Mike Vlach  


Biblical Evidences for a Pretribulational Rapture
by  Mike Vlach
 President of Theological Studies.org


Vlach: Introductory matters concerning the Rapture.

In his introduction, he makes a good Biblical case for the FACT of the rapture including the validity of the term “rapture” based on the Latin. There is nothing to disagree with in this first section.

Vlach: A Biblical defense of Pretribulationism Of these five views why is Pretribulationism to be preferred? The following are biblical evidences for a Pretribulational Rapture:
The pillars of Pretribulationism The foundation of Pretribulationism has four elements:
Consistent literal interpretation The literal method of interpretation attempts to explain the original sense of the writer according to the normal usages of words and language. The literal method interprets all of the Bible in a normal and plain way, all the time understanding that the Bible, at times, uses symbols, figures of speech and types.

It is true that the literal method of interpretation needs to be followed. But it is not true that the literal method lead to a pretribulational rapture position. In fact, holding to a pretrib position actually violates the literal method of interpretation in many ways.
These will all be discussed as this analysis progresses.

1. The pretrib position fails to follow the entire context of Matthew 24 and keep the ONE second coming of Christ in view.
2. The pretrib position fails to compare scripture with scripture concerning many of its claims.
3. The pretrib position fails to follow a literal hermeneutic by interpreting Rev. 4:1 as a rapture passage.
4. The pretrib position fails to follow a literal hermeneutic by disallowing specific rapture promises as referring to the rapture, but to Christ’s descent at Armageddon instead.
5. The pretrib position fails to follow a literal hermeneutic by defining terms by supposition rather than by direct statements of Scripture.


Vlach: Distinction between Israel and the Church
According to Thomas Ice, ((Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, The Truth About The Rapture, pp. 25-26) ) "If Israel and the church are not distinguished, then there is no basis for seeing a future for Israel or for the church as a new and unique people of God. If Israel and the church are merged into a single program, then the Old Testament promises for Israel will never be fulfilled and are usually seen by replacement theologians as spiritually fulfilled by the church. The merging of Israel's destiny into the church not only makes into one what the Scriptures understand as two, but it also removes a need for future restoration of God's original elect people in order to fulfill literally His promise that they will one day be the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13).
The more that believers see a distinct plan for Israel and a distinct plan for the church, the more they realize that when the New Testament speaks to the church it is describing a separate destiny and hope for her.

Prewrath does not violate dispensations. It does not merge Israel and the church. But it does recognize that -
1. There are transitional periods between the dispensations.
2. That the 70th week of Daniel is NOT a time of Israel’s national favor with God. The nation was under discipline from God for the first 69 weeks, and continues that way until the end of the 70th week.
3. Accordingly, it is the church that remains on the earth at the beginning of the 70th week in order to be used by God to bring the gospel not only to Israel but to the entire world (Matthew 10:21-23; 24:14).
4. God’s plan for
Israel does NOT begin until the end of the 70th week.
5. See PreWrath and Dispensations

Vlach - via Ice: The church becomes more distinct in the plan of God. Israel's future includes the seven-year tribulation, and then shortly before Christ's return to Jerusalem she will be converted to Jesus as her Messiah. . . . On the other hand, the distinct hope for the church is Christ's any-moment return.<

This fails to properly define the tribulation. It is NOT seven years long. It is not the same as the 70th week of Daniel. The tribulation begins at the midpoint of the week and ONLY at the midpoint of the week. Matthew 24:29.
In addition, the hope of the church is to be delivered FROM WITHIN the time of persecution by the GLORIOUS return of Jesus with His mighty angels in flaming fire. 2 Thes. 1:6-10.
It is not imminent but must await several things, among which are
1. The prophesied fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Luke 21:20-24
2. The arrival and death of Paul in Rome. Acts 23:11; 27:23-26
3. The return of Israel to the land as an independent nation.
For details on Imminency see:

The 8 blows to imminency

Vlach: Futurism Pretribulationism takes a futuristic interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 and the book of Revelation. Daniel 9:24-27 gives the seven-year chronological framework of the Tribulation while Revelation 6-18 details the judgments that make up this period. Futurism sees prophecy as being fulfilled in the future, namely with the Tribulation period, the Second Coming of Christ to earth, and the Millennial Kingdom. Futurism is opposed to preterism, which sees prophecy as already being fulfilled in the past, predominately in A.D. 70. Futurism is also opposed to historicism which sees prophecy being fulfilled in the current Church Age.

I will announce at every opportunity when the pretribbers fail to properly define the tribulation. Jesus made it perfectly clear that the tribulation will begin at the midpoint of the 70th week of Daniel. Matthew 24:15-29.
Furthermore, even Daniel clarified that the tribulation would be expected to last 3 ½ years. Dan. 12:1-7.

Vlach: Premillennialism At the end of the seven year Tribulation period, Jesus Christ will return to earth in power and glory to set up an earthly Kingdom from Jerusalem that will last for a literal one thousand years (see Rev. 20:1-6).

This is not the definition of premillennialism. Premillenialism is the return of Christ before the 1000 year millennium begins. Pretrib and prewrath are simply views within premillenialism. But according to all the passages, Jesus will return BEFORE the end of the 70th week, while the church is being persecuted by the beast. This is the clear irrefutable view of Paul at 2Thes. 1:6-10.
6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,) 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed--for our testimony to you was believed.
At this time, Jesus will come “to the earth” in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory” (Mat. 24:30), which is the blessed hope of the church; “the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:13).
See 2 Thes. 1:6-10
See: Titus 2:13

The physical descent of Jesus prophesied at Revelation 19 is when he sets foot on the earth to battle the world’s armies that have assembled at Armageddon. It is NOT the second coming, but rather an event that comes several months after the second coming.

Vlach: What is the proper method for addressing this issue of the timing of the Rapture?
Examine the Rapture and Second Coming passages Go first to the portions of Scripture that speak directly about the Rapture and the return of the Lord to earth. Study John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 for the Rapture. Examine Zechariah 14:1-21; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27; and Revelation 19 for the Second Coming to earth.

The problem here is that he just does not categorize or label the passages properly.
There is only ONE second coming of Christ. It begins with his arrival in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory. All the passages Vlach has listed refer to the second coming except for Revelation 19. And he has left out some very important ones at that.
Titus 2:13; 2 Thes. 1:6-10; 2 Thes. 2:1-3

Vlach: Examine implications of conclusions Proper methodology does not stop with an examination of the primary texts addressing an issue. As John Feinberg says, "While one should begin with passages that speak directly about the doctrine under consideration, one must also pay attention to the implications of the doctrine. This is especially important if, as in the case of the rapture, the passages about the rapture and return of the Lord do not determine the question of the rapture's timing in relation to the time of the Tribulation. . . . Implications and relations of doctrines to one another are crucial. If one's position on a given theological issue is correct, it will fit with other known theological and biblical truths rather than contradict them. (John S. Feinberg, "Arguing for the Rapture: Who Must Prove What and How" in, When the Trumpet Sounds, Thomas Ice and Timothy eds. p. 191).

Feinberg is quoted, but makes a false statement. “This is especially important if, as in the case of the rapture, the passages about the rapture and return of the Lord do not determine the question of the rapture's timing in relation to the time of the Tribulation. . ..”
There are passages that do in fact determine the timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation. The pretrib position simply ignores them or rationalizes them.
The pretrib is divided about whether Matthew 24:36-44 should refer to (1) the coming that is mentioned in verses 29-31, which they claim to be the coming at Armageddon, or (2) the rapture which they claim is not referred to in verse 31.
So I shall state in reference to #2, that IF verses 36-44 refer to the rapture, then the literal interpretation DEMANDS that verses 29-31 refers to the arrival of Jesus that is promised to the church and verse 31 refers to the gathering of the saints at the rapture.
In that case, verse 29 is explicit and irrefutable. “But immediately after the tribulation of those days.”
Of course, it has to be realized that the tribulation is NOT the 70th week of Daniel.
And also that it will begin at the midpoint of the 70th week, and be CUT SHORT from its expected duration. Thus the statement that He comes after the tribulation is perfectly consistent with “no one knows the day or the hour,” because the tribulation will be cut short by the decree of God at some unknown day and hour prior to the end of the 70th week.
2 Thes. 2:1-3 is also explicit when one does not rationalize the meaning of the noun, apostasy. The Day of  the Lord, which is clearly indicated to occur in direct connection with “the coming of the Lord” and “our gathering together to Him,” will not occur until there first comes that apostasy and the man of lawlessness is revealed. In other words, the gathering (rapture) will occur after the midpoint of the week; after the tribulation has begun.

Vlach: Putting it all together "The key point to remember is that proper theological methodology dare not allow us to ignore either the rapture and parousia passages or the doctrines that have implications for one's views on the rapture and second advent. Although study should begin with passages that speak directly to the topic at hand, both are equally important. It is surely no victory to uphold one's views on the timing of the rapture at the expense of denying what God's Word says, for example, about the relation of the church to God's judgmental wrath." (John Feinberg, p. 192)

Certainly this is true. However, this time of “God’s judgmental wrath” must be properly defined. Nowhere in Scripture is the tribulation described as a time of God’s wrath. It is clearly a time of Satan’s wrath against God’s people. The deeds of the beast (antichrist) are not expressions of God’s wrath. And as was clearly established above, the rapture occurs AFTER the tribulation has been cut short by the sovereign decree of God.
It is then that God’s wrath will be poured out on the earth via the trumpets and bowls.
The first 5 seals represent the time of the antichrist, and do not involve the wrath of God.
It is at the 6th seal that Jesus appears to the human race, and they proclaim, “hide us from the wrath of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Rev. 6:16.
They recognize that “the great day of their wrath has come.” It is at the 6th seal that the Day of the Lord begins and the wrath of God is about to be poured out. God’s wrath will not be present in the first 5 seals, and it is erroneous to claim that the first 5 seals are judgments from God or expressions of God’s wrath.

Vlach: Biblical evidence for Pretribulationism The Bible does not explicitly tells us the timing of the Rapture. Thus, no one verse tells us that the Rapture will be pretribulational (or midtribulational or posttribulational for that matter).

As already shown above, the Bible is very explicit that the rapture will occur AFTER the tribulation (Matthew 24:29-42) and DURING the tribulation (2Thes. 1:6-10). But I must repeat that the tribulation is NOT the 70th week; does not begin at the start of the 70th week; and does not end at the end of the 70th week. It begins at the midpoint of the week, and is ended, by being cut short at an unknown day and hour prior to the end of the week.

Vlach: Does this mean that the doctrine of pretribulationism is unbiblical? Not necessarily. . . Likewise a harmonization of biblical texts shows the pretribulational rapture view to be biblical. The following are the biblical evidences:
Vlach: God has promised the Church deliverance from divine wrath (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 3:10) God made a special promise to the church that it will be delivered from the future, tribulational wrath of God. It is best to take this deliverance as a physical removal (Rapture) from this time of divine wrath.

While it is true that the church is promised deliverance from divine wrath, the Bible never assigns divine wrath to the tribulation, but to the DAY OF THE LORD, which follows the tribulation. Pretribbers seem to pride themselves in Biblical accuracy, but they have failed to properly define terms, and accordingly have adopted a system based on supposition and un-provable theory.

1 Thess. 1:9-10 The Thessalonians were wait[ing] for His Son from heaven. . . that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. Why does this wrath refer to the Tribulation? First, the context of 1 and 2 Thessalonians deals with the Day of the Lord and the judgment of God that precedes the coming of Christ. Second, the text states that it is a future wrath ("wrath to come"). Third, it is a wrath one can be rescued from by the return of Christ. Thus, The wrath referred to then is the wrath of the Tribulation period and not God's eternal wrath in general.

The question that is asked: “Why does this wrath refer to the Tribulation,” is not proved by his subsequent statements.
1. The Day of the Lord is NOT the tribulation, but begins AFTER the tribulation.
Just compare, Joel 2:15 and Matthew 24:29-30, and it is obvious that it is the same event that is in view, which Joel designates as The Day of the Lord.
2. A “future” wrath does not require that it take place in the tribulation. The tribulation is NEVER designated explicitly as a time of divine wrath. On the other hand, the Day of the Lord is explicitly identified as a time of divine wrath.
3. Yes, the believer is delivered out from, that is BEFORE the time of wrath begins, but that does not prove that it is the tribulation, or that the believer is removed before the trib.

Vlach: 1 Thess. 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Why does this wrath refer to the Tribulation? The immediate context is the wrath of the Day of the Lord (5:1-8). Plus, this must be the same wrath as 1 Thess. 1:10.

But never is divine wrath associated with the tribulation. The Day of the Lord is not the tribulation.

Vlach: The whole seven year Tribulation period is a time of God's divine wrath so the protection promised must be for the whole seven years. Some have tried to say that divine wrath does not characterize the whole seven year Tribulation period. They say that the early judgments (the seals) of the tribulation are the wrath of man and Satan. The following points, however, show that the whole Tribulation period is a time of divine wrath.

This person continues to make the statement that the tribulation is a time of God’s divine wrath, but fails to provide even one passage of Scripture that even HINTS that the statement is true.

Vlach: Jesus is the One who directly opens all the Tribulation judgments including the seal judgments which begin the Tribulation period. In Revelation 4 and 5 Jesus is the One found worthy to open the seals which He begins to open in 6:1. The opening of the seals by Christ indicates that the seal judgments are divine wrath.

This is an unfounded assumption.
1. There is no divine wrath involved in the first 5 seals. No wrath is mentioned or even hinted at. The first five seals are not even JUDGMENTS from God. Instead, the events of the first 5 seals represent the activities of the beast expressing the wrath of Satan toward God’s people.
2. Just because Jesus opens the seals does not mean that they involve divine wrath.
On what basis do the actions of Christ demand that those actions are expressions of wrath? The 7-sealed book represents the expression of God’s wrath via the trumpet and bowl judgments. Before that wrath is expressed and the judgments are poured out on the earth, the events portrayed by the seals must occur. The seals must be opened before the book can be read.

Vlach: The seal judgments which open the Tribulation are consistent with divine wrath "The judgments of these four seals include the sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts, frequently used in Scripture as the expressions of divine wrath. Indeed, they are all included and named when God calls His 'four severe judgments upon Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague' (Ezek. 14:21)." (Gerald B. Stanton, "A Review of the Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, Bibliotecha Sacra, vol. 148 #589, January 1991) Plus, plagues such as pestilence and wild beasts can hardly be caused by man.

The presence of these items does not require that it comes from God.
Sometimes God uses things to discipline nations.
Sometimes these things are “directly” administered by God and sometimes they are “natural consequences” of the way a society manages itself.
Just because a famine occurs does not mean it is “from” God, let alone WRATH from God. Permitted by Him, most certainly, but not necessarily directly from Him. This applies to each of the other factors as well.
In the case of the first 5 seals, these are things that are caused by the oppressive actions of the beast, and not by God.

Vlach: As early as the sixth seal, unbelievers declare that God's wrath "has come" (Rev. 6:16-17). Unbelievers recognize that all six seals that have happened so far are the direct wrath of God. Robert L. Thomas says "The verb elthen ('has come') is aorist indicative, referring to a previous arrival of the wrath, not something that is about to take place. Men see the arrival of this day at least as early as the cosmic upheavals that characterize the sixth seal (6:12-14), but upon reflection they probably recognize it was already in effect with the death of one-fourth of the population (6:7-8), the worldwide famine (6:5-6), and the global warfare (6:3-4). The rapid sequence of all these events could not escape public notice, but the light of their true explanation does not dawn upon human consciousness until the severe phenomena of the sixth seal arrive." (Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7, pp. 457-58)

This is an erroneous understanding of the use of the aorist tense here. It does not require a retrospect to the events of the previous seals. These people are reacting to the arrival of Jesus, not to the things that have ALREADY happened, and in fact, have been going on for several months. The expression of these people is made IN VIEW of what is about to come upon them because they see the presence of Jesus, who has arrived in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
They say, “for the day of their wrath has come.” That means that it is NOW TIME for God’s wrath to begin to be poured out on the earth.
This is perfectly consistent with Matthew 24:29-30 and 1 Thes. 5:3.
“While they are saying peace and safety, then destruction will come on them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”
In the previous 5 seals, it is not the general populace of the world who are affected, it is the ones who fail to accept beast worship. The others are living in peace and security until Christ arrives in the clouds of the sky and pops their balloon, bringing them the reality of impending wrath and judgment from God.

Vlach: Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth. Here is a promise to the Church of preservation outside of the time of Tribulation. Thus, believers are not only promised deliverance from divine wrath but from the time period ("hour") of divine wrath. This rules out the possibility of the Church being on earth during the Tribulation. As Ryrie says, "It is impossible to conceive of being in the location where something is happening and being exempt from the time of the happening."

Basically, there is nothing in the context that identifies this “hour of testing” as the tribulation. This is pure speculation. There are other options, so it is certainly a weak argument to use in defense of a pretrib rapture. According to the PreWrath view, it refers instead, to the Day of the Lord which will begin AFTER the tribulation has been cut short by the sovereign decision of God, and Christ arrives on the earth.
So any appeal to this passage alone is a draw.
See details for Revelation 3:10

Vlach: Differences between Rapture passages and Second Coming passages indicate that the two are different events happening at different times. The central passages dealing with the Rapture are John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The central passages dealing with the Second Coming to earth are Zechariah 14:1- 21; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-27 and Revelation 19. A careful examination of these texts will show that there is enough reason to conclude that the Rapture and the Second Coming to earth are not the same event:

I suggest that a careful examination shows just the opposite!
See: The rapture and second advent contrasted

Vlach: The Second Coming is preceded by signs but the Rapture is presented as imminent with no signs preceding it. "In passages that deal with the Second Advent there are signs or events that lead up to and signal the return of Jesus Christ (e.g., Matt. 24:4-28; Rev. 19:11-21). In each of these passages of Scripture there is the careful and extensive itemizing of details that should alert believers in that day that the Second Advent is about to occur. . . . On the other hand, there is no mention of any signs or events that precede the Rapture of the church in any of the Rapture passages. The point seems to be that the believer prior to this event is to look, not for some sign, but the Lord from heaven. If the Rapture was a part of the complex of events that make up the Second Advent, and not distinct from it, then we would expect that there would be a mention of signs or events in at least one passage." (See Paul D. Feinberg, "The Case For The Pretribulation Rapture Position," in Gleason Archer, Paul Feinberg, Douglas Moo, The Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post Tribulational? p. 80)

There is no similarity between Matthew 24:4-28 and Revelation 19.
Matthew 24:29-31 is clearly the return of Jesus to gather His elect.
Revelation mentions nothing like this.
Of course the believer is to look for the coming of the Lord rather than the signs. But that does not mean that no signs will occur. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that there are certain specific things that must occur before the Lord can return. These have already been shown in this article.

Vlach: The Rapture is presented as a coming in blessing while the Second Coming is a coming for judgment. "In the clear Rapture passages, the Lord's coming is presented as a coming in blessing for the saints. Nothing is said about His coming for judgment. On the other hand, passages about the second advent speak of the Lord's coming in judgment upon His enemies (Rev. 19:11ff; Joel 3:12-16; Zech. 14:3-5)." (John Feinberg, p. 198). "In each of the Rapture passages there is no mention of trial before the event. Rather, there is the bare promise of Christ's return for His own." (Paul Feinberg, p. 81)

This is simply a false statement. 2Thes. 1:6-10 makes it very clear that when Jesus comes to give relief to the church which will be under extreme persecution pressure, He is likewise coming to judge those who are doing the persecuting (quoted above).
How or why can Mr. Feinberg totally ignore this passage?
Yes, at the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky to gather His elect from the earth, he will come IN JUDGMENT with His mighty angels in flaming fire.
1Thes. 5:1-3 is another very clear statement that when the Day of the Lord arrives it will be a time of great judgment on the earth-dwellers, for then “sudden destruction will come upon them like birth pangs of a woman in labor.”
And speaking of coming “in blessing,” there is the promise at Titus 2:13, that the coming of Jesus for His saint is described as “the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Christ Jesus.”

Vlach: Second Coming passages are in the context of the setting up of the Kingdom while the Rapture passages make no mention of the Kingdom. "Second advent passages are invariably followed by talk of setting up the kingdom after the Lord's return (e.g., Matt. 24:31; 25:31ff; Zech. 14; Joel 3; Rev. 19-20). So, the second advent is preparatory to the establishment of the millennial kingdom. On the other hand, clear rapture passages give no hint that after the rapture the Lord establishes the kingdom." (John Feinberg, p. 198)

This is an empty argument. There is no need to mention the establishment of the kingdom at the very moment of the rapture. There are several things that must occur before that kingdom is set up. In the Old Testament, the arrival of the Messiah is portrayed as the arrival of The Day of the Lord. During that “day” there are several things that will occur – all leading up to the establishment of Christ’s earthly reign.
There is only one second coming. It is a TIME PERIOD with a single INCEPTION event, and several subsequent events.
Matthew 24:29-31 (32-44) deals with the INCEPTION event, at which time the gathering of the saints will occur.
Matthew 25:31ff deals with the TIME PERIOD that begins with Christ’s arrival (the inception event) and involves the establishment of the earthly kingdom.
Likewise, the Day of the Lord is a time period with a single inception event and several subsequent events.
1Thes. 5:2 deals with the inception of the Day of the Lord, as does 2Thes. 2:1-3.
2 Peter 3:10-13 deals with the time period.

Failure to deal with ALL the passages with a consistent hermeneutic has resulted in the theory that the arrival of Jesus to rapture his saints is NOT the second coming, and that His descent at Armageddon IS His second coming.
In actuality, the arrival of Jesus to rapture His saints is the INCEPTION EVENT of the second coming and His descent to the earth at Armageddon is one of the subsequent events that occur during the TIME PERIOD of the second coming.

Vlach: Glorified bodies at the Rapture "It is very clear from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51ff that at the rapture those gathered to the Lord will be glorified. On the other hand, second advent passages say nothing about anyone (living or dead) receiving a glorified body." (John Feinberg, p. 198) "Nowhere in the texts that deal with the Second Advent is there the teaching about the translation of living saints." (Paul Feinberg, p. 82)

Still a confusion of terms. The second advent IS IN FACT, when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky, fulfilling the promise He made to the disciples at Acts 1:11, and prophesied later by the apostles. There is only one second coming.
The descent of Jesus at Armageddon is NOT the second advent, but and event that occurs several months after His arrival.
And the fact that Armageddon passages do not mention the glorification of the saints is perfectly consistent.

Vlach: No mention of meeting in the air in Second Coming passages Nowhere in the Second Coming passages is a meeting in the air mentioned.

Again, simply the failure to recognize that the second coming inovles both an INCEPTION event and a TIME PERIOD with many subsequent events.

Vlach: Differences in timing of resurrections "There seems to be an inconsistency between the time of the resurrection at the Rapture and at the Second Coming. In the central Rapture passage dealing with this issue, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the time of the resurrection of dead saints in clearly stated to be during the descent of Christ of to the earth. Those raptured, living and dead saints, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Contrast that information with what is found in Revelation 19-20. There, the order seems to be: the descent of Christ, the slaying of His enemies, the casting of the Beast and the False Prophet into the lake of fire, the binding of Satan, and then the resurrection of the saints. It seems as though the resurrection of the dead will be during the descent at the Rapture, but after the descent at the Second Coming." (Paul Feinberg, p. 84)

1. At the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky, the living saints and the dead saints of all ages will be resurrected. Mat. 24:31; 1 Thes. 4:14-17. This is the rapture.
2. After the rapture, there will be new converts to Christ and new martyrs.
3. After Armageddon, those additional martyrs will be resurrected. This is what Rev. 20:4 is talking about. Notice that it is very restrictive. It is talking ONLY about those who were killed at the hands of the beast. That must refer to those who were killed between the rapture and Armageddon.

Vlach: Differences in destiny at time of comings "There seems to be an inconsistency between the destination of those who are raptured in the Rapture and the destination of those who participate in the Second Coming. In the posttribulation understanding of the events that surround the Second Coming, the church will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and will immediately accompany Him on His continued descent to the earth. Compare that with John 14:3. In the Rapture the Lord is going to come and take those raptured to be with Him. The clear implication is that the raptured saints will be taken to heaven, not earth. If this is so, then the destination of those caught up in the Rapture will be heaven. According to the Second Coming passages, however, the saints involved are headed for the earth." (Paul Feinberg, p. 84)

1. This ASSUMES that the “armies” at Rev. 19:14 are saints. It is more likely that they are angels, for the groom does not bring his bride into battle with him. And there is no promise in Scripture that says that the church will be involved with this battle.
2. So while it certainly is “A CLEAR IMPLICATION” that the raptured saints will be taken to heaven, it is definitely NOT a clear implication that Jesus will bring believers with Him at Armageddon.

Vlach: The role of the angels in the comings At the Second Coming, the angels are the ones who will gather the elect (Matt. 24:31). At the Rapture Jesus is the direct agent of the gathering (1 Thess. 4:16).

When Jesus USES the angels to gather the saints, it is STILL Jesus who is doing the gathering. It is CLEARLY understood by those who heard Jesus and those who wrote down His words that it is JESUS himself who gathers the saints THROUGH the agency of the angels. There are dozens of things that are done BY God, but He uses agents to carry out the actions.
Once again, the proponents of this pretrib theory fail to properly evaluate ALL the passages involved.  They use Mat. 24:31 to show a difference between 1 Thes. 4:16.
Mat. 24:31, “And HE will send forth His angels with a Great Trumpet and THEY will gather together His elect from the four winds, form one end of the sky to the other.”
1Thes. 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the 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 of the sky.”
This passage does not say HOW the saints are gathered. It simply states that they ARE gathered.
But to answer the argument, all we need do is look at Mark 13:27.
“And then He will send forth His angels, and HE will gather together his elect form the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth, to the farthest end of heaven.”

Jesus is the one who gathers the saints USING the angels.

Vlach: The "mystery" nature of the Rapture "Paul speaks of the Rapture as a 'mystery' (1 Cor. 15:51-54), that is, a truth not revealed until it was disclosed by the apostles (Col. 1:26). Thus the Rapture is said to be a newly revealed mystery, making it a separate event. The Second Coming on the other hand, was predicted in the Old Testament (Dan. 12:1-3; Zech. 12:10; 14:4). (Thomas Ice in "The Biblical Basis for the Pretribulational Rapture," in Basic Theology Applied, p. 269)

This is a pointless argument. The rapture occurs AT the second coming. It is part of the second coming; a part that was not fully revealed in the Old Testament. That does not mean that the second coming and the rapture occur at different times. It has already been shown irrefutably that there is only one second coming that involves both an INCEPTION event and a TIME PERIOD. The rapture occurs at the INCEPTION event, and Armageddon is a subsequent even within the time period, but is not the actual second coming.

Vlach: No mention of the Church in Revelation 4-18 Revelation 4-18 gives the most detailed account of the seven year Tribulation period. If the Church were to be in the Tribulation period, surely one would expect at least one reference to the Church in this time period. The Church, however, which is referred to nineteen times in the first three chapters of Revelation, is suddenly silent and never referred to in chapters 4-18. "It is remarkable and totally unexpected that John would shift from detailed instructions for the Church to absolute silence about the Church for the subsequent 15 chapters if, in fact, the Church continued into the tribulation." (Richard L. Mayhue, Snatched Before the Storm, p. 8)

The absence of the word CHURCH does not mean it is not present. Furthermore, the mention of the church is not an issue one way or the other.
Of course, the right chronology needs to be adhered to.
According to the PreWrath view, the church is here during the first 5 seals, and is raptured at the 6th seal. This is at an unknown day and hour after the midpoint of the week, when the tribulation will be cut short by the sovereign decree of God and Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. During this time the church is identified by the term, “saints” and those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
After the 6th seal, the church will be gone and during the trumpet and bowl judgments it will not be present. However, even then, there will be “saints” on the earth, who are converted after the rapture.
For a detailed refutation of this argument see:

Vlach: Pretribulationism best explains the presence of non glorified saints who will enter the Millennial Kingdom.

This is not a problem with the Prewrath view, for there is plenty of time after the 6th seal rapture for people to become saved.

Vlach: The nature and purpose of the Tribulation excludes the Church from being part of it.

Nature of Tribulation centers on Israel According to Daniel 9:24-27, the "seventy weeks" prophecy including the final "one week" (seven years) is for Israel ("your people"). Jeremiah 30:7 refers to the Tribulation period as a time of "Jacob's distress." "While the church will experience tribulation in general during the present age (John 16:33), she is never mentioned as participating in Israel's time of trouble, which includes the great tribulation, the day of the Lord, and the wrath of God." (Ice and Demy, The Truth About The Rapture, p. 36)

1. The 70 weeks does not CENTER on Israel. It is simply the remainder of time promised to the nation. There is a TRANSITION period where the church is still present to minister to Israel and prepare her to once again take over the function of being the evangelistic agent of God on the earth after the 6th seal.
2. The tribulation as the time of Jacob’s distress is NOT a time of divine wrath. It is a time of great persecution from Satan and man on both unbelieving Israel and any who believe in Christ at that time.
3. The tribulation is not the day of the Lord and not the wrath of God. No where is God’s wrath ever associated with the tribulation or the Time of Jacob’s distress.

Vlach: Purpose #1: Preparation of Israel "The Bible teaches that the Tribulation is a time of preparation for Israel's restoration and conversion (Deuteronomy 4:29, 30; Jeremiah 30:3-11; Zechariah 12:10)." (Ice and Demy, p. 36)

There is no conflict with this idea. A purpose for Israel does not negate a purpose for anyone else who might be present. It does not mean that the church MUST be gone.
And of course, there are passages that indicate the church will in fact be present during the time of the tribulation. 2 Thes. 1:6-10; 2:1-3

Vlach: Purpose #2: Judgment for an unbelieving world Revelation 3:10 refers to the Tribulation period as "the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth." The second major purpose of the Tribulation, then, is to test the unbelieving world. "Those who dwell upon the earth" refers to those who are unbelievers on earth during the period described in Revelation 4-19. (Thomas Edgar, "An Exegesis of Rapture Passages," in Issues in Dispensationalism, p. 216)

The problem here is that Rev. 3:10 does not describe the hour of testing as the tribulation.
It refers to the Day of the Lord which will begin after the tribulation is cut short by the sovereign decree of God and the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory.
Instead, according to 2Thes. 1:6-7, the tribulation will be on-going at the time of deliverance from “the hour of trial.” And the church age believers who are alive on the earth at that time, “who are being afflicted (who are experiencing tribulation – Greek word, thlibo),” will be given relief, and the ones who are left will then be repaid with “affliction (tribulation).” But the affliction (tribulation) that they will encounter is not THE tribulation, but the Day of the Lord wrath and the judgments of the trumpets and bowls.

Vlach: The nature of the Church If the nature of the Tribulation is Jewish and the purpose of the Tribulation is to bring Israel to belief and to judge the unbelieving world, what purpose does the church have in relation to this period? As shown already, the church is promised deliverance from this time of wrath (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 3:10).

There are so many suppositions here.
1. The tribulation is not Jewish.
2. The purpose of the tribulation is NOT to judge the world. The purpose of the Day of the Lord judgments is to judge the world.
3. The purpose of the tribulation is NOT to bring Israel to belief. The purpose of the church is to bring Israel to belief. Mat. 10:23; 24:14. And it is actually, the rapture of the church at the arrival of the Lord in the clouds of the sky at the 6th seal, that then triggers so many to believe. Rev. 6-7.
4. The church is promised deliverance from the time of wrath that begins at the Day of the Lord. The tribulation is not that time of wrath, but precedes it.

Vlach: The expectation of the Church is the imminent coming of Christ not the Tribulation period.

The false theory of an imminent rapture has already been dealt with.
Additional information: Rosenthal's article refuting imminency.


Vlach: "It is incongruous then that the Scriptures would be silent on such a traumatic change for the Church. If posttribulationism were true, one would expect the epistles to teach the fact of the Church in the tribulation, the purpose of the Church in the tribulation, and the conduct of the Church in the tribulation." (Mayhue, p. 9)

Actually, the epistles do in fact teach us how to live during the tribulation. It is no different from any other time of persecution. And Paul does in fact indicate that the Lord will return at His official one and only second coming while the church is experiencing the tribulation. 2Thes. 1:6-10.

Vlach: The Thessalonian's expectation That Paul had taught a Pretribulational Rapture can be inferred from 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3. In this passage, Paul notes that the Thessalonians had been "shaken" and "disturbed" because they had been led to think that they were presently in the Day of the Lord (i.e. the Tribulation period). <

This is simply false. It is clear that the Day of the Lord is not the tribulation, but is a period of time that will begin AFTER the tribulation has been cut short by the sovereign decree of God and Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory.
Mat. 24:29-31; Joel 2:31; Rev. 6:12-17

Vlach: The fact that they were disturbed is significant. If Paul had taught a posttribulational rapture, the Thessalonians would have had no reason to be disturbed since they would be expecting signs and persecution before the coming of the Lord. Thus, they could joyously look to the soon coming of the Lord after the Tribulation. However, the fact that the Thessalonians were shook up indicates that they did not expect to be in the Day of the Lord. A fair inference is that, in line with Paul's previous teaching, the Thessalonians expected to be raptured prior to the Day of the Lord.

BUT – they WERE going through tribulation. They just did not know if it was in fact THE tribulation. So Paul assures them that the sign of the tribulation will be the revealing of the man of lawlessness. And their concern about being in the Day of the Lord, from which they were promised deliverance (for it is the day of the lord that is WRATH), is eased because Paul assures them that that day won’t come until the man of lawlessness is revealed.
Their concern is not about the tribulation. It is about the Day of the Lord – and these are two different time periods.

All of these issues must be evaluated by the believer and each one must become fully persuaded in his own mind.
1. Definitions must be based on biblical language and passages; not on supposition.
2. Literal interpretation is correct, but it must be followed consistently.
3. All passages need to be considered concerning this subject. It has been shown how errors exist because of a failure to consider all the passages.


Questions and comments are always welcome

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