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Rapture or Second Coming?

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By Nick P.


I know I'm going to get some emails because of this. I know some people are going to be upset. Some people might question my orthodoxy or salvation even. Some might question my biblical knowledge and my relationship with God. That's fine. I know I'm dealing with a delicate issue but a friend has asked me to write on this as she is studying it and wants all views. Thus, I am writing on why I believe in the Second Coming along and not a pre-tribulational rapture.

Let us get some facts clear though. Before we answer the question of the Second Coming we must answer the primary question, did Jesus say he would come again?
We have several key pieces of evidence here.

In Matthew 24, and other passages from the synoptics that share this discourse, Jesus gives the signs of his Second Coming to the Earth.
Luke 17:22-37 gives an account of Jesus talking about his Second Coming.
In Acts 1:9-11, the angels tell us that this same Jesus who left will return again.
The Pauline epistles repeatedly speak with the words "Come Lord Jesus" and whole books like 1 Thess & 2 Thess. deal with this topic.
The other epistles also speak in similar language such as 2 Peter 3.
Revelation ends with the promise of Jesus's coming.

Now the next obvious question is, how many times is Jesus coming?

Hebrews 9:28 that as Christ appeared once to bear the sins of many, he will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await him.
There is no mention of either of three comings in any way. The best thing to do then is to look at things that are said to happen at the second coming and see if we have any correspondence elsewhere.

1 Thess. 4:17-One of the most often quoted "rapture" passages says there will be a mass resurrection at the second coming. Is there any way to date when this will be?

John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54-In all of these verses, Jesus says he will raise up those who believe in him on the last day.
John 11:24-25 has the discussion with Martha and Jesus on the resurrection at the last day. Jesus never says the resurrection isn't on the last day which would correspond to what he said earlier.
John 12:48-Speaks of the last day and describes it as a day of judgment also.
John 5:28-29 speaks of one resurrection for the righteous and the wicked at a specific hour. (The reason the wicked aren't mentioned in Thessalonians is because Paul is writing about the Christians' concerns about their brethren who have died. He's not addressing eschatological curiosity on the fate of the wicked.
Daniel 12:2-3-speaks of one resurrection en masse of the righteous and the wicked.
Acts 24:15-Paul speaks of his being on trial for his belief in the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked.

Does Paul give any other clues on this day? There are some in 2 Thess. 2

There is an apostasy first
The man of lawlessness appears (Antichrist is a term used only by John but it is certain Paul has the same sort of figure in mind.)
The man of lawlessness does what he came to do.
Furthermore, the man of lawlessness cannot be revealed unless the restrainer is taken out of the way. Thus, the restrainer is taken out of the way, the man of lawlessness is revealed, and then the Second Coming happens.

Thus, it seems that the Second Coming and the resurrection happen at the same time! This would mean that if John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54 as well as 11:24-25 are correct, 1 Thess. 4 describes an event that happens at the last day. We can look also at John 12:48 and see that this is a day of judgment also. Now to go to more evidence.

In Matthew 25 Jesus gives three parables abuot judgment taking place. In none of these is a time of a second chance given.
In Rev. 20 it is after the Second Coming of Christ that the judging appears. A coming of Christ is nowhere explicitly mentioned until Rev. 19.

Thus, it is most probable that the resurrection occurs and all is brought to a close on the last day as all are judged. Furthermore, for those who hold a literal view of Revelation, Revelation 20 says that the first resurrection happens AFTER the Second Coming of Christ. It is not 7 years before. (Note:Amillenialists like myself interpret it as a spiritual resurrection for the first which represents being born again in Christ who is the resurrection and the life. Hence, those who are born again are unaffected by the Second Death.)

Now let's look at some passages in opposition.

In Luke 24:36 we are told to pray that we may escape these things. The obvious question to ask is "What things?"

Jesus has just finished describing an event that probably largely represents more the destruction of Jerusalem. We can see this by comparing it to the Matthew account where he speaks about "Pray that your flight not take place in the Sabbath." and "That it not be in Winter." Today, neither of these would really apply to all peoples of the world. However, in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., it most certainly would apply.

Furthermore, if the rapture was a certainty and we would be taken out of the way, why pray that we be taken out of the way?

In Matthew 24 we read where it says "One will be taken, the other left."

In these accounts though, taken does not refer to being beamed out. It refers to death. We see this because Jesus compares it to the flood where all were taken away. Furthermore, in the Lucan account when he describes this the people ask where and he says, "Where there is a body, there the vultures will be gathered," which is a reference to death. I personally believe it is the wicked who are slain by the brightness of his coming. We are not slain because we are changed in an instant as 1 Cor. 15 says.

In 1 Thess. 5:9 it is told we are not appointed to wrath. To many, this represents a 7 year period of tribulation. Is this so though?

Wrath in the Bible is also described as a present reality. In Romans 1:18 we are told that the wrath of God IS being revealed from Heaven against mankind for wickedness. Even in 1 Thess. 2:16, the same epistle with the verse being looked at, Paul presents the wrath of God as a present reality.

In Rev. 3:10 the Philadelphian church is told they will be kept from the hour of testing. Does this refer to the trib?

The first point, is if it does, this is the only place where it is referred to so we cannot make a comparison. Secondly, the word used in here in Greek refers to guarding and not to removal. Third off, the Philippian church was never divinely removed from the persecutions of the Roman Emperors. This is a promise to that church.

Now some will ask, "Why would God want his children to suffer?"

Probably becasue it's never been the method of God to remove us from suffering but guide us through it. Jesus is never removed from suffering on the cross. 11 of the 12 apostles died martyr's deaths. Paul was beheaded. Hebrews 11 mentions the fate of many who followed God in the OT. Paul says we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22) Jesus says we will have suffering in this world. (John 16:33)

Furthermore, in the OT, God never removes Israel from Egypt during the plagues but he protects them through it. When the hailstones fall in Joshua 10, the Israelites are still in the midst of battle and God is protecting them. The Hebrew boys are not divinely removed from the furnace but are protected through it. On a lesser scale, Paul does not have the thorn in the flesh removed but is given grace to endure it.

Thus, the biblical data is clear. The Second Coming is the event Christians are to look for! We are not to look for an easy way out. In fact, the church has ALWAYS thrived under persecution. Look at the Chinese church. That church is thriving and it's being persecuted.

But there is still more evidence outside of the Bible. We don't see anyone teaching a rapture until the 1830's and it comes from a young girl who has a vision. I will let the reader do their own research but one can do a websearch for a list called "Rapture Watchers" where it talks about theologians and church fathers and such throughout the ages and what they said on the Second Coming.

Now I know some will disagree. That's fine. I just ask that it doesn't become an area of division. I write this merely for the sake of one asking questions. If my belief is an area of division to you, I will never discuss it with you as I would rather keep a friendship than divide over a non-essential.

And I will say I have several brothers and sisters in Christ who still believe in the rapture and will continue to do so. That is fine. I choose to not divide again and if there are any questions, discussion is always open.

Blessings of Christ on all as we watch for the Second Coming. Come Lord Jesus.

In Christ,


Email the author at ApologiaNick@wmconnect.com