Three Scriptures Wrongly Used: Tribulation

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To Support The Error That The Church Will Go Through The Tribulation
In an effort to be a help to any who may have difficulty on this point, we have selected the three main Scriptures that have led some to erroneously believe the Church will go through the Tribulation. In each of these passages our desire is to show, with the Lord's help, how the error has occurred and what the true meaning of the passage is. We believe that most of the confusion on this point has arisen from Christians not carefully and prayerfully reading the Scriptures.
"Be not shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as the day of the Lord 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." This has been taken to mean that the day the Lord comes for His Church (the Rapture), will not happen until the Antichrist and the falling away in the Great Tribulation has happened.
This is in error for two reasons: first, it is a mistake to suppose that "the day of the Lord" is the Rapture. Scripture does not say so. There are about 20 references to "the day of the Lord" in the Word of God. Some of them refer to its commencement at the appearing of Christ (2 Thess. 2:22That 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. (2 Thessalonians 2:2), 2 Peter 3:1010But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10), 1 Thess. 5:22For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2), etc.). Other references are a warning of it being "at hand," signaled by the attack of the King of the North, which will take place just prior to its commencement (Joel 1:15; 2:1115Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. (Joel 1:15)
11And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)
; Zeph. 1:7-20; Zech. 14:1-21Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. (Zechariah 14:1‑2), etc.). But there are none that refer to "the day of the Lord" as the Rapture! It is an assumption to say so, and it stems from not carefully searching the Scriptures (Acts 17:1111These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)).
"The day of the Lord" is a day of judgment that begins at the Appearing of Christ (2 Peter 3:4, 8-104And 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. (2 Peter 3:4)
8But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:8‑10)
); it does not begin at the Rapture. The Tribulation begins after the Rapture, but the day of the Lord begins after the Appearing of Christ, which is some seven years later than the Rapture. "The day of the Lord" is the time when Christ will publicly intervene upon the ways of man on earth in judgment, asserting His universal power and authority over all the earth. It will extend for 1000 years (2 Peter 3:8-108But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:8‑10)), which will be the Millennium. The Rapture is never looked at as a day of judgment for this world, but rather, a time when the Bridegroom and the bride are joyfully united.
Understanding these simple and basic things about "the day of the Lord," we can see at once that Paul was not even speaking about the Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:2-32That 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. 3Let 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; (2 Thessalonians 2:2‑3). He was showing the Thessalonians that "the day of the Lord" and its attending judgments could not be presently upon them, for the Antichrist and the great falling away of professing Christendom had to happen first. Sad to say, false teachers are still propounding the same error that was bothering the Thessalonians. They are upsetting Christians by telling them that they must prepare for the Tribulation, because the Church is going to go through it. And, ironically, they are using the same three methods to propound their error as the false teachers were doing in Paul's day!
•  First, "by spirit" (vs. 2)—the false teachers claimed they had received it through a spiritual revelation given to them.
•  Secondly, "by word" (vs. 2)—the false teachers were misapplying Old Testament Scriptures to support their erroneous teaching.
•  Then lastly, "by letter as from us" (vs. 2)—they actually had gone so far as to produce an epistle with their erroneous ideas in it, and claimed it was from Paul.
So it is today, those who teach this erroneous doctrine often claim that they have received it through some special revelation from God, and they are also trying to use the Scriptures to support it—they are even taking Paul's ministry (such as this passage) and teaching that Paul taught that the Church must go through the Tribulation.
Another reason why this application is in error is that it destroys the imminence of the Lord's coming. The Lord's coming (the Rapture) is always presented in Scripture as something that could take place at any moment. Those who think the Church must go through the Tribulation scoff at the idea that He could come today, because they think it is direct violation of their interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:2-32That 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. 3Let 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; (2 Thessalonians 2:2‑3). However, Paul and the other apostles laboured to put the nearness of the Lord's coming before the Church so that it would be a present hope. Are these people saying that the apostles were wrong in doing that? Paul said, "Our conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body" (Phil. 3:20-2120For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20‑21)). He also said, "For yet a very little while and He that shall come will come and will not tarry" (Heb. 10:3737For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (Hebrews 10:37)). And, "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand" (Rom. 13:11-1211And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11‑12)). And again, "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" (1 Thess. 4:16-1716For 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: 17Then 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. (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17)). In this last verse, Paul put himself among the number who were looking for the Lord to come, saying, "we." (See also 1 Cor. 15:51-5251Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51‑52)"we") It was something he hoped for even back in those early days of the Church. James too, said, "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5:77Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. (James 5:7)). Peter said, "The end of all things is at hand" (1 Peter 4:77But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. (1 Peter 4:7)). John said, "Little children, it is the last time" (1 John 2:1818Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (1 John 2:18)). This shows that the apostles ministered in such a way as to set the Lord's coming before the saints as a present hope.
To teach that certain events must take place before the Lord will come, such as, the rise of Antichrist and the Tribulation horrors, would be a direct contradiction to the teaching of the apostles, and it destroys the imminence of the "blessed hope" (Titus 2:1313Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:13)).
Taking this "blessed hope" away from the Church is to cause it to settle down in this world—and this is just what has happened to a large extent. It is essentially saying, "My Lord delayeth His coming" (Matt. 24:4848But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; (Matthew 24:48)). For this very reason, the Lord Jesus Himself never told us when He would return. But He did say, "Surely, I come quickly" (Rev. 22:2020He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)).
Another Scripture adduced to prove the Church must pass through the Tribulation is Revelation 11:1515And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15). "The seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever." This verse shows that when the seventh and last trumpet is blown at the end of the Great Tribulation, the Lord will appear and take possession of the kingdoms of this world through judgment. It has been supposed that this is "the last trump" spoken of at the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:15-1815For 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 prevent them which are asleep. 16For 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: 17Then 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. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15‑18); 1 Cor. 15:51-5251Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51‑52)). Therefore, the Church will be on earth to pass through that hour of trial as described in Revelation 6-11 which precede the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:1515And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15). It is taught that the Church will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, just as He comes out of heaven to judge the world.
This interpretation is very problematic, because the Word of God teaches that a number of things must happen between the time the Church is taken up to heaven to when the Lord comes back out of heaven to judge the world, as Revelation 11:1515And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15) shows. It would be impossible for all those things to happen in that short moment of time that this interpretation allows. After taking His people into heaven at the Rapture, the Lord will cause them to sit down at His table where He will serve them heavenly happiness and joy unspeakable (Luke 12:3737Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. (Luke 12:37)). Then, the judgment seat of Christ will be set and the believers' lives will pass into review and be rewarded accordingly (2 Cor. 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10), etc.). The saints will also have a time of praising God and the Lord Jesus Christ around the throne in heaven. At that time they will cast their crowns at His feet in humble adoration of Him (Rev. 4-5). Then, the marriage of the Lamb will take place in heaven, which will be followed by the marriage supper and the many guests of heaven (the friends of the Bridegroom) attending it (Rev. 19:7-87Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. (Revelation 19:7‑8)). These things all must take place after the Lord takes His people to heaven at the Rapture, and before He returns at His Appearing. These things could not possibly happen if the saints were taken up in the air and then immediately brought back down again with the Lord at His Appearing.
Another Scripture that is used is Matthew 24:29-3129Immediately 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: 30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29‑31). "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 heaven shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of the trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds." It is thought that the coming of the Lord in this passage refers to the Rapture. Consequently, they mistakenly fix the time of the Rapture as being "immediately after the tribulation." They conclude that the Church, therefore, will go through the Tribulation.
The problem here is that people are confusing the Rapture and the Appearing. Some of the main differences are:
•  The coming of the Son of Man is never referred to as the Rapture. The Rapture is the Lord's coming for His own: the coming of the Son of Man is the Lord's coming with His own at His appearing. The rapture is a mystery not made known until it was revealed through the apostle Paul. (1 Cor. 15:51-5251Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51‑52)) The coming of the Son of man is something that was known by the Old Testament saints because the prophets spoke of it. (Dan. 7:13-1413I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14And 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. (Daniel 7:13‑14)) The Son of man is a title that the Lord takes when He comes to judge the world. At the rapture the Lord is not coming to judge the world, but to take His bride to heaven. The fact that the title of the Son of Man is used in Matthew 24:29-3129Immediately 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: 30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29‑31) ought to show us that His coming there is not the rapture.
•  At the Rapture, the Lord does not send His angels to gather His saints [the bride] as these verses speak; He comes to take her Himself! (1 Thess. 4:1616For 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: (1 Thessalonians 4:16), 2 The s. 2:1).
•  The elect here are not the church, but the elect of Israel. (Mt. 24:24, Isa. 45:4, 65:9, Rev. 7:1-81And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. (Revelation 7:1‑8), Rom. 11:2828As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. (Romans 11:28), etc.)
The Partial Rapture Idea
Although some Christians believe in the idea of a partial rapture, it is so absurd that it is not necessary that we comment on it. Could we imagine the Lord taking only part of His bride to heaven? What would He do in heaven with half a bride? How could the marriage of the Lamb take place with only half the bride present? Anyway, what Scripture is there for it?
Let us “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:2121Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)).