The Time of the Gentiles & The Church
Dr. Chafer asserts the time of the Gentiles began with the Babylonian captivity. He argues that we cannot “ignore the overwhelming evidence in the Scriptures that the Church is not in Daniel’s 483 years or in any period of the Old Testament history. . . . no New Testament Scriptures necessitates the placing of the Church in that period . . . [which] is declared to be for the final judgments of God upon a God- and Christ-rejecting world. (emphasis mine).”[i] The Church began at Pentecost.
Some commentators posit that the age of the Gentiles was paused when the intercalary age started and will resume when the Church is taken out of the world. Others believe the Gentile age and the Church age run together like train tracks. When the Church is removed from earth, the age of the Gentiles will continue on until Christ second advent.
In Revelation 20 we read:
4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years (4-6).
There are multiple hypotheses on the rapture and when it occurs. Some believe it occurs at the end of the tribulation, some are mid-tribulationists, and some, like myself, are pre-tribulationists.
That said, there are defining differences between the rapture models that the believer should be aware of. We always need to attempt to interpret scripture as accurately as possible.
It needs to be understood that the since “rapture,” is the removal of the Church from the world only for believers of in the Church age. In other words, it is for those who have died during the Church age and those who are still alive. This occurs before the tribulation begins.
The Post-Tribulation Rapture Hypothesis
Classic post-tribulationists believe the rapture follows the tribulation and believers go up to meet Christ and return immediately with Him at the Second Coming. This scenario seems implausible and one must distort the scriptures to arrive at this conclusion.
Their reasoning is that because the Church has always had to endure persecution it has always been in the tribulation. There are several variations of post-tribulation, but we cannot cover all of them in this piece.
One argument against the post-trib hypothesis is there must be an interval for judgments at “the judgment seat of Christ,” bema in the Greek. This is the judgment of the deeds of the saints and the distribution of rewards (more on this later). Following that judgment is the marriage supper of the Lamb. Both are antecedent to the Christ’s returning to earth with His saints at the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:7-9).
The Mid-Tribulation Rapture Hypothesis
The mid-tribulationists basic reasoning maintains that the Church is raptured after the first 1260 days, but does not go through the Great Tribulation which they view as the real tribulation. Its adherents do affirm that the rapture and second advent are two separate events. Nonetheless dialectically there is no compelling texts that support this assertion.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Hypothesis
As Revelation 20 above tells us the first is at the end of the tribulation (v5). This first resurrection is for the martyred tribulation believers—those who came to Christ during the tribulation.
Nevertheless the instant, divine, removal of the Church, God’s people, has no parallel anywhere else in the Bible. It should be noted that the rapture is imminent. What that means is that it can happen at any moment. From a prophetic or apocalyptic viewpoint there is nothing else that must happen.
From the Latin origin of the word, something imminent “is always hanging overhead, is constantly ready to befall or overtake a person, is always close at hand.”[ii]
There is strong warrant for the imminence of the rapture in the New Testament scriptures. Let’s look at the flow of events that were required beginning with Christ’s death and leading to Christ coming for His Church found in John 14:1-3.
- First Jesus crucifixion and death
- Jesus literal, bodily resurrection
- Jesus ascension into heaven
- Jesus proclaimed he would come again to take us back with Him to “His Father’s house”
- He made these promises to His followers; the Church—not to the world
The key passage for the rapture is found in 1 Thss. 4:13-18:
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
To be Continued One More Time–It’s the End Time
Footnotes & End Notes:
 The term rapture, while not found in the Bible, comes from the Latin rapturo, a transliteration of the Greek word meaning “to be snatched up” or “caught up.”
 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
[i] Chafer, 364.
[ii] Renald Showers, Maranatha Our Lord Come! (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1995), 127.