Many movies have been made and many books have been written which describe a fantasy world where all of the Christians have disappeared and gone to heaven, and then the tribulation occurs. This doctrine, also known as the “pre-tribulation rapture”, meaning a rapture of Christians before the Great Tribulation, is not actually described in the Bible. In fact, this fantasy will send many people to hell, because they will be deceived when the great tribulation comes and they do not disappear like in the movies.
The only passages which are used to refer to a “rapture” event are in Matthew 24:36-44, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, but the word “rapture” is not in the Bible, and none of these passages actually talk about a pre-tribulation rapture. Such theology is merely conjecture, and is completely unfounded. There is no biblical evidence for a pre-tribulation rapture. Other verses are often mentioned but you will find they do not even mention anything close to a rapture event (such as Revelation 11:15).
Let’s look at what Jesus said about this. Matthew 24:36-44 says,
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
But wait – clearly this says that one will be taken and the other left! Surely this must mean we will be raptured? No. Look carefully. Do not cherry-pick the verses, but read the surrounding verses to glean the context. This passage refers to the death and judgment on all evil people.
In the preceding verses, it says, not once but twice: “as in the days of Noah” and “until the day that Noah entered into the ark”. Were the people raptured in the days of Noah? No, all the evil people being referred to were all killed. They were drowned in the Great Flood.
At the end, after the Great Tribulation, the remaining Christians will be caught up in the air to meet with Christ. Then the Earth will be destroyed with everything on it. There will be great calamity, and they will be eating and drinking, and suddenly a great calamity will bring about their deaths.
This passage is not talking about Jesus returning to save the Christians and causing them to disappear to save them before the Great Tribulation, it is talking about Jesus returning to wreak justice on the world, and death to all the enemies of Christ. The passage context is clearly “as in the time of Noah”, in which “the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
The Bible explicitly said that it is talking about the death of the evil people by the return of Christ. It is “the flood” that is as the “coming of the Son of man”, not the ark. It is the death of evil people by God’s judgment on the world that is similar between the days of Noah and the days of the return of Christ. Jesus was merely describing that as in the time of Noah, when the return of Christ happens, it will be another judgment on the Earth where all the evil people are killed. Jesus was predicting the final apocalypse, not a “rapture” to first save the Christians from the apocalypse. I will explain the evidence for this in the following sections.
The next verse used is 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, but again you will find there is no evidence here for a pre-tribulation rapture.
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
(1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
This verse says nothing about a pre-tribulation rapture, or any rapture. It is referring to the transfiguration of those who are saved in Christ, and of the final resurrection of the dead. Yes, in the “twinkling of an eye” we will all be raised and shall be changed, but this will happen after the tribulation, not before.
Finally, let’s look at the other major verse used to promote a pre-tribulation rapture. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 says,
15 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.
16 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:
17 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.
(1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)
But doesn’t this say clearly in verse 17 that we will be caught up in the air? Yes, but it doesn’t say that it will happen before judgment comes on the earth and the tribulation period of Revelation concludes.
When Christ returns, all the dead will rise and meet Him in the air, as well as those that remain living who are Christians. This is likely to happen at the end days at the end of the Tribulation period, before the earth is completely destroyed by fire.
The evidence for this is found in Revelation 20:5-6:
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
The Bible says clearly that the dead are not raised until after the Great Tribulation, and after the following 1,000 years. Therefore it is evidenced that 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 must be talking about the final resurrection of the dead, and all those that remain alive who are in Christ.
The thousand years in Revelation 20 is not before, but after all the great disasters of the Tribulation. This is after the 7 bowls, the 7 trumpets, a third of the sun and the moon and the oceans all turn to blood. Then after all these things up until Revelation 20, there will be a 1,000 year reign of Christ.
After this, then there will be a great war on Earth and the devil will be released from the great pit after these thousand years, and then finally, after this war, the devil will be “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
Finally, in Revelation 20:12,
This is the Great White Throne Judgment. It will not be until the end of the Great Tribulation and also the end of the Thousand Years that all the dead will be raised. Some of the Christians will be raised before the Thousand Years, but after the Great Tribulation, as shown in Revelation 20:4, which is called the “first resurrection” in Revelation 20:5. Then after the Thousand Years Reign of Christ, where many Christians serve as priests for these thousand years, then will be the second resurrection
Moreover, the Bible describes in Revelation 20:5 as the “first resurrection”, meaning this is the first time for the resurrection, and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 describes the dead in Christ being raised to meet the Lord in the air. This means that since the first time that the dead in Christ are resurrected is after the Tribulation, then 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 cannot be talking about a pre-tribulation rapture, but rather a post-tribulation rapture (rapture post-, which means after the Tribulation ends).
The Bible is clear that the dead will not be raised and the living will not be “raptured” or caught up in the air with Christ until after the end of the Great Tribulation, which means after the mark of the beast, and the plagues, and the disasters of Revelation.
Now, whether all the Christians (or just the rest of them) will meet Christ in the air before or after the Thousand Years Reign is unclear, but what is clear is that the rapture will not happen until after the Tribulation, because Revelation 20 is evidence that no dead will be raised until after the Great Tribulation, which is the “first resurrection” of Revelation 20:5.
Here is the timeline:
- The Great Tribulation
- The First Resurrection (Resurrection of the Saints)
- The Thousand Years Reign of Christ
- The Great War with Satan
- Satan overthrown and cast into the Lake of Fire
- The Second Resurrection (Resurrection of all the dead)
- The Great White Throne Judgment
Why is pre-tribulation rapture so prevalent in our popular culture?
These verses given for pre-tribulation support do not actually support the pre-tribulation rapture. The word “rapture” is not found anywhere in the Bible, and there is no passage in the entire Bible that can be accurately used to support pre-tribulation rapture theology.
Why then do we have this story, and so many movies and books about it? It is the work of Satan to deceive millions of Christians into worshiping the Beast.
Millions of Christians will be deceived because they will think that the end times could not be at hand because they think they must first disappear and go to heaven before the end times come. This is false and unbiblical. In fact, they will be deceived into worshiping the Beast and his image because they will be deceived into thinking that the end times have not happened yet. This is how millions, possibly as many as a billion people will be deceived into worshiping the Beast and his image, and will be condemned to hell.
Beware! You will not first disappear before the end times. Every Christian still alive will endure the Tribulation period, and many will die during it. Many thousands of Christians will be martyred during this period, and will be given white robes in heaven (Revelation 7:13-14). There will not be any pre-tribulation rapture.
Instead, what there will be is apocalypse, and mass death, and calamity like the world has never seen. The world will eventually be destroyed and Christ will return to gather up all the dead and the remaining living Christians who survived, to meet Him in the air as our great King. The world will be destroyed by fire and a new heaven and a new earth will be made, and the New Jerusalem, the city of God, prepared for us, will descend from heaven as described in Revelation.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Do not be deceived! Not even Christians will escape the end time Tribulation period, except through death, before or during. But fear not! For that which can destroy the body, cannot destroy the soul. Our souls will live on, and in paradise we will be transfigured like Jesus and our bodies will be made anew and perfect (Revelation 21:4). And we will live with Christ Jesus as our High Priest, and with God Himself with us to be our God (Revelation 21:3), forever.