Six reasons for a pre-trib rapture
There are four main views about when the rapture of the church will occur in relation to the seven-year tribulation. Most Christians believe it will occur before the tribulation begins. This is also my view because I take the scriptures about the rapture literally. The belief that the rapture of the church occurs before the seven-year tribulation is referred to as a pre-tribulation, or pre-trib rapture.
Others believe it will occur in the middle of the tribulation, around the time that the Antichrist is revealed. Still others believe it will happen towards the tail end of the tribulation before God pours out the worst of His wrath upon the earth during the bowl judgements of Revelation chapter sixteen. Some Christians believe the rapture will happen during the second coming of Jesus. They actually believe Christ will snatch us up to meet Him in the clouds and then we’ll make a U-turn and descend right back to earth with Him. Sadly, many people who identify themselves as Christians don’t even know what the rapture of the church is. Even worse, some people who identify themselves as Christians don’t believe in the rapture at all. In my mind, rejecting the fact that the bible teaches us there will be a rapture is rejecting the very Word of God.
If you’re among those who don’t know what the rapture is or believe it’s part of the second coming of Christ, please see my earlier message The rapture and the second coming.
Here are six reasons I believe the bible supports a pre-tribulation rapture.
1. Scripture about the tribulation focuses on Israel and unbelieving nations
Revelation chapters 4 through 22 describe the tribulation in great detail and the focus is on Israel and the unbelieving nations. The ninth chapter of Daniel describes the seventy-weeks prophecy, which is important for our understanding of the end times because it’s focus is Israel and the unbelieving nations. The church age exists in the gap that spans between the 69th week (week of years) and the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. The church is not mentioned in the 70th week of Daniel which is also known as the seven-year tribulation.
2. The church is noticeably absent from all tribulation passages
The church is mentioned 19 times in the first 3 chapters of Revelation. These first three chapters are primarily about Jesus communicating His commendations and rebukes to the seven churches of that time. It’s interesting and also sad how the things Jesus had against those seven churches are the same things we’re seeing in the modern-day church today.
What’s also noteworthy is that the church isn’t mentioned again after chapter 3. The last 19 chapters of Revelation don’t mention the church one time. Certainly, there will be believers of Jesus Christ during the tribulation, but they’ll be saved after the rapture. Don’t worry, God has arranged for the greatest evangelism movement the world will ever see and it will take place during the tribulation.
3. The church is promised deliverance from the coming wrath
Several passages of scripture ensure us that genuine believers will be removed before the tribulation begins.
Romans 5:9 NKJV says “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him”. If you’re justified by the blood of Jesus, then Jesus will save you from the wrath that is to come upon the whole world.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 (ESV) says Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come. The Greek word for “delivers” means to “snatch out to oneself”. It doesn’t mean to be kept safe in the midst of, or to be saved through the tribulation. It means we’re taken up to be with Jesus in heaven before the tribulation begins.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
I love 1st Thessalonians 5:9-10, which says “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him”. The original Greek language in which the New Testament was written makes it clear that this wrath refers to the outpouring of God’s wrath during the tribulation.
4. God’s consistent pattern is to rescue His people before judgement falls
God has established a consistent pattern throughout scripture, both the old testament and the new, that shows He protects His people before judgement falls. Here are some examples:
- Enoch was transferred to heaven before the flood (see Genesis chapter 5 and Hebrews 11:5).
- Noah and his family were in the ark before the flood (see Genesis chapter 7).
- Lot was taken out of Sodom before judgement was poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis chapter 19).
- The firstborn of the Hebrews were protected by the blood of the Passover lamb before judgement fell on Egypt (see Exodus chapter 12).
- Rahab was safely out of Jericho before judgement fell on Jericho (see Joshua chapter 2).
- Daniel was saved from Nebuchadnezzar’s seven-times hotter furnace because he had been promoted to a high position (and was probably out of town doing the kings business) prior to the incident that caused his friends to be cast into the furnace (See Daniel chapter 3).
5. The church is promised to be kept from the tribulation
Jesus promised the church of Philadelphia that He would keep them from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world.
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
The phrase “keep you from” literally means “to keep you out of”. It doesn’t mean to keep you safe in the midst of or safe through the tribulation. It means Jesus promises the church that they’ll be taken out of the way, or snatched up so that they will not suffer the tribulation to come.
Because the tribulation is going to affect the entire world, it means there won’t be anywhere on earth that’s safe from God’s wrath. This is why we can be sure that Jesus will snatch us up to meet Him in the clouds and take us to His Father’s house in heaven so that we’ll be safe when God pours out His wrath on the whole earth.
6. The Holy Spirit will be removed
The Apostle Paul taught “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7 NKJV). The Restrainer is the Holy Spirit. The removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth necessitates the removal of the church because the Holy Spirit dwells in every genuine believer.
This message is adapted in part from the YouTube video 6 Primary Reasons Supporting The Pre-Tribulation Rapture by Dr Ron Rhodes.
I’ve been a Christian for more than 40 years. In 2013, I began growing in a closer relationship with God as I turned over more and more of my life to Him and asked Him for wisdom. Since then, I’ve been strongly compelled to share God's word and to warn others that we need to get ready because Jesus is coming soon.
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