Is the Pre-Trib Rapture of the Church sound Bible doctrine?
The Rapture, when
the dead in Christ shall rise...
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Rick Brentlinger Answers -
I received some questions recently, which I will answer with a brief overview of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture plus Links for additional study.
A reader wrote: "I was wondering why some evangelical Christians propose this idea regarding the Rapture of the Christian Church (faithful believers in Christ) that supposedly will occur before, during or after Christ returns.
I don't recall reading about this idea from any of the early Church fathers in Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox Christianity before the 19th century.
Have any of the early Church fathers before the 19th century commented on this idea? When I studied about where this idea came from, I read from one scholar that the concept of the Rapture stems from John Darby around 1827. Is this true?"
I believe in
the Pre-Trib Rapture
Throughout church history, beliefs about the end times have varied from (1) a-millenial - most Roman Catholics, to (2) post-millenial - many Puritans and Calvinists, to (3) pre-millenial - some Donatists and Anabaptists, some Puritans, many modern Baptists, Independents and Non-Conformists plus John MacArthur and many Reformed folks, to (4) pre-tribulational - many dispensational Baptists and Independents and Brethren plus eFree churches, to (5) mid-tribulational - some Charismatics including Pat Robertson, to (6) post-tribulational - some Dominionists and Christian Reconstructionists like Rousas Rushdoony, not necessarily in that order.
It is sometimes alleged that belief in the Pre-Trib Rapture, when Jesus comes to take Christians out of the world before
the Tribulation starts, only began around 1827 with John Darby or 1830 when Margaret MacDonald, of the Catholic Apostolic Church of Edinburgh, Scotland, had a prophetic vision during the Edward Irving revival.
Contrary to that false assertion, pre-millenial and pre-tribulation beliefs are found throughout Church History, beginning in the Bible in the first century A.D.
Important Rapture Passages
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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 up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." -1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, around 51 A.D.
This is the classic passage on the Rapture. Some people say that since the word Rapture doesn't appear in our English Bibles, it couldn't possibly be true. The fact is, Rapture is an English word and English words were not used in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of our Bible.
Our English word Rapture comes from the Latin Version of the Bible, rapio, rapere, raptus,
meaning to be caught up, snatched up, carried away. The Greek word, used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is, harpazo,
meaning, to seize, to carry off by force, to eagerly claim for oneself, to snatch away.
""And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying,
Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed US to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made US unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." -Revelation 5:9-10, around A.D. 95
The twenty four elders and the multitudes they represented ("prayers of the saints"
) were redeemed to God out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.
If they were only Old Testament Jews, they could not have been from every kindred, tongue (language), people and nation. Because they were people from around the world, certainly these are Gentiles and not only Jews.
Therefore this verse refers to a Pre-Trib Rapture which caught these Gentile people up to heaven BEFORE
the start of the Tribulation.
Most folks who believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture teach that believers from the Church Age are caught up to meet the Lord in the air in Revelation 4:1, "Come up hither",
prior to the beginning of the Tribulation.
"All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which over-whelms the world because of our sins." –Attributed to Ephraem the Syrian, A.D. 306-373
Links for Additional Study
Defending the Pre-Trib Rapture - concise and helpful in briefly answering the main arguments.
Why many Christians believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture.
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This page updated on August 20, 2011