Question: Is There Anything Which Must Take Place Before The Rapture Of The Church Occurs?
Answer: This is an often-asked question. Should we expect to see any visible sign before the rapture of the church takes place? Or can the rapture occur at any moment without a sign? What does the Bible say about this topic?

The Pre-Tribulation Position: The Rapture Is A Signless Event

If the rapture of the church will happen before the great tribulation, as the Pre-Tribulation rapture position holds, then there are no signs before it must occur. Thus, it could happen at any time. The rapture is the next predicted event which will take place before the final countdown to the seven-year period leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Nothing must occur on the prophetic calendar before the catching up of the church into heaven. In other words, Christ could come for us today!

This is why we must be constantly watching and waiting because none of us knows the exact moment in which it will occur.

All Other Views: There Will Be Many Signs

Those which do not accept the Pre-Tribulation rapture position believe that there will be signs preceding this event. Indeed, every other theory of the rapture holds that a number of years must pass before the church is caught up to meet the Lord in the air. We can make the following observations.

Mid-Tribulationism: Three And One Half Years Of Signs

The Mid-Tribulation rapture position says the rapture of the church will be at least three and one half years away. Believers must endure the first three and one half years of the final seven-year period, the seventieth week of Daniel. Jesus Christ then comes for His church midway through the last seven year period. Consequently, we should not look for His coming at “any moment.”

Pre-Wrath Rapture: Five And One Half Years Of Signs

The Pre-Wrath rapture states that the rapture cannot occur for at least five and one half years. It is not until the seventieth week of Daniel, the final seven years, is three quarters over that the New Testament church, the Christians, will be taken out of the world. Before that time, believers will see a number of end-time events which are predicted in Scripture.

Post-Tribulationism: Seven Years Of Signs

Finally, the Post-Tribulation view says it will be at least seven years before the Lord Jesus comes for the church. All of the events of this great tribulation period will take place while the church is on the earth.

Consequently, before the Lord returns for the Christians the world must experience the coming of the man of sin, the final Antichrist, and the various dreadful events which will follow his coming. This includes persecution and martyrdom of believers on a huge scale.

These are the events which must take place before the church is removed from the earth according to all the main rapture views except the Pre-Tribulation position. Only the Pre-Trib view says the rapture can occur at any time and we strongly believe that this is the view that best fits “all the evidence.”

Summary To Question 20 Is There Anything Which Must Take Place Before The Rapture Of The Church Occurs?

The Bible teaches that the rapture of the church will occur at some time in the future. The question comes up as to whether there are any signs we are to look for before this event takes place. Christians are divided on this issue.

Those of us who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture believe that the rapture of the church is a signless event. In other words, no predicted event necessarily needs to take place before it occurs. Thus, it could occur at any time. The blessed hope is that believers could be caught up at “any moment” to meet the Lord. This is what the Scriptures teach with respect to the rapture. Consequently, Christians always need to be ready to meet their Lord!

All of the other theories of the timing of the rapture, mid-tribulation view, pre-wrath, and post-tribulation theory, have some type of interval between the beginning of the Great Tribulation and the rapture of the church. Mid-tribulationism says there will be three and one half years, pre-wrath, at least five and one half years, and post-tribulationism, seven years.

Therefore, a number of things would have to happen before the church, the true believers in Jesus, could be removed from the world. This includes the rise of the man of sin, the antichrist, war on a global scale, and horrific persecution of believers which will lead to untold suffering and death. These theories do not find believers escaping any of these horrors.

Thus, there are many signs, or events, which of necessity must take place before Christ returns according to all theories of the timing of the rapture except the pre-tribulation view.

This question comes from my book “The Rapture” See product page about how to obtain it


Don Stewart is an internationally recognized Christian apologist and speaker. He graduated cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary and the International Seminar in Theology and Law in Strasbourg, France, as well as from Biola University. Don is also a best-selling and award-winning author/co-author of over seventy books. [ read more ]


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