A Study about the Pre and Post Tribulation Gathering (Rapture) in the Sky!
While I have not found a single verse of scripture that clearly depicts the rapture of the saints prior to the tribulation, I have, contrariwise, found several that clearly shows the rapture taking place AFTER the tribulation!
Note that I am only using the word “Rapture” to replace the words collection/reaping/removal. The word “Rapture” is not mentioned in the Bible.
Please note the items marked in Blue in the chart above. 1 Thess. 4 and 1 Cor. 15 are both recognized by pre-tribbers and post-tribbers to be the removal of the church from Earth. Yet, the pre-tribbers they disqualify the other scriptures to be the same event but rather claim they are another, separate event. You will note that the red 3’s show the harmony of these “disqualified” scriptures with the scriptures which pre-tribbers acknowledge belong to the rapture of the church. The most important note, is the one where Jesus appears on the clouds, an event which pre-tribbers know and confess to be the “First” coming of Christ! Every scripture that shows Jesus gathering or harvesting the earth while on the clouds, is the “First” coming, the Removal (rapture) of the church. On His second coming, he will stand upon the earth! The green 2’s, are the scriptures that clearly show the rapture as being AFTER the tribulation at his “First” coming on the clouds. If you can show me a scripture that, without question, tells of the rapture BEFORE the tribulation as clearly as these scriptures that declare the rapture AFTER the tribulation, it would be much appreciated!
Matt. 24:21-22, 29,31 “For then there will be great tribulation… (v22) but for the elects sake those days will be shortened… Immediately after the tribulation …. they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven….. a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect ….
Mark 13:24-27 But in those days, after that tribulation, …. then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds…. send his angels, and shall gather together his elect ….
Luke 21:27-30 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud …. lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Rev. 14:14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loudvoice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
1 Thes. 4:16-17 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 uptogether with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Cor. 15:52 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.
Isa 24:23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
Although the pre-tribbers recognize 1 Thess. 4 and 1 Cor. 15, to be the rapture of the church, they have failed to see the harmony of the scriptures and disqualify Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Rev. 14 to be the same rapture of the church! Please note above, harmonizing the scriptures, that the rapture will take place Immediately AFTER the tribulation at the sound of a trumpet with a loud voice, a shout as every tribe on earth sees Jesus coming on the clouds as the saints arereaped to meet Jesus in the air! The ONLY RAPTURE scripture in the book of Revelation, is shown in Chapter 14, which is either the 7th Trumpet or a trumpet that follows the 7th trumpet, “the last trumpet” which follows the tribulation, not the “secret” rapture of manipulating a non-existant rapture in Revelation chapter 4!
What amazes me, is how the pre-tribbers can define the LAST trumpet as a trumpet that blows before the 7 trumpets of the tribulation! Anyone care to research the word “last” in the dictionary? If 1 Cor. 15 had indicated that it was the last trumpet of a certain series of trumpets, we might be able to categorize it to belong to a certain string of trumpet blasts. Some pre-trib teachers have taken the liberty of forcing the scripture to such a limitation! But since there is NO mention of any limited string of blasts, a faithful scholar of God’s word, would have to interpret the word last, to mean exactly what it means, that there will be no other trumpet blasts to follow!
Pre-tribbers recognize 1 Cor. 15:52 as the bodily resurrection and rapture of the saints “at the last trumpet!” However, they fail to recognize that “the last trumpet” is the same trumpet of Matthew 24:31 were the timing places the rapture “immediately after the tribulation.” Pre-tribbers refuse to consider the “elect” who are raptured in this verse to be the saints, even though Col. 1:2 – 3:12 clearly identifies the saints to also be called “the elect” whereby they have reasoned that Matthew 24 is a “second” rapture of another group! Although Matt 24 shows Jesus on the clouds, known by pre-tribbers to be the first coming of Christ, they forcibly redefine this trumpet to be a different trumpet than “the last trumpet!”
This “2nd rapture,” by pre-trib doctrine, in Matt. 24, Mark 13 and Luke 17, are at the sound of another trumpet blast that follows the last trumpet, and the “elect” are redefined to be another group of people (whom some claim are the Jews) while the first rapture sequence of the church is conspicuously silent in these scriptural texts as well as the whole Bible! According to the pre-trib doctrine, Jesus was more interested in telling the details of a non-biblical “second rapture” of the Jewish “elect”, than he was in sharing the details of the “first rapture” of the faithful, Christian church!
So pre-tribbers have created “2 raptures!”
1. The invisible rapture of the Christian church with a silent blast of a very silent trumpet with the invisible coming of Christ which is invisibly written in scripture.
And 7 years later:
2. The visible rapture (of the “Jewish” elect) with a loud sound of a trumpet which is heard by every person on earth, and as lightning is visible from the east to the west, the awesome and great appearing of Jesus Christ in the fullness of his glory!
This “two” rapture sequence is non-biblical as is the “invisible, silent, secret rapture!” Nor does the scripture define the “elect” in Matt. 24 as “Jews,” which is the only reasoning the pre-tribbers can come up with since they have assumed that “the Christians were already raptured,” therefore, it cannot be the Christians! But then, ask them where the Christians are shown to be raptured before the tribulation which negates them as being the “elect” and they cannot show a single verse of scripture that details such a pre-trib. rapture of the Christian church as their proof without resorting to heretical, unbiblical reasoning!
Jesus negated the “two rapture” theory when he declared that the resurrection of the saints would take place on the LAST DAY! May I ask you, will there be a 3 and a Half year tribulation AFTER the LAST DAY?
John 6:39, 40, 44 , 54 Four times Jesus said “and I will raise him up at the LAST DAY.” (again in John 11:24)
The Rapture of the Church is the time when the Church will be lifted off the earth to “meet the Lord in the air” (I Thess. 4:17).
There are four basic beliefs about when the Rapture will happen. They all relate to the “Tribulation” of the end times, which, according to most believers, is thought to last for seven years. During the tribulation time, the Antichrist – also called “the man of sin” – will be revealed; and the Mark of the Beast will be established. Also, during the Tribulation – or at least, during part of it – God will pour out his wrath on the earth.
Those four beliefs are:
The Pre-tribulation belief which holds that the Rapture will take placebefore the tribulation, that the Church will be with the Lord for seven years, and will return with him when the tribulation is over.
The Mid-tribulation belief which holds that the Rapture will take place in the middle of the seven years of tribulation, that the Church will be with the Lord for 3 1/2 years, and will then return with him.
The Pre-wrath belief which sees the Rapture and the return of the Lord as one event sometime in the second half of the tribulation immediately followed by a “shortened” time of Great Tribulation.
The Post-tribulation belief which is that the Rapture will take place at the end of the tribulation, that the Church will be lifted to the Lord and return with him. They believe the Rapture and the Return of the Lord are one event: that the Church will be caught up to meet the Lord as he descends from heaven. They believe there is only one coming of the Lord – at the end of the tribulation.
Some preachers and professing Christians say it’s not all that important when the Rapture happens. They say that our faith in Christ will see us through. However, it is important that we know the truth of what the Bible teaches; and it is also important that we don’t put our faith in a Pre-trib or Mid-trib Rapture to save us – rather than putting our faith in Christ who will truly see us through it all.
The reason we must understand that the Church will be on earth through the tribulation is so we can prepare for that time. Paul the apostle spoke of a”falling away” that will happen – and connects it with the “man of sin” – the Antichrist – being revealed (II Thess. 2:3).
Those professing Christians who believe they will be Raptured off the earth before, or in the middle of the tribulation, will not be ready – spiritually or emotionally – to cope with those perilous times; and because they will not be prepared, they will be in extreme danger of falling away from their faith in God just as the apostle Paul foretold.
Historical Evidence of a Post-Tribulation Rapture
The early church believed in a Post-tribulation Rapture – and held that belief for a little over 1800 years.
For example, early church teachers by the names of Ireneaus (130-202AD) and Hippolytus (birthdate unknown-235AD), second and third generation disciples of John the Revelator, wrote of the rise of the Antichrist and of the coming of the Lord from a Post-tribulation point-of-view.
They both taught that the Antichrist will reign on earth and persecute the Church right up to the return of the Lord in all his power and glory.
In his book, “Against Heresies,” Irenaeus, writing about the Antichrist, said, “His tyranny shall last three years and six months, during which the saints shall be put to flight” (Ch. xxv.4). Later, in the same book, he said, “The resurrection of the just takes place after the coming of Antichrist” (Ch. xxxv.1).
Hippolytus wrote a number of books; and in one called a “Commentary on the Book of Daniel,” speaking of the Antichrist, he said, “When he has conquered all, he will prove himself a terrible and savage tyrant; and will cause tribulation and persecution to the saints, exalting himself against them” (Ch. 7). In the same book, referring to the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11, he said, “The two witnesses, then, shall preach three years and a half; and Antichrist shall make war upon the saints during (that time) and desolate the world” (Ch. 11).
Origin of the Pre-tribulation Rapture Belief
There is no mention of a Pre-tribulation – or a Mid-tribulation – Rapture in any Church teaching, writing or commentary until the early 1800s when the Pre-tribulation Rapture belief began.
In 1812, a Jesuit priest from Chile, South America named Manuel de Lacunza, writing under the pen-name of Rabbi J.J. Ben-Ezra, wrote a book called “The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty.”
In his book, he set forth the idea that the Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus will be separated by a period of time. And, he claimed that all of the other Church teachers and leaders up to 1812 had been wrong in teaching a Post-tribulation Rapture. He basically said that he was right; and they had all been “convicted of error” in their teaching.
Edward Irving,, a Scottish preacher, translated de Lacunza’s book from Spanish into English and had it published in London in 1827. Around that time, Irving began to preach that there would be a Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church.
Somewhere in the 1820s or 1830s, John Darby, an English preacher connected with a religious movement called The Plymouth Brethren also began to preach and teach a two-stage coming of the Lord: first a Rapture of the Church, followed later by the Lord’s return.
But, the icing on the cake came when, in April of 1831, a 15 year-old Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald claimed to have received a “new revelation” from several hours of prophecy and vision: a revelation of a split-coming of the Lord – a Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church.
Both Edward Irving and John Darby visited with Miss MacDonald in those days; and it’s impossible to think they were not mutually influenced in some way about the timing of the Rapture.
A Pre-tribulation Rapture – the hope of an escape from Tribulation – became popular throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland; and spread to the United States as well.
In about 200 years or so – from 1812 until now – most professing Christians and Christian Churches have accepted the “new revelation” of Miss MacDonald, and the teaching of Irving and Darby as the truth.
They have wrongly placed their hope in the Rapture of the Church to save them; and have turned away from some 1800 years of knowledge as if it was in error.
Biblical Evidence of a Post-Tribulation Rapture
The apostle Paul wrote about the Rapture in two places in scripture: I Thessalonians 4:16-17 where he described the event; and I Corinthians 15:51-54 where he told us when it happens.
In I Thessalonians, he said, (1) “the Lord himself shall descend fromheaven with a shout,” (2) “with the voice of the archangel,” and (3) “with the trump of God.” Then, the Rapture of the Church will take place.
In I Corinthians, he said that “the trump of God” that accompanies the Rapture will take place at the sound of the “last trump.” He said it will be the last trumpet sound to be made. Obviously, that is at the end!
Jesus spoke of the “end of the world” and the “signs of his coming” in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. If you read through any one – or all – of those three chapters in the Bible, looking for the things that accompany the Rapture: a shout of the Lord, the voice of the archangel, or a trumpet sound, you won’t find anything like the Rapture until you come to the end: until immediately after the Tribulation.
In Matthew 24:29-31, Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days… the Son of man… shall send his angels with a great sound of atrumpet… and gather together his elect.” This is the Rapture! This is the sound of the Last Trump – “immediately after the tribulation.”
In Mark 13:24-27, the wording is slightly different, but the meaning in exactly the same. And Luke chose not to speak of the Rapture at all in his Gospel.
In the Gospel of John, referring to the Rapture of the Church as “the resurrection,” or a “raising up” of his people, Jesus told us three times that it would be at the “last day.”
He said, “This is my father’s will… that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again at the last day” (Jn. 6:39). In the very next verse, he repears his statement that he “will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40). And, as if we still didn’t get his meaning, he says it one more time: “No man can come to me except the Father… draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:44).
One of the best evidences that the Church will be on earth through the Tribulation is that the Bible clearly states that – just as Irenaeus and Hippolytus taught – the Antichrist will persecute the Church after he comes to power. Since that’s true, it makes sense that the Church has to be on earth for him to persecute.
In the New Testament, the word “saints” is used over fifty (50) times; and in every instance, the word refers to the Church: the followers of Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, in his prophecy of the end times, the prophet Daniel made it clear that the Antichrist will persecute those same people: the Church on earth. Speaking symbolically of the Antichrist as a “horn:” a person of power, he said, “The same horn made war with the saints” (Dan. 7:21). Later in the same chapter, he said the Antichrist “shall wear out the saints of the most High” (Dan. 7:25).
The Book of Revelation in the New Testament confirms and verifies the words of Daniel. In the chapter that describes the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast, speaking of the Antichrist, the Revelation says, “It was given to him(the Antichrist) to make war with the saints” (Rev. 13:7).
Some preachers and Bible teachers say that the Church will not go through the Tribulation because – according to I Thessalonians 5:9 – the Church is “notappointed” to God’s wrath that will be poured out on the earth during part – or all – of the Tribulation. In that passage, Paul said, “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
However, the truth is that Paul is not talking about the Rapture of the Church or about the Tribulation in this passage. He is simply stating the Gospel message; that we are not subject to God’s punishment if we are saved by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Church will not be subject to – or appointed to – the wrath of God that will come on the earth during the Tribulation. God will protect – and provide for – his children on earth through that time just as he protected and provided for the Children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
In the second half of Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation when the “woman” comes to represent the New Covenant faithful few, the Overcomers, the church on earth we are told twice that God will care for her and for “the remnant of her seed which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17). In the Revelation, we’re told that “the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God” (Rev. 12:6). And,”To the woman were given two wings of an eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place” (Rev. 12:14).
Final Word from John that received this from Jesus in Revelations
Rev 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
Rev 7:10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Rev 7:11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
Rev 7:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
Rev 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
Rev 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.