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The Second Coming of Christ
and Rapture Site

With Antichrist probably about to be revealed . . . the Church is still on earth.

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Rapture FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
(...answered from a Post-Trib Perspective)

- by R. Totten, MDiv - © 1999

A List of "Rapture FAQS" (Hot-Links to sections below) :

1. Aren't the 24 Elders in Rev.4 the pre-trib raptured Church?
2. Does the promise in Revelation 3:10 to "keep from the hour of testing" indicate a pre-trib rapture?
3. Does the non-mention of the "Church" in Revelation chapters 4 through 18 indicate a pre-trib rapture?
4. Does "Removing the Restrainer" in 2Thess. chapter 2 necessitate a pre-trib rapture?
5. If the Rapture is Post-Trib, then who will populate the Millennium?
6. "Imminence" : Is the Rapture the next prophesied event in history?
7. With Post-Trib, couldn't the day of the 2nd Coming be calculated?
8. Does the Wedding Supper of the Lamb require a pre-trib rapture?
9. Doesn't the Post-Trib rapture deny the "Blessed Hope"?

1. - In Revelation chapter 4, does John being caught up into heaven, and the 24 Elders there, represent the pre-trib raptured Church in heaven?

If you read Revelation 4 in its most normal and straight-forward (literal) way, you have John talking, and John is caught up into heaven in order to show him what will happen in the future. -----Now, some people think John represents "the Church", but it doesn't say that, does it? Taking the chapter most literally, you have John, back in about 96 A.D., being shown (in the Spirit) a vision of heaven.

Now, some people would also like to think that the 24 elders (Rev.4:4,10) represent the Church that has just been raptured, ...but it doesn't say that, does it? -----The 24 elders actually seem to be beings of great age and dignity and rulership in heaven, who are responsible for the heavenly worship of God (vss.9-11 & 5:8-12). In fact, it seems that the 24 elders are not human at all, because those 24 elders talk about redeemed men in the 3rd person ("they"), whereby the 24 elders aren't even talking about themselves (read Rev.5:8-10). They are also set off from redeemed mankind in Rev.11:16-18 and 14:3. In Rev.5:10 the elders do not say that they themselves will rule with Christ on earth, but that redeemed mankind will do that. -----It is also suggested that the crowns of the 24 elders indicate raptured Christians who have received their rewards, -----however, beings other than humans wear crowns (Rev.9:7 ; 12:1) and crown-wearing doesn't necessarily mean reward (Rev.9:7 ; 14:14), but rather, crowns may indicate rulership, power, authority, and high position. Obviously then, it is very unlikely that the 24 heavenly elders represent the newly raptured Church.

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2. Does Christ's promise in Revelation 3:10 to "keep from the hour of testing" indicate a pre-trib rapture?

In Rev.3:10, the Lord promises the Church in Philadelphia : "since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." ----This scripture might conceivably indicate a pre-trib removal of the church if the Church in Philadelphia stood for the generation right before the beginning of the tribulation. ----However, if you take this portion of Scripture in its most straight-forward and normal (literal) way, then the Lord Jesus is talking to the local church in Philadelphia (Asia) in 96 A.D. In commenting about this passage, Dr. Wilbur M. Smith writes that the interpretation which says these seven churches (in Rev. chs. 2 & 3) represent seven successive periods of church history "will reveal confusion upon confusion." (Wycliffe Bible Commentary "Revelation", W.Smith, Moody Press). I agree. Those seven churches do not match the periods of the history of the Church very well. ----Whatsmore, since there are some spiritually victorious "overcomers" in the Laodicean church (Rev.3:21), this would be proof that the Church will be present in the tribulation (IF the Philadelphian church is the raptured church).

Also, if the Philadelphian church is the raptured generation, then the "lukewarm" church of Laodicea would be the great multitude of tribulation saints (Rev.7:9,14). But this can't fit, because the tribulational saints are fervent, faithful, witnesses to Jesus, who are "washed in the blood of the Lamb" (7:14), and many of them "die in the Lord" (14:13); they can't be reasonably described as "lukewarm." ----I would rather say, that those seven churches are primarily historic, and that they are then perhaps representative of different kinds of churches (& Christians) down through all the centuries leading up to the end.

Concerning the words "keep from" in Rev.3:10, the word "from" is a translation of the Greek word "ek", which actually means "out from within" a place. In the Greek-English Lexicon by Bauer Arndt & Gingrich, they say that "ek" is used "of situations and circumstances out of which someone is brought" ...and they even cite Rev.3:10 as an example. Because of this, we should recognize that (if this verse speaks about the tribulation) the church must start out "within" the tribulation, in order to be brought out at a later time. ---A.T. Robertson, in his Greek Grammar, agrees that the meaning of the Gk word "ek" is "out from within", as do Dana & Mantey in their Greek Grammar (p.102).

Concerning the word "keep," is a translation of the Greek word "tere'o", which means "to guard" or "protect". This word conveys the idea of guarding and protecting from danger that is surrounding or nearby in the area. If the church is in heaven, then such "guarding" or "protecting" of the church makes little sense, because there is no nearby danger in heaven. ---If we consider putting the two words, together, then we have the meaning conveyed that the Lord will "guard" and "protect" these believers from nearby danger until they are "out from having been within" the tribulation.

There's only one other verse in the N.T. that uses these same two Greek words ("tere'o" and "ek") together, and it is John 17:15. In that verse, Jesus praying, "I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep ("tere'o") them from ("ek") evil". ---So, in the only other place where these two words occur together in the N.T., Jesus considers the guarding and keeping work of God to be sufficient without removing believers from the world ...and he specifically says so !

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3. Does the non-mention of the "Church" in Revelation chapters 4 through 18 indicate a pre-trib rapture?

Admittedly, the specific term "church" is missing from those chapters (and some suppose this might imply the rapture has occurred), however, neither does John mention the "church" (specifically by name) during his several visions of heaven nor in what he sees in the air, which fairly well cancels out the omission of the Church as being on earth. ----There is a word, though, that is just as good as "church", and that is the term "saints,"in Rev.13:7,10 and 14:12. Now that we are living under the authority of the New Testament, a "saint" can only be a person who is a born-again believer in Christ. This must be true during the tribulation as well. ---Even more pointed than that, is where John records the voice from heaven which pronounces a blessing in Rev.14:13 on all those who die "IN the Lord" during the time of Antichrist's persecution. If you read the letters of Paul, and especially Ephesians, you'll see that if someone is "IN Christ" or "IN the Lord", then they are born-again people who are part of the "body of Christ", which is the "Church", according to Eph.5:23 and Col.1:24. Unavoidably, then, it is the "Church", the body of Christ, which will be persecuted and dieing at the hand of Antichrist... they are testifiers about Jesus (17:6) who are "washed in the blood of the Lamb"(7:14). Such saints would necessarily have to be part of the body of Christ.

Actually, if we say that "tribulation saints" are not part of Christ's body, then we would produce much more serious doctrinal problems than just with the timing of the rapture, -----because we would create problems in the doctrine of salvation, as is explained in this web-site's article entitled : The Church, Tribulation and Rapture (read the section on "Tribulation Saints").

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4. Does "Removing the Restrainer" in 2Thess. chapter 2 necessitate a pre-trib rapture?

In 2Thessalonians 2:6-7, Paul reminds his readers of previous discussions they had had about the coming appearance of Antichrist to the world, saying : "And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but he who now holds it back will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way."

Since the restrainer is referred to as both a "what" and a "he", this vagueness has given rise to much speculation as to the restrainer's identity. Suggestions range from God's power to human government, to an angel, to Satan's power. However, several considerations favor the view that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit : The main points are that several teachers in the early church taught that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, and the restrainer is a personal "he", and the restrainer must be powerful enough to hold back the working of Satan, who is the most powerful being in the universe other than God himself. So, let's say the restrainer it is God's Spirit.

Now, pretribulationists believe that the Holy Spirit performs this restraining work through the Church, and therefore, the removal of the restrainer from the earth necessitates the removal of the Church from the earth as well -----hence, the rapture is necessary before the Tribulation during which the Antichrist will be revealed.

This sounds pretty convincing, until you read what the text clearly says. Does verse 7 say that the restrainer will be removed "from the earth"? ...or "out of the world," or some such phraseology? No. It says he will be taken "out of the way." This is quite a different thing than being removed from the earth. -----A lion can easily be released by sliding the cage-door "out of the way", and this does not necessitate taking the door into outer space. -----Besides, the force of the Greek words means more literally, that he is removed "out of the middle." This conveys the picture that the Holy Spirit stands inbetween the Antichrist and his ability to come out onto the stage of history, -----and at the right moment, the Spirit will get "out of the way" and allow the man of lawlessness to begin his satanic work. This is the plain and straight-forward sense of Scripture.

Thus, this text does not necessitate the removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth in order to withdraw his restraint of Antichrist. -----In addition, according to Acts 2:32-33, the fulness of the Spirit's ministry is based upon the resurrection, ascension and exaltation of Christ ...and a retreat to the immature status of the old testament-type ministry would be a repudiation and annulment of the work and exaltation of Christ. Bad theology. Such a removal of the Spirit from the earth and his indwelling ministry would be to deny the Pentecostal fulness and power of the Spirit inaugurated by Christ Jesus said, "It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:7-8). It should be apparent by the multitudes that become believers during the Tribulation, that this dynamic ministry of the Spirit is not diminished, but heightened during that crucial period of time (see Rev.7:9-14).

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5. If the rapture is Post-Trib, then who will populate the Millennium?

Pre-tribulationists think the above question is a huge difficulty for those holding the post-tribulational position, for the following reasons : If all believers were raptured immediately before the start of the millennium (in a post-trib rapture) they would be glorified immortals, and thus non-child-bearing, ...and if all the rest of the world were non-believers who would be condemned in a judgment by Christ at the Second Coming, whereby none of them would be allowed to enter the millennial kingdom, then no one would be left to populate the millennium.

Now, those holding the pre and post-trib points of view both agree that scripture clearly indicates that the milliennial earth is populated by sinful mortals in their natural bodies (see Isa.65:20), -----thus, the dilemma seems to arise : where did these mortal non-believers come from that live in the millennium?

Pre-tribulationists say they have a good answer to this problem, because unsaved people at the pre-trib rapture will not be glorified, but those who are saved during the tribulation would be allowed to enter the millennial kingdom, and yet they (still being un-glorified) would also bear unsaved, mortal children.

This issue of "populating the millennium" may seem to be a big problem for the post-trib rapture position ...if you buy into the idea that non-believers will be totally disallowed from entering the millennial kingdom. -----However, to begin with (and most importantly), scripture quite clearly indicates that non-believers who survive the great tribulation will enter into the millennium : --- Zechariah 14:16-17 says, "Then the survivors (those who are left) from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain." -----The above scripture, in its context, clearly indicates that some of the people from all the nations who "attacked Jerusalem" (just after the end of the great tribulation), will also be survivors of the final post-tribulational battle at the Second Coming of Christ (who fights the Battle of Armageddon and then descends onto the Mt of Olives). Even if everyone who actually participates in the battle of Armageddon is killed, there would still be women and young people "who are left" back in their home-nations who would survive to enter the millennium.

Thus, a straight-forward and normal (literal) reading of Zechariah 14:16 explicitly teaches that these survivors of attacking Jerusalem (whose fellow-nationals are defeated and killed by Christ at his Second Coming) are themselves the very people (and not their children) who initially will "go up year after year to worship the King." Read the verse ---that's what it says. The phrase "year after year" is an idiomatic phrase indicating a long stretch of years, which would carry well into the millennial kingdom, and nicely indicates the millennium. In addition, Zechariah goes on to explain that out of those survivors, different nation-groups will occasionally rebel against being forced to go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord ...which is not at all the behavior of believers. Pre-tribulationst's attempts to explain away these verses in Zechariah 14 are very inadequate, and it is their pre-conceived viewpoint which forces them to ignore the plain sense of these verses.

Adding to Zechariah's clear teaching that non-believers will enter the millennium and be forced to worship the Lord, one should then ask : "Is it true that other scriptures demonstrate a ban on all un-believers entering the millennium?" No. Such a ban is not at all clear. (If it were, we would have a virtual contradiction). -----And, by the way, think about it : It does not make sense for there to be an initial ban on non-believers entering into the millennium, when there would very soon be non-belivers in there anyway. That would be like a hospital's surgery room declaring that "No unclean thing may enter into this operating room at the beginning of surgery," ...but five minutes after surgery starts you can bring all kinds of filth in. It makes a non-sensical mockery of the initial ban on filth.

While passages are thought to teach that non-believers cannot enter into the millennium, those passages instead fall into groups which actually teach other things, such as :

First, a number of passages, thought by some to demonstrate such a ban, are more appropriately seen as talking about the final "Great White Throne" judgment after the end of the millennium. An example of this, is the "sheep and goats" judgment in Mat.25:31-46. It makes sense to consider this passage as describing the final judgment, because it follows a brief description of the millennium with Jesus sitting "on his throne in heavenly glory" (v.31) -----and then, also, this passage fits the final judgment picture well since the judgment-results are "eternal" and decide about entrance into eternal life versus eternal hell-fire (v.46) -----they do not merely decide about entrance into the millennium.

Second, another group of prophetic verses are much more appropriately understood as teaching about the situation in the new earth and the new Jerusalem, rather than in the millennium. For example, in talking about the new Jerusalem, Revelation 21:26-27 says, "The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." Similar prophetic descriptions more fittingly apply to the final state, rather than the milliennial kingdom on earth.

And thirdly, other passages may be indicating the manner in which the Lord Jesus will "rule with a rod of iron" over the non-believing nations during the millennium, such as Psalm 2:12 which says, "kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way." This seems to describe Jesus' absolute and authoritative rule, and not an indication that he will ban all non-believers from entering the millennium at its inception.

Thus, the Zechariah clearly teaches that some non-believers will enter into the Millennial kingdom on earth, and other Bible passages do not clearly indicate a ban on such entrance, -----rather, the Scriptures do indicate that no unbeliever or anything impure will ever enter into the final eternal state which will exist on the new earth and in the new Jerusalem.

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6. "Imminence" : Is the Rapture the next prophesied event in history?

Pre-tribulationists often teach that the rapture is "imminent," meaning that it could happen "at any moment." They say the Bible tells us to "watch" for the rapture as the next prophesied event in history because there are no events or "signs" prophesied to happen before the rapture. -----However, in studying the Scriptures, we find that there are prophesied events that must occur before the rapture does, therefore, the rapture is not imminent (as of this writing, in 1999 AD).

One key passage that contradicts the notion of the rapture's imminence, is 2Thessalonians 2:1-3. ---Condensed for clarity, it says : with regard to to the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus, and our gathering together to Him (the rapture), do not be disturbed by anyone who says that the day of the Lord has come, because that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) is revealed.

In the above passage, the parousia of the Lord, and the rapture, are identified in time with the "day of the Lord," ---meaning that all three start basically at the same time. Paul talks about these three events in one uninterrupted thought, without a transition in time ---because all three start together. Paul reassured his readers that they had not missed the 2nd Coming, rapture and "day of the Lord," because none of the three could start to happen unless the apostasy comes first along with the revealing of Antichrist. -----So, neither the rapture nor the parousia can occur, nor can the Day of the Lord begin, until first there is a great spiritual rebellion against God and Christ, and the Antichrist is revealed during the great tribulation. Therefore, the idea of the rapture's imminence (before the tribulation) is wrong and unbiblical.

Now, some pretribulationists have tried to say that the word translated "rebellion" or "apostasy" (in 2Thess. 2:3) can be translated as "departure," and therefore that word may refer to the rapture (as a departure). But if you accept that meaning, it creates a very strange situation, where Paul (in 1Thess.5:4-8) tells the Christians to be alert and sober because the Day of the Lord will come upon and overtake them (but not like a thief), ---and then he tells them (in 2Thess 2) that they are going to depart from the earth before that day begins. This is nonsense, and portrays Paul as telling a falsehood. -----No, rather, that word "apostasy" (a noun) had aquired a special meaning of political or religious departure or rebellion, and it did not mean a "spatial" departure with physical movement from one place to another. Thus, the best translation is "rebellion," and Bible students should realize that the rapture cannot possibly be imminent until the spiritual rebellion (apostasy) and revelation of Antichrist take place.

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7. With Post-Trib, couldn't the exact day of the 2nd Coming be calculated?

One pre-trib objection to post-trib runs like this : Post-trib cannot be right because Jesus said, "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Mat.24:36), ...but if the Christian Church is in the tribulation, couldn't they count 3 1/2 years from the "abomination" (in the middle) and know the exact end-day of the tribulation?

---No.--- let's re-think this :

If the post-trib view is correct, then people still won't be able to calculate the exact "day or hour", because Jesus said that "those days (of the great tribulation) will be "cut off" (Mat.24:21-22 & Mk.13:19-20). So, God won't allow the full 3 1/2 years to run out their course, and we don't know how many days he'll cut off.

And think about this for a minute, dear reader : If you and I are smart enough to count down to the exact day from the time of the "abomination," don't you think the tribulation saints will be just as smart as you or I, and be able to do the very same thing? ---Of course they will. ---After all, they'll have all our "Scofield" and "Ryrie" Study-Bibles that we left behind, and they'll have all our pre-trib literature and video teaching-tapes laying around to study during the first half of the tribulation, and won't they be smart enough to calculate the date? ---Sure! You bet they would. ---But they won't be able to calculate the exact date regardless, because God is going to cut off some of the time.

There's good scriptural confirmation of those days being "cut off", as follows : Whenever something like one of the 7 "Seals" is opened in the book of Revelation, the event described under that seal happens ; Likewise, if one of the 7 "Trumpets" is blown, the events under that trumpet happen on earth. ----Well, look at Rev. 10:1-4, and you'll see there is another series of 7, and they are the "7 Thunders". Those 7 thunders were evidently at one time supposed to describe 7 more events during the tribulation, ...but the Lord commanded that the 7 thunders be "sealed up" and "not written down," therefore, they now will not happen, and the time it would have taken for them to occur has been taken off of the time of the tribulation. ---Just as Jesus said, the tribulation will be "cut short" ...for how long? We do not know how long the 7 thunders would have taken if their events would have happened on earth ...but it seems reasonable that the tribulation will be shortened by at least that unknown number of days required for them to happen.

Similarly, even though tribulation saints may see other events known to be near the end of the tribulation, still, no will will be able to calculate the exact day or hour of the Lord's return.

Finally, when the sun and moon darken, and the "stars" are moved and the heavenly powers shaken (Mat.24:29-31), then that day will actually be the day of the Lord's return, and all possibility of calculating ahead of time will be over and finished, because when we see all these things, it will be "the Day" and it will be the time to "lift up your eyes" for Jesus will be "right at the door" (Mat.24:33) imminently coming in power and glory!

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8. Does the Wedding Supper of the Lamb require a pre-trib rapture?

It is sometimes maintained that the "Wedding of the Lamb," mentioned in Rev.19, happens in heaven during the tribulation, and that, therefore, this necessitates a pre-tribulaitonal rapture so that the Church (the bride of Christ) can be present in heaven for that event.

There turns out to be no pre-tribulational support from this line of thinking, however, because we see that John, in Rev.19:7-9, records a hymn about that wonderful wedding event, but it is not spoken of as having already happened in the past. ---Rather, in v.7, John hears the multitude saying that the time for the wedding "has come."

In addition, verse 7 goes on to say that the bride "has made herself ready". ---Clearly, a bride who is just now "ready" for the wedding, is not yet married, but is still waiting for the big event. So, in Rev.19:7, the wedding is about to happen soon, but it has not yet happened.

Verse 9 underscores this same picture, because it speaks about the blessedness of those guests who are "invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb," . . .thus, in like manner, the supper cannot be a past event if the focus is still on those who are "invited" to the supper, but are still waiting for it. ---Therefore, in Rev.19:6-10, both the wedding and supper are yet to come.

With the bride and the invited guests ready and waiting for the soon-coming wedding and supper, what is the very next event described in Revelation chapter 19? ---It is the glorious Second Coming of the Lord Jesus, in verses 11-16. ---So, it must be at the time of the 2nd Coming, ---and/or soon thereafter--- that the wedding and the supper will take place.

And note: The Scriptures never say that the wedding or the supper take place in heaven or during the tribulation. The wedding may be at least partly included as part of the 2nd Coming, and the wedding supper may follow soon after that in Jerusalem.

Back to the List of Rapture FAQS (above)

9. Doesn't the Post-Trib rapture deny the "Blessed Hope"?

No. ---The phrase "the Blessed Hope" is found in Titus 2:13, and it is in reading the complete verse that we see exactly what Paul meant by the idea of the "Blessed Hope." The full verse 13 says: "while we wait for the blessed hope ---the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,"

Reading this complete verse tells us specifically that the blessed hope IS the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ ---in other words, Christ's glorious appearing constitutes the blessed hope for Christians, and that appearing is the main event of the end times for which we wait. So, what is that "glorious appearing"?

In Titus 2:13, the Greek word for "appearing" is "epiphany." ---The word "Epiphany" means "the visible appearance of the Lord Jesus on earth at the end" of the age (ref: New Int'l. Dict. of N.T. Theology, Vol.3, Colin Brown, p.319). To the ancients, this word indicated the appearance of God on earth, so that humans see him there. The "Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament," (by Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich, 1957, p.304), states that the Greek word "epiphany" means "a visible manifestation of a hidden divinity," and in the literature of the New Testament, the word speaks "only of Christ's appearing on earth." In addition, Arndt & Gingrich's lexicon states that as the same word "epiphany" occurs in 1Tim.6:14 ; 2Tim. 4:1,8 ; Titus 2:13 ; and 2Thess. 2:8, all of those verses speak "of Jesus' coming in judgment." ---Thus, taken all together, the "epiphany" of Jesus can be nothing other than the glorious and visible Coming of Christ when he ends up among people on the earth in judgment ...which is clearly post-tribulational.

Paul exhorts Timothy to "keep this commandment without spot or blame until the appearing (epiphany) of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim.6:14). So, Paul is saying to persevere faithfully until the big goal is reached : the post-trib epiphany.

In addition, Paul declares that it is the "epiphany" (which is part of Christ's "parousia") which destroys the Antichrist (2Thess.2:8) ---therefore, it is the glorious epiphany (appearing) of Christ the God-man on earth which destroys the Antichrist just after the end of the great tribulation.

Recalling the words of Titus 2:13, Paul tells Titus: "we wait for the blessed hope ----the glorious appearing (epiphany) of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ". Thus, the "blessed hope" we look to and wait for is not some secret disappearance before the great tribulation (as in the pre-trib or mid-trib rapture), but rather, it is the glorious and visible epiphany of Christ's Coming to earth in judgment, at which time the Antichrist is destroyed ...which is post-tribulational.

Conclusion?: When is the next time that "our great God Jesus Christ" will appear on the earth? --It will be at the Post-tribulational "epiphany" of Jesus, when he descends in great power and glory down to the earth.

So this is the "blessed hope" which all Christians await, and to which we should expectantly look. ---The post-tribulational rapture does not deny the blessed hope, but it looks forward to it in a scriptural fashion.

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