Over the last few days, we have looked at various signs that will herald Christ's Second Coming to earth. We cannot determine the exact time, the day, or the hour of Christ's return, but those who are living their lives with a heavenly awareness should know the season. The Lord expects His people to be aware of the things happening on the earth that point to Christ's soon coming. So, although we cannot set dates, we should be mindful of the signs of the times. When it is introduced, those who will sign on to Antichrist's kingdom and his new economy will be deceived. To them, the Lord Jesus will come like a thief in the night, and not be expected by those living outside of Christ. When Jesus comes, they will look for places to hide (Revelation 6:16), but to the believers, it will be a different situation. They will be aware of what is happening.
Paul the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonian believers to make them aware that there would be certain signs of the times that would encourage them as the time drew near (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). He also wrote that those who are in Christ shall not be surprised at Christ's coming, for they will be very much awake to the signs and Christ's coming. Paul wrote:
1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
Those who are unbelievers are spoken of in verses 2-3, while those who have received the light of life are not in darkness that this day should surprise them like a thief because they belong to the day. What is Paul saying with the verses above?
Just as one does not expect a thief in the night so destruction will come suddenly on those sleeping (those who are non-Christians, v. 3), this Day of the Lord will not surprise the believers, though. As the time draws near, believers will be expecting His coming for they are not in darkness (v. 5).
This act of being caught up (raptured) will be a back to back event with the Day of the Lord when the Church is snatched up, and the wrath of God poured out on those who have rejected the gospel (1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 9). Believers in Christ are not appointed to suffer the wrath of God, for they will receive salvation (v. 9). The Greek word translated salvation is sōtērίa, which can refer to spiritual salvation or physical deliverance, and in the context should be deliverance from the persecution of Antichrist because we refuse the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:16-18). We will be delivered by being caught up [raptured] from the persecution by the Antichrist. Keith Thomas
This topic of Paul’s explanation of what leads up to the Rapture of the Church is explained in more depth by going to groupbiblestudy.com, click on All Studies, scroll down to the End Times, click on the specific study called, The Rapture of the Saints