What Does the Bible Say About the Second Coming?
Whew…that is a pretty good question. Well, in a word: a lot. Actually, that was two words. Anyway… Let’s go to the Bible and see what it says.
Nobody talked about the second coming more than Jesus. He taught about it, preached about it, and explained it. Toward the end of His time on Earth He spoke of it constantly.
I Will Come Again
A good place to begin would be when Jesus comforted His followers by saying…
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).
Jesus’ return is the first aspect of the second coming. He clearly told the believers of the first century and promises us today: I will come again. The second coming will begin with the literal return of Jesus Christ to this Earth.
After Jesus died on the cross and had risen from the dead, His work on Earth was done. As it came time to return to Heaven, some of His followers had gathered as Jesus prepared to ascend back up into Heaven. This event is commonly referred to as the Ascension. Gravity let go of Jesus and His body literally left the ground and went into the clouds. As this was happening, two angels appeared and gave the onlookers a powerful message:
“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
Their message was very clear: Jesus, who has just gone up into the clouds, will someday return the same way He left. The angels were repeating a promise these believers had heard from Jesus so many times. Someday, Jesus will physically return.
We Will Be Gathered
The second aspect of the second coming is that after Jesus returns He will take His church away. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word rapture as “to seize, especially abduct … capture …” This is what Jesus has come back to do. He will summon the redeemed, both dead and alive, and take them with Him back to Heaven. This idea was supported when He assured us we will…
“…see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31).
In I Thessalonians 4, the apostle Paul also talked about this gathering. He did not want the church to be uninformed about those who have passed away and what would come next. He reminded them that if they believe that Jesus died and rose again, they should also believe those who have died will rise again. He told them…
If you believe “Jesus died and rose again, even so them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him” (I Thessalonians 4:14).
Paul used the example of Jesus rising from the dead to illustrate exactly what will happen. He continued:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ will rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord”
(I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
All of the church, both those who have died and those alive, will be literally “gathered” together and will meet the Lord in the sky. The dead will rise and those alive will be captured away.
No One Knows When
A third aspect the Bible teaches about the second coming is that no one knows when it will happen. Jesus told us…
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:36-42).
Jesus was explaining that no one knows when the second coming will take place. Just as everyone was surprised by the flood in the days of Noah, people will not be expecting the Lord’s return. Some people will be taken and some will be left. He followed this story with the story of the ten virgins. The five who were not prepared were left behind as the bridegroom only accepted the five who were ready. Jesus was telling us to be on the lookout because you do not know when He is coming.
These are definitive promises: I will come again (John 14); we will be gathered together and taken back to Heaven (Matthew 24); and be ready, no one knows when I am coming (Matthew 24).
After they realized what He had said, all of the disciples re-tweeted everything Jesus had said on Twitter. Well, they didn’t … but they would have if they could have. It was definitely worth posting. Jesus was coming again! It explains why the church lived like there was no tomorrow; they were convinced of His soon coming. They met daily in their houses, they left friends and family behind and went everywhere preaching, and they sold their possessions and had all things common. Why? Because they were sure that Jesus was coming again! Our challenge is to remember these promises and be ready for that call that is coming soon. Jesus is coming again!