Arguments for Post-tribulationism -
1. The word for "meeting" the Lord in the air in 1 Thessalonians 4:17
(apantesin) is used in two other places in the New Testament: Matthew
25:6 and Acts 28:15. In both places it refers to a meeting in which
people go out to meet a dignitary and then accompany him in to the
place from which they came out. One of these, Matthew 25:6, is even a
parable of the second coming and so a strong argument that this is
the sense of the meeting here in 1 Thess. 4:17-that we rise to meet
the Lord in the air and then welcome him to earth as king.
2. The wording of 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7, when read carefully, shows that Paul
expects to attain rest from suffering at the same time and in the
same event that he expects the unbelievers to receive punishment,
namely, at the revelation of Jesus with mighty angels in flaming
fire. This revelation is not the pre-tribulational rapture but the
glorious second coming, which means that Paul did not expect an event
at which he and the other believers would be given rest seven years
before the glorious appearing of Christ in flaming fire. Vengeance on
unbelievers and rest for the persecuted church come on the same day
in the same event.
3. The wording of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 suggests that the "assembling to meet
him" is the same as "the day of the Lord" about which
they are confused. But the assembling is the "rapture" and
"the day of the Lord" is the glorious second coming. They
appear to be one event. Supporting this is the reference to
"gathering" the elect in Matthew 24:31. Here there is a
gathering (same word) but it is clearly a post-tribulational context.
So there is no need to see the gathering and the day of .the Lord in
2 Thessalonians as separate events.
4. If Paul were a pre-tribulationist why did he not simply say in 2 Thessalonians 2:3
that the Christians don't need to worry that the day of the Lord is
here because all the Christians are still here? Instead he talks just
the way you would expect a post-tribulational person to do. He tells
them that they should not think that the day of the Lord is here
because the apostasy and the man of lawlessness have not appeared.
(See the AM sermon of 8-30-87 for more on this one.)
5. When you read Matthew 24 or Mark 13 or Luke 21, which are Jesus' descriptions of
the end times, there is no mention of a rapture removing believers
from the events of the end. A normal reading gives no impression of a
departure. On the contrary, he talks as if the believing listeners
and then the readers would or could experience the things he
mentions. See Mt. 24:4, 9, 15, 23, 25f, 33, etc.
6. Going through tribulation, even when it is appointed by God, is not contrary to
Biblical teaching. See especially 1 Peter 4:17; 2 Thessalonians
1:3-10; Hebrews 12:3-11. But even so, Revelation 9:4 suggests that
the saints will be in some measure protected in the time of distress
by the seal of God.
7. The commands to "watch" do not lose their meaning if the second coming
is not an any-moment one. See Matt. 25:1-13 where all ten maidens are
asleep when the Lord returns. Yet the lesson at the end of the
parable is, "Watch!" The point is that watching is not
gazing up for an any-moment-return of the Lord; it is the moral
vigilance that keeps you ready at all times doing your duty—the
wise maidens had full lanterns! They were watchful! Nor does the
teaching that the second coming will be unexpected lose its force if
post-tribulationism is true. See Luke 12:46 where the point is that
if a servant gets drunk thinking that his master is delayed and will
not catch him-that very servant will be surprised and taken off
guard. But as 1 Thess. 5:1-5 says, "You (believers) are not in
darkness for that day to surprise you like a thief." We still
teach that great moral vigilance and watchfulness is necessary lest
we be lulled asleep and fall prey to the deceits of the last days and
be overtaken in the judgment.
8. The strongest pre-tribulational text, Rev. 3:10, is open to another interpretation
without any twisting. It says, "Because you have kept my word of
patient endurance, will keep you from the hour of trial which is
coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth."
But to "be kept for the hour of testing" is not necessarily
to be taken out of the world during this hour, and thus spared
suffering. Compare Gal. 1:4 and Jesus' prayer for his disciples in
John 17:15 where to "keep from" does not mean physical
removal. And notice the inevitability of martyrdom in Rev. 6:9-11.
The promise is to be guarded from the hour in the sense of being
guarded from the demoralizing forces of that hour.
9. The second coming does not lose its moral power in post-tribulationism. New
Testament moral incentive is not that we should fear being caught
doing evil, but that we should so love the appearing of the Lord that
we want to be pure as the Lord is pure, for whom we hope, as 1 John