A Closer Look At The Second Coming Of Christ


I’ve never heard anyone discuss whether or not the second coming of Christ is necessary. Most of the time people talk about the event itself, they will discuss whether or not they believe it will really happen, they will discuss its chronology and debate over whether or not someone can really be a Christian if they don’t believe in the second coming. In other words, they will discuss the why and the when and how of His coming but not its necessity.

And I suppose, this is because the rock bottom of it all is, that people either believe in the second coming or they don’t. Those who believe that it will happen are not likely to question its necessity, whilst those who don’t believe in it, obviously don’t think it is necessary!

Those who believe in it, do not because….

1. The Lord Jesus Himself promised it. And to this we may add:

2. The angels predicted it.

3. The apostles preached it.

4. The early Christians practised it, in the sense that they lived their lives in the full and confident expectation of His return.

In fact, it’s significant that in the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are more than 300 references to the Lord’s Return, and one verse in every 25 has something to say about it, and therefore, its importance cannot be denied.

First, let’s establish that the Lord’s return is a fact established by His own promise.

1. That promise, in the familiar words of John 14:3, has been a source of strength to believers ever since they were first spoken. In John 14:28 He reaffirmed the promise.

2. Furthermore, this reference to a return was even made to those who were His enemies. He said to the Jewish rulers when they interrogated Him after His arrest in Mark 14:62.

3. And the Scriptures even close with the same promise, the penultimate verse of the book. Revelation 22:20 says, ‘He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’

And the happy response of the apostle John who recorded His words, concludes the book with the words, ‘Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.’

So, yes, He certainly promised to return, and He has never yet broken a promise. I like the expression in 2 Corinthians 1:20, ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so, through him, the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.’

Whenever I read those words I think I can see Paul’s fist punching the air! Yes! Because Paul and His fellow apostles believed the promise.

Secondly, the twelve believed it because the angels present, at the Lord’s ascension had prophesied it, Acts 1:11.

Thirdly, armed with that conviction, apostles went out and preached a message which spoke of a risen, ascended and returning Christ.

a. When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth concerning the Lord’s Supper he said to them in 1 Corinthians 11:26, ‘For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.’

There are two facts I would like you to bear in mind when you read those words. John, wrote, ‘And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.’ 1 John 2:28. See also Revelation 2:20.

Fourthly, the result of such inspired teaching on this subject was the early Christians lived in complete confidence in the return of the Lord. It was fundamental to their faith.

Emmanuel Kant produced a book entitled, ‘Ethics’ and in it, he wrote about what he called, ‘Categorical Imperatives’. He said that these are ‘absolute and unconditional commands of moral law.’

Something which is ‘categorical’ is the very opposite of ‘hypothetical’. It’s something which has no contradiction.

Well, in the New Testament the doctrine of the second coming of Christ is presented as a ‘categorical imperative’. For anyone who claims to believe in Jesus, this doctrine is an article of faith. He may not understand it very well, he may not be able to explain it very well, but he believes wholeheartedly, that Christ will one-day return, because…

1. He himself promised it.

2. His inspired apostles preached it.

3. The angelic messengers predicted it.

4. The New Testament Scriptures present it.

5. The early church practised it.

Practised it, in the sense to which I have already referred. They lived daily in the faith and expectation of the Lord’s Return. The fact that He is alive and that He promised to return influenced the way they lived. Every Lord’s Day, when they first met at the Lord’s table, they reminded each other that they were celebrating, not only His death, burial, and resurrection, but also his ascension and His return.

A word frequently heard among those first Christians was the word ‘Maranatha’, ‘The Lord comes!’

Whenever they were persecuted, ‘Maranatha the Lord Comes. And He says, ‘vengeance is Mine, I will repay’.

Whenever they stood at the graveside of a fellow believer, they said, ‘Maranatha, the Lord comes, and those who sleep in Him shall he bring with him’.

They lived in the confident assurance that one day the Lord would return, and they intended to be ready, as He had instructed them. So, do present-day Christians believe that the return of Christ is necessary? If that is taken to refer to the fulfilment of His promise, the answer must be a resounding, ‘Yes!’

Having established that the rerun of Christ is clearly taught in the Scriptures, we may now turn to look at some of the frequently asked questions on the subject. And we recognise at once, that the most frequently asked questions are not all of equal importance.

I suppose it doesn’t come as a great surprise that the question most frequently asked concerns, the time or date of His return. Nor should we be surprised that there have always been men and women who have been prepared, to supply some sort of answer, or that impressionable people have been prepared to believe them, so, what can we say about the ‘when’ of coming?


Well, probably the most intense period of curiosity about the date and the most fully documented, arose around the year 1840, when, in the U.S.A., William Miller created a sensation by announcing that on the 31st of October 1843, Jesus Christ would return.

It’s an indication of the gullibility of people, that, his following quickly numbered about 100,000, all of whom began to prepare for the sec0nd coming. That year, farmers didn’t prepare their land for a crop the following year because they would not be harvesting in 1844. Children were not sent to school.

In fact, the general routine of life was radically interrupted for those who believed Mr Miller. And, when the 31st of October dawned, they put on their white ascension robes, took their hymn books and Bibles and found some vantage point from which to get a flying start! Mountain tops, roof-tops, treetops, people gathered waiting for midnight. Midnight came, but the Lord didn’t!

Miller explained he had made slight miscalculations and set the date for the following year, 1844. The result was the same, No Appearance! In fact, he tried several times, setting the date for subsequent years, and there were always those who were prepared to believe him. But eventually, he had to admit that his calculations were wrong and Millerism went to pieces.

Mrs Ellen G. White. Seventh-Day Adventists

Mrs White, who added the ‘seventh-day’ piece, picked up the pieces of Millerism and concentrated more on seventh-day observance, and the Seventh Day Adventist church was born. Her husband, James White was a former member of the Lord’s church.

Joseph Smith

Since, at that time, the religious world in the New World had caught the second coming fever, it would have been too much to expect Joseph Smith to remain silent. Consequently, after attending a meeting at which one of the so-called apostles, Orson Hyde, had been preaching about the Second Coming, the prophet Joseph informed the speaker that he would ‘offer some corrections’.

He informed the company that he had once been praying earnestly to know the time of the Coming of the Son of Man when a voice spoke to him, and said, ‘Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou salt see the face of the Son of Man: therefore, let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.’

His conclusion?

‘I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than this’.

Now, that was in 1843, Miller’s year! Joseph Smith was 38 years old when he told his followers what the Lord had ‘revealed’ to him, quite a long way off the age of 85. According to this so-called Revelation, the 2nd Coming should have occurred in 1890.

But something went dramatically wrong somewhere, because in 1844, the following year, thus, Joseph was shot dead whilst trying to break out of the jail at Carthage. This episode of the date of Christ’s Return has been something of an embarrassment to Mormons, and you will not hear them saying anything about it!

Charles Taze Russell

Russell appeared sometime later. He was born in 1852, and, whilst still a young man, he became very interested in the subjects of the return of Christ and the Millennium. In fact, his major work was entitled ‘Millennial dawn’, consisting of six volumes, a seventh was added after Russell’s death, by Joseph Franklin Rutherford, and it was entitled ‘the finished mystery’.

Incidentally, Rutherford is often referred to as Judge Rutherford. In fact, he was a lawyer, who stood in as a ‘substitute judge’, (their phrase), when the regular Judge was ill. But the title Judge Rutherford sounds more impressive! Because of these six volumes, the followers of Russell were known as the ‘Millennial Dawnists’.

Why is Jesus returning?

To be gloried with His saints

He will not return as ‘a Galilean peasant who walked the earth wearing His heart on His sleeve’, as someone once described him. He will return in power and glory. He will come with the glory He had with the Father before the ages were formed: the glory to which He referred in His prayer in John 17.

Peter Michaelov

Just over 300 years ago, a 25-year-old Russian arrived in Holland, where he found a job at Zaandam, working as a boat builder and learning the skills of the boat builder. His name was Peter Michaelov, and, when my friend lived in Holland, he visited the little one-roomed wooden house in which he lived, like any other ordinary Dutch labourer.

The house was about a Spartan as it could be. It had a small bed, a table and a chair. He later returned to Russia, where he made use of newly acquired knowledge. About 15 years later in 1716, he returned to Holland bringing his wife with him, but he did not return as Peter Michaelov, which incidentally was an identity he had assumed on his first visit to Holland.

He came as Emperor, Peter the Great, with his ‘catharine’, and his royal entourage. Not a poor Russian labourer, but master of half of Europe, and coming from his capital, named after him, St Petersburg.

My friend said that in that little wooden house, there was a visitor’s book, which was signed by the crowned heads and the nobility of the world who had visited it. Napoleon Bonaparte added a comment, after signing his name.

‘For the truly great, nothing is too small’

Similarly, when the Lord returns, He will not come as the Son of a carpenter, who said, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ Luke 9:58

He will come, as 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 tells us ‘This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed.’

Do you notice the precise wording of that last statement? He is coming ‘to be glorified IN his holy people’ not ‘By’ His holy people.

Writing to the Ephesians, Paul tells us that, ‘His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.’ Ephesians 3:10

That is, the church, is herself, a demonstration, a revelation of the wisdom of God. This is the thought of 2 Thessalonians 1. Believers, themselves will be recognised as a demonstration of His greatness and thus demonstrates His glory.

Just as a Roman General returning victorious from war, was Glorified in the triumphant entry which was granted to him as he led in the long lines of captives, so the Lord will be glorified ‘in His holy people’ when he comes.

The idea of the saved being themselves is a demonstration of His glory is found also in 2 Corinthians 2:14, when Paul speaks, ‘But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.’

This has to do with the glory which belongs to Him, because of what He has accomplished in US, in You and Me! When He returns, ‘He will be marvelled at IN all those have believed’.

He is coming to reward and punish

If He is to commend the righteous and condemn the wicked, this surely involves a judicial process which will determine who are to be rewarded and who are to be punished. In other words, there must be a judgment. So, another purpose of His return is to convene the final judgment, John 5:22.

Hence, 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.’

Its argued by those who hold a ‘premillennial view’ that believers and unbelievers will not stand before the same throne of Judgment. They like to talk about believers standing before the ‘Judgment seat of Christ’ with the wicked appearing before ‘the Great White Throne’ mentioned in Revelation 20:11.

But it seems to me that, that is a distinction without a difference because the Revelation passage continues to state that ‘ALL will the dead’ will stand before that throne, and the books will be opened and ‘ALL will be judged according to what they have done’.

I suspect that some mistaken notions are held concerning this judgement. Whilst Scripture clearly state that Christ will sit in judgment when He returns, it’s important to understand that the scene of a formal court of justice described in the Scriptures, should not be thought of as being like a human court of justice, where witnesses for and against appear, and evidence of guilt or innocence, and a verdict is pronounced based upon the evidence.

The declaration that ‘the books will be opened’ and the dead judged according to what is found in them, does not mean that Christ, our God, needs to consider the evidence. Indeed, it is foolish even to suppose that God keeps books from which to Judge, or that the Judgement will proceed as though He isn’t already aware of the guilt or innocence of those who stand before Him.

The principle involved in the Great Judgment which will be convened when the Lord returns is simply that, ‘justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done’.

In reality. the destiny of each one is determined at death, depending on whether he dies ‘in Christ’ or ‘out of Christ’. There will be no second chance, no matter what the Mormons or anyone else, may say. Hebrews 9:27.

The mention of books is intended to give us understanding that nothing will be missed, no word, no deed, all is noted by God, and, one way or another a record is kept. And make no mistakes will be made. No one will be banished eternally from His presence without knowing why, and without understanding that the punishment is deserved, Matthew 25:31-32 / Matthew 25:46.

Matthew 25:31-32 states that He is coming, ‘to judge the world’ and Matthew 25:46 tells us as a result of that judgement, ‘The wicked will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’

The Lord Himself, in this passage, reveals the nature of these verdicts, Matthew 25:21 / Matthew 25:41.

He is coming to raise the dead

Of course, if there is to be a judgment, a resurrection is essential, but it will be a general resurrection which will precede the judgement of both living and dead, John 5:28-29. Notice what the Lord says about the resurrection. ‘A time is coming when ALL the dead will hear His voice and come out.’

The Good and bad alike will be raised. One general resurrection but, it will effectively, that is, so far as its consequences are concerned, to the one group, the righteous, a resurrection to life. But to the other group, that is the unbelievers, a resurrection to condemnation.

And, do not forget that, according to the Lord Himself, this will take place on ‘the last day’. He said, that those who believe in Him, would be raised up ‘on the last day’, He says this, four times in John 6 alone. And, according to John 11, Martha knew enough to say to the Lord, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ John 11:24

Well if this general resurrection takes place on ‘the last day’. There cannot be a single day afterwards, much less one thousand years. This Judgment will determine the eternal destiny of each one, and when it’s ended, there will remain one more thing for the Lord to do.

He is coming to hand over the kingdom to the Father

It is sad that there are so many religious people and many sincere religious people, who mistakenly suppose that Christ will return to ‘set up a kingdom’, and, in particular, a ‘kingdom on earth’, and to ‘begin to reign’. And this is one of the greatest, mistakes they could possibly make.

I mentioned the word, ‘premillennial’ a few moments ago. At the heart of this theory is the idea that Christ will come again, to do what they suppose He came to do at His first coming. Although they are reluctant to express this plain language, and if you think about it, you understand why, because their theory implies the Failure of His plan.

These people believe that 2000 years ago, Christ came, in fulfilment of the Hebrew Scriptures, to become Israel’s Messiah and to re-establish the Kingdom of Israel, making it even more glorious than it was in the days of David and Solomon.

But because the Jews rejected Him and crucified Him, the church was established as a kind of stopgap arrangement, even as a divine after-thought, you might say, but certainly, a purely temporary arrangement, until He comes the second time when He will accomplish what He failed to do the first time!

Premillennialists are quite literally obsessed with national Israel. They believe that ‘before’ Christ returns, there will be ‘a mass conversion of Israel’, and the Jews from all over the world, will return to the Promised Land, so that a promise which they think God gave to Abraham, concerning perpetual possession of the land may be fulfilled. They call it ‘the land promise’.

Indeed, it gets more and more weird. Some of them believe that first, Christ will come ‘for His holy people’, to take them to heaven., this is what they call ‘the rapture’, which they think will last for seven years. Then, He will come ‘with His holy people’, and this they think is the second coming. But, in between those two comings, in that seven-year period, things will be happening among the nations on earth.

The Jews will enter into a covenant with the ‘Gentile ruler’ of the Mediterranean, and this is supposed to last for seven years, but after three and a half years it will be broken and Israel will become a persecuted nation. This, in their theory, is called, ‘The Great Tribulation’.

They also believe that, when Christ returns, it will be to Jerusalem, where there will be what they call.

1. The first resurrection of the righteous dead.

2. The throne of David will once again be set up.

3. The temple and the priesthood will be restored.

4. And those righteous dead, the first to be raised, will reign with Christ over the whole world, from the Throne of David, for 1000 years. The so-called ‘millennial reign’ of Christ.

And, incidentally, some of those who hold this theory like to think that they will ‘rule with a rod of iron’. But, ask them what they think this means, and I doubt if you will receive an intelligible reply!

5. And, one last item! Only after the 1000 years reign will there be a second resurrection of the wicked dead.

Incidentally, some really fanatical Premillennialists even believe that there will be a revival of the Roman Empire, the fourth beast in Daniel’s prophecy, because the Scriptures say, ‘In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.’ Daniel 2:44

And of course, they don’t believe the kingdom has yet been established!

Now, remember that according to this theory, these are two literal, physical resurrections. One at the beginning and the other at the end of what they imagine is ‘The Millennial Reign of Christ’.

Where they run into problems is when they come to explain Revelation 20 from verse 11, which quite clearly states that there will be a general resurrection, when the dead, small and great, from land and sea, stand before the throne to be judged in the manner I have already described.

The problem lies here, if all the saints, that is, the faithful dead are raised at ‘the beginning’ of this 1000 years, in a so-called ‘first resurrection’, and there then follows that reign of 1000 years, which is a glorious time during which nobody dies, and ‘the wicked dead’ are only raised ‘at the end of the 1000 years’, in what the premillennial lists call the ‘second resurrection’, where are all those other dead folks coming from?

The ones who are later mentioned in Revelation 20:11-13.

 Remember this theory says, the righteous are raised first, ‘at the beginning’ of the 1000 years. The wicked are raised ‘at the end’. And ‘during’ the 1000 years nobody dies. And yet we have this ‘other’ general resurrection, described so graphically in Revelation 20!

Now, I don’t believe it takes a mathematical genius to come to the conclusion that these folks have managed to create ‘three’ resurrections.

No! that just will not do, there will be one general resurrection which decides the destiny of each soul and then, with death defeated, the last enemy overcome, and His redemptive work completed, Christ will, and I quote.

‘Then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.’ 1 Corinthians 15:24-25

1. A fact which is all too often overlooked is that, since this letter pre-dates the four Gospels, what Paul provides in 1 Corinthians 11 is the earliest account we possess of the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

2. And the other fact; Paul told the Corinthians that the instructions he gave to them concerning this feast, were what he ‘had received from the Lord’, and from the Lord in person.

In other words, the Lord Himself has invested the Feast with this great significance, declaring that the Supper is a proclamation of His Death, and His return.

The Philippians were told, ‘But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Philippians 3:20

The Colossians were told, ‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.’ Colossians 3:4

The Thessalonians were told, ‘For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord, himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.’ 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18

And he prayed, in his last chapter, ‘May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:23

In 2nd Thessalonian letter, he wrote, ‘They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you because you believed our testimony to you.’ 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10. See also 1 Timothy 6:14-16 / 2 Timothy 4:1-2 / Titus 2:13 / Hebrews 9:28 / James 5:7 / 1 Peter 1:13 / 2 Peter 3:10.

First in Daniel 7:13, where the prophet had a vision in which he saw the ascension of the Messiah, as He comes with the clouds of heaven, to the Ancient of days, to receive from Him dominion, and glory and a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.

Next, Psalm 24:7, which any Bible scholar who is worthy of the name, sees as a Psalm of the ascension.

And then, in Revelation 6, where John is permitted, in some way, to stand in Heaven and witness the arrival of the Lamb, who presents Himself as the one who has laid down His life in sacrifice, and who claims the right, on the basis of that sacrifice to b become God’s Champion.

But here is a question, why, after His resurrection, did He Return to the Father?

Why did He not stay to extend His kingdom?

1. Notice that in John 14:12, the Lord told His disciples that they would be enabled to perform greater works because I go to the Father.

On His return to Heaven, He took up ‘His authority and His Power’ and He was able to grant them power. That is why we are told at the end of the Gospel. Mark that, these disciples went everywhere preaching the word, the Lord working with them confirming the word with the signs which followed, Mark 16:20.

2. He returned to the Father in order that He might become our mediator with God. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that if He were on earth He could not have seen a priest, certainly not according to the Law of Moses because he did not fulfil the priestly qualifications, Hebrews 7:14.

But, as the prophet Zechariah had said, ‘It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne.’ Zechariah 6:13

In Heaven, our Lord is both King and Priest, and, as our High Priest, He, ‘did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.’ Hebrews 9:24

3. And, just one more point, He has returned to the Father, in order that He may fulfil His promise to us, as well as to the eleven apostles in the passage we looked at the start of this study, John 14:1-4.

That coming is the most important event in store for this world of ours. He is coming to take a prepared people to a prepared place. How tragic if any of us were to see that Day and be unprepared, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.