Did you know that the phrase the second coming of Christ does not appear anywhere in scripture? Nor the phrase second coming? Does this surprise you?
Notice in the above title, we did not spell out the word second, but used 2nd instead. This is because numbers are fictions in numerical form and have no substance. And the second coming of Christ is also a fiction according to Scripture, which has has no substance. It is born and bred from the doctrines of man, not from the Holy Scripture.
Additionally, you will not find the idea of a physical second coming of Christ, or the literal return of Christ, taught anywhere in scripture. When searching out the truth given to us in Scripture, we must use Scripture to interpret Scripture.
Some of the phrases construed to denote His "return" that are used in the New Testament books are:
and other similar expressions. All of these phrases refer to the same event. To understand what event these phrases refer to, we must go to Scripture, and not to the pre-conceived ideas and teachings of "theological" philosophy and "end times" merchandisers.
- "the coming of the Lord,"
- "the day of the Lord,"
- "the sign of Thy coming,"
- "the day of Christ is at hand,"
- "the Son of man coming in the clouds,"
The apostles and Jews of the first century clearly understood what the above phrases meant, because they read it many times in the Old Testament books. These phrases were very common in the Old Testament books. Such language was used many times in the past whenever God would overthrow and destroy a single nation at a specific time. While reading the following examples from the Old Testament books, notice how similar these phrases are to the same expressions used in the New Testament books.
The Lord's Coming in the Old Testament
In scripture, the day of the Lord has never referred to a physical, literal return of the Lord. The day of the Lord has always referred to the Lord's judgment upon either a city or nation of people. It refers to a destruction from God Almighty:
"Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come" (Joel 1:15).
It refers to the destruction upon the heathen:
"For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen" (Obadiah 1:15).
It refers to the anger of God upon a nation not desired by Him:
"Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger come upon you. Seek ye the LORD it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger" (Zephaniah 2:1-3).
The following are some examples of the day of the Lord and the Lord riding on a swift cloud and shall come being fulfilled upon many people throughout scriptural history:
Jeremiah 46:2,10, "Against Egypt For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates."
This was referring to the destruction of the Egyptians, and this was fulfilled when Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates (see 2 Kings 23:29).
Isaiah 19:1, "The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt"
This was referring to the destruction of Egypt, and this was fulfilled in 480 BC.
Ezekiel 30:3-4, "For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day And the sword shall come upon Egypt "
This was also referring to the destruction of Egypt, and this was fulfilled in 480 BC.
Isaiah 13:1,6-9 The burden of Babylon the day of the LORD is at hand the day of the LORD cometh.
This was referring to the destruction of Babylon, and this was fulfilled in 539 BC.
Zephaniah 1:4,7,14-15 "I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem for the day of the LORD is at hand: The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness."
This was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, and this was fulfilled in 586 BC.
Amos 5:18-20, "Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?"
Note that it is "Woe unto them" that desire the day of the LORD. This was referring to the destruction of Israel, and this was fulfilled in 722 BC.
Since only Scripture can interpret Scripture, when we read of "the day of the Lord" in the New Testament books, it can only refer to God's judgment upon a nation of people. Specifically, in the New Testament, it refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 A.D. We shall now examine just one of the many passages which clearly show this.
The Lord's Coming in the New Testament
Matthew 24, commonly known as the Olivet discourse, is our Lord's prophecies regarding His so-called second coming. Verse 3 is the most important verse in this whole chapter, because the entirety of Matthew 24 is in response to this specific question asked in verse 3 by the apostles. If you don't understand their question, you will never understand Jesus' answer. We must be sure we understand the question first.
Matthew 24:3, "...And what is the sign of thy coming
The Greek word for coming is parousia. This Greek word means arrival or presence, not return. It is never translated as return in the entire bible. It didn't refer to any future return of Christ. To the disciples, the "parousia" signified the destruction of Jerusalem, just as it referred to the destruction of a city in the scriptures of their time. Let's now look at the context of Matthew 24. Throughout Matthew's gospel, Jesus continually warned the Jews of their coming judgment because of their apostasy.
Matthew 21:43 "Because of this I say to you, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and it shall be given to a nation bearing the fruits of it."
Matthew 22:7 "And having heard it the king was wroth, and having sent out his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city."
It is clear that the reference here is to the city of Jerusalem's destruction, which happen upon that generation in AD 70. Jesus continues to warn them of a coming judgment because of their rejection of the Messiah (please read Matthew 23:23-39 in your bible).
Matthew 23:36-38, "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who killest the prophets and stoneth those who have been sent to her! Behold, your house is left to you desolate."
All word studies and commentaries agree that the word "house" (#3624) refers to Jerusalem and the temple. Now, with this in mind, we move into chapter 24 and the Olivet discourse of Jesus (this is a continuation of what was said in Matthew 23). In verse 1, as the apostles depart from the Temple, the words of Jesus to the Pharasees, "Your house is left to you desolate," still burned in their ears. In verse 2, Jesus prophesied that "these things," (the whole temple) would be utterly destroyed in an act of God's judgment. And in verse 3:
Matthew 24:3, "Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of thy coming, and of the completion of the age?"
The Mount of Olives was just east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. It is about a mile in length and about 700 feet in height, and overlooks Jerusalem, so that from its summit almost every part of the city could be seen. It was from Jerusalem about a Sabbath day's journey (Acts 1:12). A Sabbath day's journey was as far as the law allowed (not the law of Moses, but that advanced by the Jewish teachers) one to travel on the Sabbath. This was 2,000 paces or cubits, which would be not quite one mile.
This walk, uphill with sandals, would have taken them maybe 15-30 minutes. During this time they were no doubt thinking about what Jesus had just said about the destruction of the temple and how their house would be left desolate. Once Jesus sat down on the mountain, the disciples approached him and questioned him about the temple's destruction. According to Mark 13:3, the questions were asked by Peter, James, John, and Andrew. And according to Matthew and Mark, they came "privately" to Jesus. Their question was two-fold. First they ask, "when will these things be?" All three of the synoptic gospels ask, "when."
Matthew 24:3, "Tell us, when shall these things be?..."
Mark 13:4, "Tell us, when shall these things be?..."
Luke 21:7, "So they asked Him, saying, Teacher, but when shall these things be?..."
The "these things" refer to the temple's destruction in verse 2 (Matthew 24). In verse 1 the disciples point out the temple buildings to Jesus. In verse 2, Jesus says, "All these things shall be destroyed." It should be clear that they are asking, "When will the temple be destroyed? When will our house be left desolate?" After all, Jesus had just talked about judgment on Jerusalem, and then about not one stone not being left upon another, the disciples' response is, "When?" That makes sense, doesn't it? I would hope so. It is the second part of their question where things get sticky.
The second part of their question is, "What shall be the sign of thy coming and the completion of the age?" To help us understand the question, we need to compare all three synoptic gospels, comparing scripture with scripture.
Matthew 24:3, "...And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the completion of the age?"
Mark 13:4, "...And what shall be the sign when all these things should be fulfilled?"
Luke 21:7, "...And what sign shall there be when these things are about to take place?"
Comparing all three accounts shows us that the disciples considered "thy coming" and "the completion of the age" (the old covenant age) to be identical events with "these things." Remember, "these things." referred to the destruction of the temple.
Mark 13:4, "Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things should be fulfilled?"
Notice in the first part of the verse they say, "When shall these things be?" -- referring to the temples' destruction. Then in the second half, they ask, "What shall be the sign when all these things should be fulfilled?" The sign of His coming and the end of age was the same as the "these things," which referred to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year AD 70. These are not separate questions that can be divided up into different time-events. The disciples had one thing, and only one thing, on their mind and that was the destruction of the temple. With the destruction of the temple, they understood that the coming of the Lord and the end of the old covenant age was determined by when that event occurred.
Notice that the disciples did not ask about the dissolution of the physical heaven and earth or the judgment of the "world" (kosmos), but about the end of the "age" (aion). The Disciples asked Jesus when the temple would be torn down. They could not possible have been asking Jesus about his physical second coming, because of these three undisputed facts:
Fact #1:If the disciples had no idea that Jesus was going to leave them, how could they ask Him about His return? The disciples could not have asked a question about something they knew nothing about! They didn't understand anything about a second coming. The fact is, the disciples believed the coming of the Lord or the day of the Lord would be the coming judgment upon, and the destruction of, Jerusalem and the Temple. This is the same meaning (destruction of nation) as used throughout the old testament scripture.
The Disciples did not understand that Jesus was going to die the first time (John 12:34; 16:16-18; 20:9, Mark 9:10,31-32, Luke 9:44-45; 18:31-34). And if the apostles had no idea that Jesus would physically leave them, why would they ask him about his physical return? Return from what? Therefore, the disciples could not have been asking about a future return of Christ, because they had no idea that he was leaving!
The disciples believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Matthew 16:15-16). The people living in the first century believed that Messiah would come and rule physically, having no idea of Him coming, then leaving, then coming again (John 12:34). The disciples expected Jesus to be their physical King and set up a worldly Kingdom at his first coming (John 6:15, Luke 19:11; 24:21), not at his second coming. Even after the crucifixion, they still had no concept about his second coming, because they still thought he was going to give them the Kingdom at that time (Acts 1:6).
Jesus talked to them about his death and going to the Father, but the apostles did not understand it at all (Matthew 16:21-22, Mark 8:31-32; 9:31-32, Luke 9:44-45; 18:31-34, John 13:33-14:6; 16:16-18). This account in John takes place after he had given them the Olivet discourse and they still didn't understand that He was leaving them. The disciples could not grasp that Jesus was going to die, and be resurrected from the dead, and acsend to the Father! Even after the crucifixion, they still didn't understand that Jesus was going to rise from the dead (John 20:8-9). If they did not understand that Jesus was going to return (from the dead) the first time, how they have any concept that Jesus was going to return (from heaven) a second time?
Did Jesus answer the apostles question as to when the temple would be destroyed, and when these things would be fulfilled? Yes, he did! He answered it twice in the same conversation:
Matthew 23:36, "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
Matthew 24:34, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
Yes, Jesus said "these things" (the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple) would happen within the generation of the people then living. Do you believe Jesus was a false prophet? Does this question shock you? The futurist position denies the fulfillment of the prophesies of Jesus. Because of the time statements connected with these prophesies, if the prophesies had not come true then He would be a false prophet according to Deuteronomy 18:22. These prophesies are not specific as to the day or the hour, but they do give a definite generational time-frame. And, sure enough, God's Word is true, and it did happen just when Jesus said it would happen, within 40 years (a generation) of Jesus making these prophesies! It happened in 70 A.D.
For further study, you may want to read Matthew 16:27-28, because in this passage, Jesus said that some of His disciples, who were standing right there in front of Him, would not die until they have seen the Son of man coming in His kingdom. And the apostle John is one of these apostles who lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
And one last point to consider. The apostles wrote in scripture that they expected Christ's coming to happen within their own lifetime. This fact is indisputable, and easily proven from scripture. Those who believe the "second coming" of Christ is still future must also believe that the apostles were wrong. Why? Because "all scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16). The apostles did not write their opinions, but they wrote "as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). If the apostles were wrong, one cannot avoid the conclusion that scripture is wrong. And if scripture is wrong, and Jesus did not come in His kingdom when he said He would, that means the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and all the apostles were either wrong, or they lied (Numbers 23:19).
So, we have a choice. We must believe that the Word of God is Truth and Jesus came when He said He would, or we must believe the teachings of men's philosophy is truth and Jesus will physically return sometime in the future. Both cannot be true. And if scripture is wrong about the timing of Christ's coming, what other parts of scripture are wrong and untrue?
"Futurists" make the same mistake that the Jews who crucified Christ made they were not satisfied with a spiritual kingdom; they had to have a literal, worldly, physical kingdom. That's why they rejected Christ's "first coming." We hope and pray that you do not make the same mistake about his so-called "second coming" and reject the fulfillment of the coming of His Kingdom that came in 70 A.D. Glory be to God, His Kingdom is here now! If not, what kingdom is He the King of kings of?
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