When is the Second Coming?

jesus-w-angel

Every so often some omen or portent sets Facebook alight with the prospect of Christ’s imminent return. “Blood moons! Aligning planets! Israel sneezed! Jesus is coming – see the signs!”

I have been hearing claims like these for decades and, I have to tell you, they sound increasingly ridiculous. I appreciate that making predictions – even bad ones – is a great way to sell books or generate traffic. But bad prophecies and end times hysteria give the church a bad name and fill people with fear.

How much better if we stick to what the Bible says, and the Bible says four things about the timing of the Lord’s return.

1. No one knows the hour or day

The disciples wanted to know when Jesus would come and he replied, “I don’t know” (see Matthew 24:36). Evidently the disciples had a hard time accepting this, because after he rose from the dead they asked him again.

“Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:6-7)

In other words, “I still don’t know and it’s none of your business.” The timing of the Lord’s coming is the Father’s business. Paul wrote of the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ “which God will bring about in his own time” (1 Timothy 6:15).

2. The Lord will return at an unexpected time

The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him… (Matthew 24:44)

In other words, it’s not like having a baby. When you’re expecting a baby, you’re expecting a baby. You know when it’s coming. But the day of the Lord’s return will be unexpected, which is the opposite of expected.

If you’re pregnant and you try to guess the day of the delivery, you may be more or less right. But try and guess the day of the Lord and you’re guaranteed to be wrong. Why? Because the Lord will return “on a day you do not expect” (Matthew 24:50).

3. You can’t figure this out

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:4)

Some have interpreted Paul’s words to mean, “We can figure out when the Lord will return so as not to be surprised.” Yet after 2,000 years no one has actually succeeded, and not for lack of trying. Look up the best-seller lists under prophecies on Amazon and you will find plenty of books predicting the day of the Lord’s return. (Consumer tip: they can only be right if Jesus is wrong. Save your money.)

Paul is not saying you can figure this out and mark your calendar. He’s saying we ought to be ready for the Lord’s coming so that the day will not overtake us or catch us unawares.

The wise and foolish virgins knew the bridegroom was coming, but they didn’t know when (Matthew 25:1-13). The faithful and unfaithful servants knew their master was returning, but they didn’t know when (Matthew 24:45-51). You don’t need to know when the Lord is returning to be faithful (or watchful), wise, and ready.

4. It might not be soon

For 2,000 years, people have been saying the Lord will return soon, and for 2,000 years they’ve been wrong. Someone even told the Thessalonians that the Lord had come already (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). Needless to say, predictions of this kind can lead to ridicule and mockery:

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3)

“But Paul, in Revelation 22 the Lord says he’s coming soon.” A better word is quickly. When the Father gives the word, the Lord will come without delay (see Hebrews 10:37).

“But it’s got to be soon, right? I mean, all the signs are there, aren’t they?”

I don’t know. I’m not privy to God’s schedule. I’m not even sure he thinks about time like we do. All times are soon to Aslan.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)

The Lord is patient or longsuffering. That means his patience is loooong, and probably longer than ours.

So what’s the takeaway?

In his eschatological parables Jesus told stories of masters, noblemen, and bridegrooms being gone “a long time.” Jesus has been gone a long time. See the connection? The lesson for us is the same as that for the servants and the virgins. Indeed, it is a message the scriptures teach again and again:

– “Be like men who are waiting for their master…” (Luke 12:36)
– “Wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship…” (Rom 8:23)
– “We hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom 8:25)
– “We eagerly await a Savior…” (Php 3:20)
– “Be patient brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits…” (James 5:7)
– “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (Jude 1:21)

Jesus and every New Testament writer spoke of the need to wait patiently for the Lord’s return.

So plant trees and raise families, and do whatever God put you on this earth to do.

Make friends. Go to college, learn a trade, master a skill, and start a business. Invest, build, dig deep and go long. Let your light shine so others may praise your Father in heaven.

But don’t waste time in Facebook debates over the latest end times’ fad or prediction. (Consumer tip: If a date is being offered, I guarantee it is wrong.)

If somebody asks you, “When will the Lord return?” give the answer that Christ gave. “No one knows the day or hour, but be ready.”

Adapted from Paul’s forthcoming book AD70 and the End of the World.

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35 Comments on When is the Second Coming?

  1. Excellent. Simple, down-to-earth and much needed wisdom. Thanks Paul🙂

  2. So much more peaceful than fussing and fretting over whether it is the end times or not. Just be ready and go about doing the Father’s business and all will be well.

  3. This article is GOOD NEWS, Paul. And, as you have said, there is no bad news in the good news.

  4. “Blood moons! Aligning planets! Israel sneezed!” This is brilliant! Simple, to the point and very helpful! Thanks a lot.

  5. Great message Paul. For years I had bought all the books and hype that the End Times crowd peddles (It’s almost the same message the world spreads, but only with God tacked on the end). Now that I’m getting older, not so much. Date setting and gloom and doom messages are almost the antithesis of what the Gospel of Grace is all about, and that’s the message I’ve chose to listen to, embrace and enjoy. Really can’t get enough of it!
    By the way, the site looks and functions nicely. Good job!
    Blessings to you and your family…
    Ed McCarthy

  6. Great writing, Paul! This is what I needed to hear! Believe in him and occupy…live normally and vitally as we were put here to do and quit the fretting and hand wringing. Out of his loving kindness, we can love people and be who we were meant to be until he shows up.

  7. This was so needed for me, today!

  8. Josef Hauner // November 24, 2016 at 9:48 am // Reply

    The apostles were all pre trib and they expected Jesus to return soon.

  9. what is the rapture some Christians believe in ?

    • People believe in all sorts of raptures, but the one described in the Bible is this one: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1Th 4:16-17). The Latin word for “caught up” is rapido, from which we get the word rapture. I talk more about this in a later post.

  10. Panuturi O. N Sitanggang // November 24, 2016 at 1:24 pm // Reply

    Thanks Paul, I have good reference for me to answer peoples questioning of the coming Jesus.

    Blessing to you,

    Panuturi O.N Sitanggang

  11. Paul, Thanks for all the valuable work you do. My question concerns Matt 23:36 and Matt 24:34. Jesus said the things He discussed would come upon “this generation.” I understand the traditional view holds Jesus was saying the events he discussed, and in particular the destruction of Jerusalem, would occur within a generation (40 years) or by 70 AD, and that Jesus prophesied these events exactly correctly. What do you say about the meaning of “this generation?”

    • My view is this generation means this generation. I talk about this at length in the book.

      • John Huckle // November 29, 2016 at 5:01 pm //

        Paul, Many thanks for your response to my post. Many scriptures throughout the Bible recite in one form or another, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, TILL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES YOUR FOOTSTOOL.” Examples are Ps 110:1, Mat 22:44, Act 2:34-35, Heb 1:13, Rev 3:21, 1Cor 15:25-27. My take is these scriptures must refer to Jesus’ last coming, also generally referred to as the Second Coming. Do you agree?

      • According to Peter (Act 2:34-36) and Paul (Ephesians 1:20-21), this prophecy was fulfilled in the ascension. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God now.

  12. Yep, reality there Paul,Not one knows but Father of the risen Son for us to stand in rest to this done work for us to trust

    The oil lamp filled and never runs out. Thank You Father and Son for us. It Is Finished
    Thank you rest as in Hebrews 4:9-13

    So simple to see the easy yoke and light burden given in his done work to rest in trust and do as asked LOVE God’s type as in 1 Cor 13:4-7

  13. Nice article Paul.. people can lile to set predictions.

    Here in Nigeria, its so crazy!! The first one i remember was in December 2012 and the Second one was September 2013… lol. No one knows when. But everyone knows we are in the endtimes.

    You are talking of Second Coming here not the Rapture…. The Rapture is imminent though. It can happen anytime but the Second Coming will happen after some specific events. Take care… i love your blog

  14. Thanks Paul for your reply and for your great work and encouragement for people.

    Greetings from Mannheim /Germany—God bless you!

  15. I really looking forward to getting your new book AD70 and the End of the World.

  16. Paul I do have to comment that this is pure ignorance. Right in Genesis God says he created the stars for SIGNs and seasons. Signs first. Also the women in Revelation 12 with 12 stars at her head that gives birth to the child is the constellation Virgo who in fact has the King planet Jupitor in her womb area for exactly nine months. Also the 12 stars at her head and the sun at her head and moon at her feet is exact. People have ran the models and this has not happened for 7,000 years or since the beginning. This prophecy is fulfilled in 2017 and is in the end times. The blood moons on feast days is also important. To ignore this is completely ignorant and the people in fear of Christ return obviously are not founded in Grace or love this fleshly life too much

    • It’s hard to tell whether you are joking or not. If you’re not, good on you for being bold enough to pick a date.

    • patricklundberg // November 25, 2016 at 9:09 am // Reply

      Stephen, when 2018 arrives and you discover you’re wrong (note that I didn’t say “if”), I wonder if you will apologize to Paul for claiming he is ignorant. I sure hope so. If this is really your position, it doesn’t help to move your case forward by being rude. If you were joking, totally missed it. Apologies if this is the case.

  17. Great word. It doesn’t matter when He will return. Just know He said He will and He doesn’t lie. So we need to be about our Father’s business. Preaching the Gospel of Grace, winning the lost, healing the sick, providing aid to those in need, growing up in Grace, and being a blessing. If folk focused on this, I suppose people wouldn’t have time to write about blood moons and shemitah years and selling freeze dried food on Christian television…

  18. So what’s the takeaway? “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” – gotta love the salvation in the LOL

  19. Sorry, Paul. I meant to say gotta love the salvation in that, not ‘the’. Love your work!

  20. Paul do you hold that verses like 1 Pet. 4 “the end of all things at hand” and 1 John 2 “…it is the last hour”, and others, refer to 70AD?

    • Although there are many prophecies in the Bible pertaining to AD70, these aren’t two of them. The ending that Peter is talking about in 1 Peter 4:7 is judgment day and “giving account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (see verse 5). It’s the end of the godless living characterized by “debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry” (v.3). The reign of sin is coming to an end.

      I suspect John’s reference to the last hour in 1 John 2:18 may be analogous to the last days and latter times of other scriptures; in other words, the gospel age of the church (Is 2:2). If John is thinking of an ending it is Christ’s final and glorious coming (see 2:28), which is marked by the transformation of the saints (3:2), and judgment (4:17). I should probably add both scriptures to this list.

  21. Thank you for your response. Any chance you could give us the verses that you do believe refer to 70AD, or should we wait for that in an upcoming post/book?

    • Almost half the book is devoted to AD70.

      • Michael Fitzpatrick // December 8, 2016 at 6:01 am //

        Seems Daniel chapter nine reveals the Prince Jesus and his people make ruin of the Temple–> The time of Christ’s Baptism by John–> to when Stephen was stoned, was Daniel’s lst week ( the still, mistakenly, long-awaited last week) 483 + 7 THE LAST WEEK!!!: seven years exactly–> then immediately at the end of the seventh year, believers dispersed, temple made VOID! ‘destroyed’, “ruined”, sacrifices- ALL made void!!! all the shadows ‘destroyed’, as Stephen said: ‘….RUINED….” translates: destroyed…AWESOME is Jesus’ once for all SACRIFICE! He is the mansion with many rooms! He is the Sabbath! mike

  22. Oh, also: Are you aware that in the opinion of many (including me obviously) nothing so clearly and powerfully shows that the Old Covenant ended and that we live in a pure New Covenant as the destruction of the Temple/Law/Old Covenant System as 70AD?

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