Updated: Jan 2
By Luke Lancaster
This passage is where Jesus is speaking to the disciples in the upper room about how He will be leaving earth to prepare a place for them in Heaven, “the Father’s house.” Then, He will return and receive the disciples to Himself. Pre-tribulational rapture believers will say that Jesus is coming to earth in the rapture, and that He will be bringing them to Heaven first to preserve them from the tribulation. After that, He will return to earth with His disciples to deliver the final judgment upon the world and resurrect everybody’s bodies to live in a new Heavens and a new earth. The logic is that, when we meet Christ at His coming, as 1 Thess. 4:17 says, we will not be making a U-turn and coming back to a new Heavens and new earth, but will be going to the rooms in the Father’s house that Christ has prepared for us.
Now, the issue with this interpretation is that it assumes a few things. First, just because Christ is coming to earth, does not mean this is a reference to His coming before the tribulation. John 14:3 (and 1 Thess. 4 for that matter) does not speak of a tribulation, not is it in the context of the passage. Second, it is assumed that Christ’s disciples are not going to make a U-turn back to earth when Christ comes. However, that is exactly what a victorious king would do in ancient times. The king’s friends would meet Him outside of the city, only to come back into the city for the king to execute judgment upon his enemies. Third, when Jesus says He goes to prepare a place for the disciples, couldn’t He also be speaking of the new Heavens and the New earth, where the disciples reign over twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel?