Eschatology Theology

Christ’s Return and the Rapture

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ today on December 25 I want to share a few thoughts about the future return of Christ that could occur at any moment.

I am a dispensationalist who believes in the pretribulational rapture and premillennial reign of Christ. Yet, I hold these views lite and loose. They are not points worth arguing and causing disunity within the body of believers. Lots of people smarter than me hold contrary views and I respect those who do.

Often we hear people say, “Christ could come at any moment” or “I’m ready for Christ to come back.” Yet, what does that mean about our beliefs about Christ’s return and the end times? Doesn’t the book of Revelation describe seven years of tribulation of plagues, sores, earthquakes, hail, fires, and other events that indicate judgement which all occur before Christ returns in Rev 19:11?

While there are various views on the return of Christ, here are six reasons I believe Christ will return for his people before the seven years of tribulation begins.

Christ Return and the Rapture

Photo Credit: “Waiting for the Word”

I. THE CHURCH IS ABSENT IN REVELATION 4-19[ref]These reasons for the pre-trib rapture is adapted from Mark Hitchcock’s book, The Endwhich is a great reference book for end-times events.[/ref] 

First, the church seems to be absent from the narrative of Rev 4-19. The Greek word for church, ἐκκλεσια, is used nineteen times in Rev 1-3, zero times in Rev 4-19, and one time in Rev 20-22. While it is not good to argue from an “absence of evidence” it does strike me that if the church was on the earth during the time of the Tribulation (Rev 4-19) there would be mentions of it. But, there are none in Rev 4-19. 

Eschatology Theology

A Summary of the Doctrine of Christ’s Return

Throughout my summary of Christian doctrine series this is perhaps my favorite study. Today I am providing a summary of the doctrine of Jesus’s return which is also known as “eschatology.” Like normal, I’m using the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith as a guide:

A Summary of the Doctrine of Christ Return
Photo Credit: Gustave Doré’s “The Last Judgment”

Christ’s Return. Article #9. We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.         


I believe in the pretribulational rapture of the church, seven literal years of Tribulation, and the literal premillennial reign of Christ on earth.

A. Pretribulational Repture

Bible Revelation

The Beast of the Sea (Rev 13:1-10)


A. Summary of Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 13:1-10

1Then I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads. On its ten horns were ten crowns and on its heads was a blasphemous name. 2The beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like a bear, his mouth was like the mouth of a lion. Then the dragon gave the beast his power, seat, and great authority.                     3One of its heads was slaughtered unto death, but the wound of death was healed. The whole earth was amazed after this happened to the beast. 4They worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast saying: Who is like the beast and who has power to wage war against him?                   5The beast was given proud words and blasphemies. Authority was given to him to work for forty-two months. 6He opened his mouth for blasphemies against God, to blasphemy God’s name and tent, namely those who dwell in heaven. 7The beast was given authority to make war against the saints and to overcome them. He was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. 8Everyone who lives on the earth will worship the beast. These are the people whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, which is where the Lamb was slaughtered.
9If anyone has an ear: listen!
10If anyone is on his way to captivity, to captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed by the sword, in the sword he will be killed.
On this occasion there is patience and faith from the saints. (Rev 13:1-10)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 text[/ref]

The Beast of the Sea (Rev 13:1-10)

Photo Credit: Bamberg Apocalypse

C. General Remarks about Rev 13:1-10

“Revelation 13:1-10 predicates a future world government that from God’s point of view will be a continuation of the ancient Roman Empire, expanded to cover not only the area of the ancient empire, but the entire world. This government will be empowered by Satan, and its primary objective will be forcing the whole world to worship Satan and his human representative, the world dictator.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 210-211)

“The evil trinity. This trio is made up of Satan, the first beast (the Antichrist), and the second beast (a false prophet), and is a counterfeit of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Satan is the key figure here. He empowers the other two (who are apparently human beings) to deceive and coerce the world into a willing worship of Satan. This is a trinity dedicated to destruction, not redemption. They do not serve men, but instead demand that men serve them. They do not die for humanity, but rather take lives when people will not obey their unholy commands.” (Larry Richards and Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary, 1083)

“Some estimate that, since the days of Adam, approximately one hundred billion human beings have been born. Over seven billion are alive today. However, the greatest human, apart from Jesus Himself, has yet to make his appearance upon our plant. The Bible predicts this satanic superman will splash onto the world scene and rule the world for the final 3 ½ years before the return of Christ. He plays a central role in the events of end times prophecy. More than one hundred passages of Scripture describe the origin, nationality, character, career, conquest, and doom of the final world ruler known as the Antichrist. Clearly God wants His people to know something about the coming price of darkness.” (Hitchcock, The End, 253)


A. The Head of the Beast of the Sea (v. 1)

Καὶ εἶδον ἐκ τῆς θαλάσσης θηρίον ἀναβαῖνον, ἔχον κέρατα δέκα καὶ κεφαλὰς ἑπτὰ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν κεράτων αὐτοῦ δέκα διαδήματα καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτοῦ ὀνόμα[τα] βλασφημίας.

Then I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads. On its ten horns were ten crowns and on its heads was a blasphemous name. (Rev 13:1)

1. Symbolic or Literal Sea?