The Return of Christ Is Not The Rapture
For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Matthew 24:27 ESV
It’s important to understand the unique difference between the rapture and the return of Christ. While you could say it’s one event in being that Jesus’s rapture is at the beginning of his return and the arrival on earth after the tribulation is the second half of his return. It’s still important to distinguish between the two. As Dr. Mark Hitchcock has done in his book titled, The End.
At the Return
- Christ comes to earth (Zechariah 14:4)
- Christ comes with His Saints (I Thessalonians 3:13, Jude 14)
- Movement from Heaven to earth
- Many signs (Matthew 24:4-29)
- Time of destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)
- Involves Israel, Gentiles nations (Matthew 24, 25)
- Will be visible to the entire world (Matthew 24:27, Revelation 1:7)
At the Rapture
- Christ comes in the air (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)
- Christ comes for His Saints (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)
- Movement from earth to heaven
- No signs needed
- Time of blessing (I Thessalonians 4:18)
- Involves believers (John 14:1-3, I Corinthians 15:51-55, I Thessalonians 4:13-18)
- Will occur in the blink of the eye (I Corinthians 15:51-52)
It’s important to see that while the rapture and the return of Christ are different they are still part of his Second Coming plan. The rapture is in a sense phase one of his Second Coming and Jesus' literal return after the tribulation is the second phase. Note the differences listed above. In the Rapture, Christ comes in the air, and at the Return, he comes to earth! At the rapture Christ comes for his Saints in his air rescue operation, at his return he comes with his Saints to wage war! This is all part of God’s two-part plan called the Second Coming.
Take some time to look up the differences between the rapture and return of Christ.