Is the Rapture and Second Coming the Same Event?

by Nathan Jones

Jesus wraps up the Bible with a promise that one day He will return: “Surely I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22).

The fulfillment of this promise stands out as one of the most prolifically talked about events in the whole Bible. Nearly 500 prophecies in the Old Testament and one out of 25 verses in the New Testament concern Jesus’ Second Coming.

There are so many verses about this topic, it’s enough to make one’s head spin!

Second Coming Verses
John 14:1-3; Romans 8:19; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; 15:51-53; 16:22; Philippians 3:20-21; 4:5; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19; 4:13-18; 5:9,23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,3; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:7,13; 5:4; 1 John 2:28-3:2; Jude 21; Revelation 2:25; 3:10; Daniel 2:44-45; 7:9-14; 12:1-3; Zechariah 12:10; 14:1-15; Matthew 13:41; 24:15-31; 26:64; Mark 13:14-27; 14:62; Luke 21:25-28; Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 2:8; 1 Peter 4:12-13; 2 Peter 3:1-14; Jude 14-15; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-20:6; 22:7,12,20

But, when you start reading all these verses about Jesus’ return, you’ll notice something very peculiar. They appear to tell two very different stories. It’s as if these verses could be divided into two camps.

Rapture Second Coming
John 14:1-3; Romans 8:19; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; 15:51-53; 16:22; Philippians 3:20-21; 4:5; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19; 4:13-18; 5:9,23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,3; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:7,13; 5:4; 1 John 2:28-3:2; Jude 21; Revelation 2:25; 3:10 Daniel 2:44-45; 7:9-14; 12:1-3; Zechariah 12:10; 14:1-15; Matthew 13:41; 24:15-31; 26:64; Mark 13:14-27; 14:62; Luke 21:25-28; Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 2:8; 1 Peter 4:12-13; 2 Peter 3:1-14; Jude 14-15; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-20:6

Let’s title the first column “Rapture” after 1 Thessalonians 4:17’s use of the Latin word “rapio” which means “to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out.” And, let’s also thin the list out a little to concentrate on the most descriptive passages.

Rapture Second Coming
John 14; 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4 Zechariah 14; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; Revelation 19

What does this mean then? Is the Rapture and Second Coming the same event?

To answer this question, let’s look at 20 ways in which the Rapture and the Second Coming verses differ.

# Rapture Second Coming
1 Jesus appears in the sky and then ascends up to Heaven. Jesus appears in the sky and then descends down to the earth.
2 Jesus gathers those who are saved, called the Church, from the earth. Jesus gathers those who are saved, called the Church, from Heaven.
3 Jesus leaves behind those on the earth who are not saved, the Unrighteous, to begin enduring the wrath of God. Jesus returns and confronts those on the earth who are not saved, the Unrighteous, to finish enduring the wrath of God.
4 The resurrected Church meets Jesus up in the clouds. Mortal believers, called the Tribulation Saints, meet Jesus down on the earth.
5 The destination of the Church is Heaven. The destination of the Church is Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom on earth.
6 Only the Church, not the Unrighteous, will see Jesus. Every eye, both Church and Unrighteous alike, will see Jesus.
7 The Rapture takes place as fast as a blink of an eye. The Second Coming is drawn out over a number of days.
8 The Church instantly obtains glorified bodies which last forever before Christ’s Millennial Kingdom is instituted. Tribulation Saints remain in their same earthly bodies and await their glorified bodies at the end of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.
9 The Church is gathered to receive their rewards while the Unrighteous are left behind to face their punishment. The Unrighteous are gathered to receive judgment and be sentenced to Torments while the Tribulation Saints are left behind on earth to enter into Christ’s rewards.
10 Jesus appears as a Bridegroom ready to receive His Bride the Church. Jesus appears as a warrior ready to execute judgment against His enemies.
11 Jesus appears as a Deliverer, rescuing spiritual refugees. Jesus returns as King, installing subjects to rule over His Kingdom.
12 The Rapture depicts the deliverance of the Church from God’s wrath. The Second Coming depicts the deliverance of Tribulation Saints who have endured many years of God’s wrath.
13 The world remains left unjudged and still living in the horrible condition of sin. The world receives final judgment and righteousness is established.
14 The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem remains unchanged. The impact of Jesus landing on the earth splits the Mount of Olives in two, forming a whole new valley.
15 Satan remains free to cause havoc and slaughter billions. God’s angels capture Satan, bind him, and throw the Devil into a bottomless pit.
16 Revealed clearly in the New Testament. Revealed clearly in both the Old and New Testaments.
17 An imminent event in that no signs or events need to precede in order for it to happen. Over seven years’ worth of signs and events must precede in order for it to happen.
18 Deals only with the Church. Deals both with the Church and the Unrighteous.
19 The end purpose is to bring God’s judgment on this world. The end purpose is to install Jesus’ Kingdom over this world.
20 The Rapture is an idyllic scene of God’s love, mercy, and grace to His Church. The Second Coming is a terrifying scene of God’s wrath and judgment against the Unrighteous.

So, the answer is no, the Rapture and the Second Coming clearly are not the exact same event. But, the answer could also technically be yes, but only in the respect that the Rapture and Second Coming are two separate stages of the same event — the final return of Jesus Christ.

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