Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jesus’ Return and the Rapture

I have done a search of the Scriptures to try and pull all of the verses that describe Jesus' Second Coming, and the rapture of Christ-followers. First, here is a quick summary of these verses. I am providing this summary in hopes that it encourages those believers who read this, in that there are lots of verses that speak of Jesus' return. And there are lots of details that can only be brought out when these verses are all brought together. Here is my summary:


Topical Review of Rapture Verses:

Jesus will come on the clouds;    Matt. 24:29; Acts 1:11

Dead in Christ will rise first;    1 Thess. 4:16

Christ-followers alive at the Second Coming will rise up to meet Him in the air;    1 Thess. 4:17

Christ will come a second time to save those who eagerly await Him;    Hebrews 9:28

At Jesus' Coming, Christ-followers will be changed in an instant, and we will have our perishable bodies replaced with imperishable bodies; 1 Cor. 15:51-53

At Jesus' return, believers' lowly bodies will be transformed into something like His glorious body; Phil. 3:21

When He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He really is;    1 John 3:2

Once Jesus returns, Christ-followers will always be with Jesus;    1 Thess. 4:17

Jesus has prepared a place for Christ-followers in His Father's house;    John 14:2

When Christ appears, Christ-followers will appear with Him in glory;    Col. 3:4

At His return, we will receive an unfading Crown of glory;    1 Peter 5:4 (perhaps also described as a Crown of Righteousness in 2 Timothy 4:8)

Creation waits and groans for the appearing of the Sons of God;    Romans 8:19, :23

One will be taken from the field, the other left;    Matt. 24:40; Luke 17:34

At His coming, other believers we have brought to the Lord will be our hope, joy and crown of boasting; 1 Thess. 2:19

The Day of Jesus' Coming will not happen until the rebellion first takes place, and the revealing of the man of lawlessness;    2 Thess. 2:3

Immediately after the Tribulation, the Son of Man will come on the clouds and His angels will gather together His elect;    Matt. 24:29-31 (Does anyone know how the pre-Trib believers understand this verse?)


OK, I have one additional topic I would ask you to consider: the main Gospel description of Jesus' return for believers is contained in the Olivet Discourse, Matt. 24:29-:31. But these verses clearly say that Jesus returns for believers only AFTER the Tribulation is over. This is a rather clear statement that Jesus will not come until after the Tribulation is finished. As you remember, the main end-time evangelical view is Pre-Tribulation/Pre-Millennial, meaning that they understand that Jesus comes with a secret rapture of believers, before the 7 years of Tribulation. I have a difficult time reconciling this with Matthew 24:29-:31, which says:


Matt. 24:29-:31 - 29"Immediately after the tribulation of those daysall the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.


And so, these verses show that immediately after the Tribulation (and remember in Matt. 24:22, that only for the sake of the elect, the days of the Tribulation are shortened) Jesus and His angels return to gather the elect. So this looks to be a challenging verse for those with a Pre-Trib view. I did find one commentary with a Pre-Trib explanation, but I do not find it very persuasive:


…"A trumpet call will send angels to gather the saved from throughout the earth (24:31). This refers not to the rapture of the church, which will occur before the Tribulation (see exposition on 1 Thess. 4:13–18), but to the actual coming of Christ to earth about seven years later at the end of the Tribulation, at which time he will inaugurate his millennial Kingdom." Wilmington's Bible Handbook.


So Wilmington's Bible Commentary says that Matt. 24:31 description of Jesus' return to gather the elect from the four winds, is not a description of the rapture? And this is instead a description of the much less numerous who come to a saving faith during the Tribulation? Are they allowing their presumption that the rapture takes place before the Tribulation to cover over the plain language of Matt. 24:29-31, which says that only after the Tribulation does Jesus and His angels come for all of the elect? Is there anyone out there that would like to try and reconcile a Pre-Trib rapture view with Matt. 24:29-31? God's blessings to you, and any comments are appreciated.

No comments: