1999 James A. Fowler
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SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
I. Representative Biblical references to second coming.
Although there is no direct reference
to "second coming" (cf. Heb. 9:28), there is abundant
reference to Christ's
coming again. Justin Martyr in second century is first known
A. Greek word parousia - "coming,
15:23 - "those who are Christ's at His coming"
4:15; 5:23 - "the coming of the Lord" cf. 2:19; 3:13
2:1 - "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" cf. 2:8
- "the coming of the Lord"
3:12 - "looking for the coming of the Day of God" cf.
I Jn. 2:28
- "at His coming"
B. Greek word apokalypsis - "revealing,
1:7 - "awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus
1:7 - "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven"
1:7 - "the revelation of Jesus Christ" cf. 1:13; 4:13;
C. Greek word epiphaneia - "appearing,
6:14 - "the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ"
4:1 - "His appearing and His kingdom" cf. 4:8
- "the appearing of our God and Savior, Christ Jesus"
D. Greek word phaneroo - "make
5:4 - "when the Chief Shepherd appears"
I Jn. 2:28
- "when He appears...at His coming"
I Jn. 3:2
- "when He appears we shall be like Him"
E. Greek word erchomai - "to
11:26 - "you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes"
- "He who is coming will come and will not delay"
- "He is coming with the clouds"
- "I am coming quickly"
F. Greek word heko - "to
3:10 - "the day of the Lord will come like a thief"
- "hold fast until I come" cf. 3:3
G. Greek word hemera - "day"
1:8 - "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" cf. I Cor.
5:5; Phil. 1:6,10;2:16
5:2 - "the day of the Lord" cf. II Thess. 2:2; II Pet.
1:10 - "on that day" cf. II Tim. 1:18
3:12 - "the day of God"
H. Greek word elpis - "hope"
- "looking for the blessed hope"
II. Expectation of second coming
A. Overwhelming Biblical evidence
of expected second coming
to in every New Testament book except Galatians and three "postcard
epistles" of Philemon,
II John and III John
and every apostolic author refers to second coming
B. Denial of the expected second coming
- II Pet 3:3,4 - "mockers will say 'Where is the promise
of His coming?'"
liberalism denies expected second coming by claiming it was the
invention of the
preterists deny expected second coming interpreting the second
coming as spiritually
fulfilled at Pentecost, or 70 A.D.
C. Questions pertaining to the expected
Jesus teach that He would return in the lifetime of His hearers?
Matt. 10:23; Mk. 9:1
Paul expect Jesus' return in his lifetime? cf. I Thess. 4:17
the early Christians expect Jesus' second coming imminently in
their lifetime? Were
mistaken? Were they embarrassed by the delay? Did they progressively
of such expectation?
the delay of the second coming explained by the apostles as a
necessary interim, with the
necessity of godly living in the enigma of the interim? cf. I
Thess. 4:1-12; II Thess. 2:1,2;
3:6-12; I Pet. 1:5,6,13-16; 2:11,12; 4:7,8; Rev. 2:10,25; 3:3,10,21
III. Manner or form of second coming
A. In similar manner as ascended
- "Jesus will come in same way as He went into heaven"
- God once again presents Himself in human form
4. In the
clouds - cf. Lk. 21:27; Rev. 1:7 (God's presence?)
- I Thess. 4:16
B. Public, for everyone to see. cf. Lk.
secret or invisible
localized, as was ascension
C. Announced with loud fanfare. cf. I
IV. Timing and sequence of second coming
A. Timing and dates of second coming
are not known to man
- "of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels
in heaven, nor the Son,
the Father alone"
- "It is not for you to knows times or epochs which the
Father has fixed by His own authority"
5:1 - "as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have
no need of anything to be written
of second coming is incalculable, unpredictable
2. Is the
second coming imminent or impending?
imminent - soon, at any moment. cf. Rev. 22:7,12,20
impending - expected; could be at any time
coming to be sudden, unannounced
like a thief in the night - I Thess. 5:2,4; II Pet. 3:10
like birth pangs on woman - I Thess. 5:3
are to be prepared for second coming at any time
eagerly awaiting - I Cor. 1:7; Phil. 3:20
looking for, anticipating - II Pet. 3:12; Titus 2:13
alert and sober - I Thess. 5:6,8; I Pet. 1:13
there to be prior signs of second coming?
gospel to be preached to all nations? - Mk. 13:10
tribulation? - Mk. 13:19; Rev. 7:14
wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famine? Mk. 13:7,8
abomination of desolation? Mk. 13:14
false Christs and prophets? Mk. 13:6,22
signs in heavens? Mk. 13:24,25
apostasy - II Thess. 2:3; II Tim. 3:1-9
man of lawlessness - II Thess. 2:4; antichrist?
powers, signs, false wonders - II Thess. 2:9
B. Sequence of conjunctive events associated
with second coming
of opinion among Christian interpreters; much debate
of second coming to
Rapture - I Thess 4:17 (cf. outline on "Rapture")
Tribulation - Rev. 7:14?
Millennium - Rev. 20:2-7 (cf. outline on "Millennium")
Kingdom - I Cor. 15:24,50; II Tim. 4:1,18 (cf. outline on "Kingdom")
End of the world - I Cor. 15:24; II Pet. 3:10-12
premillennialists posit a dual, divided, segmented two-phase
Coming "for" the saints - rapture - I Thess. 4:17
Coming "with" the saints - revelation
V. Purpose of second coming
A. Final, decisive intervention of
God among men
B. Culmination and consummation of the
work of Christ inaugurated at the first coming.
redemption - Lk. 21:28; Rom. 8:23; Eph. 4:30
salvation - I Cor. 5:5; Heb. 9:28; I Pet. 1:5
sanctification - I Thess. 3:13; 5:23
will be resurrected - Jn. 5:29; 6:40; I Cor. 15:23; I Thess.
- Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom. 2:16; II Cor. 5:10; II Thess. 2:12;
II Tim. 4:1;
10:30; 12:23; I Pet. 4:5; II Pet. 2:4-9; 3:7; Jude 6; Rev. 20:12
heaven - Col. 1:5 (cf. outline on "Heaven")
hell - Matt. 10:28 (cf. outline on "Hell")
kingdom of Christ - I Cor. 15:24
of Christ will become unmistakably apparent - I Cor. 15:57; Rev.
C. Complete overthrow of evil
of evil will be brought to an end -
will be banished - Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10
D. New created order
universe ceases to exist - II Pet. 3:7-10,12
heaven and new earth - II Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1
E. Christ will reign forever and ever
- Rev. 11:15
VI. Christian attitudes toward second coming.
A. Extremes to be avoided
preoccupation with second coming
evaluating events - "signs of the times"
of expected second coming of Christ
fear or excitement about second coming
B. Differing orientations
hope was futuristic - waiting for first coming of Christ
hope is optimistic - reckons on all that we have in Christ Jesus
- I Tim. 1:1
C. Preparation for the second coming
of Christ is based on our participation in all that was made
in Christ at His first coming.