What is being referred to by "the day of the Lord" in 1 Thes 5:1 and 2 Thess 2:2, the rapture or second coming?
2 Thessalonians 2:1
NASB - 1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him.
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The Day of the Lord: Day of the Lord Jesus, when he will show himself to be King of kings, and Lord of lords, and the Judge of the whole earth; and which is sometimes styled the day of the Son of man, and the day of God, for Christ will appear then most gloriously, both in his divine and human nature; the day of redemption, that is, of the body from the grave, and from corruption and mortality; and the last day in which will be the resurrection of the dead, and the day of judgment, in which Christ will come to judge the quick and dead.
The Day of the Lord in 2 Thess. 2:1-2 is the period of time in which God’s Wrath is directed at Babylon the Great – those Godless people left behind, after the Rapture takes Christ’s Church off the face of the earth. In Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians, he describes the Rapture in 1 Thess. 4:16-17. This is the only place in Scripture where the Rapture was explained to a specific church. Jesus spoke of the Rapture (Matthew 24:29-31) but it was privately to His disciples after they had asked about signs of His coming back and the end of the age. Two months after Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians, he had to write his second epistle. They become fearful that they had missed the Rapture, and would now have to face the Day of the Lord – God’s Wrath. We all know that the Lord’s Church is not destined for wrath (1 Thess. 5:9), but it is human nature to forget such assurances and become anxious in the moment. What did Paul do? He gives the Thessalonians two signs they can observe in order to know that they had not missed the Rapture. Neither of those signs have occurred yet. One of those signs is the revealing of the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction (2 Thess. 2:3). It has to occur before the Day of the Lord, and before the Rapture. The man of lawlessness is revealed when he takes his seat in the Rebuilt Temple of God, and proclaims he is God (2 Thess. 2:4). The Church has to be there, on the earth to see this occur, because the Rapture could not have taken place yet. (The whole reason for Paul’s second epistle – to allay the fears of the Thessalonians). The second sign is the rebellion (ESV) or apostasy (NASB) – 2 Thess. 2:3. It is a “falling away” (NKJV) from the faith, and I believe it happens when the man of lawlessness seeks to impose the Mark of the Beast on the world. I believe this is the Third Seal, that it begins at the mid-point of the Tribulation, and lasts for the duration of the last half of the Tribulation – 3.5 years. You can find a detailed argument for this scenario here: https://ebible.com/questions/14525-when-will-people-be-asked-to-take-the-mark-of-the-beast#answer-23185 The Day of the Lord occurs after the Sixth Seal (Joel 2:30-31). The Sixth Seal is described in Rev. 6:12-13. It occurs after the Tribulation (Matthew 24:29). Hence, the Day of the Lord occurs after the Tribulation. I can’t tell you how critical this point is, because it resolves all the contradictions that are introduced from a Pre, or Mid-Tribulation viewpoint. You can find more detail on this issue at: https://ebible.com/questions/1630-what-is-the-day-of-the-lord#answer-18026 and: https://ebible.com/questions/14490-what-is-the-prophecy-of-2-300-days-in-daniel#answer-24729 But a picture is worth a thousand words, and you can find Fig. 10 (Major Events of the Tribulation & the Day of the Lord), Fig. 12 (The Sign of the Son of Man – The Rapture), and Fig. 3 (Author’s Post-Tribulation Viewpoint) here: https://www.facebook.com/Craig-McElheny-430759656985167/ God bless!
The Day of the Lord, and the Day of the Lord Jesus are two different events, the day of the Lord is when God pours out His Wrath, and the day of the Lord Jesus is when He (Jesus) comes in the clouds which is known as the Rapture.
“The day of the Lord” is a common phrase of a period of time of God’s judgment of sin. It is never a time of blessing, but always a time of vengeance, trembling and terror, anger, doom, destruction, and darkness, whether past or future. In I Thessalonians 5:2-4 and II Thessalonians 2:2, it refers to a future time of trouble called the Tribulation. In I Thessalonians 5:2, Paul reminded the believers that the “day of the Lord” would come as a thief, without prior warning. Before the seven-year Tribulation, the world will have a false sense of “peace and safety,” but the destruction will be sudden from which they cannot escape. The “day of the Lord” is reserved for those who are in darkness, but Paul reminds the believers that they are of the day, I Thessalonians 5:2-10. But believers need not fear it for God specifically promises that believers will not be in the Tribulation, I Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9, and Revelation 3:10. They have this hope because the Day of the Lord is immediately preceded by the great event of the catching up of believers or the rapture, I Thessalonians 4:13-18. II Thessalonians 2:2 speaks of the “day of the Lord.” (Some versions have “day of Christ,” which is based on a few manuscripts.) The concern was that the day of the Lord had come, and this is why the believers of that assembly were quite shaken up. It is usually thought that because of events happening in their day, they believed they had missed the Rapture and had been ushered into the day of the Lord. But the actual problem was that there were some that falsely said Paul was wrong in saying there would be a rapture. So the believers concluded they were already in the Day of the Lord. Through this passage of II Thessalonians 2:1-4, Paul corrected the erroneous thought that some of the people had. “The day of the Lord” must not be confused with the “day of Christ,” which is specifically the Bema or the Judgment Seat of Christ when believers will give an account of their Christian lives. Mostly in Paul’s writings, it appears as “the day of Lord Jesus,” “the day,” “that day,” found in Romans 13:12, I Corinthians 1:8, 3:13, 5:5; 9:24-27, II Corinthians 1:14, 5:9, 10; Philippians 1:6, 10, 2:16, II Thessalonians 1:10, II Timothy 1:12, 18, 4:8, and Hebrews 10:25. In I Corinthians 4:3 the word “court” is literally “day,” referring to the same. “Day of judgment” I John 4:17 is the only use of the expression that signifies the Judgment Seat of Christ. “The day of the Lord” is sandwiched between two phases of the coming of Christ. It comes after the Lord catches up believers and it is followed by the coming of the Lord in glory. As the rapture is the next event, believers are to be sober-minded, awake, and watchful, expecting the Lord to come to catch them up to be always with Him.
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