graphic with the words of the title

How to Distinguish Between Rapture vs. Return

As prophesied, the Lord Jesus is coming again. First He comes in the sky to remove the Church Age Saints prior to the seven years of horrific Tribulation. Then again seven years later to defeat Satan and rule from Jerusalem as King of the Earth for 1000 years.

timeline with before time at the left and after time at the right; between them is Adam, Noah, Israel, the cross, church, 7 (years of tribulation), and 1000 (years after tribulation

But not everyone believes the Lord will first return to whisk away the Believers before the horrible tribulation. They just can’t seem to understand the fact that the Lord “Paid it all” on the Cross. But He did. And we’ve passed out of judgment:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24

All of our sins, past, present and future, were nailed to the Cross some 2000 years ago. Whatever you did wrong yesterday, whatever you do wrong today and whatever you do wrong in the future was all covered by Jesus blood atonement.

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Col. 2:13-14

So there is nothing left for you to do, or not do, in this life. You are as cleansed as you’ll ever be and ready to meet the Lord in the air just as you are. You won’t have to endure a future tribulation as there is nothing that has not already been paid for on the Cross.

“For God has not destined us for wrath,” 1 Thes. 5:9

More than anything, we’re not instructed to look down, at the earth, for the Antichrist, but rather to look up, to heaven, for Jesus Christ!

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the earth.” Col. 3:2

This means we’re looking for the true white horse of Revelation 19:11, not the false white horse of Revelation 6:2. But the two arrivals can still be confusing. Sometimes it’s hard to know which verse refers to the Rapture and which verses refer to the Return. So the following will help clear the fog.

Clear and distinct Scriptural differences

The clearest way to distinguish between the two is to determine if the verse in question is referring to the Lord coming “for” His saints, or “with” His saints.

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Th. 4:16-17

“so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” 1 Th. 3:13

Consider these other differences in the two events:

graphic listing terms to distinguish between rapture/translation and 2nd coming/established kingdom

 These two list comparisons show in no uncertain terms that there are definitely two distinct comings, coming for His Church and coming with His Church. Nothing could be plainer in Scripture!

Therefore, using the comparisons above to guide our reasoning, the following is a fairly decent list compiled by Tommy Ice showing the difference in the Rapture/Arrival verses to the 2nd Coming/Return verses:

Rapture Verses:

John 14:1-3 – Receive you to Myself
Rom 8:19 – Revealing of God
1 Cor 1:7-8 – Revelation of God
1 Cor 15:51-53 – A mystery that happens in the twinkling of an eye
1 Cor 16:22 – Come quickly, Lord
Phil 4:5 – The Lord is near
Col 3:4 – Christ revealed
1 Thes 1:10 – Rescued from wrath
1 Thes 2:19 – In presence of Jesus
1 Thes 4:13-18 – We meet the Lord in the air
1 Thes 5:9 – Not destined for wrath
1 Thes 5:23 – Without blame
2 Thes 2:1 – Gather together to Him
2 Thes 2:3 – Apostasy comes first
Titus 2:14 – He redeems us
Heb 9:28 – We eagerly await Him
James 5:7-9 – Coming of Lord is near
1 Pet 1:7,13 – The revelation
1 Pet 5:4 – Shepherd appears
1 John 2:28-3:2 – When He appears
Jude 21 – We wait anxiously
Rev 2:25 – Until He comes
Rev 3:10 – Keep from the hour of testing

Second Coming Verses:

Ezek 21:27 – He comes Whose right it is
Dan 2:44,45 – Kingdom endures forever
Dan 7:9-14 – Kingdom never destroyed
Dan 12:1-3 – Time of distress
Zech 2:10 – Jesus will live in our midst on earth
Zech 12:10 – Him Whom they pierced
Zech 13:9 – Jews call on Jesus
Zech 14:1-15 – All nations against Jerusalem
Zech 14:4 – Jesus Stands on Mt. of Olives
Zech 14:5 – Saints come with Him/
Zech 14:9 – He will be King over earth
Mal 3:1 – Comes to His Temple
Matt 13:41 – Angels gather offenders
Matt 24:15-31 – Follows the Great Tribulation
Matt 26:64 – Jesus comes in the clouds
Mark 13:14-27 – Follows the time of Tribulation
Mark 14:62 – Right hand of power
Luke 21:25-28 – Signs in sun, moon, stars precede event
Acts 1:9-11 – Jesus will come in the sky
Acts 3: 19-21 – Time of refreshing
1 Thes 3:13 – Comes with His saints
2 Thes 1:6-10 – Revealed from heaven
2 Thes 2:8 – Jesus defeats Satan
1 Pet 4:12, 13 – We rejoiced at His coming
2 Pet 3:1-14 – Day of God
Jude 14,15 – Lord comes with holy ones
Rev 1:7 – Every eye will see Him
Rev 19:11-20 – Heavenly armies with Him
Rev 20:1-6 – Binds Satan
Rev 22: 7,12,20 – I am coming

Therefore comfort one another with these words - 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verse 18

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