Posttribulationists maintain that the coming of Christ for his church will not take place until the conclusion of the great tribulation. They avoid use of the term rapture because (1) it is not a biblical expression and (2) it suggests that the church will escape or be delivered from the tribulation, a notion that runs contrary to the essence of posttribulationism.

A first feature of posttribulationism is a less literal interpretation of the events of the last times than is found in pretribulationism.31 For instance, while pretribulationists take the word שָׁבוּעַ (shabua’) in Daniel 9:27 to be an indication that the great tribulation will be literally seven years in duration, most posttribulationists hold merely that the tribulation will last a substantial period of time. Similarly, pretribulationists generally have a concrete conception of the millennium; in their view, many prophecies will be literally fulfilled within the thousand-year period. Indeed, it is to be inaugurated when Christ’s feet literally stand upon the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). The posttribulationist’s understanding of the millennium is much more generalized in nature; for example, it will not necessarily be one thousand years in length.

According to posttribulationism, the church will be present during and experience the great tribulation. The term elect in Matthew 24 (after the tribulation, the angels will gather the elect—vv. 29–31) should be understood in the light of its usage elsewhere in Scripture, where it means “believers.” Since Pentecost, the term elect has denoted the church. The Lord will preserve the church during, but not spare it from, the tribulation.

Postmillennialists draw a distinction between the wrath of God and the tribulation. The wrath (ὀργή—orgē) of God is spoken of in Scripture as coming upon the wicked—“whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36); “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom. 1:18; see also 2 Thess. 1:8; Rev. 6:16–17; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15). On the other hand, believers will not undergo the wrath of God—“we [shall] be saved from God’s wrath through [Christ]” (Rom. 5:9); “Jesus … rescues us from the coming wrath (1 Thess. 1:10); “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath” (1 Thess. 5:9).32 Scripture makes it clear, however, that believers will experience tribulation. The overwhelming majority of the occurrences of the noun θλίψις (thlipsis) and the corresponding verb θλίβω (thlibo) refer to tribulation saints endure. The noun is used to denote persecution of the saints in the last times (Matt. 24:9, 21, 29; Mark 13:19, 24; Rev. 7:14). This is not God’s wrath, but the wrath of Satan, Antichrist, and the wicked against God’s people.33

Tribulation has been the experience of the church throughout the ages. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Other significant references are Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; and 2 John 7. While posttribulationists do not deny a distinction between tribulation in general and the great tribulation, they believe that the difference is one of degree only, not of kind. Since the church has experienced tribulation throughout its history, it would not be surprising if the church also experiences the great tribulation.

Posttribulationists acknowledge that Scripture speaks of believers who will escape or be kept from the impending trouble. In Luke 21:36, for example, Jesus tells his disciples, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” The word here is ἐκφεύγω (ekpheugo) which means “to escape out of the midst of.” A similar reference is found in Revelation 3:10: “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” The preposition translated “from” actually means “out from the midst of.” Posttribulationists argue, then, that the church will be kept from the midst of the tribulation, not that it will be kept away from the tribulation, which would ordinarily require the preposition ἀπό (apo).34 In this respect, we are reminded of the experience of the Israelites during the plagues on Egypt.

Of additional significance in Revelation 3:10 is the verb τηρέω (tēreō—“keep”). When a dangerous situation is in view, it means “to guard.” It appears with the preposition ἐκ in only one other place in the New Testament, John 17:15: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Here τηρέω is contrasted with αἴρω (airō), which means “to lift, raise up, or remove.” The latter verb very accurately pictures what the pretribulationist holds Jesus will do with the church at the time of the rapture. To be sure, Jesus here is talking about the situation of his followers in the period immediately following his departure from earth, not the tribulation. The point, however, is that if John had desired to teach in Revelation 3:10 that Jesus would “rapture” the church, the verb αἴρω was certainly available. The apostle apparently had in mind here what he did in the latter half of John 17:15, a guarding of believers from the present danger rather than a deliverance of them from the presence of such danger.35

The posttribulationist also has a different understanding of Paul’s reference in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to our meeting the Lord in the air. The pretribulationist maintains that this event is the rapture; Christ will come secretly for the church, catching believers up with him in the clouds and taking them to heaven until the end of the tribulation. Posttribulationists like George Ladd, however, in light of the usage of the term ἀπάντησις (apantēsis—“to meet”) elsewhere in Scripture, disagree. There are only two other undisputed occurrences of this word in the New Testament (Matt. 27:32 is textually suspect). One of these references is in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, an explicitly eschatological parable. When the bridegroom comes, the announcement is made, “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet [ἀπάντησις—apantēsis] him!” (Matt. 25:6). What does the word signify in this situation? The virgins do not go out to meet the bridegroom and then depart with him. Rather, they go out to meet him and then accompany him back to the wedding banquet. The other occurrence of the word (Acts 28:15) is in a noneschatological historical narrative. Paul and his party were coming to Rome. A group of the believers in Rome, hearing of their approach, went out to the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet (ἀπάντησις) them. This encouraged Paul, and the group then continued with him back to Rome. On the basis of these usages, Ladd argues that the word ἀπάντησις suggests a welcoming party that goes out to meet someone on the way and accompanies them back to where they came from. So our meeting the Lord in the air is not a case of being caught away, but of meeting him and then immediately coming with him to earth as part of his triumphant entourage. It is the church, not the Lord, that will turn around at the meeting.36

Posttribulationists have a less complex understanding of the last things than do their pretribulational counterparts. For example, there is in posttribulationism only one second coming. Since there is no interlude between the coming of Christ for the church and the end of the tribulation, there is no need for an additional resurrection of believers. There are only two resurrections: (1) the resurrection of believers at the end of the tribulation and the beginning of the millennium, and (2) the resurrection of the ungodly at the end of the millennium.
Posttribulationists also see the complex of events at the end as basically unitary. They believe that this complex of events is imminent, although they usually do not mean that the coming itself is imminent in the sense that it could occur at any moment. They prefer to speak of the second coming as impending.37 Their blessed hope is not an expectation that believers will be removed from the earth before the great tribulation, but rather a confidence that the Lord will protect and keep believers regardless of what may come.38”

Erickson, M. J. (1998). Christian theology. (2nd ed., pp. 1226–1230). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Rapture Book of Revelation

Rapture Book of Revelation

Rapture Book of Revelation

One argument that I hear from those who hold to a pretribulation rapture is that the church is not mentioned after chapter 4 of the book of Revelation.Thus the church is not here during the tribulation. According to this logic we should not call members of the church saints

Re 5:8 X And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Re 8:3 X And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne,
Re 8:4 X and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
Re 11:18 X The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
Re 13:7 X Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,
Re 13:10 X If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
Re 14:12 X Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
Re 16:6 X For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!”
Re 17:6 X And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.
Re 18:20 X Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!”
Re 18:24 X And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.”
Re 19:8 X it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
Re 20:9 X And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them

Defining Citizenship

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“Citizenship. The concept of spiritual citizenship is most clearly expressed in Philippians 3:20, where Paul writes, “Our citizenship (politeuma) is in heaven.” This is the only place in Scripture where the word is used, but the idea is found in both Jewish and Christian literature. In fact, the development of the idea may be traced from the record of Abraham’s experience to the writings of the apostolic fathers.
Abraham viewed himself as a stranger (gēr) and a sojourner (māgûr) in the land of promise (Gen. 23:4). The same words are used consistently to describe the experience of the patriarchs (Gen. 17:8; 28:4; 47:9; Exod. 6:4). Even when Israel resided in Canaan, the people were to recognize that the land was God’s and that they were merely aliens (tôšābɩ̂m) in it (Lev. 25:23; 1 Chron. 29:15; Pss. 39:12; 119:19). The Rechabites chose not to build houses, sow seed, or plant vineyards; they lived in tents as a reminder of their status as sojourners (Jer. 35:6–10).
Christ’s teaching on the kingdom has a strong heavenly orientation. His followers are to seek the kingdom that the Father has chosen to give them (Matt. 6:33; Luke 12:32). The kingdom, however, is not of this world (John 18:36). Believers are to lay up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:19–21). While Christ is absent, Christians are to take comfort in his promise that he is preparing a place for them in his Father’s house (John 14:1–4). Ultimately, they will inherit the kingdom he has prepared for them (Matt. 25:34).
Paul reminds Christians that it is “the Jerusalem above” to which they are related (Gal. 4:21–31) and that they are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1–4). Peter describes Christians in the same language used to describe Abraham in the Septuagint. They are elect “refugees” (parepidēmoi) whose time on earth is a “temporary stay” (paroikia) in a foreign country (1 Peter 1:1, 17). Their status as “strangers” (paroikoi) and temporary residents provides an incentive for holy living (1 Peter 2:11).
The author of Hebrews brings these various themes together in the most comprehensive way. Abraham and the other patriarchs lived as strangers and exiles on earth, seeking the city designed, built, and prepared for them by God (11:8–16). Similarly, Christians do not have a lasting city; they seek the city that is to come (13:14). That city is the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God and the capital of an unshakable kingdom (12:22–23, 28).
Harvey, J. D. (1996). Citizenship. In Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology (electronic ed., pp. 99–100). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.


The privilege of belonging to a city or country. Scripture portrays believers as living in two realms, being members of both human society and of the heavenly city. In both realms there are duties as well as privileges.

Dual citizenship
Mt 22:21 pp Mk 12:17 pp Lk 20:25 See also Ezr 7:26

Earthly citizenship
Privileges and duties of citizens Ro 13:1-7 See also Ecc 8:2; Mt 17:27; Tit 3:1; 1Pe 2:13-17

Privileges and duties of Roman citizenship Ac 16:37; 22:25-29; 23:27; 25:10

Heavenly citizenship and the Christian hope
Php 3:20; Heb 13:14 See also Lk 22:29-30; Jn 14:2; 1Pe 1:4; Rev 21:2,27; 22:3-5

Gentiles are included in the citizenship of heaven Eph 2:19 See also Eph 2:12-13″
Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

“The citizenship of Abraham in the NT

Echoes of Abraham’s sojourn in Canaan may be heard in Paul’s statement that Christians are citizens of ‘the Jerusalem above’ (Gal. 4:21–31). Peter’s description of believers is reminiscent of the terms used for Abraham in Genesis. They are ‘temporary residents’ (‘refugees’, parepidēmois) whose time on earth is a brief stay among strangers (‘time of temporary residence’, paroikia, 1 Pet. 1:1, 17).
The author of the letter to the Hebrews makes more explicit references to Abraham’s experiences. In Hebrews 11:8–16, the lesson drawn from Abraham’s faith is that while he, Isaac and Jacob were living in tents in Canaan, they were actually seeking the ‘city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God’ (11:10). This reference to the semi-nomadism of the ancestral sojourn states clearly that Abraham’s faith was rewarded beyond his comprehension. The city he inherited was the ‘the heavenly Jerusalem’, the city of the living God (Heb. 12:22–23), which is the capital of an unshakeable kingdom (Heb. 12:28). He expected to inherit the cities of Canaan, which were difficult to defend and vulnerable to many aggressors, but was rewarded with a far greater city. Likewise, Christians ‘have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come’ (Heb. 13:14).
The two cities in the NT

The eschatological picture of the two cities, Jerusalem and Babylon, had significant implications in the NT and subsequent Christian theology. The clash between the city of God and the city of Satan will come to a head in the eschaton.The clearest expression of this eschatological conflict is found in the book of Revelation, where both the fall of the new Babylon and the arrival of the new Jerusalem are described. The horrors of the new Babylon are detailed in Revelation 17–18 (specifically 16:17–18:24). First-century readers would have undoubtedly understood ‘Babylon’ as a code name for Rome. As ancient Babylon had been the wicked and ruthless enemy of God’s people in OT times, so here she symbolizes the evil and violent thirst for power so typical of earthly kingdoms. But Babylon’s downfall will be swift and total (18:10, and see vv. 17 and 19).

Most of the book of Revelation is an account of persecution and death (chs. 6–20). But in chapters 21–22, the book moves from time into eternity as it foretells the glorious outcome of God’s redemptive plan. The first paragraph (21:1–8) describes the new heaven and new earth in general terms, relying largely on images from the prophecy of Isaiah (65:17; 66:22). The old creation has passed away, making room for this new creation, ‘the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God’ (Rev. 21:2). The second literary unit describes the new Jerusalem in more detail (21:9–21). The holy city of Jerusalem will be the new home for God’s people. It is described as perfectly symmetrical, and radiant like pure jewels. Finally, the book gives a glimpse of life in the eternal city (21:22–22:5). Some things necessary and taken for granted in the former city will be absent from the new Jerusalem. It has no temple, for the temple represented the presence of God in the midst of Jerusalem. Instead, God himself will be the temple in the new city (21:22). It has no sun or moon, for it will have the glory of God (21:23); no night, because the Lord God will be light for its inhabitants (21:25; 22:5). Life in the new city will surpass the experiences of the first couple in the Garden of Eden, for this city has ‘the river of the water of life’, and ‘the tree of life’ (22:1–2).

The contrast between the two cities encourages believers of every generation to have the faith of Abraham, who was a resident alien in Canaan, but whose citizenship was in heaven (Phil. 3:20). While living in tents here below, we must live a life worthy of our calling, aware that our time here is brief and that we are on a journey to that eternal city.”

Arnold, B. T. (2000). City, Citizenship. In T. D. Alexander & B. S. Rosner (Eds.), New dictionary of biblical theology (electronic ed., pp. 415–416). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

“Heavenly Citizenship.While explicit language related to heavenly citizenship is rare in Paul, the metaphor of heavenly citizenship is clearly an influential force in his theology. In both ethical injunctions and eschatological descriptions, it is clear that Paul uses this citizenship to describe the believer’s participation in the kingdom of God.

2.1. Ethical Injunctions. Paul’s idea of heavenly citizenship is communicated with full cognizance of his church members’ participation in their local societies as citizens (1 Cor 5:9–10; Rom 13:1–7). In this sense it is possible that Paul has in mind the legal status of dual citizenship (see Phil 1:27). The fact that Christians are citizens of both earth and heaven leads to Paul’s ambassadorial language in 2 Corinthians 5:18–21 and Ephesians 6:19–20. As citizens of heaven, Christians have the responsibility to think consistently with their citizenship (Col 3:1–4) and live holy lives (Rom 13:12–14). Paul’s own idea of his heavenly citizenship allowed him to live in a way that freed him to be all things to all people (1 Cor 9:19–23). Paul’s doctrine of heavenly citizenship and its implications for living are close to 1 Peter 2:11, although Paul does not use the metaphor of sojourning as strongly as Peter. Philippians 3:20 (in the light of Phil 1:27) provides the best example of heavenly citizenship terminology in Paul. This citizenship here provides the ground for Paul’s commands to avoid thinking in an earthly way (Phil 2:3–4; 3:19), and instead to follow his example (Phil 3:17) as befits one who rejoices in God’s goodness, praying and thinking in a God-centered way (Phil 4:1–9). The description of Christians’ heavenly citizenship in Philippians 3:20 also is linked to the expectation of the parousia and the physical transformation to occur at that time (Phil 3:20–21).

2.2. Eschatological Descriptions. The sense that Christians are headed for a citizenship in the next life is a powerful force in Paul’s theology. Thus we see in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:24 how an understanding of the rights and destiny of the heavenly citizen leads to a certain pattern of behavior. In Romans 8:12–30, the prospect of participation as a citizen in the new creation is inextricably linked both to one’s status as a child of God and the concomitant behavior that such future citizenship and adoption necessarily implies for the present. Paul’s eschatological understanding of heavenly citizenship includes the conviction that the Christian is not ultimately subject to death, and ought therefore to live for values that will outlast life on earth (1 Cor 15:53–58).”

Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., & Reid, D. G. (Eds.). (1993). In Dictionary of Paul and his letters (pp. 140–141). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.



Ladd responding to dispensational pre tribulation rapture

Ladd responding to dispensational pre tribulation rapture

“This pretribulation coming of Christ to raise the dead saints and to rapture the living church has become the most characteristic doctrine of Dispensationalists. We must examine the language used in the New Testament to see if it supports this idea of a coming of Christ before the Great Tribulation.

Three words are employed in the New Testament to describe the second advent. The first is “parousia,” which means “coming,” “arrival,” or “presence.” This is the word most frequently used of our Lord’s return, and it is used in connection with the Rapture of the church.

We that are alive, that are left unto the parousia of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thess. 4:15–17)

It is very difficult to find a secret coming of Christ in these verses. His coming will be attended with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the heavenly trumpet. Someone has said that the shout and the trumpet sound will be loud enough to wake the dead!

Furthermore, the parousia of Christ will occur not only to rapture the church and to raise the righteous dead but also to destroy the Man of Lawlessness, the Antichrist. “And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to naught by the manifestation of his parousia” (2 Thess. 2:8). This is obviously no secret event, for the parousia of Christ will be an outshining, a manifestation. Furthermore, this verse locates the parousia at the end of the Tribulation. One would naturally conclude by comparing the verses just cited that the Rapture of the living saints, the resurrection of those who have died, and the judgment upon the Antichrist will all take place at the same time, namely, at the parousia of Jesus at the end of Tribulation.

Furthermore, it is at his parousia that Jesus will be accompanied by all his saints. Paul prays that God may establish the Thessalonians in holiness “at the parousia of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thess. 3:13). At his parousia the Lord will come to bring his saints with him, to raise the righteous dead, to rapture the living believers, and to destroy Antichrist.
The parousia will be a glorious event. Christ will destroy the Man of Lawlessness by the breath of his mouth and “by the manifestation [literally, “epiphany” or “outshining”] of his parousia” (2 Thess. 2:8). The rendition of the King James Version is not wrong: “by the brightness of his coming.” This epiphany will be a glorious event, for Paul speaks of “the epiphany of the glory of our great God and our Saviour” (Titus 2:13).

We find the same teaching of a glorious visible parousia in Jesus’ words. “For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west; so shall be the parousia of the Son of man” (Matt. 24:27). It will be like a bolt of lightning, glorious, visible, evident to all.

The usual answer given to these facts by those who separate the coming of Christ into two parts is that parousia means “presence” and therefore covers the entire period of time which is introduced by the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation. Thus, we are told, parousia can refer either to the coming of Christ at the Rapture or to his Revelation at the end of the Tribulation.

It is true that sometimes parousia does mean “presence.” Paul contrasts his presence (parousia) with the Philippians with his absence (apousia) from them (Phil. 2:12). The Corinthians accused Paul of inconsistency, because “his letters … are strong, but his bodily presence is weak” (2 Cor. 10:10). However, the word does not always mean “presence”; more often it means “arrival.” When Paul in Ephesus received envoys from Corinth, he rejoiced at their parousia, that is, their coming or arrival (1 Cor. 16:17). When Paul was concerned about the condition of things at Corinth, he was comforted by the arrival (parousia) of Titus (2 Cor. 7:6). It was not the presence of Titus but his arrival with good news from Corinth that provided the comfort. To translate parousia by “presence” would empty it of its particular point. This is illustrated in the following instances: “Be patient, brethren, until the parousia of the Lord.… Be ye also patient; establish your hearts; for the parousia of the Lord is at hand” (Jas. 5:7–8). “Where is the promise of his parousia?” (2 Pet. 3:4). In these verses it is the coming, the return, the advent of the Lord which is called for; “presence” does not suit the context.

It is not the presence so much as the coming of Christ which is required in the verses we have just discussed. It is at the coming, the advent of Christ, that the dead will be raised and the living caught up; “presence” does not fit. It is at his coming, his advent, not his presence, that he will be accompanied by his saints. His coming, his advent, will be like a bolt of lightning. The parousia of Christ is his second coming, and it will bring both salvation and judgment: salvation of the saints, and judgment of the world.

A second word used of our Lord’s return is apokalypsis, which means “revelation.” The apocalypse or Revelation of Christ is distinguished by pretribulationists from the Rapture of the church and is placed at the end of the Tribulation when Christ comes in glory to bring judgment upon the world. If this view is correct, then the apocalypse of Christ is not primarily the blessed hope of the Christian. When the Revelation occurs, the saints will have been raptured and will have received from the hand of Christ their rewards for the things done in the body. They will already have entered into the full enjoyment of life and fellowship with Christ. The apocalypse of Christ is for judgment of the wicked, not for the salvation of the church. According to pretribulationism, the Rapture at the secret coming of Christ is our blessed hope and the object of our fond expectation, not the Revelation.

This, however, is not what we find in the Scripture. We are “waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7). According to pretribulationism we are not waiting for the Revelation but for the Rapture. The church is to suffer affliction until the time of the apocalypse of Christ. Paul says that “it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you, and to you that are afflicted, rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, with the angels of his power in flaming fire” (2 Thess. 1:6–7). According to pretribulationism this rest from persecution has already been experienced at the Rapture; it does not await the Revelation of Jesus Christ. But the Word of God says it is received at the Revelation.”

Ladd, G. E. (1978). The last things: an eschatology for Laymen (pp. 50–53). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.