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14.3.1. Rapture versus Second Coming

The following contrasts are found in passages describing the coming of Christ. We suggest that these differences are an indication that different comings are in view: the coming of Christ as bridegroom for His expectant Church (the Rapture) versus the Second Coming of Christ upon an unbelieving world in judgment.

Contrasts Between the Rapture and the Second Coming
RaptureSecond Coming
Christ comes for His own (John John 14:3; 1Th. 1Th. 5:28; 2Th. 2Th. 2:1). Christ comes with His own (1Th. 1Th. 3:13; Jude Jude 1:14; Rev. Rev. 19:14+).1
Christ comes in the air (1Th. 1Th. 4:17). Christ comes to the earth (Zec. Zec. 14:4; Acts Acts 1:11).2
Christ claims His bride (1Th. 1Th. 4:16-17). Christ comes with His bride (Rev. Rev. 19:6-14+).3
Removal of believers (1Th. 1Th. 4:17). Manifestation of Christ (Mal. Mal. 4:2).4
Only His own see Him (1Th. 1Th. 4:13-18). Every eye shall see Him (Rev. Rev. 1:7+).5
Tribulation begins (2Th. 2Th. 1:6-9). Millennial Kingdom begins (Rev. Rev. 20:1-7+).6
Saved are delivered from wrath (1Th. 1Th. 1:10; 1Th. 1Th. 5:9). Unsaved experience the wrath of God (Rev. Rev. 6:12-17+).7
No signs precede rapture (1Th. 1Th. 5:1-3). Signs precede Second Coming (Luke Luke 21:11, Luke 21:15).8
Focus is Lord and Church (1Th. 1Th. 4:13-18). Focus is Israel and kingdom (Mtt. Mat. 24:14).9
World is deceived (2Th. 2Th. 2:3-12). Satan is bound so he cannot deceive (Rev. Rev. 20:1-2+).10
Believers depart the earth (1Th. 1Th. 4:15-17).11 Unbelievers are taken away from the earth (Mtt. Mat. 24:37-41).12
Unbelievers remain on earth. Believers remain on earth (Mtt. Mat. 25:34).13
No mention of establishing Christ’s Kingdom on earth. Christ has come to set up His Kingdom on earth (Mtt. Mat. 25:31, Mat. 25:34).14
Christians taken to the Father’s house (John John 14:1-3). Resurrected saints do not see the Father’s house (Rev. Rev. 20:4+).15
Imminent—could happen at any moment. Cannot occur for at least 7 years.16
Precedes the career of the man of sin. (2Th. 2Th. 2:1-3). Terminates the career of the man of sin (Rev. Rev. 19:20+).


1 Thomas Ice and Timothy J. Demy, The Return (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 101-102.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 [Ibid.] [J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 207]

9 Ice, The Return, 101-102.

10 Ibid.

11 A critical problem for the posttribulational rapture view is its inability to explain the Sheep and Goat Judgment of Matthew Mat. 25:31-46. If all believers are caught up during the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation, then only unbelievers are left upon the earth. Yet when Jesus gathers the nations upon His arrival and kingdom (Mtt. Mat. 25:31) sheep are found in their midst. These sheep demonstrate their faith by their works and enter the Millennial Kingdom. When did they come to faith if all the faithful were caught up to meet Him at His return? The solution is found in recognizing the sheep as saints which came to faith after the Rapture of the Church and survive the Tribulation to populate the Millennial Kingdom. See Who Populates the Millennial Kingdom?

12 Richard L. Mayhue, “Why a Pretribulational Rapture,” in Richard L. Mayhue, ed., The Master’s Seminary Journal, vol. 13 no. 1 (Sun Valley, CA: The Master’s Seminary, Spring 2002), 247.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, Charting the End Times (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2001), 112.

16 Ibid.