3 Reasons I’m a Posttribulationist

I have been a posttribulationist now for 12 years.  Back then, I would not have seen such a transition from my pretribulationist past coming, but it happened.  I can say with all confidence that it happened because I was convinced from Scripture and not some fly-by-night T.V. personality or fanciful author.  I can also say with all assuredness it happened despite it being among the more infamous views in my own evangelical circle.

First,  I want to affirm the non-dogmatic status to which all mainline eschatological views should be viewed.  Whether we end up being pretribulation, midtribulation, posttribulation, premillennial, postmillennial, or amillennial, we should all be able to get along as long as we all affirm that Jesus Christ will literally return one day to deliver His people and judge those who have not trusted Jesus.

Second, I want to admit that not all 3 of my reasons for being a posttribulationist carry equal weight.  Some may be stronger than others, but I believe each one is rooted in Scripture.

Without further ado, I am a postribulationist because . . .

1)  It is the most contextual view:  This means that posttribulation better allows individual texts and even entire books to speak for themselves without bringing in undue baggage from other texts.  This is especially true regarding Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and 1 & 2 Thessalonians.  For example, let’s take a look at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-10  Now concerning  the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.  2 For you yourselves are fully aware that  the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then  sudden destruction will come upon them  as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  4 But you  are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.  5 For you are all  children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.  6 So then  let us not sleep, as others do, but let us  keep awake and  be sober.  7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk,  are drunk at night.  8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober,  having put on the breastplate of  faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.  9 For God has not destined us for  wrath, but  to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. (ESV)

Based on the context of these verses, we see that the topic is the Second Coming of Christ because it speaks of destruction coming upon unbelievers (v.3).  So whether pre-trib or post-trib, all should be agreed.  But not only will unbelievers be present on the Day of the Lord, but the Church will be too.  According to Paul, the Thessalonians will not be surprised by “that day” (v.4).  It is not that the Rapture occurs some 3.5 or 7 years before “that day” because Paul is certainly calling the Thessalonains to be vigilant (vv.5-8).  If the Thessalonians are going to be in heaven with Jesus, why would Paul even mention this?  Why would he call them to be vigilant and discerning about the times?

2)  It is the least complicated view:  Even a pretribulationists must admit that the posttribulation view is the simplest, especially if understood from an amillennial perspective.  Occam’s razor proves often true:  The simplest solution is often the correct one.  Even in the 1 Thessalonians 5 passage above we see this to be true.  A posttribulationist reads these verses and simply concludes: Jesus is coming back at a time unknown to believers and unbelievers, but it will occur on “the Day of the Lord,” a day on which unbelievers will be destroyed but believers will be delivered from God’s wrath.  No charts or timelines necessary.  No further complexity need be inserted.

3)  It is the most covenantal view:  Posttribulation maintains a closer relationship between God’s Old Testament people and God’s New Testament people, affirming that the Church is the New Testament fulfillment of all that we find in the Old Testament.  This means that the New Testament Church is made up of both Old and New Testament believers, and there should be no separation within God’s people along nationalistic or genealogical lines.  And this does not amount to “replacement theology” in which some would say that the Church has replaced Old Testament Israel.  Rather, I would term it “fulfillment theology” (Rom. 2:28-29).  While greater multitudes of Jews may believe on Jesus as the latter days draw nearer (Rom. 11), this does not automatically necessitate a literal “time of the Jews” in which the Church is missing.  After all, to be a follower of Jesus means you are a part of His body, the Church.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Jeremy Vanatta

1 Thessalonians 5, fulfillment theology, posttribulation, pretribulation, Rapture, replacement theology, Second Coming

Comments (4)

  • Jeremy, it’s great to be back at The Threshing Floor!

    As you may know I’m a posttribber too! You point to some really great stuff here. First, great job helping us with theological triage. I agree that the second coming of Jesus is the primary doctrine and that the doctrine of the timing of the rapture is a lesser one.

    Second, you state that your three reasons don’t carry the same weight. I’m assuming that from weightiest to least would be point 1,then 3, then 2. Is that correct?

    Third, the idea of “fulfillment theology” is very important. God does not have two peoples (Israel & the Church), but one people called the Israel of God, consisting of every believer in the Messiah/Christ from the Garden to the 2nd coming of Christ. We have been grafted in to Israel.

    I’ve written twice on this at my blog. One looked at whether or not the doctrine of pretribulational rapture is fully biblical: http://westmainbaptist.com/broben/when-will-the-rapture-happen. I determine from Scripture that it’s not. Another simply looked at the popular evangelistic appeal based upon the doctrine of pretribulational rapture that we should not want to be left behind. I explore the “left behind” texts to see if this appeal is based on Scripture: http://westmainbaptist.com/broben/i-hope-youre-left-behind. I conclude from Scripture that we actually should want to be the ones left behind.


  • Good to be back! I have been way too preoccuipied in recent days to write, but God has increased my time of late!

    Yes, I would put them in order of weight 1, 3, 2. At the time of writing, frankly, I put them in random order.

    I agree that the pretribulational view is less rooted in Scripture to be sure, primarily because it is the least contextual approach and the most presuppositional. I also agree that one should seriously reconsider the “who” of those going to be “left behind”: “as in the days of Noah…”

    Another text in context that is crucial but is a seldom-mentioned trilogy of phrases is John 6 in which Jesus tells His disciples (THE FIRST NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH MEMBERS)that He will raise up all believing ones, when?–“on the last day”:

    John 6:38-40,43-44–“‘For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.'” . . . 43 “Jesus answered them, ‘Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.'” (ESV)

    Interestingly, the Greek phrase in verse 40,ἵνα πᾶς…ὁ πιστεύων , is identical to the phrase in John 3:16, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων (“whosoever believes” or more literally, “all of the believing ones”). Therefore, the resurrection of believers’ dead bodies and the Rapture of believers’ living bodies will occur on the last day, which is the same day that unbelievers will be destroyed (1 Thess. 5:3).

    Thanks for your comments,

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