Alan Kurschner of Eschatos Ministries does a creditable job to explain that Matthew 24:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:3 do not explain the same events, which provides support for the PreWrath Rapture position: the Rapture occurs after the tribulation and great tribulation but before the wrath of God is poured out at the Trumpet and Vial judgements.
“Pretribulational proponents believe that the beginning of birth pangs that Jesus mentions in his Olivet Discourse refer to when the day of the Lord’s wrath begins and typically place it at the beginning of the seven-year period.
In an attempt to make the “beginning of birth pangs” in Matthew 24:8 describe the day of the Lord’s wrath, pretribulationists assert that this is parallel with Paul’s usage of “labour pains” in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, which clearly refers to the beginning of God’s wrath. However, it is obvious the respective contexts show that Jesus and Paul are not describing the same event, but actually very different events. The metaphor “birth pangs” is not a technical phrase to denote the day of the Lord as some wrongly claim. Context must determine the application of the usage of the common metaphor of birth pangs.
Let’s compare both verses:
“And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of birth pangs.” (Matt 24:8)
“For you yourselves know perfectly that THE DAY OF THE LORD so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3
There are six differences that demonstrate that Jesus and Paul are using it for two separate and distinct periods.
1. Jesus’ usage in Matthew 24 describes events before the great tribulation; Paul’s usage is found at the inception of the day of the Lord. Jesus uses the birthing metaphor to warn that the end has not arrived (“Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. . . All these things are the beginning of birth pains”). Paul uses it to announce that the end has arrived (“then sudden destruction comes on them, like labour pains,” cf. Isaiah 13:7–8).
2. Accordingly, Jesus emphasises the tolerable stage of “the beginning of birth pains” (Matt 24:8); hence, the reason he reassures, “Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matt 24:6). In contrast, Paul is drawing from Isaiah’s labour imagery focused on the intolerable stage of actual giving birth, “cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth” (Isaiah 13:8).
3. Jesus teaches that the “beginning of birth pangs” is what Christians are destined to experience (Matt 24:4–8); Paul teaches just the opposite that Christians are promised exemption from the hard labour pains, the time of God’s wrath (1 Thess. 5:9).
4. The labour pains in Matthew 24 refer to natural events such as false christs, wars, famines, and earthquakes (Matt. 24:5–8). Paul’s reference is to the supernatural event of the day of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:5–8).
5. Jesus’ usage of the beginning of birth pangs occurs before the celestial disturbance happens (Matt. 24:8–29). But in the Isaiah passage that Paul is drawing from associates the birth pangs of the onset of the day of the Lord with the celestial disturbance (Isaiah 13: 8–10).
6. Jesus uses the birthing metaphor to apply to both unbelievers and believers (Matt 24:5–8). While Paul uses it exclusively applied to unbelievers (1 Thess. 5:3–4).
The interpreter must be careful not to fall into the similarity equals identity fallacy. Context is key.”