Matthew 24 – The Rapture Of Jesus, Or His Second Coming?

The subjects of the rapture of the church and of the second coming of Christ have been discussed many times, and by many people, but it has been my experience that a lot of bad information has been passed around during those studies and times of discussion. Through a lot of personal observation and study, I have found that many people use the two terms (rapture and 2nd coming) interchangeably, without providing sound documentation for having come to their conclusions. It is easy for any student of scripture to observe that Jesus discussed “Jewish things” with Jews, and that the Apostle Paul discussed Christian things with Christians. In the context of this 24th Chapter of Matthew the term “elect” refers to Jews. In Paul’s letters, he relates to the elect as being “the called” of the born again Body of Christ, which is the spiritual church of Christ. In relation to the rapture/catching up of the church, the event deals with Christ coming down from heaven, not landing on Earth, but calling His born-again body of Christ, the spiritual church, up to heaven where it will receive rewards at the judgment seat of Christ, and take place in the marriage of the Lamb. (During this time of rapture, rewards, and marriage, the tribulation is taking place on Earth). In Paul’s discussion with Christians, He does not talk about Jewish matters. Why, one might ask? It is because Jewish matters don’t relate to Christians in this matter. The second coming of Christ relates to Jesus coming from Heaven to Earth, with His saints (who were raptured, and have been in Heaven with Him during the time of tribulation on earth) where He will stand on the Mount of Olives. On His descent to Earth, He will win the Battle of Armageddon and set up his Millennial reign (1,000 years). Jesus uses Jewish terms to explain His second coming to Jews.

The 24th Chapter of Matthew follows. Passages of scripture will then be shown to illustrate the differences between the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ. I have not included scripture references for many other comments that will be found in this post. I have provided those scriptures many times in the past and will gladly provide them again, based on reader requests.

Matthew 24:1-31 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Signs of Christ’s Return

1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Perilous Times

15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18 Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

The Glorious Return

29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

Rapture Of The Church

John 14:1-3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Nothing is mentioned about the tribulation. The disciples, soon to be apostles, will become part of the born-again church. Jesus is now talking to “these Jews,” just like the Apostle Paul will discuss the event with Christians. Jesus will explain the events of the tribulation to the Jews in Matthew 24, because unbelieving Jews will be “left behind,” will miss the rapture, and will find themselves in the midst of the murderous reign of the Antichrist.

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

“1 Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

vs 3: “I will come again and receive you to be with Me in Heaven.” No mention of the tribulation is made.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

16 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.17 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.

Jesus will come in the air and catch up His believers to be with Him, “with the Lord.” Again, no mention of the tribulation.

1 Corinthians 15:50-54 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Mystery of Resurrection

50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.

This statement shows that those who are dead and alive, will be raised and changed, to have imperishable bodies, when Jesus comes in the air. No mention is made to these Christians of the tribulation. Why? Because born again believers in Christ will be caught up in the rapture and will not be present on earth while the tribulation is taking place.

Second Coming Of Christ

Matthew 24:29-31 New American Standard Bible (NASB) (This happens after the tribulation)

The Glorious Return

29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

The “elect,” the Jews, are the object of this passage. Jesus is seen by everyone on earth as He returns to earth.The elect (dead and alive) Jews are gathered together from all areas of the earth. (The regathering of Israel). These conditions of atmospheric rebellion will not be discussed with the future Christians by the Apostle Paul as something that they will have to endure.

Zechariah 14:1-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

God Will Battle Jerusalem’s Foes

1 Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south

Jesus returns to earth and stands on the Mount of Olives. Jesus was seated on the Mount of Olives while he was speaking with His disciples in Matthew Chapter 24:3.

Revelation 19:14-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in mid heaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”
19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

This is the same occurrence as that of Zechariah 14:1-4. In this passage, it shows that the armies of heaven (the saints who had been raptured) will be with Jesus during His descent to Earth.

In conclusion, it is easy to understand that Jesus uses Matthew Chapter 24 to explain the events of His return to earth, in what we call “The Second Coming Of Christ.” In John 14, Jesus will discuss the rapture of the church with His disciples, who will soon become his apostles, and who will convey the same message to the gentiles and unbelieving Jews, as they carry out their ministry of apostleship.

 

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