The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church

Although I have occasionally been asked about my thoughts concerning the pre-wrath rapture of the church, I have never written or spoken on the topic at any length. Of all the eschatological positions, we share the most common ground with the adherents of the pre-wrath position. Still, since questions continue to come up, I have written an article that explains why I have yet to be convinced of the pre-wrath end-times scheme. For those unfamiliar with pre-wrath, this article will serve as a primer. For those familiar with it, this article will demonstrate some of its strengths and weaknesses. But, all in all, this article explains why I remain unconvinced.

Click the link below to read (or download) the pdf.

The Pre-Wrath Rapture Q&A

Plus, if you’re one of those people who has more time to listen than to read, we have posted an audio version of this article that includes additional information and evidence that is not included in the written version.  You can stream or download the audio version here —

The Pre-Wrath Rapture Audio Q&A

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17 thoughts on “The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church”

  1. Hi Pastor Jim,

    I read your article. I have been a fortunate recipient of God’s word through your ministry for the past few years on the internet. I am deeply grateful for the work you do and praise God for His grace! You make so many of us long for a church like yours to attend. And there is nothing even close in Vancouver BC.

    It is interesting to me that when it comes to eschatology there is a unique kind of division of beliefs in the body… even more so than with other scriptures. I speculate that the Holy Spirit reveals those things in a different way than other scripture… like when the Angel tells John in Revelation NOT to write certain things down. In any case, my own position has been a pre-trib one since I had the rapture revealed to me through His word about 5 years ago. God led me to many teachers and pastors who were Calvinists even before I knew what that meant… and he did the same with the rapture. I had belonged to other churches who said it was false and never knew what it was or looked into it. 5 years ago He gave me eyes to see and ears to hear. Grace, grace, grace, grace… as you would say.

    Anyway, there was something about the sixth seal that always nagged at me when I studied Revelation. I knew there was great significance there… like a turning point. Jesus said in this world we would have tribulation. And then I saw that the sixth seal is where the wrath of God is first explicitly identified.

    You said that the seals are wrath because they are controlled by Jesus. And the trinity is in complete control. Amen! But is it not like when God determines that Pharaoh or Hitler create war? The seals roll out the Anti-Christ on the white horse conquering and to conquer. That is probably why Pre-wrath folks call this the wrath of the anti-christ. along with the actions of the red horse rider to take peace from the earth. If they are the wrath of God, then how does that explain the 5th seal martyrs? Were they martyred by the wrath of God? They were not appointed to wrath.

    It is interesting to note that it is the unsaved who are the ones that identify wrath in the 6th seal. Yes, we are gone by then for sure. And when the group in the throne room in white robes with palm branches from all nations are standing there worshipping God, the angel says to John that these are they who came out of great tribulation. Not wrath.

    You said that you see no evidence of the rapture in the olivet discourse at all. What about Matt. 24:27? I think it can and has been argued that Matthew 24 is speaking not only to the jews of the second coming but simultaneously of the rapture. Verse 27 does not jive with Revelations verses about the second coming at all.

    As much as I would love for a pre-trib view to be true, I interpret these passages a bit differently… and unlike you, I am… mostly convinced. LOL!

    I have not read any Van Kampen. And from what you quoted, I don’t agree with a lot of his conclusions (like Christ returning with the angels). But I have read Alan Kurschner’s book… and I found it to be a very clear study on the pre-wrath position that resonated with what I see in Matthew, Thessalonians and Revelation.

    I think it is dangerous to be dogmatic about eschatology. I would be about the gospel and the doctrines of grace… but not the same way with eschatology. It appears to be revealed in a different way and at a different pace.

    In the final analysis, I do agree with you that when it comes to eschatology, that a modicum of humility is appropriate. Thank you and praise Jesus for your ministry!

    1. Thanks Stan. These are good comments and feedback. Let me muse on them and I may have some additional comments later. But I do appreciate you taking the time to write.

      Grace and peace,

      Jim Mc.

      1. Dear Pr. Jim, I still cannot see how Matt. 24 is addressed to jews only because in verse 9 we read “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake”.
        I haven’t heard of one jew that was hated for Christ’s name sake unless he has become a christian.
        So, after reading your article I have come to the conclusion the pre-wrath position is correct! God bless you!

        1. It’s a funny thing — throughout this article, I said that my purpose in writing was to explain why I am not convinced of pre-wrath. I knew it wouldn’t convince everyone. And that’s just fine.

          Even IF someone could offer some indisputable proof that Matthew 24 is directed to the church (despite all the very Jewish references), they would still have to prove that Jesus was speaking of the rapture in His ‘one chosen/one left prophecy’. Luke 17:37 makes that conclusion impossible.

          You mentioned Matt. 24:9. Jesus was speaking to his followers and apostles — all of whom were Jewish disciples who had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Christ had not yet died and the New Covenant was not yet in effect (the “death of the testator” was still a future event). So yes, Jesus could speak of Jews who would be persecuted for His name’s sake, just as His apostles indeed were. To make the leap from that very Jewish context to insert the church of believing Jews and Gentiles is not a position I think is textually or historically consistent.

          But, beyond that, there are so many areas where I have disagreements with the pre-wrath position that even if I could be swayed on any single point, it would still leave many other points unresolved.

          Nonetheless, I appreciate you writing. And you’re always welcome to express your view. But, as I said in the article …. I remain unconvinced.

        2. This confusion in the Christian world about the end times would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. People just don’t bother to determine the context of passages they seek to understand.
          Matthew 24-25 is Jesus’ answer to His disciples about when He will return. Jesus is coming back for His disciples at one point in time and for those who then become believers in the tribulation at a different point in time–seven years apart.
          This second coming for His own includes Jews and Gentiles–believers who go through the tribulation. Those in Matt.24:9 are believers who during the tribulation will be persecuted for their faith in Christ–be they Jew or Gentile.
          How do we determine that? First Jesus gives a general word of warning about being deceived in Matt. 24. Then He gives general signs that will happen during the church age. We know that because He says, “but the end is not yet (v. 6).” All these are the beginning of sorrows. It’s not the end–it’s the beginning of sorrows. For Nation shall rise against nation, etc.
          Next he jumps to the tribulation period. And they shall deliver you up to be afflicted and proceeds to: Then shall the end come (v. 14).
          Because He is speaking of the tribulation period the next verses are also to those in the tribulation period. He begins to speak of the midpoint and the abomination of desolation. “Whoso readeth, let him understand.” And in fact, those of you who are in Judea–flee. Jesus is saying: From this point on, things are going to get exponentially worse–so much so that if I don’t come and stop it, no flesh will survive.
          Jesus cannot allow Armageddon to play out to its natural conclusion because mankind has the ability to wipe himself off the face of the earth–where, literally, no flesh will survive. For then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world to this time (being spoken of), no, nor ever shall be .
          The first half of the tribulation is bad enough with the two witnesses unleashing havoc (torment) on the earth as they choose to. But at the half point, the Antichrist goes into the holy place and declares himself God–and all hell breaks loose.
          I hope this helps, Jef.

  2. Just downloaded the article and am about to read it. Would the pre-wrath position be better described as mid-trib rapture or post-trib rapture?

    Looking forward to reading this!

    God Bless, Brother!

      1. Interesting. So the catching up would be in the “nebulous in-between”? Well, I continue to read and see if I can tell the difference.

  3. Just a few points about the prewrath view:

    If you carefully read Van Kampen’s first book The Sign you will note he states that Jesus comes to earth on 3 different occasions after coming to rapture the church and returning to heaven. This is pointed out in Renald Showers’ book which critiques this view. It is further corroborated by Charles Cooper, Alan Kurschner and H L (Heidi) Nigro.

    These people criticize pretribulationism for teaching “two future comings” of Christ. They defend their 4 comings by stating that they occur within a “single parousia” – therefore they say it’s really one coming.

    Van Kampen insisted that Matt 24:31 was the rapture of the church rather than Israel’s gathering. Ironically, he has a separate coming of Christ (after the rapture) where he gathers Israel (in fulfillment of OT prophecy) and then returns to heaven. There are no NT verses which support this scenario.

  4. New here and not sure where to post????

    I just read your “The Proof of the Resurrection” PDF from April 15, 2001. Thank you for such an inspiring sermon/article. I felt like I was walking on the road to Emmaus and my heart burned within me as you expounded the truth with such clarity. Thank you!
    I happened upon you as a result of your, “The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church” PDF, discussion. My question to you is, (based on your, “Proof of the Resurrection). If the early disciples were so willing to lay their lives on the line because of the “RESURRECTION of their Lord why do we insist that the believers in the church have to be spared the tribulation from Satan’s wrath. Are we not also EMPOWERED by that same resurrection power that changes us into the persevering saints that , Jesus desires us to be, in his letter to the seven churches?
    (BELOW is taken from your article that so blessed and inspired my heart to persevere against all odds.)
    “There’s Only One Conclusion
    Every one of them that preached that early message died. Not a one recanted. When I reached that point in my thinking, I couldn’t help but arrive at the inevitable, inescapable conclusion: These guys believed it! The historically verifiable eyewitnesses to these events believed every word they preached, and it changed them for the better! And, they all died praising God.”
    INSPIRED to PERSEVERE

    1. Hello Robert. Thanks for writing. I did see your comments on YouTube, which you’ve reposted here. I’ve been fighting a respiratory flu, so I haven’t been spending much time on the Internet.

      Thank you for your kind words concerning the proof of the resurrection article. I appreciate them. And I’m glad that the pre-wrath article brought you here.

      To answer briefly: We have to define some terms. By “the wrath of Satan” (a specific phrase that we don’t find in the Bible, although it is alluded to in Rev. 12:12) we mean the unmitigated, unrestrained anger and violence of Satan. That is why Rev. 12:12 includes a pronouncement of “woe.” Anyone who falls under such wrath is clearly being punished by God.

      Tribulation: Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation (John 16:33). That stands in contrast to the great tribulation (thlipsis megas), which Jesus said would be unlike anything before or after it. So, the time of that tribulation is unique and is not to be confused with the sort of trouble that we (and the apostles) endured.

      I do think that the church of Jesus Christ is protected by her Lord and Author from “Satan’s wrath,” because it unimaginable that Jesus would turn His bride over to Satan. That’s not to say that we won’t endure the tribulations of this life and consequences of sin (sickness, death, etc.). But, if God is indeed sovereign, then He is controlling the events of history and of our lives — just as He restricted Satan’s ability to destroy Job or Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith when Satan desired to have him. I have similar faith in my Lord to keep me. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Deliver us from evil (poneros – the evil one).”

      So, the troubles of this world? Check. Got ’em. The wages of sin? Yes, indeed. Laying our lives down for the gospel, in contradistinction to this present evil age? Absolutely.

      But, God turning His church over — the church for which His Son bled and died; the church He fully redeemed; the church He justified and “perfected forever” (Heb. 10:14) — to the wrath of Satan? No, I don’t believe that. And I cannot find anything in the Bible that would justify such a conclusion.

      Jim Mc.

  5. I just went back and listened to your vocal reading concerning “the pre-wrath rapture of the church” and your additions to why the seven seals could not be called “satan’s wrath”… when it is called that in…
    Rev 12:12″For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

    You read passage after passage of Israel’s disobedience and then God’s wrath toward them through men.
    However as you were reading all those passages my mind pictured a parallel to the letters and rebukes to the seven churches of Revelation.
    One of the consequences for not repenting being… [removing their name from the Lamb’s book of life]
    Rev 3: He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
    [What must they overcome?]

    So, my question is. If God used man to carry out his punishment on Israel, why couldn’t Jesus loose the agents of the devil to chasten and refine the churches? Or, do you just dismiss the admonishments to the seven churches and simply reward them for being the church?

    1. Hello again. I see you’ve taken up the defense for pre-wrath. I don’t want to get into a prolonged argument about it. Historically, I haven’t found such discussions to be fruitful. And, if I’ve misread your intentions, forgive me. But, I will reply to your questions.

      First off, go back and listen to the recording again. I did not say anything about “Satan’s wrath.” In the common pre-wrath vernacular, they call the first six seals “Antichrist’s wrath.” That’s what I said and that’s what I was responding to. Since the Antichrist is a person (though demonically inspired), I argued that God has used humans (even demonically-inspired ones) to accomplish His wrath. For that reason, among others, I see no reason not to consider the seals as God’s wrath. No Biblical author ever refers to them as anything other than that. And none of them ever refer to that time of trouble as “antichrist’s wrath.” I’m just being biblical.

      As for Revelation 12:12, I agree that Satan will be cast into the earth. It is a time of great woe. And he will exercise His wrath for a short time. How does that effect the church? I don’t believe it does, since (as I wrote previously) I cannot find anything in the Bible that would convince me that God turns His church over to Satan’s wrath.

      As far as parallels between my Old Testament examples and Jesus’ admonitions to His church, if such parallels exist no one in the Bible ever mentions them. So, I don’t know how much bearing they have on the current discussion.

      As for Revelation 3:5, this is one of my pet-peeves. Jesus said something very positive “I will never blot his name out of the book of life.” And people have turned that statement into a negative. He never said that one of the consequences for not repenting is being removed from the Lamb’s book of life. Nothing of the sort. What He DID say was a confirmation that those who overcame would NOT be taken from the book of life. That’s a statement of security. But, somehow people think that since He said He definitely would not, that must mean He can, and that means we can be lost after we’ve been saved. I disagree entirely. For God to erase any name that was written before the foundation of the world would be for Him to admit that He made a mistake putting it in there in the first place. He would not be sovereign and He would be prone to error. But, nothing in Bible supports such a conclusion.

      So, what must they overcome? Since this was written to a church that existed 2000 years ago, I think we’re safe in concluding that Jesus was not telling them to overcome the “wrath of Satan,” “antichrist’s wrath,” or any such thing. They were under persecution. And if they continued steadfast until the end of their lives, remaining in the faith and confidence in our Lord, then He would remain faithful in keeping them, preserving them, and never taking them out of the book of life.

      So, “why couldn’t Jesus loose the agents of the devil to chasten and refine the churches?” He can, I suppose. He can do anything He wants with what belongs to Him. The trouble with that hypothetical question is that I just don’t find sufficient evidence in the Bible that it’s true. Instead, we find assurances of security, hope, and peace with God because of Christ’s finished work. Jesus is referred to (via His Holy Spirit) as the “stronger man” who takes up residence in His people and secures them. Or, as John puts it “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1John 5:18).

      So, overall, I find the assumptions, language, and conclusions of the pre-wrath position to be inconsistent with the Bible and, once again, unconvincing.

      1. With respect to ,”Satan’s wrath” or “Antichrist’s wrath” or what have you, I invite folks to note the language of Ez. 38:17ff. Note we see Gog against Israel, yet the Lord saying it is He leading Gog by the nose in His fierce wrath.

        In fact, I would take it a step further and conjecture the Seals may be the Gog Magog war and fallout itself. I blogged about it myself and noted reasons.

  6. Pastor McClarty,
    Thanks for your reply.
    I had a stroke very similar to your experience, while sitting at my computer and suddenly thinking my mouse was becoming independent of my commands.
    I hope you recover from your respiratory ailments and take care not insisting there is nothing wrong. :0)
    My prayers are for you and your continued health and ministry. You’ve been a blessing.

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