The rapture is when Jesus Christ returns to remove His church (all who truly follow Christ) from the earth. The rapture is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54.
Believers who have died will have their bodies resurrected, and along with believers who are still living, will meet the Lord in the air. This will all occur in a moment--in the twinkling of an eye.
Conversely, the second coming is when Jesus returns to judge the earth, to defeat the Antichrist, to destroy evil, and establish His millennial kingdom. The second coming is described in Revelation 19:11-16.
The important differences between the rapture and second coming are as follows:
- At the rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, believers return WITH the Lord to the earth (Revelation 19:14).
- The second coming occurs AFTER the great and terrible tribulation (Revelation chapters 6–19). The rapture occurs BEFORE the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).
- The rapture is the removal of believers from the earth as an act of deliverance (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 5:9). The second coming includes the removal of unbelievers as an act of judgment (Matthew 24:40-41).
- The rapture will be secret and instant (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). The second coming will be visible to everyone (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:29-30).
- The second coming of Christ will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place(2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15-30; Revelation chapters 6–18).
- The rapture is imminent; it could take place at any moment (Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
The rapture and second coming are similar but separate events.
Both involve Jesus returning. Both are end-times events.
However, it is crucially important to recognize the differences.
- The rapture is the return of Christ in the clouds to remove all true believers from the earth before the time of God’s wrath.
- The second coming is the return of Christ to the earth to bring the tribulation to an end, to defeat the Antichrist and to usher in the 1000 year millennial reign of our Lord.
Here is the conclusion of the entire matter:
Jesus is coming back, that's a given.
So, He's either coming back as your redeemer or as your judge.
The choice is up to you.