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What are the strengths and weaknesses of the pretribulational view of the rapture (pretribulationism)?

Question: “What are the strengths and weaknesses of the pretribulational view of the rapture (pretribulationism)?”

Answer:

In eschatology, it is important to remember that almost all Christians agree on these three things: 1) there is coming a time of great tribulation such as the world has never seen, 2) after the Tribulation, Christ will return to establish His kingdom on earth, and, 3) there will be a Rapture—a translation from mortality to immortality—for believers (John 14:1-3;1 Corinthians 15:51-521 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The question is when does the Rapture occur in relation to the Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ?

Through the years three main theories have emerged concerning the timing of the Rapture: pretribulationism (the belief that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation begins), midtribulationism (the belief that the Rapture will occur at the midpoint of the Tribulation), and posttribulationism (the belief that the Rapture will occur at the end of the Tribulation). This article deals specifically with the pretribulational view.

Pretribulationism teaches that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation starts. At that time, the church will meet Christ in the air, and then sometime after that the Antichrist is revealed and the Tribulation begins. In other words, the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming (to set up His kingdom) are separated by at least seven years. According to this view, the church does not experience any of the Tribulation.

Scripturally, the pretribulational view has much to commend it. For example, the church is not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:9-105:9), and believers will not be overtaken by the Day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9). The church of Philadelphia was promised to be kept from “the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10). Note that the promise is not preservation through the trial but deliverance from the hour, that is, from the time period of the trial.

Pretribulationism also finds support in what is not found in Scripture. The word “church” appears nineteen times in the first three chapters of Revelation, but, significantly, the word is not used again until chapter 22. In other words, in the entire lengthy description of the Tribulation in Revelation, the word church is noticeably absent. In fact, the Bible never uses the word “church” in a passage relating to the Tribulation.

Pretribulationism is the only theory which clearly maintains the distinction between Israel and the church and God’s separate plans for each. The seventy “sevens” of Daniel 9:24 are decreed upon Daniel’s people (the Jews) and Daniel’s holy city (Jerusalem). This prophecy makes it plain that the seventieth week (the Tribulation) is a time of purging and restoration for Israel and Jerusalem, not for the church.

Also, pretribulationism has historical support. From John 21:22-23, it would seem that the early church viewed Christ’s return as imminent, that He could return at any moment. Otherwise, the rumor would not have persisted that Jesus would return within John’s lifetime. Imminence, which is incompatible with the other two Rapture theories, is a key tenet of pretribulationism.

And the pretribulational view seems to be the most in keeping with God’s character and His desire to deliver the righteous from the judgment of the world. Biblical examples of God’s salvation include Noah, who was delivered from the worldwide flood; Lot, who was delivered from Sodom; and Rahab, who was delivered from Jericho (2 Peter 2:6-9).

One perceived weakness of pretribulationism is its relatively recent development as a church doctrine, not having been formulated in detail until the early 1800s. Another weakness is that pretribulationism splits the return of Jesus Christ into two “phases”—the Rapture and the Second Coming—whereas the Bible does not clearly delineate any such phases.

Another difficulty facing the pretribulational view is the fact that there will obviously be saints in the Tribulation (Revelation 13:720:9). Pretribulationists answer this by distinguishing the saints of the Old Testament and the saints of the Tribulation from the church of the New Testament. Believers alive at the Rapture will be removed before the Tribulation, but there will be those who will come to Christ during the Tribulation.

Some point to Jesus’ statement in John 6:40 as posing a difficulty to pretribulationism: “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Jesus promises believers a resurrection “at the last day,” but the pretribulational model has believers being raised at the rapture, at least seven years before the Christ’s second coming. The answer to this involves a general use of the word day—the end times, called “the last day,” will span the entire time from the rapture to the second coming. Also, the rapture will mark the end of the church age and thus is “the last day” of this dispensation.

And a final weakness of the pretribulational view is shared by the other two theories: namely, the Bible does not give an explicit time line concerning future events. Scripture does not expressly teach one view over another, and that is why we have diversity of opinion concerning the end times and some variety on how the related prophecies should be harmonized.

问题:“被提(预先分配主义)的预先分配观点有哪些优点和缺点?”

答:在末世论中,重要的是要记住,几乎所有的基督徒都同意这三件事:1)世界从未见过大灾难的事情,2)在大灾难之后,基督将回归建立祂的在地上的王国,3)将会有一个从死亡到永生的翻转 – 为信徒的(约翰福音14:1-3;哥林多前书15:51-52;帖撒罗尼迦前书4:16-17)。问题是,在大灾难和基督再来时,被提何时发生?

多年来,出现了关于被提时间的三个主要理论:预定(认为被提将在大灾难开始之前发生),中间主义(认为掠夺将发生在大灾难的中期),以及后期(认为被提会在大灾难结束时发生。本文特别介绍了预定的观点。

预定论教导被提发生在大灾难开始之前。那时,教会将在空中与基督相遇,然后在此之后的某个时期,敌基督被揭露且大灾难开始了。换句话说,被提和基督的第二次降临(建立祂的王国)至少相隔七年。根据这种观点,教会不会经历任何苦难。

在经文上,预定的观点有很多值得赞扬的地方。例如,教会没有被指定为愤怒(帖撒罗尼迦前书1:9-10,5:9),并且信徒不会被主的日子所取代(帖撒罗尼迦后书5:1-9)。承诺将使教会远离“即将来到全世界的审判”(启示录3:10)。请注意,承诺不是通过试验,而是从时钟开始,即从试验期间开始。

预定论也得到了圣经中的支持。在启示录的前三章中,“教会”这个词出现了十九次,但是,显然,直到第二十二章这个词才被再次使用。换句话说,在启示录中对大灾难的整个冗长描述中,教会这个词显而易见缺席。事实上,圣经从未在与大灾难有关的段落中使用“教会”这个词。

预定论是唯一能够清楚地保持以色列与教会之间的区别以及上帝对每个人的独立计划的理论。但以理书9:24的七十七个“七人制”是在但以理的百姓(犹太人)和但以理的圣城(耶路撒冷)上颁布的。这个预言清楚地表明,第七十周(大灾难)是以色列和耶路撒冷的清洗和恢复时期,而不是教会。

此外,预先分配主义有历史支持。从约翰福音21:22-23,似乎早期教会认为基督的回归是迫在眉睫的,他随时都可以回来。否则,谣言不会坚持耶稣会在约翰的一生中回归。与其他两种Rapture理论不相容的紧迫性是预先分配主义的关键原则。

预先分配的观点似乎最符合上帝的品格和他将义人从世界的审判中拯救出来的愿望。上帝拯救的圣经例子包括诺亚,他是从全世界的洪水中被释放出来的;罗得,是从所多玛交来的;耶利哥拯救了拉哈伯(彼得后书2:6-9)。

一种被认为是预先分配主义的弱点是它作为教会学说的相对近期的发展,直到19世纪早期才详细阐述。另一个弱点是,预先分配主义将耶稣基督的回归分为两个“阶段” – 掠夺和第二次来临 – 而圣经并没有清楚地描述任何这样的阶段。

预先分配观点面临的另一个困难是,大灾难中显然会有圣徒(启示录13:7,20:9)。预先主义者通过区分旧约的圣徒和大灾难的圣徒与新约教会来回答这个问题。在苦难之前活着的信徒将被移除,但在大灾难期间将会有人来到基督。

有些人指出耶稣在约翰福音6:40中的陈述对预先分配主义构成了一个困难:“我父的旨意是,每一个仰望子并相信他的人都将拥有永生,我会在最后一天将他们提升。 “耶稣在最后一天承诺信徒复活”,但是预先分配的模式让信徒在被提的时候被提升,至少在基督复临之前七年。对此的回答涉及一般使用单词day-结束时间,称为“最后一天”,将涵盖从被提到第二次到来的整个时间。此外,被提将标志着结束

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