Online Bible Study: Rapture for Saints vs. Return with Saints

Last update: November 10, 2002

In the Old Testament, there were 2 different pictures painted of the Messiah: one suffering (Pss 22:6-8,11-18; Isa 53:2-10) and one reigning as King (Pss 2:6-12; Zech).  Sometimes, a single verse is a prophesy of both:  Isa 61:2, only 1/2 of which Jesus read and said was fulfilled in Luke 4:18-21. Those who denied half the scriptures, or expected only one set of verses, or expected all scriptures to be fulfilled at one singular moment in time made a grave error.

As we study these scriptures from the Holy Bible, we see they predicted two separate comings of the Messiah: the first coming as a suffering Messiah and the second coming (still future) as a reigning King.

In the New Testament, considering the second advent, we again have two pictures to consider, and they donít look the same. As before, these two different descriptions of Jesus coming point to two separate events.  The first event, we call "The Rapture".  The second event, we call "The Return with the Saints", or the glorious appearing, or the return after the tribulation.

This page originally labeled the return at the end of the tribulation as "the second coming", and many pretrib teachers still use that term.  I think that term is misleading.  I believe entire process from the pretribulation rapture to the return in glory after the tribulation, is all "the second advent".  The first advent of Christ was when he appeared in the flesh and died on the cross, and appeared to the disciples several times after his resurrection.  Just as all those appearings are the "first advent", so too, is the appearing at the rapture and the appearing at the return seven years later both part of the "second advent" or "second appearing/coming".  The entire second advent is all part of the "Day of the Lord", which starts with the rapture.  The fact that Jesus appears at Edom, and Bozrah, and Meggido or Armageddon and also on the Mt. of Olives, does not indicate two or three or four "other comings" after the tribulation.  Therefore, neither is the rapture "another coming".

The Rapture (and resurrection) occurs before the 7 year Great Tribulation.

The The Return with the Saints occurs after the 7 year Great Tribulation, at Armageddon.

Listed below are 15 differences between the Rapture and the The Return with the Saints.

This list is by no means complete and presents only a brief look at the many contrasts between these two events.  This list is only a very brief introduction to the topic of the pretribulation rapture.
  Rapture   The Return with the Saints
1 Jesus coming for His Church/Bride up to Heaven, before tribulation.  Luke 21:36; John 14:1-3; 1Thess 1:10, 4:14-17, 5:9; Rev 3:10 1 Jesus coming with His Church/Bride down from Heaven, after tribulation. Zech 14:5; Col 3:4; Rev 19:7-8,14, 21:9-10; Matt 24:29-31; Jud 1:14,15; 1Thess 3:13
2 Caught up with Him in the air, in the clouds,  1Thess 4:13-18;

Appears to Believers only. Mat 5:8, John 11:40, Heb 9:28
Jesus' feet touch the earth Zech 14:4; Rev 19:11-21, and he brings war, then peace.

Every eye will see him, including unbelievers. Rev 1:7, Zech 12:10, Mat 24:30 Luke 3:6 John 19:37
3 Christians taken first, unbelievers are left behind a shut door. Mat 25:1-13; Rev 3:8-10; Rev 4:1, 1Thess 4:13-18 3 Wicked are taken first, Mat 13:28-30 the righteous (Tribulation saints) are left to populate the millinnium
4 Purpose: To present the Church to Himself and to the Father in Heaven, 2 Cor 11:2; Rev 19:6-9 4 Purpose: To execute judgment on earth and set up His Kingdom on earth.  Zech 14:3-4; Jud 1:14-15; Rev 19:11-21
5 Purpose: to cast satan out of heaven (Rev 12) down to the earth, which will reveal Satan for the Tribulation as the man of sin  2Thess 2 5 Purpose:  to cast Satan to the bottomless pit, to bind Satan after the Tribulation. Rev 20:1-7
6 Happens in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, no war, globally.  1Cor 15:52 6 Slow coming, at war, to specific locations, from Edom, to Bozrah, to Meggido or Armageddon, to Jerusalem. Isa 63:1-3, Rev 16:16, Zech 12:9-10
7 Christians are changed, and get spirit bodies, go to heaven and do not marry, and become immortal; Mat 22:30; 1Cor 15:52; 1John 3:2 7 People populate the earth during the millinnium, some people still die, not being changed to immortality as at the rapture. Isa 65:20
8 Jesus descends with a shout (for resurrection) and trumpet noise. 1Thess 4:16 8 No shout mentioned Rev 19:11-21
9 A resurrection takes place of all saints to immortality, to rule as kings and priests in Heaven over Earth 1Cor 15:51-54; 1Thess 4:13-18 9 Resurrection of the tribulation saints to immortality who worship day and night in the temple of God. Rev 7:15, Rev 20:4-6, 
10 Occurs as a thief in the night, at the 'no man knows the day or hour' festival of the Feast of Trumpets. Mat 24:43; 1Thess 5:4-6; Rev 3:3 10 Occurs at end of 7 years of Tribulation; exact day predicted; 3.5 years or 1260 days after the abomination of desolation: Dan 9:24-27, 12:11-12; Rev 11:2, 12:6,14, 13:5
11 Is likened to the abduction of the bride during the Jewish Wedding, and the union of the bride and groom, which occurs at the start of the 7 day bridal week. Gen 29:22-28, Judges 14:1-18
Is likened to the marriage feast, which occurs after the 7 day bridal week, returning from the wedding.  Luke 12:36; Rev 19
12 The dead in Christ rise and together with then living will be changed into their new bodies and leave Earth with Jesus. 1Thess 4:14-16 12 Christians return with Jesus in already resurrected bodies riding on white horses. Rev 19:11-21
13 Jesus returns as a savior from wrath Luke 21:36; Rom 5:9; 1Thess 1:10, 5:9; Rev 3:10 13 Jesus returns on a white horse, full of wrath. Rev 19:11
14 For the Church only (those in Christ) 1Thess 4:14-17 14 For redeemed Israel & Gentiles Mat 25:31-46; Rom 11:25-27
15 A message of hope and comfort 1Thess 4:18; Titus 2:13; 1John 3:3

Like the days of Noah and Lot, which show deliverance and salvation from judgement.  2 Peter 2:7-9, Mat 24:37-44
15 A message of judgment and woe Joel 3:12-16; Amos 5:18; Mal 4:5; Rev 19:11-21

Like the plagues of Egypt, many of which are mirrored in Revelation, pouring out his Wrath, and He comes after the judgements.

For further study:
The two main rapture chapters in the Bible are 1 Thess 4, and 1 Cor 15.
The two main return of the Lord chapters in the Bible are Zech 14 and Rev 19.

Count up how many similarities and differences you can see between those 4 chapters.
See what 1 Thess 4 and 1 Cor 15 have in common.  (Rapture, change to immortality, resurrection, trumpet blown, descent of Christ for his saints.)
See what Zech 14 and Rev 19 have in common.  (Return with saints, coming to make war on unbelievers)
See what Zech 14 and Rev 19 do not mention (no trumpet, no resurrection, no rapture) with regard to what is mentioned in 1 Thess 4 and 1 Cor 15.
See what 1Thess 4 and 1 Cor 15 do not mention (no war) with regard to details in common that are described in Zech 14 and Rev 19.

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