Question: I believe in a pre-Trib Rapture, but I have a difficult time reconciling 2 Thessalonians:1:4-10 with this. Verses 6-8 say: “...since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul says that the Thessalonian believers will eventually find relief from their persecution when the Lord returns to judge the wicked and punish them; it is at that time that the believers will be rewarded with rest. So, it seems to me that this relief from persecution is not pretribulational.
Response: No scripture precludes the salvation of individuals in the Tribulation. Although the Church is removed prior to “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” there will be those who come to Christ even during this time. Revelation:7:9-14 details a “great multitude…which came out of great tribulation….” In 2 Thessalonians 1, verse 6 speaks of the general principle that the Lord will “recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.” Paul warns in Galatians:6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” During that specific time of Paul’s writing to the Thessalonians he states that the “payback” will reach its fullest form when the Lord Himself returns to the earth. “And [our emphasis] to you who are troubled rest with us, 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” (2 Thessalonians:1:7-8).
Tribulation (not the Great Tribulation) is and has been, as Paul notes in 2 Timothy:3:12, the lot of believers throughout history. “...[A]ll that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” The Rapture is never to be considered an escape clause for believers. The church has always suffered tribulation, often through direct persecution. But for the entire church, the “relief” will only come at the Second Coming of the Lord to rule and reign with a “rod of iron.”