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We come back to the discussion regarding the pretribulation rapture. Personally this study has been helpful to me because it exposes my own theological foundations and is helping me define why I believe in a pretribulation rapture.

Second, it has softened the degree to which I pound the pulpit against other views. As I study the rapture, I am continuously exposed to issues relating to timing and / or a lack of solid evidence (each view is built on inference). My convictions regarding the timing of the rapture have softened in regard to being dismissive of other views and yet continue to remind me the big deal in eschatology is the future hope for Israel (that includes ALL the nations!), the Millennial Kingdom, and the New Heavens and Earth! Those are important and can be taught with conviction.Christ is returning. Until this stated time, we preach the Gospel because men and women need the good news.

Finally, this study provides hope to me because convictions about the end times make me realize one truth: Christ wins—justice and righteousness will reign supreme on the earth again some day and I long to live under a “government” lead by a righteous man who loves people.

Parts 1-3 deal with bad arguments regarding the pretribulation rapture. The idea behind exposing bad arguments is not to denigrate those who hold the position, but to challenge us to think through and propose good arguments for our positions. The first part exposes a common argument from silence in regards to what Revelation does not say regarding the rapture. The second part, Ken analyzes John 14 and teaches the real meaning behind the text. In the third part, Shawn evaluates Revelation exposing misinterpretations of the pre-trib position and prohibiting a Post-trib position.

Part 4 seeks to analyze 1 Thessalonians and what Paul communicates regarding the rapture. First, the doctrine of the rapture is without dispute. The fuzziness of the issue is in the timing of events.

The reality of the rapture is clearly articulated. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 teaches,

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then (ἔπειτα) [1] we who are alive and remain will be caught up (ἁρπαγησόμεθα) [2] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

The text teaches a rapture but does not contain explicit time indicators. Yet we can be sure of an event where Jesus will meet his people in the air so that they are always with the Lord.

So where in 1 Thessalonians does one find the argument for the pretriublation rapture? 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 seems to provide a clue to the timing. In the context, Paul is speaking about “the times” and “epochs.” He is speaking about the great eschatological events in God’s history. He reminds them “The day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night” (1 Thess 5:2). He reminds them what the time will be like and who will be in it (5:3-6). He reminds the believers to stay sober and be alert.

Here is the key assertion from the pretribulation view – the church will not be present during the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord can refer to three events: the week of tribulation, the judgment from God, and judgment in general. The common meaning among all three uses is judgment. The Tribulation period is a seven-year time of judgment also mentioned as a time of wrath.

Paul tells the church,

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. (1 Thess. 5:9-10).

Paul seems to be talking about the seven-year tribulation (aka the wrath) in this context.

One could argue harmonizing the trumpets would be the best way to indicate what “epoch” or part of the tribulation is in discussion. But the trumpets are not as concrete an event as the tribulation period. It is possible (and plausible) for multiple trumpets throughout the Tribulation period to signify different events—the trumpet for the pretribulation rapture, trumpets during the seventh seal, and trumpet for Christ’s return (Matt 25:31). Trumpets seem to announce a change in event more than be a historical marker. Because the time of wrath seems to be the “epoch” in discussion, it seems most plausible Paul is encouraging the church by telling them “God has not destined us for wrath” (1 Thess. 5:9). Therefore, the pretribulation position is the most likely considering the evidence presented.

[1] indicating “next in order of time”

[2] meaning “be snatched up”