Some believe the rapture is a new teaching and is not Biblical. I will discuss both subjects here.
First historical evidence it is not new:
The Reverend Morgan Edwards was a Baptist pastor in Philadelphia who described a Pre-Trib return of Christ for His church in his 1788 book “Millennium, Last days Novelties”. Although he saw only a 3 1/2 year Tribulation, he DEFINITELY saw the rapture occur before the Tribulation. What is even more interesting is that he claimed he had preached and written the same thing as early as 1742.
There is an apocalyptic sermon designated as written Pseudo-Ephraim, believed to be written by Ephraim of Nisibis (AD 306-373), a prolific Syrian church father. Some suggest it may not have been written until AD 565-627. It goes as:
“Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare
ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from
the confusion, which overwhelms the world?…All the saints and the elect of
God are gathering together before the tribulation, which is to come and are
taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion
which overwhelms the world because of our sins.”
Historical evidence that the pre-trib rapture is NOT new (check out these links):
Scriptural evidence of a pre-trib rapture:
Rev 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.
This verse shows it will happen before the hour of temptation (the tribulation). Then goes on to describe this temptation.
The word “from” in Rev 3:10 (Greek,ek) literally means “out of”. Here are some other examples of OUT OF in the Bible.
15: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, OUT OF Egypt have I called my son.
5: Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote OUT OF thy brother’s eye.
53: And came OUT OF the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
16: So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee OUT OF my mouth.
The confusion is that many people put the rapture and the 2nd coming of Christ as 1 event. These are 2 separate events. When the rapture takes place, we will meet Christ in the air. At the 2nd coming we will come with Christ on horses to the earth. In the next 2 scriptures you can see the blessed hope of the rapture and the 2nd coming as two distinct events.
Titus 2:13: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
2 Thess 2:
1: Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
God has also promised us that the church is not appointed to the wrath of God, or the Tribulation:
1 Thess 1:
10: And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
The context of this passage is the rapture, for christians are not waiting for the glorious appearing. Paul tells them in 2 Thess 2:1-12 that the glorious appearing will not occur until the anti-christ is revealed. – Tim LaHaye: Revelation Unveiled; Are We Living in the End Times
1 Thess 5:
9: For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
This passage follows the strongest passage on the rapture, and must be considered in light of its context… Paul takes the reader to “times and …seasons” of the “Day of the Lord”. This scripture makes it clear that God did not “appoint us to wrath” (the Tribulation) but to “obtain salvation” or deliverance from it, since so many saints will be martyred during the Tribulation. This promise cannot mean, then, that He will deliver believers DURING or THROUGH the time of the wrath. – Tim LaHaye: Revelation Unveiled; Are We Living in the End Times
Do we know that the tribulation is the Wrath?
16: And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
More scriptural evidence:
Isaiah 26:20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
We can know this verse speaks of the Tribulation because the word “indignation” is the exact same word found in Dan 8:19:
19 And he said, Behold, I will make you know what shall happen in the last end of the indignation. For it is for the time appointed for the end.
I have found even more scriptural evidence that there will be 2 major comings for the church.
Math 22: MKJV
2 The kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king who made a marriage for his son.
3 And he sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they would not come.
5 But not caring, they went their ways, one to his field, another to his trading.
6 And the rest took his servants and treated them spitefully, and killed them.
7 But when the king heard, he was angry. And he sent out his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8 Then he said to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they who were invited were not worthy.
9 Therefore go into the exits of the highways, and as many as you shall find, invite them to the marriage.
10 So the servants went out into the highways and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. And the wedding was filled with reclining guests.
11 And the king coming in to look over the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.
12 And he said to him, Friend, how did you come in here without having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
13 Then the king said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
We know that the wedding feast is in heaven because the King is there. And the King is NOT the groom:
verse 2: …a certain king who made a marriage for his son.
We also see that the first ones invited did not come. This is Israel, therefore God called the gentiles. Then we see a guest not dressed properly. This is a representative of those christians who have not prepared themselves for Christ, and trying to obtain the wedding feast without being ready.
So these christians are not holy and prepared for His coming. But He will come for them later:
Luke 12: NKJV
35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Here we see the Lord returning from a wedding (verse 36).
I discuss elsewhere the idea of this partial rapture, you can read about it here:
But for here, this is evidence of a pre-trib rapture. One visit before the wedding, 1 visit after!
Some folks will take a passage that describes end time events like this one in Peter…
2 Pet 3:
10: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
..they will say such a verse cannot be broken up into separate events or long periods of time.
Here are 2 such examples of scriptures being broken up into extended periods of time.
1: …for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
2: A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness…
11: … for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
28: … that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids … will I pour out my spirit.
30: And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
Acts chapter 2 fulfilled part of THAT day, it was not ALL fulfilled.
Here is another example where a passage of scripture is thousands of years long in being fulfilled:
1: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2: To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
In particular verse 2. Jesus read these passages and stopped halfway through verse 2 and said it was fulfilled. But not ALL of verse 2. The vengeance of our God is not yet fulfilled. Here is Jesus with all this:
17: And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19: To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20: And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21: And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
So here we have 1 verse, which was partially fulfilled 2000 years ago, but the rest has yet to be fulfilled. Jesus, Himself, stopped half way through the verse and declared it was so.
Let’s also remember the Bible was not written in chapters and verses. We added verses and chapters for easier study.
More scriptural evidence of a pre-trib rapture:
2 Thess 2: NKJV
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 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. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
The church is the restrainer. Once the restrainer is gone, then the anti-christ can come.
Matt 5:13 You are the salt of the earth…
Jesus actually discusses what happens to the christians who lose their saltiness! And I discuss that here:
Since that is not the subject of this post, I will not go into that here. But the importance here is that Christians are the salt of the earth. Salt preserves, and we preserve the earth. The Bible states the end time started when Jesus came! It is our presence that has kept the anti-christ from arriving. The apostles had stated that the spirit of the anti-christ had already been released!
1 John 2:18 ¶ Little children, it is the last time. And just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have risen up, from which we know that it is the last hour.
1 John 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the antichrist you heard is coming, and even now is already in the world.
So, 2 Thess 2 as shown above tells us the anti-christ will not be revealed until we are gone!
More scriptural evidence:
Jesus will receive us to Himself, and not us to receive Him (John 14:2-3).
2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so , I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I am, you may be also.
Jesus said He would prepare a place for the Church in heaven, and then He would come again to receive us to Himself. Why would Jesus prepare a place for us in heaven and then not take us there? At the Rapture, He will come to receive us to Himself. If the Rapture occurred at the same time as the Second Coming, we would go up to
the clouds and then immediately come back to earth. That would contradict John 14:2-3. And we would have mansions in heaven, while we are on the earth with Jesus.
The Rapture is described as occurring at any time without warning.
Jesus stated in Matthew 24:42,44 to “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Not only do believers in Christ not know when to expect Him, but the Father Himself seems to have left Jesus out on the exact time His Son is to return. As Jesus stated in Matthew 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” These and other verses (Mat. 24:36,42,44,50; 25:13; 1 Thes. 4:18; Tit. 2:13; 1 Jn. 2:28; 3:2-3) indicate that Jesus’ arrival will come when nobody expects it.
The Second Coming, on the other hand, is preceded by many events, such as the rise of the Antichrist (Rev. 12:13-17; Zech; 13:7-9), a treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:27), the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple (Mat. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:3-4; Rev. 11:1-2), as well as plagues and judgments and persecutions destroying most of the world’s population (Rev. 6-18). The Book of Revelation reports these events as occurring during the 7-year Tribulation, which Revelation reveals precede the Second Coming.
Because the Rapture could happen at any moment and without warning and the Second Coming is preceded by so many signs, then the Rapture and Second Coming must be different events. The Rapture has to occur before the seven years’ worth of signs, because Christians are called to look for the Lord’s return rather than signs such as the Antichrist’s arrival. Once the signs begin, then the seven year countdown begins towards its end with Christ’s return at the Second Coming.
Jesus’ imminent return dismisses any of the other viewpoints related to a rapture that occur within or at the end of the Tribulation.
The Bible does indeed show a pre-tribulation rapture, and there are I am sure other evidences not shown here. I, myself, was taught against it, but when studying scripture found otherwise. I did this on my my own accord and not by the teachings of men, I found those afterwards!