The Rapture and the Second Coming
Note: To properly understand the scriptural teaching about this subject you must first understand Dispensationalism. It will help keep prophecies about these two events clear.
These two sets of scripture passages show that the rapture and the second coming are two separate, mutually exclusive events.
SCRIPTURE REF. FOR RAPTURE
SCRIPTURE REF. FOR 2ND COMING
For the rapture, Jesus comes:
- at an unexpected time
- when people are going about their usual business
- during a time of peace
- to meet us in the air and take us to heaven
For the second coming, Jesus comes:
- at a predictable time
- when the world is in great distress
- during a time of global war
- to bring his people and angels to earth, to conquer the Antichrist
The Church is the “interruption” between the 69th and 70th weeks of the prophecy of Daniel concerning Israel. The 70th week is called the time of JACOB’s trouble, meaning it concerns Israel and not the Church. The Church is not to suffer the judgment of God on the earth, since it is covered by the blood of Jesus who already paid for our sins.
In the OT there are seemingly conflicting prophecies which can only be reconciled by two comings: the Messiah would be rejected by his people and be killed but would reign forever and rescue Israel. So the OT passages concerning the Messiah set a precedent for the concept of two comings. Even though there are no expressed words such as “the Messiah will come twice”, it is the only way to reconcile all the prophecies. Likewise, in the NT there are two sets of prophecies which can only be reconciled by two comings. So in both testaments the concept is only implied.
The important thing to remember about the rapture is that it is a signless event; there are no events which must take place before it. This is known as the concept of imminence, meaning the rapture could have happened any time after Jesus returned to Heaven and the Holy Spirit was given. Jesus’ parable of the ruler who was gone a long time (Mt. 25:19) could have been a hint to the first century Christians that a long time would transpire before his return; but even if that had been understood, the people were to be in a constant state of readiness (Mark 13:35).
Some people have spread the lie that the pre-trib Rapture is the invention of a vision from the middle ages. But the above scripture references show that the concept of a pre-trib rapture is Biblical. Others claim that the word Rapture is not in the Bible, but this too is a lie. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 uses the phrase “caught up”, which in Latin is raptus. Both are accurate translations of the Greek.
Note in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 that the phrase “the falling away” is more accurately translated “the departure” according to the Greek. Context is needed to determine what exactly is being departed from, and in this case the subject is the coming of the Lord, not false teachings. There are plenty of other references to that subject, so departure in those cases would refer to “falling away” from the faith. But here, where Paul is talking about the end times, “the departure” means that someone or some group of people is taken away so that the “man of lawlessness” can be revealed. So the antichrist cannot be revealed until the church (Holy Spirit) is removed from the earth (see vs. 1-8).