Is the Rapture a Pretribulation Event?
The timing of the rapture (or Resurrection) of the church is a hotly debated question, yet one that can be easily resolved from scripture. The source of our confusion is taking verses and words of the Bible out of context while ignoring the whole counsel of scripture.
Meanwhile, the wrath Paul is talking about in 1 Thessalonians is not a specific reference to the Bowl Judgments. Rather, Paul is talking about the wrath of all Tribulation. In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul is comforting the church that they did not miss the resurrection, as some false teachers had been claiming. Though the church was suffering great persecution at the hands of the Jews and Romans, nevertheless their experience was not the Tribulation as some feared.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (NKJV)
9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
11 Therefore comfort (encourage) each other and edify one another (build one another up), just as you also are doing.
Paul says that the Church is not appointed to experience God’s wrath. He meant that the Church need not fear they had missed the resurrection and were therefore experiencing the Tribulation. Paul had taught the Church earlier that the Rapture must precede the Tribulation, yet other false teachers had convinced them that they were presently enduring the Tribulation. Therefore, the church was concerned that the arrival of Tribulation meant they had missed the resurrection.
Paul responds by reassuring the Church that they are not appointed or destined to wrath, meaning the wrath of Tribulation. Therefore, they could be comforted knowing that their resurrection was still to happen.
The key to interpreting this passage properly is in understanding that the entire seven years of Tribulation is considered the “wrath of God.” The Bowl Judgment are just the final and greatest outpouring of wrath during those seven years, but the wrath of God is evident in all the judgments of Tribulation, as Revelation teaches us:
Revelation 15:1 (NKJV)
Prelude to the Bowl Judgments
15 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete (finished).
Notice, the Bowl Judgments are the called “the last” because they “finish” the wrath of God in Tribulation. They are not the entirety of God’s wrath. They are the finishing of God’s wrath. Similarly, we find even the first judgments of Tribulation, the Seal Judgments, called judgments of wrath in Revelation:
Revelation 6:17 (NKJV)
17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
After the sixth Seal Judgment, the people of earth declare that the great day of “wrath” has come upon them. Clearly, God’s wrath comes to earth long before the Bowl Judgments appear. The Bowl Judgments are just the final outpouring of His wrath.
So, if Paul says the Church is not destined (or appointed) to experience wrath at all, then this means we cannot experience any of the judgments of Tribulation. That’s why Paul teaches that the coming of the Lord for the Church (i.e., the Rapture) rescues us from this coming wrath:
1 Thessalonians 1:10 (NKJV)
10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
This Is one of many places we find the scriptures teaching that the Church has nothing to fear regarding the Tribulation. It is not appointed for the Church, since it is appointed for entirely different reasons.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”