A Pretribulation Rapture is Explicitly Excluded in Scripture

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes:

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Thess. 2:1-3)

He writes “[c]oncerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him”, in other words, concerning the Rapture of the Church, the subject of debate between pre- and postribulationists.

He goes on to ask his Thessalonian converts, concerning the Rapture “not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come”.

According to any natural reading of this passage, the day of the Lord would refer to the Rapture.

He continues, concerning the day of the Lord: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction”.

In other words, what Paul is saying, therefore, is that the day of the Rapture will not come “until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction”.

How do pretribulationists get around this passage?

Before looking at their arguments, need first to familiarize ourselves with the way in which this passage is translated in the Authorized Version of the Bible, the version which would have been in widespread use when the pretribulationism was developed:

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition… .

There are two significant differences between the Authorized Version and the modern version used above.

Whereas the New International Version translates the first verse as, “[c]oncerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him”, the Authorised Version translates these words as “by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,” as if it were adjuration on the basis of the Rapture, “not [to be] soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand”.

As we can see from the following quotations, all modern translations of the Bible unanimously agree in following the reading of these words as given in the New International Version, and not that given in the Authorized Version:

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him… (NASB)

BUT RELATIVE to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and our gathering together to [meet] Him, we beg you, brethren… (Amplified Bible)

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him… (English Standard Version)

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him… (New King James Version)

Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him… (American Standard Version)

And we ask you, brethren, in regard to the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him… (Young’s Literal Translation)

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him… (Holman Standard Bible)

Why is there such a significant difference between the ay these words are translated in the Authorized Version and the way in which they are done so in modern versions of the Bible?

The translators of the Authorized Version would have been trained in the use of Classical Greek, the Greek in which the Classics were written, and not koine Greek, the Greek which was in widespread use in the Roman world in the first century AD, and the form of Greek in which the New Testament had been written.

In Classical Greek, the word, hyper, meaning “over”, could be used in the sense in which it is used in the Authorised Version, but not in Koine Greek, in which it is used to mean, “concerning”, “with regard to”, “touching”. Unfortunately, the translator of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, would not have been aware of its use in Koine Greek, and naturally translated it, “by”, as if Paul was making an adjuration on the basis of the Rapture. Indeed, Darby himself follows the reading given in the Authorised Version, translating these words, “Now we beg you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him”. If Darby can be forgiven for understanding Paul’s words to be an adjuration, not so present-day pretribulationists, who have the unanimous testimony of modern versions of the Bible as to its true meaning. It is noteworthy in this regard that nearly all pretribulationists avoid any discussion of this text which, to my mind, is fatal to their position. Only one pretribulationist author to my knowledge has sought to tackle postribulationists on this question, and he makes a pretty poor fist of it.

Greek Words Are Used Interchangeably of the Rapture and Christ’s Visible Return to Earth

A number of expressions are used interchangeably of the Rapture and Christ’s visible return to earth, indicating that they are one and the same event. These are parousia, apokalypsis, and epiphaneia. I have reproduced the passages of Scripture in which they are to be found below:

Parousia

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming [parousia] and of the end of the age?” (Mt. 24:3)

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man. (Mt. 24:27)

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man. (Mt. 24:37)

…and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Mt. 24:39)

But each in his own rank: [the] first-fruits, Christ; then those that are the Christ’s at his coming [parousia]. (1 Cor. 15:23, Darby)

For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of boasting? [are] not ye also before our Lord Jesus at his coming [parousia]? (1 Thess. 2:19, Darby)

May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:23)

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming [parousia]of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, 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 will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess. 4:15-17)

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming[parousia]. (2 Thess. 2:8)

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming [parousia]. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. (Jas. 5:7)

They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ [parousia] he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (2 Pet. 3:4-12)

Apokalypsis

…so that ye come short in no gift, awaiting the revelation [apokalypsis] of our Lord Jesus Christ… (1 Cor. 1:7)

…and to you that are troubled repose with us, at the revelation [apokalypsis] of the Lord Jesus from heaven, with [the] angels of his power. (2 Thess. 1:7, Darby)

that the proving of your faith, much more precious than of gold which perishes, though it be proved by fire, be found to praise and glory and honour in [the] revelation [apokalypsis] of Jesus Christ… (1 Pet. 1:7, Darby)

Wherefore, having girded up the loins of your mind, [be] sober [and] hope with perfect stedfastness in the grace [which will be] brought to you at [the] revelation [apokalypsis] of Jesus Christ… (1 Pet. 1:13, Darby)

Epiphaneia

…to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing [epiphaneia] of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 6:14)

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor [epiphaneia] of his coming. (2 Thess. 2:8)

…to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing [epiphaneia] of our Lord Jesus Christ… (1 Tim. 6:14)
(to be completed)

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