Any New-Testament allusion or mention of the rapture, if its timing is not indicated by the writer, is understood to coincide with the post-tribulation return because this is the only return all writers knew about. In other words, it was unnecessary for the New-Testament writers to specify at which point in the tribulation the rapture would occur because there were no pre-tribulation rapturists in those days to contend with.
Inadvertently, the apostles did at times expose their position sufficiently to reprove modern pre-tribulationists. One such instance occurs in 2 Thessalonians 2, where Paul connects the rapture with the only appearance of Jesus that he knew about, the one which destroys the anti-Christ:
"Now we ask you, brothers, about the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him... do not let anyone [including pre-tribulationists] deceive you in any way; because it will not occur unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed..."(2:1-3)
You can readily see Paul teaching that the gathering and the appearance would occur together, at the same time. There is nothing which surprises us about connecting the events in this way. And then Paul's mindset exposes itself yet more as he goes on, showing us that the Appearance is not pre-tribulational because the anti-Christ must come first. One wonders how pre-tribbers ignore this straight-forward fact as they read it.
Hey, Church, the anti-Christ must come before the rapturous gathering!
How did Paul know? Jesus said so (in Matthew 24:15-31), that the Abomination of Desolation will be seen by the Elect, and will act as a sign of the rapture's nearness.
Notice how the double event, the appearance-rapture, is said to occur on "the Day of the LORD," which is a post-tribulation affirmation all in itself simply because the Day of the LORD is a post-trib' event. And it's not by coincidence that the Appearance occurs on the Day of the LORD; the Day of the LORD will be the Day of the LORD because the Appearance initiates the Day of the LORD.
There are many scriptures which show Jesus appearing at the end of the anti-Christ's rule. For Jesus to appear near the beginning of, or during, the anti-Christ's rule, is impossible; Paul places the Appearance in the last day(s) of the anti-Christ's life, for Paul shows the anti-Christ being destroyed by that Appearance:
"And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the brilliance of his appearance" (v 8).
Shouldn't we also view the Gathering as a post-trib' event, since Paul in verse 1 connects it to the Appearance?
How do pre-tribbers wiggle out of this? You can depend on them to find a way! They always do, even if it means creating a new doctrine. One could argue that the anti-Christ is revealed before the tribulation altogether. And in order for the pre-tribber to do this, the Day of the LORD must be viewed as the entire tribulation period (i.e. the 70th Week), which is exactly what they teach, even though Joel 2:31 makes this an unacceptable option. But don't worry, they'll just twist Joel too! They can do that because they are God's special prophets!
Of course, there is no indication anywhere in the Bible exposing the revelation of the anti-Christ prior to the 70th Week. But that's not going to stop Hal Lindsey, who wrote:
"The Roman Dictator must be unveiled a short while before the actual beginning of Daniel's Seventieth Week, which also begins the Day of the Lord" (THE RAPTURE, BANTAM BOOKS, page 128).
This is quite a statement for one who goes to great lengths to teach otherwise, that the Church is not allowed to see any signs of Christ's pre-tribulation coming. Hal, you can't teach that the rapture is "at any moment," and then turn around and say there's nothing to worry about until the anti-Christ is revealed.
Hal uses an extra-Biblical argument to press his case, telling his readers that it's necessary for the anti-Christ to be revealed before the tribulation because time is needed to set up the "ten-nation European confederacy." "Ad hoc" is the word here! The Bible doesn't so much as tell us anything about the activities of the ten kings during the Week, let alone prior to the Week. What it does tell us is that the anti-Christ will have their support for an "hour" (i.e. Armageddon) to fight Christ.
We also know that the ten kings will hate the Harlot, wherefore if the Harlot represents the Revived Roman Empire (i.e. the European Union), as I and many others believe, then, obviously, the ten kings are not likely European kings. This supports my view that these ten kings are NOT the 10 minus 3 kings of Daniel 7 (more on that later, including the identity of the 10 minus 3).
"Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the brilliance of his parousia" (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
You don't need much time to figure out correctly which of the two arrivals is first in line. Obviously, the anti-Christ will be revealed before the "parousia" destroys him. "Parousia" is the Greek word for "visible appearance," often translated as "coming." We can now know for certain that whenever the apostles use the term "parousia" in relation to Christ's coming, they are referring to the brilliant, visible, post-trib' Appearance.
While it is difficult in the first place to use this term to describe the invisible coming that pre-tribbers envision, it is still more strenuous to place it at a pre-trib' time, especially as the apostles did not ever write/know about such an event. When Paul says, only 7 verses earlier, "Concerning his parousia and our being gathered to him..." the Gathering is thereby too-obviously tied into the bright, post-trib' Appearance. Anyone who assails this fact does not merely assail post-tribulationists.
When Jesus was warning us not to follow the false messiahs who would arise, he instead told us to wait for this brilliant coming in the clouds:
"For as the lightning comes forth from the east and shines unto the west, so will be the parousia of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:27).
Lest anyone should even attempt to argue that this brilliant and fearful Appearance is an invisible or secret pre-tribulation coming, it is exposed only two and three verses later as the arrival of the Son of Man upon the clouds "after the tribulation of those days" (Matt. 24:29-30).
As far as we can discern, all New-Testament writers viewed the Parousia as the return of Christ which would rapture us out of this present world. James wrote,
"Be long-suffering, therefore, brothers, until the parousia of the Lord" (James 5:7).
How could James tell us that we must patiently wait until the Parousia, occurring after the tribulation, unless we must also endure the entire tribulation? Peter, like Paul, connects the Parousia with the Appearance on the post-trib' Day of the LORD, and, like James, Peter stresses the need for his lambs to await on earth until the fearful "parousia":
"The Day of the LORD will come as a thief, in which the skies with rushing sound will pass away, and the burning elements will be dissolved...As everything will be dissolved, what sort of men does it require you to be in holy behavior and godliness as you await and speed up the parousia on the Day of God, on account of which the skies will be set on fire..." (2 Peter 3:10-12).
Armageddon will be a day of melting and fire, rushing wind and cloudy tempest. Not just the mountains and islands, but the sun and stars as well will disappear. Peter is referring to the same post-trib' cosmic event spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:29, but with Old-Testament script as an additional basis of his portrayal. The pre-tribbers argue that the Day of the LORD here must arrive before the 70th Week because the Parousia must occur by surprise..."as a thief." They therefore think that it's the Church which is slated to be taken by surprise. But if this were true, then Jesus would not have given the Church signs of his Parousia, for signs are given that we might not be taken by surprise.
And so how do the pre-tribbers get out of this? They'll find a way; they always do! Just make the Parousia a two-stage event, with phase one before the tribulation, and phase two after the tribulation. They don't need Biblical support, because they are the special prophets of God. But Paul writes:
"You yourselves accurately know that the Day of the LORD will come like a thief in the night...But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this Day should overtake you as a thief..." (1 Thessalonians 5:1, 4).
There you have more confirmation that the brothers were to wait until the Day of the LORD for ultimate salvation? Again, we see why it is so absolutely necessary for pre-tribbers to interpret that Day as the entire tribulation period. But how can the Day of the LORD arrive and settle over the world prior to the anti-Christ's reign of 3.5 years? Is it not understood through common sense alone that the Day of the LORD cannot arrive until the day that Christ destroys the anti-Christ, at which time only He sets up the Kingdom of the LORD on earth? The great tribulation is hardly the Day of the LORD, but the Day of Satan. God himself sanctions the final 1260 days as the Day of Satan.
Note that Paul confirms another common-sense point of view, that those who are slated to be taken by surprise like a thief in the night are those living in "darkness." That's not the Church, is it? Why don't pre-tribbers acknowledge this basic thing? Because they wear their pre-trib' glasses and are themselves walking in a degree of darkness.
"...we who are alive and remaining at the parousia of the Lord will by no means precede those who are have fallen asleep [died], because the Lord himself, with the vocal command of an the archangel, and with a trumpet of God, will descend from Heaven and the dead in Christ will be arisen first, and then we who are living and remaining shall be raptured together with them into the clouds to a meeting of the Lord in the air...But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you do not need to be written to, for you yourselves accurately know that the Day of the LORD comes as a thief in the night. Whenever they say, 'Peace and safety,' then sudden [imminent] destruction comes on them..." (1 Thessalonians 4:15- 5:3).
There you go. The surprise Visit by the Lord will occur with destruction on the ungodly tares...on those who are so unwatchful that they deem the day to be one of "peace and safety." And just what do we expect from the false prophets and teachers in the preceding tribulation period, but that they will preach peace and safety? And so the imminence of the Lord's Appearance is not slated for us who watch and please God...who live in the Light...but for those who scoff and persecute and carry out the evil lusts of their minds and bodies. So putrid will they become that they will not be permitted to continue populating the world with their sons and daughters.
There are three distinct events (in the above quote) all tied into one. That is, the Rapture is tied to the Parousia, and the Parousia is tied to the Day of the LORD. All that needs to be done, therefore, is to prove the post-trib' position of any one of the three. There can be nothing easier to do. In Revelation 16:14-16, it is a simple matter to see the rapture taking place in relation to Armageddon. For, in verse 14 we see the world's preparation for Armageddon, while in verse 16 we see Armageddon about to begin. And sandwiched between these two verses, Christ himself speaks, saying,
"Behold, I am coming like a thief..."
If Christ comes as a thief before the tribulation, why would he warn, "Behold, I come like a thief," just when Armageddon is about to begin? And does he not make it obvious that he will appear in relation to the 6th Bowl in which this warning is found? And is it not obvious also that the imminence (i.e. surprise) of His coming is yet in effect as late as that 6th Bowl, since he there uses the "thief" illustration? Yet pre-tribbers tell us over and over again ad nauseam that imminence cannot exist beyond the start of the 1260 days...because the events of the 1260 days will tip off the Church and thereby ruin the imminence.
Don't fail to connect the "trumpet of God" in Paul's quote with the seventh Trumpet of Revelation. The "vocal command of an archangel" should also be connected with the post-trib' uprising of the archangel Michael in Daniel:
"...Michael shall stand up [after the anti-Christ pitches his tents in Israel at the end of the tribulation period--see Daniel 11: 21-45]..., and at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the Book. And many of those sleeping in the earth's dust shall awake..." (Daniel 12:1-2).
When the pre-trib' writer tells you, therefore, that there really isn't any definite Biblical proof either way, pre- or post-, he's just trying to make the score look even because he recognizes, deep down, that post-tribulationism has more than a decisive edge when it comes to Scripture backing one position or the other.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
In chapter 20, we are shown the brutal killing of Christians by the anti-Christ:
"I saw...the souls of those who were beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God, and they did not worship the beast nor its image and did not receive the mark on their forehead or their hand, and they lived again and reigned with Christ a thousand years. This is the first resurrection.
If Christians are seen being killed by the beast, then they must be enduring the tribulation while that occurs. Now, if they are killed in the tribulation, their subsequent resurrection must occur some time after the period begins. Furthermore, because the resurrection of Christians who will live and die in the tribulation is called the "first resurrection," there could not by any means whatsoever be a resurrection prior to the tribulation. Since the rapture is undeniably fused to the resurrection of the Church, therefore, there can be no such thing as a pre-tribulation rapture. The Scripture quote above, then, is a strong case for the post-trib' resurrection/rapture.
How do pre-tribbers get out of this one? They claim that the first resurrection has more than one phase, having a phase at the start of the tribulation...a pre-trib' resurrection that is first-er than the post-trib' first resurrection!! Just as they split the end-time return of Christ into two phases without one scripture to back them up, so they split the first resurrection. But while the end-time return is never called the "first coming," here we do have the "first resurrection" so that those who modify the fact to their personal liking place themselves under the curse of Revelation wherein it warns that not one word should be altered.
Hal Lindsey wrote: "If the post-Tribulationists could prove that there is only one phase to the resurrection of life, and that it occurs at the [post-trib'] Second Coming, then they could make a strong case against pre- and mid-Tribulationism" (THE RAPTURE: Bantam Books; page 157).
IF WE COULD PROVE?! Talk about passing the dunce hat, Hal. The text doesn't imply phases, so why should we prove that they don't exist? Should the onus not be on pre-tribbers, therefore, who introduce and apply phases to this resurrection? We post-tribbers don't need to prove a thing, for the proof is right there in the pudding. Hal himself admits that the First Resurrection is emphatically presented as exclusively post-trib' in timing, so much so that the creation of phases is absolutely necessary to combat the fact. But instead of showing any justification from the text itself for the creation of phases, he places the burden on us to prove that they don't exist. I'm flabbergasted. Shame on you, Hal! Give your head a shake!!
Writes Hal: "If the rapture is separated by seven years from the Second Coming, as pre-Tribulationists contend, then there has to be at least one more phase in order to resurrect the Old Testament and Tribulation saints" (THE RAPTURE: page 157). Okay Hal...whatever you say. IF the moon is made of cheese, there just have to be cows up there.
Hal admits the "first resurrection" occurs at a post-trib' time in these following words: "Revelation 20:1-5 definitely places the resurrection of Tribulation saints after the Lord Jesus comes to earth, judges the anti-Christ..." (THE RAPTURE: page 157, 158). However, do you see how it is not the Church saints that in his mind will partake in that post-trib' resurrection, but, rather, whom he calls the "Tribulation saints." Since Christians are seen living and dying under the shadow of the anti-Christ, writers like he just stir up a cloud of smoke and, poof! Just change these Christians into a separate body called Tribulation Saints, and the Church disappears from the scene altogether.
I can be given to timidity as much as any pre-tribulationist. Bravery is a quality meted out by God, and not invested in me as a permanent or natural trait. As for endurance, I have as much difficulty enduring trials as anyone. My spurring the reader to express courage and endurance for the times ahead does not mean that I am a sure bet to make it faithfully through. I, too, must be tested, though I think that I will try as hard as I possibly can, never forgetting that I am worthy of worse than death, and that God is by far a prize worth dying for.
But if I say to myself, "Enjoy life now--have some fornication/adultery when the opportunity arises...experience Europe, Las Vegas...build me a shocking home...wear cloths and jewelry to impress and attract others to myself--and finally, when the tribulation arrives, I'll just refuse the mark and be saved"...well, you know, I'd be deceiving myself and giving myself to a dangerous and shameful peril.