Moreover, all of this happens prior to the return of Christ, which is not actually described until chapter 19.
I should add that many pretribulationists view the church as already having been raptured before any of the events, including tribulation in Revelation 6-19, occur.
The other place where the expression "great tribulation" is utilized is in Revelation, chapter 7. 9) of white robed people praising God around His throne and before the Lamb, is told: "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (v. But "out of" surely does not mean to be removed from; rather these believers have endured "the great tribulation" and have now come out of it, praising God and the Lamb.
Here again "great tribulation" seems to refer to what happens upon the whole earth (see the opening words of Rev.
How is it possible to decide among such varying viewpoints?
Surely the issue is an important one, and interpretations vary a great deal on this. First, some comments about the rapture of the church.
9); and this is said prior to the statement that "many will fall away..men's love will grow cold..gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world" (vv. Clearly tribulation here precedes the return of Christ and the rapture of the church.
This, however, is a critical misinterpretation: the words to John in Revelation 4"Come up hither"have nothing to do either actually or symbolically with the rapture of the church; and, although the word "church" does not appear in these intervening chapters, believers are definitely on the earth.7) and the protection of believers, rather than their escape, during this time.Chapter 7 earlier describes the sealing of 144,000 "servants of our God" (vv. These believers rather than escaping out of tribulation by way of rapture were sealed by God for their protection while going through it.Returning to 1 Thessalonians, we observe that Paul writes in chapter 3 that "we sent Timothy..establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved by these afflictions [the Greek word is a form of , hence "tribulations"]: for you yourselves know we are appointed thereunto.For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know" (vv. Since this chapter (3) precedes the next (4) on the rapture, and also declares that we are "appointed" to tribulation, even to "suffer" the same, it would seem apparent that tribulation precedes the rapture to come. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells His disciples, "They will deliver you up to tribulation , and put you to death" (v.This is indeed poor preparation for what is yet to happenand a serious misreading of the prophetic message. We , regarding Revelation 4:2"As the word 'church' does not appear again in Revelation until , the catching up of John from earth to heaven has been taken to be a symbolic representation of the translation of the Church as occurring before the events of the tribulation described in chs. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord." "Caught up" in one early Latin translation is from which we derive the English word "rapture." So the rapture refers in this context to that moment when believers will be caught up, along with the dead in Christ, to a glorious meeting with the Lord in His triumphal descent.Paul also in 1 Corinthians -52 speaks of the same event, saying: "We shall not all sleep [i.e., die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." However, the teaching here relates not so much to meeting the Lord as to the fact that our bodies (dead and alive) will be changed in this great future event.Many times, for example, the word "saints" occurs, along with such words as "Here is a call for the endurance of the saints" (; cf. Based on the biblical testimony, there will not be a pretribulational rapture of the church (nor a midtribulational for that matter). For whether the tribulation is what all Christians are called upon to endure to the very end, or a great tribulation occurring worldwide, the Lord will see His people through whatever happens.There will be much persecution, to be sure, even martyrdom ahead (Jesus promised that), and many coming judgments on the world (from which true believers will be protected).