As we continue sorting out the pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine and what the scriptures say, one argument that comes up over and over is the pretribulation believer advocates say that 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 shows that the end times are being held back by a “Restrainer” and that the Spirit Filled Church, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit is that restrainer which prevents evil and the Antichrist from being revealed. They contend that the Church must therefore be removed before the tribulation can even begin.
What do the scriptures actually say. I am sharing this dialog with you as I have shared it with so many. Maybe it will help. First a verse by verse on 2 Thes 2
2TH 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
So the subject is our being gathered together with Jesus, the Rapture of the believers, and Paul right off connects it with the Coming of the Lord, which is the second coming not a secret event.
 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Paul is telling them not to be worried by mistakenly thinking that the gathering / rapture is imminent. It can’t be time for his return and our gathering to him ! Next he explains to them WHY it could not be the time. There were two important things that must happen BEFORE the Church is gathered to the Lord.
 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Two things that MUST take place BEFORE we are gathered to the Lord, the Apostasy and the Antichrist is revealed. He says “That day shall not come except (until first)
 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.  Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
So in verses 4 and 5 Paul describes the attributes of the Antichrist and connects it to Daniels prophecy that says this AntiChrist will sit in God’s Temple and claim to be God.
And Paul reminds them that he had already told them this before. In Verse 6 Paul tells them that the two things that come before the gathering together, the Apostasy and the revealing of Antichrist are being held back for a time.
But Paul has already told them in an earlier time about this and says they know already what holds back, but we don’t know what they knew. And Paul does not tell us what is holding these events back. But we are absolutely assured that it is NOT the CHURCH because the thing that holds back has to be taken out of the way, so that the Apostasy can come to fullness and the Antichrist is revealed, which both have to happen BEFORE the Rapture.
 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
So eventually, at just the right time, that which holds things up will let it go. And then when that withholding one allows things to continue. Then the two events that come before the gathering together, the Apostasy and the revealing of Antichrist, will take place. Then and only after those things, we will be gathered / raptured.
The mystery of sinfulness was already active in Paul’s time, but still held in check. We are still in that holding pattern. When the restrainer is removed, THEN the Apostasy will come full and Antichrist will be revealed. And after those things we are gathered to be with the Lord, just as Paul said from the beginning in verse1-3.
In the time of the flood God held back judgment until the full number of those who were to be saved were the only ones left, a total of 8 persons. Perhaps God is today waiting for all those alive to make their choice and get down to the point that all who are going to be saved have been saved just as in the days of the Flood.
 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Paul is saying don’t be worried that the Lord might come at any moment and your loved ones are not saved yet. Because He isn’t coming just yet. Because there must first be a great Apostasy and the Antichrist comes to power. Then AFTER those things, The Lord comes and gathers us together.
The other thing to keep in mind is that this is all in what we call chapter 2 of the epistle. But if we go back to the beginning of the letter Paul has already told them as an encouragement that the Lord will come for them all. Only this will occur at the second coming, and that Paul himself will also enter into Gods REST, the reward of Heaven, when all the faithful are gathered together. Not in a secret snatching away.
Paul says the rapture / the REST of God is at the second coming in an open display as the Lord is Glorified in the saints,(who are still one earth when He comes) and with great signs, flaming fire to put an end to Antichrist.
2 Thes 1:  So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:  Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;  And to you who are troubled REST WITH US, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;  When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Paul does not teach us about a secret removal of the believers before the tribulation. He teaches it just the same as Yeshua did.
MT 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
My pretrib- brothers usually say in response to this that Paul was given a revelation to present that Yeshua didn’t himself reveal. It was a “mystery” only revealed through Paul, and that is the pretrib Rapture and they refer you to 1 Cor 15.
 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The Mystery is not a pretrib Rapture! The mystery was that those who were alive would not have to first suffer death before receiving their glorified eternal bodies. Before this revelation was given it was thought that the resurrection was the time of change for all, and that one must be dead before you could be resurrected.
But here Paul is showing them a new thing, that the living in Christ in that day, the day of Christ’s return and the resurrection, will also be changed. He says “We will not all sleep (die) but we shall all be changed, (into the glorified body).” And again Paul places this transformation at the time of Christ’s return, at the last trumpet.
And the truth is this was not a totally new revelation made through Paul. It may not have been widely understood but it was also taught by Yeshua to His Disciples, and is recorded in the Gospel of John Chapter 11. This is the Story of Lazar’s death, the brother to Mary and Martha. Here is the exchange at the grave site between Yeshua and Martha.
 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.  Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.  Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
Those who have faith in Yeshua and Die will be raised up alive (when He comes), and whoever believes and is alive (When He Comes) will never die, they shall put on immortality. (v 25-26) You see Yeshua is addressing Martha’s statement speaking of the Resurrection at the Return of the Lord at the last day. Not in a pre-tribulation secret event.
Now Paul is bringing this same message to the Thessalonians that he also gave to those in Cornith.
1 Thes 4:  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Paul is connecting the Resurrection of the righteous dead and the rapture of the living believers at the same point in time, which is at the second coming. Verse 15 We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord.. . The Lord Resurrects the dead with a shout and the Trumpet and calls up also those who remain alive of those who are faithful. It is the same as Yeshua Himself discussed with Martha at the raising of Lazar.
Then our pretrib brother will try to say that the second coming is not the same event as the rapture of the church which happens secretly, usually quoting 1 Thes 5
1TH 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape
This in no way is a verification of a secret rapture. What Paul is telling them is that those who are not spiritual and who go about living the everyday lives in ignorance of the signs of the time, will be caught off guard as if robbed by a thief in the night. He is not speaking of the Church being raptured. He is speaking about the sudden destruction that will befall those who are not saved and were not prepared for Yeshuas return.
Yeshua himself spoke of this same issue and sudden destruction came upon those who did not believe God in the time of Noah and the Flood.
MT 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,  And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
This is taken by some to be a hint at the secret Rapture, “Two in the field one taken and the other left“, but that misses the entire point of what Yeshua is talking about. Which is the sudden destruction that falls upon those who do not know God. Those who are taken here are not the saved being taken to heaven, it is the unrighteous who are taken away to destruction and loss just as those who were taken away by the flood.
And as He continues he tells us that we are to be diligent and watching so that we are NOT taken by surprise as the foolish unbelievers. He warns us to be faithfully doing his will when he comes so that we are not caught off guard. We are to be faithful servants.
MT 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.  But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.  Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.  Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.  But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;  And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;  The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,  And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
My friends the pretribulation Rapture doctrine has the smell of sulfur on it. It is an elitist self righteous lie that divides the body of Messiah once more into a separate and different dispensation. It is a lie unsupported by any scripture and leaves the church unprepared for what it will surly endure in the last days according to our God’s own testimony. It passes the terrible events of the tribulation on to those who did not believe in the pretrib-rapture and therefore not entitled to it, and to the Jews and any who are saved after the Rapture of the church, leaving them without hope and without salvation.
This is not what the Lord or the disciple taught. It is not what the prophets of God showed us. It is a man made doctrine and my advice is if you are in a church that teaches this doctrine, GET OUT, RUN! RUN for your lives! And get your head back in God’s word. Fast and Pray until God gives you an answer! We live in Perilous times. The enemy is in the Church house spewing lies.
GET OUT of THERE! Find GOD and ask Him to speak the truth to your heart!
"When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness." -Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Jewish adventures in the diaspora.
Scripture, ethics and spiritual formation