Q. I did a search for pre trib rapture and came across a site claiming to destroy the pre-trib position with just one verse. What would be your response to him? I would like to know in case someone ever challenges me with this question.
A. When someone claims that with just one verse he can destroy the pre-trib position, you should be suspicious right from the start because we’re admonished to consider the whole counsel of God in studying His word to avoid the very mistake this person has made. He took a single verse and made it say something that the context of the passage it’s contained in didn’t intend.
The verse he used is 2 Thes. 2:3 and the passage it’s contained in is 2 Thes 2:1-4.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 thes. 2:1-4)
Right off the bat we see that Paul is addressing two issues, 1) the coming of the Lord, and 2) our being gathered to Him. These are two separate events. In the 2nd coming He comes down to Earth to set up His kingdom here. In the rapture He calls us up to meet Him in the air and takes us to Heaven to be with Him there. They involve opposite directions. Also, you can’t build post trib doctrine on this passage because Paul put them in reverse order to further distinguish them from each other. Even post trib believers agree the rapture will happen before the 2nd Coming.
Then he went on to explain the conditions surrounding each one. Before the 2nd coming we’ll have a great apostasy, the anti-Christ will be revealed and he will defile the Temple (2 Thes. 2:3-4).
Then in 2 Thes. 2:6-8 Paul said that the anti-Christ can’t be revealed until the restrainer is taken out of the way, or literally out of the midst. This restrainer is the Holy Spirit resident in the Church.
And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. (2 Thes. 2:6-8)
So the order in these verses is before the anti-Christ is revealed the restrainer will be taken out of the midst, then the anti-Christ will be revealed, then the Lord will overthrow him.
Combine the two and we have the great apostasy (already happening) the Church taken out of the way, the anti-Christ revealed, the Temple defiled, and the Lord overthrowing him.
Any other order would contradict that Paul said in 1 Thes. 1:10 , 1 Thes 5:9, Romans 5:9 where he promised that Jesus will deliver us from the coming wrath because we’re not appointed to suffer wrath. It would also contradict what Jesus said about keeping us from the time of trial coming upon the whole earth to test those who dwell on the earth (Rev. 3:10).
Paul criticized the Thessalonians for being so easily alarmed by a letter that turned out to be a forgery, saying the Day of the Lord had already come. Think about that. If he had taught them a post-trib rapture position, they would have known that in just a few years they’d be in Eternity. Scary, yes. But panic, no.
The only way this false information could have caused them to be alarmed would be if he had taught them a pre-trib position, because that would mean they had missed the Rapture. And that would mean they weren’t saved. Now that’s cause for alarm.
2nd Thessalonians is the clearest indication anywhere in the New Testament that the first rapture position ever taught in the Church was the pre-trib position. But like the Thessalonians, we become too easily alarmed when we hear a different view because we don’t know our Bible well enough to stand our ground. Shame on us.