIA is used here and this is obviously the powerful, majestic visible coming not an invisible presence. At his coming the man of lawlessness is destroyed! That’s not the rapture!!!
Another example: 2 Peter 3:4 and 12 “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire.” Again the Greek word PAROUSIA is associated with destruction of the heavens. That’s not the rapture!!!
Another example: 1 Timothy 6:14: “I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time.” Now the Greek word EPIPHANEIA is used here concerning the saints remaining blameless until they meet Yeshua. In terms of the rapture theory the “meeting in the air” is supposed to be PAROUSIA, but the word EPIPHANEIA is used. Their argument does not apply consistently in the scriptures.
3. Problems with the two stage Advent of Yeshua
This theory can’t possibly be correct for several reasons. For example, if there were to be an invisible Advent to take the faithful followers up to Heaven, it would be impossible for those who remain behind to ignore the magnitude and significance of that event. If some astounding global event like that really happened, there would be extremely few people who would be able to deny that this was an act of the Almighty God and actually a great Judgment too. This would be the most amazing miracle ever seen in the entire history of the world. It would be the equivalent of Noah, his family and the creatures being flown up to the clouds and waiting there in the ark for 6 months until the floods subsided. Only dumb imbeciles, mindless drug addicts or mentally deranged people would be able to ignore the implications of such a miracle. The existence of God after that would then be impossible to deny. As a result, almost the whole world would believe in God, but divided into two opposing camps – those who suddenly believe in God and fear him versus those who believe in God but continue to curse Him and try to oppose Him. The few others who know nothing can be ignored.
4. Why the most amazing miracle ever is preposterous and unscriptural
A miraculous conversion of hundreds of millions of people who suddenly turn to obeying and worshipping God out of fear and awe is simply not what Yeshua and the prophets wrote or said. They declared that conversion comes as a result of preaching by prophets BEFORE the GREAT DAY of the Lord, then those who scoff and ignore the prophets are punished without an escape. Yeshua and the Apostles and prophets explain in numerous passages and in no uncertain terms that by far the majority of mankind ignore the preaching and continue to believe the deception of the antichrist and worship him rather than the Messiah right until the end of the age. The book of revelation especially shows that only a few overcome the beast and survive the Great Tribulation. The rest of the citizens of God’s Kingdom are deceived by the beast and enter the Kingdom through death and resurrection. These countless millions are depicted in Revelations 6:11 and Revelations 7:9-17. One cannot escape noticing that these have been through hunger, thirst, scorching sun and whatever else causes suffering and tears in order to attain the righteousness (white robes they were given) to enter the Kingdom.
5. Two groups who will be with Yeshua Messiah
There are two groups who will be with Yeshua Messiah in the end – those who enter the kingdom through death and resurrection and those who overcome the beast and survive until the return of Yeshua Messiah. The second group do not die (Revelations 3:10) but are changed the moment they meet Yeshua Messiah. – 1 Corinthians 15:51. The Greek word for changed is ALLASSO. Contrast that with ANASTASIO, meaning resurrection. In Luke 21:52 Yeshua said his followers must watch and pray to be able to flee away from the coming distress and in Matthew 24:33 Yeshua said his followers must watch so that they will know when the time for His return is near. It makes no sense to watch and be ready to be disappeared. Yeshua said his followers must watch, be dressed and ready for serving when he knocks. (Luke 12:35-38) If there is supposed to be a sudden, unexpected, miraculous disappearance into heaven there’s no need to watch out for any signs and get ready to serve. What for? That makes no sense. But if the followers are to be ready to flee away from the coming distress then watching and getting dressed and ready for service certainly is necessary. Yeshua’s followers need to know when to flee and where to go. Notice the parallel specific instructions for the first disciples – “When you see the armies (or the abomination) then you must flee!” Luke 21:20-22 and Matthew 24:15-17.
6. The scriptures offer no miraculous way to escape God’s Judgment
Paul said in Acts 14:22 that to enter the kingdom of God “we must go through many hardships” (Greek = THLIPSIS, also translated “tribulations.” Endurance through suffering is the training required to make us perfect – 1 Corinthians 11:32 and Hebrews 12:4-11.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is quite explicit about this – first the resurrection for those who died (ANASTASIO) and then the change (ALLASSO) for those who survived. There’s no way to get around this sequence and no escaping judgment. There is either a Judgment after death for those who die (Hebrews 9:27 and actually death is part of the judgment for sin) or a Judgment of the living on earth (the trials) for those who live through tribulation. – 1 Peter 4:17 and Revelations 3:10. The scriptures show it’s either one or the other. The distress or “tribulation” comes upon the earth as a test or trial and no one will fly off into the Kingdom by some magical rapture to escape – death is the only exit offered in the scriptures. The change into immortal bodies is for those who survive the test and remain alive. The reason the survivors don’t die is because they become sinless through their trials and suffering, and receive glory, as described in Romans 8:17-18, Revelations 14:3-5 and 1 John 3:2, Luke 6:40 and Hebrews 2:10-11.
“He that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” 1 Peter 4:1. The rapture doesn’t count as suffering in the flesh but persecution and perseverance through trials does.
7. Contradicting the plain and simple descriptions of the return of Yeshua
The rapture theory contradicts the plain and simple descriptions of the return of the Messiah, Yeshua, found in the parables and prophetic words. The obvious interpretation of these prophetic parables (and so many other passages of scripture) is that God will judge the whole world during one harvest season and Yeshua the Messiah will return from heaven to establish God’s Kingdom, at the conclusion of the harvest. Successive devastating events will take place during the harvest, and these events will affect the earth’s population differently, with multitudes and different groups of people and creatures dying (like Noah’s flood) at different times; but there’s only one final harvest season with multiple devastating events, not two separate, dramatic Advents.
The Greek word “Crisis” translated “Judgement” carries an inherent understanding that judgement includes selection – in other words, both the investigation and testing of those being judged as well as the selection of those who pass the test and rejection of those who do not. But even though investigation and testing comes before the selection, that doesn’t mean the Messiah comes on two different occasions to complete the harvest.
Some bible scholars might point to one or two parables or paragraphs that imply a prior selection of the faithful and they call that the “invisible advent.” However they ignore other passages that clearly indicate a prior punishment of the trouble makers before the rescue and reward of the faithful, e.g. Matthew 13:30 and 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10. So those who argue the rapture theory and read a two stage selection program into one or two verses are inconstant and selective in their reading of scripture.
8. Another faulty argument used to prove pre-tribulation rapture
Some say that Revelation 12:5 teaches the rapture theory because the word translated “rapture” (Greek = HARPAZO) is used in Revelation 12:5 to describe the resurrection of Yeshua. They say Revelation 12:5 is a symbolic description of all the saints going up to heaven in the last days because the word HARPAZO is used here. However, the word “resurrection” (Greek = ANASTASIS) specifically means rising up AFTER DEATH, or standing up from the grave, which is what happened with Yeshua. The word translated “rapture” (Greek = HARPAZO) does NOT mean resurrection, but in Revelation 12:5 it does symbolize Yeshua standing up from the grave and ascending to the Father. So if anyone wants to make Revelation 12:5 also a symbolic description of all the saints, then they would first have to die, as Yeshua did, before resurrection and ascension. Indeed, that’s what so many other scriptures actually say – first death then resurrection. Paul realized he would have to face suffering and death. Philippians 3:10-11.
9. A better way to understand and resolve the puzzling contradiction.
We need to explain the ambiguity mentioned at the start – on the one hand, the Day of the Lord, or the Day of Judgement will be preceded by numerous warning signs and on the other hand it also comes without any warning. That’s puzzling until we realize that these experiences refer to two different groups of people. One group are taken completely by surprise and the other are not; as described in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9.
The different experiences result from the different ways people understand the world they live in and whether or not they believe the scriptures that describe what happens in the world and why. One group believe all events are caused by the Almighty Creator who controls or permits all these events including the people using technology and that the Almighty is working with His servants on earth towards a great plan and purpose for the world. They believe they should be obeying God and collaborating with Him in His great plan and purpose. They know to expect things to start looking troublesome in the lasts days of the kingdoms of this age and that they will have a role to play in the conclusion of the systems of this age.
Another group believe all events are caused either by people (often using technology) or by nature (without any purpose or goal) and there’s no reason to ask if there’s a God controlling or permitting all these events – they just happen by chance or are made to happen by people. When things go wrong it’s just bad luck and if immoral or evil people cause trouble they feel they have to fight back and try to stop them.
10. How the two groups see and react differently
So when things start looking troublesome, the first group keep watching and waiting for their pre-arranged and recognizable signals to act on cue. They know what it’s all about and they collaborate with God in His plan and purpose to bring down and replace the kingdoms of this age. When they see trouble in the world increasing they are excited to know that everything is going according to plan and that the Kingdom of God is near and about to replace the kingdoms of this age.
The other group, if they are concerned about things becoming troublesome, start getting frustrated, angry, fearful, suspicious, short-sighted or violent if they can’t fix the problems. But the more fearful, suspicious, short-sighted or violent they become the worse their solutions for fixing the problems become. Serious thinking people who are interested in what’s going on in the world and hope to help fix things up will resort to more drastic measures, using more technology. But many of the world’s troubles are actually caused by the misuse and overuse of technology and therefore using more technology adds to the problem rather than fixes the problem. People in this group will be at complete odds with those in the other group and the clash in goals, beliefs and values only acts to aggravate the situation.
People in the first group are looking out for signs and planning what to do about the world’s state of affairs but those in the second group (if they are concerned) are only paying attention to the problems and making the situation worse. They don’t believe in any God and don’t see any plan or purpose for the world, other than their own careers, comforts and entertainment, or their own ambitions to control and dominate others for personal gain. Even if and when the state of the world gets really disastrous as multitudes of people are dying from wars, famine, epidemics, pollution, weather extremes and earthquakes they make no attempt to ask whether there is any higher plan or purpose for everything they see going on. They keep doing what they have always done and keep getting what they have always got – for better or for worse and as things progress it will be for the worse. They become angry with anyone who talks about a higher plan and purpose for the world and brand them as parasites or lunatics.
In this situation a stage will be reached where drastic measures and the misuse or overuse of technology sets the ultra-complex system up for failure and then the whole system will fall down in successive waves of crashes. The collapse of our civilization will happen without warning for those who believe it won’t happen or who believe it won’t affect them. Once the collapse starts there’s no chance of preventing it. But the collapse can be delayed awhile.
- A Time of drastic, desperate attempts to prevent a crisis
The bible indicates that our great and complex civilization will not progress rapidly to complete ruin in one great crash. Instead as the cracks and creaking start there will be an attempt by those in control of global affairs to take drastic steps to prevent collapse, and the steps they take only delay but do not prevent collapse. These drastic steps to prevent collapse include the formation of one central government and authority for the control of all weapons, technology, healthcare, education, all military organizations and religious organizations for the whole world. Out of desperation and because there’s no real alternative for them, most people will give their support to the central government and accept authoritarian control of all religions in spite of a loss of privacy, personal and religious freedom, loss of national sovereignty and private wealth. They worship and obey the beast because have no idea of God’s plans and purposes.
Because the second group don’t believe a collapse can happen or can affect them they will be unprepared for the collapse and will not survive. They trust in themselves and their technology. Collapse of modern civilization is simply not part of their vocabulary or thinking and will come as a massive shock and calamity – like a thief in the night.
But those who believe in and fully trust in God and His plans and purposes will understand that this is part of a higher plan and purpose for the world. They will not put their trust in technology and a central government and will not be taken by surprise when the collapse comes. They will have correctly read the signs of the coming collapse, made their preparation for escaping the distress of those days and will do what is necessary to survive and thrive. These are the ones who will build the foundations of the Kingdom of God in the age to come.
CONCLUSION: For one group the Day of the Lord, or the Day of Judgement of this world will be heralded by numerous signs and warnings (because their minds are tuned in and they are forewarned) so they will be prepared and take the right action to escape. For the other group it will come like a thief in the night without any warning. Even if the first group try to warn the second, they will be unable to see it. They will be consumed with their own lives and plans and fail to see God’s plans and purposes. Or if they consider the possibility, they will conclude that God would never allow such a decisive and final Judgment of this world. They think God should and will ignore the increase in wickedness, so they just don’t get it!
12. Preparing for our common future and victory over the beast
It’s important to take note of EVERYTHING written in the bible.
“For he has set a day when he will judge the world.” – Acts 17:31. That says “judge the world” not just the wicked!
“For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God.” – 1 Peter 4:17.
“The Lord’s coming is near. Don’t complain to each other, brothers, so that you will not be sentenced. The Judge is standing at the door!” James 5:8-9
Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 say all the saints will also be judged.
Going through great distress and trial at the end of this age qualifies as Judgement but the rapture (the idea of an escape) does NOT qualify as Judgement. We cannot escape the coming judgement. But we sure can survive what’s coming.