Question: Doesn’t the pretrib rapture contradict the parable of the weeds (Matthew 13:30)...? |

TBC Staff

Question: Doesn’t the pretrib rapture contradict the parable of the weeds (Matthew:13:30): “Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: collect the weeds and tie them into bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” Verse 39 also says “the harvest is at the end of the age” and the harvesters are angels. A pretrib rapture also removes the grain of Mark:4:26-29 before it is ripe as required in Ephesians:4:12-13.

Answer: First of all, in these parables it is not Christ rapturing His own up to heaven but the angels gathering both wicked and righteous. Nor is there a resurrection; but both the wicked and the righteous are alive upon earth. There is nothing about the judgment of those who have died. Furthermore, in both parables it is the wicked who are taken first.

The Rapture and resurrection must occur before the final gathering of the wicked from earth for Christ’s promise to be fulfilled that His disciples would reign on thrones over the twelve tribes of Israel (Lk 22:28-30). Revelation 19 records the marriage of Christ and His bride in heaven before He returns to rescue Israel in the midst of Armageddon and to destroy Antichrist and set up His kingdom. Obviously, the Rapture must have already occurred for Christ’s bride to be in heaven. She accompanies Him from heaven to earth to reign with Him (“they shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” - Rv 20:6).

In these parables, however, the wicked are destroyed first and then the righteous are gathered—and there is nothing about a resurrection. In contrast, the rapture passages either imply (as in Jn 14) or directly include the resurrection of believers (as in 1 Thes:4:16 and 1 Cor:15:52-57)—and there is nothing about the wicked being taken at all, much less first.

There is no question that both parables refer to “the end of the age.” This must be the end of the Millennium, during which multitudes of those whose hearts are evil have been allowed to live side by side with the righteous under Christ’s reign on earth from David’s throne in Jerusalem. It is only at the end of the thousand years when Satan is loosed that the wickedness of the hearts of those who are secretly opposed to the Lord is revealed, they follow Satan in an attack against Jerusalem and are all destroyed together (Rv 20:7-9). Then the righteous living on earth are brought into the eternal kingdom of the new heavens and new earth—over which His bride will continue to reign with Christ.

Ephesians:4:12-13 has nothing to do with either parable, with the Rapture or the judgment at the end of the Millennium. The subject in verses 11-32 is “the edifying of the body of Christ” here in this life.

Perfection is not realized until we arrive in heaven itself. So when Paul says, “Till we all come...unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” he is clearly speaking of the post-resurrection and glorified state of believers in heaven. He is not suggesting that the church must achieve this perfection on earth before the Rapture in order to qualify to be taken to heaven. There is no hint in Ephesians:4:12-13 or elsewhere in Scripture that the Rapture cannot occur until the “grain of Mark:4:26-29...[becomes] ripe” as you suggest. The passage in Mark could better be applied to evangelism àpropos of the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 and Paul’s expression: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Cor:3:6).

The idea that the church must be perfected on earth is false for several reasons. The fact that the longed-for perfection does not come until the resurrection—when Christ will “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Phil:3:20)—is clear from this and many other passages (1 Cor:15:51-57; 1 Jn:3:2; Heb:9:28, etc.). If we must be purified and perfected here on earth, when are those already in heaven through death perfected? Obviously, they and we who are caught up “together with meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thes:4:17) at the resurrection/Rapture will all be perfected through the transformation of our vile bodies at that time and at the “judgment seat of Christ” before which we “must all appear” (2 Cor:5:10) for the judgment of our works (1 Cor:3:12-15).