We mean by the Rapture (Resurrection) of the Church, the catching up of all true Believers in Christ to meet the Lord in the air. This event is simply and clearly predicted in Luke 21:34–36; John 14:1–3; I Corinthians 15:23, 51–58; Philippians 3:20–21; Colossians 3:4; I Thessalonians 4:13–17.
If one carefully reads I Thessalonians 4:16–17, there is no room for misunderstanding. So it is obvious that if one does not believe in the Rapture (Resurrection) it is because he does not believe the Bible. In fact, if one believes in the Resurrection, one must believe in the Rapture, for they are one and the same.
THE COMING OF THE LORD
The Rapture of the Church is called the “Coming of the Lord” but never the Second Coming of Christ. At the Rapture, Christ does not appear visibly to those on the Earth, but He comes in the air above the Earth to catch up or Rapture the dead and living Saints who rise together to meet Him in the air.
There are many different ideas about these two Comings of Christ, which have made it difficult to distinguish one Coming from the other. There are so many Scriptures that have been misapplied to the one or the other Coming that one might readily see why many have found themselves involved in difficulties from which they are unable to clear themselves.
The Rapture is purely a New Testament Doctrine and was first revealed to Paul as a special revelation (I Cor. 15:51–58), while the Second Coming of Christ is not only a New Testament Doctrine, but is one of the chief themes of the Old Testament as well.
THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE CHURCH
The Old Testament Prophets never saw the New Testament Church, much less the Rapture of the Church. The Rapture should never be called the Second Coming or Second Advent of Christ, for He does not come to the Earth at that time. Also, it should never be referred to as one stage or phase of the Second Coming of Christ for the two will be separated by at least seven years, and possibly longer.
The Rapture is a distinct Coming in itself, not to the Earth, but in the air where Christ meets the Saints and then takes them back to Heaven to present them blameless before God (Jn. 14:1–3; I Thess. 3:13; 4:16–17).
THE DIFFERENCE IN THE TWO COMINGS
1. The Rapture takes place several years before the literal Advent of Christ to the Earth.
2. The Saints are in Heaven before God, from the time of the Rapture to their coming again with Christ to reign as kings and priests (Zech. 14:5; Jude vs. 14; Rev. 19:14). This seems clear from the facts that the Saints are judged, are given their rewards, and partake of the Marriage Supper in Heaven, immediately before the Second Coming (II Cor. 5:9–10; Rev. 19:1–10).
4. At the Rapture, the Lord comes from Heaven as far as the air above the Earth, and the Saints will be caught up to meet Him in the air. At the Second Coming, the Saints are already in Heaven, and will come back with the Lord to the Earth together.
5. The Rapture (Resurrection) takes place before the coming Great Tribulation, whereas the Second Advent takes place after the coming Great Tribulation.
6. The Rapture could occur at any moment. The Second Advent cannot occur until certain things happen such as the rise of the Antichrist, etc. (II Thess. Chpt. 2).
1 Corinthians 15:24
(24) “THEN COMETH THE END, WHEN HE SHALL HAVE DELIVERED UP THE KINGDOM TO GOD, EVEN THE FATHER; WHEN HE SHALL HAVE PUT DOWN ALL RULE AND ALL AUTHORITY AND POWER.”
The phrase, “Then cometh the end,” does not refer to the time immediately following the Rapture or even the Second Coming, but when all satanic rule, authority, and power will have been put down, which will take place at the conclusion of the Millennial Reign (Rev. Chpt. 20). The final conclusion will actually be Satan loosed out of his prison for a short period of time, which will take place at the end of the Millennial Reign, when the Lord will make short order of this last attempt by the Evil One, with him being “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone … and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:7–10).
The phrase, “When He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father,” tells us what happens when the “end” comes.
END OF WHAT?
The phrase, “When He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power,” refers to every last vestige of evil and wickedness under the auspices of Satan and his minions, which actually began with Satan’s rebellion against God and is described by both Isaiah and Ezekiel (Isa. 14:12–15; Ezek. 28:11–19). This began long before the episode in the Garden of Eden.
As a result of this rebellion, in which a third of the angels threw in their lot with Lucifer (Rev. 12:4), untold sorrow and heartache have come to the Earth, with possibly much more elsewhere.
JESUS THE VICTOR
It is Jesus Who will “deliver up the Kingdom to God,” a Kingdom incidentally, that will then be free of all Satanic “rule,” “authority,” and “power.”
Jesus defeated Satan at Calvary and the Resurrection.
The idea is, that the Lord Jesus has received or been entrusted with an important power or office as Mediator; that He has executed the purpose implied in that trust or commission; and, that He is now rendering that to God (or will in that day) the Office and Authority which He had received at God’s Hands.
As the work has been accomplished which had been contemplated in His Design; as there would be no further necessity for mediation when Redemption should have been made, and His Church recovered from sin and brought to Glory, there would be no further need for that peculiar arrangement which had been implied in the Work of Redemption, and, of course, all the entrustment of Power involved in that which will now be restored to the Hands of God.
~J. Swaggart Ministry 1 Corinthians 15