Evidence for the Rapture: A Biblical Case for Pretribulationism. John Hart, editor. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2015. 276 pp. Paper, $19.99.
John Hart is a Professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute. He has taught at MBI for over thirty years. He is the editor of this work as well as one of its authors.
In addition to Hart, the authors include Robert Thomas, Michael Ridelnik, Andy Woods, Glenn Kreider, Nathan Holsteen, Michael Vanlaningham, Kevin Zuber, George Gunn, and Michael Svigel. My favorite chapter, Chapter 2, is worth the price of the book. That is Hart’s discussion of the Rapture in Matthew 24. Most Dispensationalists do not think that the Rapture is in Matthew 24.
Indeed, George Gunn in this very book says that there are only three passages in the NT which discuss the rapture in detail: John 14:1-3; 1 Cor 15:51-54; and 1 Thess 4:13-18 (pp. 99-100). Gunn does, however, suggest a fourth major rapture passage is Phil 3:20-21 (p. 101). Clearly he does not consider Matt 24:36-44 to be a rapture passage. That Hart allowed an implicit dig against his own view in this book he edits is a credit to him.
Hart makes a very compelling case, providing nine rock-solid proofs (pp. 51-65). And as one typically finds in Hart’s writings, he has lots of outstanding footnotes (72 footnotes which run over five pages long in small print, pp. 66-71).
I also really liked the first chapter, the one on imminence by Robert Thomas. While many Dispensationalists today believe that there are signs of the Rapture, Thomas makes a great case for the fact that there are no signs of the Rapture. He also does a great job of showing why various views of “imminence” are illogical and are really evasions of what imminence means (e.g., pp. 33-34).
The other eight chapters were helpful. Of those chapters I found the chapters by Holsteen (on apostasia in 2 Thess 2:2) and by Svigel (on Rev 12:5) as the most interesting and engaging.
Despite Gunn’s claim of only three or four NT passages which discuss the rapture in detail, the other authors in this book find scores of passages supposedly dealing with the rapture. While I am convinced that Matt 24:36-44 is a pre-trib rapture passage, I am open but not yet convinced that the rapture is found in 2 Thess 2:2, the seven letters of Revelation 2-3, and Rev 12:5. Some of the authors in this book may try a bit too hard to find the rapture in passages which really aren’t talking about it.
One final point that might interest JOTGES readers: Gunn in his discussion of John 14:1-3 cites Barbara Rossing as saying concerning 1 Thess 4:13-18, “Yes, to be sure, Paul says people will be snatched up in the air to meet Jesus, but it [sic] never says that Jesus turns around, switches direction and goes back up to heaven for seven years. They have to insert that. They have to make that up because it’s not in the text” (cited on p. 101, emphasis his). Gunn then responds, “In fact, with the exception of John 14, no major rapture passage (1 Cor. 15:51-54; Phil 3:20-21; 1 Thess 4:13-18) explicitly mentions the return to heaven. Only John 14 specifically describes the return to heaven as the final venue of the rapture event” (p. 101).
But does John 14:1-3 actually describe “the return to heaven”? Gunn thinks that passage does in the words, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). The third heaven is not specifically mentioned there. The point is that believers will be with Jesus and will be wherever He is.
Zane Hodges held the view that at the rapture believers meet Jesus in the air and that they spend seven years with the Lord there, in the atmosphere surrounding the earth (probably in a different time-space dimension). Then at the end of the seven years the believers, who were with Christ the entire seven years, now continue to earth with Him. They spend the 75 days between the end of the Tribulation and the start of the Millennium on earth with the Lord. They spend the Millennium on earth with the Lord. Then after the destruction of the heavens and the earth, they spend eternity with Him on the new earth. Hodges held the view that neither Jesus nor believers return to the third heaven after the rapture. Maybe a return to heaven does occur at that point. But John 14:1-3 doesn’t say that. Nor does 1 Thess 4:13-18; 5:1-11; 1 Cor 15:51-54; Phil 3:20-21; or Matt 24:36-44.
I recommend Evidence for the Rapture. The chapters by Hart and Thomas make it one of the best books on the Rapture available today.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society