1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and the Rapture -- By: Zane C. Hodges

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 06:4 (Oct 2000)
Article: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and the Rapture
Author: Zane C. Hodges

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and the Rapture1

Zane C. Hodges*

[*Editor's note: Zane Hodges earned an A.B. from Wheaton College and a Th.M. in New Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary. He was Professor of New Testament Greek at Dallas Seminary for twenty-seven years. He teaches, preaches, and serves on the pastoral staff at Victor Street Bible Chapel in Dallas. His many books, including The Gospel Under Siege are available through Redención Viva (214) 821–5357.]


A growing number of evangelicals question the doctrine of the Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church,2 claiming that the New Testament nowhere teaches it. Even proponents of the Pre-tribulation Rapture often defend it as if it results from a series of inferences drawn from scattered biblical texts. Or, they may cite a few isolated proof-texts (like Revelation 3:10). Unfortunately, few pre-tribulational expositors attempt to justify this doctrine by appealing to a coherent exegesis of an extended passage of Scripture.3 Yet, the apostle Paul directly teaches the Rapture of the Church as a deliverance before the Great Tribulation’s judgments in one such passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11.

The Epistle’s General Structure

The Key Passage

As he opens his first epistle to the Thessalonians, the apostle informs those believers that the story of their conversion meets him everywhere. It is well known how they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:9b–10).4

The last phrase of this statement (who delivers us from the wrath to come) reflects a participial construction in the original Greek that could easily be rendered: “who will deliver us from the wrath to come.” This kind of participial construction is inherently timeless, so any temporal implication must derive from the context or from the nature of the statement.5 In context, the participle presents Jesus as “our Deliverer from the wrath to come.” The NIV’s especially felicitous rendering of 1:10 is sufficiently clear: Jesus, who rescues us from the comin...

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