Will we be raptured before the tribulation?

SHARE

By BibleAsk Team


The timing of the rapture relative to the tribulation is a topic of significant debate among Christians. The belief that Christians will be raptured before the tribulation (pre-tribulation rapture) contrasts with the view that Christians will go through the tribulation and be raptured at the second coming of Christ (post-tribulation rapture). This study will focus on the post-tribulation rapture perspective, proving that Christians will endure the tribulation and be raptured at Christ’s second coming, using references from the Bible.

Understanding the Rapture and the Tribulation

  1. Definition of the Rapture

The rapture refers to the event when believers are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV): “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

This passage is foundational to the concept of the rapture, describing how believers will be gathered to Christ.

  1. Definition of the Tribulation

The tribulation is a period of intense suffering and persecution described in the Bible.

Matthew 24:21-22 (NKJV): “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”

Jesus speaks of a time of unparalleled distress, which will be shortened for the sake of the elect.

Scriptural Basis for the Post-Tribulation Rapture

  1. Jesus’ Olivet Discourse

Jesus’ teachings in the Olivet Discourse provide significant insights into the timing of the rapture.

Matthew 24:29-31 (NKJV): “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

This passage indicates that the gathering of the elect (the rapture) occurs after the tribulation, coinciding with the second coming of Christ.

  1. The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares suggests that believers and unbelievers coexist until the end of the age.

Matthew 13:29-30 (NKJV): “But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

The harvest, representing the end of the age, involves the simultaneous separation of the righteous and the wicked.

  1. The Last Trumpet

Paul’s writings about the last trumpet support the post-tribulation rapture view.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (NKJV): “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

The last trumpet, signaling the resurrection and transformation of believers, aligns with the timing described in Matthew 24:31.

The Role of Believers During the Tribulation

  1. Endurance and Witness

Believers are called to endure and witness during the tribulation.

Revelation 7:13-14 (NKJV): “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'”

This passage indicates that there will be believers who endure the tribulation and come out purified.

  1. Persecution and Martyrdom

The tribulation will involve persecution and martyrdom of some of the believers.

Revelation 13:15 (NKJV): “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”

In its attempt to make all earth’s inhabitants give allegiance to the first beast (verse 8), the second beast will issue a decree threatening with death all who maintain their loyalty to God. Some of the saints will be martyred for their faith.

  1. Protection and Provision

Despite the suffering, God promises protection and provision for another group of the faithful.

Isaiah 66:13 (NKJV): “He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure.”

This verse shows God’s protection and provision for those who will survive during the final tribulation.

The Second Coming and the Rapture

  1. The Gathering of the Elect

The second coming of Christ involves the gathering of believers.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NKJV): “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

Paul clarifies that the gathering to Christ will not occur until after significant events, including the revealing of the man of sin, indicating that believers will experience these tribulational events.

  1. Resurrection and Transformation

The resurrection and transformation of believers occur at Christ’s return.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV): “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

This description aligns with the post-tribulation timing, as the events occur at the second coming.

Theological Perspective

All throughout Scripture we see examples of the Lord saving His people through tribulation, not from it. Noah was not saved from the Flood, but through it (Genesis 8). Daniel was not saved from the lions’ den, but through it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were not saved from the fiery furnace, but through it (Daniel 3). And also the children of Israel were not saved from Egypt before the plagues fell, but afterward. God demonstrated His love and power by preserving them in Egypt through the ten plagues. In the same way, the righteous will be in the world when the seven last plagues fall (Revelation 16), but God will preserve them.

Christ prayed to His Father for His disciples, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15, NKJV). Likewise, in 2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV), Paul states, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Paul also stated, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, NKJV). In His parable of the two home builders, Jesus taught that the storm comes to the wise man who builds on the rock just as surely as it comes to the fool who builds upon the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). The storm will come to all. The Lord will deliver His children from the great tribulation (Daniel 12:1) preceding the second advent of Christ.

Theological Implications

  1. Suffering and Perseverance

The post-tribulation view emphasizes the role of suffering and perseverance in the Christian life.

Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV): “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Tribulation is seen as a means of producing spiritual growth and hope.

  1. Faithfulness and Readiness

Believers are called to remain faithful and ready for Christ’s return, despite tribulation.

Matthew 24:42-44 (NKJV): “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 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. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Jesus’ call to watchfulness applies throughout the tribulation period, urging believers to stay prepared.

Conclusion

The post-tribulation rapture perspective asserts that Christians will endure the tribulation and be raptured at the second coming of Christ. This view is supported by various biblical passages, particularly those describing events “after the tribulation” and the gathering of the elect at Christ’s return. The involvement of believers during the tribulation includes enduring persecution, witnessing, some martyrdom and others experiencing God’s protection.

The theological implications of this view emphasize the importance of suffering, perseverance, faithfulness, and readiness. Believers are called to remain steadfast in their faith, even in the face of tribulation and death trusting in God’s ultimate plan and timing. By understanding the biblical basis for the post-tribulation rapture, Christians can better prepare for the challenges ahead and maintain hope in the promise of Christ’s return.

Check out the Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics. 

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

We'd love your feedback, so leave a comment!

If you feel an answer is not 100% Bible based, then leave a comment, and we'll be sure to review it.
Our aim is to share the Word and be true to it.