Making Sense of Premillennialism: When Will the Rapture and Tribulation Occur?

By Julie Roys
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With wars increasing, Islamic terrorism rising and the nation of Israel taking center stage, many Christian leaders believe we are living in the End Times. But, what does that mean?  How should we prepare? And, should we be bracing for persecution like the world has never seen — the Great Tribulation spoken of in Scripture?
This week on Up for Debate we’ll explore this hotly-debated question and search the Scriptures to see if it points to the rapture occurring before the Tribulation, or after it. Joining me will be Thomas Ice, who believes God will rapture Christians before the tribulation even starts. But, Alan Kurschner holds that Christians will endure part of the tribulation, but be raptured before God pours out His wrath.

Here are some terms to help you work through the complex topics of this week’s show:


Eschatology is the study of the end times. Much of eschatology focuses on Millennialism, the view that Christ will have a thousand-year reign, as mentioned in Revelation 20:1-6. Within millennialism are a number of different interpretations:

  • Amillennialists believe that the thousand-year reign is figurative, and represents the “whole period between Jesus’ resurrection and his return.”
  • Postmillennialists believe the thousand-year reign is a “golden age” that began when Christ ascended to heaven, and will be “ushered in by the church through the triumph of the gospel.” Christ will return at the end of the age.
  • Premillennialists believe that the thousand-year reign will follow Christ’s return, which will be accompanied by a 7-year period of tribulation and the rapture of believers — a “taking up” as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

Timing of the Rapture in Premillennialism

There are four major viewpoints on the timing of the rapture:

  • Pre-Tribulation Rapture — The rapture will occur before the tribulation. This is the viewpoint depicted in the “Left Behind” movie.
  • Mid-Tribulation Rapture — The rapture will occur at the mid-point of the tribulation.
  • Pre-Wrath Rapture — Christians will live through the tribulation, which will occur during the last 3.5 years of the 7-year period. The rapture will occur before God’s final judgment on the world, sometime during that period.
  • Post-Tribulation Rapture — Christians will live through the tribulation, and the rapture will occur at the conclusion. 
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28 thoughts on “Making Sense of Premillennialism: When Will the Rapture and Tribulation Occur?”

  1. I am so glad that you did this program with Alan Kurschner, I have read his book, Anti Christ before the day of the Lord. With all due respect, Dr. Ice is leading Christians down a very dangerous path, because they will not be prepared for what is coming. I believe the Pre Trib teachers will face a very harsh judgement from God for their false teaching. Sorry to be so blunt here. Luckily for me I was never taught a pre trib rapture, and my mind has not been fooled into thinking that I will escape!! Just about everyone that gets any air time about the rapture is Pre Trib, consequently, if you do not believe people treat you like you do not know God’s word properly!! They act like they are special because they think they know something you don’t and they are somehow better than you are!! This has been my personal experience. Luckily there are some teachers out there that tell it like it is. (If you teach a pretribulaion rapture and do not at least tell people about the other views and let them freely learn about them YOU ARE MORE WORRIED ABOUT YOUR REPUTATION than you are about the souls of the people you teach!!) Just to be fair, I tried to learn about the pre trib rapture, first, because so many people believe in that teaching. But everytime I would read the passages in the Bible that are suppose to talk about it. I had so many questions, that were never properly answered!! I really tried very hard to believe!! I really think that the Lord was putting those stumbling blocks there for a reason. It was only then that I decided to learn about the other views. Thank God, I have not read any of the best selling books, or seen the movie Left Behind that teach that people are going to escape when the bible clearly teaches the Falling away comes first and the Anti Christ is revealed. How could this verse be for the Jewish People, (They do not accept Christ) So how could they fall away from a faith they do not have yet???? I know they believe in God, but most of them do not believe in Jesus Christ. I am not a very good writer, so I hope I have gotten my point across. I feel very strongly about this, because, the majority of Christians are not prepared for what is coming. (Is the church ready for Jesus??) No they are not, because what they have been taught is wrong!!

  2. Good insight on N.T. Wright! I believe he has the most sound view on not finding anything in scripture that supports the modern day view of the “rapture”—youll be here on tuesday and then woops gone on thursday! Just look at every believer throughout history, there still here, awaiting the Resurrection. The gospels speak of, “One will be in bed and the other taken” refers to the siege of Jerusalem that Jesus predicted, and has now already been fulfilled. I believe that rapture teaching has done such great harm in the church by creating believers to culturally withdraw to an almost non cultural impact! We are not going anywhere! Why abolish the slave trade if were gonna get sucked out at any moment? Clearly believers of old did not have this bizarre end times out look. We have work to do now, right here. Remember the parable of the talents and who the master was most angry with? Answer, the guy who was all afraid, Fear still motivates and sells. Jesus talked about the Kingdom like a slow growing mustered plant that eventually takes over the whole garden. Key word slow. We are here to take ground for the Kingdom and plant a vineyard, not wait for the eject button! I know first hand how much growing up with a belief in the rapture harmed me as a child. So funny, if my parents where an hour late getting home when i was in grade school, guess what, yup you guessed it, they had been raptured and i was left! It continued to effect the way i saw the world and my place in it. Why do anything if we were leaving this sin sick world as an old burnt out vehicle? Thankfully the scriptures are much more rich than that and give us all a huge part to play in being co-workers with Christ in his thousand year reign, wow! Now thats exciting! We get to play a part in the new heavens and new earth. Praise The Lord! Happy plowing everyone, because why plow if you are not planning to reap??

  3. What a blessing it is that you allowed Alan to come on your show & give the Prewrath position, which I believe is pure biblical truth that makes sense with the plain reading of scripture. God bless you!

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