- History. This is by no means a “nail in the coffin”, but the fact that the view of a secret rapture of the church is relatively new in the history of the church is quite telling. This view of the rapture was first made popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Some will make an attempt to put pre-tribulationalism on the lips of Tertullian, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, etc. I’m not convinced. They were historic premillennialist but not pre-tribulational.
- The Silence of Paul. Arguments from silence are typically pretty shaky. However, I think this one is pretty loud. In 2 Thessalonians some are worried that Christ has returned. Paul could have easily reminded them that they had not been secretly raptured. “Duh, you’re still on earth…you haven’t been raptured…Jesus has came back.” But instead Paul talks about the man of lawlessness. Certainly, it could be argued that what is “restraining” him is that the rapture has yet to happen. Fair enough, but I’m not convinced.
- 3. Revelation 3:10. “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.” This is one of the most widely used verses for the pre-tribulational position. Consider what this word means in John 17:15, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” This word does not have to be read as Jesus zapping us out of earth. His keeping us is not removing us. His keeping us is bringing about our perseverance through his powerful working.
- The “meeting” of a dignitary. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 this “meeting” the Lord in the air is more than likely not referring to meeting Jesus and then going back to where he is, but rather meeting Jesus and going together where we are. This word was used of meeting a Roman dignitary. You meet him outside your town and then brought him back into your town—not vice versa. This is the same meaning in Matthew 25 with the parable of the Ten Virgins. Notice that the virgins go meet the bridegroom and then take him back to where they have been waiting.
- The Silence of Jesus. Where Jesus speaks on the issue where you would expect a secret rapture he is silent. Wait, you say, “what about Matthew 24 and the one being taken away”? Consider the context. The one that is “taken away” is like the one swept away in the day of Noah. The one that is left is what you want to be—not the one taken away.
- Since when are believers taken out of suffering and not called to endure and go through it? It seems to be that the general tenor of the teaching of Scripture is that we will go through many tribulations. It is through much tribulation that we will inherit the kingdom. It seems to be following in the steps of our King to endure through suffering not to be taken away from it. Of course believers are protected in and through suffering—but that does not mean that we are delivered out of it.
- What sense would Revelation have made to its first century audience? Revelation was written to struggling 1st century Christians that were being bombarded with persecution and intense suffering. The hope laid out in Revelation is not a manual for interpreting the end times. The hope laid out in Revelation is that Jesus Christ the true King reigns victorious. Believers, though suffering now, will one day be victorious if they remain faithful to Christ in the midst of suffering. If I am correct about the general tenor of Revelation then this notion of a secret rapture would seem to undercut the teaching of this book.
Now, feel free to disagree in the comments…