The questions and answers that follow were part of an interview conducted by Pastor Billy Crone. My prayerful hope is that it will help believers be always ready to answer those who question why we believe Jesus will call the Church to Himself before the Tribulation begins.
- What is the biblical basis for a Rapture?
- Jesus’ words in John 14:1–3
- Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 15:51—5
- Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians 4: 13-18
- 2 Thessalonians chapter 2—“Departure”
- Revelation 3: 10
- What do you see is the purpose of the Rapture?
- To keep Christ’s Bride, the Church, out of the time of testing or Tribulation.
- To separate God’s prophetic programs for the Church from those for Israel.
- How would you respond to those who say that the word “rapture” does not appear in the Bible?
Neither do the word “Trinity” or “Bible.” The evidence is clear: the doctrine of Rapture is there in the total context of a number of scriptural references.
The Greek [word for rapture] is harpazo, for “catching up” or “snatching.” Later, the Latin Vulgate put it as raptura, from which the word “rapture” comes.
- What are the benefits of the doctrine of imminency?
The prime benefit is that imminency should encourage all believers to always be ready for Christ’s any-moment intervention into the affairs of fallen man. It should make people want to live righteously. “Be ye always ready, for in a time ye think not, the son of man cometh”—Matthew 24:44.
- How would you respond to those who say, “There is not one verse in the Bible that supports the pre-Trib position of the Rapture”?
I would say, “You are incorrect.” Revelation 3:10 is a promise to Church Age believers to be kept out of the Tribulation. Additionally, there are a number of verses that make the case for a pre-Trib Rapture.
The best single verse to indicate a pre-Trib Rapture is Revelation 3: 10. Second Thessalonians 2:3 is another passage that strongly indicates believers will be raptured before the Tribulation.
- What precisely does Paul mean when he says that “the falling away” (2:3) must come before the Tribulation?
(Note: The Greek word apostasia is used as asfestimi in this instance of “falling away.” It means a spatial departure rather than a departure from faith.) The definite article “the” denotes that this will be a definite event, an event distinct from the appearance of the Man of Sin. The Greek word for “falling away,” taken by itself, does not mean religious apostasy or defection. Neither does the word mean “to fall,” as the Greeks have another word for that. [pipto, “I fall”; TDI].
The best translation of the word is “to depart.” The Apostle Paul refers here to a definite event which he calls “the departure,” and which will occur just before the start of the Tribulation. This is the Rapture of the Church. So the word has the core meaning of “departure,” and it depends upon the context to determine whether it is used to mean physical departure or an abstract departure, such as departure from the faith.
[Translation History—The first seven English translations of apostasia all rendered the noun as either “departure” or “departing.” They are as follows: Wycliffe Bible (1384); Tyndale Bible (1526); Coverdale Bible (1535); Cranmer Bible (1539); Breeches Bible (1576); Beza Bible (1583); Geneva Bible (1608).]
This supports the notion that the word truly means “departure.” In fact, Jerome’s Latin translation known as the Vulgate, from around the time of AD 400, renders apostasia with the word discessio, meaning “departure.”
- Where in the Bible do you see the Church absent from the seven-year Tribulation?
Revelation 3:10 is part of the first three chapters of the Revelation. The Church is addressed nineteen times through chapter 3. The voice is heard saying, “Come up here!” at the beginning of chapter 4. The saints of the Church Age aren’t mentioned again until Christ returns with the saints in Revelation 19:11.
- How would you respond to those who say the seven-year Tribulation does not include a full seven years of God’s wrath?
Daniel the prophet said that from the decree going forth to rebuild the wall and the sanctuary (Temple), seventy weeks (prophetic weeks—490 years) are determined on “thy people”—Israel.
Antichrist (the “prince that shall come,” will confirm the covenant for one prophetic week (seven years) of that seventy-weeks prophecy. That last week of seven years will begin with a covenant made by Antichrist. Daniel’s prophecy tells of the peace that will destroy many—Daniel 8:25, Isaiah 28:15–18—for one week. That is, seven prophetic days (or seven years in Daniel’s 490 years prophecy) from when the command went forth to rebuild the city and sanctuary. Daniel 9: 27 indicates this sets in motion the final seven years leading to Armageddon and Christ’s return—the Tribulation era, the last three and one half of which will be “Great” Tribulation (Matthew 24:21, Jeremiah 30:7).
When this “prince” comes riding forth on the white horse offering peace (Revelation 6:1), the seals have been opened and the last seven years run their course from that point.
- How would you respond to those who say that the pre-Trib position is unfair?
God is sovereign. He alone can determine what His program for the consummation of human history will be. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sin of mankind, that anyone who believes in Him, according to John 3: 16 and Romans 10:9–10, can have eternal life.
The Rapture is part of His plan for humanity. It is up to humanity to accept His plan, not the other way around—i.e., God adjusting to fit what mankind might consider “fair.”
Also, Romans chapter 1 says that all have been given light for achieving escape from God’s judgment. They are “without excuse.”
- How would you respond to those who say that the pre-Trib position encourages laziness?
Everyone I know who truly studies God’s Word and believes the pre-Trib view it presents are busy carrying out the Great Commission and trying to live a life worthy of being Christ’s followers. The doctrine of imminency should make Christians aware of the times and have them looking for their Lord’s sudden appearance (Titus 2: 13).
I say without reservation that the pre-Trib view of the Rapture makes the true student of Bible prophecy much more aware of Christ’s coming again and what that entails. That creates enthusiasm to hear the words “Well done, good, faithful servant” from Jesus when He appears.
- How would you respond to those who say the pre-Trib position is teaching a “secret” Rapture?
I don’t know why they call it a “secret.” Paul was very plain and thorough in showing this “mystery.” Jesus first gave it as recorded in John 14:1–3. This is the “mystery” Paul made clear. It’s right there in the Scripture. It’s no secret.
It will be a total shock and surprise to those who don’t know Christ, the Bible says. It will come as a “thief in the night” to the lost. Unfortunately, it will come as a shock to most Christians, too. But, they are going to Christ when He calls anyway.
Also, Jesus, in the “days of Noah, days of Lot” passages of Matthew 24:36–42 and Luke 17:26–30, which is a Rapture reference, says it will be a time when He is “revealed.” This is not a secret coming. Everyone will know something major has just occurred.
- How would you respond to those who say that the pre-Trib position is a “recent” teaching and therefore must be rejected?
Again, I go back to the Apostle Paul, who plainly taught it as recorded in His second letter to the Thessalonians (chapter 2). Also, a number of the early church fathers made reference to their belief in a pre-Trib view.
- How would you respond to those who say that John Darby is the one who came up with the pre-Trib Rapture?
Jesus came up with it. Paul revealed the mystery the disciples didn’t know at the time. John Darby turned it into a systematic presentation/study.
- How would you respond to those who say that John Darby received the idea of a pre-Trib Rapture from Margaret McDonald?
According to the history of the matter, letters show that Darby wrote about the Rapture in 1827 while recovering from a riding accident, and that Margaret McDonald’s supposed visions weren’t given until 1830.
- How would you respond to those who say the Church is in Matthew 24?
I would say that Jesus is talking about the Rapture, which involves the Church, in Matthew 24:36–42. That is the “days of Noah, days of Lot” prophecy.
He talks, in that Olivet Discourse chapter, about His coming again at “an hour ye think not.” Both of these prophecies have to, in my view, be addressed to the Church.
The Lord could not have been talking about His coming at a business-as-usual time like is indicated in the “days of Noah and Lot” prophecy when addressing the Second Advent. As much as three-fourths of the earth’s population will have died during the previous seven years of that period. It will not be business as usual during the Tribulation.
Tribulation saints will be able to count down to the exact time the Lord is returning, [thus] Jesus’ words about “in a time you think not” (Matthew 24:44).
- What are your biggest issues with—and why do you disagree with—the post-Trib position?
Because it’s not in the Bible. The pre-Trib position is taught by Paul and makes the best total sense of the whole matter. It is the position that brings everything into logical perspective.
The best argument against it is that the Bible plainly presents a Millennial Reign of Christ. It also plainly teaches that flesh and blood must be in that kingdom to procreate, because there will be peoples as ubiquitous as “the sands of the sea.”
If all believers are lifted to be with Christ at the end of the Tribulation, they are no longer flesh and blood, but flesh and bone. They are in their translated bodies like Jesus. They are perfect, and at any rate, do not procreate in Heaven, according to Jesus’ own words on marriage and the activity of Heaven’s citizenry.
All left on earth when Christ returns, if all believers were raptured at the end of that era, would be lost, thus would be cast into “outer darkness” at the sheep/goats judgment of Matthew 25.
No one would be left to populate the earth. Jesus says there will be flesh-and-blood people left after the sheep/goats judgment to repopulate the millennial earth.
- What are your biggest issues with—and why do you disagree with—the pre-Wrath position?
Because I believe the word of God puts forth that not just the last three and one-half years, but the full seven years of the Tribulation, Daniel’s Seventieth Week, is the wrath of God upon the rebels of planet earth.
Daniel 9:26–27 presents that with the confirming of the covenant by the prince that shall come. The last seven years will, from that point on, be an era that will punish the anti-God masses. It says of Antichrist and those final years, “and for the overspreading of abominations, he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Revelation chapter 6 presents Antichrist as coming on the scene after the opening of the first seal. He confirms the covenant God says is made with “death and hell.” it is this agreement with Antichrist to be the world’s savior that invokes the wrath of God. It occurs at the very beginning of the seven years—Daniel’s Seventieth Week.
- What are your biggest issues with—and why do you disagree with—the mid-Trib position?
Because, with the opening of the first seal, the wrath of God begins with the confirming of the covenant of false peace at the very beginning of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, as explained above. Jesus promised that believers (His Church) will be kept out of the very time of that era of God’s wrath (Revelation 3:10).
Believers of the Church Age cannot go through even one hour of that terrible time.
- What are your biggest issues with—and why do you disagree with—a partial-Rapture position?
My primary reason is that the Apostle Paul, in the 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonian prophecies of the Rapture, uses the word “all.” He uses in conjunction the pronoun “we” (meaning all believers in Christ). He didn’t say “some,” He said “all.” He says we shall “all be changed.” There is no room in that prophecy for some to go and some to be left behind when it comes to born-again believers.
- What kind of a response have you received and/or encountered with those who disagree with the pre-Trib position?
I receive weekly very harsh words, some even accusing me of leading people to Hell. They most always say to begin with that they once believed in the pre-Trib view but have, after reading what the Bible says, now believe in another view.
They also accuse us who teach the pre-Trib view as causing people to not recognize Antichrist when he comes on the scene.
Most of the email I get from these are angry, but they start off asking questions. As soon as I respond to their questions, they begin telling me that I am wrong—and are quite angry with their words.
- What would you encourage those who disagree with the pre-Trib position to do differently in how they handle the varying positions on the Rapture?
I would encourage them to be more civil in their opposition. Most don’t back up their claims with relevant passages.
I would encourage them to study and pray earnestly over the Scriptures on the matter and stop reading books only by those who are anti-Rapture writers.
These always want to debate. I would advise them to stop seeking to debate those of us who know the pre-Trib view to be truth from God’s Word, and instead just teach their views, if they are that convicted.
I no longer debate, but teach, the pre-Trib view to those who truly want to know what the Scriptures say about the Rapture.