In our last post, here, http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2023/03/a-study-of-jesus-teachings-about.html, we explored what Jesus had to teach on the tribulation period in His sermon on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. We focused upon how His teaching advanced our understanding of the Bible's overall teaching on the tribulation at the end of this age. We also made some remarks on why the rapture of the church does not appear in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, while commenting that He does introduce the rapture in His later institution of the Lord's Supper in John 14:1-3.
As noted in a previous post, scholar Dr. Tim LaHaye has counted nearly fifty Old Testament passages and fifteen New Testament texts that refer to the Tribulation period. I recall reading of how other than Paul's letters to the Thessalonians, we see no other mention of the Tribulation period in the New Testament Epistles. This is very telling.
As the late John Walvoord once noted in a conference on the rapture and tribulation, the absence of mention of the tribulation period in the Epistles (save 1 and 2 Thessalonians of course) gives another argument for placing the rapture prior to the Tribulation period.
Thus what follows concerns Paul's teaching on the Tribulation in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. As will be discovered, the only reason He mentions this event is to contrast it with the rapture and to serve warning to those who may not yet be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul's teaching on the Rapture & Tribulation period.
I. The swiftness of God's wrath at the end of the tribulation will be avoided by believers 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
The Apostle Paul undoubtedly is using this phrase "day of the Lord" in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
So we have seen that the "Day of the Lord", which will include the entire Tribulation period, will come swiftly, at anytime. The Apostle Paul appears to be working backwards from the end of the seven-year tribulation period to its mid-point. Whenever you compare Paul's presentation of the tribulation period to that of Jesus' in Matthew 24-25, you discover that this section of 1 Thessalonians 5:4-9 corresponds to Matthew 24:21-41. In terms of what we noted earlier, Jesus refers to the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation period as "The Great Tribulation".
III. Solid encouragement to live for Jesus right now - 2 Thessalonians 2
So, we have seen how the tribulation period or "Day of the Lord" will begin swiftly, without preceding signs, in lines with the rapture of the church. We then looked at the severity of this future era as a warning to unbelievers about the need to trust in Christ in this current age of grace. But now, Paul is going to pivot to some final words of encouragement.
1. 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4 The increasing level of apostasy going on right now up until the Anti-Christ is first revealed at the beginning of the Tribulation.
2. 2 Thessalonians 2:5-11 The Spirit of God will remove His restraining influence and check on man's evil, and the Anti-Christ will have full liberty to increasingly and gradually exercise full dominion over this planet. One purpose of this period will be to judge unbelieving man's sin. A second main purpose for this period will be to prepare Israel for her coming Messiah at the end of this period. However, we gain a clear third purpose: destruction of Satan's man - the Anti-Christ.
The encouragement Paul gives to his readers is that because of Jesus' catching away of His Church just before the "Day of the Lord" or Tribulation period, the Christian will not have to endure all that will transpire in that seven period of time.
1. To say there will be seasons of trial or tribulations throughout the history of Christ's church or the individual lives of God's people cannot be disputed. In fact suffering and trials of all sorts is to be the norm for anyone wanting to be Godly in Christ Jesus. (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12) However the testimony of scripture bears out the fact that the Tribulation period (the whole seven year period of time spoken of in Daniel and elsewhere) is unique in terms of its intensity and character and thus merits its own unique study and understanding.