Pre-tribulation, Mid-tribulation, and Post-tribulation
The majority of Christians have read or heard about the rapture of the church and of the great tribulation. If you go into an in-depth study of the Scriptures and listen to the different interpretations that are out there, you may come out more confused than when you first began to research it only because the Bible does not give dates, it only mentions events and time periods. We do know that all the prophecies of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection have been fulfilled, but as to the date when the final coming of Jesus will happen, we are not supposed to know.
Many have researched the topic of the “great tribulation” and the rapture of the church, extensively putting forth many explanations and views. Out of the tribulation subject, the following views have risen: Pre-tribulation, Mid-tribulation, and Post-tribulation.
Pre-tribulation believers believe that the coming of Jesus will be in two separate stages. The first will be a secret rapture before the start of a seven-year tribulation period; the second coming will be at the end of the seven-year tribulation. In the latter, Jesus will be coming with the church to defeat his enemies. The seven years is taken out of the Book of Daniels’ 70 Weeks prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27), whereas the last week or the 70th week (representing 7 years) is applied 2000 years later. This theory says that during these seven years of tribulation, 144,000 Jews will bring Gods’ Word to the unsaved and many will be saved.
Mid-tribulation believers believe that the rapture will happen half-way through the seven-year tribulation or more accurately at 3 ½ years into the tribulation. This view may come from the interpretation given in Daniel 7:25 (time, times, and half a time). The theory is, Christians will be removed from the earth when the antichrist defiles the temple. Christ will then return again at the end of three and a half years to defeat his enemies.
And Post-tribulation believers believe the return of Jesus will be a public single event and the church will go through the great tribulation. The rapture will happen at the end of the seventh year or Daniels’ 70th week. Then Jesus will return immediately to fight His enemies.
How were the pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation views established? They were established through different interpretation of certain scriptures. Pre and Mid-tribulation views come from interpretation of verses, such as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and Matthew 24:29:31. Post-tribulation views come from different interpretation of verses, such as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, Matthew 24:29-31, and Revelation 1:7.
Prior to the rise of Dispensationalism, three major views about the millennium emerged: premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism.
Here is a brief explanation of these views. Premillennialism is the view that says the 1,000 years is a literal time period. Christ’s second coming will begin the millennium before the final removal of Satan. Amillennialism, meaning “no millennium,” understands the 1,000-year period to be symbolic; thus, the millennium is the reign of Christ in the hearts of believers, and Postmillennialism believes in a period of peace on earth that is led in by the church. At the end of this time, Satan will be released, but Christ will return to defeat Satan and reign forever.
After that, you will find more Christian denominational views on Jesus’ return in Dispensationalism and Amillennialism.
Dispensationalism looks at God’s activity in history. Out of the seven ages detected, the most significant was its view of the end times, which includes the rapture of the church and a seven-year tribulation before Jesus’ final return. Dispensationalists believe that God will fulfill His covenant with National Israel which will include the Promised Land where Jesus will rule in the millennial kingdom for a thousand years.
Dispensational premillennialists believe that Jesus’ prophecy of a future tribulation will affect Israel but not the church. Dispensationalists also believe the antichrist will come into view as the leader of the restored Roman Empire. The antichrist will make promises to Israel (Daniel 7:8, 21-27; 9:24-27; Revelation 17:9-14), then will be assassinated and restored to life. This view says the antichrist will exalt himself in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem then will break any promises made to the Jews and begin to persecute them. The Jews (144,000) will then turn to the Messiah and the great tribulation will end when military forces come together and unite on Israel to defeat the antichrist. The Pre and Mid-tribulation believers fall under this view.
Amillennialists, Postmillennialists and Historic Postmillennialists believe that the antichrist will not be a person but an evil system. The bible makes reference of “many antichrists” found in 1 John 2:18. Throughout history, many anti-Christian forces have persecuted the church. Then there are some that believe that the prophecies regarding the antichrist have already been fulfilled (Preterism). For example, some believe that Nero was the antichrist. After Nero committed suicide, many expected Nero to come back to life and reclaim his throne. Because the city of Rome was built on seven hills (Revelation 17:9), the seven-headed beast then symbolizes the Roman Empire. Parallels exist between the beast and Roman emperors, who blasphemed God by calling themselves names, such as “lord” or “god” as found in Revelation 13:1.
Amillennialists also believe that at the end of the age, during an intense period of persecution of the Christians and just prior to Jesus’ second coming, the battle between good and evil will come to its peak. They believe that the tribulation may refer to this present age as well and not particularly a specific time in the future. They also point out that the bible doesn’t say the tribulation is confined to Israel alone (Revelation 7:13-14). Amillennialists believe that all of God’s people will be persecuted and when Jesus returns, in the Final Judgment, He will gather the believers (Matthew 24:31). Some of the Post-tribulation believers fall under this view.
These are some of the views held by many Christians and they go on endlessly. Each side defends their views with numerous scriptures, historical events, calculations, bible commentaries, assumptions, and everything else in between. There are so many views and beliefs; it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin!
Many passionate debates have risen because of the different interpretations. Each side claiming that their view is the correct one and every side is trying to prove the other wrong; but what if they are all wrong? I feel many are missing the point. Instead, we should be asking ourselves if Jesus were to suddenly appear, will we be the ones to go with Him? Are we walking in true faith? Are we true followers of Jesus?
The real issue here is that we should all be prepared to go, now, at a last minute call (or trumpet) because we have persevered and are walking in faith. We should not put off God anymore or say “I’ll get it right one of these days. Then I’ll give up my sins (drugs, sexual immorality, alcohol, etc.).” We have to be ready today and we have to pray for others that are not ready.
Thankfully, there is one thing we can all agree on and that is, the elect will be “caught up” for sure. I will also add that the majority of Christians do agree that the devil will burn in the Lake of Fire and no longer be around to deceive nations, he will cause no more pain and suffering ever again, and God’s chosen people will be with Jesus in the "New Jerusalem."
After countless hours, days, weeks of reading and studying the scriptures for answers and listening to all sides and their different views on this topic, I’ve come to a conclusion, that it does not matter when or how the rapture of the church will happen but that it WILL happen, and I have to be prepared for whatever will happen, even if there is no pre-tribulation rapture.
I’ve also come to the following conclusions about the Lord’s coming. Some of my views may fall under the ones I’ve already mentioned above. I believe that many of the events in Daniels' 70-Week prophesy and Jesus’ warning in Matthew (Chap 14), Mark (Chap 13), and Luke (Chap 21) have already happened after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD.
In spite of popular belief and talks of plans for a rebuilt temple, I don’t believe that this temple will be rebuilt. In 70 AD, the Lord passed judgment on the Jews by allowing the Romans to burn the city and killing hundreds of thousands of Jews. Why would He allow the Temple to be rebuilt after its destruction? It was not God’s wish for the first temple to be built in the first place. The only one God appointed to build a house for Him was to come from the seed of David—Jesus! And God was not talking about building a wooden or stone house either (read I Chronicles 17).
God is not a God of confusion. There was a reason why the Temple was destroyed, and it was not because of the events that led up to it, but because of the Jews' rejection of Jesus, the Messiah; the ultimate sacrifice! And since there is no mention of a 7-year tribulation period anywhere in the bible, I don’t believe that there will be a “seven-year” tribulation.
The Book of Revelations and the other books of the Bible are not hard to understand, if we do not get caught-up in attempting to literally interpret every little detail. What we need to concentrate on is that Jesus is coming and He is coming to judge the world. Since we do not to know the day or the hour of Jesus’ coming, we shouldn’t try to decipher or “read more” into every word written in the bible and assume to know when or how the rapture will happen, instead we should be vigilant and ready for whatever the Lord has planned.
Furthermore, we shouldn’t hang on to hopes that the bible does not specifically mention. Throughout history the church has gone through many great tribulations. Many of God’s people were martyred and many were spared; nonetheless, the church had to endure these horrific tribulations. Whatever trials we are to go through in our time, we must be prepared with unwavering faith and pray that the Lord will be there to protect His saints and carry them safely through as He did with Noah (Genesis, Chap 6-8), Lot (Genesis, Chap 19), and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3:16-28).
Sometimes the different interpretations given to many of the verses used to support these claims about the great tribulation and the rapture go beyond reasoning. Jesus said we are to look for the signs and they are already happening, therefore, we must be ready. We must show others the way to salvation, now, and as I said earlier, be prepared ourselves to face and endure whatever tribulation comes our way strengthened by the assurance of Jesus’ promise that in the end we will be with Him and have eternal life.
I believe that the saints will be raptured, when? Only God the Father knows. What’s important is that we will be raptured, before the wrath of God is poured out unto the unbelievers; the ones who denied God and turned away from Him. We must not be afraid, Gods' children are already "delivered" from this (1 Thes 1:10).
On a final note, let’s not argue with one another and get caught up in the pre, mid, or post-tribulation debates and concentrate on what’s really important— spreading the Gospel to the unsaved and keeping unwavering faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because of the promises He made to us, His saints.
Be blessed in the name of Jesus Christ.