FYI: The Rapture Of The Church
FYI: The Rapture Of The Church
The Rapture is the FIRST PHASE of the Second Coming in which Christ will come in the air for His church. There are three main passages on the Rapture in the New Testament:
See 1 Thess 4:13–18, 1 Cor 15:51–55.
At the Rapture, Jesus will descend from heaven to the air (i.e., the sky). He will come with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God (1 Thess 4:16). First, the bodies of believers who have died will be resurrected as new spiritual bodies and reunited with their spirits (1 Thess 4:16; 1 Cor 15:42, 52). Next, the bodies of believers who are still alive will be changed into new spiritual bodies. They will never have to experience physical death (1 Cor 15:52). Then, all believers will be taken up (lit. “to seize, to catch up” into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess 4:17).
When we examine the scriptures that speak of Christ’s Second Coming, it is apparent that the Second Coming consists of TWO events: the RAPTURE and the RETURN. When we compare the main Rapture passages (John 14:1–3; 1 Thess 4:13–18; 1 Cor 15:51–55) with the main Return passages (Rev 19:11–20:6; Matt 24:26–31; Zech 12–14; Joel 3), it becomes clear that these two events are SEPARATE and DISTINCT. Specifically, we observe the following differences:
At the Rapture, Christ comes for His own and calls them to be with Him (John 14:3; 1 Thess 4:17; 2 Thess 2:1). At the Return, Christ comes with His own and they join Him in the fight against the Antichrist (1 Thess 3:13; Jude 1:14; Rev 19:14; Mal 4:1–3).
At the Rapture, the saints meet Christ in the air (1 Thess 4:17). At the Return, the saints come with Christ to the earth (Jude 1:14; Rev 19:14; Zech 14:4).
The Rapture involves the removal of all believers from the earth, leaving only unbelievers (1 Thess 4:17). The Return involves the removal of all unbelievers, leaving only believers on the earth (Matt 25:31–46; Ezek 20:33–38).
At the Rapture, only the saints will see Christ (1 Cor 15:51–52). At the Return, every eye will see Christ (Matt 24:30; Zech 12:10; Rev 1:7).
At the Rapture, the saved are delivered from wrath (1 Thess 1:10; 5:9; Rev 3:10).
At the Return, the unsaved experience the full wrath of God (Zeph 1:14–18; Rev 6:12–17; 19:11–15). Judgment of sin is not associated with the Rapture, but it is very much a part of the Return.
There are no signs for the Rapture. The apostles expected Christ to come for His Bride at any moment, and they told the churches to eagerly await His call (1 Thess 4:13–5:3; Phil 4:5; James 5:7–9; Heb 9:28; 1 John 2:18; Titus 2:13). For this reason we say the Rapture is imminent—it could happen at any moment. By contrast, the return of Christ to earth will be preceded by many great and terrible signs (Matt 24:4–14; Mark 13:19–26; Luke 21:11).
The differences mentioned above justify the interpretation that the Rapture and the Return are two separate and distinct events. At the Rapture, all believers will be taken from the earth so that God’s wrath can be poured out on the wicked. At the Return, Christ will return to the earth with the saints, crush the armies of the Antichrist, and establish His earthly kingdom.
Since the church is not meant to endure the outpouring of God’s wrath on the wicked, it follows that the Rapture will occur PRIOR to the Tribulation. Once the Tribulation is over, Jesus will return to the earth with His saints. Thus there is an interval of time between the Rapture and the Return, i.e., the Tribulation.
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