By James F. Stitzinger
The Master’s Seminary Journal, Vol.13:2 (2002)
Abstract: The coming of God’s Messiah deserves closer attention than it has often received. The future coming of the Messiah, called the “rapture,” is imminent, literal and visible, for all church saints, before the hour of testing, premillennial, and, based on a literal hermeneutic, distinguishes between Israel and the church. The early church fathers’ views advocated a sort of imminent intra- or post-tribulationism in connection with their premillennial teaching. With a few exceptions, the Medieval church writers said little about a future millennium and a future rapture. Reformation leaders had little to say about prophetic portions of Scripture, but did comment on the imminency of Christ’s return. The modern period of church history saw a return to the early church’s premillennial teaching and a pretribulational rapture in the writings of Gill and Edwards, and m ore particularly in the works of J. N. Darby. After Darby, pretribulationism spread rapidly in both Great Britain and the United States. A resurgence of posttribulationism came after 1952, accompanied by strong opposition to pretribulationism, but a renewed support of pretribulationism has arisen in the recent past. Five premillennial views of the rapture include two major views— pretribulationism and posttribulation-ism—and three minor views—partial, midtribulational, and pre-wrath rapturism.