In 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, teaches about the Second Coming of Christ. The Lord’s return is addressed from three different aspects. Paul states without equivocation that Jesus Christ will return and that we will be gathered to Him in 2 Thessalonians when writing to reassure the Thessalonian believers that Christ had not yet returned.
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2
In order to reassure the Thessalonian believers that Christ had not come, Paul revealed to them the events that would precede His return.
3Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10and will all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12
The descent of this world into the willful wicked rejection of the truth and the subsequent adoration and worship of the Antichrist, along with the murderous persecution of those who belong to Jesus Christ, will be the culminating sinfulness which evokes the wrath of the Lord Jesus Christ upon this disbelieving apostate world.
3We are bound to thank God always for you brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer, 6since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10
This just wrath of God is poured out upon the reprobate condemned because they love the evil one and despise the Lord of glory. Those who belong to Christ are not appointed to God’s wrath. We who are alive when the rapture occurs will be caught up with Christ in the air along with those who have died as believers.
15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then 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. 18Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write you. 2For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness…9For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-5:5 & 9
Paul teaches in the letters to the Thessalonians that Jesus Christ will return after the Antichrist is revealed and He will pour out His wrath upon this corrupt world. He also teaches that we will be gathered to Jesus Christ and that we are not appointed for His wrath. We will meet the Lord in the air before He comes to pour out His wrath upon this unbelieving world. We will be with the Lord in heaven during the tribulation that God will send upon this earth as prelude to the destruction of the Antichrist and his kingdom.
When Christ returns, we will return with Him and accompany Him as He pours out His wrath upon this depraved and wicked world. The church is not mentioned after Revelation chapter three until Christ comes to this earth to judge the wicked.
6And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him gory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” 10And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 11Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. 14And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. 16And He himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 17Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on the, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” 19And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. Revelation 19:6-21
There are those within the church who teach contrary to what the Bible says and they actually speak against those who are waiting for Christ to come. They twist the Scriptures to their own destruction and lead many astray and ignore the Scriptures which teach us that we will be gathered to Christ before the tribulation which is the beginning of God’s wrath upon an evil world system. Those who believe that the “church” can usher in the kingdom of God on this earth are on a fool’s errand and are actually working with the enemy, assisting his deceitful schemes. The true heart of belief waits and longs for Christ to return as it endures with patience persecutions and tribulations because of faith in Jesus Christ. The purpose of Christ’s return is to gather His redeemed to Himself and execute the wrath of God upon this unbelieving world. When Christ comes in glory with His saints and His mighty angels He will destroy all those who oppose Him and His Father. We are to await the return of Christ for His own, sharing the gospel with those who don’t know Christ, encouraging one another with love and good works, knowing that Christ will establish His kingdom on this earth for His glory at His return. May God bless us as we wait for Him.