Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Don’t you wish there was a question and answer addendum written for Paul’s letters, especially the ones written to the Thessalonians? Paul is writing a letter to clarify the fact that the “believers” who have died have not missed the “Rapture of the Church” but both the dead in Christ and those alive in Christ will be caught up to the Lord in the air at the time of the Rapture … which is a future event. And then Paul reminds the believers that the “Day of the Lord” will come suddenly upon “unbelievers” like labor pains and “the unbelievers” will not escape … this too is a future event that will occur when they are saying “Peace and Safety”.
Note, the Day of the Lord is referring to the 7 year Tribulation period, the time of Jacob’s trouble, the last 7 years of discipline left for the Jews. It is the day when the Lord starts to judge the earth by opening the first of seven seals in Heaven. During the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation period the Lord’s judgement comes from the Antichrist and Beast government upon those who accept Christ as their Savior. During the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation the Lord’s judgement comes upon the whole world from God’s hand, Angels and from Demonic beings.
Paul speaks of the Rapture of the Church and “then” the Day of the Lord …. occurring in that order …. almost simultaneously … the believers are “taken” in the rapture and the unbelievers are “left”. And where have we heard this teaching before?
Matthew 24: 36“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.37“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.40“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41“Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
42“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44“For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
Do you see how Paul’s words parallel Jesus words? The Bride of Christ, the Church, is the jewel on the earth and Jesus is the thief who steals the Bride before the judgement comes upon the world … this is the one who is “taken”. The day when the thief comes will be like the days of Noah, when the world is ripe with sin and there is a great falling away from God. People will be enjoying doing their own thing, saying we have established “Peace and Safety” by a covenant with man and therefore we don’t need peace with God or peace by His rules. At this time Jesus will steal away His Bride (the Rapture of the Church) and then sudden destruction will come upon those left behind (the Day of the Lord).
This is what makes sense to me and I think this is what made sense to the believers that Paul was speaking too. Paul wrote in his letter that this topic was familiar to the believers most likely because Jesus taught it and the other apostles taught it and he himself had taught it when he was in Thessaloniki. I think because the topic was familiar to the believers Paul didn’t elaborate in his letter on the details of the Rapture or the details of the Day of the Lord. And even though at times I wish Paul had been more clear about the timing of the Rapture, by being brief on this topic, it gives believers and opportunity to dig into the scripture like a Berean, by faith, doing your own Bible study and listening to the Holy Spirit to lead you into the truth.
This is why I am not concerned about the disagreements in the body of Christ over the timing of the Rapture and the details about the Day of the Lord. Each believer needs to read God’s word and let the living word of God speak to them. I cannot answer for your understanding of scripture before God and you cannot answer for me. I am a watchman for the Lord and this is what I see from my watch post.
2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians was to clarify that the dead in Christ would be raptured along with those alive in Christ and the rapture would occur “before” the Day of the Lord. However, someone wrote a letter to the Thessalonians after Paul’s first letter telling them that the Day of the Lord had already started and they missed the Rapture … “our gathering together to Him”. And though they knew the teaching on this topic very well, they were still mislead. And this is the problem with sheep (believers) … we are prone to wonder … prone to leave the One we love but praise the Lord, this gives Paul another opportunity to clarify the teaching of the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for “it” will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
The “it” that Paul is referring to in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is the Day of the Lord … the Tribulation period, not the Rapture. The false letter was telling the believers that the Day of the Lord was already here. Paul is comforting the Thessalonians, letting them know that their “Blessed Hope” is still intact. Paul is saying that “before” the Day of the Lord occurs the Church will be dead in apostasy teaching, no longer preaching the gospel of Salvation by “Grace” through faith in Jesus Christ alone but it will be teaching a false gospel. Of course right from the start, Paul was rebuking false teachers and especially those who were teaching that you had to follow the legalism of Jews to be keep your Salvation and grow in your faith. To me the largest growing apostasy in the Church of Jesus Christ today is that you need to do works of repentance or good works to keep your Salvation or grow in Sanctification … this teaching focuses on the “me” and the works I am doing, instead of Jesus and receiving His Grace and joining in the works He is doing.
Note, a new video by Scott Clarke is proposing that the “departure, falling away, rebellion” Strongs 646 “apostasia” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is referring to a form of worship that Israel will set up, like the Noahide worship they are planning Sept 25? (click here).
The Day of the Lord will “start” with the revelation of the Antichrist, the son of destruction which occurs when the first seal of Revelation is opened. However, the Antichrist can’t be revealed until the “restrainer” of the Holy Spirit is “taken” out of the way. The born again believers are the ones who have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of the Saints, is restraining the gates of hell from being opened on the earth until Jesus like a thief in the night Raptures His Bride to Heaven!
Some people think Paul is contradicting himself because they think the “it” that Paul is referring to in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is “the Day of Christ”, the Rapture instead of the “the Day of the Lord”, the Tribulation. This confusion is caused by the Greek text used for the KJV translation vs the older Greek text used for the NASB translation. In 2 Thessalonians 2:2, the KJV uses the Greek word Strongs 5547, Christos (the Anointed One) and NASB uses the Greek word Strongs 2962, Kurios, meaning Lord (the One of authority). The Day of Christ is a Blessed Anointed Appearing but the Day of the Lord, is an appearing of Judgment.
Day of Christ – Rapture of the Church (end of Church Age)
Day of the Lord – Reveling of the Antichrist (start of 7 year Tribulation)
Day of the Lord – Armageddon (end of 7 year Tribulation)
Day of Christ – Reveling of Jesus as Messiah to Jews (end of Jewish Age – start of Millennium)
It does not make sense for Paul to say “don’t be alarmed brothers and sisters that the Rapture has occurred”. It is illogical to say that you missed the Rapture when no believer was reported missing because of the Rapture. The Thessalonians were not concerned that they had missed the Rapture but they were concerned that the Day of the Lord had started and the Rapture was delayed or wasn’t going to happen.
1 Thessalonians 4: 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul said the Rapture of the Church for both those “asleep in Christ – in the grave” and those “alive in Christ” is as certain as their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul says, we who are alive are those who “remain” on the earth … meaning that those who are asleep in Christ are already with the Lord but do not have their resurrected body. “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 5:8
If you read the “it” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as “the Rapture” instead of “the Tribulation”, then you have a confusing and contradictory statement … the (1) Apostasy will come first and then the (2) Antichrist will be revealed then (3) “the Rapture” will occur but first the (3) Rapture must occur then (2) the Antichrist will be revealed after the Rapture. But if you read the “it” as the “the Tribulation – the Day of the Lord” then Paul is saying the order of the end times is (1) Apostasy and (2) the Antichrist revealed and then (3) the Day of the Lord will occur and the Rapture happens after event (1) Apostasy and before event (2) the Antichrist is revealed.
(1) Apostasy -> *RAPTURE* -> (2) Antichrist revealed -> (3) Day of the Lord
The Holy Spirit in the Church is the restraining influence that is keeping the Antichrist from coming onto the world scene to assume his position. The Holy Spirit is also the restraining influence that is preserving and purifying the real believers. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church but when the Church is raptured to Heaven it will be as though the gates of hell will be opened, since Fallen Angels will be cast down by Satan to earth (Revelation 12:4) and a deluding spirit falls upon people (2 Thessalonians 2:11), deceiving them to believe that the Antichrist can bring world peace, especially the Jews who will think the Antichrist is their Messiah. In other words when the Holy Spirit in the Church is “taken” in the Rapture (the Day of Christ Jesus) then the Tribulation (Day of the Lord) will begin.
2 Thessalonians 2 8Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
The Antichrist will easily deceive most people that he is the man who can fix all the woes of the world because God will send a strong deluding influence upon those who rejected the salvation of Jesus Christ during the Church Age. This delusion is what will convince people that those who were taken were taken in the Rapture were taken in judgement by Aliens … who will be the Fallen Angels manifest upon the earth. The delusion will convince people to take the mark of the Beast so they can have super human capabilities like the Fallen Angles and the false hope of eternal life … but this will really seal a person for the eternal destruction and damnation of their soul. Note, during the Church Age a person is sealed for redemption in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. The deluding influence is like the Anti-Holy-Spirit and instead of sealing a person for redemption this spirit seals them for eternal damnation!
In conclusion, when you study God’s word you start to see a pattern of “two” in the Bible … good and evil … right and wrong … like the Tree of Life (trusting Christ) and the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil (trusting self). There is also the pattern of “two” found in the escape of the righteous followed by the judgement of the wicked … with this pattern fulfilled during the saving of Noah and his family and the Flood of the earth and during the saving of Lot’s family and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. And this is the pattern that the Rapture/Tribulation follows … first the escape of the righteous (the Rapture of the born again Church) then the judgement of the wicked (the seven year Tribulation period).
– Blessings and Maranatha – Rogersings +8^)
For those who like to say that the Rapture was a doctrine dreamed up in the 1800’s by John Darby here is a good article showing that the early Church Fathers believed in a pre-Tribulation Rapture!
On the subject of the Rapture, in Against Heresies 5.29, he wrote:
“Those nations however, who did not of themselves raise up their eyes unto heaven, nor returned thanks to their Maker, nor wished to behold the light of truth, but who were like blind mice concealed in the depths of ignorance, the word justly reckons “as waste water from a sink, and as the turning-weight of a balance — in fact, as nothing;”(1) so far useful and serviceable to the just, as stubble conduces towards the growth of the wheat, and its straw, by means of combustion, serves for working gold. And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, “There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.”(2) For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption.”
Irenaeus in this passage describes the church leaving the sinful world just before unprecedented disasters. Note his use of the term “caught up” which is Rapture terminology as that is the meaning of harpazo, the term for “caught up” in the King James Bible describing the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4. He then quotes Matthew 24:21 where The Lord Jesus Christ says: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” And it is during this time that those who convert to Christianity during the final years will receive the incorruptible crown mentioned by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:25. In Irenaeus’ belief, the Rapture took place prior to the end times Great Tribulation.
Here is another good article: “Examining the Evidence For the Pre-Trib Rapture“.
Also watch the below video The Rapture Of The Church And The Revealing Of The Antichrist: