The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Quick Q&A: Is the Rapture Too New an Idea?


Q) Is the whole idea of a Rapture, separate and apart from the Second Coming, too new an idea to be true?

To answer this tough Bible question, Dr. David Reagan and I on a Christ in Prophecy television episode interviewed Dr. Ron Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes is the founder and director of Reasoning From the Scriptures Ministries. With nearly 50 books penned and decades of public teaching, he is an expert on the Bible. As a former “Bible Answer Man,” he specializes in easy to understand answers to the really tough questions about the Bible and the defense of the Scriptures.

Dr. Ron Rhodes

That’s a common complaint. There are people out there who even argue that the idea of a Rapture is so recent in Church History that it came from Margaret MacDonald, a teenager. And, you know what’s interesting? If you actually look at her writings, she comes out to be a cross between Post-Trib and Partial-Trib in viewpoints. A lot of Post-Tribs are going around talking about this as if it’s a gospel truth.

One of the things that you also have to keep in mind is that especially during the early centuries of Christianity, Roman Catholicism was predominate. If a person didn’t agree with what they taught their life was basically in danger.

If we want to get back to the earliest writings, I certainly believe that the apostles Paul and John and some of the others taught a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, if you look at their writings.

If we’re going to let Scripture speak for itself and words actually mean something, then the Pre-Trib position is correct. You’ve got to do a lot of spiritualizing in my opinion to get to the other timing positions.

Nathan’s IMHO

Some will argue that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is just “too new” to be considered viable. Critics will point to the origin of the modern Pre-Tribulation view and credit John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) with its founding. But, is that assessment historically accurate? Indeed, it is not.

The Early Church fathers’ such as Barnabas (ca.100-105), Papias (ca. 60-130), Justin Martyr (110-195), Irenaeus (120-202), Tertullian (145-220), Hippolytus (ca. 185-236), Cyprian (200-250), and Lactantius (260-330) wrote on the imminent return of Jesus Christ, the central argument for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.

Biblical truth is determined by Scripture, and not how that teaching has been perceived at different times during history. When Augustine began spiritualizing the Bible, his view of a non-literal interpretation took hold of the church until the Renaissance, obliterating the Premillennial and Pre-Tribulation Rapture views in favor of Amillennialism. But, some Medieval writers such as Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373), Abbot Ceolfrid’s Latin Codex Amiatinus (ca. 690-716), and Brother Dolcino wrote statements that distinguish the Rapture from the Second Coming.

When the chains of allegorical interpretation began to fall off beginning with the Reformation in the 1400 and 1500s, writers such as Joseph Mede (1586-1638), Increase Mather (1639-1723), Peter Jurieu (1687), Philip Doddridge (1738), John Gill (1748), James Macknight (1763), Thomas Scott (1792) and Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) all wrote concerning the Rapture occurring separate from the Second Coming. Even in the more modern church, those like William Witherby (1818) were precursors to John Darby in support of the view.

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is indeed then not only biblical, but supported throughout Church history.

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ABOUT AUTHOR View all posts Author Website

Dr. Nathan E. Jones

As the Internet Evangelist at Lamb & Lion Ministries, Nathan reaches out to the over 4.5 billion people accessible over the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ. He also co-hosts the ministry's television program Christ in Prophecy and podcast The Truth Will Set You Free.

24 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • I do not for a moment believe that the Rapture was not a belief widely held by early Church fathers, however where I differ is the doctrine of imminence. I believe all prophecy has a particular set of parameters and obligations before fulfillment. The Rapture is not excluded from this.

    It should be obvious that when the time of the Church is done, the focus will again turn to Israel to carry the message of the gospel under the direction of the 144,000. The fullness of the Gentiles will have then come under full circle under the dispensation of Grace.

    The Lord God provides us with signs and patterns as a map to guide us into a particular time frame of prophetic fulfillment. The Rapture will occur prior to the Tribulation or the beginning of the judgements, when Apostacy is full blown and the AntiChrist revealed in confirmation of the covenant with many nations.

    This is the parameter set by the Apostle Paul. We have been given a precise time frame. The Church can not exit until Israel is prepared to take their role. That is why I question the doctrine of imminency which is a modern adapation.

  • The use of the word 'imminent' may be modern, but the fact that Paul gave no specific signs for the rapture, and yet obviously considered it worth watching, waiting and looking for Jesus to return at any moment. This vibrant sense of expectancy within Paul's lifetime is described perfectly by the use of the word 'imminent'. Just as the word Trinity easily describes the facts of our triune God.

    No one looks for a vistor's imminent arrival when notification for a late arrival has already been given. Who stands at the bus stop early morning looking out for a bus to arrive that isn't due until late at night.

  • To watch is to be alert, to be guarded, such is the reference to Christ coming as a thief. The Lord will come as a thief only for those who are unbelievers that much is clear. We as believers will not be caught unaware as is clearly written, for that day shall not overtake us as a thief. If we are to watch, obviously we are watching for specific signs heralding his coming, therefore the Rapture is not a signless event, and the modern adaption known as the Doctrine of Imminence is a false doctrine.

  • But how can the Rapture be imminent in the light of 2 Thessalonians 2? Pretribulationists must explain what the Thessalonians were afraid of.

    Obviously they were afraid that they were in the Day of the Lord. All seem to agree that the Day of the Lord begins at the Rapture.

    So then why did Paul say that that Day would not come unless there were a great falling away and the Man of Sin revealed?

    Does this not mean that there can be no Rapture until some time after the abomination of desolation?

    Pretribulationists must deal with what the New Testament teaches about the Day of the Lord.

  • Paul had told the Thess.previously that they would not go into the 'Day of the Lord', but misguided folk had told them that the Roman persecution was that 'Day'.

    Paul reminded them of his previous teaching, that no resurrection of the dead in Christ, had occurred – so to take no notice of those who, like yourselves, insist the Church is to go through Daniel’s 70th week.

    Jesus revealed to John that the Church was already in heaven before the start of the seven years through the clear symbolism of the 24 elders and their song.

  • Yes, Paul told them that but what are the conclusions which follow? Reading 1 Thess. 4 and 5 without chapter breaks shows us that the Day of the Lord begins when the Church is raptured.

    If so, what can you do to explain all the things that must occur before the Day of the Lord?

  • All the things that occur before the last 24 hour ‘narrow’ day of the Lord’ are to do with the previous seven years that is kicked off when antichrist signs the covenant with the many, and the ‘broad’ day of the Lord begins.

    It is not revealed in Scripture when the Rapture occurs as no one know the day or the hour. All we know is that The Body of Christ, made up of both Jew and Gentile, is removed by Christ, the Head, from the earth before God starts the 70th week to deal with Israel again.

    John was shown that the Church will already be in heaven before the 7 years kick off when Jesus breaks the first seal and the a/c rides out.

  • Nathan, nothing to say regarding this matter? Doctrine of Imminence, false theology or biblical truth? Before you even think it, yes, I am pretrib, yet I never have like titles, titles only provide limits.

  • Well, Rodney, we can't deny that in all the Pre-Trib teachings concerning the Rapture the event is just not tied to any occurrences. Sure, the thief has to show up and invade the house before one is surprised that they're there, but we know Christ's return comes like a flash (1 Cor. 15:52), so no real time is involved.

    I agree with you that the passing of the torch so to speak from the Church requires Israel to be ready to take it, BUT that doesn't mean there can't be an interlude in-between. Nobody, including the Apostle Paul, you and me would have ever thought Christ would have waited 2,000+ years to return.

    So, all who believe in the imminent return of Christ are apostates who you will fight with your last dying breath? (Just funning with you, Man! 😉

  • No, not apostates, just misinformed brother. We have been commissioned to reveal the Good News of Christ to the world, that is the task before us. When the Lord God intervenes on behalf of Israel in destroying the Gog/Magog coalition, our time will come to an end. The focus of God will be returned again to Israel and he will prepare them to carry the message. The first will be last, and the last, will be first.

  • So Paul was misinforming the Church, and deluding himself, to be expectant of Jesus to return in their lifetime!

    Jesus misinformed John when after showing him the 7 Churches, then the future events with the Church already off the earth (24 elders)and in heaven before Jesus began opening the seals.

    We are misinformed because Paul misunderstood and thereby misinformed the Thess. All because Jesus was misinformed and taught him wrongly and misinformed John with His Revelation of misinformation.

    Its hard to trust anyone anymore!

  • No my friend, misinformed from the aspect that the Rapture is a signless event. The Rapture as all prophetic events have designated signs appointed to them. Thus the command to watch, if it then is signless what are you watching for? The truth is as the Apostle Paul clarifies, the Rapture will not come until there is a full blown apostacy and the AntiChrist being revealed. This revealing process does in no way imply that we will be here during the Tribulation and its series of judgements. Therefore the modern adaption known as the Doctrine of Imminence is a false doctrine.

  • After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight..Hosea 6:2. The context found here in Hosea speaks of the restoration of Israel, while they are presently revived, they require the Spirit of God to yet raise them up. This rivals the Dry Bones Vision of Ezekiel 37. While for two thousand years Israel was in desolation, they have returned to the Land and as we have entered this third day, they will soon have the Spirit of God poured out upon them at the conclusion of the Gog/Magog battle in preparation for the return of the King, Yeshua our Lord.

    The Spirit of God being poured out upon Israel in fulfillment of Joel 2:28-29, signals the time of the Church has ended and the Lord God will again return his focus upon his people Israel. The restoration and redemption of Israel signal our exit, the revival of Israel is but one more sign that signals the Rapture. The natural branches will be restored coinciding with the presence of increased apostacy among the Church, also heralding the exit of true believers.

  • I believe the doctrine of signs preceeding the rapture not to be accurate, but do pertain to watchfulness in not only our personal walk, but the signs that pertain to the day of lord as in thess 5: and like mark 15: the lord is speaking to israel and his 2nd coming, yet the admonition can be seen or good for the church as well to be living in a state of constanc rediness for our master to return. I think the biggest reason for the confustion is what Don Perkins states, people mix up the rapture and the 2nd coming up, and even mix up the verses as well.

    blessings and live in constant rediness, the twinkling of an eye could come by way of death for some of us.

  • and the fulness of the gentiles will not ultimately come to fruition untill the Lord himself comes to reclaim and rule from jarusalem at his 2nd coming. Israel will continue to be under gentile obligation of some sort until Jesus sets his foot on the mount of olives. praise God, we will be there. and God does tell us he reveals it to us before he brings it to pass, that is prophecy or his will and purpose. He is doing just that by telling folk repent and live holy and be counted worthy to escape the wrath that is to come.


  • plus 2 thess 2:6-8 reveals the ac cannot be revealed until (he the holy spirit through the church) be take out of the way. clearly scripture teaches the ac will not be make known until after the rapture, he may be here now, I think he is, but we will never know, or see him because will be in heaven taking part in a wedding, and being judged for our works.


  • Rodney
    The context of 2Thess.2:3 concerns the Day of the Lord, not the Rapture.

    The Rapture was not a ‘prophetic event’ anywhere in the O.T. as it was a ‘Mystery’ revealed first by Paul in 1Cor15:51 and he gave no signs.

    Jesus said in Matt. and Luke 12:35-43 43 Be ready ALSO for the Son of man is coming at an hour as you think not. (i.e. no signs, because ‘no one knows’).

    None the less they were to ‘be ready’, this is expectancy. When my mum hauled me in from the garden to wash me and dress me, I knew it was nearly time for the party and I became silly with expectancy.

    The Thess. were told they were not to be any part of the DOL, as they would have already departed as only a few hours earlier in John 14:1-3 Jesus had already told them that he was coming back for them.

    Dennis is correct that many confuse the sudden, sign-less Rapture with the sign-filled 2nd Coming; these signs begin AFTER the ‘departure/apostasy’ then the man of sin is revealed when he signs the seven year covenant with the ‘many’ – this is when Jesus breaks the first seal of Revelation and the white horse rides out and the following signs are manifold. So the 2nd Coming IS known by then.

  • Dennis
    What you describe as the ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ is actually ‘The TIMES of the Gentiles’ in Luke 21:20-26 “…and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

    These ‘times’ began when Israel was first overthrown by Babylon – through the Medes and Persians and Greece, finally to the revived Rome under a/c. when the last of the Gentile rule is overthrown by Jesus – the Rock.

    The ‘Fullness of the Gentiles’ is from Romans 11:25 the ‘blindness’ of Israel until the final Gentile is saved. This began in Luke 19:41-44 when Jesus cried over Jerusalem and her rejection of Him as Messiah.

    Sorry if I am being a ‘smarty pants’, its just that it took me a while before I realised the difference. I am sure Nathan can guide you to better info. 🙂

  • Hey anonymous:

    For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins. Ephraem

    Looks pretrib to me!

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