Paul’s 3 Things That Must Happen Before the Rapture

1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

The apostle Paul has received a letter back from the Thessalonian church after his first letter that was in part about the rapture. We know this for he starts out this chapter with the word “concerning.” The Thessalonians had received some communication from some people trying to deceive them into believing that the Day of the Lord, and with it, the Rapture, has already happened (Verse 2). They were being told that the persecution they had been enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:4) is the persecution associated with the end time coming of the Lord. It’s interesting that Paul uses the same Greek word, thlipsis, translated with the word tribulation (Matthew 24:21 KJV) or distress (NIV) to describe the persecution that the Thessalonians were enduring at the time Paul was writing. He replies to this false thinking in order to ease their fears that they had missed being caught up (raptured) to the great gathering together with the Lord in the air. It is clear that Paul believes that the Day of the Lord will happen just after the Church is caught up to the Lord (vv. 1-2). He calls the coming of the Lord and our being gathered to Him as, “the day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:2).

He reassures them that they have not missed the rapture by telling them that there are three things that must happen before that Day (The Day of the Lord) comes (Verse 3).

1) The Rebellion occurs. The definite article is in the Greek text, but is not explicit in the English translation. It is the rebellion, not just any countrywide rebellion but a worldwide falling away from the faith. The Greek word used is Apostasia, which means to depart, defect, and revolt. The meaning of this word is always speaking of a religious defection, a departure from what is considered to be orthodox.[1] What would cause a worldwide defection from the faith? It is possible that when Antichrist and the False Prophet demand that everyone should receive a mark on their forehead or hand, and worship the beast, many that have a half-hearted faith will compromise and fall away from the Lord. Those with true faith in Christ, will not take the mark, and continue to walk with the Lord, anticipating His return.

2) The second thing Paul says must happen before the Day of the Lord is for the man of lawlessness (another name for the Antichrist) to be revealed. I believe that when he comes to power he will resolve the Palestinian problem and a peace treaty or covenant will be signed on the whole issue of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27). His bargaining position chip will be to allow the Jewish people to rebuild their Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in exchange for the Palestinians to have a state and possibly even their capital city to be East Jerusalem. This peace covenant or treaty is a sign that we can look for as it will start a period of seven years, with a desecration of the Temple at the mid-point. Those who hold to a Pre-Tribulation rapture view do not believe the Church will witness any of these things. However, even in Paul’s day, the Holy Spirit warned the Thessalonians, and us, to be aware of these events as signs of His coming and the rapture.

3) Paul says the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, will oppose everything that is called God; in fact he will exalt himself as God, sitting in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself as God (verse 4). He will set himself up in the newly rebuilt Jewish Temple. As at this present time (November 12, 2017) there is no Jewish Temple that lies at the heart of Jerusalem. We must prepare to endure persecution and when the temptation comes to take the Mark of the Beast and worship Antichrist—we must refuse and cling to the Lord Jesus—trusting that He will deliver us from Satan’s wrath (Revelation 12:12, and 17). Grace will be poured out on God’s people and the Lord will intervene in deliverance for His people and wrath on His enemies. Pray that you may endure and be found on the right side.

Taken from the series The Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. Click on the study, The Rapture and Day of the Lord. Keith Thomas

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 686 Apostasia, Page 693.

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