Q. I’m a fairly new Christian and have always been a believer in the pre-trib rapture. I just found out today that our Associate Pastor is Post Trib. I found this out during a group discussion regarding God’s Wrath after I pointed out that 1 Thes. 5:9 says we’re not appointed to wrath. He said the wrath Paul was referring to is eternal condemnation of non-believers. He said rapture passages could just as easily be describing the 2nd Coming, the rapture doesn’t appear anywhere in New Testament theology, and the dispensational interpretation of Daniel’s 70th Week is a shaky and novel one. Being a baby Christian, the understanding that I had from beginning has now been shaken and that scares me to death! Can you help?
A. This is why Paul told us to search the Scriptures daily to see if the things we’re being taught are true (Acts 17:11). If you do a word study on the wrath of God you’ll find it almost exclusively refers to a specific period of time at the End of the Age that will begin sometime before Rev. 6:17 and according to Rev. 15:1 will end with the Bowl judgments that precede the 2nd Coming. It is not equivalent to eternal condemnation.
It especially cannot refer to the eternal judgment of non believers in 1 Thes. 5:9, where the context of the passage is the Day of the Lord, another name for the end times. You don’t have to take my word for this. 1 Thes. 5:1 tells us the passage is in fact about the end times judgments.
As for the doctrine of the Rapture not appearing in New Testament Theology, Paul was the predominant author of New Testament theology and rapture passages appear through out his writing, especially in 1 Cor. 15:51-53, 1 Thes 1:10 and 1 Thes. 4:16-17. In fact Paul was chosen to reveal the doctrine of the Rapture to the church. Also, rapture passages can’t be confused with second coming passages because in the rapture the Church goes to Heaven to be there (John 14:2-3, 1 Thes 4:16-17) whereas in the 2nd Coming Jesus comes to Earth to be here (Matt. 24:30).
As for Daniel’s 70th Week, when you compare it with to Israel’s actual history a literal reading of Daniel 9:24-27 shows the dispensational view is the only one that matches. Far from being novel, it’s a mainstream view.
There are only two possibilities here. Either your Associate Pastor is only parroting what he’s been taught and hasn’t followed Acts 17:11 in his own study, or he has re-interpreted the Bible to match his preconceived notions, because a literal reading of the Bible does not support his conclusions.