(Part one: A word about "the rapture". Part two: What is the rapture, Where do the Major Christian Frameworks place the rapture and why.)
Part one: A word about "the Rapture".
As we study The four returns of Christ as outlined, we are going to intentionally not speak too much about the rapture directly nor make it the primary focus, as Revelation is not about the Rapture, nor is specifically stated as an event in the book of Revelation. The Rapture and its order in the events is actually spoken of more by apostle Paul than by anyone else and that only briefly with the intent to give peace of mind to church age believers.
The timing of Paul's church rapture in many theologies are then overlaid on to passages such as Matthew 24, and the book of Revelation. Not based on the contextual method of study but rather on incomplete similarities and theological assumptions of what constitutes a rapture and to whom it actually applies. Because the word "rapture" does not appear in English scripture (Its the Latin word for "Catching away" something, as in reference to a Kidnapping or theft, or as in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 "caught up" together).
The Timing and Placement of the rapture in various rapture theories therefor is heavily dependent on other terminology that they associate with happening with or as being the rapture itself, such as The call of "Apostle john to heaven", "The falling away", "The ascension of the two witnesses" "The return of Christ after the tribulation", "The reaping of earth by the angels", "The gathering of Israel/ or the elect", "The resurrection", and etc. Depending on their assumed associations of the given theology "the Rapture" will be placed in any one of these assumed locations with little more proof given than stating "this is also that".
Another tactic that is often done in rapture theologies is the rearrangement of the Book of Revelation to suit their given preference. Sometimes the Book is broken into two, three, or even four or more, sections and then placed in a parallel timeline or mixed and matched arrangement of chapters in order to get the preferred result. Otherwise the natural chronological and progressive flow of the book becomes inconsistent with their rapture placement and other theology assertions.
Given the diversity and variant opinions, and assumptions on the rapture, and the tampering of the book's natural flow and manipulation of terms, (Not just among heretics, or "Christians" in general, but also among otherwise good fundamental Baptist) the question needs to be asked, Why would otherwise contextually consistent Christians chose one view over the other? and additionally divide over the issue? To the simple it seems a frivolous thing to divide over a few years or on something "no one can agree on or prove definitively and we have no control over anyway". However, as with most theology, what is on the surface to the simple, as non issue, or matter of preference, is actually a defining issue. Where you place the rapture will ultimately determine which theology as a whole you will allow to teach you the Bible.
In general Rapture theologies do not exist in a vacuum but are the end result of an overall Biblical framework and understanding the reasoning behind them belongs to them of full age (That is why Revelation is the last book in the Bible!). Unfortunately because of the emotional and sensational nature of end times events in general, and OUR rapture most specifically, it is most often one of the very first things a young and unlearned Christian wants to learn or is concerned about. (given a show of hands most of us would have to agree this was true for us as well). Because of this were we emotionally lock in our placement will determine what we decide is theologically correct in our later development and study. There are also many who were told a location but later changed their position after "much study" (usually meaning a charismatic and skilled teacher picked apart a flawed version of their told placement in favor of the teachers preferred placement) but do not change their previous framework. Given time the framework must change with the rapture theology in order for the person to remain theologically consistent. So if "the timing of the rapture" is the only thing "we disagree on"...give it time and the rest will also change. Either that or the person is not an honest biblicist and is fine with picking and choosing theology with no theological constancy or is choosing to remain ignorant, simple, or detached from study, in favor of his chosen crowd of fellow Christians.
So what does this all have to do with "The Four Returns of Christ" as outlined? Simply put, the major Frameworks in Christianity place the Rapture at one of these key points in the Return of Christ and confuse the simple to where they feel that they cannot understand the overall events and timings and therefor need a chart or skilled teacher to untangle the book of Revelation. It is the hope of this study to untangle the book of Revelation from artificial frameworks in favor of the bible's natural and consistent contextual flow. In so doing I hope to show, among other things, the simple flow of the book and events do not need to be rearranged, that the Rapture's correct placement is Pre-tribulational, and that the correct framework is dispensational in nature (in a later study I would like to look at the various errors within the certain dispensational views that cause many to forsake the truths of its basic bible principles for another framework. However that study will probably be a while off.) and lastly to show and teach the events in a way that can be grasped by the simple christian so that they can start off on a good theological footing.
In part two we will look at the assertions of what the rapture is biblicaly, the reason for it, and according to the various frameworks, the Rapture placements and their fixed associations with their given theological Framework and why one must follow the other in order to be theologically consistent.
Until then is their any clarification or additions that anyone would like to ask or add that would be helpful to the study so far?