Posttribulationism Today Part VIII: The Comforting Hope of 1 Thessalonians 4 -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 133:532 (Oct 1976)
Article: Posttribulationism Today Part VIII: The Comforting Hope of 1 Thessalonians 4
Author: John F. Walvoord


Posttribulationism Today
Part VIII:
The Comforting Hope of 1 Thessalonians 4

John F. Walvoord

[President and Professor of Systematic Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary, Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra.]

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This series, begun in Bibliotheca Sacra with the January-March, 1975 issue, is now published in book form under the title The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976). This article is adapted from chapter 8 in the book. The series will continue through 1977.]

Although the rapture of the church was introduced by Christ the night before His crucifixion, as recorded in John 14:1–3, the details of the rapture were not revealed in Scripture until 1 Thessalonians was written. It is not too much to say that 1 Thessalonians 4–5 is probably the most important passage dealing with the rapture in the New Testament. Additional passages are 1 Corinthians 15:51–58 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12; but more detail is given in 1 Thessalonians 4 than in any other passage.

Probably more pretribulationists base their conclusion for a pretribulational rapture on 1 Thessalonians 4 than on any other single passage of Scripture. By contrast, evidence indicates that posttribulationists find little of a positive character to help them in the details of this revelation. It would seem natural, if the great tribulation actually intervened before the rapture could be fulfilled, that this would have been a good place to put the whole matter into proper perspective, as Christ did in Matthew 24 in His description of the events leading up to His second coming.

The Problem Of Death In Relation To The Rapture

It should be borne in mind as this central passage on the rapture is discussed that the Thessalonian Christians had had only a few

weeks of doctrinal instruction before Paul, Silas, and Timothy left them. It is amazing that their instruction included such doctrines as election (1:4), the Holy Spirit (1:5–6; 4:8; 5:19), conversion (1:9), assurance of salvation (1:5), sanctificati...

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