The rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are two separate events that must take place. Many people do not know the differences between them. In this bible study we are going look at the topics below:
- Meeting with Christ versus Returning with Christ
- Timing: Before versus after the Great Tribulation.
- The Removal of Believers versus the Removal of Unbelievers
- Hidden Versus Seen by All
- Succeeded by the Revelation of the antichrist and Great Tribulation versus Succeeded by the Millennium Reign
- Returning “Alone” versus Returning with the Saints and Angels
- Saints Removed by Jesus Himself versus the Wicked Gathered by Angels
- Resurrection of those who Died in Christ versus of those who were martyred During the Great Tribulation
Meeting with Christ versus Returning with Christ
The Rapture is the Return of Jesus Christ for the Church. He promised “… I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3). The Rapture is the fulfillment of this promise. Believers “…shall be caught up together with them in the clouds…” (1 Thess. 4:13-18) while at Second Coming of Jesus Christ the raptured Saints will return with the Lord: “… and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” (Zech. 14:5).
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war… And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean…” (Rev. 19:11-14).
At Any Moment Versus Only After Certain Events
There are no specific events preceding the rapture but there are several biblical events that must take place before the Parousia. Jesus Christ warns that His return to take us home (the rapture) will be “like a thief in the night” (2Pe 3:10) as a result He warned us to “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 25:13).
The rapture can take place at any moment but the Second Advent must be “immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29).
About the rapture Jesus Christ said:
Rev. 16:15 “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
But about His Second Coming He said:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:29, 30).
Before the Parousia there are certain things that must happen. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:2-8; Matthew 24:15-30.
Timing: Before versus after the Great Tribulation.
The rapture will happen before the Great Tribulation while the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be immediately after the 7 years of the Great Tribulation. If the Saints are not raptured to “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17) they cannot return with Christ as “kings and priest” to “reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10) during the one thousand years of Jesus Christ’s reign on earth.
Rev. 3:3 “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
The Removal of Believers versus the Removal of Unbelievers
The Rapture is the removal of believers from the earth as an act of mercy while the Second Coming is the removal of the unbelievers from the earth as an act of God’s judgment. During the Rapture Saints will be removed, sinners will be left behind while during the Second Coming sinners will be removed from the earth, Saints will be left for the Millennium Reign.
Before the Great Tribulation Jesus Christ will come to take us home (John 14:1-3) as an act of mercy “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9). Hence we shall be “snatched away” as an act of deliverance “from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10). Hear what Jesus said:
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36).
At the Parousia the wicked will removed from the earth so that the Saints can reign with Christ for a millennia years. Read Revelation 19:11-21.
Hidden Versus Seen by All
The Rapture will be instantaneous. Not every eye will see Him during the rapture. Believers will be transformed within split second. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52). In the Rapture Jesus Christ “will come like a thief” (Rev. 3:3) but at the Second Coming “every eye shall see him” (Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:29, 30) and there shall be great mourning because “the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” (Matt. 25:31) “To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude15) and “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” (John 19:37).
Succeeded by the Revelation of the antichrist and Great Tribulation versus Succeeded by the Millennium Reign
While the rapture will usher in the “man of sin Great Tribulation, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be succeeded by the Millennium Reign of Jesus Christ on earth.
2 Thess. 2:3, 6 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;… And now ye know WHAT WITHHOLDETH that he might be revealed in his time.”
Mat 24:29 “IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRIBULATION of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”.
Returning “Alone” versus Returning with the Saints and Angels
During the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven the Angels told the Disciples that: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Act 1:11). He went into heaven alone and He will come back alone (probably, with some Angels or with just the one that will blow the trumpet) but without the Saints. During the Second Coming He will return with the Saints and His holy Angels.
1 Thess. 4:16 “For THE LORD HIMSELF shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first”.
Contrast the above scriptures with this one below:
Matt. 25:31 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory”.
Jude 1:14 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints”.
Saints Removed by Jesus Himself versus the Wicked Gathered by Angels
Jesus Christ will personally catch up the Saints during the rapture but He will send His Angels to gather the wicked.
1 Thess. 4:16 “For the LORD HIMSELF shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first”.
Matt. 13:41-42 “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Resurrection of those who Died in Christ versus of those who were martyred During the Great Tribulation
Those who died in the Lord will be raised first to meet the Lord and then all those who are genuine believers will be raptured in the air. (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
At the Second Coming of Jesus Christ only the martyred Saints will be resurrected. This is called the First Resurrection.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” (Rev. 20:4, 5).