Though I greatly admire Dr. Brown as a brilliant apologist for Jesus being the Messiah, he’s off about the pre-tribulation rapture. The Bible clearly supports the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture. Posttribulationists believe the rapture and Second Coming happen at the same time at the END of the tribulation and right before the 1,000 year reign of Christ.
Here are the arguments FOR a rapture that occurs BEFORE the 7-year tribulation (the correct pre-tribulation position):
In Jer. 30:7, the tribulation period is called the time of Jacob’s trouble. The tribulation is not for the church, it is to bring the Jewish nation to the Messiah. The terms wrath, tribulation, indignation, trial, trouble, and destruction describe this period, with the divine purpose to pour out judgment on sin.
Understandably, Dr. Brown (as a Jewish believer in Messiah) does not like the Biblical truth that the nation of Israel will endure severe persecution as prophesied in the Bible before the nation comes to faith. But another Jewish believer (Arnold Fruchtenbaum) who loves his fellow Jews also holds to the premillennial position.
If you believe that the Second Coming and rapture are the same, then you deny the doctrine of imminence (that Christ’s return could happen at any time). This doctrine is very well established in Scripture. Because of the teaching that a multitude of signs must happen before the Lord can possibly come before the Second Coming, Christ’s Second Coming (after the tribulation is over) cannot be the rapture of the church (which could happen at ANY TIME).
Also, you deny Daniel 9:24-27 as a future fulfillment. This is Daniel’s seventy weeks. That last week (the seven-year tribulation) has NOT been fulfilled, unless you spiritualize the text.
A posttribulationist (one who believes the Second Coming and Rapture occur simultaneously at the END of the tribulation) must apply major Scripture passages FOR ISRAEL to the church to support this view. (Matt. 13; Matt. 24-25; Rev. 4-19)
Just because historically the early church may not have appeared to support the pre-tribulation rapture is an argument from silence. Using the same reasoning, then we should not accept the doctrine of justification by faith – not clearly taught until the Reformation. The early church believed in the imminent return of Christ, which is consistent with pretribulationism.
Each era of church history was occupied with a particular doctrinal controversy in this order: Apologetics, Theology Proper (Christian doctrine of God), Anthropology (history of man), Christology (about Christ), Soteriology (salvation – Martin Luther and Reformers), Eschatology (our current age). Dogma has progressed over the years to a more accurate conception of what the Bible teaches in all matters.
The doctrine of imminency (that Christ could return at any moment) cannot be refuted. It’s in these passages: John 14:2-3, 1 Corinthians 1:7, Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 4:16-17; 5:5-9; Titus 2:13; James 5:8-9; Rev. 3:10; 22:17-22. The early church believed in Christ’s imminent return.
While it is true that the Bible promises the church will go through tribulation, how do you explain so many verses in the Bible that promise that Israel will go through a time of purging to prepare them as a nation for the millennium after Jesus returns as their Messiah? These verses that promise tribulation to Israel can’t be used to teach that the church experiences the tribulation period.
Further, the term tribulation is used in several ways. In a non-technical, non-prophetic sense it refers to any time of suffering or testing: Matt. 13:21; Mark 4:17; John 16:33; Romans 5:3; 12:12; 2 Cor. 1:4; 2 Thess. 1:4; Rev. 1:9. Tribulation is used for the seven years of tribulation in its prophetic sense in Rev. 2:22; Matt. 24:29. It’s also used for the last half of the 7 year tribulation in Matt. 24:21. If you teach that the church must go through the tribulation as part of an age-long opposition from Satan, then you teach that the tribulation has already existed for over nineteen hundred years. To say the church is in tribulation now must give the period a different character than how it’s described in Scripture as wrath, judgment, indignation, trial, trouble, destruction. In fact the book of Revelation says that over half the earth will die in the tribulation! I don’t recall that this has happened yet!
Daniel 9:24 has not been fulfilled historically (in the past). Daniel is about Daniel’s people (the JEWS) and Daniel’s holy city (JERUSALEM). The church is a mystery in the Bible. Daniel did not even know there would be a church! These promises are a logical outgrowth of God’s COVENANTS (unconditional promises) with the Jewish nation. Israel has not yet experienced her national salvation. Thus these promises are yet to be fulfilled in Daniel. So there’s NO WAY that Dan. 9:24 has been fulfilled, the last week (7 years) where Israel is saved is FUTURE.
The “he” of Dan. 9:27 has as its antecedent “the prince that shall come” of the preceding verse. This prince destroys the city and sanctuary – obviously the ANTICHRIST, not Jesus Christ.
Also, the prophecies of the first 69 weeks in Daniel were fulfilled literally. Thus a literal fulfillment of the 70th week (the 7 year tribulation) must occur.
You must also separate the resurrection of the church from the resurrection of Israel. The Old Testament saints are raised after the tribulation. The whole resurrection program (called the first resurrection) does not happen in one day. And the term Day of the Lord or that day does not apply to a 24-hr. period, but rather to a whole program of events, including the tribulation period, the second advent program and the entire millennial age. Check out Matt. 24:43; Luke 12:39-40; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15. The day of the Lord includes Christ’s return and the kingdom of 1,000 years to follow. Doesn’t the epistle of Peter say that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day?
Keep in mind that John 6:39-54; Luke 20:34-36; Matt. 13:43; Luke 14:14-15 all apply to God’s program for Israel, NOT THE CHURCH.
Posttribulationists fail to separate the church from Israel in the Bible.
Posttribulationists ignore 1 Cor. 15:23, “every man in his own order.” The first resurrection is composed of different groups: church saints, Old Testament saints, tribulation saints. Though raised at different times, they are part of a first resurrection program and are “orders” in that program.
Regarding the argument of the wheat and the tares in Matt. 13, at the end of the age the children of the kingdom will be separated from the children of the evil one. The rapture is not involved here. Every unbeliever is removed (the tares) after the tribulation as part of the judgments. Following these judgments the kingdom (1,000 year reign) starts, with the righteous (the wheat) taken into this kingdom.
I highly recommend anybody who disagrees with the pre-tribulation position read Things to Come by J. Dwight Pentecost and look up all the verses he mentions while you’re at it. Having read the Bible from cover to cover hundreds of times, I consider Pentecost’s work to possibly be the best on the subject!
Andy Woods in the following video does a pretty good job of covering this. Ironically, he recommends Dr. Brown’s book about Anti-Semitism in the church. As I said, Dr. Brown is brilliant when it comes to Jews, except in the area of Bible prophecy.
While it is true that the “thief in the night” passage in 1 Thess. 5:2 and 2 Pet. 3:10 is referring to the Second Coming (end of the tribulation) as part of the Day of the Lord (actually encompassing Christ’s Return and the 1,000 years that follow), this does not negate the rapture, which occurs at least 7 years earlier! Notice how 2 Peter 3:10 puts the Second Coming (right before the 1,000 yr. reign) together with the earth’s destruction by fire (after the 1,000 yr. reign) together AS PART OF THE DAY OF THE LORD.
Rev. 3:10 referring to the church of Philadelphia, means this church will be kept out of the tribulation completely. The Greek word there means out of completely.