Why I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church

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©2019 by George Yazigi

In any ideological and doctrinal belief, people tend to stick to their convictions based on different factors such as character, personality, education, culture, consciousness, facts, and others. These convictions manifest over the wide spectrum of the debate, ranging from strongly denying the hypothesis to accepting it. The doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture is not an exception despite that it is a reality, not a mere hypothesis as some would suggest.

Some believers deny the doctrine of Church rapture, even more, in some sects or denominations, the rapture of the Church is non-existent or it is confounded with the glorious event of Jesus’ physical second coming to Earth. Some believers also deny other doctrines closely related to the Church rapture, such as the Millennial rule of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  While some others stick to mid and/or post-tribulation rapture doctrines while maintaining their belief in the Millennial rule of our Lord.

The truth is, we should not follow human teaching, instead we have to follow the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Holy Bible. Irrespective whether I believe in pre, mid, or post-tribulation rapture, my salvation is linked to my belief in Jesus Christ, repenting to Him, trusting, obeying, and loving Him. My salvation is not directly affected by believing in the rapture doctrine or not. However, not understanding the Word of God as we have received it in the Holy Bible, can lead us into spiritual trouble. And at times, this misunderstanding can lead us into unnecessary suffering especially that we are witnessing impactful end-times world events.

We can see from the Holy Bible and from Historic evidence that devout Christians were persecuted and killed by worldly authorities and dictators. Christians suffered physical and emotional tribulation throughout all History. Although God allowed such suffering to happen, He has never been and will never be its author, He would have never caused and will never cause any harm to the true believers in Jesus Christ.

Many mid and post-tribulation advocates describe the tribulation as a second Exodus, and they compare the Church to the Jewish people who suffered the Exodus as mentioned in the Tanakh. Well, here I beg to differ, God almighty helped the Jews leave the suffering they were enduring in Egypt, and performed supernatural wonders to help them reach the promised land. He provided for them everything they needed even in the wilderness. But due to their disobedience and misunderstanding of the guidance of God through Moses, they suffered unnecessarily as a result of misunderstanding the signs which were performed for them in glorification to the Almighty God and preferred to worshiping man-made idols. God had to make sure they repent and purify their spirits before entering the land of the promise.

The true believers in Jesus Christ, the Church, the body of Christ, are a congregation of people who have already believed and trusted in Jesus Christ and repented from their sins. The Holy Spirit is already active in their hearts, and are in the process of becoming in the likeness of Christ. It is not fair nor reasonable that they suffer a tribulation authored by God designed to purify and call once and for all the remnants of the Jewish people and non-believers into the faith in Jesus Christ as well as to execute judgment on those who refuse to believe and reject the Gospel. A tribulation for the believers in Christ contradicts God’s moral character and His infinite Grace and Kindness.

Although, I am confident through faith, that Jesus will protect and support the believers who trust in Him no matter where they are whether in tribulation or not. However, there is no Biblical evidence to indicate that God will expose His Church, the Bride, to such suffering in the end-times. Besides, the principle of God’s omnipotence and His foreknowledge of the future contradicts with God’s need to put already saved people into tribulation for them to prove their faith because they cannot be already saved if their faith in Christ has yet to be proven. This suggests that God did not honour His promise of salvation to those who believed in Christ as Paul indicated in his epistle to the Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace ye are saved through faith …”. The work of God’s Grace on the Cross was complete and sufficient to save those who believe in Jesus Christ, repent to Him and trust and obey Him, we don’t need to pass in a tribulation to be saved or justified, rather we are saved by God’s Grace and justified by faith in Jesus alone. And because the saved have already the Holy Spirit acting in them, they don’t need to be subjected to any measures God is taking for Him to judge or proselytise the non-believers.

Having said that, let’s examine the Holy Bible if it supports the above.

Jesus in John 14:20 states that: “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you”. Would that suggest that the Bride, the Church, those who have put their trust in Jesus will be treated by God the Father differently than how He treats Jesus? God the Father will never treat His only beloved Son in anything less than love, respect, glorification, and appreciation, and this is how the saved Church will also be treated because we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us. By inference, we can rest assured that the Church will not be exposed to God’s wrath and will not be yoked with those who rebelled against our God and suffer the tribulations described in the book of Revelation. In addition to this, in Revelation 3:10 God will keep His obedient Church (symbolised by Philadelphia) from “the hour of the trial” being about to come upon the whole world i.e. the tribulation. This is yet another testimony that the Church will not suffer in the hour of the trial and will be snatched away to be with Christ in Heaven as we will see next.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 states that: “ 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.”

Paul in this epistle was comforting the Thessalonians due to a dispute among them regarding what happens at the resurrection to those who died believing in Christ and those who would still be alive. Notice the words used in Greek are: descend (καταβησεται) not return, and caught up (αρπαγησομεθα) snatched away. Why the Church should be snatched away in the first place if this event is going to take place upon Jesus return to Earth? When Jesus returns to Earth and the dead rise and those who are trusting Jesus are still alive, all together should be gathered to meet Jesus on Earth, no need for them to be snatched away. The snatching away suggests that there is a period where the Church is going to meet the Lord in the air, not at ground level, and be transferred into Heaven. Besides, Revelation 21:2 states: “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.“

This also suggests that the Bride, i.e. the Church is going to come down from Heaven, which is not possible if it is not already in Heaven. And the only event which proves that the Church will go first into Heaven is the snatching away i.e. (αρπαγησομεθα) or Rapture when translated into Latin then into English, as mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4.

Now let’s also examine 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 it states that: “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.”

Paul is confirming to his fellow Corinthians that we shall all be changed, in a moment, and more specifically in a twinkling of an eye! And most importantly when? At the last trump!

Let’s try to understand when will the sounding of the last trump take place. If the last trump in 1 Corinthians 15:52 is the same as the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15 then the Church will endure the woes of the first part of the tribulation and therefore the Rapture will occur in the middle of the tribulation. And we should be prepared both spiritually and physically with prayers for us to pass through this “second Exodus”. However, if the last trump in 1 Corinthians 15:52 is not the same as the one mentioned in Revelation 11:15 then the Rapture will occur before the tribulation and eventually we should also be ready for this colossal event with prayers.

By comparing the events we can deduce some insights as follows:

Events 1 Corinthians 15 1 Thessalonians 4 Revelation 11
Sounding of trump v. 52 v. 16 v. 15
Dead believers raised v. 52 v. 16  
Those who remain are changed v. 52 v. 17  
Victory over Death v. 54 v. 14  
Jesus physical return   v. 16 Not until Rev 19:11
Christ conquers the world kingdoms     v. 15
God’s Wrath     v. 18
Saved receive their Reward     v. 18
Event Results v. 57-58 – victory, faithfulness and thanks until then v. 18 – comfort now, presence with Christ then v. 14,17 – wrath and woe on earth, bliss and thanks in Heaven

It is clear from the above that verses of 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 are aligned with each other, however, the events in Revelation 11 are not correlated with the other two due to the differences in the description and the results of each event.

Let’s examine how the word “last” is being rendered in each of the verses, in Greek last is rendered as “ἐσχάτῃ”, it could mean last in time or last in a sequence. This trumpet sounds before the wrath of God descends, yet Revelation 6:17 speaks of the wrath of the Lamb as having come, and the seventh trumpet doesn’t sound until Revelation 11:15. Even though the seventh trumpet is the last one described in Revelation, Matthew 24:31 indicates there is yet another trumpet which will sound “after the tribulation of those days,” when Christ returns to the Earth, which parallels with Revelation 19. Still, let’s examine the word used for trumpet in each of the verses: In 1 Corinthians 52, Paul mentions “σάλπιγγι” meaning trump or trumpet. However, in Revelation 11:15 the verb used is “ἐσάλπισεν“ meaning sounded his trumpet (seventh angel), this cannot happen in a twinkle of an eye because Revelation 10:7 clearly states that the seventh angel will sound his trumpet over several days. This confirms that the events of Revelation 11 and 1 Corinthians 15 are not the same.

To dig deeper, we can also examine how God organised the children of Israel, in particular Numbers 10 vv1-36 state how trumpets are sounded and for what purpose. It is evident that each blast is supposed to summon a category of people as they used to assemble in the camp in the wilderness. By analogy, in our case the dead in Christ are summoned first, then those who are alive, having established this sequence we can understand that “the last trump” is the last sequence inviting those who are alive and remain and is not related to the seventh angel sounding his trump in Revelation 11.

We have seen based on biblical reference that the events in Revelation 11 are not the same as those in 1 Corinthians 15, therefore, the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is supported by verses from different witnesses in the Holy Bible more than any other rapture or non-rapture doctrine. In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul declares that “God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Mid and post-tribulation doctrines cannot reconcile with several verses mentioned in this article especially that the Church is not supposed to endure the wrath of God which is supposed to affect those who refuse the salvation offered by God through Christ Jesus. Paul encourages us in the same chapter in verses 3-8 that we should be always sober, “we should not sleep”, rather be ready to receive the summon of Christ, awaiting the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

May the blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied to you all.