The 11 Questions EVERY Pre-Tribber Must Answer
There are many unanswered questions regarding the belief in a pre-trib Rapture. Being a former Pre-tribber myself, I had come across many contradictions in the Word of God that seemed to directly oppose the view of the Rapture happening before the 7 year Tribulation period. About 3 years ago, I decided to put some of my questions in an email and I sent it to several pastors that I personally knew. Each of them strongly held to a pre-trib Rapture. At the time, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t interpreting these scriptural issues in the wrong way. If these fellow pastors could explain how these issues were only apparent contradictions, and do so using sound biblical answers, I was willing to give up my new belief in a post-trib rapture. So I sent my article to 6 Pre-tribbers who were all pastors and bible teachers. Each of them were willing to read it and give me their answers.
Out of all 6, I received no answers to the specific questions I sent them. Some of them even admitted that they couldn’t answer them. What I did receive from a couple of pastors were other proof-texts from scripture that had nothing to do with the questions I sent them. In other words, instead of choosing to answer my questions directly, they avoided them altogether by bringing up other pre-trib arguments. I did answer there arguments, but received no response back to my rebuttals.
So I post this article here to ask anyone who holds to the pre-trib Rapture, if they would be willing to read through this article and directly answer the SPECIFIC QUESTIONS that I ask. I urge you not to ignore these specific issues and do what some of these pastors did by sending other unrelated pre-trib arguments as a response. These questions deserve answers, and if they can’t be answered with sound biblical arguments, then please don’t sweep these issues under the rug by ignoring them. It lacks Biblical integrity when someone does this.
So here is the article I emailed these pastors 3 years ago:
Dear Pastor __________,
I am emailing you to discuss a particular doctrine, pre-tribulationalism, that many pastors preach about the timing of the rapture. As I have studied this matter in depth over the last few years, it has made me question if this doctrine is really what Jesus and the apostles taught. So that you understand my background concerning this issue, I grew up and was taught about the doctrine of pre-tribulationalism. I even went to an end-times conference when I was in high school that focused on the Rapture of the Church before the Tribulation. When I went to a Christian University and received a film degree, I almost had a chance to work on the Kirt Cameron film “Left Behind” based on the books. I was so excited by the idea of helping not only to warn people of the coming Rapture so that many would hopefully turn to the Lord before the actual Rapture, but even for those after the Rapture who would remember these books and movies, and find the answers to why millions of people had left the earth. So I was very dogmatic in my pre-trib thinking and didn’t want to hear any other view, because I knew in my heart that all other views were wrong and unbiblical.
Several years ago, my mind started to slowly change about this issue. I heard some pastors who held to a post-trib rapture perspective and I ended up listening to their arguments from Scripture. So at that point I became more open and less dogmatic about my stance on the pre-trib rapture. Though I wasn’t entirely sold on the post-trib perspective, these pastors had raised some good points that I wasn’t able to answer. In my mind and heart, I really wanted to be raptured before the Tribulation, not having to go though that horrible period of history. But at the same time I didn’t want to accept this doctrine just because it gave me comfort to believe in it; neither did I want to embrace this belief simply because it is held by most Christians and Pastors without looking carefully at the Scriptures myself. I wanted to be like the Christians in Berea who “received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
So putting aside my desire for a pre-trib rapture, I really desired to search this issue out for myself to know for certain if the Bible clearly teaches it. I realized that if I were wrong about my previous view of a pre-trib rapture, then I would not be prepared at all, either spiritually, emotionally, or even physically. If the seven years begins with the confirming of the covenant and a temple being built which ultimately leads to the abomination of desolation, I would not be prepared at all to face the coming persecution. I would be left blind sighted wondering why God had taught a pre-trib rapture casting doubt on the Word of God. So the desire to study these things further with more detail made it all the more important, because if I was wrong, then the cost of being unprepared for that time would be great. In other words, I would be more focused in being ready to escape those 7 years, rather than focusing myself on being willing to go through terrible persecution, refusing the mark of the beast, and dying for Christ. Even the study of the Book of Revelation would be of greater importance if the Rapture didn’t happen before this time, because the words and details of Revelations would apply to the Church in a much more spiritual and practical way because we as the Church would be living during this time.
So having grown up knowing the arguments and Scriptures for a pre-trib rapture, I have started to see many contradictions that I don’t know how to explain away. I have examined many passages that seem to point to a post-trib coming rather than a pre-trib coming. The more I study this issue and look carefully at these passages in the Bible, the more I seem to embrace the post-trib Rapture. But again, I don’t really want to believe it in my heart; I just can’t see a way around it. That is why after struggling with this issue, I want to have someone who has studied the Bible and eschatology for many many more years than I have, help me to understand these difficult Bible passages that appear contradictory to a pre-trib view.
I want to assure you that my desire is to seek after truth and sound doctrine, and not error. My motives are not to get into some type of unprofitable debate or argument. I am open to good, scriptural answers, and want my beliefs to be based on what is really true, rather than putting up an intellectual wall that will only see it my way. You are a very godly man, and very well-studied in the Bible. I respect so much the wisdom that God has given you over the years and I desire to know your thoughts on these issues. If I am wrong and in error in anyway in my interpretations, please point those things out. Thank you for taking the time to read through my email.
2 THESSALONIANS 2:1-4
The first issue in scripture that I am having a hard time reconciling is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4.
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as god sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Looking at this verse, it seems clear that Paul was talking about when the Church will be raptured. The context indicates he is talking about the rapture by referring to “our gathering together unto him,” and the “day of Christ” which I could only find two other times in Phil 1:10 and Phil 2:16, which both seem to be rapture passages. Even Phil 1:10 says “…that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” We will be with sin and offense until we our raptured. We cannot be with sin after the rapture, so the “day of Christ” seems clear that it’s the rapture, and also seems to be consistent with the context of 2 Thess. 2:1 that says “our gathering together unto him.” It also makes sense that he was talking about the rapture based on the harsh environment that the Thessalonians were living in. They were being severely persecuted for their faith so they were desperately desiring their gathering together unto Christ as soon as possible. If they truly believed in a pre-trib rapture, it wouldn’t make sense if they were wanting the return of Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation which wouldn’t have even applied to them and their desire to escape the persecution through the Rapture. It seems that they wanted to be gathered together unto Christ so badly because of the persecution they were experiencing, that they were believing false teaching that told them that Christ was coming for them soon.
Secondly, and along these same lines, it seems like Paul was warning the Thessalonians not to be deceived specifically by false teaching, thinking that Christ’s coming for them (the Rapture) was “at hand.” This term seems to imply that Christ’s coming was very near or imminent. So it seems like Paul is warning this church not to be deceived by false teaching that was telling them that the Rapture was coming very soon. In other words they apparently were believing an “any moment” return of Christ, and deceived into thinking this way.
Thirdly, Paul seems to tell them that two events must occur before the Rapture happens. He says “for that day (our gathering together unto him/day of Christ) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed…who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God…so that he as god sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” This seems clear to me that Paul was warning the deceived Thessalonian church not to believe in the very near return of Christ to gather his children in the clouds. Instead he corrected them by telling them to wait for two events to occur before they could expect the Rapture to happen soon. The first one was the “falling away” which in the Greek, means apostasy, and the second one being the Antichrist revealing himself in the temple of Jerusalem, which is the “abomination of desolation” that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24. To my understanding, this occurs in the middle of the 7 years.
So what I don’t understand is why Paul warns and corrects the Thessalonian church, as well as all churches, not to expect the Rapture until these two events happen first? If he taught pre-trib theology, why does he say this in 2 Thess. 2:1-4? Also if this is true with Paul warning them not to expect an “any moment” return of Christ until these two events happen first, wouldn’t that apply to the church today? Are we therefore not to expect an “any moment” return until after the Antichrist takes his seat in the temple? Am I understanding this passage incorrectly? If I am in error, please tell me what he meant here?
When I was a Pre-tribulationalist, I never really examined 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 closely, but I remember hearing as well as reading the argument that said that the Holy Spirit is the one that withholds the Antichrist from being revealed in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. And that when the Holy Spirit is “taken out of the way,” it means that He will be taken up to heaven, no longer dwelling on the earth. And because the Holy Spirit is taken up to heaven, it means that the church will go with Him as well, which ultimately means that the Rapture has to take place before the 7 years.
If this is true, then why would Paul state in 2 Thess 2:1-4 that Christians should not expect the Rapture to happen till sometime after the Antichrist sits in the temple and declares that he is God, but then he turns around 2 verses later to contradict himself by saying that the Rapture will happen years before all this takes place. This seems like a serious contradiction if this is the case. It seems like Paul is teaching two contrary things that oppose each other, unless I am wrong about my interpretation of the former passage. How do you reconcile these two passages so that they are not contradictory?
What I notice about 2 Thess 2:6-7 is that it doesn’t say that it’s the Holy Spirit. It uses both words, “what,” where it says, “now ye know what withholdeth.” It also uses the lower case pronoun, “he” when it says, “only he who now letteth will let.” Can the Holy Spirit be both a lower case “he” and a “what” at the same time?
In addition, when it says that this “what” and “he” will be “taken out of the way.” It doesn’t state that the Holy Spirit will go to heaven: it just says that he will be taken out of the way, which could mean that he is not restricting the Antichrist from being revealed anymore. Unless I’m wrong about the wording, I don’t see how taking something out of the way naturally implies going directly to heaven. If there were a large object on the road that my car could not get around and I took that obstacle “out of the way”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I took it out of existence on this earth and it’s in heaven now. The obstacle could be on the side of the road while still being on this earth, yet only limited to being removed from the path of my car. In a similar way, the Holy Spirit could still be on this earth, but just taken out of the pathway of the Antichrist, so Satan can do his work.
Also, if the Holy Spirit is taken to heaven, then how can the “tribulation saints” be saved without the conviction, sealing, and indwelling of the Holy Spirit? (Romans 8:9 would refute that possibility). How do the two witnesses prophecy and do miracles without the Holy Spirit, and what about the 144,000 Jews? In the Olivet Discourse in Mark 13, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will be with believers to speak through them in verse 11, so I guess I’m not really understanding this logic that I have been taught.
So 2 Thess. 2:6-7 seems pretty vague to me. I don’t understand how someone could say that these verses clearly show that it’s the Holy Spirit who is taken up to heaven with all believers from just looking at the face value of this passage? But even if it were, there is still the problem of reconciling a contradiction between two opposing passages 1-4 against 6-7. I just don’t understand it. I am open to understanding where I am wrong with this conclusion if you could help me see it scripturally.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:51-57
In 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, I’ve been taught that this passage is clearly a Rapture passage. Verse 51-52 states that:
“…we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
The first issue I have with this passage is the word “last” trump. The word “last” means in Webster 1828, “that comes after all the others; that follows all the others; beyond which there is no more.” It’s the same Greek word that is used for Christ in Revelation 1 where it says that He is the first and the “last.” So when verse 52 says that the Rapture will happen at the “last” trump, it means that there are no more trumpets that can follow after it. There can’t be two last trumpets, only one. So if we are raptured before the 7 years begin with the “last” trumpet sounding, then why does Jesus mention a trumpet “immediately after the tribulation of those days” in Matthew 24:29-31. It says that:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light…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. 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.”
Wouldn’t this be the “last” trumpet, otherwise we would be talking about two separate “last” trumpets, one in this passage and the pre-trib one happening before the 7 years. Grammatically this doesn’t make sense to me especially since it doesn’t agree with the Webster definition. Also if “last” doesn’t have to mean “the very last” and we can interpret that loosely, can the same loose interpretation be given to Revelation 1:11 where the same Greek word is given for Jesus, where he says He is the first and the “last?” It doesn’t make much sense to me.
Also on a side note, I noticed that the same trumpet in Matthew 24 talks about a great gathering of the “elect.” The Gospel of Mark even fills in some of the details that Matthew left out of the Olivet Discourse. Jesus says in Mark 13:27, “And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.” This doesn’t seem like a smaller “Jewish elect” gathering in the land of Israel; it seems like a huge gathering from the entire earth, and from all of heaven. (Aren’t all the saints, Jews and Christians who have died throughout history living in the “uttermost” part of heaven waiting to be gathered together for their resurrected bodies? Why would Jesus say this “gathering” includes not only the extreme extent of earth, but also the extreme extent of heaven, if the “Jewish elect” are only located on earth?) The details in Matthew 24:30-31 also seem to match the details of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Where both passages mention Jesus coming in the clouds, they also describe a large gathering together, they both refer to the presence of angels, and both mention a trumpet. Also 1 Thessalonians 4 doesn’t sound like a secret rapture. It is described as a very loud event. Even the Greek wording is like that of a triumphant battle cry, like a king calling his army to battle. Couldn’t this be the same event, since Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4 doesn’t even say that the Rapture, which he is describing, happens before the Tribulation begins, anywhere in that chapter?
A similar point can be made about the word “last” in John 11:24. When Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again, Martha responded by telling him that she knew that he would rise again in the resurrection (1 Thess 4:16) at the “last” day. She probably heard Jesus say the same thing in John 6 verse 39, 40, 44, and 54. He says the same thing repeatedly 4 times in that chapter. “…every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the “last” day (John 6:40).” Notice that Jesus doesn’t say “in the last days” (plural), but He says “at the last day” (singular), noting a specific day. Even the Greek word for “day” in these passages means a specific 24 hour day, and not a series of days. So this seems to point to the very last day in history when Jesus comes down to earth to slay the wicked at the battle of Armageddon, establishing His kingdom on earth. Am I interpreting “at the last day” wrongly? Can there be two last days, a pre-trib one prior to the 7 years, and one at the end of the 7 years? Can “last” be translated loosely in this case too?
Another thing I noticed was the phase that was used in Revelation 20:5-6. In verse 20:4 John describes the saints that were beheaded during the great tribulation. It says they did not worship the beast, or his image, and did not receive his mark in their hands or foreheads. The question I have is why does it say that this group of believers took part in the “first” resurrection? “First” in the dictionary means “Preceding all others in the order of time”, or “before any thing else in the order of time.” If the “first” resurrection actually means “first,” and the object is on believers, then why would it not say the “second” resurrection, if the “first resurrection” really occurred 7 years earlier in the pre-trib rapture? But this passage makes it clear that these believers were the same ones that lived and died during the great tribulation, and who had resisted the Antichrist. Yet they are the ones who took part in the first resurrection, not the second.
The final thing I want to mention for the specific passage of 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 is that Paul tells us exactly when this “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” Rapture will take place, where “the dead shall be raised incorruptible“. It says in verse 54,
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
So Paul is clearly saying that the rapture will happen “when” this Old Testament prophecy is fulfilled. The problem is that the prophecy is a passage in Isaiah 25:8 which seem to me to be the clear start of the “Millennium.” The passage reads,
“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth…”
In the two verses before it in that passage in Isaiah, it is talking about the great Millennial feast. How could this prophecy apply to a pre-trib rapture? Death will continue to go on for God’s people through the 7 years. Tears won’t be wiped away completely until the beginning of the Millennium, and the ending of rebuke of God’s people off “all the earth” won’t happen till the very end. I don’t understand why Paul would tell us that the Rapture will happen at the fulfillment of a Millennial passage?
So in conclusion to this specific issue, I am having trouble reconciling these verses with a pre-trib rapture scenario because if these words really mean what they mean in the dictionary, then why does the passage make a point to call it the “last” trumpet and not the 2nd to last or more? And why does Jesus say “at the last day” and not “in the last days?” And why does Revelation 20 make a point to tell us that these tribulation believers took part in the “first resurrection” and not the second resurrection? And lastly, why does Paul tell us that the Rapture will happen at the beginning of the Millennium? If I am in error in any way and am interpreting these passage incorrectly, please show me how these passages are being misinterpreted. Though these passages appear to point to a post-trib Rapture, I want to be open to any error and misinterpretation of these passages on my part. For personally I would rather be Raptured in a pre-trib scenario rather than a post-trib. But I know I need to believe truth rather than error no matter what scenario it is, pre-trib or post-trib.
In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus give a parable about the tares and the wheat. His disciple later come to Him asking Him to interpret the parable to them in verses 36-43. In the former passage I have put Jesus interpretations in parenthesis to give more clarity to His parable.
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man (JESUS) which soweth good seed (TRUE BELIEVERS) in his field (THE WORLD):
But while men slept, his enemy (SATAN) came and sowed tares (CHILDREN OF SATAN) among the wheat (TRUE BELIEVERS), and went his way.
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares (CHILDREN OF SATAN) also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed (TRUE BELIEVERS) in thy field (THE WORLD)? from whence then hath it tares (CHILDREN OF SATAN)?
He said unto them An enemy (SATAN) hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares (CHILDREN OF SATAN), ye root up also the wheat (TRUE BELIEVERS) with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest (END OF THE WORLD): and in the time of the harvest (END OF THE WORLD) I will say to the reapers (ANGELS), Gather ye together first the tares (CHILDREN OF SATAN), and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat (TRUE BELIEVERS) into my barn.” ( Matthew 13:24-30)
Notice that the harvest is interpreted by Jesus as the “end of the world” in Matthew 13:39. It is the same Greek phrase that is used by Jesus disciples when they asked him in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:3, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus gives them many signs prior to his coming, leading up to the main sign right before He comes, with the sun and moon being darkened and the stars falling from heaven. His coming in the Olivet discourse comes “Immediately after the tribulation of those days.” So the “end of the world” that Jesus describes is the one immediately after the Great Tribulation. Also Jesus makes it clear when the “end of the world” occurs in Matthew 13:40. He says, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” The eternal fiery punishment of the wicked occur at the end of the Great Tribulation, so this seems to show that the “end of the world” is really at the end of the 7 years and not during or before those 7 years. We know this because Jesus mentions that there will be many false prophets and Christ’s during those 7 years, according to the Olivet discourse, who will not be destroyed until the end.
So to this understanding, we know that the children that Satan sows will not be gathered and burned until the end of the world according to Jesus parable. The servants of Jesus wanted Him to gather up these evil tares before the wheat were gathered allowing a separation of time to be occur between both the bad and the good so that they wouldn’t be mixed together. Look carefully at what Jesus decides to do. He tells his servants that He wants both the wheat and the tares to “grow together,” without any prior separation before the “end of the world.” Jesus never said that He wanted the wheat to be gathered sometime prior to the tares being gathered. For if He had made that distinction it would have been consistent with a pre-tribulation rapture. It would be proof that true believers would be gathered together 7 years prior to the time when the tares would be gathered and burned. But it doesn’t say or imply this at all.
Not only does it say that both will be gathered at the “end of the world,” but it even goes as far as saying that the gathering and binding of the children of Satan happen “first,” right before the true believers are gathered at the end of the world. If true believers are gathered/raptured “first” before the tares are gathered for their punishment then it would seem that Matthew 13:24-30 would be a direct contradiction to what is taught with a pre-trib Rapture. The wheat can’t be gathered first before the tares and at the same time the tares being gathered before the wheat. This would make no sense. The only way I can reconcile this issue is through a post-trib perspective. The tares will continue to live through the 7 years without punishment until they are gathered with all nations at the Battle of Armageddon. It is at this point that Christ comes back with the saints that have died throughout history, and at the last trumpet their bodies are raised and changed into immortality along with those Christians that are “alive and remain” on the earth. Jesus then destroys the wicked with all His saints at this last battle. So the point I’m making here is that this parable seems to make it clear that the wheat and the tares will grow together until the end of the world, and when the end of the world comes, the tares are the first to be gathered before the wheat is gathered. I don’t understand how this parable could make sense in a pre-trib scenario. Is there a better way to explain this passage?
HISTORY OF PRE-TRIB AND POST-TRIB
The last issue I would like to bring up is from an historical point of view. I have explored this issue carefully, read passages from early church leaders as well as studied the origin of the Pre-tribuational doctrine. I was surprised by what I found. The origin for the doctrine’s widespread acceptance didn’t start with John Nelson Darby in the 19th century which led to Scofield and the teachings at Dallas Theological Seminary. Darby actually was exposed to it by the Pastor of the “Catholic Apostolic Church”, Edward Irving. Darby was influenced by Irving’s views. He was familiar with Edward Irving and makes reference in his prophecy paper “Reflections” to both Irving himself, “The Morning Watch” where Irving’s pre-trib views were first published, as well as Irving’s other works. He even observed the meetings that were going on and talks about them in his book “The Irrationalism of Infidelity.”
I was astonished to find that Edward Irving’s church was a hyper charismatic church where there were reported healings, speaking in tongues, visions, etc going on. He also taught that Jesus had a fallen human nature. His influence for the new doctrine of a Pre-tribulational Rapture was from a vision by a woman named Margaret MacDonald. These facts are documented in letters that were published in Irving’s Biography. Irving made his rapture beliefs clear in the June 1831 issue in “The Morning Watch.”
These facts can be verified through three Christian authors of that time period, Robert Baxter, Robert Norton, and Samuel Tregelles. Two of them had first hand knowledge of Irving’s movement, with one author being an early member of Irving’s Church. All three of them recognized that this doctrine of a pre-trib rapture was new. Two of these authors wrote part of their books to expose what was going on. One of them, Robert Norton, was in favor of Irvine’s movement. He even named Margaret MacDonald as the first to proclaim this new doctrine from her supernatural vision that she had. Both Samuel Tregelles and Robert Baxter (both of them having first hand knowledge of this movement), claimed that these meetings and this pre-trib doctrine were from lying spirits, and the work of Satan. If you want thorough documentation and footnotes for this, let me know and I can send it to you.
I am not aware of any early church leader (1st Century- 4th Century), who wrote about eschatology (that I know about), that believed in a Pre-Tribulational Rapture. Instead they unanimously seemed to believe in a Post-Tribulational Rapture, and they also didn’t believe in an immediate or any moment return of Christ. The church leaders, who believed in a post-tribulation rapture, include Irenaeus, whom it is important to note, was the disciple of Polycarp, who was the disciple of John the Apostle. So Irenaeus was privileged to have second hand instruction from the Apostle who wrote Revelation and would have known and taught a pre-tribulational rapture. This list of Post-Tribulationalists also include Didache, The Shepherd of Hermas, Hippolytus, Cyprian, the Epistle of Barnabus, Commodianus, Methodius, Lactantius, Theophilus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Victorinus, and the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles. There is ample verification in their writings for this post-trib view. In fact there was a pre-trib author named Grant Jeffrey who wrote a book in 1992 called “Apocalypse” who tried to find quotations from early church leaders to prove that they were pre-trib. The sad and misleading thing is, he leaves out important passages from particular early church leaders as he is quoting them, which showed clearly that these Christian leaders believed in post-trib coming. The passages that were omitted are clearly shown among his own quotes if you have an interest to see it for yourself. This author had to go to great lengths to purposely take out obvious passages to make some of the early church leaders seem like they were pre-trib. You can also read the passages where all these early church leaders, whom I previously mentioned, wrote about their post-trib beliefs. I can send these quotations and footnotes to you if you want them for verification. You can also verify these quotations in an online web source that has published all the early church writings online so that you can verify them through the footnotes.
If the Pre-Tribulational doctrine was truly taught by the Apostles and clearly laid out in Scripture, why would they have failed so miserably to accurately teach their students and future church leaders, the correct doctrine. This is especially disappointing because the Apostles and New Testament writers made it a point to preach and preserve sound doctrine and fight against heresy and error. This is also true with the early church leaders who wrote books to refute and expose heresy. But we have no record of even one early church leader or writer believing in a pre-trib Rapture. How could that be even possible if the Apostles clearly believed and taught a pre-trib Rapture? One would expect at least a few people in the early church expressing that belief, if not many more.
So unless I am missing something here, we can’t trace the pre-trib doctrine all the way back to the Apostles like all other sound doctrines. It only shows up during the early 19th century from a hyper-charismatic church which received it from the visions of Margaret MacDonald. This influenced John Nelson Darby, who furthered its spread, resulting eventually in the doctrine being embraced in the notes in the Scofield Reference Bible and the teachings of Dallas Theological Seminary. This raises a red flag for me that I can’t explain. Why are we able to trace every other sound doctrine through history back to the apostles, but not the pre-trib doctrine?
So in conclusion, I have struggled to find answers to all these questions. It would seem foolish for me to believe in a doctrine that only results in starvation, hiding, persecution, and death if it wasn’t supported by good scriptural evidence. Suffering through a period where I cannot buy and sell unless I get the “mark” is not something I want to go through. I would rather be wrong in my new views rather than be right. All these scriptural and historical problems I see make it harder for me to accept the pre-trib doctrine I grew up believing. If you know how to reconcile these issues, and show me the errors and misinterpretations, I would be happy to acknowledge those errors for what they are and re-embrace the comfort of a pre-trib view again. If there is only a post-trib rapture, then there will be a lot of Christians who will be blindsided by the pre-trib doctrine. Many of them won’t be prepared spiritually and emotionally to face the Tribulation which they will experience if this doctrine is wrong. They may blame their Pastors for preaching it dogmatically, and even worse, may blame God for lying to his Church thinking that it was clearly taught in Scripture without room for doubt. Given the perilous times in which we live, I believe that it would be prudent to carefully examine this issue. If there is no way to know for sure which view is correct, then believers should understand the importance of being prepared to face the Tribulation just in case.
So thank you for reading through my thoughts on this subject and answering these questions. I know your time is valuable, so it means a lot that you would take the time to review this long email. So to close, I have listed the individual questions that I asked previously for you to examine. Thank you so much again!
1. Is the interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 in which Paul was talking about the two events preceding “our gathering together unto him” correct, or is there a much better interpretation that accurately fits the context?”
2. If 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 is clearly referring to or implying the Rapture of the Church, then why would Paul contradict himself in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 by stating the exact opposite?
3. How does the phase, “taken out of the way” in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 clearly mean off the earth and into heaven?
4. If the Holy Spirit really is in Heaven during the Tribulation, how do people get saved without His convicting, sealing, and indwelling power in light of Romans 8:9?
5. Why does 1 Corinthians 15:51 make a point to state that the Rapture will be at the “last” trumpet and not the 2nd to last trumpet or more? Does last really mean last?
6. Why does Jesus say In John 6 repeatedly “at the last day” and not “in the last days”, making it seem like he was specifically talking about the very last day in our history?
7. Why does Revelation 20 make a point to tell us that these tribulation believers took part in the “first resurrection” and not the second resurrection?
8. Why does Paul tell us that the timing of the Rapture will be fulfilled at the beginning of the Millennium in 1 Corinthians 15:54 fulfilling Isaiah 25:8?
9. Why does Matthew 13 state that both the wheat and the tares will grow together without any prior separation occurring between them before the end of the world? And why does it even say that the tares will be the first to be gathered before the wheat at that time, rather than the wheat being first?
10. Why do we believe in a new doctrine that started in the early 19th century, while at the same time having no evidence of a pre-trib rapture view being believed or taught among the entire early church after the apostles?
11. And lastly, if the Apostles believed and taught a pre-trib rapture, why would they have failed so miserably to preserve that doctrine through their students and through the next centuries? We don’t even have evidence of one early church leader who taught it, as far as I know.