Rapture and Revelation
[To rightly understand the second coming of Christ, it is of vital importance to recognize] the distinction between the Rapture and the Revelation.
Rapture means to be caught up, or away.
Revelation (apokalupsis) means Appearing or shining forth or manifestation (Rom. 8:19).
The Rapture occurs when the Church is caught up to meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:14, 17), before the tribulation; and
The Revelation occurs when Christ comes, with His saints, to end the Tribulation, by the execution of righteous judgment upon the earth (2 Thess. 1:7-10; Jude 14).
At the Rapture, Christ comes into the air for His saints (John 14:3).
At the Revelation, He comes to the earth with them (1 Thess. 3:13; Zech. 14:5). He certainly must come for them before He can come with them. The assurance that God will bring them (Greek — lead them forth) with Jesus (1 Thess. 4:14) is evidence that He will first come for them, they being caught up to meet him in the air. Verse 17. The Greek word here rendered "to meet" signifies a going forth, in order to return with. The same word is used in Acts 28:15, where the brethren came out to meet Paul and had a season of thanksgiving with him at Appii Forum and the Three Taverns, when he was on his way to Rome. This exactly accords with our being caught up to meet Christ and afterward returning to the earth with Him.
Again, at the Rapture Christ comes as the Bridegroom (Matt. 25:10) to take unto Himself His bride, the Church (Eph. 5:25-32).
At the Revelation, He comes, with His bride, to rule the nations (Rev. 2:26-27; 5:10; 19:15).
At the Rapture He comes only to meet the saints in the air, 1 Thess. 4:17.
At the Revelation, He comes to the earth (Acts 1:11), and His feet stand upon the same Mount Olivet from which He ascended (Zech. 14:4-5).
At the Rapture the Church, like Enoch, is taken out of the world (Acts 15:13-17).
At the Revelation, the Millennial Kingdom is begun (Rom. 8:23).
In Luke 21:28, the Rapture is referred to at the beginning of the Tribulation. "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." (Redemption here meaning the first resurrection, same as in Rom. 8:23.)
In Luke 21:31, the Revelation is referred to, when "these things" (the Tribulation) have come to pass, and the kingdom of God draweth nigh.
The Rapture may occur any moment (Matt. 24:42).
The Revelation can not occur, until Antichrist be revealed, and all the times and seasons (which point to the day of the Lord) in Lev. 26, Daniel and Revelation be fulfilled.
The Revelation ushers in the day, the Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2; Luke 17:30; 2 Thess. 1:7-10).
The failure to make this distinction has led to great confusion among commentators upon this subject.
For instance: In 2 Thess. chapter 2, the apostle, in the first verse, speaks of the Rapture, to-wit: the coming of the Lord and our gathering together unto Him, of which He had written so fully in the previous epistle, especially in the 4th chapter.
In the second verse he speaks of the Revelation, or Day of the Lord, which could not come, except there be a falling away first, and the "man of sin" and "that wicked," or the Antichrist, be revealed.
And yet, most commentators have argued that the apostle, in both of these verses, referred to one and the same event, and thus they have made Scripture contradict itself.
But we see plainly, that Paul had no intention of contradicting Christ's admonitions, unto all, to watch for His coming, as being imminent. Mark 13:35-37; Luke 12:35-40. He only made the distinction, as above stated, between the Rapture and the Revelation. The persecuted Thessalonians thought that they were in the Tribulation, and that the Day of the Lord had set in. But Paul corrects them, first by reminding them that the Lord had not come for them yet, as He had said that He would (1 Thess. 4:15-17), and then by adding certain other things which must occur before the Day of the Lord should come. He had told them that the Day of the Lord should come as a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2), but that they were not of the night, and therefore He exhorts them to watch and be sober (Luke 21:36).
Another evidence of the difference between the Rapture and Revelation consists in the fact that the Church is to escape the Tribulation, which precedes the Revelation (Matt. 24:29-30).
Enoch, a type of the Church, by his rapture, — that is by being caught away or translated (Heb. 11:5) — escaped the flood.
Christ says, in Luke 21:36, "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
And in keeping with this injunction He gave a blessed promise to the Church, in Rev. 3:10, viz.: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly," etc. A special hour, or time, of temptation — i.e., trial — is here mentioned, which shall come upon all the world (oikoumenee — the whole habitable — same word in Matt. 24:14 — all the world).
It is a time of trouble not limited to Judea, but as extensive as the inhabited earth. This accords with the great tribulation described in Mat. 24:21, a "tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world ... nor ever shall be."
Jesus promises to keep the Church from, or (ek) out of this tribulation, or hour of temptation, that is, the watchful and prayerful believers will escape it. Luke 21:36. Now, as it covers the whole earth, there is no way of escape from it, but to be taken out of the world, and this is accomplished by the Rapture. Acts 15:14, and 1 Thess. 4:17, which thus presents a glorious deliverance for the Church.
The elect (Matt. 24:22), a portion of Israel (Isa. 65:9, see also verses 15, 22 and Rom. 11:5-7), will be gathered back to Jerusalem (Isa. 1:26-27; Zech. 10:6-10), and pass through the fire, or great trial (Zech. 13:8-9; Psa. 57:1; Isa. 26:20-21). Like Enoch, the Church escapes from it.
Like Noah, Israel passes through it.
So the Church should humble herself to walk with God (Micah 6:8), as Enoch did (Gen. 5:24), having the testimony that she pleases God (Heb. 11:5), and watch for the Rapture at any moment.
The Jews, through their dates and seasons, may look for the Revelation, or day of the Lord, a day of thick darkness to them, in which there is no light at all (Amos 5:18-20). Yet, in it they will accept Christ (Zech. 12:9-10) and "at evening time it shall be light," and "living waters shall go out from Jerusalem." Zech. 14:6-8.
The Rapture, or being caught away, at the coming of the Bridegroom, is full of the sweetest comfort for the believer, and therefore Paul says, "Comfort one another with these words." 1 Thess. 4:18.
But the Revelation of Christ with His Saints, to take vengeance on the ungodly, is full of solemnity and terror to them who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 6:12-17; also 2 Thess. 1:7-10).