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Pre-Tribulation Rapture — 4 Reasons Why It’s a Myth

Posted by in end times, theology | 23 comments

Some Thoughts For Those Left Behind

I wrote this article as a research paper in Bible school nearly 8 years ago.  It’s a longer read than most articles I write for this site. Over the years since originally posting this on Fire Press, I’ve since gone on to expound on this and write a Kindle Book with beyond the scope of this one article, called “Why The Rapture Is a Myth.” The four myths in this article the framework that book uses, but otherwise this article makes a good summary of them.

-Steve

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In recent years there’s been lots of talk of “the Rapture” in the Body of Christ. A huge market in Christian books and movies has developed following this concept. The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is something Christians have been looking forward to for nearly 2000 years. But is this idea of a pre-tribulation ‘rapture’ actually a biblical concept? Will Jesus really return in secret for his chosen faithful ones and leave behind the rest to judgment and tribulation for seven years before returning for more saints? This article is an attempt to delve into this controversial topic and demonstrate, by looking briefly at the history of the Church’s stance on the Lord’s Coming, and by carefully examining a select few “rapture passages”, that the answer is actually, no. We’ll look at four  passages of Scripture to demonstrate that the Rapture and the Second Coming are indeed the same event that are not separated by a seven year period contrary to popular opinion.

There are numerous other things to consider when discussing the rapture but due to the brevity of this study, will not be covered. Therefore focus will be made mostly on select passages that those in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture camp hold on to as foundational for belief in the rapture, and study on where the view originated.  By no means will this one article alone prove a post-trib rapture by merely disproving pre-trib.

History of the Rapture Theories

The idea of Christ returning for his people prior to the Great Tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist to world power, and the details of the last days as outlined in the book of Revelation, are not new concepts by any means. However, the predominant views regarding the chronology of these events can be regarded as fairly recent in origin.

Pre-tribulation Rapture represents the belief that Christ will come snatch away true believers before the Tribulation period begins. As an established view, it can be traced back to John Darby, leader of the Britain-based Plymouth Brethren movement in the 1830s.1 Some biblical researchers can trace the view back further than this,2 but a widely regarded possibility is this view even being originally attributed to a charismatic visionary woman named Margaret MacDonald, two years prior to Darby. Champions of the Pre-Trib Rapture theory include Dr. C.I. Scofield, W.E. Vine, Dr. John F. Walvoord, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Dr. Charles C. Ryrie and numerous others.3

The Post-Tribulation Rapture, the view this author favors, is possibly the oldest view, as careful study of the Olivet Discourse in the Gospel accounts (key passages Matt 24:29-41, Mark 13:24-31, Luke 21:25-28), and a few of the Pauline epistles (1 Cor 15:50-58, 1 Thess 4:13-18, 2 Thess 2:1-12), demonstrate that the early church was expecting to see these events of the last days unfold themselves. Scripture doesn’t indicate the idea that they felt they would be absent when the events of the last days unfolded. Contemporary advocates of the Post-Trib theory include Dr. George E. Ladd, J. Barton Payne4, Dave Macpherson, Larry Simmons, William Arnold III among others.

There is another camp, the Mid-Tribulation Rapture theory, which is even more recent in origin than Pre-Trib. Proponents of the Mid-Trib rapture theory believe that the Body of Christ will go through some or part of the Great Tribulation and be raptured up three and one-half years into the Tribulation. A major advocate is Norman B. Harrison, and other scholars such as J. Oliver Buswell, Harold J. Ockenga, Gleason Archer also championed this cause. Many of its followers see this as a mediating position between the post and pre-trib theories5. Some of its advocates can find no clear reasoning or definite Scriptural basis for neither a post-trib rapture or a pre-trib rapture.

Next Page: The Key Rapture Texts

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  1. Rosenthal, Marvin The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc. c. 1990, p. 53 []
  2. Macpherson, Dave, The Unoriginal John Darby, http://www.thewordsofeternallife.com/john_darby.html In this brief article, Macpherson shows why Darby was not necessarily the key figure in the birth of “pre-millenial dispensationalism” and that he likely copied and plagarized ideas from others and was indeed not the first to teach most of his ideas, including the pre-tribulation rapture. []
  3. Duffield, Guy P. and N.M. Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, L.I.F.E. Bible College, Los Angeles, c. 1983 p. 531 []
  4. Ibid, p.529 []
  5. Rosenthal, Pre-Wrath Rapture, 56-57 []
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Steve Bremner is a Canadian missionary to Peru, who is called to raise up disciples who flow in the power of the Holy Spirit within a missional community named Oikos. He is passionate about blogging and podcasting, and is general editor of Fire Press, and also produces & co-hosts its podcast called Fire On Your Head. If you like Steve's blog, you'll also like his Kindle books.
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