Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Verse 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Paul and the Pre-Trib Rapture
Commentary by Jack Kelley
This is not meant to be a complete commentary
Thessalonians 2.Instead, I want to
demonstrate that Paul had to have taught the Thessalonians that the rapture of
the Church would precede the End Times judgments. Think of it as a supplement
to your study of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, as well as a Biblical rebuttal to the
claim that the pre-trib rapture is a relatively new idea.
By most accounts
Paul stayed in Thessalonica for only about 3 weeks and during that time he
founded a Church and taught them the doctrines of salvation and sanctification,
the Trinity, the nature of man, the assurance of pardon, and the Day of
the Lord. He continued teaching them after he left with his first letter,
written from Corinth in 51 AD, in which he introduced the doctrine of the
rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Shortly after that they received another letter appearing to be from him,
announcing that the Day of the Lord had come. They reacted with
fear and confusion and immediately sought clarification.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus
and our being gathered to Him, we ask you brothers, not to become easily
unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy report or letter supposed to have come
from us saying that the Day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let any one
deceive you in any way for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs
and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.(2
From Paul’s response it’s clear the
letter they were concerned about had been a forgery, sent by someone pretending
to be him and designed to frighten them. It worked. The Greek words
for unsettle and alarm literally mean to agitate, incite, and frighten.
Something in the letter had contradicted their understanding of his teaching
and they were upset. Reading2 Thes 2:1-3we see that the forgery must have disputed
Paul’s teaching on events leading up to the Day of the Lord. This is the
only logical explanation for his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians.
Notice that right from the beginning Paul
separated the coming of the Lord from our being gathered to Him. That’s because
they’re two different events. We can’t tell their relative timing
from this, but we can tell they’re not the same thing. The Second Coming
is when He comes back down to Earth to be with His people here, while from1
know the rapture has us going up to meet Him in the air and continuing to
Heaven to be with Him there (John
14:2-3). The 2nd coming will be witnessed by everyone (Matt. 24:30), but the rapture is an
instantaneous disappearance of believers only (1
Corinthians 15:51-52) that happens without warning.
That Was Written In The Past Was Written To Teach Us
The quote above is fromRomans
15:4. It tells us that Paul wasn’t just writing to the
Thessalonian believers. He was also writing to us. Think about it.
The Day of the Lord is a term that always refers to the End Times and most
often to the Great Tribulation. If Paul had taught them to expect a
post-tribulation rapture would they have been agitated and frightened upon
receiving the forgery? No! It would more likely have made them
think the 2nd coming was only a few years away and many of them would live to
The only justification for their fear and
confusion would be if Paul had taught them a pre-trib rapture. In that case a
letter telling them the Day of the Lord had come would mean they had missed the
rapture, and that would mean they weren’t saved. Now we can see how they
would be agitated, angry and afraid. Imagine how you would you feel in a
situation like that.
can begin to construct Paul’s teaching on the chronology of events leading up
to the Day of the Lord. Remember, there’s an abundance of proof from his other
letters showing that Paul taught the doctrine of eternal security, aka once
saved always saved. Some of the most obvious references areRomans
Corinthians 1:21-22, 2 Corinthians 5:5,Ephesians 1:13-14,andEphesians 4:30. In all of
them Paul taught that true believers cannot fall away from faith for any
reason. He said the Lord guaranteed our inheritance and sealed the Holy
Spirit inside us as a deposit.
But Paul spoke of a rebellion (falling away) in2
would have to precede the Day of the Lord. The Greek word translated
rebellion is apostasia, from which we get apostasy. It means people would
abandon something they once considered themselves to be part of and the context
implies that it’s the church. You can’t fall away from something unless
you first think of yourself as being part of it. But true believers
can’t fall away at all. Therefore this rebellion or apostasy has to
involve those who thought of themselves as being part of the church, but
weren’t really saved.
Don’t be confused about this. We see
believers-in-name-only leaving traditional churches to join the Emerging Church
all around us, but rebellion is as much attitude as it is action and they don’t
think they’re rebelling against God. They see themselves as still being
in the Church. In fact they think they’re the best part of it. Far
from being rebellious, they call themselves followers of Christ, not just
believers in him, and doers of the word, not just hearers. They’re not
sitting in Churches on Sunday listening to the same tired old messages on sin
and salvation and coming forward to be born again. No. They’re out
there in the world, thinking they’re changing it for Jesus.
These advocates of the so-called social gospel
don’t realize it’s not what you do for the Lord that matters, it’s what you
believe He’s done for you. The only work the Lord requires of us is that
we believe in the one He sent (John
6:29). That means to believe God chose to send His Son to
Earth to die for our sins so we can choose to live with Him in Eternity (John 3:16). The righteous
work of a thousand lifetimes will not suffice in place of this belief.
When these believers-in-name-only discover
the true Church has disappeared while they’ve been left behind, that’s when
they’ll rebel against God and join the other side. By the time the
anti-Christ makes his claim to deity, the whole world will follow him (Revelation 13:8) and they’ll be
right in the forefront.
End Times According To Paul
He will oppose and will exalt himself
over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up
in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.(2
After the rapture and the falling away of
believers-in-name-only into His world-wide counterfeit religion, the
anti-Christ will be revealed for who he really is by proclaiming himself to be God.
Remember, the sequence Paul gave was first the apostasy, and then the man of
lawlessness will be revealed.
For the secret power of lawlessness is
already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till
he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the
Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the
splendor of his coming(2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
Here Paul confirmed this sequence, saying a
restrainer is currently holding things back. After the restrainer is
taken out of the way the anti-Christ will be revealed. This restrainer is
the Holy Spirit, sealed within the Church. After the rapture, the Holy
Spirit will be out of the way, the rebellion will take place, and the
anti-Christ will be revealed. These things can’t happen until the church
The coming of the lawless one will be in
accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit
miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives
those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and
so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that
they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not
believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness(2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Most likely, the anti-Christ will already be
known as a great statesman and leader, but by declaring himself to be God
he’ll be laying claim to Planet Earth. This claim will kick off the Great
Tribulation (Matthew 24:15-21)
and will be accompanied by all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders
that will deceive those who have fallen away into thinking they have finally
found the truth. But in reality they will have rejected the truth and embraced
a lie. At the end of the Great Tribulation the Lord will return to over
throw the anti-Christ and destroy him by the splendor of His coming and those
who believe the lie will perish as well.
In his letters to
the Thessalonians Paul didn’t reveal the actual timing of the Rapture except as
it relates to other events. It may be one of the things he was forbidden to
speak about (2 Corinthians 12:4).
All we know is for reasons of His own the Lord has never given us a specific
date for the rapture. But by carefully studying passages describing it
and maintaining the view that the Bible cannot contradict itself, the astute
believer can obey the commandment to “know the times and seasons” and construct
with some assurance the correct sequence of events. Paul criticized the
Thessalonians for not figuring this out back then (2
Thessalonians 2:5) and would even more strongly criticize the
church today for the same reason.