Following my 7/9/10 post on the Pre Trib Rapture, I was asked to comment on various articles arguing that the pre-trib rapture view is a relatively recent populist idea. These arguments are disputed by others who do more than just a superficial investigation; see this article by Thomas Ice.
The Apostle Paul certainly believed that the Rapture was imminent (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). But even if it wasn’t clear that the early church expected the rapture to be pre-trib, that would not be reason to dismiss it… Daniel 12:4 says, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (NKJ). So I expect our understanding about end-times events will increase as we get closer to their fulfillment.
My reaction to the articles arguing against the Pre-Trib Rapture I looked at is that we are better served to consider what Scripture actually says rather than just accepting what eloquent commentators have to say on a subject. That is the problem people get into when they think Scripture is not to be taken literally… they are dependent on commentators who take things out of context and spin interpretations to support their case. I include myself in this as a commentator… if something I write does not ring true; check it out in Scripture and point it out to me. I like finding apparent contradictions in Scripture; there are always things to learn from such discrepancies.
Since God used Bible prophecy to lead me to Christ, I have always had a special interest in the doctrine of the Rapture. So I checked out for myself the Scripture commentators used to support the various views on the timing of the Rapture. I became convinced that the pre-trib rapture doctrine is correct because I have found it to be derived from the most literal interpretation of Scripture. Jesus fulfilled prophecies about His first coming literally so we should expect His return to be fulfilled literally as well.
One verse that some Pre-Trib Rapture advocates often use to support their positions is Revelation 3:10: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” A good example of an article that disputes that interpretation is here. I agree that Revelation 3:10 does not make the case for the Pre-Trib Rapture. No doctrine should be formed or rejected on the basis of one Scripture passage; instead doctrines should be established on the broader context of Scripture as a whole which means there should be multiple supporting passages. There is ample support for the Pre-Trib Rapture outside of Revelation 3:10.
I have found the pre-trib rapture doctrine to be a great blessing… “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). If the Rapture does not precede the Tribulation, we are not looking for the Lord to return until the Antichrist emerges first. Being ready for the Lord to return at any moment gives us a sense of urgency to get on with what He has called us to do. And life in this world is much better looking for Jesus Christ rather than the Antichrist.