Eschatology, the Study of Last Things
by James T. Bartsch
The Nature of the Rapture
16 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. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
by James T. Bartsch, WordExplain
Reason 8. Background
A Post-Tribulation Rapture Does Not Adequately Explain the Confusion of the Thessalonian Christians
8. Background. A Post-Tribulation Rapture is not credible because it fails to account adequately for the confusion of the Thessalonian Christians in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17, Paul found it necessary to clear up some confusion that existed in the minds of the new converts in Thessalonica. First, the topic he wished to reference was “the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” (2 Thess. 2:1). By his description, Paul obviously meant the Rapture, about which he had written in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, as opposed to the 1, which he had just finished discussing in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10. Second, Paul was obviously very concerned about the Thessalonians’ frame of mind. He described them as having been “quickly shaken” from their composure and “disturbed” (2 Thess. 2:2). This frame of mind can hardly have been beneficial to the Thessalonians, so Paul requested that they discontinue their needless alarm. Third, Paul identified the source of their lack of composure. Someone had misrepresented Paul’s position to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:2). There may well have been more than one instance of misrepresentation, so he covered three possibilities: (a) A demonic spirit had spoken through some false teacher and had misrepresented Paul; (b) Someone had delivered an oral message to them, misrepresenting Paul. (c) Someone had forged a letter from Paul, misrepresenting his position. Fourth, Paul identified the untruth that had so upset the equilibrium of the Thessalonians: Someone was teaching them that the Day of the Lord had already come!
What was it in their experience that made the disinformation they had been hearing believable? Constable (2 Thessalonians, The Bible Knowledge Commentary (TBKC), NT volume) states it this way: “It must have seemed to some of them that the day of the Lord had already come. After all, the persecutions they were experiencing seemed to be what the prophets had predicted when they wrote about the great calamities coming on God’s people and the world in the day of the Lord.”
Now if Paul had taught the Thessalonians a Post-Tribulation Rapture, they would not have been troubled at all. They might have had a grim sense of joy, for they would know that Christ’s Second Coming was, at most, only seven years distant. I use the word “grim” because they would all know the horrors that they would have to pass through. Obviously, Paul had not taught them a Post-Tribulation Rapture. He had taught them a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, one which would precede the Great Tribulation, also known as “The Day of the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:13-18, the Rapture, comes before 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, the Tribulation. See the two passages back-to-back as Paul wrote them.) The Day of the Lord, also known as the Tribulation.) Only a belief in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture could account for their having been shaken from their composure when someone told them they had already entered the Tribulation period. They were upset because they thought they had missed the Rapture and were already in the Tribulation period! That would be enough to cause any Christian to lose his composure!
Conclusion: a Post-Tribulation Rapture is not credible because it fails to account adequately for the confusion of the Thessalonian Christians in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11. For a further discussion of this passage, see "The Thessalonian Christians and Clearing Up Their Confusion about the Day of the Lord."
Prepared by James T. Bartsch
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)