Question: I have heard that some think there will be two raptures, a pre-tribulation & a post-tribulation. What is your understanding of that?
There will be only one Rapture of the Church. Here’s why.
What the Rapture Is
The Rapture refers to an event the Bible speaks of where the followers of Jesus, dead and alive, will be “caught up” to “meet the Lord in the air,” and from then on “be with the Lord forever” (1Thess. 4:17). That is the moment when, “in the twinkling of an eye,” we will be transformed and receive our glorified, resurrection bodies (1Cor. 15:52).
When The Rapture Takes Place
The two passages referred to above, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, contain the key information about the timing of the Rapture that the rest of Scripture agrees with.
• The Rapture Takes Place At Jesus’ Return (i.e., the Second Coming):
1Thess. 4:14 God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
In other words, when Jesus Returns He will be accompanied by His followers who have already died and gone to heaven. At the same time, Jesus’ followers who are still alive on the earth at His Return will be “caught up together with them in the clouds (i.e., ‘raptured’) to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess 4:17).
• The Rapture and Second Coming take place at “the last trumpet:”
1Thess. 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
The Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus are inseparable. They are each part of the same event, and that event occurs only once, at “the last trumpet:”
1Cor. 15:51b-52 …we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
This “last trumpet” is mentioned in both passages as a key to the timing of the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus. It refers to the Old Testament prophecies in which a warning is given to the peoples of the earth that the Lord is about to pour out His wrath. The “last trumpet” announces “the Day of the Lord” the prophets foretold:
Joel 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming.
Both 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians place the Rapture and Second Coming “at the last trumpet” (1Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). Since there is only one “last trumpet,” there is also only one Second Coming and only one Rapture.
And here is the really good news in all of this: those who are “caught up” to meet the Lord in the at His Second Coming will not experience the judgment of God’s wrath on the Day of the Lord.
1Thes. 5:9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.