Home > Bible Study, eschatology, hermeneutics, premillennialism, rapture, Revelation > The Pre-Wrath Rapture View (Comparison/Contrast with Pre- and Post- Trib)

The Pre-Wrath Rapture View (Comparison/Contrast with Pre- and Post- Trib)

I’ve recently been studying the pre-wrath rapture view, a more recently developed variation on the post-tribulation rapture. (The early proponents, Robert Van Kampen and Marv Rosenthal, published their books in the late 1980s.  Other proponents include Alan Kurschner and Pastor Ryan Habbena of Signet Ring Ministries.  As noted in this article, Steve Anderson’s pre-wrath view is considered ‘off’ and not part of the standard teaching.) This view attempts a compromise between the original post-trib rapture timing and the later developed pre-trib view.  As with post-trib, the pre-wrath view places the rapture immediately before the Day of the Lord (the wrath that we’re not appointed to).  Like the pre-trib view, pre-wrath (at least some of its proponents) understands Revelation 3:10 as complete removal — but recognizing that Revelation 3:10 does not mean removal from the full 7 year period.  Also similar to pre-trib, pre-wrath has a (shorter) interval of time during which the raptured and resurrected saints first go to heaven and have the Bema Seat judgment, while the world is experiencing the trumpet and bowl judgments.

The pre-wrath view also takes a similar approach to pre-trib, in its interpretation of the “unknown day” and the “thief in the night.”  While recognizing (as with post-trib) that the rapture is not truly an “any moment” event and that certain things must happen first, yet pre-wrath switches to pre-trib in terms of the “thief in the night” reference, reasoning that since we can know when the 70th week starts and when the 3 1/2 months starts and could count the days until the end of them, the rapture couldn’t take us by surprise in a “thief in the night” way — and therefore the rapture must be at some unknown time during the 42 months.  The standard post-tribulation view (as I understand so far) is that believers may not know the exact day/time when the 70th week starts; the 42 months (the midpoint) will probably be known to a fairly close time period.  However, the texts that speak of the “thief in the night” and other similar references are talking about unbelievers being taken by surprise.  Yet the context of these passages show that believers, those who believe and understand God’s word, will not be taken by surprise but will be prepared and eagerly anticipating Christ’s Coming while recognizing that it does mean experiencing persecution before that happens.

On the positive side, the pre-wrath view emphasizes the literal hermeneutic common to all futurist premillennialists, paying close attention to the details given us in the prophetic texts.  They especially focus on the sequence of events in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21), trying to correlate the sequence with the seals in Revelation 6, and also try to account for the 1260 days (the 42 months of the Great Tribulation, the second half of Daniel’s 70th week) plus the later time periods mentioned by Daniel: the 1290 days and the 1335 days.  According to pre-wrath, the rapture occurs in connection with the sixth seal, at some time near the end of the 42 months, and the trumpets and bowl judgments occur next, in sequence, and are the “Day of the Lord” wrath.

This view also puts forth another explanation of the two groups in Revelation 7.  Whereas a common pre-trib idea is that the 144,000 are Jewish evangelists who go forth throughout the world during the Great Tribulation, proclaiming the gospel – and the next scene of the vast multitude is the result of their evangelistic work, those who come to faith during the Great Tribulation and are subsequently martyred and seen in heaven, pre-wrath says (correctly) that the 144,000 are sealed so as to give them divine protection from the judgments about to come upon the world. According to pre-wrath, the rapture occurs here, and the scene of the vast multitude in heaven, before the throne of God, is showing the resurrected and raptured saints.  They especially connect the scene here back to the fifth seal, which showed the souls of the martyrs still waiting for God to take action, and that they are given white robes (but not yet wearing the robes); thus in Revelation 7, when they are wearing their robes, indicates that the rapture and resurrection has occurred and they have their resurrection bodies and thus now wearing the white robes.  That may indeed be the correct interpretation of the vast multitude in Revelation 7, as the follow-up from the fifth seal; it certainly seems to make more sense (per the literal, grammatical historical hermeneutic) than saying the 144,000 are evangelists and the second group their converts, when the emphasis in the text is on the 144,000 being sealed for their protection.

Where pre-wrath does not work, though, is in the details, including the placement of the rapture.  As this blog article point outs, the pre-wrath view is inconsistent in its handling of the 42 months:  Israel and the unsaved experience the full 42 months of the Great Tribulation, the time which starts with the antiChrist setting himself up in the temple (the Abomination of Desolation; what Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians 2) and the time of his rule and persecution; but the church believers are raptured out at some unknown point shortly before the end of that 3 1/2 years.  Revelation 13:5-7 establishes that the beast is allowed to exercise authority for 42 months and to “make war on the saints and to conquer them” during that time.  It clearly is all or nothing: either the saints (believers) are present OR absent from the 42 months period; but trying to end it before the 42 months for one group and not for the other is inconsistent.

  1. Neil Schoch
    September 24, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Lynda,
    It is always good to look at viewpoints other than ones own, although it can create confusion in new Christians.
    The reference that was made ie. “the later developed Pre Tribulation view”, which may not be your wording or belief, is not what the early Church fathers believed even if they were not spot on, as per the article below.
    My apology if it is too long but it may be of interest to your readers.

    Of the period of the apostolic fathers, Adolph Harnack, who is no special friend of pre-millennialism, says: Faith in the nearness of Christ’s Second Advent and the establishing of His reign of glory on the earth was undoubtedly a strong point in the primitive Christian Church.

    The Didache:- T h e Didache, which is dated about 100 A.D., says concerning the Resurrection:- “And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first the sign of an outspreading in Heaven; then the sound of the trumpet; and the third, the resurrection of the dead; yet not all.”

    Clement of Rome:- The first letter by this man was written in 96 or 97 A.D. and was addressed to the Church at Corinth. In the letter is found this statement: “Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scriptures also bear witness, saying, speedily will He come, and will not tarry.” And “The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Holy One, for whom ye look.”

    The Shepherd of Hermes:- This document, written sometime between 140 and 150 A.D. says: “You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming.”

    Justin Martyr:-.This man of God (born about 100 A.D.) is an avowed pre-millennialist. He placed great importance on this hope and regarded the expectation of the earthly perfection of Christ’s kingdom as the keystone of pure doctrine. He spoke of the Coming of Christ as preceded by the manifestation of the man of sin who would speak blasphemies against the Most High God and who would rule three and a half years. In his Dialogus cum
    Tryphone he writes: “But I and whoever are on all points right-minded Christians know that there will be resurrection of the dead and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and the others declare… And, further, a certain man with us, named John, one of the Apostles of Christ, predicted by a revelation that was made to him that those who believed in our Christ would spend a thousand years in Jerusalem, and thereafter the general, or to speak briefly, the eternal resurrection and judgement of all men would likewise take place.”

    Tertullian:- (150-225) was undoubtedly a premillenarian also, for he says: “But we do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem.”

    • September 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      Yes, all those quotes are describing the futurist premillennial understanding, and full agreement there. They understood the overall sequence of events, but they did not say that the rapture occurs seven years before the end-times events. That was all my point was, that post-trib rapture timing (within premillennialism) was the original understanding of the church; it really is not possible to find a pre-trib rapture timing in the early writers, though they were very clearly and strongly premillennial. This post here is about the specifics of the Rapture timing question, with premillennialism assumed (since the rapture timing question would have no meaning to anti-millennialists).

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