The post-Tribulation rapture theory is by far the oldest and most popular of the pre-millennial rapture theories. It is believed by this author that the Apostle Paul, Peter, and certainly John had a pre-Tribulation rapture view; but shortly after they died this post-trib theory was developed by many of the church fathers. One of the earliest was Irenaeus (130-202 A.D.), and also Tertullian (160-220 A. D.) and Hippolytus (170-235 A. D.). Other well know names that had this view are George Muller, Albert Mohler, John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, Wayne Gruden, John Piper, and Alexander Reese.
The main distinctive of this view is that the rapture of the church will occur immediately after the 7-year Tribulation at the Advent of Christ. Hence, this view rejects the pre-Tribulation view that there are two phases of His coming; they teach that the rapture and the second coming will all occur all at once: 1) Christ will come in the clouds, 2) He will rapture and transform the church—first the dead and then the living, and 3) He will then immediately (or very quickly) bring them back to earth in their glorified bodies to reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom.
This article is quite lengthy, so I have decided to present it to you in four parts. In this first part we will deal with its historical authority, and its beliefs about Daniel 9:24-27.
1. Historical authority
This theory, they teach, has the authority of the church fathers and that no other theory can make this same claim. Indeed, the post-Tribulation rapture theory began about 100 A. D. and has survived until now. Thus their long history is one of their claims to validity.
Rebuttal. It may be argued that the early church (that held the post-Tribulation theory) did not have full discernment of prophetical doctrine. Not until this last century has the church carefully studied it; hence, it wasn’t until men developed an interest in it and studied it in a more systematic way that other theories were considered—and the pre-Tribulation theory took root. Dwight Pentecost in his book Things to Come, writes,
If the same line of reasoning [regarding the historical claim] were followed one would not accept the doctrine of justification by faith, for it was not clearly taught until the Reformation. The failure to discern the teaching of the Scripture does not nullify that teaching…
It should be observed that each era of church history has been occupied with a particular doctrinal controversy, which has become the object of discussion, revision, and formulation, until there was general acceptation of what Scripture taught. The entire field of theology was thus formulated through the age. It was not until the last century that the field of Eschatology became a matter to which the mind of the church was turned.[i]
2. Daniel 9:24-27
According to post-Tribulation rapture teaching, there was no gap between the 69th and 70th week; they teach that the 70th week took place within the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth, that the six promises of Daniel 9:24 have already been fulfilled, and that Jesus Christ is the one who has already confirmed the covenant (v. 27). This theory then takes away Daniel’s prophecy of a future Tribulation and Israel’s purpose in it; and it also takes away the necessity of the pre-Tribulation rapture of the church.[ii]
Rebuttal. Here we must take note that all 70 weeks (of years) are decreed for Israel, not the church. And since God’s covenant with that nation has not yet been fulfilled in the six promises (v. 24), the 70th week must be yet future and for Israel—and thus it produces a need for a gap between the 69th and the 70th week.
Also, with careful study one will come to the conclusion that the one confirming the covenant cannot be Christ, but must be the man of sin, who will after three and one half years break the covenant and desecrate the temple. Pentecost writes,
The “he” of Daniel 9:27 must have as its antecedent “the prince that shall come” of the preceding verse. Because this one is related to the people who destroyed the city and the sanctuary, that is the Romans, this one confirming the covenant cannot be Christ, but must be the man of sin, spoken of by Christ (Matt. 24:15), by Paul (2 Thess. 2), and John (Rev. 13), who will make a false covenant with Israel. The fact that sacrifices and oblation continued after the death of Christ until the year 70 A.D. would point out the fact that it was not Christ who caused these sacrifices to terminate.[iii]
Therefore, we must conclude based on the above findings that the 70th week is for Israel and not for the church; and thus the church must disappear from the earth (be raptured) before the 70th week.
[i] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, p. 166.
[ii] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, pp. 171-172.
[iii] Ibid., p. 172.