Does 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 Exclude The Pretribulational Rapture? -- By: David A. Dean

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 168:670 (Apr 2011)
Article: Does 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 Exclude The Pretribulational Rapture?
Author: David A. Dean


Does 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 Exclude The Pretribulational Rapture?

David A. Dean

David A. Dean is Professor of Systematic Theology and Bible Exposition, Yan Fook Bible Institute, Hong Kong, Republic of China.

The apostle Paul had learned of a false report and the response of his Thessalonian brethren to that report. His reply in 2 Thessalonians addressed their concerns.

The thesis of this article may be expressed in the following five points, with points 1 through 3 expressing evidence that is already widely recognized and accepted by proponents of all views. First, Paul had instructed the Thessalonians on endtime chronology during his stay in Thessalonica before he wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and his teaching must have included the timing of the rapture with respect to the Second Coming as well as the events he mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. In his response in 2 Thessalonians 2 he assumed their familiarity with that teaching.1

Second, a false report of some sort, purportedly from or through Paul, had led the Thessalonians to believe that the endtime sequence had begun, and that they were already in the Day of the Lord (vv. 1-2).

Third, the Thessalonians’ problem was not that they had misunderstood Paul’s teaching on the endtime sequence or had failed

to learn it. Paul was confident that they had learned and understood it (vv. 5-6, 15).

Fourth, the false report was plausible enough to the Thessalonians to raise their concerns that it might be true, though they obviously saw some dissonance between their expectations, their experience, and the report. Whatever endtime sequence Paul had taught them, nothing in their immediate circumstances was sufficient to render the false report completely implausible.2

Fifth, Paul’s response in 2 Thessalonians contains sufficient information to correct the confusion of the Thessalonians. To suggest otherwise impugns the effectiveness and sufficiency of Scripture.

Because the fourth and fifth points have not been given sufficient attention in past discussions of 2 Thessalonians 2 and the timing of the rapture, this article examines these points and argues that only the pretribulational rapture view is compatible with the teaching of 2 Thessalonians 2.

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