5 Key Differences Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

5 Key Differences Between 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 on earth (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:

  • 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. 1 Thessalonians 4:1617 (NIV)

2) Before Tribulation – Versus – After Tribulation

The Tribulation is a future seven-year period when God will complete his discipline of Israel and final judgment upon the unbelieving citizens of the world. The Rapture will happen before the Tribulation:

  • For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. ​1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NIV)
  • Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earthRevelation 3:10 (NIV)
  • And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave,great and small.” Revelation 17-18 (NIV)

3) Deliverance – Versus – Judgment

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

  • 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. 1 Thessalonians 4:1317
  • For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NIV)

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

  • Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earthRevelation 3:10 (NIV)
  • But the beast was captured and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs, he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their fleshRevelation 19:11-21 )NIV)

4) Hidden – Versus – Seen by All

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

  • Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. 1 Corinthians 15:50-54

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

  • “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. Revelation 1:7

5) At Any Moment – Versus – Only After Certain Events

The Rapture could happen at any moment:

  • …While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus ChristTitus 2:13 (NIV)
  •  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 first1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 (NIV)

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

  • He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called Godor is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NIV)​
  • Immediately after the distress of those days, “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven.​ Matthew 24:15-30 (NIV)
  • Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”​ Revelation 6-18 (NIV)

Confused? Just Live Each Day Well

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.”

65 Comments

  • Reply September 6, 2019

    RichardAnna Boyce

    why do Pentecostals get angry when Bible verses are posted that may oppose their beliefs?

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      RichardAnna Boyce they don’t want to be challenged.

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford who are you speaking of?

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day people who get angry over secondary theology when you show them that there could be other possibilities. Such as this post is referring to the rapture. So many people are pre trib and are dogmatic about it. Many others, myself included, are not convinced of a pre trib. Since we don’t know exactly how God will rapture the church, this is a conversation Christians can have in brotherly/sisterly love without getting angry over varying views.

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford what is secondary theology? are you talking about the pre-Trib rapture here?

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Ray E Horton

      Troy Day If I may butt in here, eschatology and all theology other than the Gospel is secondary, as I see it..

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Matthew Hill

      Troy, Primary Theology refers to peoples surface reading of Aceupture. Secondary Theology refers to actual study of the Bible. It’s that simple.

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Matthew Hill

      It’s not a distinction I’m wedded to, but that’s what is generally meant. I would say that there are some doctrines, some theolog, that is salvation-centric, and others that are not. That’s how I’d use the terms Prinary and Sexondary, but the latter distinction is what is usually meant in my experience.

  • Reply September 6, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    RichardAnna Boyce are you not pre-trib anymore?

  • Reply September 7, 2019

    RichardAnna Boyce

    pre trib until God persuades me otherwise by Bible scholars here. But why do pentecostals get ANGRY?

  • Reply September 7, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    me2 but I dont think Joshwa Bedford is pre-trib

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day look up Dr. Michael Brown. Listen to some of his podcasts. He has some really good arguments. I don’t have time to waste debating on this topic. I think you will find his arguments interesting.

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford No thank you – his last book is apostasy at its best RichardAnna Boyce may agree

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day is it because he points out Biblical truth that is contrary to your personal thoughts and opinion or is it really “apostasy?” I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about him. I’m realizing that different Christian sects call things “apostasy” or “heretical” only when their view clash with the interpreters view. That’s not the day that heresy doesn’t exist because we can see it behind the pulpit a lot today.

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford hey this is my theological take on his new book – what you got?

    • Reply September 7, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day what’s his new book? I’d like to read it to see what point of view you are coming from.

    • Reply September 9, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford oh you dont know but you comment 🙂 Its about siding with the anti Christ

    • Reply September 9, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day I gave you an option of someone who has an opposing eschatology, you declined it, and I simply challenged your declination by asking if it was on objective or subjective point of view. I’ll have to read it and get back to you.

    • Reply September 9, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford but MB is NOT post millnial is he?

    • Reply September 9, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day last I heard he was. I listened to a whole podcast series about 6 months ago and he was explaining why he was post trib.

    • Reply September 9, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford naaah Not what his book on antiChrist says – post-Trib maybe but post-mil and Pentecostal? He must be a true rep of NAR theology then

    • Reply September 9, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day I will look more into his stuff, thank you for giving me something to ponder on. Blessings

    • Reply September 9, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford I think you need to – your info is strange

    • Reply September 9, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day blessings

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford when should we expect your response?

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day Does scripture say, “you must be pre-trip?” Truth is it doesn’t, so this is any area of theology we can freely discuss various views and not be dogmatic about it and still respect each other’s views and interpretation. Pre-Trib actually isn’t a historical point of view, it was introduced in the early 1800’s.

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford the pre-Trib view was NOT introduced in the 1800s You really need to start checking your info sources BUT pls first lets see your source on MB being postmil pls

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day it actually was you should probably do your research ? or you might just be one sided in your understanding. Because even in the past I had referred you resources and you always have an excuse at to why it’s not credible.

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford way ahead of you – now you are 0 for 2 on your part http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/the-ancient-church-fathers-believed-in-pre-trib-rapture/

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day go ahead and think what you please. But please don’t be dogmatic on a Theology we don’t understand and is not scripturally clear. Eschatology is a great mystery.

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day Guy Duffield and N. M Van Cleave in “Foundations of Pentecostal Theology” present various views as a possibility including and not limited to pre, mid, post, and partial rapture as a possibility.

      It is disrespectful to other brothers and sisters in the Lord to be dogmatic on one specific view when scripture isn’t clear. There are other possibilities but ultimately God knows when it will happen.

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day Millard J. Erickson in his book “Christian Theology” also presents various views in addition to almil.

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day Hermas, an early church Father once said, “Happy are you who endure the great tribulation that is coming. And happy are they who will not deny their own life.”

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day also Systematic Theology by Norman Geisler he offers a good argument for and against both pre and post trib.

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day the great C.S. Lewis was also post-trib.

    • Reply September 10, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day In Jack Hayford’s Study Bible he refers to the following interpretations of eschatology as option; pre, mid, post, partial, prewrath, evangelical post mil, and Amil.

  • Reply September 10, 2019

    Joshwa Bedford

    Troy Day also, St. Augustine was Amillenial. So, quite clearly premillennialism is not a requirement to be a Pentecostal. Like I’ve said, we can lovingly discuss these topics in brotherly and sisterly love. When it comes to eschatology not one particular interpretation is correct. What is correct is that one day the church will be raptured and one day Christ will return. How God decides to do it is not up to us, it’s up to Him.

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Joshwa Bedford why are you still dancing around the question – is Mike Brown amil like you falsely claimed? or post-trib pre-mil as his NEW book tells us? pls answer

    Most of the examples you give are irrelevant to the discussion 🙂 Did you even read the paper by the UK bretheren I posted

    Augustine, CS Lewis were NOT Pentecostal Erickson is dead baptist Jack Heyford is pre-mil pre-trib 🙂 Why give all these irrelevant examples? when we ALL know that early Pentecostals were pre-trib premil and most early church fathers were premil too

    Can you cite from the Bible where where Jesus says He was postmil – come on

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Joshwa Bedford

    Troy Day see you have an excuse for everything. With all due respect I feel like I hit a brick wall when trying to discuss theology with you.

    Can you cite where Jesus says he was premil? You cannot because Jesus even says the hour of His return only the Father knows.

    I don’t have time to continue this with you I’m respectfully backing out of this conversation.

    Also, thanks for deleting my poll, it was showing real numbers on Pentecostals who don’t think pretrib view is necessary for being a Pentecostal.

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Joshwa Bedford No excuse – you cant cite baptist Erickson who is dead on pre-Trib per his DTS affiliation as proof to your notion That’s like saying see Augustine is a-mil meaning pre-trib is Biblical – your logic does not add up YES I can cite lots of things BUT first can you stick to OP and comment on the 5 differences PLS

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Joshwa Bedford

    Troy Day ?????

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Joshwa Bedford exactly – out of ammo eh?

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Joshwa Bedford

    Troy Day no just done debating with someone who is so closed minded to historical and biblical theology

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Joshwa Bedford got PhDs in both – what can I say to your poor attempt to broaden my horizons 🙂

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Matthew Hill

    Troy, I have an M.A. in philosophy and apologetics. I’m a resource for Joshwa. It’s reasonable for someone to appeal to his/her available resources. It’s no different than appealing to a book reference or Poscast or YouTube video.

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Matthew Hill Good to know – glad to have you Joshwa Bedford can certainly use a life line about now

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Matthew Hill

    I will respond shortly. I have to go catch a bus. Haha. I’m gonna read through all.of this and then think through my response before posting.

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Joshwa Bedford

    Troy Day I’m not attacking you. I have given viable resources and suggestions and you have an excuse for them all. That is not an attack, it is simply pointing something out

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Joshwa Bedford your verbal resources are plainly wrong

    Millard J. Erickson is Baptist – his theology sides with Dallas TS They ALL hold not only pre-trib but dispensational pre-trib vide

    Hermas was NOT a church father – The Shepherd of Hermas is a Christian literary work of the late first half of the second century

    Dr. Norman Geisler is one of the best writers on the great mystery of the Rapture In his
    Norman Geisler.: A Friendly Response to Hank Hanegraaff he demolishes the idea that Prior to the nineteenth century all Christians-including all premillennialists-believed the rapture or the resurrection of believers and the second coming of Christ were simultaneous events and not two distinct happenings separated by at least seven years by stating

    This is plainly and simply false, Geisler wrote Hank Hanegraaff . The early Ephraem manuscript (see Thomas Ice, When the Trumpet Sounds, 110-111) reveals the pretrib view was held as early as the 300s A.D. And even if the first known reference is later, truth is not determined by time. This is the fallacy of “Chronological Snobbery.” The amillennial view itself (with which this point in LD accords) is “late” since most of the early Fathers were premillennial including Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and the early Augustine.

    On Augustine it is nice you recognize he was a-mil in his later life Many Calvinists claim he was post-mil which he never was but he was pre-mil earlier. That affects in NO way the fact that early Pentecostals were all pre-trib pre-mils

    C.S. Lewis was also post-trib. – he was NO Pentecostal either

    Jack Hayford is 100% pre-Trib pre-mil

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day as a Pentecostal myself, I don’t understand why so many Pentecostals reject what other people in other denominations say, who are not Pentecostal, especially Baptist’s. Pentecostals are the only “inspired” Christians in Church history. What makes me a Pentecostal is I recognize the Power of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe the gifts have ceased I am a continuationist. I’m trying to approach you with all the respect I can. My responses may have been abrasive, but they were not meant to feel like an attack or disrespectful. If I came across as such, please forgive me.

      If you knew me, I think you would see my heart behind my responses. All I’m trying to point out is that it is dangerous to be dogmatic in the nonessentials or the things we’re not fully certain of.

      The Pentecostal denomination is very young 1901, pre trib is also very young 1830 so of course Pentecostals would feel the urge to be pre trib. Here are my arguments against Pretrib:

      1. Not one tribulation theory is biblical. What is biblical is the rapture and the second coming of Christ.

      2. If Christians do endure the tribulation then a great number of people would fall away from the faith because they held so tightly to an unclear interpretation. Hence, the Great Apostasy.

      I consider myself to be pan-trib it will pan out how God wills.

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day also, I didn’t say Jack Hayford was, I said in his Spirit Filled Study Bible he refers to various options as an interpretation. I’ll comment photos

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Joshwa Bedford

      Troy Day from “The Last Days Handbook,” by Robert Lightner. This is what Jack Hayford references in his study bible. If he presents them as an option interpretation then he must not be too dogmatic on pre trib, pre mil.

    • Reply September 11, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Joshwa Bedford Spirit Filled Study Bible was not written by Jack alone bu all your arguments are beyond the point of OP Can you show ANY early Pentecostals in America that were NOT pre-mil?

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Matthew Hill

    Troy Day, you sound like the historic Catholic Church now, just calling something you dont agree with heresy or apostasy. Its only heresy if it denies the salvific work of Christ on the cross, or that the Second Com in ng is going to happen. The Rapture, tribulation, millennium reign, nine of that is salvation-centric. You can be equally saved whether or not you are Pre-Ttib or Post-Trib.

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Matthew Hill

    Okay, Ivw read the OP and all of the conversation thus far. And, as someone who literally has a Graduate degree in arguing (and I dont know what your Ph.d is in, but it doesnt seem to be in philosophy and apologetics. Please forgive me if I’m incorrect.) You have committed a number of errord which Josh has managed to avoid. First, you have committed the Genetic Fallady like it’s a fun day at the park. It doesnt matter what denomination or sect of the ONE CHURCH a person adheres to, that, in and of itself. Doesnt disqualify him or her from the possibility of being correct, and more that you being a Pentacostal renders you immune from error. Secondly, you consistently fail to hold yourself to the standards you seem to be holding Joshwa to. The burden of proof always lies on the person making the claim. You claim at one point above that Joshwa should provide sources for his claim, then why dont you provide sources for yours? Thirdly, are you really going to degree shame people. Is that the point if getting a Ph.D, so you can use it as a shield or even a weapon against peopl who have lower degrees. A ph.D is super impressive, but people stop being as impressed when a Ph.D holder throws his or her degree around like you do. There are many people who potentially know as much d you do, but dont have a Ph.D for various reasons. And there are plenty of people, potentially, that know MORE than you, with or without a Ph.D. and, back to thenprociding of sources, what is the earliest reference to a pre-trib interpretation of eschatology that you know of. Please provide the actual source of your response so that I can fact check it. Lastly, please dont use the field that I , and many others, have dedicated their life to (amongst other things), namely philosophy and argumentation itself, and dishonor the practice by making it an exercise of your own ego. Ask Josh, he and I disagree on A LOT of things. For instance, I am opposed to Pentacostalism. He is a Pentacostal. I accept evolution as being compatible with Scripture, while Josh is more skeptical of that. He tend to read Acrupure more literally than Idoz whilenI tend to be in the camp of Figures like Augustine and Origin, and Irenaeous who was a “literalist,” but in the sense of what people mean today as “reading Scripture literally.” But never have I, in general, am far more educated and more knowledgable than he is. But never do I dismiss his point of view becuase of that fact. It’s called humility, and the recognition that, unless I’m Gid himself, I am capable of being completely erroneous and fallacious and everything I think is correct.

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    Matthew Hill do you have anything to say about the OP?

  • Reply September 11, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    oh HOLD ON Joshwa Bedford Matthew Hill I just re-read ALL your posts to grasp your take on OP but none of them speak about OP – just some general arguments from other posts that are irrelevant – Do you have anything to say about the 5 differences ?

  • Reply November 18, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    they are pretty clear RichardAnna Boyce Allan Boyd Forhimforever Jerry Neil Steven Lawrence need we repeat them again

    • Reply November 19, 2019

      Neil Steven Lawrence

      Troy Day My only question is, if a believer doesn’t believe in the rapture does that mean he will miss it…

      I can just see it now as they’re soaring skyward, “no no I’m not supposed to go now!“

    • Reply November 19, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Neil Steven Lawrence YES – miss it – faith is required

  • Reply February 3, 2020

    Varnel Watson

    there are perhaps MORE Gary Micheal Epping

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