The Rapture and His Glorious Appearing

The Second Coming of Christ is mentioned eight times more often in the Bible than His First Coming. His Second Coming is cited 318 times in the New Testament alone, with all nine authors of the New Testament referring to it. The doctrine of salvation is the only doctrine in the entire Bible that gets more attention than the Second Coming. No one disputes that Jesus will come again; the dispute is whether His Second Coming will be in one phase or two and when He will come for His Church. Here, I will show why I believe His Second Coming will be in two phases: the Rapture and His Glorious Appearing.

I take the dispensationalist approach to my Bible study, which means that I interpret the Bible literally, understanding words and statements in the Bible in their ordinary, usual way, and take into account all that the Bible says on these issues. Based on this approach, I believe that Christ’s Second Coming will occur in two stages: the Rapture and His Glorious Appearing.

Somewhere in my studies, I came across this analogy, which helped me understand Christ’s Second Coming. The analogy compares the Second Coming of Christ to a two-act play that has a seven-year intermission. During the first act, Jesus comes for the Church, in what we call the “Rapture.” At the end of the first act is a seven-year intermission, the Tribulation. Then the second act begins with Jesus’ Glorious Appearing with His Church on earth to rule and reign for 1,000 years.

In The Church, we saw the Rapture from a bird’s-eye view. However, here, we will swoop down and view this significant event in more detail and look at for the first time His Glorious Appearing. We will then explore the differences between the two phases of His Second Coming. 

Christ’s Second Coming

The nation of Israel was always looking ahead to their Messiah, the one who would save them and establish an eternal kingdom on earth to rule and reign. What they didn’t expect was that their Messiah would come twice. The first time He would come to suffer for the sins of the world, die on the cross, and then rise again, giving those who believe eternal life. The second time He would come to execute judgment on unbelievers and establish the millennial kingdom.

Just as there are two “comings” of Jesus, there are also two stages of His Second Coming: the Rapture and the Glorious Appearing. During the Rapture, Jesus will come suddenly to “carry away” His Church in the air and take all believers to His Father’s house in fulfillment of His promise in John 14:1-3. Then after the Rapture, Jesus will return to earth in power and great glory to establish His rule and reign in what we call “His Glorious Appearing” (Revelation 19:11-20).

When we read the biblical text carefully, we find that the Rapture and the Glorious Appearing occur in different ways, different places, at different times, and for different purposes.

Different Ways

His Glorious Appearing

In the Rapture, Christ comes for believers in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16). However, in the Glorious Appearing, Christ comes with believers to the earth (Revelation 3:14). Only those belonging to Christ see Him during the Rapture, yet at His Glorious Appearing, every eye – believer and unbeliever alike will see Him (Revelation 1:7).

During the Rapture, believers are filled with joy because Jesus, who they have waited for, has finally arrived. But, when the world sees Jesus at His Glorious Appearing, they will mourn because they are not ready (Revelation 1:7).

When Christ appears in the clouds during the Rapture, all Christians are translated into new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). However, at His Glorious Appearing, there is no translation of bodies – those believers who come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation are not translated but will build and plant and have children (Isaiah 65:20-25).

Different Places

Jesus takes believers to His Father’s house (John 14:3) at the time of the Rapture. Yet, at His Glorious Appearing, resurrected saints remain on earth (Matthew 24:31; Revelation 20:4).

Different Times

The Rapture is imminent (James 5:7-9). It could occur today or tomorrow. It could happen at any time. There are no signs that must come before Jesus returns for His Church.  On the other hand, Jesus’ Glorious Appearing comes after the Tribulation and only occurs after many signs proceed it (Joel 3:12-16), and it cannot happen until after the Tribulation (Matthew 24:29).

Different Purposes

During the Rapture, Jesus removes His Church from the earth. As part of Christ, the Church does not have a purpose in the Tribulation. Jesus promised the Church that He would protect them from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to the world (Revelation 3:10). Additionally, the Church is not mentioned during the Great Tribulation described in Revelation 4-22.

When Christ makes His Glorious Appearing, He descends from Heaven and arrives on earth to judge the Gentile nations (Zechariah 14:1-5, Matthew 25:31-36) and set up His Kingdom.  During the Rapture, there is no judgment on the earth.

Christ’s Return for the Church

The day before Jesus died on the cross, He promised His disciples that He would return and take them from the earth to go with Him to His Father’s house (John 14:2-3, John 14:2-3). The disciples waited in anticipation for His return. As Christ’s disciples, we also eagerly wait for His return (Philippians 3:20, 1 Corinthians 1:7, Titus 2:13)!Philippians 3:20, 1 Corinthians 1:7, Titus 2:13)!

The word “Rapture” is used to describe the moment Jesus removes believers from the earth and takes them to Heaven. The English word Rapture comes from the Latin word raptis, which translates to the Greek word “harpazo, meaning “to suddenly remove or snatch away.” This same word was used to describe how Philip was suddenly “carried” away (Acts 8:39) after ministering to the eunuch, how Paul ended up in the third Heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), and Christ’s ascension to Heaven (Revelation 12:5). In the same way, we will also be carried away at the Rapture.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 provide details about the events surrounding Christ’s return for us. First, we see the return of Christ. It will happen in a “blink of the eye” without warning. Christ will descend from Heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and a trumpet. Second, there will be a resurrection. Christ will bring with Him the spirits of those believers who have already died. They will be resurrected and united with their now glorified bodies. Then those who are alive will also receive their glorified bodies! Third, there will be a reunion in the clouds of all believers who will meet together in the air with Christ. Finally, we are given a reassurance that from that time on, we will be with the Lord forever!

Right now, we are somewhere in the first act of the play, eagerly awaiting to meet Jesus in the clouds during the Rapture. We will spend the intermission with Jesus in Heaven, getting ready for our return to earth with our Savior during the second act, His Glorious Appearing, where we will rule and reign with Him during His millennial kingdom. As we wait, “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”. – Hebrews 10:24-25


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