WHEN DID PAUL SAY THE RAPTURE WOULD TAKE PLACE?
What did Paul teach about the rapture?
It is interesting to look to Paul, the Apostle, and see what he has to say about the rapture as he wrote more New Testament books in the Bible than any other writer. He wrote Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and according to most scholars, Hebrews. Perhaps the reason he was so prolific was that God called him and delivered supernaturally to him the message he was to give to the believers which would become part of the Word of God: "But I certify you, brothers, that the gospel which was I preached is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it and profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood..." (Gal. 1:11-16). Paul talks about the abundance of these visions and revelations anonymously in 2 Cor. 12: 2-4, 7 - "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell; God knows) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knows)...how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter...And so that I would not be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, so that I should not be exalted above measure." The other apostles recognized the magnitude of the knowledge God gave him through these visions and revelations as indicated by what one of them, Peter, had to say in 2 Pet. 3:15, 16 - "...even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood..." Paul frequently alluded to the source of his revelation, another example being the teaching on taking communion in 1 Cor. 11:23-26 - "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you..."
Just as Paul got many doctrines of the church from the Lord, he also got his views of the Rapture and the Resurrection of believers from Him also for in 1Thes. 4:13-18, he says he got both from the Lord, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them who are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." Note two things here. Number one, Paul says what he is teaching them (and us) is "by the word of the Lord". And number two, he "would not have you (AND US) to be ignorant". If Paul got it from the Lord, it is just as if the Lord Himself gave it to us. He does not want us to be ignorant, and so we should read what he says so that we won't be! This brings us to the point here...that in 1 & 2 Thessalonians we have the most succinct summary of what Paul received from the Lord on the subject of the Rapture and the Resurrection of believers, so from here on we will consider those two books...and then after that some of Paul's remarks on the Day of the Lord and its relationship to the rapture.
As the purpose of this section of this web site is to cover only those parts of 1 & 2 Thessalonians dealing with the Rapture and the Resurrection of believers, the rest will not be covered, so we will cover only 1 Thes. 4: 13-5:11 and 2 Thes. 1:4-2:12. Even though this covers two letters, the second is a continuation of the issues of the first and is talking about the same thing since between the time of the two letters, someone had caused the Thessalonians "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" (2 Thes. 2: 2). Apparently, rumors were being circulated that the "Day of Christ" had already come, and they had missed it. Now, the question is...what is the "day of Christ"? Whatever it was, they obviously looked upon it as being something desirable and did not want to miss it. The first clue as to what it was is in the verse before (1Thes. 2:1): "Now we beg you, brothers, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and [by] our gathering together to him, that you 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." What they were looking for was "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him". It is important to note that in that verse, the second "by", in front of "our gathering together to him", is not in the original Greek text (for that reason the King James Version Bible has it italicized). The first "by", which is the only "by" in the Greek, modifies BOTH "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" and "our gathering together to him" and since the second "by" is not there, it shows they are the same event because it reads, "by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him". He is coming to gather us together to himself! What could be simpler to see?
Now some people would like to see these two things, "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" and "our gathering together to him" of 2 Thes. 2:1 as two separated events...and only because they are constrained by a pre-trib view that requires 7 years between them. There is not 7 years between the two. They are not separated events. They're both the same event. He has to "come" in order to "gather us together" to Himself in the air! To see this, look at these two portions of scriptures together, next to each other for comparison:
Remember, that both sections were written by the same man to the same people (the Thessalonians) about the same subject (i.e. the Rapture of the living Christians and Resurrection of "sleeping" believers and their "days and seasons"). In the second passage Paul is summarizing the things of the first passage and appealing to the Thessalonians by them, and telling them that they did not somehow miss them! Notice that the red part of the first passage matches the red part of the second passage, and the two green parts of the first passage, likewise, matches the green passage of the second one. That is because Paul is talking about the same event in both passages - the Rapture and the Resurrection of believers - only with the second passage more abbreviated! Paul says that the Lord Jesus comes first in order to catch us up together to meet him in the air (or "clouds" in 1 Thes. 4:17).
Now we can go a step further and compare 2 Thes. 2:1 above with the following verses:
Mt. 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
and the parallel passage in
Mk.13:24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
These four portions of scriptures are talking about the same event! They all have the coming and the gather together or catch us up together parts
Now, concerning the "7 years" alluded to above, we all should realize that there is only ONE scripture in the entire Bible that talks about 7 [see footnote at end of this article for a "7 years" not related to this subject*] years as related to end time prophecy...and that is in Dan. 9:27 - "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week ["week" is commonly understood from the Hebrew word used here by almost all prophecy students to mean "one WEEK" of years or 7 years]: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate". The 7 years is the length of a covenant and there is NO mention of any rapture or anything of the sort at the start of it!! It is sheer desperation that would force someone to develop such a strained interpretation to find a way to escape the tribulation that Jesus said would come upon the world at this time at the hands of the world system, the Antichrist, and Satan as the wrath of God is being poured out on Babylon and the enemies of God who would persecute believers. OK, let us move on now.
Getting back to where we left off, the "Day of Christ" that they were looking for was "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him". This is further substantiated by looking back to what he was talking about in the letter he sent them before...to which he is referring to here. To see the relevant part, look at 1 Thes. 4:13 where it says, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them who are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words." Paul was trying to comfort these Thessalonians who were sorrowing over loved ones who had died (i.e. sleep, asleep in verses 14 and 15) with the Resurrection and Rapture. He told them that there would be a Resurrection/rapture and how it would take place and what would happen. As great as this Rapture/Resurrection is, why would any unbeliever want to remain an unbeliever??
Now Paul says when this will be. He continues in 1 Thes. 5:1, "But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor upon a pregnant woman; and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."
There is a lot here that can be missed if not read carefully. First, Paul said to the Thessalonians that they knew the "times and seasons" and "had no need that I write to you [about it]". He could not say the same today to us because many Christians are very confused about it. The reason they knew it was they he told them when he was there before, just like he said in 2 Thes. 2:5, "Don't you remember that when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" While we don't have the words that he said when he saw them in person, we at least have the explanation he was now giving them concerning what he said in person. The reason we should know it also is because we are reading what he told them in his second letter to them, and therefore, he is telling us also the days and seasons. He says, "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night." Doesn't this sound a lot like the warnings Jesus gave in Matthew 24 about His coming as a thief? Jesus told us what were the signs of His coming (i.e. the rapture and Resurrection) and the end of the Age - the "times and seasons" that Paul talked about - and told us that He would come on the Last Day of the Age, not 7 years earlier. [see WHEN DID JESUS SAY THE RAPTURE WOULD TAKE PLACE? and then come back here to continue] But note that Paul says He is not coming as a thief to believers, but he is coming as a thief to unbelievers.
Read the above passage again, this time noticing colored italicized words blue for believers and fuchsia for unbelievers to see the contrasts between the things said of each in 1Thes. 5:1 - "But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor upon a pregnant woman; and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."
This passage tells us that the believer is the child of the day, of the light, whereas the unbeliever is the child of the night, of the darkness, that the believer is supposed to "watch and be sober", while the unbeliever "sleeps" and is "drunken", that the believer is appointed to obtain "salvation" and "live together with him", while the unbeliever is appointed to destruction and wrath. We also know here that the day of the Lord comes to the unbeliever as a thief, but we know (or at least, should know) the "times and seasons", whereas they won't, and "that day would overtake them as a thief". Paul says in verse 2 that this day...the day of the Resurrection and rapture...is the "Day of the Lord" so that it should not overtake us as a thief. Remember back 4 paragraphs ago, the statement was made that the "Day of Christ" was the Resurrection and rapture in context. Well, here Paul refers to it again...the "Day of the Lord" where it is clear in context again that it is definitely the Resurrection and rapture. [For seeing what the Bible says concerning the "Day of the Lord, Day of God (Almighty), Day of Christ, Day of the Lord Jesus Christ, Day of the Lamb, Day of Wrath" and many other names, go to HOW DOES THE DAY OF THE LORD RELATE TO THE RAPTURE? and then come back here to continue.]
Take a look at 1The. 5:9, "For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Therefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as you also do."
Now the "wrath" that we are not appointed to in the last passage is the Day of Wrath, the Great Day of the Lamb's Wrath at the Sixth Seal in Rev. 6:16, "And said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath has come; and who shall be able to stand it?" See also Rev. 11:18, "And the nations were angry, and your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should reward your servants the prophets, and the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy those who destroy the earth."
This wrath is the Battle at Armageddon and is talked about in Rev. 16:12 "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared...14...unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty...16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." A description of the battle at Armageddon appears in Rev. 19:11 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army."
conclusion, the wrath that Christians are not
appointed to is the wrath of God on the last day...the
battle at Armageddon in which Satan, the beast, the false
beast, and all the kings of the earth, and armies of the
Earth united against God and the Lord Jesus Christ are
IS WHAT COMES FROM GOD UPON GOD'S ENEMIES, WHEREAS TRIBULATION IS WHAT COMES FROM
THE DEVIL UPON BELIEVERS. Doing a word search in a concordance on
the words "wrath" and "tribulation"
and seeing how they are used in context will prove this
The way we are delivered from the wrath of God in 1 Thes. 5:9 that God pours out on unbelievers is "to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" by means of the Rapture on the Day of the Lord. After all, that is what Paul has been talking about in chapters 4 and 5...the Rapture and the Day of the Lord, and it has been shown at the top of this page that the Rapture is on the Day of the Lord! "Salvation" here is in the more generic sense of "deliverance" than the eternal life salvation that we usually think of. The Greek word for "salvation" in this verse is "soteria" (Strong's 4991) and can mean "salvation" as in eternal life, or "deliverance" like it is used in Phil. 1:19, "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ". Paul was already saved here, and their prayers were not going to get him eternal life a second time! Likewise in 1 Thes. 5:9, believers are already have eternal life, but they will be delivered here from the Wrath of God by the Rapture/Resurrection on the Day of the Lord which is the Last Day of the Age (Incidentally, you may want to go to HOW DOES THE DAY OF THE LORD RELATE TO THE RAPTURE? to see what Paul and the writers of the Bible had to say about the Day of the Lord. It will be an eye opener and should be required reading).
Now, let's move on to Second Thessalonians, which concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus, is just a continuation of First Thessalonians. A period of time goes by from the first letter to the Thessalonians to the second and some particular events have transpired. Two major ones are: 1) persecutions and tribulations they were going through (2 Thes. 1:5,6); and 2) some terrifying reports or rumors by "spirit, word, or letter" that "the 'Day of Christ' had come" (2 Thes. 2:1,2). Let's consider the first event and start at:
2 Thes. 1:4 "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure 5 which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer, 6 seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them who trouble you. 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on them who know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 9 who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power 10 when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them who believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day".
Paul comforts these Thessalonians about the "persecutions and tribulations that you endure" (verse 4) with the thought that God will "repay with tribulation those who trouble" believers "when He comes, in that Day" (verses 6 and 10). The events in verses 6-10 above are recognized by all students of prophecy as being at the end of the 7 year period of time prophesied about in Dan. 9:27. At the end of this 7 year period is when the Lord Jesus is revealed to the world as He comes back to judge it. It is the fulfillment of Mt. 24:31 and Rev. 1:7 and many other similar scriptures. This is when judgment comes to those unbelievers alive at that time who have caused tribulation to believers. It will be a terrible day for them, but for believers, according to Paul a few verses later (2 Thes. 2:1), it will be "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him"!
concerning the second event that the Thessalonians were
concerned about - some terrifying reports or rumors by
"spirit, word, or letter" that "the 'Day
of Christ' had come" - take a look at 2 Thes. 2:1
"Now we beg you, brothers, by the coming of our Lord Jesus
We have already spoken about 2 Thes. 2:1-2 earlier on this page and shown that the "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" and "our gathering together to him" are one and the same event - the Rapture - that He comes back for the express purpose of gathering us to Himself so that in the words of 1 Thes. 4:17, "we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord". Paul says in verse 2 not to be disturbed by any one that the "day of the Christ had come". What is the "day of Christ"? It is the day Paul has been talking about in verse one, the day of "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" and the day of "our gathering together to him". It further is the day he talked about in the chapter before in verse 10 where he says "when He comes, in that Day, when...." which in the context of the verses before (6-9) where he talks about "the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His might angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" at the end of Daniel's 70th week. The Thessalonians fear that this Day had already come, and that they had missed it! Paul was saying that they had not missed it.
Continuing on in verse 3, Paul warns, "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..." You see, there are two things that must happen before this Day can come. They are "the falling away" ("apostasia"in the Greek which is tranliterated directly into English as "apostasy") and the revealing of the "Man of Sin" or the "Son of Perdition". Paul was warning them that the Day of the Lord's coming for believers could not come until those two things happen. He says to them, "Let no one deceive you by any means..."
Today, many Christians are letting some teachers deceive them that this Day, the day of "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ", "our gathering together to him", the Rapture, will happen before the Apostasy and the revealing of the Antichrist. Paul says "that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the Man of Sin is revealed, the Son of Perdition..." The reason Paul wrote this section was to educate the Thessalonians and us as to the chain of events that would happen before the Rapture. Popular end time teachers, novels, books, and movies tell people the Rapture is going to happen before the tribulation even thought that contradicts what Jesus, Paul, John, and Daniel say. While these writers, books, movies are exciting, they totally conflict with a close examination of the holy Word of God! Paul was warning the Thessalonians, but he might as well been speaking to Christians in the twentieth century, who, in spite of having so much Word, still can't see - or don't want to see - what is going to happen!
Paul says in verse 5 that he had already told them these things when he was with them in person, but now he is telling them again in this letter. Thank God that the Holy Spirit inspired him to write what he got by revelation from the Lord so that we would know also what he told them in person. Paul believes in knowing something. We ought to too! He says over and over "you know". See how many times, in the two letters to the Thessalonians he uses that phrase - 1 Thes. 1:5, 2:2, 2:5, 2:11, 3:3, 3:4, 4:2, 5:2, 2 Thes. 2:6, 3:7 as well as elsewhere in 1 Cor. 11:3, 12:2, 15:58, 16:15, 2 Cor. 8:9, Gal. 4:13, Eph. 5:5, Phil. 2:22, Heb. 12:17. Jesus, John, Peter, and James in their gospels or letters use the same phrase. Our faith is not one on the opinions of teachers, or some one's feelings but knowledge that comes to us from God's Word. Paul's goal is that "I would not have you ignorant of...". He says that over and over (see Rom. 10:3, 11:25, 1 Cor. 10:1, 12:1, 2 Cor. 2:11, 1 Thes. 4:13) and Peter does too (See 2 Pet. 3:5,8). It is good not to be ignorant! Ignorance can keep someone from being saved as in Rom. 10:1-3: " Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved, for I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, for they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God".
Yet there is yet something worse than being ignorant, and it can be seen in 2 Pet. 3:3-5: "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.' For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water". The yet-worse-thing is "willing ignorance" in this last verse. It is a sign of rejection of the authority of God's Word. The only solution is to recognize Truth, repent of a stubborn will, and accept the testimony of the Word of God!
Next, we must consider two verses which are extremely controversial since to many Christians they are the major scriptures that "prove" the pretrib position...that the rapture precedes the 7 year period. We want to see if they really do prove it!
2 Thes. 2: 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he might be revealed in his own time.
2 Thes. 2: 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.
Now Paul said in 51 A.D., when he wrote 2 Thes. 2:6,7, he said that "the mystery of iniquity [or lawlessness as some other translations translate it] already operates", but he says that something or someone is restraining the revealing of the "Man of Sin" ["man of lawlessness" some other texts say] of 2 Thes. 2:3 until the proper time for him to come onto the scene. So, according to Paul "the mystery of lawlessness" has been operating for about 1950 years and has been held in check by something or somebody.
The apostle, John says something similar in 1 John 2:18 around 70-95 A.D. - "Little children, it is the last time; and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time". There were antichrists 1900 years ago and the mystery of lawlessness was operating, but now in the end time, something or someone is going to stop restraining it so that THE Antichrist...the Man of Sin, the Man of Lawlessness, the Son of Perdition can operate unrestrained until Jesus Christ comes back and destroys him!
Traditionally, some Christians say the rapture precedes the tribulation because the Holy Spirit is the "he"...the "one who restrains" "the revealing of the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition", commonly known as the Antichrist, "till He taken out of the way". Some other Christians say the Church or the Body of Christ is the "one who restrains" because when the Holy Spirit is "taken out of the way", so is the Church - because the Holy Spirit indwells the Church. Neither are true! There are many reasons why, but lets look at two of the most basic reasons.
The first reason is that if the Holy Spirit was "taken out of the way", how could anyone be saved during the Tribulation? However, we know people will be saved in the Tribulation because John saw them in Rev. 7:14,15 - These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple".
We know it takes the Holy Spirit to be saved because Jesus said in John 3:3-7 that a person could not be born again, or saved, or enter the Kingdom of God without being born of the Spirit ... which can't happen if the Spirit of God is gone out of the earth! Jn. 14:17 says the Spirit indwells the believer and Jn. 7:39 says "...this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive". Rev. chapters 7 and 14 say that the 144,000 will preach the gospel. Rev. 20:4 says many will "beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years". Obviously, the Holy Spirit is in the Earth if people are being saved, preaching, giving their witness of Jesus to the point of being beheaded! And if people are being saved, they are in the Church - "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (Ac 2:47) - and if they are in the Church, then the Church must be here also during the Tribulation!!
The second reason is because of the preciseness of the Greek language which will prove that neither the Holy Spirit or the Church could be the Restrainer that is taken out at the Rapture. The following explanation for that is regretablly more technical than most people would care to hear, but it is necessary. Here goes...
Greek is very precise - much more so than English - which may be one reason for why God chose Greek for the New Testament. For example, in English we have only one word for "love". So we "love" our family; we "love" popcorn...our word for "love" not reflecting the depth of our love. But the Greek language has 3 words for "love" with different degrees of "love". "Eros" for purely sexual "love" (perhaps "lust" is our English word; "erotic" comes from it), "philios" for a brotherly love (our city, Philadelphia, "City of Brotherly Love", comes from this root word), and "agape" for a pure love that loves unconditionally which describes God's love for us. But beyond this, Greek has word endings that are very precise and give information regarding grammatical factors such as number, case, gender, tense, person, conjugations, mood, voice, etc. that aid greatly in translation. Many other languages like Spanish, German, French, etc. are similar this way.
English, however, lacks most of these aids. To give another example: "you" in English has no different spelling for its use in singular or plural number, whereas in Greek, "you" has different endings that tells you whether it is singular or plural. Also, "you" in English has no different spelling for its use in the subject, object, possessive, prepositional cases, whereas in the Greek, "you" has different endings for those cases. You get the idea. Greek is much more precise than English.
Now let's look again at these scriptures in the light of the preciseness of the Greek language....
2 Thes. 2: 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he might be revealed in his own time.
2 Thes. 2: 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.
....and see what Holy Spirit inspired Greek grammatical construction and syntax will show us! Looking at a good Greek lexicon, an Interlinear Bible of both English/Greek, and a parsing Greek dictionary (if you don't know anything about Greek) or by asking anyone who knows Greek grammar and syntax, you will find out that in verse 7, the "he" in "only he who now restrains" actually reads "the [one]" in the Greek where "he" is not in the Greek but "the" is. Furthermore, "[one]" is added in the Greek Interlinear Bible by the translator to make sense of the actual Greek construction. Furthermore yet, the second "he" is not there either. Thus last part of verse 7 in the Greek Interlinear Bible says, "the [one] restraining just until now until gone out of midst". The translators have added words and changed construction a little to make sense.
Now comes the critical part of this issue. Gender (he, she, it, etc.) in English is determined by sexual reference; masculine "he" for men, boys, etc., feminine "she" for women, girls, etc., neuter "it" for inanimate things like a tree, car, rock, etc. This is not so for the Greek language. Gender in Greek does not follow that convention and "masculine, feminine, neuter" seems almost random to those of us whose native language is English to the point where Greek gender seems to make no sense to us at all. For example, look at the comparsion of English words like "Church" and (Holy) "Spirit". The gender of "Church" in English is neuter, but in Greek it is femine; the gender of (Holy) "Spirit/Ghost" in English is masculine, in Greek it is neuter.
Now in "the [one] restraining just until now until gone out of midst", only "the [one]" contains the only gender information for who or what does the restraining. It is the definite article "the" that contains it, and that gender information is MASCULINE. Now in Greek, articles MUST ALWAYS agree in number, case, and gender with the noun or pronoun they modify. If this is the case for secular Greek, how much more for Holy Spirit inspired Greek. And the Word of God is inspired for "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction ...." (2Tim. 3:16). God is not illiterate in Greek or any other language and the Holy Spirit is not errant in applying Greek grammar rules for conciseness and accuracy!
So the Holy Spirit/Ghost and the Church can not be the Restrainer that holds back until being removed because they do not have the required gender of masculine! Someone might say, "How about the "body of Christ" (a synonym for the church)? Well, that won't work either because "body" is the "neuter" gender. Thus we know that "[the] church, Spirit, Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, Body, body of Christ" are some of the things, persons, etc. that can not qualify for the "restrainer".
So, the most important "proof" scripture for the pre-tribulation rapture position, DOES NOT prove that the Holy Spirit and/or the Church are removed before the Tribulation. In fact the scriptures we gave before show that those who will beheaded for their testimony of Christ and not taking the Mark of the Beast, the 144,000 that preach the gospel, those who "came out of the Tribulation and washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb" are all saved in the Tribulation. That proves the pre-trib rapture is not correct!
As said before, there are many other scriptural reasons why the before mentioned words will not qualify for the Restrainer. To those who say the rapture has to precede the tribulation, because the Church is the "restrainer" and say that the word "church" never appears between Rev. chapters 6-19 proving that the Holy Spirit "is taken out of the way", note that the word "saints" does appear numerous times applying to "saved" people (i.e. Christians) - see for example Rev. 13:7,10; 14:12. Did not Paul say that all Christians are saints, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:2)? The question for you then is, if there are saved people during the tribulation, aren't they part of the Church?? Didn't you become part of the Church (of Christ) and become a saint when YOU got saved?
What is the basis for some people even suggesting that the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit, the Church, etc.? None other than this belief is needed to come to the conclusion that the Rapture is 7 years earlier! Paul doesn't say who or what the Restrainer is. The process of elimination excludes the Holy Spirit, the Church, etc.
Now we know who the Restrainer isn't! But just who is the Restrainer? We know that whoever or whatever the Restrainer is, he or it must be MASCULINE in the Greek language. Now I need your help! Who or what would you suggest that the Restrainer could be that is masculine in Greek? We need to find something or someone who is masculine in the Greek that fits all these scriptures well. That is the issue now. While "God" is masculine in the Greek, He does not fit those scriptures at all well
To see who is the Restrainer might be, look at the following passages:
Dan. 10:5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man
[not an ordinary man according to the description - an angel of unknown
rank] clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:
Notice that this unnamed angel of unknown rank says in verses 13 and 21 that Michael, who is called an Archangel in Jude 1:9, "helped" him and "holds with him" and that this same unnamed angel of unknown rank "confirmed and strengthened Michael two years earlier (in 11:1).
Dan. 12:1 And 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.
Rev. 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
This Restrainer appears to be Michael, the archangel. If he is not, then who or what is "masculine" in the Greek language that could be suggested instead? We can see from the 3 passages above that Michael and his angels are responsible for "holding" things in check in the heavenlies that affect the course of history on earth. He, at times, is engaged in war and fighting with his angels for the purpose of expediting God's plan. There is a war in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, and Michael "stands up", and takes a very aggressive stand against the devil by casting him out of heaven down to the earth, no longer restraining or holding back the Beast or the mystery of lawlessness. Michael appears to hold back, restrain, fight, engage in war....all at the appropriate time. At God's orders he seems to fight in the heavenlies and restrain other things from happening til their appointed times.
Now read the following scriptures again...
2 Thes. 2: 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he might be revealed in his own time.
2 Thes. 2: 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.
Even though the "mystery of lawlessness is already at work", the one who is "restraining", Michael we believe, is restraining the revealing of "the Man of Sin", "the Man of Perdition" "until he [Michael] be taken out of the way".
The devil becomes very angry at this, knowing that he has only a short time before he will be incarcerated in the Bottomless Pit (Rev. 20:1-3), and incites the Beast (i.e. Antichrist) to great warfare against the saints of God to persecute them and kill them. At this time, the Man of Sin or Lawlessness will no longer be restrained. Rather, all manner of evil will be personified in the Beast as he tries to persecute and kill Christians through the Mark of the Beast.
Rev. 13: 4 - "And they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, 'Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" 5 And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given to him to continue forty and two months [the last 3 1/2 years of Daniel's 70th week]. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."
What is the end of the matter? It is in Dan. 7:9 "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days [God] did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. 11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn [the Beast] spoke; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame [Rev. 19:20]. 12 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven [Mt. 24:29-31, 1 Thes. 4:16,17, 2 Thes. 2:1], and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
Paul is consistent in his God given revelation of the Rapture and the (First) Resurrection in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. He agrees with Jesus that both the (First) Resurrection and the Rapture will occur "after the Tribulation of those days". Rather than trying to deceive ourselves by ignoring the plain words of Jesus, John, and Paul, we ought to love Truth and modify our doctrine to agree with the Word of God. By doing so we will have the impetus to get saved (if we're not), repent of any unconfessed sin, live unto the Lord, and prepare for the future. We will have abundant opportunity to preach the gospel to the lost and heal the sick (Mk. 16:15-20), and when the time comes that the Mark of the Beast is offered to us, we must turn it down even if it cost us our (physical) life...so that it doesn't cost us our eternal life! Take very seriously the next scripture passages...
Rev. 14:9 - " And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without dilution into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, ' Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth'. 'Yes', says the Spirit, ' that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them'".
Rev. 12:11- " And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death". Yes, many Christians will become martyrs. They will give mighty and glorifying testimonies of the grace and salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ just as Stephen (Acts 7) and the Apostles of the Lord did as they were being martyred.
Rev. 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 ...This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Just like Jehovah God protected the Hebrews during their sojourn in Egypt from the Plagues, so shall He protect many of His children during this difficult time as it says in Dan. 11:32 "...but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. 33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days".
Read Rev. chapters 21 and 22, two whole chapters, for the glorious future of those who wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb and serve Him with joy, faith, purity, and faithfulness. Eternity with Him will be worth anything we may have to go through for a short time!
Now, if you are not ready for what is coming, why don't you call upon the Lord Jesus and invite Him into your life as Lord...that is Master or boss?
"If you shall confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.....Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed! For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:9-13).
*Excluding Ezek. 39:9 saying that it takes 7 years to burn weapons after a prophetical battle which is not at all related to what is being talked about in this section.