Jesus’ Return for His Saints
The eschatological subject of the Rapture of the church is briefly presented here under the study of Soteriology because it is regarded as a form of deliverance. When Messiah returns at the end of the church age, He will deliver His church from an evil world and a coming judgment that will last for seven years. A distinction is here drawn between Jesus coming for His saints at the Rapture, and Jesus coming with His saints at His Second Coming (Dan 7:13-14; Matt 19:28; 25:31; Rev 19:11-21). Jesus is now in heaven preparing a place for believers to be with Him there (John 14:1-3). Paul revealed Jesus will return for His church and that all Christians will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air (1 Th 4:13-18).
The doctrine of the Rapture was first presented by the Lord Jesus when He provided new information to His apostles on the night before His crucifixion. After speaking of His soon departure (John 13:33), Jesus comforted them, saying, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 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. And 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” (John 14:1-3). The place where Jesus was going was heaven. The purpose of His going was to prepare a place for them. And, at some unspecified time, Jesus promised He would come again to receive them to Himself, that they may be with Him.
Paul described this as a time when “we shall all be changed, 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 shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:51-53). And, when writing to the church at Thessalonica, Paul explained, “the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Th 4:16b-17). The meaning of caught up (ἁρπάζω) is “to grab or seize suddenly so as to remove or gain control, snatch/take away.” John Walvoord states, “The important point is that the verse says Christ will come for believers and take them from the earth to heaven, where they will be in His presence till they return with Him to the earth to reign. The Rapture will mean that all believers ‘will be with the Lord forever,’ enjoying Him and His presence for all eternity.”
As Christians, we are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Tit 2:13). This Rapture is immanent, meaning it may occur at any time and without prior notice. All Christians who are alive at the time of the Rapture will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, will go with Him to heaven, and be saved from the wrath to be poured out during the seven-year Tribulation. Our future is not one of judgment; rather, we are assured we will be saved from God’s future wrath, both in time and eternity (Rom 5:9; 1 Thess 1:10; 5:9; Rev 3:10).
Jesus’ Return with His Saints
When Jesus returns to the earth after the time of the seven year Tribulation, He will establish His kingdom on earth. This is a time when humanity will be saved from the tyranny of Satan who currently rules over the earth. At His Second Coming, it is written, “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses” (Rev 19:14). Concerning this passage, Radmacher states, “The armies in heaven may be angelic hosts (Rev 5:11; Matt 26:53), but Revelation 17:14 speaks of those with the Lord at His coming as being ‘called, chosen, and faithful,’ all terms for believers (Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; 1 Pet 2:9).” Wiersbe adds, “Certainly the angels are a part of this army (Matt 25:31; 2 Th 1:7); but so are the saints (1 Th 3:13; 2 Th 1:10).” Norman Geisler states:
- "Before the Tribulation, Christ comes for His bride (1 Th 4:16–17; John 14:3); then, at the end of the Tribulation, He will return with all His saints. Jude wrote, “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones” (Jude 1:14; cf., Matt 24:29–31). He cannot come with them until He has first come for them; we have identified the time interval between these events as seven years."
Wayne House comments:
- "It is important to remember that when we say “the second coming” of Christ, we are not talking about the rapture that occurs prior to the second coming. The rapture is most clearly presented in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. It is characterized in the Bible as a “translation coming” (1 Cor 15:51–52; 1 Th 4:15–17) in which Christ comes for His church. The second advent is Christ returning with His saints, descending from heaven to establish His earthly kingdom (Zech 14:4–5; Matt 24:27–31)."
At His Second Coming, Jesus will put down all rebellion, both human and satanic. The two main leaders of the world, the Antichrist and his false prophet, will be defeated and “thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Rev 19:20). Furthermore, those people who followed Antichrist “were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev 19:21). Afterwards, the Lord will send one of His angels to arrest and imprison Satan (Rev 20:1-3). John wrote about this angel, saying, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev 20:2-3a). This will be a time of global deliverance from evil as Messiah reigns over all the earth in perfect righteousness.
Dr. Steven R. Cook
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 134.
 John Walvoord, eds. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 1265.
 The subject of Messiah’s earthly kingdom is found throughout the OT (Dan 2:44; 7:13-14; 2 Sam 7:16; Psa 89:3-4, 34-37; Isa 9:6-7; Jer 23:5-6) and the NT (Matt 6:9-10; 19:28; 25:31; Luke 1:31-33; Rev 19:11-16; Rev 20:4-6).
 Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Other passages of Scripture call Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), informing us “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan rules as a tyrant who has “weakened the nations” (Isa 14:12), and currently “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). Satan continues to attack God’s people today (1 Pet 5:8), practices deception (2 Cor 11:13-15), and has well developed strategies of warfare (Eph 6:10-12). Furthermore, humanity is living in an “evil age” (Gal 1:4), under “the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18), whose sphere of influence is called “the domain of darkness” (Col 1:13).
 Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1762.
 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 618.
 Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 618–619.
 H. Wayne House and Timothy J. Demy, Answers to Common Questions about Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2011), 75–76.