Christ’s Return was delayed

Christ promised to return before all of His hearers have died.  Why did He Not Return in the First Century as promised?  Starting with the dispensational explanation of the delay, this article analyses the 490 years-prophecy of Daniel 9 to develop an understanding of the delay in Christ’s Return.

Summary

With respect to Christ’s promises that He would return soon, the dispensational view is that Jesus, drawing from what the prophets had written, believed that His Kingdom would be established soon after His death and resurrection.  But the Kingdom was not established at that time.  It was deferred to an unknown future time, for God delayed Christ’s coming.

This website agrees that Christ’s return was delayed, but it does not agree that the covenant with Israel will be resumed at the end of time.  Rather, it is here argued as follows:

The 490 years, that were decreed for Israel, came to an end a few years after His death.

Daniel’s prophecies place Christ’s return soon after the end of the 490 years.

The promise, that Christ would return soon, was conditional on Israel’s acceptance of their Messiah after His death.  For that purpose, after Christ’s death, God sent messengers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to Israel.

If the Jews accepted their Messiah, they would have executed the great commission and Christ would have returned while some of His generation was still alive.

God delayed Christ’s return because Israel rejected this message and its Messiah.

God will delay Christ’s return until He has a people that is ready to remain standing through the end-time trials.

If the above is correct, then the question arises why Jesus taught that He will return soon, and why He did not teach that He might return soon.  Was Jesus mistaken?  He is “from … the days of eternity”; but He said himself He can do nothing of Himself; He does nothing on His own initiative.  We are not able to understand this.  Therefore, we cannot explain why Jesus did not know that His return would be delayed for 2000 years or more.

Dispensational View

 

Dispensationalism proposes:

  • That the Old Testament did not foresee the Church Age;
  • That the Church Age interrupted the covenant with Israel;
  • That God delays the last seven of the 490 years “decreed for” Israel (Dan. 9:24) until the End of the Age.  Then God will usher in the eternal kingdom.

With respect to Christ’s promises that He would return soon, the dispensational view is as follows (abbreviated from the truthortradition website):

Over time, God made many changes to the way in which He relates to mankind. There have been changes in sacrifices, the time and place of worship, dietary restrictions, financial giving, etc.

Jesus Christ told his disciples in Matthew 16:28 and in Matthew 24:34 that some of them would not die before they would see Him come to establish His Kingdom. These statements refer to the literal, future Kingdom of which He spoke so often.  Jesus, drawing from what the prophets had written, believed that his Kingdom would be established soon after his death and resurrection.

His disciples also believed in the imminence of this Kingdom. When they were assembled with him before his ascension, they asked him if he would now finally establish his Kingdom (Acts 1:6-11).

The Kingdom was not established at that time, but was deferred to an unknown future time.  Jesus only spoke what God revealed to him, and God had hidden the time from His own son. God has delayed Christ’s coming.

My comments: The words “deferred” and “delayed” implies that God changed His plans.  It is not clear from the above summary when God changed His plans, and whether that was before or after Christ spoke.

Objections:

This view cannot be supported from Matthew alone, but is based on the dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9 and perhaps also other prophecies.  (Please see Critique of the Dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9.)

Christ’s instructions in Matthew 10, which include one of His soon-coming promises (v23), was about going to Israel only; not about going to the whole world.

The dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9 assumes that the period of Jewish preference was interrupted at the Cross, to be continued seven years before Christ’s return .  As argued in the article Jerusalem Phase of the Early Church, this was not the case.  God continued to work with Israel exclusively for a few years after the Cross.  See more detail below.

Nevertheless, there is an important principle in the dispensational interpretation, namely that something changed in God’s plan when Israel refused to accept this final opportunity.  It was not God’s intention to delay the restitution of all things by thousands of years.

The soon return of Christ was conditional.  If the Jews accepted their Messiah, Christ would have returned while some of His generation was still alive.

The solution proposed by this website, for Christ’s promises that He would return soon, is as follows:

Firstly, the 490 years decreed for Israel came to an end a few years after His death.  These 490 years therefore did not come to an end at Christ’s death.  Neither are some of the 490 years postponed until the end of time, as dispensationalism proposes.

Secondly, according to Daniel’s prophecies, Christ’s return would have been soon after the end of the 490 years.

Thirdly, the promise of Christ’s soon return was conditional on Israel’s acceptance of their Messiah.  Christ’s return was delayed because Israel rejected the Messiah; both prior to and subsequent to Christ’s death.

Fourthly, God will delay Christ’s return until He has a people that is ready to remain standing through the end-time trials.

These points will now be justified in more detail:

First, the 490 years decreed for Israel came to an end a few years after His death.

Daniel 9 prophesied when the Messiah will arrive.  Daniel 9:24 reads:

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people (Israel) and your holy city (Jerusalem),
to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin,
to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness,
to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place
”.

The “seventy weeks decreed for your people” (Israel) is generally understood as seventy weeks of years, which is 490 years.  The view of this website is as follows (See Summary interpretation of the 70 weeks decreed for Israel in Daniel 9):

The last week (the last seven years) commenced when Jesus was baptized.

3½ years later, in the middle of the last seven years, He was killed, making an end to “sacrifice and grain offering” (v27) and making “atonement for iniquity” (v24).

Consequently, the last 3½ of the 490 years allocated to Israel were immediately after the Cross.  This is confirmed by history.  Even after Israel rejected and crucified Christ, God did not reject Israel.  God ordered His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.  After they received the Holy Spirit, the church grew exponentially (e.g. Acts 4:1-13; 5:17-18; 5:40; 7:54-60), but they preached to Jews only and in Jerusalem only.  It was only a numbers of years later, after Israel rejected to Holy Spirit by persecuting His Spirit-filled messengers, signaling their refusal to accept the final opportunity which God gave them, namely to accept their Messiah and take the message to the world, that the apostles were led to take the message outside Jerusalem and outside the Jewish nation.  (See Jerusalem Phase of the Early Church for more information.)

The special focus on Israel therefore did not end when Jesus died on the Cross.  The full 490 years came to an end a few years after the Cross.

Different from dispensationalism, this website does not understand the Bible to predict a renewal of the covenant with Israel at the end of the age.

Second, according to Daniel’s prophecies Christ’s return would have been soon after the end of the 490 years.

We often read Daniel from our perspective, and then we find parallels to the events of the past 2000 years, but if we put ourselves in Jesus’ sandals, as a first century Jew, then we would have concluded that the end of all things is imminent:

In Daniel 2 the “head of that statue” (v32) represents Babylon.  “Its breast and its arms of silver” (v32) represents Mede-Persia.  “Its belly and its thighs of bronze” (v32) represents Greece.  “Its legs of iron” represent Rome.  What remains? Only “its feet of iron and clay” (v34), which is “a divided kingdom” (v41).  If the image is seen as a chart of history, the head, breast and thighs are gone, and the legs have been in progress for a century or more.  Only the short feet remain.  In other words, when a first century Jew reads Daniel 2, he would conclude that soon “God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed” (v44).

Daniel 7 expands on the prophecy in Daniel 2, using wild animals as symbols of the same four empires.  Rome is represented by a beast that is “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” (v7).  The “feet of iron and clay” in Daniel 2 are now explained as eleven kingdoms that arise out of Rome (v24).  The eleventh and final of these eleven kingdoms will “speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One … they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time” (v25).  Literally interpreted “a time, times, and half a time” is 3½ years; a relatively short time.  Daniel’s time prophecies, literally interpreted, do not envisage long periods.  During the reign of the evil eleventh horn “the court sat” (v10) and “one like a Son of Man” (v13) will be “presented before” “the Ancient of Days”.  The “Son of Man” receives an “everlasting dominion” (v14), but that final king will be “annihilated and destroyed forever” (v26).  The point again is that a first century Jew, reading these prophecies, would have concluded that history would soon end. For more information on these prophecies, see Daniel’s Evil Horn – Summary.

Two characters are mentioned in the Daniel 9 prophecy:

Firstly “until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks” (v25).  In other words, the “Messiah the Prince”, interpreted as Jesus, will appear seven years before the end of the 490 years.

The second character is “the prince who is to come”.  He “will destroy the city” (v26).  Since the 490 years is decreed for the City (v24), it will only be destroyed after the end of the 490 years.  This “prince” will therefore do his dreadful work after the 490 years.

The prophecy ends the words, “until a complete destruction … is poured out on the one who makes desolate” (v27).  This seems to say that the destroyer-prince (“the one who makes desolate”) will finally be completely destroyed (v27).  All this, according to verse 24, will “finish the transgression, … make an end of sin”.  This seems like “the End of the Age” (Dan 12:13).  The point is that Daniel 9 seems to point to the end of the age soon after the end of the 490 years, and as argued above, the 490 years came to an end a few years after Christ’s death.  For more detail, please see the articles on Daniel 9.

It is therefore agreed with Dispensationalism that Daniel’s prophecies did not foresee the Church Age, but the view that Israel, as a literal nation, will have a specific end-time role, is not accepted here.

Third, the promise of Christ’s soon return was conditional on Israel’s acceptance of the Messiah, and was delayed because Israel rejected the Messiah; both prior to and subsequent to Christ’s death. 

One day, while Jesus was nearing Jerusalem, He wept over it, and said:

If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

This means that the destruction of Jerusalem was conditional.  If Israel accepted their Messiah, the city would not have been destroyed, but it would rather have had “peace”.  This is confirmed by another statement made by Christ:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” (Mt. 23:37-38)

After Christ’s followers received the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, Peter, in his sermon to the Jews, said:

Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” (Acts 3:19-21)

From this we learn the following:

  • Jesus must remain in heaven “until the period of restoration of all things”.
  • Israel still was afforded the opportunity to repent. For the first few years after Christ’s death the gospel was preached only to Jews, and with more power than ever before, because the Holy Spirit was poured out.
  • If Israel did repent, their sins would be wiped away, and the Lord would have sent Jesus. Again the principle is that the promise, that Christ’s return would be soon, was dependent on Israel’s acceptance of their Messiah, even after His death.  Just imagine what would have happened if the Jewish religious leaders embraced their Messiah at this time!  In the power of the Holy Spirit they would have executed the great commission to “go … and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28), and then the end would have come, even in the lifetime of some of His disciples.

But Israel rejected the Holy Spirit by persecuting the Spirit-filled believers, just like it previously rejected Christ.  When Israel failed in its glorious purpose of taking the gospel to the world, God had to give that task to another people, namely the Gentile church, through whom the Gospel would be carried to all the world.  Israel had become a hindrance to His work, and had to be destroyed.

All of this is based on the general principle of conditionality of God’s promises and threats:

Deuteronomy 28:1 “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God … the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. … 15 But … if you do not obey the LORD your God … all these curses will come upon you and overtake you

Jeremiah 18:5 “Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. 7 “At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. 9 Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; 10 if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it”.

Decades after Pentecost the same Peter, that preached to the Jews to accept the Messiah, explained the delay in Christ’s return as follows:

In the last days mockers will come with their mocking … saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” … But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:3-8)

Peter here refers to Christ’s return as “the promise of His coming” and explains the delay as patience, namely that the Lord is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”.  The delay is therefore in our best interest.  This confirms the previous conclusion that Christ’s return was delayed.

This website therefore agrees with Dispensationalism that Christ’s return was delayed.  What this website adds is that God delayed Christ’s return because Israel failed to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, which was poured out after Christ’s ascension to God’s throne.

Fourth, God will delay Christ’s return until He has a people that is ready to remain standing through the end-time trials.

God wants to put an end to sin as soon as possible.  He would not allow evil to continue without good reason.  It was His intention to evangelize the world through the Jews soon after Christ’s death, but Israel did not accept that opportunity.  He is therefore waiting for a people that will ready for the taskIn Revelation we read:

I saw four angels … holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth …  And I saw another angel … having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels … saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” (7:1-3)

In other words, God is delaying things until His servants are sealed in order that they may remain standing when “the four winds of the earth” are released.  To understand what this means, please refer to the articles on the Seven Seals.

The concept that “His bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7; 21:2, cf. 14:4, 5 15) is discussed in more detail in Return of Christ in the book of Revelation.  In brief, He will not return until he has a people that will overcome.  Our goal must not only be to be forgiven; we must overcome our sins!

He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (3:21).

The Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful” (17:14).

He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son” (21:7).

How do we overcome?  We have no power to overcome our sinful desires.  We overcome by being integrated with the supernatural; by being in Christ and by Christ being in us (John 15).  We overcome by the power of God.  If we really want to overcome, we are able to, for “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Lastly, was Christ wrong?

If the above is correct, then the question arises why Jesus taught that He will return soon, and why He did not teach that He might return soon.  Was Jesus mistaken?

On this subject we must say as little as possible, for humans are unable to understand the infinite God, who cannot be defined in terms of space, matter and time.  He exists simultaneously in all places and in all times; past, present and future.  He exists without cause.  All things exist because God exists.  Therefore, when we talk about Him, it must be with utmost humility.

We do know that Jesus relied much on Daniel’s prophecies.  For instance, He often used the name “Son of Man” from Daniel 7 to refer to Himself.  In Matthew 13 He used the phrase “the end of the age” from Daniel 12:13.  In the Little Apocalypse He referred to the ”Abomination of Desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet” (Mat. 24:15).  One must assume that Jesus understood Daniel’s prophecies, and He would have understood that the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age would follow soon after His death.

Preachers often emphasize Christ’s divinity, but they under-emphasize His humanity.  He is also fully human.  He is “from … the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2); but He said that He does not know when He will return (Mat. 24:34).  The Son created everything and “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebr. 1:3; Col. 1:17), but He can do nothing of Himself (John 5:19, 30).  “All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ in bodily form” (Col. 2:9), but He does nothing on His own initiative.  He only says and does what the Father tells Him to (John 7:16; 8:28, 30; 14:31).  This we are not able to understand.  Therefore, we cannot explain why Jesus did not know that His return would be delayed for 2000 years or more.

But we would like to conclude that Christ was not wrong, for the end of the age is always near:

It was near in the Old Testament, hundreds of years before Christ: “Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly” (Zephaniah 1:14).  “For the day is near, Even the day of the LORD is near; It will be a day of clouds, A time of doom for the nations” (Ezekiel 30:3).

In the New Testament the Bible writers continued to claim “Salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near (Romans 13:11).  “The coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:8).  “The end of all things is near” (1 Peter 4:7).  John wrote his gospel, letters and the book of Revelation after the destruction of Jerusalem, and he continued to proclaims that “it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18) and “the time is near” (Rev. 1:3; 22:10).

Today, 2000 years later, we still believe the time is near, and it is near, for the time is always near.

TO: Table of Contents of the articles on the Second Coming

TO: General Table of Contents

When and how will Jesus return, and what will happen?

This article analyses the Second Coming verses in the New Testament to determine what Jesus meant when He said He will come soon.

Introduction

But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes”. (Matthew 10:23)

He said this while sending His disciples out on a mission trip (10:5).  It is sometimes argued that this verse does not really refer to the visible and audible Second Coming, but to His transfiguration (Mat. 17), or to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), or to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 or that it simply means that He will come to His disciples while they are still on this mission trip.  The purpose of this article is to study all Second Coming verses in the New Testament to form the basis for further articles on the meaning of Matthew 10:23 and the similar statements about the nearness of the Second Coming in Matthew 16:28 and 24:34.

For this purpose, a large number of verses from the New Testament, that refer to the Second Coming, are quoted below.  In these quotes the references to “coming” and to “the Son of Man” (Jesus) have been underlined, while what will happen at His coming, has been made bold.  The verses are quoted in the sequence in which they are found in the Bible, with comments where appropriate.

But before these verses are listed, a summary is provided, stating:

  • How He will come;
  • What will happen at the Second Coming; and
  • When the Second Coming will be;

Summary

His day – It is called “His day” (Luke 17:24) or “day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10) or “the day of the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:2, 23; 2 Thess. 2:1-2; 2 Peter 3:10) or “the great day of their wrath” (Rev. 6:17).  It is “the … restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21).

HOW WILL HE COME?

The Second Coming of Christ will be preceded by signs in the sky; the sun and moon will be darkened, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Mat. 24:29; Luke 21:25-26).

He will come down from heaven:

  • On the clouds of heaven (Mat. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:9-11; 2 Thess. 1:7; Rev. 1:7);
  • With power and great glory (Mat. 16:27; 24:30; 25:31; Mark 8:38; Mark 13:26; Luke 9:26; Luke 21:27)
  • With His angels (Mat. 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26;

The Second Coming will not be a secret event (Luke 17:23), but will be like the lightning, which comes from the east and flashes even to the west (Matthew 24:27; Luke 17:23); everybody on earth will be aware of it.   It will be both visible (Mat. 24:30; Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 1:7) and audible, for He will come with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God (1 Thess. 4:16; Mat. 24:31).

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE SECOND COMING?

He will judge the living and the dead.  At the Second Coming He will sit on His glorious throne (Mat. 25:31) to judge (Mat. 25:32-46; 1 Thess. 5:2, 23; Rev. 6:15-17; 7:9; 14:14-20):  He will “then repay every man according to his deeds” (Mat. 16:27; Rom. 2:5-8).  See also 1 Thess. 2:19-20 and 1 John 2:28.

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, … inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mat 25: 31, 34).  They will go “into eternal life”.

But “He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me … into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat 25:41).  Paul wrote of “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Tim. 4:8).

Those who … obey unrighteousness are storing up wrath … for themselves in the day of … the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds, but those who by perseverance in doing good seek for … immortality, will receive eternal life“ (Romans 2:5-8, 16).

The dead will be made alive.  “All who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29).  Those who are Christ’s will be raised from the dead at His coming (1 Cor. 15:20-23).  “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16).  Compare 1 Tim. 1:25 & Rev. 20:5-6).

He will take His people away.  “He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect” from all over the world (Mat. 24:31, Mark 13:27).  “There will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left” (Mat. 24:40-41; Luke 17:34-37).  “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).  “We who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them (the resurrected saints) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15-18; compare 2 Thess. 2:1).

The wicked will be destroyed.  “Destruction will come upon them suddenly” (1 Thess. 5:3).  He will destroy “all dominion, authority and power” (1 Cor. 15:24).  It is “the day of wrath” (Rom. 2:5).  The Lord will slay the lawless one with the breath of His mouth (2 Thessalonians 2:8).   “The tribes of the earth will mourn” (Mat. 24:30; Rev. 1:7).  They will try to hide from His presence (Rev. 6:15-17), but they will be “killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:21).  “On the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:29-30).

WHEN WILL THE SECOND COMING BE?

Date unknown – Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone (Matthew 24:36).

Unexpected – “The Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect” (Luke 12:40, compare Mat. 24:36-44; Mark 13:35-37; Luke 17:28-30; 1 Thess. 5:2-3; 2 Peter 3:10), like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2).

He will come soon:

Christ will return in the lifetime of His hearers.  He said, “Some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Mat. 16:28, Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27) and “this generation will not pass away until all of these things take place” (Mat. 24:34).

Thirty to sixty years later His followers still wrote “in a very little while, he who is coming will come, and will not delay” (Hebrews 3:37), “the coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:7-8), “the end of all things is at hand … it is time for judgment to begin” (1 Pet. 4:7, 17), “the night is nearly over; the day is almost here” (Romans 13:12, compare Romans 16:20, 1 Cor. 7:29; 15:50; Phil. 4:5).  and “it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).  In Revelation, written 60 years after Christ’s death, Jesus still said, “I am coming quickly” (Revelation 2:16; 3:11; 22:12).

These statements about the nearness of the Second Coming are the most fundamental issue addressed by the current series of articles on the Second Coming.

This analysis of the Second Coming texts does not allow for a secret rapture of God’s people prior to the Second Coming.  Nor does it allow for “the dead in Christ” (1 Thess. 4:16) to already be in heaven prior to the Second Coming.  Also see the article Eternal Life and Death in Paul’s Letters.  The reader is therefore advised to read the verses quoted below with the following questions in mind:

Firstly, is it possible for the phrase “the Son of Man comes” (Mt. 10:23) to refer to anything other than the physical Second Coming?

Secondly, there any evidence of a secret rapture prior to the Second Coming?

Thirdly, is there any evidence that God’s dead people are already with Him in heaven, since the dead are described as “in the tombs” (John 5:28), from where they “will come forth” (John 5:28)? To elaborate, they are “asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20, 51; 1 Thess. 4:15) and “will be made alive … at His coming” (1 Cor. 15:22-23).  They are “dead”, but “will be raised” (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:15), or “came to life” (Rev. 20:4; 1 Tim. 1:25).  Then they “put on immortality” (v53). Furthermore, “in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5), He “will render to each person according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6, Mt. 25:31-46).  Then God’s people will receive “immortality, eternal life” (Rom. 2:7; Mt. 25:46).  Still furthermore, Jesus said that He “will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).  And Paul similarly wrote that “we who are alive … will be caught up together with them (the resurrected saints) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15-18).  If these things are true, and since we consistently hear from pulpits that God’s dead people are in heaven, what can we learn from the nature of organized religion?

Verses

The Second Coming verses are now listed in sequence, with comments for some:

Matthew 10:22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Comment: The phrase “the end” is an important concept in Christ’s teaching with respect to the Second Coming, and is discussed in a separate article on The End of the Age.  The implication of Matthew 10:22-23 is that “the end” is when “the Son of Man comes”.

Matthew 16:27The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. 28 Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.

Comment: 16:28 is similar to 10:23 in that it also implies that the Second Coming is near; within a few decades.

Matthew 23:39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Matthew 24:27 “Just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” … 29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. … 34 This generation will not pass away until all of these things take place.” (Mark 13:24-27 records the same words.)

Comment: This is a quote from the Little Apocalypse, which is discussed in a separate article.

As indicated by verses 23 and 26 (not quoted), the point of “the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west” is that when He comes, everybody will be aware of it.

The tribes of the earth will mourn”.  They will try to hide from His presence (Rev. 6:15-17), but they will be “killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:21).

Verse 31 combines the “great trumpet” with the gathering of His elect.  Elsewhere the trumpet is associated with the resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:16).

Matthew 24:36But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. … 44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Comment: Luke 12:40 states this principle succinctly, “the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect”.

One will be taken and one will be left”.  Angels will gather His elect to Himself from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other (Mat. 24:31).  “The dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).  “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).  The ones that will be taken, will therefore be taken to the Lord.  See also Mark 13:24-27; 2 Thess. 2:1).  The others that will be left to die (Rev. 19:21).  While the New Testament mostly focuses on what will happen to His elect at His return, the book of Revelation shifts the focus to what will happen to His earthly enemies at His coming.  See the separate article Return of Christ in the book of Revelation for more information.

Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, … inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in …  37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You …  40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

41“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me … into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in …  44 Then they … will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Comment: Is it not wonderful to know that the Creator of all things is concerned with the people that are hungry, thirsty and naked?  Is it not wonderful to think that the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1) will be populated by people that share His love for people?

Matthew 26:64you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven”.

Comment: The reference to coming on the clouds is similar to Matthew 24:30, and implies that this verse describes the Second Coming.  The implication of the words “right hand of power” is that the power and glory of God, who cannot be seen, will be seen at the return of Christ.

Mark 8:38 “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. 9:1 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power”.

Comment: Luke contains the same statement, but stated slightly differently, namely “till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Luke 9:27).

Mark 13:26 At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

Mark 13:35-37 Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’

Mark 14:61The high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Luke 9:26-27 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.

Luke 12:39Be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 40 You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.

Luke 17:20Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.

Comment: This implies that the coming of the Son of Man is not the same as the coming of the kingdom of God.  This is discussed further in the article What is the “Kingdom of God”?.

Luke 17:23They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not … run after them. 24 For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. … 28 It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling … 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. …  37 And answering they said to Him, “Where, Lord?” And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.” 

Comment: For a discussion of the phrase “one will be taken and one will be left”, see under Matthew 24:36-41.  Those that will be taken, will be taken to the Lord.  Those that will be left, will be left to die; there “the vultures will be gathered”.   The vultures are “the birds” (Rev. 19:17), who “eat the flesh … of all men” (v18, 21), after they “were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (v21).

Luke 18:8when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?

Comment: this is one of the only two other places where the exact phrase “the Son of Man comes” from Mat. 10:23 is found.  The point is that it refers to His visible and audible return to the world.

Luke 20:9And He began to tell the people this parable: A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. 10 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. 13 The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.  What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” When they heard it, they said, “May it never be!

Comment: This does not seem to refer to the Second Coming, but rather to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  That event was part of a number of things which God did to “give the vineyard to others”, namely the church.  The same parable is recorded in Mark 12.

Luke 21:25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.  On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  26 Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Comment: This is also part of the Little Apocalypse, which is discussed in detail in a separate article.

John 5:27He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 … an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Comment:  These verses indicate that all people will be resurrected.  Revelation 20:4-6 confirms this, but teaches that these two resurrections are separated by a thousand years; God’s people come to life at the beginning of the thousand years in what is called “the first resurrection”; “over these the second death has no power” (20:6).  “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed” (20:5).  These are the people whose names are “not found written in the book of life” (20:15).  They will be “thrown into the lake of fire” (20:15), which is “the second death” (20:14).  For more information, see Return of Christ in the book of Revelation.

His voice” – In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 the Lord descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel.

John 14:1Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Comment: This also explains the expression “one will be taken and one will be left” (Mat. 24:40-41; Luke 17:34-37

Acts 1:9And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

Acts 3:19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”

Comment: the implication of this text is that the Second Coming is conditional; dependent upon repentance.  This reminds of the statement in 2 Peter 3:12, where Peter exhorts God’s people toholy conduct and godliness”, “hastening the coming of the day of God“.

Romans 2:5You are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”

Comment: This does not explicitly refer to His coming, but it is assumed to refer to His coming, for the following reasons:

  • This is very similar to the description of the judgment “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him” in Matthew 25. In both instances the redeemed receive eternal life, while other people receive punishment (Mat 25:46).
  • In Matthew 16:27 “the Son of Man, when He comes in the glory of His Father with His angels, will then repay every man according to his deeds”.
  • In Revelation the Second Coming is the “great day of their wrath” (Rev. 6:17), when “one like a son of man” (14:14) treads “the great wine press of the wrath of God” (14:19).

Romans 2:16The day when … God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus”.

Comment: This also does not refer explicitly to His coming, but it is mentioned because it contains an important principle, namely that God on that day will bring out into the open what is really in every person’s heart.  Also see 1 Corinthians 4:5 quoted below.

Romans 13:11-12 Do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.

Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. 

1 Corinthians 1:7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.   He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.

1 Corinthians 7:29 The time is short, from now on it would be wise for those who have wives to be as if they had them not.

1 Corinthians 11:26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 15:20Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. … 22 … as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

Comment; Notice that significant phrase “the end”.  See the separate article on The End of the Age.  The “dominion, authority and power” refer to supernatural beings.  See the article on Rulers and Authorities.

1 Corinthians 15:51 We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed”.

Comment; This also sounds as if Paul expected the Second Coming before all of that generation has died, similar to Christ’s statement, “some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Mat. 16:28)

1 Corinthians 15:52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying … 55 “o death, where is your victory? o death, where is your sting?”

Comment: Similar to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, the trumpet is associated with the resurrection of the dead.

Philippians 1:10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Philippians 4:5 The Lord is coming soon” (NLT).

Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20You are our glory and joy” “in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming”.

1 Thessalonians 3:13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

Comment: “His holy ones” are the angels, for the consistent message elsewhere is that He comes with His holy angels (Mat. 16:30; Mark 8:38; Mark 13:26; Luke 9:26; Luke 21:27).  “Blameless” refers to the judgment.

1 Thessalonians 4:15… we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Comment: This is consistent with Revelation 20:5-6 and other places, namely that those who have “fallen asleep … in Christ” will “be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20) at His coming, but none of the other people.

1 Thessalonians 5:2You yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Comment: The “without blame” refers to the judgment at His coming, for instance Mat. 25:31.  Here “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” is “the day of the Lord

2 Thessalonians 1:7 “give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.  This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”

2 Thessalonians 2:1Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

Comment: Here also “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” is “the day of the Lord”.

In Matthew 24:23-28 Jesus warns His disciples that false prophets and Christs would come.  Here the false prophets teach that He has already come.

Jesus often referred to the prophecies of Daniel.  The “man of lawlessness” probably refers to the little horn of Daniel 7 and 8.  When Jesus was on earth, three of the four empires prophesied by Daniel have already come and gone, and the fourth (Rome) was in control of the known world.  That left only the eleven horns of the fourth beast to arise.  The eleventh horn of Daniel 7 is the evil power; the “man of lawlessness”.

2 Thessalonians 2:8 That lawless one … whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming”.

Comment: Rev. 19:21 reads “the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse”.

1 Timothy 1:25Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

Comment:  This verse probably also refers to the coming on the Son of Man, for it is a future event in which the dead will hear His voice (compare 1 Thess. 4:16).  Notice how similar this is to John 5:28-29: “An hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life”.  The words “and now is” seems to be one of the statements of the nearness of His coming.  Other examples are listed below.

1 Timothy 6:13-16 Keep this command … until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time – God the blessed and only Ruler, the King of Kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.

Comment:  In the article Some standing here will not die it is shown that the authors of the New Testament believed that the Second Coming will be soon; in their lifetime. According to Bible Hub, the letters to Timothy and Titus were the last letters Paul wrote.  While his previous letters expected the Second Coming soon, here Paul seems to accept that he will not live to see the Second Coming.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom ….

2 Timothy 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Titus 2:12 We wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:28 Christ … will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Hebrews 10:25 Let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:37 Yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.

James 5:7-9  Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming.  … 8 be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.  … 9 The Judge is standing at the door!

1 Peter 1:13 Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand”.

1 Peter 4:17 it is time for judgment to begin”.

1 Peter 5:4 When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Comment: 2 Timothy 4:8 calls it “the crown of righteousness”.

2 Peter 1:16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”

Comment: Peter here refers to the transfiguration, and uses that at proof that our Lord Jesus Christ will come.

2 Peter 3:3In the last days mockers will come … 4 … saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” … 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”.

Comment: Here Peter explains the delay in the Second Coming by saying two things; firstly, time does not matter for God and secondly, His motive is to save all.  This obviously does not mean that literally all will be saved.  These mockers will not be saved.  These statements are very important principles to understand the “it is near” statements one finds throughout the Bible.  This is discussed further in the article Some standing here will not die.

2 Peter 3:10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  … 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Comment: These events are not necessarily limited to the Second Coming, but seems to include events at the end of the thousand years, when John saw “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (Rev. 21:1).  If the first heaven and the first earth have “passed away”, then this earth will be completely destroyed; consistent with what Peter wrote above.  The “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1) follows immediately after the lake of fire: “This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (20:14, 15).  It therefore seems as if the lake of fire will burn up “the earth and its works” (2 Peter 3:10).  For more detail, see the article Return of Christ in the book of Revelation.

1 John. 2:17-18 The world is passing away …  it is the last hour.  Even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.

1 John 2:28Abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming”.

1 John 3:2 What we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when he appears, We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Comment: According to 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 “we will be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

Jude 1:14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Comment: The hope of the Second Coming has therefore been around for many thousands of years before Christ.

Jude 1:21 Wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Revelation 1:7He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him”.

Comment: This is a quote from Matthew 24:30

Revelation 3:11 “I am coming quickly” (also 22:12  & 22:20).

Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come like a thief!  Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.

Comment: Clothes represent the spiritual condition of the individual.  The great multitude “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9, 14).  “His bride has made herself ready.”  It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev. 19:7-8)

Revelation 22:12Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

CONCLUSIONS:

in each and every instance where the New Testament refers to His coming, it refers to His visible and audible return to this earth.  Matthew 10:23 therefore must refer to the same event.

In these verses there is no evidence for a secret rapture of God’s people prior to the Second Coming.

And according to the quoted verses, God’s dead people are currently “asleep” “in the tombs”.

As was the case with Judaism in Christ’s days, organized religion suffers from tradition.  Many things are proven from the Bible because they are believed; they are not believed because they are proven from the Bible.

NEXT: Return of Christ in the book of Revelation

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