A Case for the Pretribulation Rapture by Craig Blaising

The first view presented in Three Views on the Rapture is the Pretrib view.  Many know Craig Blaising from his work within Progressive Dispensationalism.  I must say that Blaising presents a better case for the pretrib view than I have ever read.  If, when I was studying the scriptures in search of the pretrib rapture, I had come across this presentation, I may have been persuaded that the view was at least plausible.  Instead, the pretribbers I talked to and notes that I read simply did not make a good case.

Blaising realizes, like most scholars now, that the battle is being fought over the nature and timing of the Day of the LORD.  He starts out recognizing the link between the rapture as described in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and the term “Day of the LORD” in I Thessalonians 5:2.  Already you can see that Blaising is not inserting a false dichotomy in the chronology of the passage.  Now Blaising has a case to prove concerning the nature of Daniel’s 70th week.  He asserts that the entire seven year period is the Day of the LORD which includes the great tribulation.  He goes back to Daniel to lay the foundation which he states makes the Day of the LORD to be an extended period of time (or complex event) which includes a future antichrist, tribulation, and God’s wrath.  Here is what he writes:

The picture of the “time of the end” in Daniel is built up and reinforced by repetition and overlapping elements placed into a common structure that has an identifiable chronology and basic narrative sequence. Generally, it is the time of the end, the time of wrath (8:17, 19; 11:36, 40; 12:7, 9). Specifically, it is “one seven” – a seven-year period, with special attention on the time from the middle of this seven-year period to the end (9:27), a duration also specified as “time, times and half a time” (7:25; 12:7), 1,290 days (12:11), and “later in the time of wrath” (8:19).

Blaising will build on this foundation as he turns to the Olivet Discourse and the Thessalonians epistles.  He points out the overall similarity in the language in the Olivet Discourse noting tribulation, wrath (which he gets from Luke 21:23), and even language suggesting there may be an antichrist in the phrase the abomination of desolation.  He makes a point to highlight Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 which most pretribbers do.  Since no man knows the day of the hour, this means that this seven year complex event known as the Day of the LORD will begin sometime in the future.  The conclusion is that the rapture will begin that seven year period.

Instead of dividing the Thessalonian epistles from the Olivet Discourse, Blaising embraces the idea that they are talking about the same coming of Christ.  This is new territory for pretribbers, as far as I know.  Blaising carries over the idea of a complex event to the Thessalonian epistles, still holding that the rapture is what begins this entire period.  He even goes to far as to say that “our being gathered together unto Him” in II Thessalonians 2:1 is the rapture.  He addresses the chronology of II Thessalonians 2, specifically the language which states that the coming and gathering will not occur until the man of sin is revealed.  Here Blaising’s argument gets weak.  He points to a questionable interpretation of the passage, and suggests that Paul is really pointing back to an earlier oral tradition or the first letter.  In this case, Blaising is assuming that they already knew about a pretrib rapture.  After all, he has just explained it from Daniel and the Olivet Discourse.

In moving to the book of Revelation, Blaising starts with the seals noting their similarity to the birth pangs as described in the Olivet Discourse.  For Blaising, this is further proof that the Day of the LORD is a complex event which includes many things.  When we arrive at the sixth seal, the Day of the LORD has already come because the living creatures have summoned these events at seals one through four commanding “Come”.  So the Day of the LORD is not portended at the sixth seal, but is acknowledged as what has come to be.  The conclusion is that the rapture must have occurred before any of these events since it occurs before the Day of the LORD.

An argument from silence, Revelation 3:10 (I will keep you from the hour of testing),  and dispensationalism (the distinction between Israel and the church) all are mentioned in somewhat abbreviated terms.  These issues are not foundational for Blaising’s position, which is sort of refreshing.  He does explain how these issues give pretrib credence and an overall coherence.  I will give high marks to how he interacts with preterism as he delves into the Olivet Discourse.  I feel he did a better job than the other two presenters in that aspect.  I was curious as to why he was making an issue out of how to dissect the passages that speak of events that were fulfilled in 70AD.  When I read Moo’s perspectives I realized why.

Summing up, I will say that this has been the most credible presentation of the pretrib position that I have ever read.  However, as the critiques will show, there is much to be desired as it stacks up against other views.  I wasn’t the only one who noticed the weakness in II Thessalonians 2.  I will post the critiques in another post.  Kudos to Blaising for presenting pretrib in such a way that it could be debated on a level playing field with Prewrath and Posttrib.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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