Is Jesus going to return and secretly "rapture" away the true Christian Church prior to the tribulation?
Many evangelical people seem to think so.
Does the Bible teach that at least a portion of the Christian Church will be protected from the great tribulation?
Yes, the Bible teaches that a portion of the Church will be protected from that tribulation, but where?
Jesus is going to return, but when?
This article will look at some of the teachings that those who hold to the idea of a secret rapture believe, look at some other ideas, and look to the Bible to determine the truth on these matters. Some of the information here is in the YouTube video Did Jesus Teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture?
Notice what Jesus' disciples asked Him:
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3 NKJV throughout, unless otherwise indicated).
So we see that the disciples had some of the same questions that we have today.
Notice Jesus' answer:
And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you...And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:4,14).
See that Jesus specifically has warned to be careful about deception. Have some been deceived by expecting a pre-tribulation rapture (see also the YouTube video Did Jesus Teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture?)? He also stated that the end would occur after the gospel of the kingdom will be preached into all the world as a witness. Does your church even know what that gospel is? (An article of related interest may be The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church).
Jesus continued with:
"Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. (Matthew 24:15-21).
It is interesting to note that Jesus was telling Christians that when they see Daniel 11:31/12:11 fulfilled, then Christians need to flee. And that they should pray that this flight will not be on the Sabbath (Saturday) or the winter. Do you pray that?
Why do people flee?
People flee to be protected!
Fleeing does not sound much like being "raptured."
What happens after Christ's people flee? Jesus explains:
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:21).
But are any Christians promised protection from this tribulation?
Yes, notice what Jesus told the Philadelphia Church:
7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write...10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 3:7,10).
It needs to be emphasized that ONLY the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God, other Christians will be affected by the Great Tribulation and the related persecutions (Revelation 12:17).
When does Jesus teach that He will return? Notice that it is right AFTER the tribulation:
"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. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:29-31).
When do Christians meet Christ in the air? Well according to what Jesus taught, it is after the tribulation at the last trump. Paul taught:
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).
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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 4:13-17).
Notice carefully that Paul is teaching the above so that they will not think that the dead in Christ have no hope. Also notice that Paul says nothing about the Church fleeing or being protected from the great tribulation above. He simply states that at the sound of a trumpet Jesus will return, raise the dead, and the Christians that remain will be caught up in the clouds to meet Jesus. It is important to understand what Paul did or did not say.
Also notice that this occurs with THE LAST TRUMPET--as there are many trumpets that blow during the last 3 1/2 years before Jesus returns, there is no possible way that the LAST TRUMPET can signal a pre-tribulation rapture.
Also notice that both 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 are discussing a resurrection of saints. But notice when the Bible teaches the FIRST resurrection will be:
4 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. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 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)
The first resurrection, the resurrection of the saints, clearly happens at the start of the thousand year period known as the millennium. Thus, there is no pretribulation rapture and resurrection.
But can any Christians be protected? Certaintly, the Philadelphians as Jesus said in Revelation 3:7-10.
Unlike the many of the Protestant faiths, the Continuing Church of God (which is NOT Protestant) believes that a portion of the true Church will flee before the tribulation and that Jesus will come in the clouds after the tribulation.
Although we in the genuine Church of God consider him to be a heretic, Catholic, Orthodox, even and Protestant theologians normally consider Irenaeus to have been a saint and faithful Christian leader. Anyway, he wrote:
And then he points out the time that his tyranny shall last, during which the saints shall be put to flight, they who offer a pure sacrifice unto God: "And in the midst of the week," he says, "the sacrifice and the libation shall be taken away, and the abomination of desolation [shall be brought] into the temple: even unto the consummation of the time shall the desolation be complete."Now three years and six months constitute the half-week. (Irenaeus. Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 25, Verse 4)
Now, that the promises were not announced to the prophets and the fathers alone, but to the Churches united to these from the nations, whom also the Spirit terms "the islands" (both because they are established in the midst of turbulence, suffer the storm of blasphemies, exist as a harbour of safety to those in peril, and are the refuge of those who love the height [of heaven], and strive to avoid Bythus, that is, the depth of error) (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 34, Verse 3. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Thus, Irenaeus understood that the Church, not just Jews that were later converted (as some Protestant theologians have suggested), would flee for 3 1/2 years.
A major Catholic theologian of the third century, Hippolytus, wrote:
And the dragon, he says, saw and persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child . And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time , and times, and half a time , from the face of the serpent. That refers to the one thousand two hundred and threescore days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church, which flees from city to city, and seeks conceal-meat in the wilderness among the mountains, possessed of no other defence than the two wings of the great eagle...
The Lord also says, When you shall see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place ( whoso reads, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains, and let him which is on the housetop not come down to take his clothes; neither let him which is in the field return back to take anything out of his house. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved . (Hippolytus. On Christ and Antichrist, Chapters 61 & 62).
Hence, it should be clear that the scriptures involving the Church and the tribulation were interpreted to mean that the Church would flee somewhere on the earth (more on Catholic writings that support a physical place of safety are in the article There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).
The verses in Matthew 24, Revelation 3, and 1 Thessalonians 4 have led to several basic splits among those who call themselves Protestants. For those more involved with prophecy, there tends to be three main Protestant groups: pre-tribulationists, mid-tribulationists, and post-tribulationists.
The pre-tribulationists generally believe that Jesus will rapture His church away before the tribulation. They tend to believe in a 3 1/2 or seven year tribulation and that Jesus can come any time--as they do not generally claim to yet know when that tribulation will begin. This group, in the USA at least, has tended to be the most vocal and has gotten the most attention. Some have gone as far as to place bumper stickers on their vehicles that say in effect, if their vehicle is traveling and no one is driving it, then the rapture has occurred.
Here is some information in a news article about some of them:
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 24:30
On a recent Sunday, the faithful at Cornerstone Family Church were forewarned of the world's end, set in motion by an event that born-again Christians call the rapture...
"The rapture will be a sudden catching away of all the believers of every denomination throughout the world," said Cornerstone pastor Dennis Toyne, whose church has roots in the Pentecostal doctrine of the Assemblies of God ministry. "That will happen just before the seven years of the great tribulation." (End times: Prophecy beliefs gain mainstream appeal. Press-Gazette Madison bureau - March 4, 2007. http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070304/GPG0101/703040690/1206/GPGnews#correction).
The mid-tribulationists seem to believe that Jesus will come and take them away 3 1/2 years after the Antichrist comes. They tend to believe in a seven-year reign of Antichrist and believe that they will be taken away in the middle of that time, which will be just before the greatest portion of the tribulation begins, but shortly after the Antichrist sets up the 'abomination of desolation' somewhere (most likely Jerusalem).
The main difference between the above two groups is that the first group normally teaches that Jesus could return any time (like tonight), while the second group believes that the reason Jesus gave the specific sign about the 'abomination of desolation' was to give a specific and identifiable set of events (as Matthew 24:3-15 indicates), hence His return cannot be immediate yet.
The post-tribulationists tend to believe that Jesus will simply return in the sky after the tribulation, a concept literally stated in Matthew 24:29-31). Post-tribulationists teach that since Jesus is only supposed to return one more time.
Here is some of what the late John Ogwyn wrote about "the rapture" as most often taught by pre-tribulationists:
The Rapture Doctrine and Its Origin
What is the doctrine of the secret rapture? ... First there will be a secret, unheralded return in which He will whisk all Christians, both living and dead, off to Heaven to be present there during the time that the Great Tribulation is taking place on earth. This secret coming supposedly could occur at any moment and will come without any advance warning to anyone. Seven years later (or three and a half according to some) Christ will return openly in power and glory to destroy the wicked and to establish His Kingdom.
The term "rapture" is used nowhere in the Bible. It is a term that has been invented by men and applied by them to what they term "the first phase" of the Second Coming. The Bible itself, however, nowhere says that Christ’s coming will occur in phases.
A nineteenth century British preacher, John Nelson Darby, was the one who developed the rapture teaching and began to promote it in the 1830s. He was the founder of the Plymouth Brethren Church and developed a scheme of scriptural interpretation called dispensationalism. The idea of the dispensationalists is that God has had different rules for different groups at different times. For instance, He had the law for the Jews and now we have grace for the Church.
Darby’s teachings were refined and popularized by C. I. Scofield, an American lawyer and minister who authored the noted Scofield Reference Bible at the beginning of the twentieth century. Primarily through Dr. Scofield, Protestant evangelicals came to generally accept the teachings of both dispensationalism and the secret rapture. These two ideas go hand in hand to blind many sincere people to God’s real message to Christians in the end time.
Proponents of the rapture point to 1 Thessalonians 4 as their primary proof of a "secret coming." They then proceed to divide all scriptures that discuss the return of Jesus Christ into two categories. First are the scriptures that discuss the resurrection of the saints and their gathering to Christ. Secondly are the scriptures that discuss Christ taking vengeance on wicked and rebellious people and nations. Their idea is that these events are separated by a period of years. Let us carefully look at 1 Thessalonians 4 and see whether that is so.
One Phase or Two?
Paul had preached and raised up a church in the Greek city of Thessalonica about 50ad. Because of intense persecution, he was forced to leave the city and move on to other parts of Greece. While in Athens he sent his assistant, Timothy, back to Thessalonica bearing a letter intended to comfort and encourage the fledgling Christian community. In this context he mentioned those who had already died in the faith. "Since they were dead, how would they benefit from the return of the Messiah?" some in Thessalonica seem to have wondered.
"We wish you not to remain in ignorance, brothers, about those who sleep in death; you should not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again; and so it will be for those who died as Christians; God will bring them to life with Jesus. For this we tell you as the Lord’s word: we who are left alive until the Lord comes shall not forestall those who have died; because at the word of command, at the sound of the archangel’s voice and God’s trumpet call, the Lord himself will descend from heaven; first the Christian dead will rise, then we who are left alive shall join them, caught up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:13–17, NEB).
This description is taken by rapture proponents to be descriptive of a secret coming of Christ, which will take Christians off to Heaven. But notice we are told that preceding this resurrection the trumpet of God is blown. What is that and when will it occur?
The Apostle Paul added more details when he wrote a letter to the Corinthian Church, located in a neighboring Greek city. "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). The specific supernatural trumpet that will be blown prior to the resurrection of the saints is dubbed "the last trumpet."
Does the Bible anywhere speak of a series of supernatural trumpet blasts? The answer is a resounding yes! Revelation 8:1–2 describes the opening of the seventh and last of the seals which had closed the book of Revelation until they were removed one at a time by Jesus Christ. When the seventh seal was opened the Apostle John saw in vision seven angels standing before God and each receiving a trumpet. The angels proceeded to blow these trumpets one at a time signaling terrible ecological disasters followed by horrible warfare.
Now, let us notice Revelation 11:15: "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.’" Verse 18 connects this seventh and final trumpet blast with the time when God’s wrath has come and when He would reward the saints. Clearly, when we look at these three sections of scripture it is very apparent that the seventh and last trumpet signals both the resurrection of the saints as well as the time when Christ returns to judge the nations. These are not two different phases of the Second Coming, separated by seven years, as most evangelical writers contend. Rather, the resurrection of the saints to immortality and the pouring out of God’s wrath on the nations begin at the same time and are both signaled by the same event, the blast of the seventh and final trumpet.
Another important set of verses to look at in this context is Matthew 24:29–31. In verse 29 we learn that the tribulation and the heavenly signs occur prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
Verse 30 emphasizes that His return, far from being secret, will be seen by people everywhere and will provoke mourning and grief from the unrepentant. Then verse 31 states: "And he will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Let us understand the real significance of this verse.
From 1 Thessalonians 4 we learned that when the last trumpet blows, the saints, both living and dead will rise from the earth to meet Jesus Christ in the clouds. Matthew 24:31 talks of the angels gathering the elect from the four winds of heaven. The Bible uses the same term, heaven, to describe three different locations. From which heaven are the saints to be gathered?
The first heaven is the heaven of the earth’s atmosphere, where the birds fly and where the clouds are. The second use of the word heaven is for what we call outer space. The stars, the sun and the moon are located in this second heaven. The Bible also refers to the realm of God’s throne as heaven, characterizing it in 2 Corinthians 12:2 as "the third heaven."
The wind blows in the first heaven, the heaven where the clouds are, not in outer space or the environs of the throne of God. The angels would have no need to gather Christians from around the throne of God. Rather, Matthew 24:31 describes the resurrection of the saints, which clearly occurs at the time of Christ’s return in glory. When the saints rise, they go straight up. Since we live on a round earth that means that people in Australia who go "up" head in a different direction from those who rise "up" in Europe or in North America. What is described is the very practical way in which God is going to ensure that all of the resurrected saints meet Jesus Christ. He simply sends angels through the sky to gather His elect from all the points of the compass where they are rising to assemble them in the clouds over Jerusalem to greet their returning Savior. How simple!...
But notice the events of the tribulation are not only directed against the Church. In Jeremiah 30:7 we read of a time called "Jacob’s trouble" described as the worst ever. Daniel 12:1 also describes a "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." This is an almost identical expression to that used by Jesus in Matthew 24:21. There surely cannot be several times, each being the worst ever. These verses are all describing the same event!
This time is Satan’s wrath against the modern day descendants of Israel as well as against spiritual Israel, the Church. This is made plain in Revelation 12 where we read of the Church being described by the metaphor of a woman. It was the Old Testament Church that brought forth the Messiah (v. 5). After He was caught up to Heaven to be with the Father, the Church (now in its New Testament phase) fled from persecution into the wilderness.
In verse 13 we find that after Satan is cast back down to the earth, a yet future event, he launches all-out persecution upon the Church. At this time, we are told, the Church will be taken to a place in the wilderness to be supernaturally nourished and protected during the final three-and-a-half year period preceding Christ’s return. Note, however, that all Christians are not taken to this place of safety. Rather, we learn in verse 17 that Satan then goes to make war with the "remnant." These are clearly true Christians because they are described as those who "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Why are some not protected from Satan’s wrath?
The answer is found in a careful study of Revelation 3. Here, in messages to the last two of the seven churches, those at Philadelphia and Laodicia, we find a contrast between two different groups of God’s people at the end time. The church at Philadelphia is used to characterize those who are zealously going through the open door to preach the gospel that Christ has set before them. The church at Laodicia is characterized as being lukewarm, lacking in zeal. They are complacent and self-centered. It is upon this group, characteristic of the final phase of the Church of God, that God will allow Satan to pour his wrath. This is a last resort on God’s part, as these people have not been stirred to repent of their lack of zeal by any prior event.
When God prepares to pour out His wrath, the events of the Day of the Lord, He first sets apart those who have come to repentance during the preceding time of Tribulation (Revelation 7:1–3). This is a yet future event designed to protect those who have surrendered to God in the midst of persecution and terrible pressure to conform to Satan’s system. There is a clear distinction between the Tribulation (Satan’s wrath) and the Day of the Lord, which is the time of God’s judgment on those who give their allegiance to the coming Beast system.
A secret rapture? The Bible teaches no such thing! It does teach, however, that Jesus Christ is going to come back in power and glory to rule this world and to bring salvation to His saints. (Ogwyn J. The Secret Rapture - False Hope for End-Time Christians!)
While there is a physical place of safety, and Jesus will eventually return, most of the Protestant concepts of the rapture, in my opinion, will greatly mislead those who hold it as events are not going to happen like the Left Behind series, John Nelson Darby, or C. I. Scofield have suggested.
On 06/06/06 was the formal release of a book in the "Left Behind" series titled The Rapture. About that time I watched a supposedly biblically-based 2000 movie starring Kirk Cameron titled Left Behind, which apparently was related to the series of books with that same name.
However, I noticed that the movie specifically teaches that all small children are to be raptured, thus spared from the tribulation.
This is clearly NOT what the Bible teaches.
First, let us see who is to meet Christ in the air:
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).
The above shows that it is those who are in the Lord will meet Him in the air (and this is actually after the great tribulation). It gives no basis that all small children will be taken up.
In addition, as quoted before the Bible shows that the event in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 occurs AFTER the tribulation:
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).
Second, it is clear from Jesus' teachings that small children WILL go through the tribulation. If they were to be raptured at instant before the beginning of the great tribulation, Jesus would not have taught the following:
But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:19-21).
But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter. For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be (Mark 13:17-19).
But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people (Luke 21:23).
In the movie version titled Left Behind all small children (and not just nursing babies, lest any raise that as an argument) were raptured. But this is clearly not what the Bible teaches.
Actually, the theory of rapturing of all babies on earth is clearly contrary to biblical teachings. Throughout the Bible, warnings are given that false prophets will deceive many (e.g. Matthew 24:11)--and those that are teaching that Christians are raptured before the great tribulation are false prophets.
Those interested in God's plan for babies, small children, and others who are not true Christians who die may wish to read the biblically-based article Hope of Salvation: How the Church of God Differs from Protestantism.
Those who teach a pre-tribulation “rapture” teach that Jesus will come once when no one will see Him except the Christians, and a second time to reign on the earth.
Pre-tribulation “rapture” proponents essentially teach that the verses that refer to Christ returning cannot be referring to the same return, hence they believe that theirs is the only biblically defensible position. From Dr. LaHaye and J. Jenkins:
There are far too many conflicting activities connected with His return to be merged into a single coming…Since we know there are no contradictions in the Word of God, our Lord must be telling us something here (LaHaye T, Jenkins J. Are We Living in the End Times? Tyndale House, Wheaton (IL), 1999, pp. 98.100).
Between the two statements above is a page listing 24 scriptural passages that the book indicates supports the pre-tribulation rapture and 22 ones supporting the second coming. However, the passages are not actually quoted, just listed.
To show that those supposed “pre-tribulation rapture” scriptures are NOT in conflict with a single return, at risk of seeming redundancy, in this section I intend to quote and comment on them all. Furthermore, I intend to quote some passages that those authors left out. I do agree with them that the Lord is telling us something, and amongst other things, it is that He is returning one more time—not that He is returning again 3 1/2 or 7 years later.
The authors listed John 14:1-3 as a “Rapture Passage.” It states:
1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
The above passage simply states that Jesus has a place for His followers, that He will return, and that His followers will be with Him. This has no discussion of when.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was Romans 8:19:
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
The above does not mention any rapture and is not in conflict with occurring at the Second Coming.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Corinthians 1:7-8:
7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, the above does not prove a pre-tribulation rapture is not in conflict with being associated with the Second Coming, because it clearly is.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Corinthians 15:51-53:
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- 52 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. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Again, the above does not prove a pre-tribulation rapture is not in conflict with being associated with the Second Coming, because it clearly is.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Corinthians 16:22:
22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!
Again, above does not prove a pre-tribulation rapture is not in conflict with being associated with the Second Coming.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was Philippians 3:20-21:
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself
Again, the above does not prove a pre-tribulation rapture is not in conflict with being associated with the Second Coming, because it clearly is.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was Philippians 4:4-5:
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Again, the above does not prove a pre-tribulation rapture is not in conflict with being associated with the Second Coming.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was Colossians 3:4:
4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Thessalonians 1:10:
10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Okay, finally there is a verse that at least hints that it could support a “pre-tribulation rapture.” But this passage is not proof as it has a couple of viable alternative explanations.
The first is that Jesus while many throughout history have waited (and long since died) Jesus will deliver them from the wrath to come. Which wrath? If we let the Bible interpret itself, it would help to see where this expression "wrath to come" is also used in the New Testament. It is included in two passages where Jesus twice warned the Pharisees, all of whom have died, about the “wrath to come” (Matthew 2:7; Luke 3:7), thus this warning about the future wrath after the last resurrection (Revelation 20:13-15), it does not need to be speaking of the Great Tribulation.
Secondly, pre-tribulation rapturists tend to claim that this is a statement that God would not put His wrath against His people. Yet, they forget that for the 3 1/2 years beginning with the Great Tribulation this is called the time of the wroth (KJV) of Satan against the church (Revelation 12:17). God has allowed Satan to pour his wrath on various Christians through various persecutions throughout history (see Persecutions by Church and State), and since Jesus taught that persecution was prophesied for Christians (e.g. John 15:20), none should be surprised that even more persecution will happen for 3 1/2 plus years (e.g. Daniel 7:25).
Thirdly, even presuming that 1 Thessalonians 1:10 is referring to the Great Tribulation, the Bible shows that the most faithful of the Church (the Philadelphians of Revelation 3:7-13) will be protected in her place for “for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14) while they await Christ’s Second Coming (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra). Thus, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 is not a clear “Rapture Passage.”
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Thessalonians 2:19:
19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The above is the “classic rapture” passage. And while it is comforting that Jesus will return, the above does not prove a pre-tribulation rapture is not in conflict with being associated with the Second Coming.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Thessalonians 5:9,23:
9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The explanation after 1 Thessalonians 1:10 also applies here. Furthermore, while the Greek term orge, translated as “wrath” is in one verse clearly associated with the tribulation (Luke 21:23), orge is most often used to refer to the end-time wrath/judgment (John 3:36; Romans 1:18, 2:5, 3:5-6, 5:9, 13:4-5; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6-7; Revelation 11:18, 14:10) of Revelation 20:13-15—hence it seems unwise to insist that the Great Tribulation is being referred to in 1 Thessalonians 5:9. It should be noted that there is another Greek term thumos sometimes translated into English as “wrath” (NKJV), but it does not seem to mean the same thing as orge seems to be more destructive.
Even if it is referring to the Jesus’ second coming, recall that Jesus taught that, “unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22). Jesus will stop the wrath of destroying all flesh from the Earth because of the elect, not because of some pre-tribulation rapture that will apparently not happen.
But the pre-tribulation rapturists simply are overlooking too many scriptures here. Their implication is that the wrath is the Great Tribulation, hence Christians must be delivered from that. But they ignore that this is not the case. Notice the following:
25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)
The above clearly shows that during the time of the Great Tribulation, the SAINTS are given into the hand of the Beast power. They are not spared from his wrath. The Bible essentially calls this the "patience of the saints" in Revelation 14:12. Furthermore, while the Philadelphians are promised protection from this hour, the other Christians in Revelation 2 & 3 do not get this offer of protection, instead they face the time of Great Tribulation:
Thyatira...I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts (Revelation 2:18,23).
Sardis...Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you (Revelation 3:1,3).
Laodiceans... As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:14,19).
The above are all part of "the Church" yet they are subject to suffering, chastisement, and death during the time of the Great Tribulation. Being protected from the "wrath to come" is NOT referring to a pre-tribulation rapture, which Jesus never taught, but instead the wrath to come that Jesus warned the Pharisees, etc. about, which is the time the Bible calls the "second death" in Revelation 20:6; 20:14; 21:8.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 2 Thessalonians 2:1. However, it left out the next three verses which actually DISPROVE the “pre-tribulation rapture” position:
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Notice that above passage states that the man of sin is to be revealed BEFORE Jesus comes and that Paul is warning Christians not to be deceived by others who teach otherwise. Hence this clearly disproves the “pre-tribulation rapture” position.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Timothy 6:14:
14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing,
The above does not mention any rapture and is not in conflict with occurring at the Second Coming.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 2 Timothy 4:1,8:
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom…
8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Not only does the above does not mention any rapture (nor is it in conflict with occurring at the Second Coming) it specifically refers to Christ judging at the appearance of His kingdom. His kingdom begins at the beginning of the millennium AND NOT prior to the Great Tribulation. Why the “pre-tribulation rapturists” would list this as a “Rapture Passage” is bizarre as it is in conflict with their position.
Do they really think that Jesus will only “judge” those who meet Him in the sky?
If 2 Timothy 4:1 is referring to the Second Coming (which it is), then this would show that Jesus will judge when He comes down to earth to establish His kingdom. This verse, like all those supposed “Rapture Passages”, simply includes events that are associated with the Second Coming, not a pre-tribulation rapture almost coming.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was Titus 2:13:
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was Hebrews 9:28, but they failed to also list the preceding verse which I will include below:
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Not only does the above does not mention any rapture (nor is it in conflict with occurring at the Second Coming) it specifically refers to Christ judging at the appearance of His kingdom. This is consistent with 2 Timothy 4:1,8. Since Jesus’ kingdom begins at the beginning of the millennium AND NOT prior to the Great Tribulation, why the “pre-tribulation rapturists” would list this as a “Rapture Passage” is bizarre as it appears to be in conflict with their position.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was James 5:7-9:
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
Again, another judgment passage, which not only does not mention any rapture is not it in conflict with occurring at the Second Coming. And can only occur then.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Peter 1:7,13:
7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Not only does the above does not mention any rapture (nor is it in conflict with occurring at the Second Coming) it specifically refers to faith being tested, which it clearly would be for those who made it through the Great Tribulation (whether specifically protected by God or not).
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 Peter 5:4:
4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
But the Bible clearly shows that Christians will reign with Christ for 1,000 years, hence they do not need a crown BEFORE the Great Tribulation (Revelation 20:4), but at the beginning of the millennium. Thus, the above does not prove a pre-tribulation rapture is not in conflict with being associated with the Second Coming, because it clearly is.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was 1 John 2:28-3:2:
28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was Jude 1:21:
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Again, the above does not prove a pre-tribulation rapture is not in conflict with being associated with the Second Coming.
The next listed “Rapture Passage” was Revelation 2:25:
25 But hold fast what you have till I come.
Again, the above does not prove a pre-tribulation rapture is not in conflict with being associated with the Second Coming.
The authors listed Revelation 3:10 as the last “Rapture Passage”, but I have also included verse 11 which they did not:
10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly!
What the above passage shows is that Jesus will keep the Philadelphians (see verse 7 of Revelation 3) from the “hour of trial” and that Jesus is coming quickly. If the rapture came prior to the “hour of trial” Jesus would more likely have listed that He was first coming and then He would keep them from the tribulation, but He listed the opposite order.
I frankly was shocked at how these falsely labeled “Rapture Passages” were claimed to be in conflict with “Second Coming Passages” as they simply are not in conflict. And several frankly contradict the false “pre-tribulation rapture” hypothesis.
Instead of actually studying their Bibles to seek the truth, it appears that most who have accepted a “pre-tribulation rapture” simply hope certain verses prove it and somehow differ from those that they feel are instead discussing Christ’s Second Coming. The truth is that Jesus is coming again, but not as the pre-tribulation rapturists falsely claim.
Now, there are other passages that some others point to try to prove that the church is 'raptured away' prior to the time of the Great Tribulation. One is 2 Thessalonians 2:7:
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
They claim that the 'He' above is the church. This is in error for many reasons. But one to mention here is that references to churches in the New Testament with respect to some gender being associated with it are feminine (e.g. Ephesians 5:25-31; 2 John 1-2; 4-6; Revelation 12:14-17; 19:7-9). Thus, this is not a reference to the church being taken away. More on 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is in the article What is Restrained and Who is Restraining in 2 Thessalonians 2:7?
Additionally it may come as surprise to people who have actually studied the Book of Revelation, but pre-tribulation “rapture” proponents tend to falsely claim that the church is not mentioned in Revelation from chapter 4 through chapter 18 and that this somehow proves that the “pre-tribulation rapture” is the only viable explanation (LaHaye & Jenkins, p. 112 and Walvoord, p. 544).
But this position is in extreme biblical error. The Book of Revelation most certainly does mention saints (which are those who make up the true Church, see 1 Corinthians 1:2) in these chapters. So perhaps it would make sense to quote and comment on some of them.
18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth (Rev 11:18).
The above passage clearly shows that the nations will be angry when Christ returns and that they and the dead should be judged. It also shows that this is when the saints receive their reward.
14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent…17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:14,17).
7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints (Revelation 13:7-10).
12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:11-12).
6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Rev 17:6).
Notice that the above verses show that the dragon (identified as Satan in Revelation 20:2), causes the saints to suffer and some to be killed. One of the reasons that certain Protestant authors (like LaHaye and Walvoord) seem to wish to ignore these verses is that they show that the true saints are keeping the commandments—a concept that is not acceptable to many Protestant theologians. However, since these verses clearly are referring to true Christians, it should be clear to any with “eyes to see” that Christians (who are those who compose the Church) will be around throughout the entire 3 ½ years of the tribulation (shown as the time, times, and half a time in Revelation).
But as this section hopefully has shown, the two primary pre-tribulation rapture arguments (that their “Rapture Passages” are in conflict with “Second Coming Passages” and that those in the Church are not mentioned in Revelation 4-18) are clearly in error.
Sadly, many millions seemingly have been deceived by this false “pre-tribulation rapture” hypothesis. Unless they repent and understand God's plan, they themselves will be "left behind".
The Bible has several accounts of Christ's Olivet discourse (Jesus was on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24 when He answered His disciples questions about the end).
Although Luke 21 parallels Matthew 24, there are a few slight differences. And one of those differences tends to be cited by supporters of various rapture theories.
Notice that Luke's account begins sort of like Matthew's version:
So they asked Him, saying, "Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?" And He said: "Take heed that you not be deceived..." (Luke 21:7-8).
Let's look at what else Jesus says:
"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:20-24).
So we see a couple of changed. One is that Jerusalem will be surrounded with armies. And that Jesus tells those in Judea to flee into the mountains and that this will be difficult for pregnant women/nursing mothers, just like He did in Matthew's account. And that this is the time of great distress. Thus this appears to be the same basic discourse that Matthew's account refers to.
Notice when Jesus says He will return in the sky:
"And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:25-28).
While some pre-tribulation rapture supporters point to the last verse as justification for the rapture, notice that Jesus is teaching that He is coming sometime after the distress of nations. Thus, Jesus is NOT returning before the tribulation even begins.
Mark 13 closely parallels Matthew 24.
Notice that it begins sort of like Matthew's and Luke's version:
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, 4 Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?" 5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: "Take heed that no one deceives you...And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations (Mark 13:3-10).
Jesus continued, then stated:
"So when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not" (let the reader understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his garment. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter (Mark 13:14-18).
Once again notice that Jesus taught people would need to flee at this time.
And also notice that this is just before the tribulation really gets going:
For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days. Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, He is there!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand (Mark 13:3-23).
Now when does Jesus say He will return, coming in the clouds? After the tribulation:
"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven (Mark 13:24-27).
So the gospel accounts are clear. There will be fleeing prior to the tribulation after the abomination of desolation is set up, followed by the tribulation, followed by Jesus Christ coming in the clouds.
No where does the Bible give an indication that this will be a secret.
Actually all the gospel accounts say not to be deceived and that Jesus' coming will not be a secret. Notice the following statements show that Jesus return will not be done in secret:
Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:27-28).
Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be...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 (Matt 24:26-27,30).
Not being in "the inner rooms" means that Jesus' coming will not be a secret. Also, since the world will see Jesus return and everyone with sight can see lightening that covers the sky from the east to the west, all will see Jesus return.
Of course, the scriptures clearly state that Jesus will return with the blast of a great trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16, Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:51–52; Revelation 8:13). Trumpet blasts are not secret.
There simply is no secret rapture.
While non-Protestant groups like the those associated with the real Church of God do not believe in the commonly portrayed view of the rapture as espoused by many evangelical faiths, members of some Protestant groups acknowledge that the popular ideas about "the rapture" are not biblically sound.
Notice the following news item:
CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Real estate agent Dave Eschenbach is an active member of his church, but he feels uncomfortable around a sizable portion of U.S. Christians -- those who believe they could be transported to heaven at any moment.
Several years ago, Eschenbach had a boss who scheduled meetings around the rapture, the term for an event that around 20 percent of U.S. Christians believe is imminent.
"One day he announced to the employees that they probably wouldn't be there next week because of the rapture," Eschenbach said of his former boss. "His church had decided that the rapture would happen that week."
The belief has been fueled by the bestselling "Left Behind" novels, which tell how Christian believers will soon be whisked to heaven -- leaving clothes, dental fillings and eye-glasses behind -- while others are left behind to fight the anti-Christ in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ.
Eschenbach is a member of Cincinnati's Episcopal Christ Church Cathedral, a mainstream Protestant church. When it hosted a Webcast of a New York conference on rapture theology, he and about 50 others signed up to participate.
Speakers at the conference, organized by the Episcopal Church's Trinity Institute, minced no words in their attempt to turn a tide that has swept much of middle America.
"The rapture is a racket," said Barbara Rossing, whose 2004 book, "The Rapture Exposed," criticizes rapture theology as unbiblical...
Skeptical Christians at the Cincinnati conference said they don't always know how to respond when confronted by those who swear the rapture is imminent.
"Because one of our goals is to be very tolerant, it is sometimes hard to go to the public. There is limited means to get the message out," said Shirley Wang (Moderate Christians fight rapture with Sunday school. Reuters - March 13, 2007. http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2007-03-13T230649Z_01_N07215590_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-USA-RELIGION-RAPTURE-COL.XML&archived=False).
Well, those that believe the Bible should be able to cite scriptures that show the many contradictions in the commonly accepted rapture theories. If enough people who claimed to believe the Bible would really read it and rely on it, that would greatly reduce the impact of those spreading unbiblical rapture theories.
It should also be pointed out that many have claimed various dates for a "rapture". The one likely to get the most attention for a while may be Harold Camping who claims that it will be on May 21, 2011. For more details, please check out the article Harold Camping's Teachings About the End of the World Do Not Agree with the Bible. But, of course, he is wrong.
But does not the Bible teach that the Church will be protected from the Great Tribulation?
Well, partially. As mentioned previously, the Book of Revelation teaches that the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God will be protected from that hour of trial (Revelation 3:10). This is not the entire Church, but only part of it.
What the Bible does teach is that while protection will be provided to a portion of the church, the rest will not be protected and that Satan will be against them.
This is spelled out in Revelation 12. Verse 14 states:
But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
The above shows that the church (symbolized by a woman) has to "fly into the wilderness to her place". Being in heaven with Jesus is not the same as being in any wilderness. Also notice that the church "is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent." Hence, this is how Jesus is intending to keep His Philadelphia Church "from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world" (3:10).
Also notice that the church will have some problems getting there at first, but that the church will make it:
So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth (Revelation 12:15-16).
Notice that since a flood of water is used to try to destroy the church, but is helped by the earth, that the church is NOT in heaven, but on the earth.
Satan, however, is less than pleased:
And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17).
Contrary to the views of some, these "rest of her offspring" are alive and converted at the same time the church flees. Thus, not all the church is protected from the tribulation. A careful reading of Revelation 2 & 3 shows that only the Philadelphia portion of the Church is promised that protection. Revelation 3 specifically indicates that the Sardis Church and Laodicean Church will not be protected unless they have repented by the end. Notice:
And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you (Revelation 3:1-3).
"And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:14-19).
And it is apparently those who make up other portions of the churches in Revelation 3 (and probably a very few from Revelation 2) that will have to go through the tribulation.
Notice that the unprotected saints are given into the hands of the coming fourth kingdom of the Book of Daniel, often referred to as the Beast power:
He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time (Daniel 7:25).
Now, mid-tribulationists point to the above as proof that the worst portion of the hour of trial last 3 1/2 years, those of us of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God note that this is precisely the same amount of time that God promises to protect the church in the wilderness (Revelation 12:14). Also notice that Isaiah confirms this as well:
Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. For behold, the Lord comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity (Isaiah 26:20-21).
Notice that there is a specific place to essential hide. This would NOT be necessary if Christians were raptured to heaven prior to the Great Tribulation. Even the Protestant Wycliffe Bible Commentary admits that Isaiah is referring to protection during the Tribulation:
Isa 26:..20,21. God's comforting invitation to his people. They are to take refuge in him during the grim time of the Tribulation, when he will be punishing the unconverted for their rebellion and for their bloody crimes, which will be brought to light at the Last Judgment (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press).
Scripture clearly supports the Philadelphia remnant Church of God position.
The Bible does teach that Jesus will come again in the clouds. But not in a pre-tribulation rapture.
Sadly, several of the Protestant concepts of the rapture will greatly mislead those who hold it as events are not going to happen like most of them tend to believe. When they are NOT raptured prior to the great tribulation, will those that believed they were to be raptured-away simply conclude that the post-tribulationists are correct? Or will they be late to realize that the Church of God view is correct?
Jesus taught in the gospels as well as the Book of Revelation that part of His Church was going to flee just prior to the great tribulation. He, however, promised to protect the Philadelphia portion of His Church from that hour of trial, in a place in the wilderness.
Jesus clearly taught that He would return after the tribulation and that His return would not be a secret.
Hence, all who teach a secret pre-tribulation rapture are not relying on the Bible for doctrine, but instead are relying on their hope of a relatively recent "tradition of men". Do you rely on the Bible or Tradition?
Please be like the Bereans of old who "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). You may also wish to watch the YouTube video Did Jesus Teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture?
Jesus will protect the Philadelphia portion of His Church in the wilderness on the earth. That is what the Bible plainly teaches. Do you wish to be part of it?
Several items of related interest that you may wish to study and pray about include:
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra There is an alternative to the rapture theory--the Bible teaches that there is a place of protection.
Might Petra be the Place of Safety? This sermon-length video shows that the Bible teaches that a portion of the Christians will be protected in a wilderness area during the Great Tribulation. Might this place be Petra in Jordan? Which places do the show can and cannot be the place of safety? Is the idea of Christians fleeing to an area with caves during the reign of the Beast and Antichrist an old one or a modern invention? Which Christians get this protection and which do not? Will those who do not go be subject to persecution? Do Catholic prophecies warn against this place of protection?
Did Jesus Teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture? Did the Bible teach that Jesus raptures Christians prior to the start of the Great Tribulation? What did Jesus Himself teach? Do the scriptural passages that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins point to prove their left behind pre-tribulation rapture assertions? Do all Christians get protected from the Great Tribulation? Who does the Bible teach will get protected? Is the Great Tribulation the 'wrath to come' that Christians are promised protection from? This is a YouTube video.
Harold Camping's Teachings About the End of the World Do Not Agree with the Bible Harold Camping teaches that the rapture will be on May 21, 2011 and the world will end on October 21, 2011. What does the Bible show?
History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, Martin Luther's writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority. Which do you accept?
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3.
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D.
What is the Meaning of Life? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know?
Thiel B., Ph.D. Is There A Secret Rapture for the Church? When and Where is the Church Protected? www.cogwriter.com/rapture.htm 2007/2008/2010/2011/2012/2013 0803
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