The pre-tribulation theory says that everyone will be raptured before the days of tribulation that Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:21 and Matthew 24:29. This is the theory that I was led to believe for the majority of my life. As a teenager back in the seventies, we would sometimes be shown films that featured the end times. They always showed, as most films do today, Christians disappearing with their clothes left behind and everyone that remained on earth panicking because no one is able to explain it. I sure hope it happens this way, but after examining the scriptures, I truly have my doubts.
It bothers me when a preacher is dogmatic about preaching the pre-tribulation theory. Most Christians have never even studied Revelation on their own, so what is taught about this matter is very critical. When this topic is expounded on, it should be taught as a “theory” only because it is a subject that is highly debated among the wisest of Christian scholars. I have a fear that if any of the church (by the church I mean the followers of Christ, not the physical building) is still here when the mark of the beast is instituted, having not been raptured, that they may lose confidence in God because “the preacher said that we wouldn’t have to go through this!”. I worry that they could possibly lose sight of the fact that it will still be possible to escape the horrors of this time period if they just keep the faith; we are promised that in His Word, but it may not be by Him rapturing us at the beginning. Could it possibly be that He will guide us to flee and miraculously supply our needs so that we will know that He is God? I’m especially concerned about the ones that have been “church-goers” but have never accepted Christ as their Savior. I fear some may take the mark of the beast out of frustration realizing that they have been taught wrong if this theory is incorrect. The Bible tells us in Matthew 24:10 and 1 Timothy 4:1 that many will abandon the faith.
As you delve into this subject, please keep an open mind and do realize that no one can be 100% sure when we will be taken up to be with Christ, as told to us in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. We can hope for the pre-tribulation theory to be right, but we need to be ready in case it is not. Do not be caught off guard! It is always better to be prepared for the worse and then for the better to happen then to be prepared for the better outcome but instead, the worse happens.
Do not form an opinion until after you have read and studied all the theories, and even then, please be cautious of becoming dogmatic about it. Focus more on living for Christ and examining your heart to make sure that you are in compliance with His will for your life.
Below are some scriptures used to support this theory:
- Daniel 12:1 This scripture talks about a very distressful time – one like no other, BUT the ones “found written in the book” will be delivered. Which book is this? The Book of Life is the book where everyone who will be with Christ for eternity is written. (Revelation 20:15) but there are more books than this one as seen in Revelation 20:12. It would be nice if the book mentioned in this verse is the Book of Life but there is no surety of this. (And note that this verse does not specify the method of deliverance.)
- 1 Thessalonians 5:3: People are saying “Peace and safety” at the coming of the Lord. If people are saying this, it stands to reason that the Lord may return for us before the great tribulation mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24:21. This is when the antichrist will be on a mission to conquer the world, and it will be a tremendously devastating time. It doesn’t seem like anyone will be feeling safe or at peace then.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: I have heard this referred to as the “rapture text”. We learn that we will be caught up to be with Jesus, with the dead in Christ rising first. Jesus comes down and gives a loud command, and we meet Him in the air. This is quite different from the final time He returns in Revelation 19:11-16. At that point, He returns on a white horse with the armies of heaven behind Him. There will definitely be two returns of Jesus which will be discussed in great detail in a future post.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:7: Something is holding back the power of the antichrist. Most pre-tribulationists say that this is the church because they believe that the church will have to be removed before the antichrist can begin His work Even if this is correct, there is still the fact told to us in Daniel 9:27 that the antichrist’s abomination that destroys will not be revealed until halfway through the “week” (which is actually seven years). There is a possibility that we won’t even recognize him as the antichrist until this point, which is discussed more thoroughly in my book, Biblical Answers to End Time Questions.
- Revelation 3:10: The church of Philadelphia is going to be kept from the “hour of temptation”. Is the hour of temptation the entire tribulation period, and does this verse say the way that they will be spared? That is not clearly spelled out. Compare this verse to Revelation 2:26, the letter to the Church of Thyatira, who will be here until the end.
- One of the main reasons that some are convinced that the pre-tribulation is right is because the word “church” is not mentioned after chapter three in Revelation. The word “saint” is though (Revelation 13:7,10 and Revelation 14:12). (Depending on your version of the Bible, these verses can say saint or holy; they are interchangeable). The word saint was used referring to those who follow Jesus and made up the church in New Testament times. (see Romans 1:6-7; Acts 9:13, 26:9-10; Philippians 4:21-22). Also, there will be multitudes coming out of the tribulation who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9,13-14). So are we to say that they are not part of the “church” and not a “bride” of Christ? And again, the church of Thyatira will be here until the end. (Revelation 2:26)
What are your thoughts on the pre-tribulation theory? Do you know any other scriptures that could possibly support this theory? Please put them in the comments below if you do.