Key Differences Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

End Times Bible Study Comparing the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ

The Rapture and the Second Coming
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Is there a difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ? According to some Bible scholars, prophetic Scriptures speak of two separate and distinct events—the Rapture of the church and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The Rapture will occur when Jesus Christ returns for his church. This is when all true believers in Christ will be taken from the earth by God into heaven (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

The Second Coming will happen when Jesus Christ returns to the church to defeat the antichrist, overthrow evil and then establish his thousand-year reign (Revelation 19:11-16).

Comparing the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ

In the study of Eschatology, these two events are often confused because they are similar. Both happen during end times and both describe a return of Christ. Yet there are important differences to discern. The following is a comparison of the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ, highlighting the key distinctions noted in Scripture.

1) Meeting in the Air - Versus - Returning with Him

In the Rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

(NIV)

In the Second Coming, believers return with the Lord:

Revelation 19:14

The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (NIV)

2) Before Tribulation - Versus - After Tribulation

The Rapture will happen before the Tribulation:

1 Thessalonians 5:9
Revelation 3:10

The Second Coming will happen at the end of the Tribulation:

Revelation 6-19

3) Deliverance - Versus - Judgment

In the Rapture believers are taken from the earth by God as an act of deliverance:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
1 Thessalonians 5:9

In the Second Coming unbelievers are removed from the earth by God as an act of judgment:

Revelation 3:10
Revelation 19:11-21

4) Hidden - Versus - Seen by All

The Rapture, according to Scripture, will be an instantaneous, hidden event:

1 Corinthians 15:50-54

The Second Coming, according to Scripture, will be seen by everyone:

Revelation 1:7

5) At Any Moment - Verses - Only After Certain Events

The Rapture could happen at any moment:

1 Corinthians 15:50-54
Titus 2:13
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18

The Second Coming won't happen until certain events take place:

2 Thessalonians 2:4
Matthew 24:15-30
Revelation 6-18

As is common in Christian theology, there are conflicting views regarding the Rapture and the Second Coming. One source of confusion over these two end times events stems from verses found in Matthew chapter 24. While speaking broadly about the end of the age, it's likely this chapter references both the Rapture and the Second Coming. It's important to note, the purpose of Christ's teaching here was to prepare believers for the end.

He wanted his followers to be watchful, living each day as though his return was imminent. The message was simply, "Be Ready."

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Fairchild, Mary. "Key Differences Between the Rapture and the Second Coming." ThoughtCo, Mar. 22, 2017, thoughtco.com/rapture-vs-the-second-coming-700630. Fairchild, Mary. (2017, March 22). Key Differences Between the Rapture and the Second Coming. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/rapture-vs-the-second-coming-700630 Fairchild, Mary. "Key Differences Between the Rapture and the Second Coming." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/rapture-vs-the-second-coming-700630 (accessed November 25, 2017).