About the Recipe
We know that great Christians disagree about if and when the Rapture might occur. But please understand that the premise of our organization is to plan for the possibility that the Rapture will occur. In other words, we are preparing regardless of any theological disagreement. If you prepare for the Rapture, and it does not occur, there is no harm; you would have merely prepared for an event that did not occur; however, if the Rapture does occur, then each person who has not prepared, because he or she did not believe that the Rapture was clearly indicated in Scripture, is like the women in the Parable of the Ten Virgins who did not have their lamps ready (Matthew 25:1-13) or like the servant in the Parable of the Talents who buried his talents while his Master was away (Matthew 25:14-30).
Therefore, while different views exist, we hope that you will at least consider the possibility of the pre-Tribulation Rapture, and for those who are open to the idea and/or are willing to learn more, we provide below 27 supports from Scripture for a pre-Tribulation Rapture--organized around 10 fundamental concepts.
27 Scriptural Supports for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture
The idea of the Rapture originates from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonian church; in chapter 4 we find the following statement regarding the event:
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (emphasis added to highlight the focus of the wording at issue).
Interestingly, the Greek word translated here as "caught up" has its root in the word "harpazô" (see https://biblehub.com/greek/726.htm), which means “to seize, catch up, snatch away.” This is the same word used to describe Philip's being "carried away" from the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:39. Jerome's Vulgate (approx. 400 AD), the Latin translation of the Greek New Testament, uses a term for "caught up" that has its root in the word "rapio" to describe the event, and this is the word from which we get the word "rapture."
Paul further discusses the "mystery" of the departure of the Church in 1 Corinthians 15, wherein he writes: "Behold, I am telling you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) Thus, the Rapture appears to be an instantaneous event where the dead believers in Christ and the living believers are suddenly granted immortal bodies. Notably, both the Thessalonians and Corinthians texts indicate that there is a preceding trumpet blast. (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). (A trumpet sound is also heard by John before he is drawn to heaven; see item 13, below).
The idea of the Rapture has captivated Christians--even to the point of making movies, such as the Left Behind series--to demonstrate the magnitude of the event on the world in connection with the Great Tribulation and the antichrist. These hold to the idea that a rapture-like event occurs prior to the Great Tribulation (and actually even before the start of the "final 7-year period" discussed in item 5, below)--allowing the saints to escape the judgment of God that falls upon the earth and its inhabitants.
While there are a number of views regarding when/if the Rapture will occur, a host of considerations reflected in Scripture suggest, collectively quite strongly, that the Church as the Bride of Christ will be raptured prior to the pouring out of the Wrath of God during the Tribulation:
A. The Existence of a Plan for the Saints of Today (as the Church/Bride of Christ) That Is Different from God’s Plan for the Saints Who Live During the Time of the Great Tribulation Suggests a Substantial Chronological and Theological Shift That Is Best Explained by the Removal of the Church Prior to the Tribulation.
1. Plans for Jews/Israel and Gentiles That Are Different in Both Nature and Time. Fundamentally, there is a dichotomy in Scripture between Jews/Israel and Gentiles (i.e., all of the people who are not descendants of Jacob/Israel). If you consider the general notion that God has a plan for both groups, it becomes increasingly clear that the plan for the Gentiles, i.e., the saints constituting the Church (or the Bride of Christ), is different in both nature and time from the plan for His chosen people--the children of Israel.
Difference in Nature
It is important to recognize that God has particularly chosen the descendants of Jacob (Israel) to be His "treasured possession." (Deuteronomy 7:6.) Further, God has declared that He has a special plan for the descendants of Jacob (Israel). (Jeremiah 29:11-14.) But in the New Testament, we see a different, special plan of God that includes Gentiles. The difference in the plans may be attributable to the fact that the Jews rejected Jesus while the saints constituting the Church embraced Him (see John 1:11-13). Curiously, though the Jews rejected Jesus, God loves them nevertheless (because they were charged with bringing His Word to the nations - Romans 3:1-2), and He accordingly appears to want to offer them an additional opportunity in the Tribulation to accept Him. (Amazingly, too, as detailed more fully below, it seems that during the Tribulation, certain sons of Israel have a special role in the plan of God - Rev. 7:4-8.) Notably, in this regard, when Jesus was talking with the Jews, He stated, as recorded in John 10:16, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice; and they will become one flock, with one shepherd." (See also Ezekiel 34:11-31 in relation to the prior verses about Israel.) The distinction between the 2 groups is also noted in Acts 15 where the Council at Jerusalem determines that, unlike the Jews, the Gentiles are not obligated to observe the Law of Moses--except as to 4 specific guidelines (and the guidelines are substantially derivative of God's covenant with Noah in Genesis 9:4-6, which is also applicable to all humanity and not just to Israel). The distinction is also described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:1-6 wherein he explains the "mystery ... that the Gentiles are [made] fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel ..." (Eph. 3:6) (see also 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Hosea 2:23).
Difference in Time
The distinction between the 2 groups and the distinct plans of God is perhaps most notably detailed by Paul in Romans 11--crescendoing in verses 25b-26a--where he identifies the fact that a time/chronological element is involved: "... that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved ...." (See the salvation of Israel by Jesus, the Messiah, described in Isaiah 49.) Thus, when "the fullness of the Gentiles has come in," the plan of God shifts back to the salvation of Israel. The plan for Israel thus appears to have been suspended, and the plan for the Church occupies the period of Israel's suspension. (And this idea of the plan of God for Israel being suspended and then shifting back to Israel is developed further in section B., below.) It is further notable that the plan shifted from Israel to the Gentiles most likely at the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, considering that the resurrection and faith in Jesus forms the basis for salvation for those living during the period prior to the Tribulation. (See Romans 10:9-10.) It is even further notable that Jesus appears to have identified the transition in the plan of God when, after hearing that Gentiles wanted to see Him (immediately following His triumphal entry into Jerusalem), He responded by saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." (See John 12:20-23.)
If the plan of God shifts back to Israel, concluding God's plan for the Church, the question is when--what event would mark such a transition? Amazingly, considering that the plan for the Church appears to have been instituted at or near the resurrection of Jesus, it makes sense that the plan of the Church would also conclude at a resurrection--the resurrection of the dead in Christ who rise first as Paul described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Thus, the Church age would extend from resurrection to resurrection. [Interestingly, too, considering that Israel is believed to have received the law at Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit is recognized to have been given to the Church at Pentecost, it might be fair to say that the time of the plan of Israel extended from Pentecost to Pentecost, and now the plan for the Church continues during the time of Israel's suspension--from Pentecost with the arrival of the Holy Spirit--to a point at which the plan of God involving the Holy Spirit concludes (see items 19 and 20, below), possibly marked by a future Pentecost.]
The distinction in the treatments of the 2 groups and God's plans applicable to each flows through the considerations below. Recognizing the distinctions between the 2 plans of God for the 2 groups that is different in both nature and time, it makes sense in view of the totality of the considerations here and below that the plan for the Church would involve its removal from the earth before the wrath of God is poured out on the earth and its inhabitants during the Tribulation period, allowing God to complete His plan for the Jews and Israel during the Tribulation (and extending into the Millennial reign of Christ).
2. A Different Standard for Salvation During the Tribulation. Incredibly, there is a change in the gospel during the Tribulation period—adding to the need to believe in Jesus the additional requirement to “endure to the end” (i.e., reject the mark of the new world government on your hand and forehead, and refuse to worship the antichrist beast or his image--event to the point of death - Rev. 20:4). (See Matt. 24:13-14 and Rev. 14:9-12.) The new standard actually conflicts with the current plan of salvation (for a discussion regarding the current plan of salvation see our post regarding "How People Are Saved Now--Before the Great Tribulation"), because it adds a requirement of works--whereas our current plan is that we are saved by grace through faith ... not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). This new requirement means that a person otherwise saved by believing in Jesus (John 3:16) would lose his/her salvation by failing to complete the required work of rejecting the mark of the government. Rather than accepting the idea that God's plan of salvation could be changed mid-stream for hundreds of millions of people, adding a new requirement just because of the timeframe during which such people lived, it makes more sense to conclude that the gospel has changed or a new plan has been offered because believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ (i.e., as constituting the Church as the Bride of Christ) have been removed from the earth--raptured--enjoying the blessings of their faith, while those who rejected Jesus Christ are presented with this new plan--this second opportunity that requires works.
Further, too, recognizing that we are now saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and that "faith is the assurance of things hoped for" having no evidence of things that can be seen (Hebrews 11:1), it is important to note that the period of the Great Tribulation is marked by a host of dramatic, visible, supernatural events, including, among other things, (a) the unprecedented and shocking consequences of the breaking of 7 seals (Revelation 6 & 8:1-5), the sounding of 7 trumpets (Revelation 8:6-9:21 & 11:15-19), and the pouring of 7 bowls of wrath (Revelation 16), which desolate the earth, (b) the ability of the 2 witnesses to cause fire to flow out of their mouths to devour their enemies, to shut up the sky and prevent rain, to turn the waters to blood, to strike the earth with plagues, and to rise from the dead and ascend to heaven--causing great fear to fall on all who witness it (Revelation 11:3-13), (c) an eagle flying in midheaven and announcing woes upon everyone who dwells on the earth (Revelation 8:13), and (d) angels flying across the midheaven making announcements that will be heard by everyone on earth, including an angel who announces the fall of Babylon--the kingdom of the antichrist beast (Revelation 14:8), an angel who repeats the announcement of the falling of Babylon (and the angel illuminates the earth with his glory) (Revelation 18:1-3), and an angel who announces the "everlasting gospel" that everyone should "Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth, and sea and springs of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7). People on earth know that the judgments are from God; in fact, they blaspheme God because of the judgments (Revelation 16:21). [Moreover, the people of the Great Tribulation have the testimony of the Rapture of believers in Jesus, but we note this parenthetically, because we cannot sincerely use the pre-Tribulation Rapture itself to be evidence for the pre-Tribulation Rapture.] Thus, people living during the time of the Great Tribulation need substantially less faith to believe in God than do people living during the "Church Age"--the time between the ascension of Jesus and the Rapture of the believers. This widely available, dramatic, visible evidence, coupled with the rejection of Jesus Christ by people who lived prior to the start of the Great Tribulation appear to be precisely why such people have new, substantial additional obligations imposed on them to reject the mark of the antichrist beast, to refuse to worship the image of the antichrist beast, and to endure to the end in order to be saved (Revelation 20:4; Matt. 24:13-14 and Revelation 14:9-12.)
Thus, this new standard of salvation reflects a sudden, massive change in the plan of God, and it makes sense that before this new plan would be instituted, God would first remove His "Bride" the Church--those who believed in Him with very little available, physical evidence--rewarding them for their faith. The Rapture best explains the removal of these saints.
3. A Different Seal of God in the Tribulation. We know that the Holy Spirit is the "seal of God" in us (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30, 2 Timothy 2:19). In addition, as discussed above (item 2), salvation during the Tribulation is achieved by rejecting the mark of the beast government to the point of death as opposed to believing in Jesus alone; while the Holy Spirit is a seal for believers now, it seems that the absence of the mark of the antichrist beast is the mark or seal of believers in Jesus during the Tribulation (or stated another way: the mark of the antichrist beast is the seal of non-believers in Jesus during the Tribulation). In addition, during the Tribulation, at least some of the Tribulation saints will be marked with a new distinct seal of God on their foreheads (see Revelation 7:1-8). In Revelation 9:1-6, we see God instructing locusts to attack only those with the mark of the beast on their foreheads--passing over those who have the seal of God on their foreheads. In Revelation 14:1-5, we see that these sealed persons are a special, blameless group who were purchased from the earth as the first fruits to God and to the Lamb. Thus, inasmuch as a new seal is used to mark at least some Tribulation saints, and the mark of the antichrist beast government specially marks those who are not saints, the new marks/seals suggest that the Holy Spirit may no longer be used to mark believers in the same way as He does today, and that a new plan is instituted for sealing/marking saints. Such a new plan is indicative of the fact that the Church (having been sealed by the Holy Spirit) is not present for the Tribulation.
4. Two Prophetically Described "Crop" Gatherings Reflecting 2 Different Plans of God. There are 2 distinct "crop" (i.e., people) gatherings described in Amos 7:1-6: (1) the King’s crop (which, contextually, would represent the Church as the Bride of Christ--believers in Jesus who are raptured prior to the arrival of the “locusts”—the trials of the Tribulation), followed by (2) the spring crop, which would accordingly represent the saints (apparently a substantial number of which are Jewish) who die during or otherwise survive the Tribulation, having rejected the mark of the beast and having refused to worship the image of the beast; interestingly, the prophet Amos speaks of the second group distinctly as “Jacob”—i.e., the Jews/Israel (or perhaps he is expressing concern because he sees the particularly devastating impact of the Tribulation on Jews). The 2 harvests suggest 2 groups, which may well reflect or be the consequence of the existence of 2 plans of God--one for the Church and one for the descendants of Jacob (Israel).
[There are clues indicating that the prophecy in Amos 7 relates to the Great Tribulation period. Joel 1 discusses a massive locust invasion of Israel at a time when other calamitous events are affecting Israel. The prophecy continues into Joel 2, where the "Day of the Lord" is mentioned; the Day of the Lord refers to the final days preceding the Second Coming of Christ (e.g. Isaiah 2:12; 13:6, 9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5). So we know that the locust invasion is the precedent to the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-20; 16:12-16). Thus, the reference to the locust invasion of Israel in Amos 7 indicates that the passage is referring to the time of the Great Tribulation. Further, the prophet's concern that Jacob will not survive the invasion is indicative that Israel is being devasted at the end of the Great Tribulation--saved only by the arrival of the Messiah (Revelation 19:19-21). And ... it is in this context that we see the harvests being effected. The harvests can be fairly understood to be souls in this context.]
B. The Focus on Jews, Jerusalem and Israel during the Tribulation and Millennial Reign of Christ Suggests the Absence of the Church During the Tribulation.
5. Daniel 9's Final "Week" as Reserved for Jews and Jerusalem Only. The final 7-year period that is described in the Daniel 9 prophecy (i.e., 70 periods of 7 years, 69 of which--or 483 years--were completed when Jesus died on the cross, but there remains 1 period of 7 years to be fulfilled in the future) was determined, according to Gabriel, only for Jews and Jerusalem. If that period is determined for the Jews, then it makes sense that the Church should be removed from that period. Thus, the 7-year period that encompasses the Tribulation would be particularly for the Jews and Jerusalem. It is interesting to note in this regard that the only persons who are marked with the seal of God during the Tribulation are from the "sons of Israel." See Revelation 7:1-8. Even if it is a special seal and not an exclusive mark of salvation (which it does not appear to be), the fact that it marks only the "sons of Israel" is clearly and exclusively significant to Israel and the Jews. They are later described as the first fruits to God. See Revelation 14:1-5. Moreover, the fact that these 144,000 are only from Israel suggests that the time of the Tribulation is particularly set aside for the Jews or that they have a unique and special role in the Tribulation.
6. The 2nd of the Amos “Crop” Gatherings as Representing Jews/Israel. As noted in item 4, above, the second crop that is arriving at the time of the locusts (i.e., the trials of the Tribulation) appears to be principally Jewish/Israeli inasmuch as they are described as “Jacob”; the prophet asks God to help Jacob survive the locusts. (See Judges 7:12, Joel 1 and Isaiah 33:4—invaders of Israel described like “locusts”—culminating in the Battle of Armageddon – Rev. 16:13-16—which also takes place in Israel.) (Note that the ultimate "spring harvest" gathering could well be the gathering of the elect--new Jewish believers--that Jesus described as being conducted by His angels in Matthew 24:31.) Of course, it could be that Jewish believers appear to be facing complete extinction by the antichrist--which prompts the prophet to ask for help for Jacob. However, there is no question in this passage that Jewish believers are the focus of the second crop being harvested.
7. The Millennial Reign of Christ Focuses on Jews and in Israel. Texts regarding the Millennial reign of Christ (see e.g., Zech. 8) make clear that the whole focus of that period is Jews, Israel and Jerusalem. In this regard, we find the following curious statement in Zechariah 8:23--"The Lord of armies says this: ‘In those days ten people from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."'" This verse begs the questions: (a) "Isn't Jesus also with non-Jewish believers?" and (b) "Shouldn't people living during the Millennial reign of Christ also be saying the same thing to believers from the Church--the Bride of Christ?" The only explanation for why people aren't also grasping the garments of believers as part of the Church and saying the same thing to them is that believers from the Church are either (i) not present with the Jews during the Millennium--instead resting with Jesus (and as noted elsewhere in these notes) in the New Jerusalem--having been previously raptured from the earth, or (ii) they are somehow spiritually distinct from the rest of humanity as those that reign with Christ (see Revelation 5:9-10) and are accordingly unquestionably connected with Jesus. [In this regard, I also note that those who reign with Christ include people who were martyred for their rejection of the mark of the beast and refusal to worship the beast in the Tribulation (Rev. 6:9-11, 20:4).] It is further notable in this regard that Jesus will arrive at His Second Coming at the Mount of Olives (see Zechariah 14:4) and will rule as Messiah from Jerusalem--and more specifically, from the Tabernacle of David (Isaiah 16:5) as opposed to ruling from any other or every other location. In addition, Isaiah 4, a chapter about the Millennial reign of the Messiah, speaks only about "survivors in Israel" (of course, they have survived the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord--omitting any consideration regarding the believers in Jesus, constituting the Church, as having also survived the Tribulation) and speaks of Yahweh's presence in Mount Zion--in Israel. Many other chapters in Scripture, prophesying about the Millennium, similarly refer to Yahweh's ruling from Zion in Israel. While these considerations may not necessarily fully substantiate that the Bride of Christ was raptured prior to the Tribulation, they strongly suggest that people constituting the Bride of Christ are uniquely spiritually distinct from those that live during the Millennium--where the focus is Israel and Jews.
C. The Concept of Avoiding God’s Wrath Is Best Explained by a Rapture of the Church Prior to the Tribulation.
8. Promise to Believers of Avoiding Wrath. God's Word provides a repeated promise (Romans 5:9, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 5:9) that believers constituting the Church will not face God’s wrath—which should logically include the 7 bowls of wrath in the Tribulation (Rev. 15:1, 7 and Rev. 16) as well as the 7 seals (Rev. 6:16-17) and the 7 trumpets (Rev. 11:18) (see also Rev. 14:19). If believers constituting the Church are to avoid wrath as promised by God, then it doesn't make sense that they would have to face the wrath of God in the Tribulation. Many people say that the Tribulation is not the wrath of God, arguing that hell itself represents the wrath of God; however, Revelation 16 and the other passages referenced in this paragraph above make very clear that these 7 seals, 7 trumpets and particularly the 7 bowls are the expressly described as the wrath of God. (Many people make the mistake of assuming that because we know there are saints in the Tribulation, they must be part of the Church; however, we know that people will be saved during the Tribulation, but these saints are not part of the Church as we know it today. The change in the gospel during the Tribulation is evidence of that fact. See item 2, above.)
9. A Picture of Sequestration as a Parallel. In connection with the promise that the Church will not face God's wrath, there is a picture of God’s sequestration of His children from the Tribulation in chambers (Isaiah 26:20-21), which is similar to those described by Jesus in John 14:1-3 as reserved for His followers. Such sequestration makes sense in the context of believers having been removed from where they are situated (i.e., the earth) and placed into the chambers prior to the start of the pouring out of God's wrath in the Tribulation.
10. A Picture of Removing the Faithful from Judgment as a Parallel. Similarly, there is a general picture in Scripture of God's removing people who believe in Him from harm's way--such as, for example, Rahab and her family saved from the destruction of Jericho, Lot and his family saved from the destruction of Sodom, and Noah and his family saved from the flood of the world. See also Isaiah 57:1-2. Also, Enoch was taken by God (Genesis 5:24) prior to the flood (Genesis 7). Notably, none of these famous salvation examples are descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--meaning that they are Gentiles who experienced protection from the judgment of God by believing the instruction given to them regarding the avoidance of such judgment.
11. The "King's Crop" Gathering Escapes the Locusts. As noted in items 4 and 6, above, there are 2 distinct "crop" (i.e., people) gatherings described in Amos 7:1-6. The first of the gatherings or harvests is called “the King’s crop” (seems to represent the Church); this crop is taken prior to the arrival of the locusts—which appears to represent the trials or judgment of God applied to the earth during the Tribulation. Thus, Amos' prophetic vision suggests that the King’s crop escapes the judgment of God on the earth.
D. A Gathering to Jesus that Contextually Precedes the Tribulation Suggests the Church's Being Gathered to Jesus Prior to the Tribulation.
12. The First of the Amos "Crop" Gatherings. As noted in items 4, 6 and 11, above, there are 2 distinct "crop" (i.e., people) gatherings described in Amos 7:1-6. The first of the gatherings or harvests is called “the King’s crop” (seems to represent the Church); this crop is gathered prior to the arrival of the locusts—which appears to represent the trials occurring at the time of the Great Tribulation. Thus, the King’s crop appears to be preferential—escaping the judgment of the locusts. This is a strong indication of the fact of a gathering to the King of the Church prior to the Tribulation.
13. John's Revelation Experience as a Parallel. John’s rapture experience in Revelation 4:1-2 presents a picture of the rapture of believers who observe but do not experience the Tribulation--perhaps also like the translation of Enoch before the great flood. John was told "Come up here," and immediately he was in the spirit. Note that the 2 witnesses, after they have been put to death by the antichrist, are resurrected and then told to "come up here"--just like John and presumably just like the other raptured believers (Rev. 11:12). Similarly, John's experience of Rev 4:1-2 also parallels the rapture experience described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. In these instances, the gathering occurs prior to the Tribulation. Note that in both instances, a trumpet sound is heard (Rev. 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
14. A Gathering Event that Contextually Precedes the Day of the Lord. Speaking of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, this passage provides perhaps the greatest description in Scripture regarding the Rapture: "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." In the very next chapter, Paul talks about the "Day of the Lord," which is the culmination of the Tribulation, so contextually, the Rapture/gathering of the Church as believers in Jesus precedes the Tribulation.
15. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb as Preceding Jesus' Second Coming. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb, attended by those who were saved by believing in Jesus (see Revelation 19:7-10), principally the Church as the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23-32, 2 Corinthians 11:2), contextually precedes the description of the Second Coming of Christ (see Revelation 19:11-19)--suggesting that believers are in heaven with Jesus before He returns to the earth. If believers are not raptured, then how do they get to participate in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb? The contextual indication is that the Church, having been gathered to Jesus, attends the Marriage Supper of the Lamb before Jesus executes His Second Coming.
E. Stunning Scriptural Omissions Regarding the Church in Relation to the Tribulation Suggest the Church Is Not Present on Earth During the Tribulation.
16. Church Not Mentioned as Being on the Earth in the Tribulation. There is no mention of the Church in the Book of Revelation as being on the earth during John’s vision. Instead, the focus is on Israel, the antichrist and God’s judgment. The marked absence of references to the Church as being on the earth suggests that the Church isn't subject to the Tribulation.
17. No Warnings in the Epistles Regarding Surviving the Tribulation. There is a marked absence of warnings to the Church in the epistles regarding the Tribulation and how to survive it. If the Church were to endure the hardship of the Tribulation, the epistles would have provided guidance regarding how to handle it. Similarly, Jesus told His Jewish listeners in Matthew 24 just how they should respond to the time of the Tribulation--apparently because only the Jews and Israel would be the focus of that time period.
F. Hints That the Church May Be in New Jerusalem During the Tribulation Suggest That the Church Is Not Present on Earth During the Tribulation.
18. Indications of the Church Being in Heaven or in the New Jerusalem during the Tribulation. Many texts suggest that the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, seems to be in heaven or in the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 21:2, 10-11, 22:17)--escaping the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), which appears to be reserved for those living in the earth during the Millennial reign of Christ--who had not been saved prior to the Second Coming of Christ. Other texts reference a "great multitude" that could include saints who were part of the Church, such as Revelation 19:1 & 6, and those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9). But of course, nothing in these references indicates that these saints came out of or were otherwise on the earth during the Tribulation.
G. Indications That the Holy Spirit Is Not Present in the Tribulation Suggest That the Church (As the Temple of the Holy Spirit) Is Not Present During the Tribulation.
19. Holy Spirit May Be the “Restrainer” of 2 Thessalonians 2. 2 Thessalonians 2:4-8 indicates that the antichrist does not appear until the one who restrains is taken out of the way. Many hypothesize that the "restrainer" is the Holy Spirit as present in believers who are raptured--thereby leaving with the believers to heaven. The departure of the presence of the Holy Spirit from the earth would enable the antichrist to press forward with his plans, unabated by the presence of God in people. (See Isaiah 48:9.)
20. The Holy Spirit May Not Be the Seal of God in the Tribulation. As noted in item 3, above, during the Tribulation, certain saints will be marked with a new distinct seal of God on their foreheads (see Revelation 7:1-3). The need for this special seal to mark these saints could be because God no longer uses the Holy Spirit to seal believers as described in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30, and 2 Timothy 2:19. Also, as noted in item 3, above, the need to mark/seal believers becomes curiously unnecessary during the Tribulation in that the mark of the antichrist beast physically and visibly marks those who yield or swear allegiance to the antichrist beast--and thereby publicly and visibly seal their future doom--outside of the salvation available through belief in Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:9-12). Thus, the absence of the Holy Spirit--who is given to believers today as a seal--and the institution of a new plan for sealing a special group of saints during the Tribulation indicate that the Church (having been sealed by the Holy Spirit and having served as His temple) is not present for the Tribulation.
H. Other Contextual Clues Suggest a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church.
21. The "Apostasy" Event Preceding the Arrival of the Antichrist. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 refers to a "falling away" or "apostasy" that occurs before the arrival of the antichrist. The word from which "falling away" is translated is the Greek word "apostasia"; many commentators advocate that, among other things, (a) "falling away" is not the best translation of the word "apostasia"; (b) the best translation of the Greek word is "departure"; (c) in this regard, earlier translations (such as Wycliffe, Tyndale, Geneva, etc.) used the word "departure"; (d) there is a definite article (we use "the" to identify it) used with the "departure"--indicating that it is an event as opposed to a process (which is the nature of the falling away described in Matthew 24:10 and 1 Timothy4:1-3); and (e) Paul's reference to a "departure" event would be consistent with his prior teaching to them and could accordingly be pointing back to his 1st letter to the Thessalonians, wherein he, as provided in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, describes an event wherein the dead in Christ and those who are alive in Christ are gathered together with Christ in the air--and thereby "departing" the earth. See https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1081&context=pretrib_arch and https://backtobasicsradio.com/falling-away/. Of course, the arrival of the antichrist occurs in conjunction with the Tribulation, so the departure in this context occurs before the Tribulation.
22. Contextual Clues in 1 Thessalonians 4. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, there are contextual clues, in addition to the clues noted above, that point to a pre-tribulation Rapture. First, Paul is comforting the Thessalonian church by telling them there is a basis for hope such that believers should not be concerned about those believers who have already died--reminding them that the dead in Christ will rise first (i.e., even before us--the believers who are alive and "remain"). Fascinatingly, Paul concludes the discussion with this amazing statement: "Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thes. 4:18). Why would we as believers be "comforted" by this event if we were expected to go through the Tribulation--and perhaps be martyred? What would be comforting at all about the Tribulation? The Tribulation involves the mass martyrdom of those who believe in Christ AND reject the mark of the antichrist. It is marked by the greatest physical damage to humanity and the earth since creation. There could only be "comfort" if the dead in Christ and those believers that remain are collectively "caught up" prior to the Tribulation. Second, in detailing this event, Paul explains that "God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus" (1 Thes. 4:14); "bring" where? We understand "bringing" to be picking up and carrying to a place. The idea that God would "bring" the dead in Christ to a place is consistent with a rapture like experience. If, for example, the dead in Christ were merely brought to life just to live during the Millennial reign of Christ, there would be no "bringing"--there would be only a resurrection. Third, Paul doesn't state here that each believer dies and is singularly carried to heaven; rather it appears to be an event that affects ALL who have died in Christ along with ALL who are alive in Christ and remain. Finally and notably, Paul makes no mention at all of the Tribulation in connection with this event; rather, as noted above, Paul discusses the Day of the Lord (the culmination of the Tribulation) in the succeeding chapter--after the Rapture event. Thus, the entire context of the principal Rapture text of 1 Thessalonians 4 suggests a pre-Tribulation Rapture.
23. The Promise to the Church in Philadelphia. In Revelation chapters 2-3, letters are written to various churches. These churches could represent collections of saints in existence at the time of the writing of Revelation, collections of saints through church history, collections of saints existing in the last days, or all of the above. Assuming, as many students of Scripture do, that the churches represent groups of saints at periods of time in history, it might be that the saints in the church in Philadelphia are those present immediately prior to the time of the Tribulation. In this regard, it is interesting to note what is said to this church in Revelation 3: "Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold firmly to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name." (Revelation 3:10-12.) Thus, three very notable statements are made to this group of saints: (1) they will be kept from the "hour of testing" that is no doubt the Great Tribulation, considering the note that it impacts the entire world; (2) He is coming quickly--which is a specific and unique reminder to this group that Jesus is coming soon; and (3) Jesus will write on the members of this group, among other things, the name of "the new Jerusalem," which, as noted in item 18, above, is the likely location of the Bride of Christ. In further support of this concept, the statements made to the following church, the church in Laodicea, are suggestive of statements that might be made to the saints that exist during the time of the Tribulation: "The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne" (Revelation 3:21); this promise is consistent with the promise given to those who, in the Tribulation, reject the mark of the beast and do not worship him and are therefore martyred for their faith as described in Revelation 20:4 - "Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Thus, if the collection of saints existing prior to the Tribulation constitutes the church in Philadelphia, then they have a promise of being delivered by Jesus from the hour of testing. There are, therefore, strong suggestions that the church in Philadelphia--the collection of saints present prior to the Tribulation--are rescued from the Tribulation by Jesus--most likely in a Rapture event.
I. The Presence of Other Groups of Saints Distinctly Identified as Being in Heaven and Having Come Out of the Tribulation Suggests a Different Treatment of the Church--Best Explained by a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
24. The 5th Seal Martyrs. John records in Revelation 6 that when the 5th seal is broken he sees the souls of those who had been slain for the testimony which they had maintained (Revelation 6:9). These are those who "endured to the end" consistent with Jesus' stated requirements for salvation at this time (Matthew 24:13). And they are crying out for judgment against the people on the earth who killed them and who are obviously still alive; they are asking the Lord "how long" will He refrain from avenging their martyrdom (Revelation 6:10). And the slain are told that it will be a "little while longer"--until the number of their brothers who are to be killed is complete (Revelation 6:11). Amazingly, John does not see the other dead in Christ. He does not see all those who died prior to the Tribulation--either those who simply died as believers or those who were martyred prior to the Tribulation. Why? It doesn't make sense that John sees one group of the souls of the dead in Christ and not all the dead in Christ--unless the other dead in Christ have already been raised from the dead and gathered to Jesus at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). It is possible that John doesn't see or hear from the Church, the Bride of Christ, until Revelation 19:1-10, Revelation 21:9 and Revelation 22:17, because they have been sequestered elsewhere in heaven (as indicated in item 9, above). It is also possible that John represents the Church--the believers in Jesus who were raptured and now observe the unfolding of God's plan having "come up here" to heaven prior to the Tribulation (Revelation 4:1-2).
25. The Multitude from the Tribulation. Similarly, in the very next chapter of Revelation, after the 6th Seal is broken, and after the 144,000 Jewish bond-servants are sealed, John records that he sees a vast, innumerable multitude "from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands," and they are leading worship near the throne of God and the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-12). In speaking with one of the elders near the throne of God and the Lamb, John learns that (a) these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, (b) they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, (c) for this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and (d) He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them; (e) they will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:13-17). Once again, this group of saints that John sees does not include the dead in Christ who died before the Tribulation--again, presumably because those dead in Christ have already been raised and constitute a different group of saints in the heavenly realm (many of whom were rescued from the wrath to come--1 Thessalonians 1:10). Moreover, this group of saints who have come out of the Tribulation is unique in that they are required to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb; believers constituting the Church do not need to wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb, because our faith in Jesus already gave us that cleansing (Ephesians 2:13, Hebrews 10:19, 1 Peter 1:2, 1 John 1:7, Revelation 1:5). Moreover, this group of Tribulation saints is unique in that they are given refreshment from hunger, thirst and the scorching of the sun and heat--because they experienced hunger, thirst and scorching as part of the wrath of God in the Tribulation (the seals of Revelation 6 & 8, the trumpets of Revelation 8, 9 & 11, and the bowls of wrath of Revelation 16)--unlike the believers constituting the church who have been promised and surely received protection from God's wrath as a consequence of the Rapture (see item 8, above). In short, this group of saints who died in the Tribulation does not include the Church--the Bride of Christ. Moreover, it could not be that the dead in Christ prior to the Tribulation are raised later (as if the gathering described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 were scheduled to happen later), because the dead in Christ in the Tribulation are already raised and in heaven--as John sees here--leading this moment of worship. In other words, it doesn't make sense that this group of saints, now leading worship in heaven, would have to return to the ground of the earth in order to be resurrected again as the dead in Christ who rise first in the 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 gathering.
J. The Need for Special Gospel Proclaimers during the Great Tribulation Suggests that the Church Is Not Present to Spread the Gospel During the Tribulation.
26. The Presence/Need for 2 New, Special Groups of Gospel Proclaimers. There are 2 particularly unique groups of saints noted to be in the Tribulation, namely the 2 witnesses who prophesy and testify (Rev. 11:1-13) and the 144,000 sealed sons of Israel as the bond-servants of God (Rev. 7:1-8 and Rev. 14:1-5) (who are noted as protected from some of the judgments of God - Rev. 9:4); after the 144,000 are sealed, many people are seen in heaven as having come out of the Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:9-17)--suggesting that the sealed bond-servants were instrumental in evangelizing. The presence of these 2 special groups of saints who appear to have involvement in the spread of the gospel during the Tribulation prompts 2 related questions: "Why are these groups needed to proclaim the gospel during the period of the Great Tribulation, and where is the Church involved in helping them?" The absence of the church's involvement and the need for the presence of these new groups to spread the gospel is highly indicative of the fact that the Church as the Bride of Christ is gone. The Church had a different gospel, so new groups are needed to spread the new Gospel of the Tribulation.
27. The Presence/Need for Special Angel Gospel Proclaimers. In Revelation 14:6-7, prior to the pouring out of the bowls of the wrath of God (Rev. 16), an angel flies "in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, and he said with a loud voice, 'Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.'" This angel is followed by a second angel who announces the fall of Babylon (which presumably is the kingdom of the antichrist beast) (Revelation 14:8). The second angel is followed by yet a third angel, who announces the declaration of eternal judgment on those who receive the mark of the antichrist beast and worship his image, declaring: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:9-11.) Again, we know that the church is charged with spreading the gospel to every nation (Matthew 28:19-20). Yet, we see in this instance that the gospel is spread not by the church, but by angels. The absence of the Church here, bearing responsibility for spreading the gospel, and the need for the work to be accomplished by angels strongly suggests that the Church is gone by this time in the Great Tribulation.
Thus, there is substantial Scriptural support for the idea that the Church as the Bride of Christ will be raptured prior to the wrath of the Tribulation period. If the Rapture does so occur, we trust that you will join us in our efforts now to prepare to help saints of the Tribulation spread of the gospel of the Tribulation and to pool and use our "left behind" assets in a way that will advance the Kingdom of the Messiah during the Great Tribulation--giving Him the gift of souls and the protection of His saints.