Paul writes clearly in 1 Thess 4:13-18 that the rapture does not occur before the resurrection, and that the resurrection happens when Christ returns. Here’s verses 16,17 again: 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
This has given us some vital chronological markers in putting together a framework that we shall build upon later. The point I made last time, is that the resurrection and rapture are tied into the coming of the Lord and we asked if there was a way to peg this ‘coming of the Lord’ that Paul writes of in 1 Thess 4 to another event that would position it securely on our timeline? Now the reason this is important is because of disputes over another suggested secret coming and rapture before the day of the Lord’s arrival on full display. That’s why I’m asking the question: can we peg the Lord’s coming that Paul teaches, with any other event which is not disputed? If yes, then we can be confident knowing when the resurrection and rapture take place on our timeline. To find another event that relates to Paul’s coming of the Lord, let’s look at what he writes later in his second letter to the Thessalonians 2:1-5 NKJV 1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for [that Day will not come] unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
On a simple, first glance, reading of this text, Paul puts the matter of the day of the Lord (or Christ as it is here) in no uncertain terms. He makes an unequivocal, indisputable statement saying that the day of Christ will not come until two things happen: First, there will be a falling away, other translations give ‘the great rebellion’ or ‘the apostasy’, then secondly, the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition (or man of lawlessness) who exalts himself above God, will sit as God in the temple. Jesus and Daniel both referred to this heinous act as the abomination of desolation. To summarise then, Paul is saying that the day of the Lord, will not happen until after the abomination of desolation in the temple, when the son of perdition is revealed. There is little doubt, when this happens that we are in the Great Tribulation. Therefore, the resurrection and subsequent rapture will not happen until after this point. This would appear to shatter the pre-trib viewpoint once and for all. Paul says in no uncertain terms, ‘concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him’ this will not happen until after the apostasy and the revealing of the son of perdition. However, the pre-trib view does not dispute that the day of the Lord described here will not be as Paul taught, but the point of contention is that when Paul writes in v1 ‘Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him’, he lists the ‘coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ as separate to ‘our gathering together to Him’, implying that they are two separate events, and the gathering together happens at another coming before this one. However, I believe this point is not sustainable and here’s why. In the same chapter verse 5, when Paul writes “when I was with you I told you these things”, he refers to things he had already taught them. Now we know from his first letter what he taught. We learnt in Quick Bite 33 that Paul explicitly teaches the ‘coming of the Lord’ and ‘our gathering together’ are not two separate events, but happen simultaneously, they are not separated by time. Therefore, when Paul teaches in 2 Thess 2 the timing of the day of Christ is after the apostasy and the abomination of desolation, he is including the resurrection and rapture.