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  • Pastor Steve Conley

Why do pretribulationists not recognize the Rapture as part of the SECOND Coming?

I'm certain a number of pretribulationists have considered 1 Cor 15:23 and 1 Thes 4:15 where it is said that the dead in Christ are resurrected at Christ's next coming (parousia) and that we are caught up to Him at His next coming (parousia). Since the resurrection/rapture event takes place at a parousia, the next parousia of Christ, how is it not the second? Christ's first coming was ~ 2000 years ago, His next coming [parousia] is His SECOND.

1Co 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming [parousia].

1Th 4:15-17 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming [parousia] of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Paul employs the somewhat technical term parousia for Christ's future arrival and subsequent presence. Parousia is used 17 times (out of 24 total occurrences in the NT) for Christ's return. It is concerning Christ's parousia that the disciples inquired in Matt 24:3. All of Christ's eschatological activities fall under this parousia event.

It is obvious from simply reading the Scriptures that the NEXT coming of Christ, His SECOND, is when the dead are raised, the surviving believers are changed, and we are raptured to Him in the clouds. When Jesus comes the second time He will bring physical deliverance (salvation) to His saints.

Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

A major portion of the confusion for many pretribers is centered around the misunderstanding of thinking that Christ's coming equates to Him setting foot on the Mount of Olives first or the scene described by John in Rev 19:11-21 being His initial arrival. Yes, He will set foot on the Mount of Olives and wipe out the armies of the nations who follow the Beast casting Him into the fire, but there is much more that takes place and it is drawn out over a great period of time. Neither of those events happen initially at His parousia.

The first act in the parousia of Christ opens with His revelation (apokalupsis). He is revealed in power and glory with the mighty holy angels for every eye to see. Paul called this revelation, this glorious appearing when we see Christ, our blessed hope.

Tit 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

It is what we are waiting for.

1Co 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming [apokalupsis] of our Lord Jesus Christ:

It is when we, the church, will rest from persecution.

2Th 1:6-10 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed [apokalupsis] from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

It is when we are glorified beside our Saviour.

1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing [apokalupsis] of Jesus Christ:

It is when we receive grace, even our inheritance.

1Pe 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation [apokalupsis] of Jesus Christ;

It is when we are rescued and the wrath of God falls upon the unbelieving world.

Luk 17:26-30 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed [apokalupto].

It is when every eye will see the glorified Christ.

Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Jesus is REVEALED initially at His PAROUSIA. All other activities are subsequent to His revelation.

Isn't it amazing how failing to consider Paul's use of the word parousia in association with the resurrection/rapture has led to separating the rapture from the second parousia? If you insist on separating the resurrection/rapture coming from the touchdown on the Mount of Olives and the Rev 19:11-21 event, then at least give it a proper name, "The Third Coming."

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