Question: What about the Tribulation saints? How do they get to heaven? Do they have their own rapture? |

TBC Staff

Question: What about the Tribulation saints? How do they get to heaven? Do they have their own rapture?

Response: If not all, then nearly all of them are killed, for the Antichrist is given power “to make war with the saints [who come to Christ during the Tribulation], and to overcome [kill] them” (Rv 13:7). We see their souls “under the altar” in heaven asking when they will be avenged (Rv 6:9-10). They are told they must wait “until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled” (v 11).

Antichrist could still be killing saints up to the very end of Armageddon. Therefore, the Tribulation martyrs who “were beheaded [i.e., slain] for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands” are resurrected as a group to reign with Christ the moment Antichrist is defeated and Christ takes the throne of David to begin His earthly rule from Jerusalem (Rv 20:4).

Of these martyrs coming back to life God's Word says, “This is the first resurrection” (Rv 20:5). Yet this “first resurrection” is specifically stated to include only those slain for not worshiping the Antichrist or taking his mark, leaving out all the saints who lived and died before Antichrist. Obviously, this can’t be the entire “first resurrection” or Moses, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Wesley, Spurgeon, Moody, et al. (and even Paul who though martyred was not slain by Antichrist) will never be resurrected. Christ referred to two resurrections only: “the resurrection of life” and “the resurrection of damnation” (Jn:5:28-29), and the only resurrection that remains after this first one is “the resurrection of damnation,” which occurs when “the dead, small and great, stand before God” and are judged and sent to the Lake of Fire (Rv 20: 12-15). Therefore, “This is the first resurrection” cannot describe all of the first resurrection but lets us know that these martyrs are included in the resurrection which occurred at the Rapture and that they partake of its benefits as part of the church of all ages.

That the Rapture and resurrection described in 1 Corinthians:15:50-52 and 1 Thessalonians:4:13-17 take place prior to Armageddon is clear from the fact that in Revelation:19:7 we have the church in heaven as Christ’s bride at the “marriage of the Lamb” (not the marriage supper, v 9, which takes place later on earth when Christ introduces His bride to those who enter the Millennium). Christ’s bride, composed of the saints of all ages to that time, is in heaven (having been resurrected and raptured there) and comes with Him at Armageddon as Zechariah:14:5 and Jude 14 declare (“all the saints with Him”). That Old Testament saints will be part of the church seems clear also from Christ’s statement that “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (Jn:8:56) and Hebrews 11 where Old Testament saints are linked in their destiny both with heaven (v 16) and with New Testament saints (v 40).

Inasmuch as those martyred during the Tribulation are resurrected after Antichrist is “taken ...[and] cast alive into [the] lake of fire” (Rv 19:20) and Christ is on earth, they will not be raptured to heaven but gathered by angels, along with the living remnant of Jews not in Israel, into His presence on earth: “Immediately after the tribulation... shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven...they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels...and they shall gather together [to Jerusalem] his elect from the four winds” (Mt 24:27-31). The Jews so gathered will be in the earthly kingdom ruled by Christ, while the Tribulation martyrs will reign with Christ over the millennial kingdom.