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What Is the Difference Between the Rapture and the Second Coming?

This is one of prophecy's greatest misconceptions. The Rapture and the Second Coming are often confused, but they are distinct events, with distinct purposes, on God's prophetic timeline.

At the Rapture, Jesus will return for His saints.
At the Second Coming, He will return with His saints.

At the Rapture, Jesus will not descend to earth.
At the Second Coming, He will descend to the Mount of Olives as a prelude to His earthly reign.

At the Rapture, Jesus will bring a blessing for His saints.
At the Second Coming, He will bring judgment for those who have rejected Him.

The Rapture could occur at any moment.
The Second Coming will occur seven years later.

When the Rapture occurs, Christ will take every deceased and every living Christian to heaven with Him. Paul describes this glorious event in 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

The Rapture will protect God's saints from the Tribulation—the seven years of judgment that will be poured out on earth between the Rapture and the Second Coming. There are some who argue the Tribulation period will begin before the Rapture. However, the Bible says that "there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1), which suggests the Church will not experience God's judgment during the Tribulation.

Seven years after the Rapture, Jesus will return to earth in the event known as the Second Coming. His return will be entirely different from His arrival in Bethlehem as a humble Child. When Christ returns, He will appear as the exalted King of the universe, surrounded by His saints. The powers of evil will be quickly defeated at the Battle of Armageddon, and then Christ will establish His everlasting kingdom on earth.

For a more thorough study of the Rapture and the Second Coming, read chapters 12 and 27 in The Book of Signs.

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The Book of Signs

31 Undeniable Prophecies of the Apocalypse

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