PROOFS OF THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

By John Henry

September 20, 1999




TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Historical Evidence For The Belief In The Pre-Tribulation Position

Biblical Proof #1: Daniel 9:24-27

Biblical Proof #2: God Hath Not Appointed Us To Wrath

Biblical Proof #3: The Last Trump

Biblical Proof #4: The Church Age

Biblical Proof #5: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Conclusion






INTRODUCTION:

There is much confusion being caused by those who are putting forth unscriptural theories concerning the rapture of all the saved of this present Age. There is the Partial Rapture camp, Mid-Tribers, the Pre-Wrathers, and the Post-Tribers. None of these man made teachings are correct, but the least plausible of these 3 false theories is the Post-Tribulation theory.

The Rapture of all born again people, both the living and those who have died, of the Age of Grace will take place before the Tribulation. This is called the Pre-Tribulation position. It is a historical position and the only Scriptural position. In this paper I will provide some of the proofs for that statement.


HISTORICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE BELIEF IN THE PRE-TRIBULATION POSITION:

I will first refute the idea that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position is not a historic doctrine of the Church. There have been false claims to the effect that this position was originated around 1830 by a 15-year-old girl named Margaret McDonald who is said to have had a new revelation from God, and was afterwards picked up and popularized by a Plymouth Brethren by the named of John Nelson Darby. There is historical evidence that the Scriptural doctrine of the Rapture was taught before McDonald or Darby either one even was born.

Below I have condensed information on Ephraem of Nisibis, and Pastor Morgan Edwards who both taught the Pretribulation Rapture.

1. Morgan Edwards:

Edwards was a Baptist pastor who was born in Wales, May 9, 1722. Some 80 years before Margaret McDonald was born Morgan Edwards was teaching the Pretribulation Rapture.

"Morgan Edwards ... was educated at Bristol Baptist College. He was ordained and labored in Ireland, then in England. He was recommended by John Gill and others to pastor the Baptist church in Philadelphia. ... He was the premier Baptist historian of his era; his Materials Toward A History of the Baptists remains an important historical source regarding early American Baptists." (Morgan Edwards: An Eighteenth Century Pretribulationist, by Frank Marotta)

History records that Edwards was a first-rate scholar, and a man of intense spiritual commitment. He understood and taught Paul's doctrine of eschatology, combined with an obvious grasp of Daniel and Revelation. Despite the weight of twelve centuries of bizarre Bible interpretation under the reign of state religion, he remained true to Paul's view of the latter days.

Frank Marotta's writes, "The rule of interpretation that Edwards applies was that recommended by his tutor at the Bristol Academy, `to take the Scriptures in a literal sense, except when that leads to contradiction or absurdity.'" These are words that many would do well to heed today!

Morgan Edwards taught:

* That the Turks would be removed from Israel and the Jews would be restored to their own land.

* History would be consummated in 7000 years. On the subject of Premillenialism, Edwards writes, "Christ's personal reign on earth will be a thousand years at least ... Christ's kingdom and reign will be universal ... No people or state will be left out ... The risen and changed saints shall reign with Christ on earth a thousand years." (Millennium, and Last-Novelties both by Morgan Edwards)

* The Antichrist would be a future individual. He speculated that he will be the last pope. This teaching was in stark contrast with the predominant historicism of his day which interpreted the Antichrist as the papal system.

* That the 1260 days and 1290 days are future, literal days (the former as part of the latter), after the church is caught up. This was in contrast to the belief of his era that the days symbolized years.

* The catching away of the church prior to the Tribulation and the rise of an evil antichrist.

(The above information on Morgan Edwards was condenced from: Rev. Morgan Edwards Taught a Pre-Tribulation Rapture in the 1740s! by Gary Stearman )

2. Ephraem of Nisibis:

Ephraem the Syrian (AD 306-373) clearly taught that believers will be Raptured to Heaven before the Tribulation. He was from Nisibis on the eastern edge of the Roman Empire (about 100 miles NW of Nineveh). Ephraem was a well-known and prolific Syrian writer and witness to early Christianity.

Following is part of Ephraem's sermon called, "On the Last Times, the Anti-christ, and the End of the World." It is said to be among the most interesting of apocalyptic texts from the early Middle Ages. The sermon describes the events of the last days, beginning with the rapture, the Great Tribulation of 3 1/2 years duration under the Antichrist's rule, followed by the Second Coming of Christ. The translation from Latin (there are 4 known manuscripts) of the sermon includes the following segment:

"For all the saints and Elect of God are
gathered, prior to the Tribulation that
is to come, and are taken to the Lord
lest they see the confusion that is to
overwhelm the world because of our
sins." (English translation of the Latin
text [Christiania, 1890, pp. 208-20]
provided by Cameron Rhoades, Latin
instructor at Tyndale Theological
Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX.)

In Ephraem's book The Book of the Cave of Treasures, written about A.D. 370, he expressed his belief that the 69th week of Daniel ended with the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah. (The Book of the Cave of Treasures, p. 235) This dispensational teaching also supports the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

(The above information on Ephraem of Nisibis was condensed from: Byzantine Text Discovery: Ephraem The Syrian by Chuck Missler )


BIBLICAL PROOF #1: DANIEL 9:24-27:

Failure to interpret the Scriptures dispensationally, and failure to distinguish between Israel and the Church will inevitably lead to misinterpretations, and misconceptions.

I am not a Hyperdispensationilist, that is, I do not believe that people are saved in different ways in the various dispensations, but I am a Dispensationilist and believe that God has worked in different ways at different times.

Clearly seen are at least 3 dispensations: 1) The Old Testament economy [there are actually 5 Old Testament dispensations]; 2) The New Testament economy [The Dispensation of Grace, or The Church Age]; and 3) The 1000 year reign of Christ on Earth [The Millennium]. The last of the 5 OT dispensations is normally called the Dispensation of Law. It runs from the Exodus to John the Baptist, and deals with the Nation of Israel.

The Dispensation of Law deals almost exclusively with God's chosen people, the Hebrew people; whereas The Dispensation of Grace deals primarily with the Church.

The Prophet Daniel was given a prophecy concerning the final 490 years of The Dispensation of Law. Here is what he recorded with my notations:

Daniel 9:24-27: "Seventy weeks [of years = 490 years] are determined upon THY PEOPLE [the Jews] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression [judge rebellion against God], and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity [these speak of Christ's work for our salvation], and to bring in everlasting righteousness [the Millennium and beyond], and to seal up the vision and prophecy [fulfill Bible prophecy], and to anoint the most Holy [Prophet, Priest, and King Jesus]. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [the decree went forth in 445 BC] unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks [the time it took to rebuild the city], and threescore and two weeks [7 x 62 = 69 weeks or 483 years]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off [crucified], but not for himself: and the people [the Roman people led by Titus] of the prince that shall come [Antichrist] shall destroy the city and the sanctuary [done in A.D. 70]; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he [Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant [reinstitute Temple sacrifices] with many for one week [7 years]: and in the midst of the week [3 1/2 years into the Tribulation] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." "

The first 69 weeks of this prophecy have been fulfilled to the letter and to the day. To break down the seventy weeks, or 490 years, is given here:

* 7 weeks - 49 years for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

* 62 weeks - 434 years added to the above 49 years. This total of 483 years was to the date of the coming of Messiah Jesus.

* 1 week - 7 years is the period of the Tribulation which is broken down into two 3 1/2 year periods. It is the last 7 years of the OT Dispensation of Law.

The 70 weeks began in the 20th year of the reign of Persian King Artaxerxes with his "commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem" (Neh 2:1-8; Dan 9:25). This occured on the 1st of the Jewish month of Nisan in 445 B.C. This is our starting point.

The first 7 weeks or 49 years bring us to 397 B.C. and to Malachi and the end of the Old Testament. These were troublous times as witnessed by both Nehemiah and Malachi.

The next period of 62 weeks, or 434 years, bring us to the Messiah. Sir Robert Anderson in his book, The Coming Prince, has worked out the schedule. From the 1st of the month Nissan in 445 B.C. to the 10th of Nisan (April 6) A.D. 32, are 173,880 days. Dividing them according to Jewish the year 360 days, he arrives at 483 years (69 sevens). On this day Jesus rode into Jerusalem offering Himself for the first time, publicly and officially, as the Messiah (Matt 21:1-17).

It was the next day that the Lord cursed the fruitless fig tree, a symbol of Israel (Hos. 9:10; Joel 1:6-7; Jer. 8:11-13; Hab. 3:16), knowing that they would reject Him. Jesus said to the symbolic fig tree, "… Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!" (Matt. 21:19-20)

Later the same day while in the Temple the Lord Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the Temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Matt. 23:37 - 24:2) It was "the people of the prince that shall come" who did this (Dan. 9:26). Daniel had said they "shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (Dan. 9:26). The Roman General Titus accomplished this in 70 A.D.

After the 69 weeks or 483 years there is a time break. Between the 69th week and the 70th week three events of utmost importance are to take place:

1. Messiah was "cut off" (Dan. 9:26; cf. Isa. 53:8). This was the crucifixion of Christ "to make reconciliation for iniquity" (Dan. 9:24; cf Isa. 53:6).

2. Messiah's Church was fully established (John 20:19-23; Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:4-8).

3. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and Israel ceased from being a nation. This took place in 70 A.D.

There has now been a Divine 2000 year (+/-) "time out" interval between the 69th and the 70th weeks of Daniel. We are now in that "time out" period called by God which we have dubbed, the Age of Grace, but when the Lord says, "play ball" Israel's time clock will begin ticking again. This time gap was not seen by Daniel, but just as the first 69 weeks of the prophecy were for Daniel's people (the Nation of Israel), so likewise will the last 7 years be. It is the Tribulation period which is also called "the time of Jacob's trouble." (Jer. 30:7; cf Dan. 12:1).

The reasons we know that the Lord will come for His people prior to the final week of Daniel 9:27 are these:

1. No one of this Age can know the time of our catching up in the clouds to be with Jesus. Jesus said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matt. 24:36; cf. 24:50, 25:13; Mark 13:32; Luke 12:46; Acts 1:7; 1 Thess. 5:1-2). Here the Lord is not speaking of His return to set foot upon the Earth, but rather of the Rapture (Matt. 24:40-42).

2. The last week of Daniel 9:27 is for Israel. After the Rapture the Antichrist will "confirm the covenant" with the Jews and others for 7 years. Those in the Tribulation can know the day of Christ's return, but we cannot know the day of the Rapture. Here's why:

"And he [Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease ..." (Dan 9:27)

Daniel 9:27 coupled with other passages in Daniel (7:25, 12:7) and in Revelation (11:2-3, 12:6, 14, 13:5) show us that exactly 7 years from the signing of this covenant to reinstitute Temple sacrifices Christ will return to take control of the Earth. This fact alone proves the Pre-Tribulation position.

This knowledge helps us understand why how that no one of this Age can know the time of our catching up in the clouds to be with Jesus, but they of the Tribulation can know the time of the return of Christ to the earth exactly 7 years after the Antichrist is revealed.

The 7 year Tribulation is for Israel, not for Church Age believers which brings us to proof #2.


BIBLICAL PROOF #2: GOD HAS NOT APPOINTED CHURCH AGE BELIEVERS TO WRATH:

The Word of God says to Church Age believers, "…wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (1 Thess 1:10)

Those who hold to the Pre-Wrath theory of the Rapture love to claim that the first half of the Tribulation is not the wrath of God. But is it?

Yes, the entire 7 year Tribulation according to Revelation must be considered to be the "wrath of God." Here are the reasons why:

1. A full 1/2 of the population of the Earth is wiped out during the first half of the Tribulation (Rev 6:8, Rev 9:15, 18), because the Lord Jesus personally opens the 7 seals, the last of which unleashes the battle trump judgments. All 14 judgments are clearly the direct Wrath of God.

2. The wrath of Satan does not really get going until the last half of the Tribulation, after he has been cast out of Heaven (Rev 12:12, 13:7).

3. It does not indicate that God is merely permitting those things, but that He is actually causing them by opening the seals:

Revelation 6:1: "And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see."

4. The lost of that time just after the beginning of the Tribulation will know that it is God's wrath that has come upon them:

Revelation 6:15-16: "And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from THE WRATH OF THE LAMB."

5. The Wrath will come from God by way of holy angels that He has sent:

Revelation 7:2-3: "And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."

6. At the sounding of the 5th trumpet only lost people are tormented by demons who have been loosed from the bottomless pit:

Revelation 9:4-6: "And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."

7. God had used demons to send forth His wrath in the past and does so again during the first half of the Tribulation:

Revelation 9:13-15: "And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men." (cf. Psalm 78:49: "He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, WRATH, and indignation, and trouble, by sending EVIL ANGELS among them.")

All these and other forms of the wrath of God all take place in the first half of the Tribulation killing 1/2 of the population that remains after the Rapture. So there surely is a Scriptural basis for the idea that the bad things of Revelation 6-9 are directly God's wrath. All the evidence points to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." (1 Thess 5:9-10)


BIBLICAL PROOF #3: THE LAST TRUMP:

1 Corinthians 15:51-54: "Behold, I show 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 indicates that the Rapture will take place "at the last trump". The question is, which last trump? There are 2 kinds of trumpets in the Bible: 1) the battle alarm, and 2) the call to worship.

1. The Call To Worship:

* Instructions On The Worship Call: "Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps." (Num. 10:2, cf. 10:1-10)

* At Mount Sinai: "... the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." (Ex. 19:16)

* On The Day of Atonement: "... in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound ..." (Lev 25:9)

2. The Call To Alarm:

* Instructions On The Battle Alarm: "And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies." (Num 10:9)

* The Alarm Of War: "…the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war." (Jer 4:19; cf. Joel 2:1; Zep 1:16)

So which kind of "last trump" is 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 talking about? Is it the battle trump or the worship trump?

It is evident that the "last trump" is a call to worship, because it is the gathering of all Church Age believers to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God makes this fact very clear:

1 Thessalonians 4:17: "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

2 Thessalonians 2:1: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him."

The prerequisite for one to go in the rapture is faith in Jesus Christ's death for his sins and resurrection for his justification. This prerequisite is found at the beginning of the 1 Thessalonians 4 rapture passage where it says: "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." (1 Thess. 4:14; cf. Rom. 4:25, 5:1, 9) Then it continues, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air ..." (1 Thess. 4:17)

The 7 trumpets of Revelation chapters 8, 9, and 11 are clearly calls to alarm, and therefore cannot be the last trump referred to in 1 Corinthians 15:51.


BIBLICAL PROOF #4: THE CHURCH AGE:

The next question is: When will this last trump be?

Revelation chapters 2 and 3, among other things, is a prophecy concerning the period call the Church Age or the Dispensation of Grace. It is that "time out" period between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel. The events of this period have been taking place on the Earth for the past 2000 years. In Revelation chapters 4 and 5, however, it is clearly seen that the events are taking place in Heaven before the Throne of God. And from Revelation chapters 6 to 19 the time period is obviously the 70th week of Daniel, the Tribulation.

Post-Tribers and Pre-Wrathers like to scoff at the following fact, but it remains true just the same: Revelation 4:1 is a picture of the Rapture at the end of the Church Age. It is the final call to eternal worship for believers of this dispensation. It is the last trump, if you will!

Revelation 4:1: "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter."

This verse describes the Rapture in symbolic language (Revelation 1:1 indicates that the Book of Revelation was "signified" or given in symbolic language.) John, "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (Jn 13:23, 20:2, 21:7, 20), represents all believers of the Church Age, because the Lord loves all His disciples. John is a type of the Bride of Christ. The Bride will tarry till the Lord Jesus comes. Note this passage:

John 21:20-23: "Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"

The fact that Revelation chapters 2 and 3 concerns the Age of Grace or the Church Age, and the fact that this long Dispensation will end at the Rapture is evidenced by this verse:

Revelation 1:19: "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter."

Notice that the outline of the Book of Revelation is threefold:

1) "…the things which thou hast seen" - John's Vision of Christ (chapter 1).

2) "…the things which are" - The Church Age - (chapters 2 and 3).

3) "…the things which shall be hereafter" - The things that will take place after the Church Age (chapters 4 through 22).

The word church or churches is found 15 times in chapters 2 and 3, but is absent from all the chapters that cover the Tribulation period (Rev 6 - 19).

History bears out the fact that Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are the Church Age.

* Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7): Represents the Apostolic Period (AD 30 to 100). Ephesus means "permission." The apostles were the Lord's proxies who were given permission to speak on His behalf and to complete His Word. (Lk 9:1-2; Eph 2:20; Acts 2:42; Mk 16:20; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:3-4; 1 Cor 13:8-10).

* Smyrna (Rev 8-11): Represents the Period of Persecution (AD 100 to 313). Smyrna means "myrrh" which when crushed gives it's sweet fragrance. Today Smyrna is known by the the name Ismir. In AD 155 a disciple of the Apostle John named Polycarp was burned in Smyrna. There were many unregenerated Jews living there who strongly opposed the Truth. They persuaded the pagan Roman city officials to to execute Polycarp, and even carried logs for the fire. This was typical during the of the sever persecution of period. There were 8 known edicts of persecution against believers issued by Roman Emperors during this period by 1) Trajan [AD 108], 2) Antonius [AD 162], 3) Severus [AD 192], 4) Maximus [AD 235], 5) Decius [AD 249], 6) Valerian [AD 256], 7) Aurelian [AD 274], 8) Diocletian [AD 303]. In addition to these who officially issued edicts, Hadrian [AD117-138] also greatly persecuted the Christians.

* Pergamos (Rev 2:12-17): Represents the Compromized Period (AD 313 to 590). The word litterally means "concerning (per) marrage (gamos)". Our English words polygamy and bigamy have their root in this Greek word. The symbolism is clear. It was during this period that Emperor Constantine (AD 306-337) married paganism and the state with some of the compromising churches. Long before this period of church history began, the Babylonian Pontiff and priesthood had moved their headquarters to Pergamos after being expelled by the Medo-Persian kings. There for hundreds of years was where 'Satan's seat' was (Rev 2:13). At that time Pergamos was a soverign City State, but in 133 B.C. the last king of Pergamos, Attalus III, at his death left all his dominion to Rome. Eventually all the authority of the satanic Babylonan Pontiff was inherited by the Emporers of Rome (see The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop, pgs 240, 241, 279, 288). Here again the symbolism of the passage meets the prophetic period. Constantine was the first "Christian" Pontiff.

* Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29): The Period of the Papacy (AD 590- 1517). The meaning of the word Thyatira is "continual sacrifice" which is what the Catholic Eucharist is. Remember the text is symbolizing periods of time by giving the characteristic of the time. During this period the that covers the Dark Ages Roman Catholicism ruled supreme. This symbolic fits this apostate whore perfectly: "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." (Rev 2:20-23)

* Sardis (Rev 3:1-6): The Period of the Remnant [1517 to 1700]. The meaning of the word Sardis is "remnant." By this time a remnant of the true churches had come through the Dark Ages of Roman Catholic persecution into relative, but far from complete peace. The Reformation was in full swing and there was a departing from Rome by many.

* Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13): The Period Brotherly Love [1700 to now]. This era represents the modern missionary efforts. Thousands of caring missionary minded churches and hundreds of missionaries come to mind. Names like John Gill, Morgan Edwards, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice, Charles Spurgon, J. Frank Norris, J. B. Vick and many others stand out.

* Laodicea (Rev 3:14-21): The Period of the Worldly Church [1900 to now]. Laodicea means "the people's rights." It stands for the era of apostasy and will run along side of the Philadelphian era till the Rapture.

The sounding of all seven trumpets of Revelation (8:7, 8, 10, 12, 9:1, 13, 11:15) are calls to God's angels to do battle; the 7th trumpet is not the Rapture trump to worship. The last trump of 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 is the "last trump" of the Church Age that occurs at or just before the 7 year Tribulation begins.

These are "the things which are," and after these come "the things which shall be hereafter." (Rev 1:19) And what comes at the end of the Church Age? John describes it:

Revelation 4:1: "After this [the things that are] I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven [Jesus said, I am the door]: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet [the last trump of the Church Age] talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter."


BIBLICAL PROOF #5: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8:

2 Thessalonians 2:1-8: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed ..."

This passage, as the whole tenor of Scripture, teaches that the rapture will occur before the Tribulation.

2 Thessalonians 2:1: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,"

Paul is clearly writing about the Rapture.

2 Thessalonians 2:2: "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand."

Someone had been worrying the Thessalonian believers "that the day of Christ," the Tribulation, had already come. A false teacher had even forged Paul's name on a letter saying that they were in the Tribulation.

Elsewhere in the Bible the Greek word translated "at hand" here is translated "present," "things present," and "come." It is defined as "to place among," "to put in," "to be upon," "threaten," "present" "impend," "at hand."

Below is much Scriptural evidence showing that "the day of Christ" corresponds to the Old Testament "day of the LORD," and that it means the Tribulation period.

Amos 5:18-20: "Woe unto you that desire THE DAY OF THE LORD! to what end is it for you? THE DAY OF THE LORD is darkness, and not light. 19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. 20 Shall not THE DAY OF THE LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?"

Joel 1:15: "Alas for the day! for THE DAY OF THE LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come."

Zepheniah 1:14-16: "THE GREAT DAY OF THE LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of THE DAY OF THE LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. 15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers."

Joel 2:1-2: "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for of THE DAY OF THE LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; 2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations."

Zecheriah14:1-4: "Behold, THE DAY OF THE LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."

Jeremiah 46:10: "For this is THE DAY OF THE LORD GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates."

Isaiah 13:6-9: " Howl ye; for THE DAY OF THE LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. 7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt: 8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. 9 Behold, THE DAY OF THE LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it."

Joel 2:11: "And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for THE DAY OF THE LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?"

1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 "For yourselves know perfectly that THE DAY OF THE LORD so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."

The terms "the day of the Lord," and "that day" refer to the Tribulation. All Church Age believers will have already been raptured to Heaven beforehand, so from their view point the period is spoken of in this way in the New Testament:

1 Corinthians 1:8: "…[Our Lord Jesus Christ] shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in THE DAY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST."

1 Corinthians 5:5: "…[D]eliver such an one [a backsliding believer] unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in THE DAY OF THE LORD JESUS."

2 Corinthians 1:13-14: "…I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in THE DAY OF THE LORD JESUS."

Philippians 1:6: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until THE DAY OF JESUS CHRIST."

Philippians 1:9-10: "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till THE DAY OF CHRIST."

Philippians 2:16: "Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in THE DAY OF CHRIST, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."

Upon examining these verses it becomes apparent that it is a matter of the perspective of the viewer:

1. From the perspective of those left on the Earth it is a time of God's wrath, the day of the LORD.

2. From the perspective of those raptured to Heaven it is the beginning of eternal blessing, the day of Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:3: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"

This verse teaches that there will be 1) a falling away, and 2) the revealing of the son of perdition (the antichrist) before the Tribulation.

The phrase "a falling away" comes from the Greek word "apostasia" (James Strong's Greek #646). It may mean "apostasy" or a mass departure from Christian teachings as has been seen in many nations today, especially America (1 Tim. 4:1). However, it may refer to the rapture. The Greek word is feminine possibly refering to the bride of Christ. Apostasia is a compound verb from the words "apo" (Strong's #575) and "histemi" (Strong's #2476). The word "apo" means: any kind of separation of one thing from another. The word "histemi" means: to bid to stand by, cause to stand, be kept intact, to escape to safety, etc. Thus "apostasia" may mean: the rapture of believers out of the world to stand safely with Jesus Christ. The "falling away" here is either the bride of Christ's "forsaking" of the world to stand in Heaven with the Lord Jesus; or a religious apostasy; or possibly both.

According to Daniel 9:27 the Tribulation or "that day" will begin when the Antichrist shall "... confirm the covenant with many ..." to reinstitute Temple sacrifices. This occurs when the Lord Jesus opens the first seal after the rapture and will be the beginning point of the 7 year tribulation.

2 Thessalonians 2:4: "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

The Antichrist will break the agreement of Daniel 9:27 and set himself up as God in the Jerusalem Temple at the mid point of the Tribulation. By this time all believers of the Church Age will have been in Heaven for 3 1/2 years already.

2 Thessalonians 2:5: "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers that he had already told them that they would not enter the Tribulation, the time of God's wrath upon the world. He had not only told them when he was with them, but also in his first letter to them:

1 Thessalonians 4:16 - 5:11: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For GOD HATH NOT APPOINTED US TO WRATH, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

1 Thessalonians 1:10: "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."

2 Thessalonians 2:6-8: "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed…"

What is holding the Antichrist back? It is the Holy Spirit who indwells the believers of the Church Age. That is the correct interpretation according to Greek experts like Zodhiates, and Wuest, but it can be seen in King James English too.

Notice that it says in verse 6, "what withholdeth", whereas later in verse 7 it says, "He who now letteth will let." In verse 6 Paul speaks in the neuter gender, and in verse 7 in the masculine gender. The Holy Spirit is referred to both ways as well. It cannot just mean the Holy Spirit because He will be active during the Tribulation as He is always active. It's the Holy Spirit in born again believers.

All born again people of every age have the Holy Spirit living in their regenerated spirit, but He indwells the believers of this Age of Grace in a very special way:

John 14:16-17: "... I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."

1 John 4:4: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."

1 John 4:13: "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit."

Romans 8:11: "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

As long as the Bride of Christ is here on Earth the Antichrist cannot be revealed; as long as the Antichrist is not reveled there can be no Tribulation (Wrath of God). The Church will never know who the Antichrist is for this very reason.

Literally the Greek in verse 7 says: "arti [this moment] katecho [the securer] heos [until] ek [from] mesou [among] genetai [come]". Or better put in English, "...he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way." That is the literal KJV translation. "And then shall that Wicked be revealed..."

The words translated "withholdeth" and "letteth" are translated from the same Greek word. It means to restrain, secure, or possess. It is the Holy Spirit who dwells in the hearts of the believers who is possessing and restraining at the same time (securing). When the Holy Spirit and His possession, the believers of this Age, are taken out of the way then the Antichrist will be revealed. Remember too the context: We are talking about "...the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him" (v. 1).

During the Tribulation God will unleash the Antichrist. Remember, "... he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed ..." This unleashing is part of the wrath of God upon this wicked world. Jesus said to his first church: "Ye are the salt of the earth …" (Matt. 5:13). If you take the salt out of the earth it's gona rot! The Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the believers of this Age is "what withholdeth" and the Holy Spirit is "He who NOW letteth" When the Spirit takes believers out of the world "... then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan ..." (2 Thess. 2:8-9)


CONCLUSION:

The Pre-Tribulation position has been the Historic position, because it is the Scriptural position.

The Lord Jesus Himself taught it:

"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:36-42)

The Apostle Paul taught it:

"Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:51-54)

"For ... ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. ... For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. ... For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. ... For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 4:14, 16-17 5:9-10)

The Apostle John wrote about it:

"Write the things which thou hast seen [John's visions in Revelation 1], and the things which are [the Church Age of Revelation 2 & 3], and the things which shall be hereafter [the Rapture and everything after Revelation 4] ... After this [the Church Age] I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. ... And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 1:19, 4:1, 6:15-17)



Updated: November 1, 2012