Prewrath Rapturism, Part 1: Defining Our Terms

About the only subject more divisive than the role of Israel in the Eternal One’s plans and her relationship to the Ekklesia is the timing of the so-called Rapture.  I say so-called not because I don’t believe in the event, called the harpazo or “catching away” in 1Th. 4:17, but because a) the term Rapture is actually simply a poor transliteration of the Latin term rapiemur, which translates harpazo, and b) because unfortunately the use of this term separates the Rapture event from the Second Coming in a non-Biblical way, as we will see.

Since any discussion of the subject is best begun by defining our terms, here is a brief summary of the four main views of the Rapture and its timing:

Pretribulationism believes that the Rapture is a separate event that will come before Daniel’s Seventieth Week (if you’re unfamiliar with this particular prophetic term, a detailed explanation appears in our first interlude), which pretribs often refer to as the Tribulation Period.  Pretribulationalism is usually associated with Dispensationalism because of the clear distinction it draws between Israel and the Body of Messiah, even to the point of declaring that God will not really deal with Israel until after He removes the Ekklesia from the world.

Classical Posttribulationism is the opposite view, holding that the Rapture and the Second Coming are one and the same, and both will happen at the very end of the “Tribulation Period” at the battle of Armageddon.  Posttribulationalism was the clear teaching of the earliest fathers of the Ekklesia.  Posttribs see the Ekklesia as passing through but being preserved from God’s wrath, just as Israel did in the days of the Exodus through the ten plagues.

Midtribulationism is an attempt at a mediating position between the first two.  It holds that the Ekklesia will undergo the first half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, or “the Tribulation,” but be spared from the second half, the Great Tribulation, in which the Antichrist will reign.

Prewrath, the belief held by the author of this blog, is a relatively young system, the term having been coined by Marvin Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen in the early 90s.  However, it can be considered to be a modified posttrib position, and thus agrees with the earliest Ekklesia on the subject.  Prewrath draws a distinction between the Great Tribulation, Satan’s persecution of the people of God, and the Day of the Lord, the time when God will pour out His wrath on the earth, and states that the Rapture and the Second Coming will occur in between the two, sometime within the second half of the Great Tribulation.  For reasons that will become clear as we continue, this event must take place no fewer than six months before Armageddon.

It is primarily my purpose in this series to explain and defend the prewrath Rapture view.  This will necessitate attacking the underpinnings of the other viewpoints, pretrib in particular, but my wish is not to tear down anyone but rather to build up the Body of Messiah.  In so doing, I will present a general outline of Daniel’s Seventieth Week as I understand it, which will serve as a jumping-off point for future writings on prophecy.  Those interested in more detail than I can present in this blog may wish to check out my own book on the subject, Marvin Rosenthal’s The Prewrath Rapture of the Church, the Prewrath Rapture website and Prewrath Ministries.


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