The rapture is the catching away of believing saints from the earth to meet Jesus Christ in the air. The English word “rapture” is not in the Bible but derives from the Latin word raptura, which means, “to carry away.” We translate the Greek word that relates to the word rapture with “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. This colorful word, harpazoreminds us of the word “harpoon” or, “to snatch away suddenly.” Two classic New Testament passages that deal with the rapture are 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. At the rapture of the church, Christians will be with Jesus forever!
1 Cor. 15:52 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 Thessalonians 4:17, 18: 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.
While God’s people have honest differences on the timing of the rapture, whether it is before, in the middle of, or at the end of the Tribulation time, there are good reasons to believe from Scripture that the rapture occurs before the tribulation. Here are three powerful reasons to maintain the pre-tribulational rapture view.
1. The rapture happens imminently.
The New Testament breathes that Jesus Christ is coming again and that He can come again at any moment (1 Thess.1:10; 1 Cor.1:7). God’s people from the days of the apostles to this present moment have had the clear sense that Jesus can come back during our lifetime. The imminent return of Jesus Christ is only possible with a pre-tribulational catching away of believers. “The Lord is at hand” (Phil.4:5) and “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8). Many verses speak of the believer living today as Jesus can come at any moment (John 14:2, 3; Titus 2:13; Phil.3:20; 1 Tim.6:14).
2. The Tribulation is God’s dealing with National Israel and not the church.
Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most important prophetic passages in Scripture. This section begins: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city.” While these verses are very complex, many believe that the 70 weeks are 70 x 7 years, or a 490-year period of God’s dealing with National Israel, His “people.” The last seven-year period, or the last week, is the seven-year tribulation. What is important to grasp is that these years are God’s dealing with national Israel. The church did not exist during any part of the first 69 weeks, or 483 years, and there is no Biblical reason to believe that the church is present for the final week, or the seven-year tribulation time. We must always keep the distinction of difference between Israel and the Church, and the tribulation is the time of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer.30:7). In fact, during the Tribulation time in Revelation 6-18, the church receives no mentions but Israel is prominent in God’s dealing. Why? Because the Lord raptured the church prior to the beginning of the tribulation.
3. The church is not called to wrath, and the seven-year tribulation is a time of God’s wrath.
Revelation 6-18 describes in detail the wrath of God upon the earth and unbelieving nations in order to bring Israel to salvation. Thankfully, God has delivered us from this wrath that is to come upon the earth. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess.5:9). God promised the church in Revelation 3:10: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” The purpose of the 70th week is to bring tribulation upon all the earth and God promises the church deliverance from this coming time of judgment from God.
Let us ever continue to live holy lives for Christ, looking for the blessed hope of Christ’s imminent coming in the clouds! There are many other Biblical reasons to believe in a pre-tribulational rapture, but these are three of the best.