Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Pre-Wrath Rapture: Problems with the Concept

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

Is there any validity to the Pre-Wrath Rapture concept?

Let's continue to look at a number of objections I have to the Pre-Wrath Rapture concept of the timing of the Rapture.

7) The Church — I object to the 3/4 Trib Rapture view of why the Church must be present during the Tribulation. Incredibly, the argument has been proclaimed that the Church must suffer "for purging and purifying."1 The Bible says that the blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse us of all sin (1 John 1:7). The idea that the Church needs to be purified creates a Christian Purgatory, which is a blasphemy of the blood of Jesus. Furthermore, why is it that only the end time Church deserves this fate?

8) The Seal Judgments — I strongly object to the 3/4 Trib Rapture view that the Seal Judgments do not constitute any portion of the wrath of God. The judgments originate at the throne of God when Jesus begins to open each seal (Revelation 6:1). Further, they are referred to as "the wrath of the Lamb" (Revelation 6:16-17).

9) The Length of Daniel's 70th Week of Years — I object to the fact that the 3/4 Trib Rapture view extends Daniel's 70th Week by 30 days beyond the 7 years or 2,520 days it is supposed to run (Revelation 11:3 and 12:6). There is just no scriptural basis for this extension.

10) The Day of the Lord — I object to the 3/4 Trib view of the Day of the Lord. Rosenthal contends that it begins with the opening of the 7th Seal, and he therefore argues that the wrath of God does not begin until this point.

The problem here is that the Day of the Lord is a term that is used in many different ways in the Bible, and it must always be interpreted in context. There are places when it refers to specific national judgments from God, as when Israel was destroyed by Assyria (Amos 5:18-20) and when Judah was destroyed by Babylon (Lamentations 2:21-22 and Ezekiel 13:5). In like manner the fall of Babylon is called the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:6- 13).

But there are also times when the term refers to end time events. In this regard, it sometimes refers to the return of Jesus at the end of Daniel's 70th Week (Isaiah 2:10-22, Joel 3:9-17 and Zechariah 14:1-9). In other end time contexts, the term is used in a broader sense. For example, in Zephaniah 1:14-18 it is used to refer to the entire period of the Tribulation when "all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy..." In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 it says the Day of the Lord will come at a time when people are feeling safe and secure — which would be at the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week, after the Antichrist negotiates a treaty that guarantees peace for Israel. But the prophet Isaiah repeatedly uses a shorthand version of the term — "in that day" — to refer to the Millennium (Isaiah 4:2-6). I therefore think that in reference to the end times, the broad use of the term refers to the period of time from the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week to the end of the Millennium.

Another problem with Rosenthal's concept of the Day of the Lord is that he has it beginning at the point where the Seal Judgments are followed immediately by the Trumpet Judgments. How could that be? The Bible says the Day of the Lord will begin with people celebrating peace and safety (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). What feeling of peace and safety will exist when the world is experiencing the Trumpet Judgments? This must be a reference to the treaty of peace the Antichrist will negotiate at the beginning of Daniel's 70th Week and which will mark the beginning of the Tribulation (Daniel 9:27).

We are currently in the Day of the Spirit (Acts 2:17 and 2 Corinthians 3:8). Daniel's 70th Week plus the Millennium constitutes the Day of the Lord. The Eternal State will be the Day of God (2 Peter 3:12).

Other Problems

One of the strangest parts of Rosenthal's book is chapter 16 (pages 215-230). In this chapter he attacks the Pre-Trib Rapture view as espousing two separate comings of the Lord. He then proclaims: "There is not even a hint — anywhere — of two separate comings" (page 222).

In response to this attack, I would like to point out that the Pre-Trib view does not present two comings of the Lord. Instead, it advocates an appearing of the Lord (the Rapture) followed at least 7 years later by the coming of the Lord (the Second Coming). Jesus does not return to the earth at the Rapture. He appears in the heavens for His Church, receives them, and then returns to Heaven with them.

But what is so weird about Rosenthal's attack is that his end time viewpoint presents multiple comings of the Lord — so many, in fact, that it is hard to chart them. Take a look at the chart again below. The first "coming" of the Lord I have shown is the Rapture. But Rosenthal has several other "comings."

The Pre-Wrath Rapture

At the end of Daniel's 70th Week, Jesus returns to earth to save Israel from annihilation, after which He returns to Heaven. Then, at the end of the "30 days of Reclamation" Jesus returns again to defeat Satan at the Battle of Armageddon. Following the "45 days of Restoration," Jesus returns to Heaven, gathers His Church, and returns to begin His thousand year reign. So, Rosenthal has a total of four "comings" of Jesus, yet he has the audacity to assert there is only one "coming" of the Lord and he condemns the Pre-Trib view for having two!

This amounts to mass confusion. Rosenthal recognizes the problem and tries to cover it by stating that Jesus has a "continuing presence" on the earth after the Rapture, and thus His four comings are really only parts of the one Second Coming. This is all nothing but semantic smoke. In the Pre-Trib view the Rapture is also followed by a "continuing presence" of Jesus on earth as He launches the wrath of God with the Seal Judgments and oversees the continuing implementation of God's wrath with the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments, after which He returns to earth to reign.

A Cornerstone Verse?

A friend of mine, Michael Pfeil, recently published a book in which he defends the 3/4 Trib Rapture viewpoint.2 He argues that the cornerstone verses for the view are Revelation 6:9-10, which read as follows:

9) When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;
10) and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

Pfeil's argument is that these are martyrs killed for their faith during the first half of Daniel's 70th Week. He then says that if they are victims of God's wrath, then they are calling out for vengeance against God! He argues, instead, that they are victims of the Antichrist and are crying out for vengeance against him — and this, in turn proves that the first half of Daniel's 70th Week constitutes the wrath of Man and Satan, and not the wrath of God.

The problem with this argument is that when the wrath of God is poured out, it falls on the just and the unjust unless God specifically promises protection to believers. He has promised the Church such protection (1 Thessalonians 1:10). He has also promised that He will protect the 144,000 Jews who are sealed by His Spirit at the beginning of the Tribulation (Revelation 7:1- 8 and 14:1-5).

But He has made no such promise of protection for those who receive Jesus during the Tribulation. They will suffer just as Daniel and his cohorts suffered when Judah fell to the Babylonians. The rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and the just who suffer martyrdom during the Tribulation will cry out for vengeance against their executioners.


The 3/4 Trib Rapture concept does not pass the test of the Scriptures. Even worse, as Jack Van Impe has put it, the concept is "the Christians' ultimate nightmare" rather than their "blessed hope"3 (Titus 2:11-13).


1) Alan Kurschner, "Prewrath — What Is It?" www.AlanKurschner.com.wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Prewrath.pdf, page 1. See also: Cooper Abrams, "Fatal Flaws in the Modern Pre-Wrath Rapture Position," http://bible-truth.org/Pre-Wrath.html, page 12.

2) Michael E. Pfeil, Rapture of the Church: Bound for Heaven, BUT..." (Bloomington, IN: Westbow Press, 2013).

3) Jack Van Impe, "What validity, if any, should be given to the Prewrath Rapture theory?" www.jvim.com/newsletter/pastissues/ 2012/20120723.html, page 1.


Alan E. Kurschner said...

Mr Reagan,

My debate challenge to you remains open:


Writing really bad, surface-level articles against the prewrath position is one thing. But debating in a public moderated debate with cross-examination is another.

I am willing to defend my prewrath position in public. Are you willing to defend your pretribulationism in public as well against a prewrath opponent?

It speaks volumes to people when they learn that it is only the prewrath position who is willing, not pretrib.


Alan E. Kurschner
Eschatos Ministries

Anonymous said...

I was thinking also about that the pre-wrath cornerstone verse is revelation 6:12-17 the sixth seal not the fifth seal.
also presenting pre-trib arguments against the pre-wrath rapture without even giving why the pre-wrath people believe the way they do. one sided argument. another person commented on one of the other articles which I agree with that said "it is easy to make arguments against something if people don't know both sides of the argument and why they believe it." which I agree with whoever said this.

alf said...

Many who read Rosenthal and Van Kampen don't pay careful attention to the latter's teachings. Van Kampen (in The Sign) taught 4 comings of Christ which he bundled under a continuous Parousia.

In the Solagroup site we read an article by Van Kampen and Best which criticizes pretrib's dual-phase coming: http://www.solagroup.org/articles/endtimes/et_0006.html But on the same site Charles Cooper outlines the reasons for the four different comings in the last paragraph of an article: http://www.solagroup.org/articles/endtimes/et_0001.html

According to Cooper, Christ comes for the elect and returns to heaven. Then Christ returns to gather Israel. Then He returns to heaven for the bowl judgments. Christ finally returns to establish His Kingdom. That's four different comings. Note that Dr Reagan left out one of comings in his article and chart.

Prewrather Heidi Nigro also criticizes the pretrib dual-phase coming: http://www.strongtowerpublishing.com/thepretribchalle.html

But then in a response to Renald Showers she admits to a multi-phase view: http://learntheology.com/prewrath_rapture_critique_showers.html

Prewrather Elbert Charpie also holds to multi-phase coming in the FAQ section of his website. In his book Chris Perdue blows the problem off as a tangential issue, claiming it doesn't affect his post-sixth seal rapture. He says, ".... we could call each stage a separate coming without affecting the timing issue at all."

Now Bruce Biller argues that the second coming cannot be separated from the rapture: http://www.brucebiller.com/answering-dr-reagans-objections-to-the-pre-wrath-rapture-view/

He writes:

"Finally, in the chart that figures prominently in Dr. Reagan’s article, he illustrates the pre-wrath position by showing three comings. If the author had read Rosenthal’s or any other pre-wrath rapture book or listened to one of the well-known pre-wrath teachers, he would know that multiple comings are never taught. In fact, it’s emphasized that the rapture is the opening event of Christ’s second coming (singular)..."

This is patently incorrect. Mr. Biller may want to do some research and clarify this for those who want to understand prewrath and present it correctly. Some of his other points (5th seal martyrs; wrath of God; the rapture allegedly cutting the tribulation short etc) were raised and addressed at the Christ in Prophecy Facebook page.

alf said...

I left out the 4th coming. This is after Christ receives His Kingdom. The third one is for Armageddon.

Confusing? You bet!

Billy said...

Happy New Year all!

I'm praying for a blessed New Year for you all and have tremendous hope and extraordinary encouragement that the Lord Jesus could come back at any time to take up to be with him and be reunited with our loved ones.

What a blessing it is to know...

1. Jesus could come any time. Even a second after I post this comment.

2. Jesus is going to come before the Tribulation. No one, especially a Christian, should want to go through a second of the tribulation. Thankfully, we won't have to. PRAISE JESUS!

Nathan Jones said...

Happy New Years to you, too, Billy, and all our readers! Praying right with you that this is the year of the Lord's return.

Alan E. Kurschner said...


You can are grossly confusing categories. I have been responding to Dr. Reagan on my program:


In the third part next week, I will be addressing your confusion of the "different comings."


Alan E. Kurschner

Anonymous said...

Oh, please, Alan. I've heard various excuses and attempts at explanations.

No one is "grossly confused" except people who blithely accept the drivel that different comings constitute One Parousia.

That you think you can pin point Christ's "first" return for the church at Matt 24:31 (instead of Israel's gathering) doesn't help you. You can't apply other "secret" comings and goings under the banner of one coming and then consistently criticize pretrib.

Personally, I'm sick and tired of explaining this to prewrathers who visit pretrib boards and try to use the "dual-phase" as some sort of criticism of pretrib. They all inevitably go into denial when confronted with the fact that Van Kampen (and others) believed in a multi-phase return of Christ.

The same charts which consistently show the rapture at the 3/4 point conveniently leave out the comings in between the rapture of the church and the final return of Christ. It is also missing from most prewrath books. At least Chris Perdue (see above) was honest.

The more exposure the prewrath system gets the closer it will be examined. Seems to me its promoters have a lot of work to do to get the story right.

Those interested in this might want to read Douma's comments responding to some of Ryan Habbena's arguments: