By Clint Springer
Dedicated Christians live in anticipation of the second coming of Jesus. Whether that event transpires during our lifetime or many years from now, the attitude remains the same.
Parousia is the Greek word most commonly translated “coming,” and Vine’s Dictionary says it “denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with.” This article is being written in order to clarify several points with relation thereto.
There are at least three Bible doctrines that are interrelated so far as time and event are concerned: The coming of Christ, the judgment, and the end of the world. A concise study of the New Testament leads to this conclusion. A resurrection of the dead may be classified as a fourth in that listing. “Second Coming,” however, may be considered somewhat arbitrary, as most Scriptures only speak of a coming without any numerical number. Hebrews 9:28 may be considered the exception, but in that passage the writer is also speaking of judgment after death — that which is still in the future for us.
Some verses, especially in Luke, are hard to interpret. Most of those verses are related to the destruction of Jerusalem, but also sound like the ending of the universe. A probable explanation is that the catastrophe of A.D. 70 prefigured the end of the world. Some of the saints were resurrected along with our Lord (Matt. 27:52), and the destruction of Jerusalem was certainly a judgment against the rebellious Jews of that age.
When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, the New Testament teaches that to have been a coming of the Lord (Matt.
24:30). However, it has been shown that “coming” does not demand a personal appearance of Christ, and such verses as Isaiah 19:1 in the Old Testament use that type of language when civil war in Egypt was being considered. Conversely, “Second Coming,” in our vernacular, implies all that was stated in paragraph one (1 Cor. 15:22-25).
Some believe the whole chapter of Matthew 24 (also Luke 21) relates only to the A.D. 70 event. However, the “day” of the second division is a time about which only the Father knows. On the other hand, Jesus knew when the Jerusalem catastrophe was to take place and so informed his disciples. That answered the second question asked by the disciples, and obviously pertains to the final end of all humanity.
A problem arises relating to that as the language is very nearly like Luke seventeen. The latter is believed to be the end of Judaism, but that event has already been suggested as a foreshadowing of the world’s end. It should also be understood that similar language does not always demand a single event.
Those who hold the view that Jesus literally returned in A.D. 70 also contend that all spiritual gifts ended at that time — that all the books of the New Testament were writ- ten before that date. While this seems like a moot point of argument, it should be remembered that spiritual gifts were given by the laying on of an apostle’s hand (Acts 8:18), and no doubt some of these lived beyond the A.D. 70 date. It is also true that those letters of Paul to the Gentiles have little to say about the Jerusalem catastrophe, as that event did not mean as much to the Gentiles as it did to the Jews.
In my Royal Publishers King James Bible, First Thessalonians is listed as having been written in A.D. 58, but in view of Chapter 2:16, which is written in the past tense, that, too, can be questioned. After charging the Jews with killing Jesus, and prohibiting the gospel from being preached to Gentiles, the last part of verse sixteen says, “But God’s wrath has come upon them at last!”
In those books written to Gentile churches, a clearer view of the final judgment may be found. Conversely, only Judea was involved when the Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem. 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Thessalonians 2, and 2
Peter 3 are passages directly related to the end of the world.
You may remember that after receiving their first letter, some of the Thessalonians thought the end was literally at hand. In the second book the apostle declared that a falling away had to come first, and we know that to have pertained to the Catholic system. Any good church history book will trace that falling away to its completion.
From John 20:17 we learn that Jesus did not immediately ascend to the Father, there is a difference between Paradise and the Heaven of God’s throne, but did so afterward and was then crowned King (Luke 19:12). This was foretold by Daniel (Dan. 7:13,14). Thus we conclude that Jesus went before the Father with the blood of his sacrifice, then came back to earth and appeared to the apostles and several others.
His coming was foretold in the Old Testament, as is his final coming in the New. Just as many ungodly Jews were destroyed in A.D. 70, all who obey not the gospel will suffer the second death and be damned to outer darkness for eternity.