Home > Anything Else, Theology and Eschatology > Diving Into Scripture: The Pre-Tribulation Paradox

Diving Into Scripture: The Pre-Tribulation Paradox

Proverbs 10:30, “The righteous will never be removed, But the wicked will not inhabit the earth.”

The Apostle Paul was very careful to explain to us that at Christ’s return those who have died in Him are resurrected first, and then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them. The obvious question that we must therefore ask is, “When does the resurrection of the dead in Christ happen?” The answer, which many refuse to acknowledge, is given to us by John in Revelation 20:4-5: The dead in Christ who rise first are caught up in the First Resurrection … after the tribulation. The logical implications of the plain and straightforward teaching of the text are therefore undeniable: If the First Resurrection is after the tribulation then there can be no resurrection before the end of the tribulation, and if there is no resurrection before the end of the tribulation then there is therefore no rapture before the end of the tribulation. It is impossible. Many teachers try to get around this dilemma by somehow imposing “phases” to the First Resurrection, an eisegetical addition which does not even exist in the text and a teaching that — when drawn out to its logical conclusion — essentially contradicts Scripture itself by implying that the rapture takes place before the First Resurrection is even completed, despite the fact that Paul explicitly writes that we who are alive and remain will by no means precede those who are asleep in Christ (1 Thess. 4:15). Obviously, many die in Christ during great tribulation. According to Scripture, the rapture of those who are alive and remain can only happen after tribulation. We will be present upon the earth right up until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, often referred to in Scripture as The Day of the Lord

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  1. 01/09/2013 at 4:49 PM

    Thanks ICA. Great post.


  2. 01/09/2013 at 4:51 PM

    Reblogged this on "I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel Of Christ" and commented:
    Diving Into Scripture: The Pre-Tribulation Paradox


  3. 01/09/2013 at 5:53 PM

    Exactly! Scripture is very clear about this. It is as plain as the nose on one’s face, but many miss it.


    • 01/14/2013 at 5:13 PM

      It is hard to see one’s own nose. Yet we can sure smell everything. The invention of the rapture before the Final Resurrection smells rank since it has no basis in Scripture or in the teachings of the earliest three centuries after our Lord’s Ascension.


  4. MVPappas
    01/09/2013 at 6:48 PM

    Thank-You God Bless


  5. Paul Felter
    01/09/2013 at 6:59 PM

    If you would actually read Revelation 20:4 you would notice that the context is those beheaded during the tribulation.
    “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands;”
    The context is those beheaded not having received the mark of the beast. What does that have to do with the Church? Also there is no mention of any living saints being transformed.
    If the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation the how is that our “blessed hope”, it is no blessed hope to go through the tribulation. The post-trib rapture completely renders the rapture insignificant and superfulous. Go up in the air and immediatley return to earth, for what reason?
    Also, Luke 21 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” – Luk 21:36 KJV is meaningless in the context of a post-trib rapture since there is nothing to escape from in that paradigm.
    I recommend you do you own study on this and not simply echo other writers on the subject.However, you did get the title correct. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is a paradox, something that seems impossible or illogical yet true.



    • ICA
      01/09/2013 at 11:39 PM

      Paul Felter, “If you would actually read Revelation 20:4 you would notice that the context is those beheaded during the tribulation… The context is those beheaded not having received the mark of the beast.”

      Hi Paul Felter, thank you for your comment. Just because those being martyred directly by the Beast are given special mention in the verse does not negate the fact that the First Resurrection describes those who rule and reign with Christ for 1000 years — the Body of Christ. We are called “priests” of God who will rule and reign with Christ (cf 1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6, 5:10), which is precisely how those who are raised up in the First Resurrection are described, for “they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Rev 20:6b).

      If we are to believe any suggestion that the First Resurrection only includes “tribulation martyrs” then we need Scriptural justification for doing so. The problem is, there is none. Not only does the New Testament not teach a pre-trib understanding of the gathering, it also specifically refers to this resurrection as the “prōtos anastasis”, which means first in time or place or ranking. This resurrection is for the righteous. The other resurrection is for the wicked.

      Paul Felter, “What does that have to do with the Church?”

      Some often argue that the word “church” is not found after Revelation 3:22, so the text must not be referring to the Church and/or the Church must not be present. However, let us first recognize the fact that the Book of Revelation is an epistle, so it was written for the Church. As for the word “church” not being used after Revelation 3, we need to also remember that the word “church” is not mentioned in Mark, Luke, John, Galatians, Ephesians, 2 Peter, 1 John and 2 John either, and not until the 16th chapter of Romans, so if the events described by John in Revelation doesn’t apply to the church because the word “church” isn’t used after 3:22 then using that logic a large portion of the entire New Testament doesn’t apply to the church either.

      We find the words “saints” and “tribulation” in Scripture, but nowhere do we ever read about “tribulation saints”. These two words are never found side by side. The word “saint” or “saints”, however, is used 59 times in the New Testament, referring to believers in Christ (ie, the Church). This term is used repeatedly throughout the various books of the New Testament, including Revelation. For instance, Christians are directly mentioned in Revelation 14:12, saying “Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the FAITH OF JESUS“, and Revelation 20:4-5 says in no uncertain terms that those who do not worship the beast or receive the mark and are killed for “the witness of JESUS” and will rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years.

      Paul Felter, “If the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation the how is that our ‘blessed hope’, it is no blessed hope to go through the tribulation.”

      With respect to the “blessed hope” and how it is defined by pre-trib teachers, this is yet another prime example where many have interpreted Scripture to conform to their understanding instead of allowing their understanding to conform to Scripture. Let’s examine what the Apostle Paul was referring to in the epistle of Titus:

      Titus 1:2, 2:13, 3:7, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began … Looking for that blessed hope [eternal life], AND the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ… That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

      Paul uses the word “hope” three times in his epistle — at the beginning when speaking about eternal life and then later while referring to that blessed hope, and then once more again near the end. Each time he is referring to the blessed hope of eternal life. When does this happen? At the First Resurrection / Second Coming of Christ. Nowhere does Paul ever say that the “blessed hope” is a pre-trib rapture. We are looking for the blessed hope of eternal life, and (in addition to) the glorious appearing of Christ.

      The glorious appearing is the “epiphaneia” (G2015) and there is something that is very important about the “epiphaneia” of Christ that very few pre-trib teachers will discuss:

      2 Thess 2:8, “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness [epiphaneia G2015] of his coming

      The “epiphaneia” is post-trib. If we are to believe that the “blessed hope” of eternal life is actualized at the “epiphaneia” of Christ, then we must therefore also believe that the blessed hope is His post-trib appearance and the resurrection/gathering of the elect. This means that Scripture is, yet again, teaching a post-trib rapture, not pre-trib.

      Paul Felter, “The post-trib rapture completely renders the rapture insignificant and superfulous. Go up in the air and immediatley return to earth, for what reason?”

      In 1 Thess 4:16-17 Paul says that when Christ descends, the dead in Christ are resurrected to Christ and then we will be caught up to meet Christ and the resurrected saints in the air. The word “meet” is the Greek word “apantesis”, and this word only occurs here and in three other places. In Vocabulary of the Greek Testament by G. Milligan and James Hope Moulton, “The word apantesis seems to have been a kind of official welcome of a newly arriving dignitary – a usage which accords excellently with its NT usage.” In Matthew 25:1,6 it describes the virgins going out to meet the bridegroom, to escort him back into the house. In Acts 28:14-16 it is used to describe brethren from Rome coming out to Appii Foru, to meet Paul and his company, and then escort them back to Rome. In each example of “apantesis”, the escort back is virtually immediate. We don’t have them going out to meet the subject, then going to where the subject came from for years, and then escorting the subject back. That was not the custom. The subject who was coming is met by those who are already at his destination. And what is His destination? Where we are — earth. When Christ comes back to Earth, we will go out to meet him, we will remain in the air temporarily until the indignation/wrath is complete, and where ever He goes, we go, and He is going to Jerusalem to set His feet upon the Mount of Olives.

      Zech 14:4-5, “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, [Making] a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee [through] My mountain valley, For the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee As you fled from the earthquake In the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, [And] all the saints with You.

      In Greek culture the word “apantesis” had a technical meaning to describe the visits of dignitaries to cities where the visitor would be formally met by the citizens, or a deputation of them, who had gone out from the city for this purpose and would then be ceremonially escorted back into the city. Apantesis was often used to suggest the meeting of a dignitary or king, a famous person, describing people rushing to meet the one who was coming. For instance, when a Roman emperor approached a city, the leading citizens went out to welcome him and had the honor of processing into the city with him. This whole event was described as the “apantesis.”

      Apantesis from apantáo from apó = from + antáo = to come opposite to, to meet especially to meet face to face describes a meeting especially a meeting of two who are coming from different directions.

      What is Scripture saying? It is saying that we are not removed from the Earth to conveniently go to Heaven while all hell breaks loose down below. Those of us who are alive and remain (the Greek word means those who survive) are transformed from corruptible to incorruptible, and we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air per the “apantesis”, which means that we escort Christ back to earth — ie. Jerusalem — which is consistent with its usage in each of the other verses of Scripture. The pre-trib position, however, suddenly changes the intended meaning of the word (again). Instead of us escorting Jesus back to Earth for His Second Coming, pre-tribism has us conveniently going to Heaven instead, which the text does not say anywhere, at any place, at any time.

      Paul Felter, “Also, Luke 21 ‘Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.’ – Luk 21:36 KJV is meaningless in the context of a post-trib rapture since there is nothing to escape from in that paradigm.”

      Many have used Luke 21:36 to support a pre-trib rapture, which says, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Let’s look at Luke 21:36 in its proper context and examine the words of Christ in the Gospel of Luke:

      Luke 21:25-28, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars… At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

      Many who assume a pre-trib rapture often point to “begin” and say it only means the first few signs mentioned earlier in the chapter, but Jesus says “When these things begin to take place” AFTER describing the cosmic signs that we are told happens immediately after the tribulation in Matt 24:29-31. The fact that Jesus does not say “when these things begin to take place” before mentioning those post-trib signs is very significant.

      A couple of verses later, in Luke 21:31, Jesus says “when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand”, and again these things INCLUDE the cosmic signs and the coming of the Son of Man immediately after the tribulation mentioned a few verses earlier.

      Now let’s look at Luke 21:34-36:

      Luke 21:34-36, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, [referring to “that day”] and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

      What day is “that day”? Jesus just gave us cosmic signs that Joel 2:31 says will happen just BEFORE the Day of the Lord, but immediately AFTER the tribulation according to His own words in Matt 24:29.

      Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.”

      Matthew 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, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”

      Therefore, “that day” that Jesus is referring to in Luke 21:34 is the Day of the Lord. It is the day of Christ’s judgment, of His Divine Wrath – the “orge” that we as believers are not appointed to suffer (1 Thess 5:9 – read more here). The Greek for “escape” in Luke 21:36 is “ekpheugō” (G1628) and is used elsewhere to refer to escaping the judgment of God (Romans 2:3).

      The Apostle Paul even parallels this perfectly when telling us about the gathering of the elect (rapture):

      1 Thess 5:2,4,6 “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the nightBut ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief… Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober.”

      So how do we escape? Paul ties in the Day of the Lord with the gathering (rapture) in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and tells us to watch for that day just as Jesus does in Luke 21:36. Since we know that the Day of the Lord takes place immediately after the tribulation (read here), the escape — and therefore the rapture — is post-trib as well.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions. God bless …


    • 02/09/2013 at 1:25 PM

      Shabbat Shalom Paul,
      Either dead or alive, the coming of the Lord is our blessed hope. Don’t forget that any tribulations that we suffer, for the name of Jesus, should be counted as blessings, because our reward is great. Those who endure until the END shall be saved.


  6. Mike
    01/09/2013 at 7:24 PM

    Excellent post


  7. 01/09/2013 at 7:37 PM

    Excellent post. In answer to Paul, our “blessed hope” is the resurrection itself.


    • Paul Felter
      01/09/2013 at 10:13 PM

      What about the living???


      • 01/14/2013 at 5:08 PM

        Paul Felter: The living have to die – at least the majority of us. Look not to escape suffering while alive. Trials & tribulations are standard to shape us into the image of Christ.


  8. Mike
    01/10/2013 at 7:03 AM

    (Rev 19:7) “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”

    The Bride is not clothed in white at the beginning of the Tribulation, but has “made herself ready” by the Tribulation’s end. Persecution and suffering is what purifies the Bride, making her clean and her righteous acts (the righteousness of Christ) are what she is clothed in. Since Jesus does not come for His Bride until the end of the Tribulation, there cannot be a pre-tribulation rapture.


  9. Mike
    01/10/2013 at 7:06 AM

    (Luk 21:36) “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

    The word “escape” in this passage means, from Thayer’s Greek Definitions,”to flee out of, flee away
    1a) to seek safety in flight
    1b) to escape

    This is not a rapture passage, but a reference to a few verses back where Jesus warns them…

    (Luk 21:21) “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city;

    The mountainous, wilderness areas is their (the Jew’s) place of escape.


  10. 01/10/2013 at 12:29 PM

    Excellent discussion all will go into the tribulation apart from those who Y’shua ask the father to keep safe they are those who keep the commandments and the testimony of Y’shua. The tribulation is for the Christians (or all his people) they must repent of their lawless life’s, only then will they have eternal life. When he returns for his 1000 year reign then we shall be born again and look like him no one is born again yet before his return as we don’t have the evidence of the eternal body. I feel so sorry for the people still being deceived in the majority of church’s today believing they will have a quick exit and that they are his spot less bride. Revelations is very clear the tribulation is for lawless Christians / believers who will be given the last chance to repent.


  1. 02/01/2013 at 11:49 PM

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