1 Thessalonians 5:9
The apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle to the Thessalonians, “For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Many interpret this verse to mean that God will rapture the saints before His wrath comes upon the world and that they will not have to go through the great tribulation.
But this is not what Paul was saying. The context reveals that God’s “wrath” is the same as the “sudden destruction” (verse 3) that falls upon the lost when “the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night” (verse 2). Therefore, the phrase “God has not appointed us to wrath” simply means that His wrath will not fall on true Christians when Jesus Christ returns.
Will the Saints Go Through the Tribulation?
Prior to Christ’s return, the 7 last plagues of God’s wrath will fall upon the world (Revelation 16). These plagues are very similar to the 10 plagues that fell upon the Egyptians in the time of Moses. Were the Isralites taken out of Egypt at the time of the plagues? No, they were in Egypt but were protected from it (Exodus 8:22; 9:6; etc.).
The following are some Bible references that show that the saints will go through the tribulation:
Matthew 24:21, 22 – Jesus said that a terrible time of trouble would come upon the world just before His return and that it would be more intense than any other in the history of this world. “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 except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.”
John 16:33 – Jesus added, “In the world YOU shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Acts 14:22 – Paul told Christians, “We through much tribulation must enter the kingdom of God.”
Romans 5:3 – True Christians are to “glory in tribulations” because “tribulation works patience” and develops Christian character.
2 Thessalonians 1:4 – Paul wrote of the many “persecutions and tribulations” which “the churches of God” were enduring in the first century (Christians were thrown to the lions and burned at the stake).
Revelation 1:9 – John was our “companion in tribulation.”
Revelation 2:10 – Again to His church, Jesus said, “YOU shall have tribulation…”
Revelation 7:14 – God’s word confirms that His end-time people “came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” They did not escape it, but endured through it, being purified.
Daniel 12:1 – “At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”
The Main Issue
The major issue is not per-tribulation versus post-tribulation, but whether we are among the OBEDIENT OR DISOBEDIENT. Paul wrote that “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6). When God’s wrath falls, the disobedient will experience it to the fullest, no matter whether they claim to be Christians or not.
Profession is worthless. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven…” (Matthew 7:21-23). Those who think they will disappear in the “rapture” before the tribulation, and yet who are now living in disobedience to God’s word, will experience God’s wrath unless they repent. Jesus will judge them “with the hypocrites” (Matthew 24:51).
Peter exhorts the believers to act “as obedient children” (1 Peter 1:14). Confessing Jesus as Lord is not enough, but the life must show the fruits of faithfulness to God. Jesus declared, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:16). Those who truly love the Lord and are fully surrendered to His will have no fear of the times of trouble and tribulation if they obey the voice of God through His Word.
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In His service,