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The Pre-Tribulational View
- Contrasts between the Second Advent and the Rapture:
- Rapture - Believers meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:17)
Second Advent - Believers meet Christ on the ground (Zech. 14:4,5).
- Rapture - Believers involved become immortal (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
Second Advent - Believers involved remain mortal (Is. 65:20; Rev. 19:18).
- Rapture - Believers involved go immediately to heaven (1 Thess. 4:17).
Second Advent - Believers involved stay on earth to populate the Millenial Kingdom (Mt. 25:31-34; Zech. 14:9ff).
- Scriptural account of the Tribulation
- Both the Old Testament and the New Testament depict it as Jewish (Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:15-20; Rev. 4-l9).
- Scripture never mentions the church in the Tribulation.
- The contrast between the "day of Christ" and the "day of the Lord."
- The "day of Christ" is for the church and is looked forward to (1 Cor. 1:8; 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6).
- The "day of the Lord" is for Israel and unbelievers and is feared as a time of God's judgment (Is. 13:6,9 Is. 34:8; Ezek. 30:3; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:7-13; 1 Thess. 5:2; 1 Thess. 3:2; 2 Thess. 2:2).
- The fact that the Church Age is depicted in scripture as a "parenthesis" militates for a pre-tribulational Rapture.
- Lk. 21:24 and Rom. 11:25 both speak of the church as a parenthesis.
- There is a clearly implied "gap" between the 69th and 70th weeks of Dan. 9:26,27.
- 1 Cor. 15:51 describes the Rapture as a "mystery"--unrevealed in the Old Testament or by Christ. Thus, it is probably the concluding event of the "mystery" portion of the Kingdom (Mt. 13)--the Church Age.
- If the Rapture occurred at the end of Tribulation, there would be no need for the "sheep and goats" judgment (Mt. 24:31-34), yet the passage clearly states that this occurs immediately after the Second Advent and before the beginning of the Millenial Kingdom.
- Intervening events between the Rapture and Second Advent require time:
- There must be enough time for people to get saved, because mortal believers inhabit the Millenial Kingdom (Is. 65:20).
- Rev. 20:4 and Dan. 12:2 imply that there must be enough time for some of the above believers to die.
- Some passages seem to promise that the church will be delivered from the Tribulation. Rev. 3:10; 1 Thess 1:10; 1 Thess. 5:9 all promise deliverance from "wrath," which, in context, seems to refer to the end times. Compare this to Rev. 6:17, which describes the Tribulational period as the time of God's wrath.
The Mid-Tribulational View
- The last trumpet in 1 Cor. 15:52 is connected with the trumpet judgements in Rev. 8. A chronology is adduced to show that this means the middle of the Tribulation is intended.
- However, the chronology of Revelations is very uncertain at this point. There is no adequate evidence for basing anything on it. It would seem that the seventh trumpet of Revelation goes to the end of the Tribulation.
- The last trumpet could instead refer to the trumpets that were sounded when Israel would break camp during the Exodus period. The last one was the signal to move (Num. 10:1-6).
- Mid-Tribulationists assert that only the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation is called the "Great Tribulation" (Mt. 24:21). They suggest that this is the only period that stands solely for judgment.
The Post-Tribulational View
- The word parousia ("coming"), which is repeatedly used to refer to the second coming of Christ, has a special meaning in some cases. When a general staged a triumphal entry into a city, the citizens would go out to meet him, and immediately return in company with him and his army and/or captives. This could be the intended meaning of the word when it is used in passages like 1 Thess. 4:15; 1 Cor.15:23.
- On the other hand, parousia is also used frequently in the more common sense of "coming" throughout the New Testament. The burden of proof lies with those who feel that it is being used in a technical sense.
- 2 Thess. 2:1-3 is cited to prove that Paul must have believed in a post-tribulational rapture. "It will not come . . . " is said to refer to "our gathering together to him" (i.e. the Rapture).
- However, the pronoun reference ("it" in vs 3) is referring to "the day of the Lord" (probably the Tribulation), not to the Rapture. Besides, if Paul taught a post-tribulational view of the Rapture, how could the Thessalonians think that it had already occured? This would mean that they thought the millenium had already begun, whereas they were actually under persecution.
- The major reason for holding this view is to harmonize with amillenial eschatology. (See "Millenial Views")