The Olivet discourse

The Olivet discourse: Comparison of the Christ’s depiction of future events in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21

Christ’s explanation of future events, as recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 is sometimes called the Olivet Discourse Jesus gave this teaching on the Mount of Olives.  It is Christ’s most comprehensive explanation of His return to this world and of the End of the Age.  For that reason it is also called the Little Apocalypse.

This article serves as support for the main article on the Little Apocalypse.  To allow that article to explain the Little Apocalypse as easy to understand as possible, and because the reports of Christ’s teaching in the three gospels differ in some respects, this article compares the three chapters.  It presents the three chapters side by side to show the similarities and differences.  It also makes some observations about the text.  Perhaps the reader can print this article to use as reference while reading the main article.

All quotes are from the NASB translation.  Key words that are similar in all three gospels have been made bold.

The Situation

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away 1 As He was going out of the temple,  
when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings! 5 And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts
2 And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” He said, 6 As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”

Questions

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, 3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple,  
the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled? 7 They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”

In all three chapters the disciples ask about “these things”, which in the context refer to the destruction of the temple, but only in Matthew do the disciples also ask about the return of Christ or “the end of the age”.  Since Matthew was also led by the Holy Spirit, we assume that the disciples asked both about the temple and “the end of the age”.

False Teachers

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. 8 And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them.

It is not clear whether the false teachers will say that Jesus is Christ, or whether they will claim to be Christ themselves.

Only Luke adds that the false teachers will say, “the time is near”.  The main issue is therefore that false teachers will come; not that they will claim that the time is near.

Non-Signs

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 9 When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.”
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. 10 Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines;

All three gospels refer to “the end”.  This confirms that the disciples did ask about “the end of the age” (Mt. 24:3).

Persecution & Opportunity To Testify

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
9 Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 9 But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. 16 But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17 and you will be hated by all because of My name.
12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.  13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 18 Yet not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.
14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. See verse 10  

Luke starts with “there will be terrors and great signs from heaven”, but interrupts himself to say that this will only happen later (v11, 12).  Luke therefore mentions the “terrors and great signs from heaven” out of sequence.  These will be discussed below.

Mark mentions “the gospel must first be preached to all the nations” in verse 10, but this seems to fit better with Matthew 24:14.

Both Mark and Luke have a number of verses on the opportunity they will have to testify before kings and governors, but Matthew does not mention this.  Again, the assumption is that when one gospel records a statement which is not recorded by the others, that this statement was actually made.

All three gospels in this section refer to “the end”.  While the previous section referred to things that are not yet the end, this section refers to things that will continue to the end.  The main purpose of this series of articles is to understand why Jesus said He would return while some of His hearers are still alive (Mt. 10:23; 16:28; 24:34).  The authors of the New Testament also wrote many times that “the coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:7-8).  See the article Second Coming in the New Testament.  The current section reads, “the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Mt. 24:13).  This may be understood as the end of the person’s life, but for the following reasons it more probably refers to “the end of the age”:

  • The disciples asked about “the end of the age” (v3).
  • The next verse (v14) refers to “the end” clearly as “the end of the age

According to Luke’s version Jesus said “by your endurance you will gain your lives” (v19), referring to the disciples specifically.  Combining this statement with the parallel verses in Matthew and Mark, this implies that His disciples will live until “the end”.  This is therefore another statement of the nearness of the Second Coming.

Abomination of Desolation

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
15 Therefore when you see the Abomination of Desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 14 But when you see the Abomination of Desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), 20 But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

 

Luke, a gentile himself, writing to non-Jewish believers, who were not familiar with Daniel, interpreted the “abomination of desolation” for his readers as “Jerusalem surrounded by armies” (Luke 21:20-24).  Luke does seem to refer to the prophesies of Daniel in verse 22 below, when he refers to “all things which are written will be fulfilled”.  It is generally agreed that this section refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Great Tribulation

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 “Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18 “Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city;
    22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.
19 “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days
21 “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 19 For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; 24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The persecution discussed in the previous section (In Matthew, verses 9-14) was the persecution of Christians, but now the Jews are persecuted.

The word “elect” in Matthew 24:22 are the people whom God has chosen.  It may refer to the Jewish nation, because it remains “beloved for the sake of the fathers” “from the standpoint of God’s choice (election)” (Rom. 11:28).  Or it may refer to “those who were chosen” (Romans 11:7), namely the Jews who believed in Jesus.  The Jewish Christians were part of the Jewish nations, and it was their fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters that were slaughtered in the massacre of A.D. 70.

They must pray that their flight will not be in winter (Mt. 24:20), for then it would be cold.  They must also pray that their flight will not be on Sabbath.  This may be out of respect for the Sabbath, or that the Jews might prevent them walking further than the distance allowed on the Sabbath.

Signs of the End

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. … 26 “So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, …  27 “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.  
29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days 24 But in those days, after that tribulation,  
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. the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 25 There will be signs in sun and moon and stars and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Luke does not start the section on the darkening of the sun, moon and stars by referring to “the tribulation of those days” because it omits the section about “false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders” (Mat. 24:24).  The “tribulation of those days” (Mt. 24:29; Mark 13:29) therefore refers to the time of “false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders”, and not to the destruction of Jerusalem on AD 70.  This is a very important conclusion to properly understand the Little Apocalypse.

Matthew 24:28 states, “wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather”.  The meaning is explained by Luke 17:34-37, which twice uses the well-known phrase one will be taken and the other will be left”.  When the disciples asked Him, “Where, Lord?”, He answered “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered”.

The statement that the powers of the heavens will be shaken is understood to be a summary of the statements that the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky.

His Coming

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
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. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud 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. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.  

Parable of the Fig Tree

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
    28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
32 Now learn the parable from the fig tree 28 Now learn the parable from the fig tree: 29 Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees
32 when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near.
33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.

Luke still does not explicitly refer to His coming, but to the “kingdom of God”.

This Generation

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
34 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

No One Knows

MATTHEW 24 MARK 13 LUKE 21
36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

 

32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  

The Son does not know the day and hour, but He did know that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Mt. 24:34).  This conundrum is one of the main purposes of this series of articles.

TOTable of Contents of the articles on the Second Coming

TO: General Table of Contents

TO: The main article on the Little Apocalypse

This generation

What generation, did Jesus say, will not pass away until all these things take place?

After describing His return to this earth, which it will be “just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west”, Jesus said “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:27, 34).  This statement has caused much uncertainty, for it seems as if Jesus said that He would return in that same generation.  Some argue that “this generation”, refers to the generation that will see the signs of His coming.  The purpose of this article is to analyze how the gospels use the word “generation” in support of the main article on Matthew 24 (The Little Apocalypse).

Overview

In Matthew 1:17 it is said that there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen generations from David to Babylon and another fourteen generations from Babylon to the Messiah.  Similarly, Mary said that “His mercy is upon generation after generation” and that “from this time on all generations will count me blessed” (Luke 1:46-49).  This is also how we also use the word “generation” today.

But Jesus also used the phrase “this generation” to say things that may be applicable to all generations, for instance:

  • That when “He comes in the glory of His Father”, He will be ashamed of everybody in “this adulterous and sinful generation” that is ashamed of Him (Mark 8:38);
  • That “this generationis like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children” (Mat. 11:16);
  • That the last state of “this evil generation” will become worse than the first (Matthew 12:43-45); and
  • That this is an “unbelieving and perverted generation” (Matthew 17:17);

These four statements might be applicable to all generations or to His contemporary generation specifically, but in the following examples “this generation” can only refer to His contemporary generation.  He said:

  • That no sign will be given to “this generation” but the sign of Jonah;
  • That the Queen of the South and the men of Nineveh will stand up with “this generation” at the judgment and condemn it (Luke 11:29-32; Mark 8:11-12);
  • That He will send prophets to “this generation”, whom they will kill and crucify, so that “all these things will come upon this generation” (Mat. 23:34-36 – It is generally agreed that this refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.);
  • That the Son of Man must first be rejected by “this generation” (Luke 17:24-25);

The context in Matthew 24 must be studied in more detail, but, on the basis of the usage in the gospels, “this generation” most probably refers to Christ’s contemporary generation.

Texts Quoted in More Detail

Jesus said:

Matthew 24:34 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Also Mark 13:28-32; Luke 21:29-33)

A few verses before this, He spoke about His return to this earth:

27For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

These words have caused much uncertainty for Christians, for it seems to say that the Jesus would return in that same generation.  The purpose of this article is to analyze how the gospels use the word “generation”.

In the following examples it refers to a specific generation:

Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Luke 1:46 And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord … 48  … For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49 For the Mighty One has done great things for me … 50 and His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear him.

In the following example it may refer to all generations, although it could also refer to His contemporary generation:

Mark 8:38 “For 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.”  This may be compared to Matthew 10:32-33, where Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven”.

Matthew 11:16 “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children … “ (Also Luke 7:31-32)

Matthew 12:43 “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”

Matthew 17:14 “A man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is … very ill …  16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” (also in Mark 9:17; Luke 9:38-42)

In the following example it can only refer to His contemporary generation:

Luke 11:29As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. 30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” (See also Matthew 12:39 & Matthew 16:4)

Mark 8:11The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. 12 Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.

Matthew 23:34Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” (The same is recorded in Luke 11:4551.  The general agreement is that this refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.)

Luke 17:24For 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. 25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

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

TO: General Table of Contents

The End of the Age

Jesus referred to “the end of the age” as His return to this earth, when the peoples of the world will be separated into two groups; those who will be thrown into the furnace of fire and those who will shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Jesus referred to “the end” and to “the End of the Age”.  These phrases are recorded twelve times in the gospels.  The purpose here is to determine the meaning of these phrases, as a background study to the interpretation of the controversial texts in Matthew 10:23; 16:28 and 24:34, where Jesus seems to say that He will return within the lifetime of some of His hearers.

Summary

Matthew 10 – The first time that the phrase “the end” is used in the gospels, is in the controversial Matthew 10:22-23, where “the end” is when “the Son of Man comes”.

Matthew 13 – Next the phrase “the end of the age” is used three times in Matthew 13, where it is described as “the harvest”, when the peoples of the world are separated into two groups; those who commit lawlessness” are thrown “into the furnace of fire”, while “the righteous will shine forth as the sun”.

Daniel 12 – The concept of “the end” comes from the book of Daniel.   The phrase, “the end of the age”, specifically, comes from the last verse of Daniel, where Daniel is told that he will “rise again” (come to life) at “the end of the age” to receive his “allotted portion”.  This “allotted portion” is described earlier in Daniel 12, where it is stated that “many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life” (v2).  Since others will awake to “everlasting contempt” (v3), Daniel 12, similar to Matthew 13, describes “the end of the age” as the time when the peoples of the world will be separated into two groups; those that “commit lawlessness” and the “righteous”.  What Daniel 12 adds is that people will again come to life at “the end of the age”.

Little Apocalypse – The next time that the phrase “the end” is found, is in the Little Apocalypse, in which Jesus foretold the events leading up to and at “the end”.  These chapters (Mt. 13; Mark 13; Luke 21) use the phrase “the end” seven times.  The Little Apocalypse confirms, as concluded above, that “the end of the age” is the Second Coming, when the people of the world will be separated into two groups; “those on His right”, who will “inherit the kingdom” (Mat. 25:34), and “those on His left”, who “depart … into the eternal fire” (v41).

Great CommissionThe only other place in the gospels where the phrase “the end” is found, is in the great commission: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mat. 28:20).

Matthew 10

The first time that the phrase “the end” is used in the gospels, is in Matthew 10, where Jesus sent His disciples on a mission trip on their own to the cities of Israel.  While giving them instructions, He said:

22You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. 23 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.

The end” is used here in the immediately context of the difficult verse 23.  Read in isolation, “the end” in verse 22 may be understood as referring to the person’s death, but in verse 23 Jesus said that He will come before His disciples have finished “going through the cities of Israel”.  He said, in other words, that He would come while they are still alive.  This implies that “the end” is when “the Son of Man comes”.  (A separate article is devoted to Matthew 10:23.)

Matthew 13

The next time that the phrase “the end” is used, is in Matthew 13 in Christ’s explanation of two of His parables.  Here the phrase “the end of the age” is used three times.

39 the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

49 “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The end of the age” is therefore “the harvest”, when the peoples of the world are separated into two groups:

Those who commit lawlessness” are thrown “into the furnace of fire” (vv42, 50), also called the “eternal fire” (Mat 18:8) or “lake of fire”, which is “the second death” (Rev. 20:14-15).

The righteous will shine forth as the sun” (v43, 49).

Daniel 12

The phrase “the end of the age” is found once only in the Old Testament, namely in the last verse of Daniel, where a supernatural being tells Daniel:

But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age“. (12:13)

The phrase “the end” does appear in the other books of the Old Testament, but only in Daniel is it used for the end of time.  This appears in various forms, such as “the end of the age”, the “time of the end” (Dan. 8:17, 19), “the end of time” (Dan. 12:4) and “the end time” (Dan. 12:9).  Just like Jesus used the phrase “Son of Man” from Daniel 7:13 to refer to Himself, He used the phrases “the end” and “the end of the age” from the book of Daniel.  The meaning of “the end” in Daniel 12 is therefore important for an understanding of “the end” in the gospels.

According to Daniel 12:13 Daniel “will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age”.  This helps to explain what “the end of the age” is:

Rest– Similar to Revelation 6:11, “rest” in Daniel 12:13 refers to the condition in which Daniel will be while dead, which the Bible often refers to as “sleep”, for instance “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep”.  (1 Cor. 15:20).

Rise again – “Rise again” in Daniel 12:13 refers to his coming to life again.  As stated earlier in Daniel 12, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake” (v2)

 

Allotted portion – The “allotted portion” is also explained by Daniel 12:2-3 when it says that “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life … Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

These verses are also the source of Christ’s reference in Matthew 13:43 to the shining of the righteous at “the end of the age”.

But Daniel 12:2 also describes what happen to the lost at “the end of the age”, when it says “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake … to disgrace and everlasting contempt”.

In conclusion then, in both Daniel 12 and Matthew 13, “the end of the age” is when the peoples of the world are separated into two groups; “those who commit lawlessness” and the “righteous”.  While the emphasis in Matthew 13 is on “those who commit lawlessness”, Daniel 12 emphasizes “those who have insight”.  An additional principle found in Daniel 12 is that, at “the end of the age”, people will come to life again.  Similar to John 5:27-29 and Revelation 20:4-5, it says that both “those who commit lawlessness” and the “righteous” will come to life.

Little Apocalypse

So far, four of the twelve occurrences of the phrase “the end” in the gospels have been discussed.  The next time that this phrase is found is in the Little Apocalypse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), in which Jesus foretold the events preceding and at “the end”.  In these chapters this phrase is mentioned 7 times.  This shows the unique end-time focus of the Little Apocalypse.  The Little Apocalypse is discussed in a separate article.  In summary:

Questions – The disciples asked two questions:

  1. When the temple will be destroyed?
  2. What will the sign of His coming and of the end of the age be (Matthew 24:3)?

Jesus’s answer may be divided into three broad sections:

First: General Principles – Jesus commenced His answer by warning them that people will mislead them by saying “the time is near” (Luke 21:8).  He then told them that wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines and pestilences are not signs of the end (Mat. 24:6; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9).  He also warned them that they will be persecuted (Mt. 24:9).  So far He has not answered their questions.  He only gave general principles; applicable to all times and places.  But then He concludes this first section by mentioning “the end” twice:

but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved … this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Mat. 24:13-14; Mark 13:13).

Second: Jerusalem –He then warned them to flee to the mountains when they see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, because that will be a time of extreme distress; if God did not shorten that time, all people in Jerusalem would have been killed.  This happened in A.D. 70.

Third: Second Coming – In the third section He described His Second Coming.  He first told them that false prophets will arise that claim that He has already come.  He then described the signs of His coming, namely when the powers of heaven will be shaken, resulting in the roaring of the seas.  They will then see Him coming “in clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26), and “He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds” (Mark 13:27).

The phrase “the end” is not used in the third section, but since this concludes Christ’s description of the future events, this is “the end” to which He referred at the end of the first section.  When He comes His angels “will gather together His elect from the four winds” (Mark 13:27).  This means the other will be left.  As stated a little later in Matthew 24 “one will be taken and one will be left” (v40-41) to be destroyed (Rev. 19:21; Luke 17:29-30).  Matthew 25 continues the discussion of His return (v31), when the people of the world will be separated into “those on His right”, who will “inherit the kingdom” (v34), and “those on His left”, who “depart … into the eternal fire” (v41).  Please see the article on the Second Coming in the New Testament for more detail.

This confirms, as concluded above, that “the end of the age” is His return to this earth, when the people of the world will be separated into two groups.

Great Commission

The only other place in the gospels where the phrase “the end” is found, is in the great commission: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mat. 28:20).

Conclusion

Judgment Day –  “The end of the age” therefore refers to His return to this earth, when the peoples of the world will be separated into two groups.  “Those who commit lawlessness” will be thrown “into the furnace of fire”, but “the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mat. 13:41-43; 49-50).  It cannot be interpreted, as some do, as the attack on Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70.

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

TO: General Table of Content

The Return of Christ

At the return of Christ, as described in the book of Revelation, all things will be restored. Then there will no longer be any death, crying, or pain.  He will return on the cloud, with His angels, with power and great glory.  It will not be a secret, for every eye will see Him.  He will then judge the living and the dead.  His elect will come to life, but the wicked will be killed.  The return of Christ will not be a single, sudden event, but will be preceded and followed by many other events, the purpose of which is to prove the accuracy of God’s judgments.

An article has already been published which discusses the Second Coming in the New Testament.  The purpose of the current article is to explain the Return of Christ from the book of Revelation.  It will be seen that the Return of Christ will not be an isolated incident, but that it will be preceded by a series of events, and that it will be followed by a series of other profound events.

Seven Parts

The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ can be divided into seven parts:

  1. The letters to the seven churches (1-3);
  2. The book with the seven seals (4-7);
  3. The seven trumpets (8-11);
  4. The seven wars (12-14);
  5. The seven last plagues (15-19);
  6. The thousand years (20); and
  7. The new heavens and new earth (21-22).

Four of seven these parts conclude with the Return of Christ, but the most complete description is found in the seven plagues.  Actually, the entire seven plagues are a description of the “Day of the Lord” including the Return of Christ.  For this reason, this article provides an overview of the final events as presented in the seven last plagues.

Summary

This section contains a summary of the sequence of final events.  The detailed discussion follows below.

Mark of the beast – The story of the Return of Christ commences with the war in Revelation 13, where the image of the beast becomes alive (13:15) and forces all people to accept the mark of the beast (13:16-18).  But a limited number of people, symbolically 144000, refuse to worship the beast or his image, and they refuse to receive his “mark on their forehead and on their hand” (20:4).  The war with the image of the beast therefore divides the world into two clearly identified groups, those with the mark of the beast, and the 144000 with the name of God on their foreheads.

Final choices – A time will come, during the persecution of God’s people by the image of the beast, when every person has made his or her final decision for or against God.  This means that the number of the 144000 and that the separation of the people of the world into these two groups has been completed.  Then “one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God” (15:7).  There will be no repentance after this point in time.  All choices are final.

Purpose of the Plagues – The plagues bring world-wide catastrophes, but do not effect God’s people (16:2).  The plagues only fall on “the people who had the mark of the beast” (16:2).  But still “they blasphemed the God of heaven … and they did not repent” (16:11).  That is the purpose of the plagues; it is namely a test to show that the characters of “the people who had the mark of the beast” (16:2) are permanently fixed, and that they are unable to repent, even in the most adverse conditions, even they have clear evidence that they are wrong.

Kings join forces against God While disasters continue, unrepentant humanity receives supernatural support to convince the world rulers to join forces “for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (16:14).  However, God put it in their heart to destroy Babylon (Rev 17:16-17).  Babylon is the false religion that have always ruled over the world.

Resurrection – All “who have fallen asleep … in Christ” (1 Thess. 4:15-16) are “made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20).  This is “the first resurrection” (20:5).  Together with the 144000 they are “caught up … in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1. Thess. 4:17).

His bride “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”.  They “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:9, 14).  The Return of Christ is being delayed until His bride is ready!

The war of the great day – “The kings of the earth and their armies (are) assembled (gathered) to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (19:19).  The entire unrepentant population of the world is killed (19:21) and Satan is bound in the abyss “so that he would not deceive the nations any longer” (20:3).

One Thousand Years later all of God’s human enemies, from all ages, are brought to life (20:5).  “Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations” (20:7-8) and “gather them together for the war” (20:8).  They surround “the camp of the saints(20:9), but “fire came down from heaven and devoured them” (20:9).  In other words, they die for a second time.  This is the second death (20:14).  Many of the things which we may think happen at the Return of Christ, therefore actually happen a thousand years later, such as the “resurrection of judgment” (John 5:27-29) and the burning up of “the earth and its works” (2 Peter 3:10-13).

The end – Eventually all evil is thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the end. “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).  “There will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

This sequence of end-time events will now be discussed in more detail.  However, this is still an overview, as the plagues are discussed in separate articles in more detail.

Detailed Discussion:
Return of Christ in the Plagues

Mark of the beast – The story of the Return of Christ may be commenced with the war in Revelation 13, where the image of the beast becomes alive (13:15) and forces all people to accept the mark of the beast (13:16-18).

144000 – The next verses (14:1-5) describe the 144000.  While the mark of the beast is put on peoples’ right hands and foreheads (13:16), the 144000 have “His name and the name of His Father” on their foreheads (14:1).  In 7:1-8 this is called the seal of God.

Chapter divisions sometimes make it more difficult to understand the Bible.  This also applies to Revelation 13 and 14.  Since the mark of the beast and the seal of God are similar, but contrasted at the end of Revelation 13 and the beginning of Revelation 14, we conclude that the seal of God in the first verses of Revelation 14 is part of the description of the war with the mark of the beast in Revelation 13.  We furthermore conclude that the war with the image of the beast will divide the people of the world into two clearly identified groups, those with the mark of the beast and the 144000 who are “those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand” (20:4).  They refuse to accept the mark of the beast.

Since the 144000 are shown in 14:1 as standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, the vision in 14:1 implies a key turning point in history, namely when the number of the 144000 has been completed, which means that the separation of the people of the world into these two groups has been completed.

Victorious ones – The description of the plagues commences in Revelation 15, where John saw “those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass” (15:2).  This description means that they are the same as the 144000.  15:2 shows us exactly the same group of people as in 14:1, and at exactly the same point in history, namely at the height of the persecution of God’s people by the image of the beast, when the separation of the people of the world into two groups has been completed, when every person has made his or her final decision for or against God, but before the plagues are poured out (Rev. 16).  These “victorious” ones stand on the “sea of glass” (15:2), which is before God’s throne (4:6).  They therefore symbolically stand before the throne of God, but they are still on earth.

Wrath of God – Then “one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God” (15:7).  The four living creatures are “in the center and around the throne” (4:6), confirming that this wrath comes from God.

Temple shut – Next “the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished” (15:8).  Since the temple is where God is (7:15; 16:17), this signifies that nobody is able to come to God any longer; there will be no turning to God (repentance) during the plagues.  This confirms that all choices are final.  Then the saying will be true:

Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy” (Rev. 22:11)

World-wide disasters – The first four plagues fall on the earth, sea, waters and sun respectively.  The number four in Revelation symbolizes the entire world, for instance in 5:9; 7:1, 9; 13:7 and 17:15.  Like the first four seals and the first four trumpets, these first four plagues should not be interpreted individually; they merely imply world-wide catastrophes.  The important points rather are that:

God’s people are not affected by these plagues (16:2) and that

The people who had the mark of the beast” (16:2) “did not repent” (16:9).

Purpose of the Plagues – The fifth plague falls “on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain” (16:10).  Since the catastrophes only fall on the people with the mark of the beast, and not on God’s people, the authority of the beast is eroded, but still “they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds” (16:11).  That is the purpose of the plagues, it is namely a test to show that the characters of “the people who had the mark of the beast” (16:2) are permanently fixed, and that they will not repent, even in the most adverse conditions, even they have clear evidence that they are wrong.

Kings join forces against GodIn the sixth plague, while disasters continue, the unrepentant humanity receives supernatural support in the form of “spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (16:14).  But note; the war is not yet described.

Babylon destroyed – In the seventh plague Babylon receives “the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath” (16:19).  Revelation 17-18 interrupts the chronological flow of events to explain the identify of Babylon (17:7):

She is a harlot woman (17:5) that sits on the beast with its seven heads and ten horns.  This symbol is explained as “the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth” (17:18).

She also “sits on many waters” (17:1).  The “many waters” are explained as the “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (17:15).  [Note the hidden number four.]  Her sitting on the “many waters” is explained as that “those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality” (17:2).

In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (18:24).  She therefore existed from the time of Cain and Abel.

See the article Babylon, the mother of harlots for further information.  She is the false system of religion that, in all ages, controls the rulers of the world.

Revelation 17-18 also explains the gathering of the kings during the sixth plague (17:12-14), as well as the destruction of Babylon during the seventh plague (17:16-17).  Revelation often have such “flashbacks” and our ability to put these “flashbacks” in their correct historical setting is critical for a correct interpretation of its prophecies.  See the article on Revelation 17 for more detail.

Babylon destroyed continued – Revelation 17-18 is an interlude, and the story in Revelation 16 continues in Revelation 19, where “a great multitude in heaven” (19:1, 6) praises God:

For He has judged the great harlot (Babylon) who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of his bond-servants on her” (19:1-5).

In the seventh plague, at the end of Revelation 16, Babylon was given “the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath” (16:19).  Here, in the beginning of Revelation 19, God is here praised for the destruction of Babylon.  This confirms that Revelation 19 continues where the seventh plague left off.

The multitude also praises Him “for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (19:7).  Three concepts in this verse demand further explanation, namely the “marriage of the Lamb”, “His bride” and the word “ready”.

Marriage of the Lamb – The marriage of the Lamb is “our gathering together to Him” (2 Thess. 2:1).  Or, as stated by 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “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”.

His bride – The plagues commenced with the 144000 “victorious” ones, standing before God’s throne (15:2).  They are therefore included in “His bride” (19:7), but according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “the dead in Christ will rise first”.  Only then will all God’s people meet Him (v17), which is the “marriage of the Lamb”.  “His bride” therefore also includes the resurrected saints.  A little later in Revelation we will read about them.  They are:

those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (20:4).

The “dead in Christ” (1 Thess. 4:16) from all previous generations will rise in “the first resurrection” (20:5).  They are now immortal; “over these the second death has no power” (20:6); “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. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:52-53).

Ready – This concept of His bride “made herself ready” (19:7) is explained by the next verse:

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”.

Her clothes are clean, which does not only mean that she is forgiven, for her “fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints”.  She therefore also has “overcome”:

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).

He who overcomes will inherit these things” (21:7). (See also 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 5:5)

She “made herself ready” (19:7).  As said of the “great multitude”; they “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:9, 14).

This concept, of the bride being “ready”, which means that God’s people have “overcome” their sinful desires through “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), is also found elsewhere in Revelation:

In 7:1-4 God is “holding back the four winds of the earth” “until we have sealed the (144000) bond-servants of our God on their foreheads” (compare 6:11).  Stated differently, the end-time forces of destruction are held back until they are ready.

Once they are sealed, they are described as “the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.  And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.” (14:4,5)  This means that they are not only forgiven; through the power of the Holy Spirit they have developed characters in agreement with their Maker.

When “one like a son of man” comes, “sitting on the cloud”, an angel cries out in a loud voice, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe” (14:14-15).  These are God’s elect (14:17-20).

The ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (14:4) are “those who are with Him” (17:14).  They are “called and chosen and faithful” (17:14).

One of the angels invited John, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (21:9).  Then John saw “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2, compare v10).

We often ask why the return of Christ is delayed.  From 7:1-3 we learn that the return of Christ is being delayed until His bride is ready.  God is waiting for a people that is ready.  Preachers often emphasize our total depravity (Romans 3) and that we are saved by grace.  However, the Lord will not return until He has a people that are able to overcome the beast and his image.  Just like Jesus overcame, our quest is to overcome.

Our quest is to be the 144000.  Like the Lord did, we need to be willing to give up everything, even our earthly lives—not for some truths—but for Him.  This the 144000 will do, not to be saved, for their own salvation is not important for them, but because they love Him.

The 144000 will make it possible for God to make an end to this age of sin.  Just like the purpose of the plagues is to prove God’s judgment of the people with the mark of the beast; that they are unable to change, the end time trials will prove God’s judgment of His people; that the people with the seal of God—the people whom God elected—will not surrender their faith in God, even when persecuted to death. What they will do will not only say something about themselves; it will be a testimony about all of God’s elect for all ages.  Christ died to demonstrate God’s “righteousness … so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).  In the same way the 144000 will demonstrate God’s “righteousness” by demonstrating the characters of God’s elect.  Like Job, they will prove that God was right when He elected certain individuals as Him.  That is our quest.  Please read the War in Heaven for more information.

Return of Christ – The “marriage of the Lamb” is followed by the Return of Christ.  Here He is “called The Word of God” (19:13), the “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (19:16).  He sits on “a white horse” (19:11) and is followed by the “armies which are in heaven … on white horses” (19:14).  According to Matthew 16:27; 25:31 Jesus will return with His angels, and Revelation 12 describe a war in heaven between two groups of angels (12:7).  The “armies which are in heaven” therefore are His angels.

War of the Great Day – In the sixth plague the kings of the world are gathered at Armageddon (16:16) “for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (16:14), but that war was not described in the sixth seal; only the gathering.  Now, at the Return of Christ “the kings of the earth and their armies (are) assembled (gathered) to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (19:19).  The “war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (16:14) is therefore the Return of Christ.  In this war all people are “killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (19:21).  In other words, Christ speaks and they die.  The entire unrepentant population of the world is killed, while God’s people are “caught up … in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:15).

Satan bound – Now that the dead in Christ has “come to life” (20:4-5) and the entire unrepentant population of the world is dead (19:21), Satan is bound in the abyss “so that he would not deceive the nations any longer” (20:3).  Satan is first thrown out of heaven, down to earth (12:7-9).  Now he is thrown further down into the abyss.  Still later he will be thrown still further down “into the lake of fire and brimstone” (20:10).

MillenniumDuring the thousand years God’s people will sit on thrones “and judgment was given to them” (20:4).  They will evaluate the evidence to understand why they are alive while so many of their loved ones are dead.  “They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (20:6).

One thousand years after the Return of Christ the “rest of the dead” (“all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness” – Mat 13:41) from all ages, come to life (20:5).  “Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations” (20:7-8).  He will “gather them together for the war” (20:8).  They will surround “the camp of the saints(20:9).  End-time humanity rose to war against God before the Return of Christ; one thousand years later all people of all generations prepare to continue that war against God.  But “fire came down from heaven and devoured them” (20:9).  In other words, they die for a second time; this is the “second death” (20:14).

God’s Judgments confirmed – Why does God resurrect all His human enemies, just to kill them again?  Why does He release Satan to again deceive the nations?  It is proposed that this will be a test of His judgments.  Just like the purpose of the plagues is to show that the people with the mark of the beast will change; not even when they know that they are wrong, the purpose of the events at the end of the thousand years is to convince the universe and His elect of the rightness of His judgments.

In the judgment before the great white throne “books were opened” (20:12), “and if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (20:15).  The destruction of Satan and hostile humanity is based on evidence.  For a thousand years God’s people will have had the opportunity to study the records (20:4) to understand why certain people receive “eternal life” and others receive “eternal punishment” (Mat. 25:41, 46).  That is how God rules; He wants His intelligent creatures to agree with Him, not because of fear, but because they are convinced that He is right.  He rules in love: love is the driving force behind all of His decisions.  That is why God brings His enemies to life again, namely to allow God’s people to see for themselves, after they have studied the records for a thousand years, that some of their loved ones are hardened beyond repair; nothing more can be done for them; they cannot be allowed into the New Heaven and New Earth (21:1).  “Nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it” (21:27).

The dead – Since God’s enemies are killed for a second time when “fire came down from heaven and devoured them” (20:9), and since there is no indication that they come to life for a third time, “the dead, the great and the small” which John saw “standing before the throne” (20:12), are not living people standing before a physical throne. They stand symbolically to be judged.  And it is not God that judges; it is God’s intelligent creatures that evaluate His judgments.

Lake of Fire – Eventually all evil is in the lake of fire.  At the return of Christ, the beast and the false prophet are “thrown alive into the lake of fire” (20:20).  A thousand years later the devil is thrown into the lake (20:10), and finally also all of God’s human enemies (20:14-15).  The lake of fire “is the second death” (20:14).  In Revelation, whenever a being is thrown into the “lake of fire” (19:20; 20:10; 20:14-15), that being is never again seen doing anything.  The “lake of fire” is the “eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat 25:41), also called the “unquenchable fire” (Mt. 3:12) or the “furnace of fire” into which “those who commit lawlessness” will be thrown “at the end of the age” (Mt. 13:40-42).

New earth – John saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (21:1).  Perhaps this means that this physical world, on which so much evil has been committed, will be completely obliterated.  As Peter wrote, “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” (2 Peter 3:10).

Thousand years apart – One purpose of this discussion is to show that the duration of “the day of the Lord” is actually one thousand years.  Many of the things which we may think happen at the Return of Christ will actually happen one thousand years later.  This includes the “resurrection of judgment” (John 5:27-29) and the burning up of “the earth and its works” (2 Peter 3:10-13).

Conclusion

The previous article, on the Second Coming in the New Testament, analyzed a large number of verses that describe the return of Christ.  The current article focusses on the return of Christ as described in Revelation, and specifically in the Seven Plagues.  The book of Revelation confirms the conclusions of the previous article.  Similar to what was found in the previous article:

The return of Christ is “the great day” (6:17 – compare Luke 17:24; Phil. 1:10; 1 Thess. 5:2, 23; 2 Thess. 2:1-2; 2 Peter 3:10).

That great day will be “the … restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21), for John saw “new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (Rev. 21:1).  “There will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

The return 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 (Rev, 6:12-14 – compare Mt. 24:29; Luke 21:25-26).

He will return “on the cloud” (Rev. 14:14 – compare Mat. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:9-11; 2 Thess. 1:7; Rev. 1:7);

He will return with power and great glory (Rev. 19:11-16 – compare Mt. 16:27; 24:30; 25:31; Mark 8:38; Mark 13:26; Luke 9:26; Luke 21:27).

He will return with His angels (Rev. 19:11 (armies of heaven) – compare Mt. 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26;

The return of Christ will not be a secret event, for “every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7 – compare Luke 17:23; Mt. 24:27, 30; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:16; Mat. 24:31).

He will judge the living and the dead; He will reap the “harvest of the earth” (Rev. 14:15-16), which is His elect, and He will reap “vine of the earth … and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God” (Rev. 14:18-19 – compare Mt. 16:27; Mt. 25:31-46; Rom. 2:5-8, 16; 1 Thess. 5:2, 23; Rev. 6:15-17; 7:9; 14:14-20.)

On that day His elect “came to life” (Rev. 20:4 – compare John 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Tim. 1:25).

The wicked 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 – compare Luke 17:29-30; 1 Thess. 5:3; 1 Cor. 15:24; Rom. 2:5; 2 Thess. 2:8; Mat. 24:30; Rev. 1:7).

Jesus said “I am coming quickly” (3:11), which may mean unexpectedly, but probably means soon (compare Mt. 16:28; 24:34; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27).

Revelation therefore confirms the conclusions from the previous article, but significantly expands on the description of the “Day of the Lord”.  This is not simply the physical Return of Christ, but includes a long list of events preceding and following the Return of Christ, as described in Revelation 15 to 20, stretched over a period of 1000 years.  These events are very important, because their purpose is to prove the accuracy of God’s judgments.

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

TO: General Table of Contents