Since the "Rapture" of the church seems to be a divisive topic among believers today I am undertaking a study of the topic. Today I am comparing 1st Thessalonians 4:13 - 5:11 with 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12. These are the first two accounts that I have compared, I will compare Jesus' words in the Gospels as well but they are not included here. If you are a believer and are interested in Bible Prophecy I welcome your comments because this is a subject that seems to be a very hot topic. I just want to find the 'truth' of the Word. I was raised in dispensationalism so I've never really challenged my thinking on this until now. If you do comment please be respectful because we are all in this together.
The Return of Christ
1st Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 – Paul doesn’t want the believers to be ‘ignorant’ or unaware of those who have died in the Lord; or to grieve like an unbeliever.
14 – Reminds them of what ‘we’ believe: Jesus died and rose again so therefore He will bring those who have died in Him back with Him when He returns.
15 – Alive believers will not precede dead believers.
16 – A loud command, voice of an Archangel, trumpet call of God, the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 – Then alive believers (‘and are left’?) will be caught up together.
1 – There’s no need to write about the time or date.
2 – Because the ‘Day of the Lord’ will come like a thief in the night. Paul uses a ‘sudden’ type of event: a thief that comes in the night. Jesus uses that same analogy in Matthew 24:43-44 when talking about His coming.
3 – While people (unbelievers) are saying ‘Peace and Safety’
5 – We belong to the ‘light’ (God) not the dark (unbelief).
6 – So don’t be like the ‘others’ (unbelievers? Possibly other Christians who aren’t looking for Christ’s return?)
8 – Contrasting the day and night here also, that since ‘we’ (believers) belong to the day let us be self-controlled (2nd appearance of that term, also a fruit of the Spirit).
11 – Therefore encourage one another (Here again we are told to do this).
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12
1 – ‘Concerning’ the coming of the Lord and ‘our’ (believers) being gathered to Him. Paul states the context of the passage.
2 – Paul reassures the Thessalonians that the ‘day’ has not happened.
3 – Paul warns against deception then gives an indicator of what must happen first:
6 – ‘He’ (anti-christ) is being held back so that he may be revealed at the proper time.
7 – The secret power of lawlessness is at work but the ‘one’ who holds it back will continue to do so until the proper time. So if the power of lawlessness is already at work then it will be fully unleashed when the ‘one’ who holds it back “let’s go” of its hold. Many believe this is the Holy Spirit and some believe this is a reference to the church (believers who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit). Either way the Holy Spirit is involved.
8 – Now the ‘lawless’ one will be revealed, whom the Lord will overthrow with the ‘breath’ of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. Now this is an interesting verse because it ties into Revelation 19:11-21. Pay careful attention to Revelation 19:20. This passage seems to speak about the end of the Great Tribulation not a ‘Rapture’ of the church. So is the ‘coming of the Lord’ Paul refers to in verse one at the end of the Tribulation? This passage here feels like the culmination of events that have already happened. The 1st Thessalonians passage uses the analogy of a ‘thief’ a suddenness is applied to it. This passage makes no analogy to that.
So is Paul speaking of a Rapture in the 1st Thessalonians passage and here describing the events at the end of the Great Tribulation?
9 – Satan is working in the ‘lawless’ one to deceive and that deception is displayed with counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders. A clear reference to Revelation 13.
10 – Its every sort of evil that deceives those who are ‘perishing’ (unbelievers) and Paul gives the reason for their death – they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
11 – ‘For this reason’ (not believing the Gospel) God sends them a powerful ‘delusion’ so that they will believe the lie (the anti-christ).
12 – The result is condemnation. Is this a reference to those who have received the mark of the beast in Revelation 13?
These are just two passages that refer to the Coming of the Lord, the question I’m trying to answer is this: Is there a ‘Rapture’ of the church? Is Paul and Jesus (which I have not gotten into yet) speaking of two separate advents?