In my last blog I briefly touched on what is the rapture. We covered where the word “rapture” came from, and some of the reasons why some discount it as a Biblically sound doctrine. We also touched on the three primary views surrounding its timing; pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation. In the following blogs I will present why I believe that the pre-tribulation teaching is the strongest of the three, but what I want to cover in this blog is the distinction between the rapture and the second coming of Christ.
There is confusion among some who think that both of these events are really just one, and people who take this position generally embrace a post-tribulation rapture teaching. To say that these events are the same creates some problems Biblically, and we’ll see some of those problems as we continue.
Have you ever heard someone say they are “going with someone” only to see them going in two very different directions? With that thought as the backdrop, it’s probably the best way to show how that the rapture and the second coming are two separate events, to show the many ways in which they differ. Let’s take a look at some of their differences.
1. At the rapture believers meet Jesus in the air, but at the second coming the believers return to earth with Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 19:14)
2. At the rapture Jesus, Himself, removes the people from the earth, but at the second coming the angels go forth to remove the wicked from the earth for judgement. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Matthew 13:36-42, 47-50)
3. At the rapture Christians are removed to be with Jesus in Heaven, and at the second coming the wicked are removed for judgement. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Matthew 13:36-42, 47-50)
4. The rapture takes place prior to the tribulation period, and the second coming takes place after the tribulation period. (1 Thessalonians 1:10,5:9; Revelation 19:11-16)
5. There are no immediate signs indicating when the rapture is about to take place, giving a sense of imminence, but for the second coming there are plenty of signs in addition to the fact that it is seven years after the start of the tribulation period. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; Matthew 24:15-30)
6. With the rapture there is no mention of an immediate judgment, but at the second coming the judgment of the wicked takes place. (Revelation 20:4)
7. At the rapture there is a resurrection just prior to the catching up of those alive in Christ, and at the second coming a resurrection of the dead takes place after Jesus descends onto earth. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:4)
8. At the rapture the bodies of the believers, dead and alive, are transformed into glorified bodies, but at the second coming there is no mention of a bodily transformation. (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)
9. The rapture will happen in secret and instantaneously, but the second coming will take place for all to see. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Revelation 1:7)
10. After the rapture wickedness will be the rule of the land for seven years, but the second coming will usher in the millennial (1000-year) reign of Christ on earth. (Revelation 3:10-11, Daniel 9:27; Revelation 20:4)
These are just some of the differences between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. Based on what we see from above, the idea of both the rapture and the second coming being the same event is incompatible with Scripture. Part of the confusion between the two events is that some people view what is called the rapture as one of the comings of Christ to earth, but that is incorrect. When Jesus came to earth as a babe over 2000 years ago, that was His “first coming”, and His “second coming” isn’t until He actually sets foot once again on earth. He is not coming to earth at the time of the rapture, but instead coming in the clouds to receive the church, His bride, to be with Him in heaven. One of the biggest differences is that Scripture tells us that the rapture could happen at any time and to be ready, while at the same time telling us that the second coming happens at the end of the seven-year tribulation period. The Scriptures point to and encourage an awareness that Jesus’ return for His bride is imminent, meaning it could happen at any moment, but if it is at the end of the tribulation period then where is the sense of imminence when we know it will be at least seven years from now, knowing that the tribulation period hasn’t even begun yet???
In the following blogs I hope to share some things that only strengthen the pre-tribulation position as the most Biblically sound doctrine of the three different views we’ve touched on. Again, the biggest thing to gain from all of this is the realization that no matter what, and no matter the timing, we need to be ready when that time does come. Are you ready? If not this is the time to get ready. How do you get ready? It starts with surrendering your life to Jesus, asking Him for forgiveness of your sins, and turn away from the sin. You need to then be reading the Bible, getting plugged into a solid Bible believing, Bible preaching church, and have a willingness to let God lead you no matter what. If you’ve said or done anything that would be considered sin or dishonors Him, then you will need to take that to Him in humility asking for His forgiveness and help to not involve yourself in it again.
Are you ready????????
John Johansson (Pastor John)