There are some similarities between the pretribulational rapture and post-tribulational gathering of the saints. For instance, trumpets are sounded (pre: 1 Cor 15:52; post: Matt 24:31;), and a resurrection takes place (pre: 1 Thess 4:16; post: Isa 26:19; Dan 12:2; Rev 20:5). Despite these similarities, however, there a number of differences between these two events, indicating that they are indeed two separate events. Though more could be added, here are at least some of the primary differences between the pretribulational rapture and post-tribulational gathering of the saints.
Jesus rescues believers before wrath takes place. See 1 Thess 1:10; 5:2, 9; cf. Rev 3:10–11, 13.
The rapture is imminent (Phil 3:20; Titus 2:13; Rev 22:7, 13, 20).
The saints are glorified and join Christ in the air (1 Thess 4:17).
Jesus takes believers from earth to escape before the Tribulation (1 Thess 4:13–5:11; 2 Thess 2:1–12; cf. Dan 9:27).
The rapture of the church was unrevealed and thus a mystery in the OT (1 Cor 15:52).
Resurrection at the rapture brings believers from the church era to Jesus in the air (1 Thess 4:17).
Jesus rescues believers after wrath takes place (Mark 13:24–27).
This gathering is after a set of events (Matt 24:3–31; Mark 13:3–27; Luke 21:5–28).
The saints who have been glorified follow Christ to earth (Rev 19:14; cf. 19:7–8).
Jesus takes unbelievers from earth to experience judgment at the end of the Tribulation (Matt 24:39–40; 25:31–46; Luke 17:34–37).
The gathering at the end of the tribulation was revealed and prophesied in the OT (Deut 30:3–4; Jer 32:37; Ezek 34:11–13; 36:24).
Resurrection after the Tribulation brings believers from the OT and Tribulation eras to Jesus after the Tribulation (Isa 26:19–21; Dan 12:2; Rev 20:4–6; cf. 19:11–21).
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.