Is the "Rapture" distinct from Christ's return to earth?

Is the "Rapture" distinct from Christ's return to earth?

The second coming of Christ Ahas two segments: the rapture into the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17); the return onto the earth (Zechariah 14:4). The term "rapture," from the expression "caught up" (1 Thessalonians 4:17), literally means "to snatch away" "The Lord Himself" (verse 16) comes to catch away into the air both the resurrected and living believers to "be with the Lord" (see John 14:3), for He has "not appointed us to wrath" (ch.5:9, 1:10, and Romans 5:9). In contrast, at His return to earth, the Lord comes accompanied by His saints (Zechariah 14:5, Revelation 19:14) and "His mighty angels" (2 Thessalonians 1:7). At this time, He executes wrath, "taking vengeance on them that know not God" (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

Another distinction in 1 Thessalonians is that Paul saw the Rapture as imminent; it could happen even while he wrote, since "we which are alive" (4:15, 17) included himself. He says the Thessalonians were presently waiting for "His Son from heaven" (1:10, see Titus 2:13). Again, in contrast the return to earth requires fulfilled signs (Matthew 24:3, 6, 15, 21, 29-30) before it will occur. It could not happen today. In addition, the expression, "the coming of the Son of Man" is linked only to His earthly return. Further, the change in both sleeping and living saints at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-53) was a mystery revealed only in the N.T. It had not been prophesied in O.T. portions regarding our Lord's return to earth.

S. Thompson