Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. ESV
The Philadelphian church will be "kept from the hour of trial which is about to come upon the whole earth to try those who dwell on the earth." Debate revolves around the phrase "kept from" which could mean "physical removal from" (pre-trib) or "preservation from or in the midst of" (post-trib).1 However it is interesting to point out that the verse denotes the divine testing is for "those who dwell on the earth." This is a common phrase referring to unbelievers. Contextually, on at least 3 occasions, the saints are "sealed" and kept out of harm's way when God pours out specific judgments which only affect His unbelieving enemies.2 (Rev 6:15-17 depict judgments on the kings of the earth; in 9:4 “locusts harm only unbelievers;” see also 12:6,14 where the woman is preserved in the wilderness amidst persecution).
Obviously, John 17:15 bears upon the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 because of its usage of tereo ek.. There it says, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from (tereo ek) the evil one.” This is the only other place this verb is used with ek. IT seems to denote preservation, not removal from. Leon Morris says the matter could be interpreted either way whereas A.T. Robertson and Marvin Vincent opt for “not a keeping from temptation, but a keeping in temptation.” Since disagreement among scholarship exists support must come from the context. (See above).
1. Johnson, Alan F. The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Editor Frank E. Gaebelein. The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, volume 12, p453, 1981.
2. Osborne, Grant R. Baker Evangelical Commentary of the New Testament: Revelation. Baker , p 193, 2002.
Leon Morris, Revelation. Eerdmans, 79, 1987.
Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament. http://www.godrules.net/library/robert/robertrev3.htm and Vincent’s Word Studies. http://www.godrules.net/library/vincent/vincentrev3.htm.
A very common passage to rapture discussion is this one. This passage alone does not mention where the gathered ones finally end up but that those who are alive will be caught up to meet Christ in the air and always be with the Lord. Timing of this event puts it at “the coming of the Lord” which weighs heavily posttribulational barring that one event is being referred to. Rather this passage mentions the dead rising, Christ's coming, His angels, the trumpet of God, and the gathering of the elect. All of these participants are present in Matthew 24:30-31, which clearly refers to the parousia.
Linguistic support for a one-event parousia are seen in the words "meet" (v 17) and "coming" in verse 15. “Meet”( ἀπάντησιν ) occurs in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Matthew 25:1 (a parable concerning the parousia), and in Acts 28:15 (those going out to meet Paul as he headed toward them in Rome). This term’s technical usage refers to the custom of people going out to meet a dignitary as he was approaching their city before he got there, and accompanying him back to where they originally came from. Also, parousia has the idea of a grand dignitary making his arrival to a certain location. The rest of the passage perhaps supports this grand arrival by including the trumpet herald, angels, and a 'city' of gathered believers going out to meet Him.
Consider this quote by D. Michael Martin: “In some premillennial schemes, however, the rapture is separated from the day of the Lord by the great tribulation…we must note that our present passage [1 Thessalonians 4:17] does not seem to present the event depicted in vv. 16-17 as one preceding and separate from the parousia, the day of the Lord (cf. 5:4-9). First, in v. 15 Paul explicitly termed the event he was describing the “coming” (parousia) of the Lord and linked the same term with final judgment (2 Thess 2:8; cf. 1 Thess 2:19). Since Paul did not predict two parousias, then the one event must encompass both the gathering of the church and final judgment. Second, v. 17 does not require the removal of the church from the world. It is in fact open-ended, describing nothing beyond the gathering of the church other than the fact of continuing in the presence of the Lord. Finally, vv. 15-17 seem to be cast in language and images depicting the arrival of a grand dignitary. The heralds announce his coming. The crowds surge out of their city to meet him and celebrate his arrival. At this point such a dignitary would not take the crowd with him and leave. Rather, the crowd would escort him into the city [to earth]. In other words, the most likely way to complete the scenario Paul painted is by assuming that after assembling his people Christ would not leave [to heaven] but would proceed with his parousia [to earth].” This concurs, perhaps, with the usage of “descend” in the New Testament. This passage lends more weight to the posttribulational position.
Hubbard, David A. Editor: Everett F. Harrison. The New Testament and Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Moody Press, p 820, 1971.
Editors: G.J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson, and R.T. France. I. Howard Marshall commenting. New Bible Commentary. 21st century Edition. Inter-Varsity Press, p1283, 2004.
The New American Commentary, 1, 2 Thessalonians. p.154,155. 2002. Brackets and Bold mine.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed--for our testimony to you was believed.” (NASB)
This text seems to illustrate when the church would receive rest for its suffering. Rest would come at the revelation of Jesus Christ with fire and judgment, and at this time those who were afflicting the church at Thessalonica would be repaid for such treatment. No mention is made of a prior removal from the earth but that rest comes at His Coming and so does judgment. John Piper states, “The wording of 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7, when read carefully, shows that Paul expects to attain rest from suffering at the same time and in the same event that he expects the unbelievers to receive punishment, namely, at the revelation of Jesus with mighty angels in flaming fire…Which means that Paul did not expect an event at which he and the other believers would be given rest seven years before the glorious appearing of Christ in flaming fire. Vengeance on unbelievers and rest for the persecuted church come on the same day in the same event.”
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” (NIV)
Posttribulationalists see the Rapture and the Second Coming as part of one main event. Evidence for this claim is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. Paul introduces his topic: "Now concerning the coming of our Lord and our gathering together with him." This was an ancient way of introducing the matter of discussion and later Paul refers back to the two nouns as "the Day of the Lord" or "that day." Thus, "coming" and "gathering" seem to be two ways of referring to one event, "the day of the Lord." Also, it seems unnatural and impractical for Paul to go to great lengths describing the coming of the Antichrist and the falling away to the Thessalonians, in order to calm them down that the day of Christ's reign on earth had not happened yet if they were not going to be there for it. He would be more comforting by reminding them that they wouldn't be present for it than to precisely detail its recognition. ("Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”)
John Piper relates, “if the Thessalonians were overly excited and shaken, thinking that the day of the Lord had come, why didn't Paul simply say, "You know it hasn't come because you are still here and I'm still here and the rapture hasn't happened yet"? Why did he say in verse 3, "You know the day of the Lord has not come because the apostasy has not come and the man of lawlessness has not been revealed...If Paul believed in a pre-tribulational rapture, all he had to say was: the day of the Lord can't have come yet because we are all still here. Instead what he does say is exactly what you would expect him to say if he believed in a single post-tribulational coming of the Lord.”
Piper, John. Definitions and Observations Concerning The Second Coming. http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1987/1493_Definitions_and_Observations_Concerning_the_Second_Coming_of_Christ/ August 30, 1987.
Gundry, Bob. First the Antichrist. Baker Books, p69, 1997.
Interpreting ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου as “the day of the Lord has already come” in verse 2, rather than as “is at hand,” is important to the discussion as is one’s understanding of the Day of the Lord (DOTL). If the Thessalonians thought the rapture (post-trib) was after the DOTL then perhaps it is strange for the Thessalonians not to be joyful in anticipation of the parousia (MacArthur Study Bible, p1857, 1997). However perhaps “If the Thessalonians believed that the troubles they were enduring were the woes preceding the parousia, an intense level of expectation would result. The delay of the parousia for a community could spell the end of faith for many of its adherents” (D. Michael Martin. 1, 2 Thessalonians. New American Commentary., 2002, 229) BDAG affirms this interpretation (p337) as well as do NASB (“has come”), NRSV (“is already here”), NIV (“has already come”), and ESV (“has come”). Cf. Romans 8:38 “things present, things to come” (NASB).
Koukl, Greg, http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5522,1996. See also: D. Michael Martin. The New American Commentary, 1, 2 Thessalonians. p.154,155. 2002. In this reference Martin details that Paul is talking about one event without expressing exact terminology.
Leon Morris 1 and 2 Thessalonians. InterVarsity Press, p126, 1984. The heading should be “combined under one article.”
Martin. 1,2 Thessalonians, 223, 224.
Piper, John. Definitions and Observations Concerning the Second Coming. http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1987/1493_Definitions_and_Observations_Concerning_the_Second_Coming_of_Christ/ August 30, 1987.
2 Thess. 2:3.
What Must Happen Before the Day of the Lord? August 30, 1987. http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1987/604_What_Must_Happen_Before_the_Day_of_the_Lord/
Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7,8
Believers are to be patient amidst persecution until when? Until the “coming” (parousia) of the Lord. Parousia is well known to mean "presence" and refers to His second coming many times in the New Testament. Also notice that the farming analogy seems to indicate that the farmer is aware of the coming rains just as the believer might expect certain things prior to end time events. For example Jesus warned "when you see these things begin to take place [end time signs in the sun, moon, and stars], straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." This manner of expectancy is objected to on the grounds that it destroys the idea of Christ's rapture of the church being imminent, or able to occur at any moment. But imminent probably doesn't mean 'at any moment' in the New Testament. As D.A. Carson relates: “…many New Testament passages implicitly rule out an "any second" imminency (Matthew 24:45-51…25:5,19;Luke 19:11-27;John 21:18-19...Acts 9:15…)”. Carson goes on to say that imminency more likely means “a return that could take place soon…within a fairly brief period of time.” At the very least, Peter and Paul probably did not believe in this kind of imminency because Peter was told by Jesus what manner of death he was to die and that it would take place many years in to the future. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." Could Peter think the Rapture was at any moment with this enduring prediction by Jesus? Also, it was told of Paul that he would bear Christ's name "before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel" and that God would "show him how much he is to suffer for My name's sake." Does ‘any moment imminency’ fit with such a massive missionary plan revealed by God to Paul which took decades to complete? Jesus encouraged the first disciples and all Christians, to look for certain events which would indicate His coming was "at the doors." This and other passages like 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 call for moral alertness and sobriety ("let us keep awake and be sober"), and that the wrath of that day will overtake those in darkness like a thief. But a believer is “not in darkness, that the day should overtake [him] like a thief."  Thus, perhaps, a different concept of imminency emerges from the data, namely, one that involves a near/impending return of Christ along with the imperatives to be morally ready.
 MacArthur Jr., John F. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: James. Moody Press, p. 253, 1998.
Stanley N. Gundry and Gleason L. Archer Jr. Three Views on the Rapture. Zondervan, p208, 1996.
 Luke 21:28. Also notice the use of the 2nd person plurals ἀνακύψατε καὶ ἐπάρατε τὰς κεφαλὰς ὑμῶν in this verse in connection to “they” in 21:7. Would the disciples have thought Jesus was not speaking to them when he gave them imperatives relating to His coming but was speaking to a peculiar group only alive after a pretribulational rapture? This seems to be the most natural understanding.
 Stanley N. Gundry and Gleason L. Archer Jr. Three Views on the Rapture. Zondervan, p208, 1996. See :wait for” in Luke 12:36; Tit. 2:13; “look for” in Mt. 24:50; Luke 12:46, etc.
 Note especially Luke 19:11. It says, “As they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately." (NRSV). Jesus then goes on to tell that a noblemen went to a distant country and came back and settled accounts with his servants...as if He was going away for awhile thus insinuating delay, perhaps.
 Carson, D.A. The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke. Frank E. Gaebelein ed. Regency Reference Library, volume 8, p. 490, 1984.
Stanley N. Gundry and Gleason L. Archer Jr. Three Views on the Rapture. Zondervan, p210, 1996.
 Acts 9:15,16.
 James 5:8.
 1 Thessalonians 5:6 NRSV.
 1 Thessalonians 5:4
 Ladd, George E. The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture. Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing, p.110, 1956. “The context makes it clear that the “watch” means to be spiritually awake in contrast to the world which is slumbering in the sleep of sin.” Italics in original.