This is the only place in scripture where Jesus give us a chronological chain of events leading up to his coming. He was asked a specific question and he gave a specific answer. I propose to you, based on this scripture and others that the second coming is the rapture.
1. Events leading up to the great tribulation and following are detailed, but no rapture is mentioned prior to the tribulation. Wouldn’t something as significant as the pre-tribulation rapture of the saints be noteworthy to mention in this chronology of end time events? It was not mentioned because it doesn’t exist. Jesus is coming back just like He said He would, after the tribulation is cut short for sake of the elect.
2. There is not one place in scripture that the pre-trib rapture can be taught in an expository style. Lone verses in differing locations must be pieced together to make the case. Here in Matthew 24 a succession of events leading up to the second coming is laid out line upon line, verse upon verse, in context.
3. Going through the tribulation will be a purifying process for the church. We will literally be tried by fire. Paul taught that we must enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation and that the one who endures to the end will be saved. A phrase in Revelation used to puzzle me before I took a simpler approach to end time events: This is the faith and patience of the saints. If the saints are gone, why would they need faith and patience during the tribulation? Revelation is a survival handbook for believers going through the great tribulation. Please read this passage and take it literally, at face value:
Matthew 24:3-31 NLT
3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?[a]” 4 Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. 9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.[b] 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations[c] will hear it; and then the end will come. 15 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration[d] standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!) 16 “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 17 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. 18 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. 19 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. 20 And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. 22 In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones. 23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time. 26 “So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! 27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man[e] comes. 28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.[f] 29 “Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.[g] 30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.[h] 31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world[i]—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.