Jesus’ Return for His Saints

Jesus Coming for His SaintsThe eschatological subject of the Rapture of the church can be related 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 (Read Revelation chapters 6-18). 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). According to BDAG, the meaning of caught up (ἁρπάζω) is “to grab or seize suddenly so as to remove or gain control, snatch/take away.”[1] 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.”[2]

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).

Dr. Steven R. Cook

Related Articles:

[1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 134.

[2] John Walvoord, eds. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 1265.

Leave a Reply