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Against a Post-Trib rapture: The return of Christ is not imminent

An argument given here against a post-tribulation rapture is:

2) If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, the return of Christ is not imminent—there are many things which must occur before He can return (Matthew 24:4-30).

This is a fair criticism. The scriptures do seem to give a pretty comprehensive countdown to the return of Jesus based on when the anti-Christ is revealed and covenants signed. However there are several points that can be argued in defence:

1. Jesus is said to ‘come like a thief’ between the 6th and 7th Bowl judgements at the end of Revelation

Rev 16:12,15,17 ESV  The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east.  ….  15  (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)  16  And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.  17  The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”

The Bowl judgments and specifically the 6th and 7th Bowls are understood to be at the very end of the Great Tribulation. However Jesus is still warning people to be ready for His surprise return. If His return ‘like a thief’ refers to the rapture, then this passage very clearly places the rapture at the end of the Tribulation period.

2. We don’t know the ‘day or the hour’

Mat 24:36 ESV  “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

Mat 25:13 ESV  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Mar 13:32 ESV  “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

This phrase could be understood two ways – figuratively or literally.

If the literal understanding is correct then it fits well with a post-tribulation rapture. The exact timing of the second coming of Jesus, even after the anti-Christ has been revealed and covenants signed, will be difficult to determine. It’s possible that we could narrow the time to a month, maybe even to a specific week. But to accurately narrow Jesus’ return to a specific day or hour is highly unlikely.

So, a literal interpretation in no way contradicts a post-tribulation rapture.

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