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Jesus’s return was not imminent during the life of Peter.
“I tell you the solemn truth, when you were young, you tied your clothes around you and went wherever you wanted, but when you are old [gėraskō], you will stretch out your hands, and others will tie you up and bring you where you do not want to go [crucifixion]” (Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God.) After he said this, Jesus told Peter, “Follow me.” (John 21:18–19)
Jesus makes a two-fold prophecy to Peter that he will live to be “old” and be martyred with crucifixion. This same Peter would later in life pen: “But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name” (1 Pet 4:16). These two prophecies of growing old and dying as a martyr precluded an any-moment rapture during the life of Peter. In short, Jesus’s return could not happen until after this two-fold prophecy.
Pretribbers feeling the weight of this prophecy have objected by citing 2 Peter 1:14: “since I know that my tabernacle [physical body] will soon [tachinos] be removed, because our Lord Jesus Christ revealed this to me” (2 Pet 1:14). They reason that since Peter thought that he would die soon, the rapture was still imminent. This is fallacious reasoning. First, Peter did not write his epistle immediately after Jesus made the prophecy of growing old and being martyred. It was written in the 60s, almost three decades later. Jesus’s prophecy that Peter would grow “old” and Peter’s later revelation from Jesus that he would die “soon” were clearly prophesied by the Lord at two different periods in Peter’s life. Second, and more important, the fact of Jesus’s prophecy remains the same regardless: Peter must die first before Jesus returns, and martyr’s death at that. This obvious point is inescapable, which is why attention seems to be diverted away from the actual, explicit prophecy. The takeaway here is that Jesus unequivocally prophesied an event that will happen before his return: Peter will grow old as well as be martyred in his old age. Jesus would not return before this was fulfilled. Therefore, Jesus’ return for the church was not imminent as long as Peter was alive.
Another pretrib objection put forward is Acts 12:1–4 where Herod had Peter arrested to stand trial. However, this passage is not relevant since Peter’s belief that he would die soon recorded in 2 Peter 1:14 is not addressing this imprisonment in Acts 12, because Second Peter was written much later. Further, Peter states in 2 Peter 1:14 that he would die soon “because our Lord Jesus Christ revealed this to me,” which goes without saying, Peter did not die in association, or even soon after, in the Acts 12 account. I don’t think the pretribber is willing to think that Jesus’s prophecy about Peter failed! Accordingly, Acts 12:1–4 fails as an irrelevant objection to a clear-cut prophesied event that must happen before Jesus returns.
Therefore, this is just another prophecy in a long line of prophecies that will happen before Jesus returns to rapture his people.