Most arguments against Pretribulationism have focused upon showing that the doctrine is a new development in theology and cannot be found in the scriptures. Various orthodox commentators and theologians, from the ranks of each of the millennial views[1], have presented this case with considerable skill. We will show that the doctrine contrasts the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Most earlier dispensational theologians agreed that the Old Testament saints would be resurrected along with the church in the Pretribulational Rapture. Alexander Reese, a classic Premillennialist, destroyed this position with convincing scriptural arguments locating the resurrection of the Old Testament saints at the Day of the Lord at the end of the Tribulation.[2]

Daniel 12:1, 2  "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the book--will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."

Daniel 12:8-13  I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, "My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?" 9He replied, "Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. 10Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. 11"From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.  12Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days. 13"As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance."

No dispensationalist would argue that the "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation", the "abomination of desolation", and the taking away of the daily sacrifice is not a reference to the time of the Tribulation. Yet, Daniel is told that the resurrection follows these events.

Dispensationalists then, for the most part, amended their position to separate the resurrection of the Old Testament saints from the rapture.

... many careful students of premillennial truth have come to the conclusion that the opinion that Israel's resurrection occurred at the time of the rapture was a hasty one and without proper Scriptural foundation. It seems far more preferable to regard the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 as a literal one following the tribulation, but not to be identified with the pretribulational rapture of the church... The church will be raised at the time of the rapture before the tribulation, and the Old Testament saints, including Israel, at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ.[3]

On this point, the dispensationalist has moved even further away from Scripture. In order to preserve the precious doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture of the church, they raise the Old Testament saints apart from the saints of the church age. We note that this is consistent with the dispensational understanding of "dispensations" and with their distinction between Israel and the church. It also reveals that the longstanding charge made by orthodox Christianity that Dispensationalism teaches multiple methods of salvation is true, contradicting their statement of faith. Let us look at some of the texts concerning the resurrection of the saints.

I Corinthians 15:50-55  I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

I Thessalonians 4:15-17 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

In these classic dispensational proof texts of the Pretribulational Rapture, we see that the righteous dead are raised first, and then those who are alive and remain are translated into incorruptible bodies and gathered to Christ. How, then, can the dispensationalists justify the concept of the Old Testament saints being raised at some later point in time?

Some people are startled by the thought that the Old Testament saints will not be resurrected until the end of the Tribulation. But keep in mind that the rapture is a promise to the Church, and the Church only.[4]

We see that the dispensationally imposed distinction between Israel and the church is at the root of this argument. They say that the Old Testament saints are not "in Christ" and therefore will not arise to everlasting life at the same time as the church saints.

According to dispensationalists, the Old Testament people are not the heirs of the Holy Spirit, are not regenerated by Him, and are not grafted by Him into Christ in the same way that the New Testament people are.[5]

...the verse simply says that the dead in Christ will precede the living in Christ in the rapture. If you are saying that Daniel would be included in "the dead", then you have to show that Daniel is "in Christ". If you … study the NT you will see that "in Christ" refers to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink"...There is no way that Daniel was part of the body of Christ. This verse in 1 Thess 4:16 simply does not apply to him. The Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell believers in the OT. It is not really people or time period that delineates the church--it is the Holy Spirit. Personal faith in Jesus Christ--which is what the passage is referring to--was not an option for OT saints. They are not in view in this passage. It is referring to people who do have the option of this personal faith in Jesus...OT saints are "in Christ" in that sense that the death of Jesus is the basis for the salvation of anyone--past, present, future. However, they were not part of the body of Christ, in the sense of being permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit.[6]

The technical term for the Church is those who are "in Christ." 1 Thess. speaks of those who have died "in Christ" being resurrected at the time of His coming IN THE AIR. The context has ONLY the Church in mind.[7]

This dispensational distinction between the OT & NT saints, the church & Israel, is what causes some critics to deny Dispensationalism any claim to Christianity at all, for in that very distinction Dispensationalism teaches multiple methods of salvation. By excluding the OT saint from the ekklesia (church) the dispensationalist is required to produce some means, other than partaking of the New Covenant in Christ, for one or the other of the groups to be granted eternal life. The teaching of the church for the last 2,000 yrs precludes this, as does our Lord.

John 6:53-56  Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.

The scope of the book of life, being recorded before creation and only opened at the end of time, should have given dispensationalists a clue as to the relationship between Israel and Christ. If the technical term for the Church is to be “in Christ” then, surely, God created the church “in Christ” before creation.

See in the following passages the context and scope of Scripture’s teaching in this respect.

Ephesians 1:4, 10 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Ephesians 3:10, 11 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Titus 1:2 A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.

I Peter 1:20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

The dispensationalists have confused cause and effect. It is God who created the Church “in Christ” resulting in the rapture and not the rapture that defines who the church is.

It is easy to mislead someone when they reason that the mystery of Christ was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s apostles and prophets.  It says so in Ephesians 3:5. But if one should read verse six, it explains what the mystery of Christ is:

Ephesians 3:6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

The following points are of interest:

No one has life who does not partake of the New Covenant in Christ's Blood. The OT saint must partake, as does the NT & tribulation saint, in order to have life.

ALL who partake are raised at the LAST DAY. That day is the "end of the days" prophesied to Daniel in

Daniel 12:13  "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance."

ALL who partake are "in Christ" and He in they.

ALL THE SAINTS are promised the same resurrection, by the same Blood, at the same time.

Hebrews 9:15  For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Hebrews 11:9, 10 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Hebrews 11:13, 16  All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:39, 40  These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

The dispensationalist, ignoring the clear teaching of scripture and the historic church, denies the existence of the general assembly, and falls back to perdition by advocating shadows as the means of salvation for the OT & Tribulation saint, all in order to preserve the delusion of the Pretribulational Rapture.

Hebrews 12:22-29  But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly. 23To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect. 24To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven. 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." 27The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. 29For our "God is a consuming fire."

The dispensational argument that proclaims that the OT saint is somehow saved because of Christ - rather than being "in Christ" by partaking of the New Covenant in His Blood - is opposed to orthodox Christian doctrine of salvation.

The truth will inevitably manifest itself. It has in [the] dispensational [doctrine of salvation]. The truth is that another way of salvation, which is somehow connected with Christ, but not resting on Christ is a DIFFERENT way. The dispensationalist at this point is, unconsciously perhaps, consistent with himself. He does not regard the Old Testament people of God as second, third, or fourth class citizens of the Kingdom of God. They simply are not citizens at all. While dispensationalists roundly assert that Old Testament people were saved by Christ, there is NO WAY IN THEIR THEOLOGICAL SYSTEM they could be.[8]

Now that we have looked at the misguided teachings of those who misrepresent the end times, for whatever reason, let us repeat Revelation 20:6 and the commentary we made on it.

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection because they will enter heaven and eternal, glorious life.  Those who do no have part in the first resurrection will enter the lake of fire and eternal, torturous death.

I John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

The believers will also be priests of God and Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. The reference to the thousand years places the reigning believers in this life before the Second Coming of Christ. In that sense, we ought to fulfill our duties as priests, kings, and prophets both in our personal lives and in the church:

Those who are still in this life pass over from death to life through the merits of Christ. Although they still have to pass through the grave, which has become a mere passageway, they are equal to those souls who have gone before them in every sense.  Just as those who have already found their place at the altar in heaven, they will not be subject to the second death.

So, we see the eternal purpose of God, which is to gather for himself a people who would freely glorify him, highlighted by many things such as testimonies, prophecies, miracles and the book of life. The book of life spans the entire history of mankind, being created before God created anything and opened again at the end of time to determine who would enter heaven and who would not.

A graphic presentation of these events is as follows:

Text Box: Creation, EdenText Box: First parents fall in sinText Box: Noah and the floodText Box: Abraham Text Box: Moses
Text Box: First Advent of Jesus Christ the Messiah
Text Box: Second Advent of Jesus Christ the Messiah 
Text Box: Book of life recorded. Church of Christ establishedText Box: Book of life opened; Church of Christ separated according to itText Box: maxText Box: loose













Revelation 20:7  When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison;

In chapter 20 verse 1 we read that an angel came down from heaven with the key to the Abyss and a chain with which he bound Satan in the Abyss.

Satan’s release to make his final stand against God occurs at the end of the millennium just before the Second Advent of Christ. That is the time, which will be shortened on behalf of the elect.

From the simple language translated into English, it appears as if the thousand years come to an end, and then a new era, the release of Satan, is introduced. We need to find out exactly what is meant by “are over” or as some translations have it, “are expired.”

The Greek word used to translate “are over” is teleo (“tel-eh-o”), which has the following meanings:

1) to bring to a close, to finish, to end

a) passed, finished.

2) to perform, execute, complete, fulfill, (so that the thing done corresponds to what has been said, the order, command etc.)

a) with special reference to the subject matter, to carry out the contents of a command.

b) with reference also to the form, to do just as commanded, and generally involving the notion of time, to perform the last act which completes a process, to accomplish, fulfill.


3) to pay

a) of tribute "It is finished or paid" John 19:30 Christ satisfied God's justice by dying for all to pay for the sins of the elect. These sins can never be punished again since that would violate God's justice. Sins can only be punished once, either by a substitute or by yourself.

The bolded part, 2 b) above, is the meaning in which we should see this particular use of teleo when the Bible says “when the thousand years are over.” We see the same meaning in 3 a), above, supporting 2 a), where Christ said on the cross, “it is finished” meaning that his work has been fulfilled, all sins have been paid for and the debt is paid, or Christ’s sacrifice is “finished”. Christ’s work is complete at the end of his life on earth and one may add, “just as commanded”, thus teleo is used to indicate the performance of the final part or act of an era (time period).

Let us also take a look at the tense, voice, and mood in which the Greek text uses teleo in Revelation 20:7.

The Tense is Aorist, the Voice Passive, and the Mood Subjunctive.  Pay particular attention to how the tense, voice, and mood modify teleo, clearly indicating to us that the words of Revelation 20:7 do not suggest that the millennium has come to an end, as if the loosing of Satan is an event outside of the millennium, but rather that Satan’s release is the last act in the millennium.

The Five Basic Tenses in Greek:

1.     Future: usually undefined

2.     Present: may be continuous or undefined

3.     Imperfect: continuous

4.     Aorist: undefined (may be continuous or punctiliar)

5.     Perfect: past action with present effect (no English equivalent)

There is no direct or clear English equivalent for the Aorist tense, though it is generally rendered as a simple past tense in most translations, which is why teleo has been translated with “are over.”

The events described by the aorist tense are classified into a number of categories by grammarians. The most common of these include a view of the action as having begun from a certain point ("inceptive aorist"), or having ended at a certain point ("cumulative aorist"), or merely existing at a certain point ("punctiliar aorist"), which is the one we are concerned with in Revelation 20:7.

The aorist tense is characterized by its emphasis on punctiliar action. A punctiliar action is when the concept of the verb is considered without regard for past, present, or future time. To understand the concept of punctiliar action, we need to briefly look at how the Greek language deals with tenses and the aorist tense in particular. Understanding the punctiliar concept will give us better insight into the particular use of the word teleo in Revelation 20:7.

Tenses in English simply refer to the time when an action took place. Present: Annette swims. Past: Annette swam. Future: Annette will swim. In the above examples “swims,” “swam” and “swim” can be viewed as a simple event or as an ongoing process of “swimming.”

Greek tenses, however, not only indicate when an action takes place (time) but what type of action (aspect) is taking place. So, translating teleo in English as “are over” indicates only the when, which does not tell us everything that the writer intended to convey to the reader. The writer also meant to say that the aspect of teleo says not only that Satan was released at the end of the millennium, but also that it is the last act of the millennium placing the release of Satan solidly within the millennium and not after it. It also conveys to us that Satan acted according to a “command,” which tells us that he could only act under God’s direction according to His eternal, divine plan.

Let us look at the three aspects in Greek that modify tenses.

  1. Continuous: Ongoing process
  2. Undefined: simple event with no comment on whether it is continuous or punctiliar.
  3. Perfect: Past action with present effect (no equivalent in English).

The Greek Undefined aspect can be used to describe a punctiliar action but the verb is not itself punctiliar and can also be used to describe a continuous action.

So, the punctiliar action of teleo shows no regard for part, present, or future time and further indicates that Satan was not released within the scope of a time-frame but he was released at the end of the millennium to perform a specific act, continuing until he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The subjunctive mood is the mood of possibility and potentiality. The action described may or may not occur, depending upon circumstances. The subjunctive mood of teleo itself does not indicate that the action occurred, which further places the “are over” outside of a definable follow-up era. It leaves the matter undetermined, expecting the rest of the context to set the stage for the action, which it does by speaking of nations rising up against the church, meaning that the end of time has not occurred yet and that the millennium is ongoing.

“Voice” refers to the relationship between the subject and the verb.

  1. Active: subject does the action — I hit the ball.
  2. Middle: for now think of it as being the same as active.
  3. Passive: subject receives the action — I was hit by the ball.

This merely confirms that it was not someone else who was released, but the subject, Satan. “Satan will be released.”

It is thus our understanding of the teaching of Scripture that Satan will be released at the end of this era, accelerating evil and the persecution of the church, which time will be shortened for the sake of the elect.

[1] Alexander Reese (premill.), O.T. Allis (amill.), W.E. Cox (amill.), Greg Bahnsen & Kenneth Gentry (postmill.) are notable among others

[2] Alexander Reese, The Approaching Advent of Christ (Marshall, Morgan and Scott, London, 1937; reprint, Grand Rapids MI: Grand Rapids International Publications, 1975), 328 p.

[3] John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophesy (1962; reprint, Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 1977), 116, 118.

[4] David R. Reagan, The Master Plan: Making Sense of the Controversies Surrounding Bible Prophecy Today (Eugene OR: Harvest House, 1993), 123.

[5] John H. Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism (Brentwood TN:Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), 206.

[6] "Resurrection Apart from Christ?" Bill Barton, Armageddon, FamilyNet, 10/21/93.

[7] "Rapture," Gary Nystrom, Armageddon, FamilyNet, 5/28/94.

[8] John H. Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism (Brentwood TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), 169.