Part One: Jesus' Single Coming
By Ed Tarkowski

The Purpose Of This File

If read carefully and studied, this can be for you the most powerful work to expose the Pretribulational stance as error. Every Scripture dealing with His "coming" (parousia) and "revelation" (apokalypsis) is looked at as one coming. Combining these scriptures in no way contradicts the fact that we are indeed going through the Tribulation period, and makes a strong case against Pretribulationism.

PRETRIBULATIONISM: this doctrine proposes that Christ's second advent is divided into two parts. The first part, called the parousia, is said to be the secret coming of Christ, who will rapture the Church to heaven for seven years while the Tribulation rages down here on earth. Parousia can be translated as "coming, arrival, presence."

The second part, the apokalypsis, means revelation. This is the glorious, visible return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation, when the previously raptured Church returns with Him as He comes to judge the world. This pretribulational belief splits the promised one-time return of Christ into a two-part advent, which we will see creates confusing contradictions that cannot be resolved because of the force of Scripture.

POSTTRIBULATIONISM: in this doctrine, the Church passes through the seven-year Tribulation. At its end, Christ returns to (1) raise the bodies of the dead saints whose spirits return with Him, (2) change the bodies of the Church members alive on earth at that time, and (3) judge the world.

Parousia and apokalypsis definitely describe a single return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation; the words simply provide two descriptions of the same return. In Posttribulationism, the Scriptures remain intact without contradictions.

If you do not understand how the rapture can take place after the Tribulation, please see Chapter 4 in The Thessalonian Letters file.

Scriptures Using Apokalypsis (Revelation), Apokalypto (Revealed)

Revelation: "to uncover, to unveil;" Revealed: "to take off the cover." When these words are used in reference to the return of Christ, they are specifically referring to His visible, glorious return with the dead saints in order to judge the world at the end of the Tribulation (Rev. 6:12-17; 19:11-16). Hidden in heaven now and throughout the Tribulation, He will be unveiled to be seen by all. These definitions frown fiercely upon the idea that Christ's being revealed at His second coming is a private revelation to the Church alone. The following verses speak of Christ's apokalypsis; the charts below show the wonderful simplicity of a one-time coming. All of the verses using revelation and revealed are commented on.

Luke 17 - 29: But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30: Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed (apokalypto).

The Lord Jesus Himself has told us plainly that the day He is revealed will be a day of fire and brimstone. Therefore, whenever we see the word revealed or revelation to describe His return, we can know we are dealing with a very visible coming. This verse is complementary to "the Lord Jesus [being] revealed (apokalypsis) from heaven in blazing fire" [see 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 below]. "Fire and brimstone" raining down from heaven most certainly doesn't indicate a secret coming. But it is descriptive of the end-time wrath of God in Matthew 24:29-30 and Revelation 6:23-27. The coming described here is visible, and cannot be pretribulational.

1 Corinthians 1 - 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming (apokalypto) of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Here the word "coming" means "be revealed" or "revelation" (Strong's), and the Church is to be "waiting for Christ . . . to [be revealed]." Paul here is talking to the Church. When is Christ revealed? At the end of the Tribulation. By necessity, the saints must be on earth at that time in order to be waiting for Him to be revealed. This places the Church on earth at the end of the Tribulation, when the fiery revelation of Christ occurs, when He is "uncovered" for the world to see. See also Rom. 8:18-25.

The ironic thing about this is that some pretribulationists say that the revelation of Christ is at the end of the Tribulation and agree with the posttribulationist! Such are the traps of the pretribulation doctrine. Others, though, skirt the issue by saying that in this exceptional case, "the Revelation" is a secret one given to the Church when it is raptured before the Tribulation. But the Lord Jesus never described His coming in this way, nor is such a revelation mentioned anywhere in Scripture. It is an assumption by the pretribulationists to build support for their unbiblical stance. They themselves are divided on the point and there is no reconciling it.

2 Thessalonians 1 - 6: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7: And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed (apokalypsis) from heaven with his mighty angels 8: In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

This is anything but a secret coming for the Church. Christ will "be revealed from heaven . . . in flaming fire." Flaming: "the fire is to be understood as the instrument of Divine judgement" (Vine).

Paul's words are addressed "to you," the Church on earth, which is troubled by persecutors at the time Christ is revealed. "When Jesus shall be revealed . . . in flaming fire," the persecutors receive retribution AND at the same time, the Church is given relief. But a pretribulational secret rapture keeps Christ hidden from the persecutors. A visible, revealed Christ must be present to fulfill these promises.

The Blessed Hope:
The Key To Seeing The Single Return Of Christ As Posttribulational

1 Peter 1 - 5: Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed (apokalysis) in the last time. . . 7: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing (apokalysis) of Jesus Christ: . . . 13: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation (apokalysis) of Jesus Christ

The entire Church is "called in one hope" (Eph. 4:4): "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27), which is our salvation completed at Christ's coming. The Church's "salvation ready to be revealed" will be given "at the appearing of Jesus Christ." When is He revealed? At the end of the Tribulation. When, then, must the grace of a full salvation be revealed in us? After the Tribulation. Thus Peter encourages the Church to "hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

This only "hope" that is fulfilled when Christ is revealed is the key to seeing that the parousia Scriptures also point to a posttribulational coming of Christ for the Church. We offer this quote from George Eldon Ladd:

"The apokalypse or Revelation of Christ is distinguished by pretribulationists from the Rapture of the Church and is placed at the end of the Tribulation when Christ comes in glory to bring judgment upon the world. If this view is correct, then the apokalypse of Christ is not primarily the Blessed Hope of the Christian. When the Revelation occurs, the saints will have been raptured and will have received from the hand of Christ their rewards for the things done in the body. They will have entered into the full enjoyment of life and fellowship with Christ. The apokalypse of Christ [in pretribulationism] is for judgement of the wicked, not for the salvation of the Church. According to pretribulationism, the Rapture at the secret coming of Christ is our blessed hope and the object of our fond expectation, not the Revelation.

"This, however, is not what we find in Scripture. We are "waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 1:7). According to pretribulationism, we are not waiting for the Revelation but for the Rapture" (The Blessed Hope).

1 Peter 4 - 13: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed (apokalysis), ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Revealed places the uncovering of His glory after the Tribulation. The suffering Church will "be glad also with exceeding joy" at the moment "when his glory shall be revealed." But if the Church were raptured seven years before, it would be overjoyed at that time, because its suffering would not extend to the time of Christ's revelation to the world. Therefore, the suffering Church on earth will one day manifest its ultimate joy in a posttribulational setting (see 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 above).

1 Peter 5 - 1: The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed (apokalypsis).

The same posttribulational sense is presented here as in the previous verse (1 Peter 4:13). See also Romans 8:18-25, where the sufferings of the Church result in Christ's being uncovered and His glory visibly manifested in the created world, not in a secret coming.