Are You Pre, Mid, or Post Trib?
Are you Pre, Mid, or Post? If you dont know how to answer that question, youre probably a Catholic or Anglican. Most Fundamentalists and Evangelicals know that these words are shorthand for faith in the pre-Tribulation, or mid-Tribulation, or post-Tribulation Rapture. The terms all refer to when the Rapture is supposed to occur.
You may be aware that there is a great dispute among believers concerning the timing of the Rapture. Though this is a secondary matter, I personally strongly believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture as being important information for the members of the body of Christ, that they "be not shaken (2Thes 2:2)."
Some Christians misinterpret the Scripture and then go to great lengths to twist the Scriptures so as to prove their idea of where the Rapture fits into the timeline of then events to come. Some believe the Rapture will come pre-Tribulation, some mid-Tribulation, still others say its just before the 6thSeal is opened. Then others, such as Roman Catholic Church see no Rapture at all (amillennialists) only seeing a gathering to Him at Christs 2nd coming to earth. Contrary to Scripture, they entirely reject the idea of a millennial reign of Christ, which they call millenarianism (see, Catechism of the Catholic Church 676).
As far as the millennium goes, we (Catholics) tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been "amillennial (no millennium)"… The Church has rejected the premillennial position, sometimes called "millenarianism" (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676)… (http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-rapture)
Catholics believe that those Christians who are still living at the Second Coming of Christ will be gathered together with those who have died in Christ to be forever with the Lord. CATHOLICS do not generally use the term Rapture, NOR DO THEY BELIEVE in a RAPTURE THAT WILL TAKE PLACE SOME TIME BEFORE THE SECOND COMING, as do many Evangelicals. (http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/do-catholics-believe-in-the-rapture)
1Thes 5:1-3 (below) is one particular section of Pauls epistles that some misuse in order to say the Rapture of the church comes at or with the time of the 2nd coming. Paul wrote of the coming day of the Lord, then bringing sudden destruction… coming upon them (v3 below). I will here address 1Thes 5:1-3 in some detail.
BUT of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye (the Thessalonian grace believers) have no need thatI (Paul) write untoYOU.
2For YOURSELVES KNOW PERFECTLY(from prophecy)…that the DAY OF THE LORD so cometh (in wrath) as a thief in the night(suddenly, unexpectedly).
3For when THEY (the non-believers left behind after the Rapture) shall say, Peace and safety; then SUDDENDESTRUCTIONCOMETH UPON THEM, as travail upon a woman with child; and THEY (the non-believers) shall not escape. (1Thes. 5:1-3)
To this we might ask, sudden destruction… coming upon who? Is this day of the Lord and sudden destruction coming upon the body of Christ, or is it upon the lost of the world left behind to suffer the Tribulation judgments, after the Rapture? Will the church, which is His body see the coming sudden destruction of the Tribulation judgments? That would conflict with Paul other words. And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thes 1:10)
You will recall that we closed Part 4 discussing the proper method of Bible interpretation that uses the plain literal interpretation of Scripture, by contextual study, thats how we will answer these questions. We must take the Bible for what it plainly says, unless we are reading an obvious metaphor or allegory, such as with Gal 4:24. In such cases the Word explains itself to reveal the meaning, such as with Jesus parables of the wheat and tares, and the goats and sheep that we will consider in coming installments.
Some mistakenly assume that, because 1Thess Chapter 5 follows Pauls description of the Rapture in Chapter 4, Chapter 5 must be continuing the same thought of Chapter 4, as if sudden destruction must then apply to the body of Christ and the Rapture. This is ridiculous and certainly would not be the blessed hope (Titus 2:13) of the Rapture that Paul said would comfort (1Thes 4:18) the believers. I will prove this erroneous idea.
Yes, Paul in 1Thes. 5:1-3 is writing TO his brethren (the grace believers) (1Thes 5:1) at the Thessalonian church, but it concerns the judgments that will come upon those remaining upon the earth after the Rapture by which nearly two-thirds of mankind will die…at the end of the Tribulation. In Chapter 5 Paul is writing to the church, but hes writing about them (1Thes 5:3, see above), those upon whom judgment is coming. Paul says, THEY(the non-believers) shall not escape(v3). Paul does NOT saysudden destruction… is coming upon YOU, upon the Thessalonian believers to whom he is writing.
Some mistakenly mingle Pauls words with Jesus words seen in the four Gospels, assuming they both are addressing the same events, as if applying the body of Christ.Jesus, as minister of the circumcision (Rom 15:8), never spoke a word concerning the mystery or the Rapture of the body of Christ.
Pauls words in 1Thes 5:1-3do agree with the Lords prophesies concerning judgments coming upon the world and < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Israel. In Matt 24:30-31 (below) Jesus spoke of the sign that all the tribes (nations) of the earth mourn and then of His coming in the clouds to gather together His elect (Israel), at the end of the great tribulation judgments. This refers to the 7-year Tribulation and His 2nd coming, not to the Rapture.
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the SON OF MAN COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send HIS ANGELS WITH A GREAT SOUND OF A TRUMPET, and THEY SHALL GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30-31)
Many misapply Matt 24:30-31 (above) because these phrases, he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and … gather together his elect, sound similar to Pauls words concerning the Rapture of the church in 1Thes 4:13-18. But actually Jesus and Paul refer to 2 different comings of Christ. By looking closely at the verses preceding Matt 24:30-31 in context, we see that Jesus is clearly speaking of His 2nd coming… in judgment.
Note that Matt 24:13-21 (below) precedes and sets the contextfor Matt 24:30-31. Note my commentary on each verse (in Arial print in the parenthesis) and you will see that Jesus words obviously describe the Great Tribulation toward the end (v13 below) of the Tribulation. These verses do not apply to the body of Christ, which is to be Raptured several years earlier.
13But HE THAT SHALL ENDURE unto THE END, the same SHALL BE SAVED.
(This indicates that this Scripture does not apply to the Christian believers under the dispensation of the grace of God (Eph 3:2). The Grace believers are assured of their salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone; theyre failure to endure does not negate their salvation.)
14 And this GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN SHALL THE END COME.
(Christians are saved according to Pauls THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD (Act 20:24), not according to THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM that Jesus gave the Twelve for Israel.)
15 When YE THEREFORE SHALL SEE THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION, SPOKEN OF BY DANIEL THE PROPHET, stand in the holy place (temple), (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
(Clearly, according to Dan 12:11, THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION occurs in the middle of the Tribulation, 3-1/2 years after the Rapture, 1260 days before the end.
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For THEN shall be GREAT TRIBULATION,such as was NOT SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD TO THIS TIME, NO, NOR EVER SHALL BE. (Matthew 24:13-21)
(The GREAT TRIBULATION is such as we have never yet seen on earth. This has not yet occurred.)
For as the lightning (suddenly) cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN be. 28 For WHERESOEVER the CARCASE is, there will the EAGLES BE GATHERED TOGETHER.
(These gathered eagles will eat the carcasses of the dead of the Great Tribulation. They are the fowls of Revelation 19:18. Consider these other Biblical references to fowls, eagles, and ravens eating the dead after judgments.
Jesus also said these events will occur before He comes again. (This is not a parable.)
36Two menshall be in the field; the ONE SHALL BE TAKEN, and the other LEFT. 37And they (Jesus disciples) answered and said unto him, (Taken) WHERE, LORD? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body (the flesh body, the carcass)is, thither will the EAGLES be gathered together. (Read Luke 17:33-37.)
The taken are not taken to a better place, NO! They are taken to death to judgment, after which the eagles (fowls) eat their flesh.
In Revelation 19:18, John confirms the fact that fowls will eat the flesh of the dead.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all THE FOWLS that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18That ye may EAT THE FLESH of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
Its commonly understood by those who think Jesus is referring to the Rapture in Matthew 24 that the one taken is Raptured and that those left behind will suffer the Tribulation, but this is exactly wrong.
1. First this will occur several years after the Rapture of the body of Christ, near the end of the Tribulation period. Then,
2. Those taken are taken in death by the judgments and their bodies are to be eaten by the fowls and,
3. Those NOT taken or left on earth alive are the believing Kingdom believers, permitting them to go on into the Theocratic Kingdom on earth. In other words it is a good thing to be left and Not taken.
Note that Jesus continued in Mat 24 by saying as the days of Noah were, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of man Matt 24:37). In Noahs day the flood took the lost all away and only Noah and his family were left on THE EARTH to go on. So shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man when the lost are taken and the believers are left on earth to go on.
Continuing Matt 24: … 29 Immediately after THE TRIBULATION of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven (asteroids?), and THE POWERS (the evil powers) OF THE HEAVENS SHALL BE SHAKEN (toppled)(Matt 24:27-29).(Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the fallen host of angels will be toppled just prior to the 2nd coming of Christ with power and glory (see v 30).
The coming of sudden and continuing judgments during the Great Tribulation was NOT the problem that troubled the Thessalonian believers. Having the eternal security of the blessed hope, the Thessalonian believers were NOT concerned with Antichrist or the Tribulation judgments. Their concern that Paul was answering in 1Thes 4:13-18 was whether their loved ones, who sleep (had died in Christ), would miss the Rapture.As noted earlier, Pauls answer is that the dead shall rise firstto join we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord in the air. Hence, concerning the Rapture, Paul says, Wherefore COMFORT ONE ANOTHER with these words (1Thes 4:13-18). Obviously, there would be no comfort in the sudden destruction by the judgments that are coming upon the lost of the world and upon Israel.
Its by use of contrastwith the comfort afforded by Pauls words in of 1Thes 4:18that Paul goes on in1Thes 5,to describetheDAY OF THE LORD with the sudden destructionof the Tribulation. The day of Gods wrath was the subject of frequent Old Testament PROPHECIESconcerning Israel. By contrast, Pauls MYSTERY gospel (the gospel of the grace of God) concerning the mainly Gentile the body of Christ had not been prophesied; it had been KEPT SECRETSINCE THE WORLD BEGAN (Rom 16:25).Pauls says his mystery gospel had been hid(by God) from ages and generations (Col 1:26)until it was first revealed by the ascended Lord directly to Paul (Gal. 1:12), for his conveyance to ye Gentiles, the members of the church, which is His body.
For this cause I PAUL, the prisoner of Jesus Christ FOR YOU GENTILES, 2 If ye have heard of the DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD which is GIVEN ME (Paul) TO YOU-WARD: 3 How that by revelation he (Christ) made known unto me THE MYSTERY; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was NOT made known unto the sons of men, as IT IS NOW REVEALED UNTO HIS HOLY APOSTLES (Gk. apostollos, sent ones, i.e., Paul, Barnabas, Silas, etc) and prophets (preachers, i.e. Timothy, etc) by the Spirit; (Ephesians 3:1-5)
Some Christians wrongly assume that because Paul wrote of the sudden destruction that, it will come upon the members of the body of Christ. Actually, Paul had taught the Thessalonian believers concerning the oft prophesied times and the seasons to come (1Thes 5:1, Eph 1:10, 1Tim 4:1, 2Tim 3:1). So they already knew ful-bidi-font-weight: normal;">they (the non-believers). Paul doesnt say these things will come upon you believers, but that they will come upon THEM and THEY shall not escape (1Thes 5:3).
So, the first word, But in 1Thes 5:1, marks a transition to properly introduced and distinguish it from the previous chapter of 1Thes 4:13-18. The Rapture of 1Thes 4, as a comfort (v18), is quite distinguishable from that of 1Thes 5:1-3 with its sudden destruction… coming upon them who will not escape.
In summary we can consider these distinguishing facts.
1. Note that 1 Thes 4:15-18 has to do with the Body of Christ, while the latter, seen in 1Thes 5:1-3, is related to the Tribulation judgments before coming Theocratic Kingdom on earth. Paul often draws contrast to make his points clear.
1Thessalonians 5 was in contrast to their blessed hope of the Rapture of the body of Christ that he describes in detail in 1Thes 4:13-18.
All believers to this day are to be looking for that BLESSED HOPE, and the GLORIOUS APPEARING of the great God and our Saviour JESUS CHRIST (Titus 2:13). The word you (believers) in 1 Thes 5:1-3 is distinguished from them and 2. The closing verses of 1Thes. 4:15-18 deals with the mystery, a heretofore secret (1Cor. 15:51) that was first revealed through Paul. But the opening verses of 1Thes 5 deal with prophetic truths which had been proclaimed for centuries. 1Thes. 5 contains three familiar prophetic phrases: the times and the seasons, the day of the Lord, and a thief in the night, meaning the day of the Lord will comeunexpectedly for those to whom it applies.
3. The former passage, 1Thes 4: 13-18, refers to the Rapture of the members of the body of Christ, while the latter, 1Thes 5:1-3, relates to the subsequent times of the return of Christ to earth to reign in His Theocratic Kingdom, nearly seven years later.
4. Paul wrote 1Thes 4:13 because the Thessalonian believers needed more light on the truth of the Rapture (1Thes 3:10; 4:13-18), so as to have faith concerning their dead loved ones. They already understood the truth about the coming judgments of the day of the Lord, so concerning that subject Paul wrote; Ye have no need that I write unto you (1Thes 5:1).
5. 1 Thes. 4:13-18 concerns the believers of the body of Christ in this age, while 1 Thes. 5:1-3 concerns them, the unbelievers whom Christ will judge near the end of the Tribulation, just before He returns to earth. In the former passage we find the word we four times, and the them who are asleep and will be raised to join we who are alive and remain. These are both will becaught up together... to meet the Lord in the air (v17). But in 1Thes 5 they and them is the subject. When THEY shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon THEM ... and THEY shall not escape (v3).
6. While 1Thes 4:13-18 closes with an exhortation to comfort one another with these words, 1Thes 5 should clearly strike fear into the hearts of the unbelievers, to whom it applies.
7. The former passage (1Thes 4:13-18) concerns believing saints of God and a sacred secret called the Mystery that was first revealed through Paul, proclaiming their hopeof glorious deliverance from the time of Gods wrath, affording them the most blessed comfort. Paul tells the Thessalonians, you YOURSELVES KNOW PERFECTLY of that coming upon them (the unbelievers), that is upon those who will be left on earth after the Rapture of the body of Christ.
8. Some ask why the Apostle Paul wrote to these believers with regard to the day of the Lord, if they already know perfectly. The first word in 1Thes 5:1, But, indicates Paul is indicating acontrast between that which was previously discussed, the Rapture of 1Thes 4:13-18, and that of the day of the Lord of 1Thes 5:1-3. Paul is simply emphasizing the dis-relation between the Rapture and that of the Judgments of the Tribulation to occur just prior to the 2nd coming of Christ to earth.
9. The latter passage (1Thes 5:1-3) deals with them, the Christ-rejecting world and the sudden destruction that will overtake them. Inescapable vengeance will come on them as travail upon a woman with child. A babys birth comes in a sudden momenteven though it was preceded with inescapable signs occurring over time, which we may liken to the 7-year Tribulation. The many prophetic warnings of Gods wrath, so long unheeded by Israel and the world, will be fulfilled.
So, the contrast between 1Thes 4:13-18 and 1Thes 5:1-3 is evident.
Its a great error that some well-meaning preachers and teachers should confuse the joyous day of the Rapture with the calamitous judgments of day of the Lord.Placing the Rapture at the time of or after the Great Tribulation is frightening to the very ones they should be comforting.