The Second Coming
The Second Coming Of Christ
The New Testament clearly teaches us that the first coming of Christ
will be followed by a second. Jesus referred to His return more than
once, Matt. 24:30, 25:19; 26:64; John 14:3; angels called attention to
it at the ascension, Acts 1:11; and the Epistles speak of it
repeatedly, Phil. 3:20; 1Thess. 4:15-16; 2Thess. 1:7, 10; Tit. 2:13;
1. GREAT EVENTS PRECEDING THE SECOND COMING.
According to Scripture several important events must precede the return
a. THE CALLING OF THE GENTILES. The gospel of the kingdom
must be preached to all nations before the coming of Christ, Matt.
24:14; Mark 13:10; Rom. 11:25. This means that the nations as a whole
must be so thoroughly evangelized that the gospel becomes a power in
the life of the people, a sign that calls for decision.
b. THE CONVERSION OF THE FULL NUMBER OF ISRAEL. 2Cor. 3:15 and Rom.
11:25-29 refer to a conversion of Israel, and the passage in Romans
seems to connect this with the end of time. Some take these passages to
teach that Israel as a whole, Israel as a nation, will finally turn to
the Lord. It is more likely, however, that the expression "all Israel"
in Rom. 11:26 simply refers to the full number of the elect out of the
ancient covenant people. The whole passage does seem to imply that in
the end large numbers of Israel will turn to the Lord.
c. THE GREAT APOSTASY AND THE GREAT TRIBULATION. The Bible teaches
repeatedly that toward the end of time there will be a great falling
away. Iniquity will increase, and the love of many will wax cold, Matt.
24:12; 2Thess. 2:3; 2Tim. 3:1-7; 4:3-4. Wickedness crying to high
heaven will result in a terrible tribulation "such as hath not been
from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be."
Matt. 24:21. If those days were not shortened no flesh would be saved;
but they will be shortened for the sake of the elect.
d. THE COMING OF ANTICHRIST. The spirit of Antichrist was already in
evidence in the apostolic age, 1John 4:3, and many antichrists had made
their appearance, 1John 2:18. But the Bible leads us to expect that at
the end of the age a single individual will stand out as the
incarnation of all wickedness, "the man of sin," "the son of perdition,
he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or
that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting
himself forth as God." 2Thess. 2:3-4.
e. SIGNS AND WONDERS. The Bible also refers to striking signs as
marking the beginning of the end. There will be wars, famines, and
earthquakes in diverse places, which are called the beginning of
travail, to be followed by the rebirth of the universe; and also
fearful portents in heaven, when the powers of the heavens will be
shaken, Matt. 24:29-30; Mark 13:24-25; Luke 21:25-26.
2. THE SECOND COMING ITSELF.
After these signs the Son of Man will be seen coming on the clouds of
a. THE TIME OF HIS COMING. Some believe that the coming of
Christ is imminent, that is, may now occur at any time. But the Bible
teaches us that the events and signs mentioned in the foregoing must
precede the return. From God's point of view the coming is always near,
Heb. 10;25; Jas. 5:9; 1Pet. 4:5; but no one can determine the exact
time, not even the angels nor the Son of Man, Matt. 24:36.
3. THE QUESTION OF THE MILLENNIUM.
b. THE MANNER OF HIS COMING. The person of Christ will return. He has
already come in the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but He will return
in the body, so that He can be seen, Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Acts 1:11;
Tit. 2:13; Rev. 1:7. Though several signs will precede His coming, yet
it will be unexpected and take people by surprise, Matt. 24:37-44;
25:1-12; 1Thess. 5:2-3; Rev. 3:3. Moreover, it will be a glorious and
triumphant coming. The clouds of heaven will be His chariot, Matt.
24:30, the angels His bodyguard, 2Thess. 1:7, the archangels His
heralds, 1Thess. 4:16, and the saints of God His glorious retinue,
1Thess. 3:13; 2Thess. 1:10.
c. THE PURPOSE OF HIS COMING. Christ will return to introduce the
future age, the eternal state of things, and will do this by two mighty
events, the resurrection and the final judgment, John 5:25-29; Acts
17:31; Rom. 2:3-16; 2Cor. 5:10; Phil. 3:20-21; 1Thess. 4:13-17; 2Pet.
3:10-13; Rev. 20:11-15; 22:12
Some believe that the second coming of Christ will either be preceded
or followed by a millennium.
a. POST-MILLENNIALISM. Post-millennialism teaches that the
second coming of Christ will follow the millennium. The millennium is
expected during the gospel dispensation, in which we are now living,
and at the end of which Christ will appear. The expectation is that the
gospel will in the end become much more effective than it is at present
and will usher in a period of righteousness and peace and of rich
spiritual blessings. In our days some even expect that this will be the
grand result of a purely natural process of evolution. This whole idea,
however, does not seem to fit in with what the Bible tells us
respecting the great apostasy toward the end of time.
b. PRE-MILLENNIALISM. According to Pre-millennialism Christ at His
return will re-establish the kingdom of David on earth, and will reign
at Jerusalem for a thousand years. This theory is based on a
literalistic interpretation of the prophets and of Rev. 20:1-6. It
makes the kingdom of God an earthly and national kingdom, while the New
Testament represents it as spiritual and universal, a kingdom that is
even now in existence, Matt. 11:12; 12:28; Luke 17:21: John 18:36-37;
Col. 1:13. The New Testament knows nothing of such an earthly and
temporal kingdom of Christ, but does speak of His heavenly (2Tim. 4:18)
and eternal (2Pet. 1:11) kingdom. Moreover, this theory seeks its main
support in a passage (Rev. 20:1-6), which represents a scene in heaven,
and makes no mention of the Jews, of an earthly and national kingdom,
nor of the land of Palestine, as the place where Jesus will rule.
Passages pertaining to:
a. THE CALLING OF THE GENTILE:
Matt. 24:14. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the
whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the
Rom. 11:25-26a. "For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this
mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part
hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and
so all Israel shall be saved."
b. THE CONVERSION OF ISRAEL:
Rom. 11:26. Cf. above under a.
2 Cor. 3:15-16. "But unto this day, whensoever Moses is read, a veil
lieth upon their heart. But whensoever it shall turn to the Lord, the
veil is taken away."
c. THE GREAT APOSTASY AND THE GREAT TRIBULATION:
Matt. 24:9-13. "Then shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and
shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all the nations for my name's
sake. And then shall many stumble, and shall deliver up one another,
and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise, and
shall lead many astray. And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the
love of the many shall wax cold. But he that endureth to the end, the
same shall be saved."
Matt. 24:21-22. "For then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not
been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been
saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
d. THE REVELATION OF ANTICHRIST:
2 Thess. 2:8-9. "And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the
Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought
by the manifestation of his coming; even he, whose coming is according
to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders."
1 John 2:18a, 22. "Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye
heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many
antichrists... Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the
Christ? This is the antichrist, [even] he that denieth the Father and
e. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST:
Matt. 24:44. "Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think
not the Son of Man cometh."
Phil. 3:20. "For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for
a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Tit. 2:13. "Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of
the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
For Further Study:
a. How would you explain the passages that speak of the coming of
Christ as near? Matt. 16:28; 24:34; Heb. 10:25; Jas. 5:9; 1 Pet. 4:5; 1
b. Who are the "false Christs" or "antichrists," of which the Bible
speaks, Matt. 24:24; 1John 2:18?
C. What would you say in reply to the idea that the second coming of
Christ belongs to the past, since He returned in the Spirit, John
Questions for Review
1. What great events will precede the second coming of Christ?
2. In what sense must the nations be evangelized?
3. How must we understand the predicted conversion of Israel?
4. What is the great apostasy and the great tribulation?
5. What does the Bible mean when it speaks of the Antichrist?
6. In what sense are there antichrists even now?
7. What signs will precede the second coming?
8. In what sense can it be regarded as near?
9. Can we regard the second coming as a past event? If not, why not?
10. Can you prove that it will be physical and visible?
11. How can it be sudden, when it will be preceded by signs?
12. What will be the purpose of Christ's return?
13. What is the difference between post- and pre-millennialism?
14. What objections are there to these theories?