2 Thessalonians & Rapture
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/