Jesus said both before his death and after His Resurrection that He would come again to this Earth. It is important to distinguish that His Coming has two stages to it:
- RAPTURE – His Appearing (for us); comes for us to gather us, and we’ll meet Him in the air
- RETURN – His Coming (with us); comes with us and physically touches the Earth
The Rapture is a part of the mystery teachings in Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52). The word “mysteries” doesn’t mean mysterious or something unknowable but something not understood (fully revealed) in the Old Testament but which is now revealed in the New Testament. Part of the Apostle Paul’s ministry assignment was to unveil the “mystery” to the Church (Ephesians 3:2-6; Colossians 1:25-27). There are several topics covered in the mystery teachings but the one we are discussing today is the Rapture or Glorious Appearing of our Lord for us the Church.
It is extremely important to know this in interpreting future events and to not confuse it with Jesus’ literal physical Return. In the Old Testament and most of what’s in the Gospels, when they describe future events, they refer to the second stage of His Coming which is when He’ll physically touch down on the Earth (often called the Second Advent, Second Coming, or His Return). Take the time to read the verses and passages and note some of the differences:
RAPTURE – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Colossians 3:4; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 3:2
- Jesus comes “for us.”
- Appears in sky, church rises to meet in the air and clouds; destination – Heaven.
- Only Believers see Him, hear the voice and trumpet.
- Physical changes—mortal bodies changed; dead bodies resurrected.
- Timing – Happens after beginning of sorrows, but before Tribulation and revealing of antichrist.
- Believers taken; unbelievers left.
- Happens in a moment, twinkling of an eye; sudden.
- Saves us from wrath.
- Purpose: remove Church; restrainer; reveal antichrist.
- A message of comfort and hope.
- Rapture to Judgment Seat of Christ; Rewards and Marriage Supper.
- Imminent/no signs as precursors.
- A mystery once hidden but now revealed 1 Corinthians 15:51.
- At the last trump 1 Corinthians 15:52 and trump of God 1 Thessalonians 4:16; these are associated with the Church.
RETURN – Matthew 24:15- 51; Acts 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:4-8; Zechariah 14:2; Jude 14, 15; 2 Peter 3:10‑18; Revelation 19:11-16; Revelation 20:1-6.
- Jesus comes “with us.”
- Jesus physically touches Earth; Church with Him; destination – Earth.
- Every eye shall see Him.
- Physical changes – Moon, sun, stars darken; lightning; antichrist destroyed; earthquake; Mt. Olive splits.
- Happens after the Tribulation and antichrist revealed.
- Unbelievers taken; believers left.
- Happens slowly or gradually and in specific places (Megiddo; Edom-Bozrah (Petra); Jerusalem.; scheduled after the Tribulation; time of war.
- Returns on a white horse and executes wrath.
- Purpose: destroy antichrist; bind satan; put him in bottomless pit.
- A message of judgment and triumph of Jesus Christ.
- Removal of wicked to hell then after Millennium resurrected to Great White Throne Judgment.
- Identifiable signs as precursors.
- Prophesied and foretold in O.T. Daniel 12:1-3; Zechariah 14:1-4.
- After the 7 angelic trumpets of Revelation 8, 9, 11; these are associated with Tribulation period events.