Ice offers 13 examples of differences between the rapture and second coming. We’ll take them in the same order.
1. Translation of all believers vs. No translation at all
It is already obvious that Ice is relying solely on an argument from silence. He has identified 1 Thessalonains 4 as the “rapture” which specifically mentions the “translation” or “catching up” of believers. His point is that none of the passages he has identified as posttribulation include this detail.
Ice’s argument is quite selective, picking only the “translation” (catching up) aspect. There is nothing here that is mutually exclusive with posttribulation passages. Therefore, Ice has proven nothing at all, except that he is using a faulty and selective criterion for judging these passages, and is ignoring the application of the same principle to other passages that prove the criteria he is employing completely wrong.
Furthermore, we have a clear passage that Ice would agree is posttribulation, which does indeed refer to the catching up of the saints after the tribulation. Matthew 24:29-31 and the parallel passage in Mark 13 state that “immediately after the tribulation” Jesus will come in the clouds of heaven, send forth His angles by blowing a trumpet, and they will “gather together His elect” from both earth and heaven. How does Dr. Ice suppose the angels will gather the Elect from the four corners of the earth in Matthew 24? Unless this is done by air, the only alternative is for the angels to apply for passports and take ships, busses, trains, and automobiles. So, while Matthew 24:29-31 does not explicitly state
HOW the angels will gather Jesus’ elect, it is strongly implied that it will be by “catching up” (harpazo) just as 1 Thess. 4 mentions explicitly. So the one feature Ice has picked to distinguish his pretribulation rapture from the second coming is implicitly taught in a clear posttribulation passage! Also, there is nothing in 1 Thess. 4’s “catching up” that would exclude it being accomplished by the angels at Christ’s signal using the “trump of God.” This scenario is perfectly compatible with Matt. 24:29-31 as well as 1 Thess. 4. In fact, when comparing Matt. 24:29-31 to 1 Thess. 4:13-18, one cannot help but be struck by the apparent reliance of Paul on the words of Christ. There are quite a few details in common in both passages. Jesus spoke of His “coming in the clouds.” So did Paul. Jesus spoke of the “trumpet.” So did Paul. Jesus spoke of the angels. Paul mentioned at least Michael. Jesus spoke of the gathering of the elect. So did Paul. It is hard to believe that the Thessalonian recipients of Paul’s letter would fail to notice this connection!
2. Translated saints go to heaven Vs. Translated saints return to earth
Here, Ice assumes what he is trying to prove. Where in any text of Scripture does it say that translated saints go to heaven? That is something Ice has merely assumed without providing any biblical proof. Surely, his “rapture” text in 1 Thessalonians 4 does not suggest this. The saints are caught up into the “air,” from then on to “ever be with the Lord.” Where they go from their meeting place in the clouds is wholly dependent on where the Lord goes from there. This text does not say. This is clearly an attempt at using the “mutual exclusivity” argument. But, before such an argument can have any weight, Ice must first produce the passages (rightly interpreted) that state believers are destined for heaven after the “translation.” He has not done so, nor can he do so. One cannot seriously argue that the facts are mutually exclusive if he has fabricated the facts! Therefore, once again, Ice has proven nothing.
3. Earth not judged vs. Earth judged & righteousness established
Here, Ice again argues from silence. The passages he has identified as “rapture” passages do not mention the earth being judged at the coming of Christ for which the Thessalonians were waiting. Or do they? The one passage Ice and other pretribulationists rely most heavily on as being exclusively a “rapture” passage, is 1 Thess. 4:13-18. But, Paul did not stop speaking about the rapture in verse 18, but continued into chapter 5. Paul stated plainly that “sudden destruction” will overtake those who are not “watching” for this coming of Christ (which Ice has identified as the “rapture”). It will occur “as a thief in the night” (unexpectedly) for unbelievers, who will be met with “sudden destruction.”
But, because true believers will be watching, we will not be caught by surprise. “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thess. 5:4). The same coming of Christ, just mentioned in chapter 4, will devastate the wicked with “sudden destruction.”While Ice might want to stretch “sudden destruction” out for seven years of plagues, the word “sudden” hardly permits such a stretch. It is quite clear that the same coming for which the Thessalonians were watching with anticipation would bring “sudden destruction” on the wicked. Ice’s own “rapture passage” defies his false dichotomy.
Likewise, when we examine 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10, we find that the coming of Christ, whereby He will provide “rest” from persecution for His suffering church, will occur “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thess. 1:7-10). This alleged distinction by Ice again fails because the very text he uses for his “rapture text” in context disproves his assertion that the wicked are not to be judged at the time of the rapture. We have provided at least two passages that link the rapture with the sudden destruction of the wicked.
4. Imminent, any-moment, sign less vs. Follows definite predicted signs including tribulation
This argument is similar to the # 3 above. Ice’s premise, that the Bible teaches the rapture is now “imminent,” is false. This is an attempt at using “mutual exclusivity.” If Ice could prove that the rapture is “imminent,” then his point would be valid. But, he has not done so, nor can he do so. We will deal in depth with the “imminence” claims in the next article in this series. Ice has once again set up a false dichotomy.
5. Not in the Old Testament vs. Predicted often in Old Testament
This is a circular argument, which is an illogical argument. Ice is asking us to assume what he is trying to prove — that the rapture and second coming are distinct events separated by a considerable period of time. But, if that assumption is false, and if there is only one coming of Christ yet future, then all of the Old Testament passages that speak of the coming of Christ refer to the same event. If Ice is suggesting that the “translation” of living believers is not specifically mentioned in these Old Testament passages, well, neither is it mentioned in 1 Cor. 15, as we have shown above! Neither is it mentioned in ANY OTHER passage that Ice would admit refers to the rapture! There is only one passage in the New Testament that explicitly refers to the “catching up” of the saints to the air (1 Thessalonians. 4:17). And there is one more that strongly implies it, but this passage is clearly posttribulation (Matt. 24:29-31). At best, Ice can ONLY claim that the actual “catching up” of the living is not mentioned in the Old Testament. But, other details of the rapture most definitely do find their counterparts in Old Testament prophecy, including both the trumpet blast (Isa. 27:13) and the resurrection of the saints (Dan. 12:1-2).
6. Believers only vs. Affects all men
These two things are not mutually exclusive. Paul states that the “dead in Christ” rise, and “we who are alive and remain” will be caught up. That means, only the saved are resurrected and caught up. Daniel does precisely the same thing in Dan. 12:1-3. Only SOME of those who sleep in the dust will come forth at the resurrection of the just. Should we argue then that Daniel’s resurrection is pretribulational because it affects only believers? If so, then we have an Old Testament passage that clearly speaks of the rapture, and Ice’s last point is refuted. But, if the fact that only the righteous are raised in Dan. 12 does not exclude this passage from linkage to the posttribulation coming, then neither does any other that speaks of the effect of the rapture only on believers. As we pointed out already, in the main “rapture” passage (1 Thess. 4), Paul went on to say in the following verses that those not watching will be on the receiving end of “sudden destruction.” And Paul was clearly still speaking of the SAME coming, because he warned believers to be watching for this coming (1 Thess. 5:1-9).
The same principle applies to 2 Thess. 1:4-10. It is the SAME COMING of Christ that provides relief from persecution for the saints and destruction of the wicked! At best, all Ice can really claim is that SOME passages that speak specifically of the rapture do not mention the effect of this coming on the wicked. But, since other passages do so, his argument is not valid. Nor would it be valid even if no other passages made this connection, because it is still an argument from silence.
7. Before the day of wrath vs. Concluding the day of wrath
The flaw in this argument is the same as #4. Ice has not proven his facts. How does he define the “Day of wrath?” He does not say. The Bible uses the term synonymously with the “Day of the Lord” (cf. Zeph. 1:14-15). Ice cannot produce from Scripture a coming of Christ BEFORE this “day of wrath.” It can be easily shown that the Day of the Lord is after the tribulation (the day of Christ’s coming) and is not identical to the tribulation. Zech. 14:7 indicates that the Day of the Lord has a “morning” and an “evening” just as the days of creation (which we accept as a literal 24 hour day for that reason). Creationists therefore must reject the idea that the “Day of the Lord” is an extended period of time. It also states that it is “one day.” Zeph. 2:4 also mentions that the Day of the Lord has a “noon.” Ice’s argument simply cannot be proven from Scripture, and is therefore invalid.
8. No reference to Satan vs. Satan bound”
This argument is another case of “arguing from silence,” and is easily disproved. There is only ONE passage that makes specific reference to Satan’s being bound in relation to Christ’s coming — Rev. 19-20. None of the other multitude of acknowledged posttribulation passages mention this detail. Are we to suppose that Rev. 19-20 is the ONLY passage in the Bible that refers to Christ’s posttribulation coming? No.
Then neither should we conclude that Satan is not bound immediately following the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4 (just as we must assume so in Matt. 24:29-31). And since 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 indicates plainly that our relief from persecution will come when Jesus comes to destroy the wicked, “with His mighty angels in flaming fire,” and since there is no question that this event is parallel to what we see in Rev. 19 — Christ’s coming with His angelic army to defeat the Beast and his armies — we are forced to conclude that the rapture occurs immediately prior to the binding of Satan mentioned in Rev. 20:1-3. Besides, according to Rev. 20, the binding of Satan occurs after Christ’s coming and not during it. We would not reasonably expect it to be mentioned in other passages that speak exclusively of His coming.
9. Christ comes for His own vs. Christ comes with His own
The “for” vs. “with” argument meets the same fate as the rest. Ice’s own “rapture passage” speaks of Christ’s coming both “for” and “with” His saints at the same coming. Paul wrote those who “sleep in Jesus will God bring WITH Him” when He descends from heaven FOR the living (1 Thess. 4:14). What Ice and other pretribulationists fail to see is the single second coming of Christ has two parts. In the first part, Christ descends from heaven with His angels and the souls of those who “sleep in Jesus.” This first descent is from heaven to the air, or just above the clouds. It is at this time He sounds the trumpet, raises the bodies of the dead saints, and catches up the living. All are assembled and “meet” Christ in the air. Then the whole multitude of risen and changed saints is displayed to the whole world in great glory against the backdrop of a darkened sun and moon, as they all descend with Him from the air to the Mount of Olives. In the posttribulation scenario, Christ comes WITH His saints who have died — the souls of those who “sleep in Jesus” accompanying His descent from heaven to the clouds above the earth.
After then sounding the trumpet, raising the dead believers, and dispatching the angels to “catch up” the living who remain, He descends with ALL His saints to the Mount of Olives. The same coming from heaven to the clouds is FOR “we who are alive and remain.” And it is WITH those who “sleep in Jesus.” Then all the saints will be revealed to the world in glory with Christ, and descend with Him to the Mount of Olives. Once again, Ice has established a false dichotomy which cannot be sustained with Scripture. All the details can be easily harmonized into a single account.
10. He comes in the air vs. He comes to the earth
This argument is really the same as the previous one. A two-step descent of the Lord explains both His coming to the air, and His coming to the earth. Christ’s stop in mid- air to gather together His living elect is merely for the purpose of transportation and collecting the bodies of the dead in Christ from all over the globe. Gathering all the elect from the remote places of the earth to a single location, where we will be revealed to the world in glory with Christ at His coming, is a necessary step. The “rapture” is simply an integral part of the second coming. Coming to the air and coming to the earth are not mutually exclusive, but are easily harmonized into a single event. Any descent to earth demands coming to the air first. It certainly does not demand a different coming, as Ice suggests.
1. Ice, Thomas, Pretribulation Perspectives Article, THE RAPTURE AND THE SECOND COMING: AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION. http://www.according2prophecy.org/rapsec.html