I have begun to examine a number of Pre-Tribulational Rapture beliefs about the Rapture/ Resurrection in light of scriptural contexts and parallel passages; there will be many installments, all discussing directly the passages used to support this construct.
Pre-Trib Belief No. 2: Jesus will come with His Church/Bride down from Heaven, after the Tribulation (Zech 14:5; Col 3:4; Rev 19:7-8,14, 21:9-10; Matt 24:29-31; Jud 1:14,15; 1Thess 3:13)
Zech 14:5, You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!
This verse, and the context, certainly describe the return of Yeshua to fight against the nations gathered against Jerusalem (v1). Verse 5 says “and all the holy ones with Him”. This could mean either the heavenly hosts/angels, which are frequently called “holy ones” קדוש qadowshm, H6918, meaning “holy” or “set apart”. It could also mean the redeemed of God. Or it might be both. Remember, the dead in Christ are raised first (1Thes 4:16), so those coming with Christ who have died over the ages and dwell with Him in their spirits will receive their bodies before those still alive, then we who are alive will receive our “resurrection” bodies. In any case, these verses do not prove a pre-trib rapture, nor do they work exclusively in support of such.
Col 3:4, When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
This verse does refer to the rapture/resurrection—John writes in 1 John 3:2 “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” It in no way exclusively works just for a pre-trib rapture. On the other hand we again (and again and again) have a reference to a single appearance of Christ, at His (one) return.
Rev 19:7-8,14, 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints… 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.
The pre-trib presuppositions here are that 1) the saints are in Heaven (the who?), 2) they’ve attended the marriage of the lamb to the bride, 3) they must have been there for a long time for that to have happened, longer than is allowable in a post-trib rapture scenario, and 4) they follow Christ as he returns to earth to defeat those enemies assembled to make war against the lamb and his army (v19).
The rebuttal for this is to ask ‘how long is an hour, a day or a year in Heaven?’ While we live inside of time here, Heaven is outside of time. Through the many other scripture passages that have been and will be addressed in this series it was/will be clearly demonstrated that the return of Christ is single event—it is unnecessary to require a large amount of time between the rapture and Christ riding to Jerusalem’s defense. In fact the apantesis qualifies as “the marriage”—we are united to Christ when we put on our imperishable bodies.
Heaven is coming to earth. The new Jerusalem, the people of God, will descend from Heaven and hover over physical Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem will be Heaven, in the Millennium and beyond. It is not necessary to put it a long way distant and require the saints to dwell there for years in order “to be married” to the lamb.
Now about the term “saints” in the Book of Revelation. A common objection that pre-tribbers often throw up is that “the church isn’t mentioned once during the Tribulation in Rev. Chapters 4-21.” But yet in 19:7&8 the term “bride”, unarguably meaning the church/ekklesia, and “saints” are interchangeable. So at least in Chapter 19 of Revelation “saints” means “church.” Well unfortunately for pre-tribbers, the word “saints” ἅγιος hagios, meaning “holy ones”(same basic meaning as Zech 14:5, discussed above), appears throughout Revelation. So either the church does appear in Revelation, in the tribulation, or “saints” does NOT refer to the church in Rev 19.
Rev 21:9-10, 9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
Pre-tribbers have Zech 14:5 and Rev 19 reporting on the second, Second Coming of Christ when he comes to do battle with the nations, so by referencing this scripture as a proof of “Jesus coming with His Church/Bride down from Heaven”, is this the third, Second Coming of Christ? No, this is not an exclusive proof of the pre-trib rapture. It is simply stating that in the Millennium, Heaven will dwell on earth as the New Jerusalem, which is both the Bride and its dwelling place on earth during that time.
Matt 24:29-31, 29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
How this passage could somehow be referenced as a proof of the pre-trib rapture is beyond me. It clearly states that “after the tribulation” Jesus “will send forth His angels” to “gather together his elect”. This IS the rapture. The angels are gathering the elect FROM the earth (the four winds). This is not a gathering from Heaven. The parallel passage in Mark 13 says “He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.” If all the elect are already in Heaven because of a previously occurring pre-trib rapture it would not say “from the farthest end of the earth”.
Jude 1:14,15, 4 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Holy ones or saints, hagios, could mean either angels or the ekklesia returning with Christ to earth after being raptured into the air to greet Christ and transformed into their immortal, eternal bodies during the resurrection/rapture. The passage neither proves the pre-trib rapture nor disproves post-trib. Christ WILL be coming with the saints already in Heaven to resurrect their bodies and transform those still alive. Recall that the dead in Christ are raised first (1Thes 4:16), so those coming with Christ will receive their bodies before those still alive, then we who are alive will receive our “resurrection” bodies.
1 Thess 3:13 So that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
When Christ comes with all His saints, those saints will be given their resurrection bodies, then we who are alive will be transformed. (1Thes 4:16, 1 Cor 15:51, 52) Paul is talking to someone when Jesus and the saints are coming; who is he talking to, if not the Church/saints still on earth when Christ returns?