Was Jesus’ promise, to return soon, fulfilled in His Resurrection, Ascension and Enthronement?
Some argue that Jesus came when He appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. They justified this as follows:
“By the resurrection from the dead” Jesus was “declared the Son of God” (Rom. 1:4).
After His resurrection, He said that “all authority” was given Him (Mat. 28:18-20).
In Matthew 10 Jesus instructed His disciples to go to Israel only (v5-6), but after His resurrection, He gave His disciples a new commission to “make disciples of all the nations” (Mat. 28:18-20). Thus ended the special mission to Israel. Judaism came to an end at the crucifixion. At that moment her rituals, sacrifices, temple, priesthood and her whole status, were nulled.
The disciples did not experience major persecution prior to His resurrection, as Jesus said they would, before He returns (Mt. 10:16-23).
The Bible nowhere use such language (e.g., “the Son of man is come”) for His resurrection.
His resurrection was too soon. Jesus would not have said, “some standing here who will not taste death”, for something which was to happen only about a year later.
When Jesus said that he would come soon, He also said that, when He comes, will be “the day of judgment” (Mt. 10:15, 23; 16:27-28). His resurrection was not “the day of judgment”.
The preaching to Israel only did not come to an end at the Cross. Ten days after His ascension God gave His followers the power of the Holy Spirit to preach specifically and exclusively to Israel. This resulted in the exponential growth for the church, but limited to Israel. For a number of years after the Holy Spirit was received, the gospel message focused on die leadership of the Jews and on Jerusalem only. See the article on the Jerusalem Phase of the Early Church.
Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 1:3), where He “sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19; cf. Acts 2:32; 5:31; Rom. 8:33; Eph. 1:20; Rev. 3:21; etc.). Some argue that He came, not to the earth, but He came to God’s throne at His ascension. This is justified as follows:
When Jesus told His disciples to preach “that the Kingdom of God is at hand” (10:7), they probably understood this to be what was prophesied by Daniel 7, where Jesus comes—not to the earth—but to the Father (v13), to receive “dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion” (v14). This was fulfilled, they argue, by Christ’s enthronement, when He ascended to heaven.
After Jesus “sat down at the right hand of God” and the Holy Spirit was poured out, Peter explained, “God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).
Revelation 12 describes what happens in heaven when Christ ascended to heaven (see the article War in Heaven). At that time a loud voice announced: “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come” (Rev. 12:10).
Some of the objections against this proposal are similar to those against the previous proposal. This includes that the Apostles still expected His soon coming after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that the disciples did not experience major persecution before this time, that the Bible nowhere uses “the Son of man is come”-language for His enthronement, that it was too soon to justify the saying “some standing here who will not taste death”, and that His enthronement was not “the day of judgment”.
Holy Spirit Received
Some argue that Jesus came representatively at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, ten days after His ascension. This is argued as follows:
By saying, “the Father … will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; …I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16, 18), He promised to come to them in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told His disciples to preach that “the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt. 10:7). Since, in that chapter, both the “Kingdom of God” and His coming (Mt. 10:23) were imminent, His coming could be understood as the coming of the “Kingdom of God”. Similarly, Matthew 16:28 says that He will come “in his kingdom”, which is argued is not His physical return. In the parallel verses (Luke 9:27 & Mark 9:1) Jesus does not say that He will come at all, but only that “those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God”. Jesus therefore did not promise that He would come physically, but that “the Kingdom of God”, which is the spiritual kingdom that exists in the hearts of born again believers, would come.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit inaugurated the new dispensation. Some of those who listened to His voice in Galilee and elsewhere saw the power of the kingdom of God manifested on a scale unmatched during His ministry. Within a few weeks, the number of His followers multiplied tenfold; His kingdom was visibly on the march.
The objections against previous proposal also apply to this proposal.
Some rely of the phrase “kingdom of God”, which is found in some of the verses under discussion (Mt. 16:28; Luke 9:27; Mark 9:1), to justify the view that this is not His physical coming, but a spiritual coming. However, the “kingdom of God” is not something which will one day come, for it already exists. Jesus said “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20-21). Only the saved can see it today, but one day it will become visible to all. So when Jesus said, “There are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27), it must be interpreted by the context, and the context is that the Son of Man will come in the glory of the Father and with the holy angels (v26). The same applies to Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1. See the article What is the “Kingdom of God”? for more detail.
This article analyses the Second Coming verses in the New Testament. The purpose is to determine what Jesus meant when He said that He will come soon.
“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” (Matt 10:23).
He said this while sending His disciples out on a mission trip (Matt 10:5). It is sometimes argued that this verse does not refer to Christ’s visible and audible Second Coming, but to His transfiguration (Matt 17:1-2), or to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-2), 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 prepare for further articles that will discuss 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;
His day – His return is called “His day” (Luke 17:24), the “day of Christ” (Phil 1:10), “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 will be “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 sunand moon will be darkened, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matt 24:29; Luke 21:25-26).
He will come down from heaven:
On the clouds of heaven (Matt 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 (Matt 16:27; 24:30; 25:31; Mark 8:38; Mark 13:26; Luke 9:26; Luke 21:27); and
With His angels (Matt 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 (Matt 24:27; Luke 17:23): Everybody on earth will be aware of it. It will be bothvisible (Matt 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; Matt 24:31).
WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
He will judge the living and the dead.
At the Second Coming, He will sit on His glorious throne (Matt 25:31) to judge (Matt 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” (Matt 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” (Matt 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” (Matt 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“ (Rom 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 return (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 (Matt 24:31, Mark 13:27). “There will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left” (Matt 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 Thess 2:8). “The tribes of the earth will mourn” (Matt 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 IT BE?
UnknownDate – Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone (Matt 24:36).
Unexpected – “The Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect” (Luke 12:40, compare Matt 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” (Matt 16:28, Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27), and “this generation will not pass away until all of these things take place” (Matt 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” (Heb 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 Peter 4:7, 17), “the night is nearly over; the day is almost here” (Rom 13:12, compare Rom 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” (Rev 2:16; 3:11; 22:12).
These statements about the nearness of the Second Coming are the most important issue addressed by the current series of articles.
This analysis of the Second Coming texts does not allow for asecret rapture of God’s people before the Second Coming. Nor does it allow for “the dead in Christ” (1 Thess 4:16) to already be in heaven before the Second Coming. Also, see the article Eternal Life and Death. 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” (Matt 10:23) to refer to anything other than the physical Second Coming?
Secondly, is there any evidence of a secret rapture before 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” (1 Cor 15:53). 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, Matt 25:31-46). Then God’s people will receive “immortality, eternal life” (Rom 2:7; Matt 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?
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.23When 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 concerning 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 16:27 “The Son of Man is going to comein the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.28Truly 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” … 29But 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.30And 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.31And 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 Matt 24:23 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 24:36 “Butof 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. …44For 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 (Matt 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 26:64 “you will see the Son of Mansitting at the right hand ofpower, 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 comesin 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 it 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 comingin clouds with great power and glory. 27 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 14:61 “The 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 Mansitting at the right hand of power, and comingwith 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 12:39 “Be 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 17:20 “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “Thekingdom 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 17:23 “They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not … run after them.24For justlike thelightning, 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. …28It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling …29but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom itrained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.30It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.31On 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.32Remember Lot’s wife.33Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.34I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.35There 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” (Reb 19:21).
Luke 18:8 “when 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 Matt 10:23 is found. The point is that it refers to His visible and audible return to the world.
Luke 20:9 “And 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 AD 70. That event was part of several things that 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 5:27 “He 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,29and 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” (Rev 20:6). “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed” (Rev 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” (Rev 20:15), which is “the second death” (Rev 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 14:1 “Do 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” (Matt 24:40-41; Luke 17:34-37
Acts 1:9 “And 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 comein 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: This text implies that the Second Coming is conditional; dependent upon repentance. This reminds me of the statement in 2 Peter 3:12, where Peter exhorts God’s people to “holy conduct and godliness”, “hastening the coming of the day of God“.
Romans 2:5 “You are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,6who will render to each person according to his deeds:7to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;8but 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 (Matt 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” (Rev 14:14) treads “the great wine press of the wrath of God” (Rev 14:19).
Romans 2:16 “The 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 15:20 “Christ 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.23But 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 15:52 “In 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 comingsoon” (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, whorescues us from the coming wrath.”
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 “You 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 comeswith all his holy ones.”
Comment: “His holy ones” are the angels, for the consistent message elsewhere is that He comes with His holy angels (Matt 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.16For the Lord Himself will descend from heavenwith a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17Then 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 5:2 “You yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come justlike a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon themsuddenly … 23Now 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, Matt 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 2:1 “Now 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 Lordhas 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 Lordwill 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 1:25 “Truly, 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 of 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” seem 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 comingis near. … 9 The Judge is standing at the door!”
1 Peter 1:13 “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given youwhen 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.17For 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”—18and 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 as proof that our Lord Jesus Christ will come.
2 Peter 3:3 “In 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, thatwith 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 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 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in whichthe 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. … 12looking for and hasteningthe 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 seem 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) follow 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” (Rev 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 2:28 “Abide 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 comingwith thousands upon thousands of his holy onesto 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 1:7 “He is comingwith 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 comingquickly” (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 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”
In 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 of a secret rapture of God’s people before 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.