The difference between the rapture and the second coming of Jesus Christ
The Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ
The difference between 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
Brethren, 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.
In the Second Coming, believers return with the Lord:
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 ; 1 Thessalonians 1: 10
The Second Coming will happen at the end of the Tribulation:
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:
4) Hidden – Versus – Seen by All
The Rapture, according to Scripture, will be an instantaneous, hidden event:
The Second Coming, according to Scripture, will be seen by everyone:
5) At Any Moment – Verses – Only After Certain Events
The Rapture could happen at any moment:
1 Corinthians 15:50-54
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18
The Second Coming won’t happen until certain events take place:
2 Thessalonians 2:4
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.