As you can tell by the name, the Post-Tribulation rapture theory means everyone–Christian and non-Christian/Believers and non-Believers–goes through the seven years of the Great Tribulation, experiencing some form of God’s wrath on the world, and the rapture takes place afterwards, during the Second Coming. Not a popular theory among some Christians for obvious reasons.
PURPOSE OF THE POST-TRIBULATION RAPTURE
Pre and Mid-Trib theories say that the rapture is for believers to avoid God’s wrath poured out on the earth in the last days. But the purpose of a post-tribulation rapture at the end of the Great Tribulation is for all believers on the earth to personally witness the promised return of Jesus in the Second Coming. The dead rise first then the living believers are transformed and ushered by angels to Jerusalem where they can see Jesus Christ arrive in the air, and the armies with him.
The Pre-Trib theory states that the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15 is not necessarily the last trumpet of Revelation.
The Post-Trib theory states that there is only one specific last trumpet in the bible, found in two scriptures:
1. “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep [die], but we will be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised immortal, and we [who are alive] will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
2. In Book of Revelation, seven trumpets announce end time events. The last trumpet proclaims victory: “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever'” (Revelations 11:15). In this passage, the Second Coming and surrounding events have happened, the antichrist defeated, and Christ rules his kingdom.
The rapture is announced at the sound of a trumpet in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52, both of which are the last and seventh trumpet of Rev 11:15, heralding the Second Coming. “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left [survive] till the coming of the Lord [Second Coming], will certainly not precede [go ahead of] those who have fallen asleep [died],” (1 Thess 4:15).
Why won’t we precede them? Paul explains why in the next verse. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven [the Second Coming], with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left [survived] will be caught up [raptured] to meet the Lord in the air,” (1 Thess 4:16-17). The dead first, then the living, rise up to meet Jesus in the air–above the earth, during the Second Coming.
Why would God want us to meet Jesus during the Second Coming? To witness this magnificently huge and promised event, perhaps even participate in some capacity. The rapture is the believer’s reward for remaining faithful to Jesus, while believing in his resurrection and promised return.
MATTHEW 24 – Part 1
Pre and Mid-Trib theories teach that the rapture and Second Coming are separate events, years apart and not related.
The Post-Trib view sees it differently. In Matthew 24:30-31, after describing the Great Tribulation, Jesus says, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” According to this passage, Jesus is describing the Second Coming and the rapture of believers. First, people see something in the sky, indicating the immediate return of Jesus. Then Jesus says a loud trumpet sounds and he sends his angels. The angels have a task: Gather the elect, the living believers from all over the world, just before he arrives.
MATTHEW 24 – Part 2
How many times does Jesus return?
Pre and Mid-Trib theories say that Jesus came when he was born, and for the rapture, then for the Second Coming. But the bible clearly teaches that Jesus only comes to Earth two times: his birth and the Second Coming. According to Matthew 24, the rapture is not a separate trumpet or a separate event, but is intimately tied to the Second Coming, and what must be the last trumpet, sounded at the Second Coming.
NOT SUFFER GOD’S WRATH
Pre and Mid-Trib theories state that believers will be spared from God’s wrath poured out on the earth in the end times.
The Post-Trib view is that if believers have had to suffer for their faith throughout the ages, so how can we justify the idea that God would spare End Time believers from a similar fate?
We are supposed to consider it an honor to suffer for Christ. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-19).
Some bible passages suggest that believers will be present during the Great Tribulation, but not suffer like the unbelievers. For example, Rev 14:9-12 tells us that the people who worship the beast and his image and receive the mark are the only ones who will experience God’s fury at that time. Rev 16:2 tells us only the people who received the mark of the beast experience ugly and painful sores. But of course, if a great asteroid slams into the earth (Rev 18:21), all kinds of people will die–believers and unbelievers.
While God’s wrath is poured out on the unbelieving world, Jews and believers are attacked and persecuted by the antichrist and his minions. For example, in the Old Testament, God’s wrath is poured out on the Jews for their unbelief. For their disobedience, God even allows Jerusalem to be captured and the inhabitants taken into Babylonian captivity. But out of that mess, we see the rise of Daniel and his dear friends–believers who never lost faith in God, although they suffered the same fate as the rest of the city.
But consider this: After describing God’s wrath on the world as “unequaled from the beginning of the world until now” (Matthew 24:21), Jesus goes on to say, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would have survived, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matt 24:22). Now, who do the angels gather from the four winds in the rapture? God’s elect (Matt 24:31).
NOT SUFFER ANYTHING
The Pre-Trib view uses the example of Noah to suggest that believers will be spared God’s wrath and suffer nothing.
The Post-Trib view is that the antichrist is given power to harm all believers–all saints. “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them…He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for time, times and a half time [3 1/2 years, last half of Great Tribulation]” (Dan 7:21, 25).
According to Jesus and the apostles, believers can expect suffering. “Blessed are you when [not if] people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me [Jesus]. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12). See also, Mark 13:9-14; Luke 21:12-19; John 16:1-4,33; James 1:2-3, 12. Peter says it is an honor to suffer and/or die for Christ (1 Peter 4:12-19). So why would we expect God to spare us from something many believers experienced throughout history, including Jesus? Don’t use Noah as an example; Noah and his family also went through God’s wrath on the earth, while floating in a boat. It wasn’t a picnic and it wasn’t easy.
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the Key of David. What he opens, no one can shut; and what he shuts, no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you and open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to those those who live on the earth'” (Revelations 3:7-8, 10).
The Pre-Trib theory believes that the Philadelphia Church is about righteous believers who experience the rapture.
Who are the members of the Philadelphia Church? How are they described? Little strength, kept my word, did not deny my name, endured patiently. This passage does not describe every day believers or American Christians. Instead it actually describes the Persecuted Church: those dear and precious believers who have already suffered greatly for their faith, have already been severely tested, but remained faithful.
They have already endured patiently and faithfully, so God offers them an Open Door–The Philadelphia Door–to temporarily escape the suffering, but only if they choose. I can imagine that Jesus or an angel will come to them in a vision, offering the opened door. A person might choose to walk through the door, but for deep and personal reasons, a person might decide to stay.
Isaiah 26:20 talks about this idea. “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.” Then they will join the other believers as they are being raptured at the end of the Great Tribulation, during the Second Coming.
The next verse describes the End Times: “See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins [not just the Jewish people]. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.” Conceal her slain no longer sounds like a resurrection event: The dead rise first…
THE CHURCH AFTER REVELATION 3
The Pre-Trib theory states that the Church is gone after Rev 3, and any mention of believers is about those unworthies left behind after the rapture.
The Post-Trib view notices that the Church and believers are mentioned repeatedly after Rev 3, although not emphasized (7:9-17, 11:1, 13; 12:17; 13:7, and others).
In Revelation chapters two and three, Jesus speaks to specific elements of the Church to rebuke, exhort and prepare believers for the End Time events; then at Rev 4:1, the emphasis changes to the Great Tribulation and what follows.
Rev 4 starts off with a Greek transitional clause–meta tauta–after these things. After the messages to the seven churches, John’s focus changes. Now John turns his attention, orientation, in another direction: he sees an opened door in heaven. This does not mean the Church is gone, it is simply and only a change in focus, which all writers employ.
NOT KNOW DATE OF RAPTURE
Core Assumption: Jesus said no one knows the day or hour of his return.
“But concerning that day and hour [coming of the Son of Man] no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:36-37).
The Pre-Trib theory believes the rapture happens before any End Time events, so believers cannot possibly know when it would happen. It will be a complete surprise, so true believers should stay ready, living blameless lives. Further, if the Lord comes like a thief in the night, that is further evidence that people will be surprised.
First, the Post-Trib view is that the only people surprised by the rapture or the Second Coming of Jesus are those living in darkness (1 Thess 5:5-7); mostly unbelievers who are unaware of End Time world events in the light of bible prophecies. “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief in the night” (1 Thess 5:4). Paul often uses comparisons, and again, he is saying that believers will not be in darkness or surprised.
Second, Daniel 7:25 presents us with a window: He does mention 1,290 days (3 1/2 years). At the end of that time (verses 26-27), the power passes to the saints, “the people of the Most High.” If we know that the Fourth Beast [Daniel 7:19, Rev 13:1, beast or antichrist] begins his reign of terror on a certain day, then we can predict the exact date of the rapture. But then Daniel adds 45 days: “Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” Another mystery. Yes, we will not know the exact day or the exact hour. But we will do the math, and see the signs, and know that the end is very close–I believe somewhere in that 45-day window.
HOLY SPIRIT REMOVED
The Pre-Trib theory states that if the Holy Spirit is removed [at the end of Revelation chapter 3], then no person can be saved during the Great Tribulation unless they die a martyr. The rapture takes place at the same time the Holy Spirit is removed.
The Post-Trib theory states that the Holy Spirit is not removed to allow the antichrist to reign. 2 Thess 2:7 says that the Holy Spirit has been restraining the antichrist’s power and only the restraining action ends. 2 Thess 2:7 literal Greek translation: “For the mystery of lawlessness is already working, only at present the restraining until (ἐκ=of) (μέσου/mesou=among [us]) (γένηται/genetai=is accomplished). In the Greek, this verse does not say the Holy Spirit is removed; it says he [the Holy Spirit] is restraining until his restraining work is accomplished. There is no indication or implication that the Holy Spirit has been removed; he only stops restraining evil. Besides that, there is no scriptural evidence that the rapture takes place at this time or that the Holy Spirit is actually removed from the earth–if that is even possible.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
The Pre-Trib view is that John 14:1-4 is a direct reference to the rapture.
The Post-Trib idea is that in John 14:1-4, Jesus tells the disciples [and by extension, all believers] to not worry. And if he prepares a place for them, he will come back for them. Some people believe this is a reference to the rapture. If anything, it is a reference to the Second Coming. But it cannot be argued that it is rapture specific. It is simply a passage of comfort and promise.
WHERE WE MEET JESUS
For the Post-Trib view, any reference to meeting Jesus in the air is about the rapture, because in the Second Coming, Jesus lands on the Mount of Olives, which then splits in half (Zechariah 14:4).
In 2 Thess 2:1, Paul writes, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him…” Paul is describing the Second Coming and our being gathered to Jesus as one event. 1 Thess 4:16 describes Jesus coming down from heaven [the Second Coming] and the dead rising first, then the living being caught up (raptured). Further, Jesus said, “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
In the Second Coming, Jesus enters on the clouds and at the same time gathers the elect. So again, the Second Coming and rapture are linked together–in the air, even though Jesus does land on the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two at the end of his Second Coming arrival event.
WHERE GET NEW BODY
In the Pre-Trib view, believers get a new glorified body during the rapture, not the Second Coming. In the Second Coming, living believers remain in same body.
The Post-Trib view is that we–the living–need to be transformed in order to experience the rapture and witness the Second Coming of Jesus, whether just watching or actually participating (1 Cor 15:52, “…we will be changed”). Paul writes that the dead in Christ rise first, then those remaining are transformed in the twinkling of an eye–a new body. In the new body, the angels instantaneously transport believers to Jerusalem to witness the Second Coming, as Jesus and the armies of heaven arrive high in the sky.
What is this new body? Is it the resurrection body believers get after they are raised from the dead? Or is it a temporary body, designed to allow living believers to witness and participate in the Second Coming? Afterwards, they would be taken back to where they started and returned to the same form. But Paul tells us that this transformation is permanent. How? He tells us that these believers will never have to actually die. “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55).
The Pre-Trib theory says believers only need to be ready before the Tribulation. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt 24:42).
The Post-Trib idea is that the resurrection of the actual human body is important, Jesus being first to experience it. “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth” (Revelation 1:4). While the body sleeps in the grave, the spirit of believers go to heaven every day–now and during the Great Tribulation. Those who are alive need to be ready all the time for either death or the Second Coming. We must live lives of steadfast belief, obedient to the Gospel, with hopeful expectation, knowing God can call us home at any time. And count it a blessing if we are allowed to experience the Second Coming.
PEOPLE IN HEAVEN
Pre and Mid-Trib theories say that if believers are with Jesus in Rev 14 and the Second Coming happens in Rev 19, then the rapture must have already happened long before.
But the Book of Revelation was not written in chronological order (ref. Harvest of the Earth – Rev 14:14 should follow the Thousand Year Reign in Rev 20). But even then, people are going to heaven daily, regardless of when the Second Coming takes place.
The prosperity gospel teaches people that they deserve wealth and health. Along that line, a Pre-Tribulation rapture theology, where any wrath or suffering is avoided, fits perfectly.
By definition, Post-Tribulation rapture theology is scary, because it teaches that we must be ready, and some form of suffering and discomfort will find us in the End Times. Where you live will determine what level of suffering you experience. How do you get ready? First, don’t just be a weekend believer. Get involved. Grow in your faith. Help others. Pray–and if you don’t know how, learn. Second, share your faith and hope with others. We survive hardship better when we are in community.
” Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day [return of Jesus] approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). The writer means the return of Jesus here, because in a few verses later he writes, “He who is coming will come and not delay” (Heb 10:37).