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 chapter 32 of Paul’s new book AD70 and the End of the World.

 

49 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.

    • The great sign of Revelation 12 is confirmed astronomically to occur September 23, 2017. Nine months prior would be “conception” on December 23, 2016; the unprecedented day the US/Obama betrayed Israel by failing to veto the UN Resolution 2334, demanding Israel stop all settlement activity.

  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?

  23. Bishop samuel // December 14, 2016 at 12:50 am // Reply

    Good. I think there is difference between rapture and the second comming.

  24. Jim Hardison // January 21, 2017 at 6:24 am // Reply

    There’s only one sign in the Bible described as a “great sign” and that is confirmed to happen astronomically on September 23, 2017, which is the sign described in Revelation 12. Instead of disparaging end time prophecy, I suggest to you Paul Ellis, to repent (change your mind) and use this great sign to light a fire under the body of Christ to boldly evangelize Jesus Christ’s gift of salvation to every person. Because of that great sign, it has had that exact effect on me; I’ve repented and have put Jesus Christ as my highest priority in my life, and I’ve been much bolder in evangelizing my family, friends, and those around me. Life as we know is going to drastically change very soon, time is of the essence, Jesus’ return is imminent.

    • That kind of stuff has been talked about for years. This will just be one more “confirmed” until it passes and nothing happens just like all the numerous times before people swore that natural or astrological events were going to usher in Jesus. I’m glad you found inspiration in it but don’t get caught up in man made hype as it will only disappoint you. You do not need Jesus imminent return to believe the right things and boldly proclaim the His gospel.

      • You sound like people who perished in flood. If you care about the people in your circle of influence, you’d do your own research, and then you’d take this sign seriously, and warn and prepare the people. Especially those who aren’t saved.

        Ezekiel 33:6 – But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take [any] person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.

      • Colleen G // January 22, 2017 at 2:58 am //

        I have done my research. I do not put faith in signs and wonders but in plain scripture and in the Holy Spirit. Look at history. How many times have different Christian and groups swore that certain human events, natural event or astrological signs been proof that Jesus was coming very, very quickly? And yet here we all are. Do not fall for hype. Some Christians were having kittens last year over the blood moons simply because a crafty person had a persuasively written book. Not one of the things he said would happen occurred. Did you know that in the early 1900’s in my home state of Michigan some Christians were so sure that Jesus was coming back because of events that they had a date, sold all their possessions and camped out on hill tops and waited for Jesus to come get them? That is why I place no faith in signs and wonders unless a strong undeniable sequence of events were to match the word pictures given in scripture. hey if this astrological thing does match. Great! But regardless of whether Jesus is coming back tomorrow or a thousand years form know we are charged with doing the work the Father has for us, even if we think He is going to be long delayed.

    • Jim where are you getting your info about this meteor shower for September? Nothing is showing up on any of the main meteor shower websites. Everything on the meteor pages is saying 2017 is going to be an uneventful year for meteor activity. The only remarkable events are a solar eclipse and certain planets being extra visible. See I do my research 😉

  25. Jim, call me on the 24th of September and tell me about the great sign.

    “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”.

    However, since I suspect you are a KJV guy… “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

    Allow Jesus to draw people to Himself with the raw truth of His own Gospel. Partner with Christ, allow him to work through you and proclaim this Gospel! Presenting the final day and hour in an effort to evangelize is harken to the very “effective” strategy of turn or burn. Sorry, that was snarky. I’m just fed up with this type of “evangelical” approach.

    • I didn’t make any predictions; however, it should be obvious that there’s going to be a massive meteor shower that will change life as we know it on earth. The red dragon that throws a third of the stars to the earth is Nibiru/planet X. There were astronomical signs when Christ was born, and when He was crucified (3 days of darkness, probably Nibiru again), and now we have the great sign confirmed astronomically on September 23, 2017. Go ahead and stick your head in the sand and remain ignorant if you want, but I’m warning my family and friends because I love them. My advice to them is if your not saved, to receive Christ’s gift of salvation; to love and forgive everyone. And to those who are saved, to make Jesus a higher priority in their lives, if they had let life distracts them like I had to what’s really important in life – Jesus. I’d tell you about the coming 3 days of darkness but you probably couldn’t handle it.

      • “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”.

        That was a Jewish idiom concerning the the two day window for the sighting of the new moon to determine when to celebrate the Feasts of Trumpets, not to remain ignorant of the signs the Lord has placed in the heavens for His people.

      • Thank you, Jesus, that the inerrancy of Your Word cannot be contradicted by dooms day preachers and the errancy of humankind.

        Jim, this will be my last response to you. Our mandate to share the Gospel can’t be ignored. Good for you for sharing about Jesus. However, the proclamation of the Gospel should not be marred by “ignorant” (your words) people who lack the requisite knowledge and wisdom to approach God’s Word, as HIS Word. It’s called eisegesis, look it up. We don’t get to impugn God’s Word with yet another formulaic dooms day prediction that will ultimately be disproved in short order. Meanwhile, those who rightfully disagree with your suppositions are considered idiots. It’s rather interesting.

        Lastly, do a quick google search of dooms day predictions. There are literally hundreds of expired theories! Here’s the scoreboard:
        God- ∞
        Humans- 0

        Message me on the 24th of September, we’ll chat.

  26. Roshan J Easo // January 31, 2017 at 1:15 pm // Reply

    Sometimes I think that when we allow the kingdom of power to fail us that it’s because we don’t get second chances but must continue to follow God. Other times I realize that we are forgiven and secure so we can tell this good news, not get caught up in the last time I failed to convey the good news properly. Just something that we can worry less about as we looking forward to His coming.

  27. I asked the Mormons but they said no, hahahahaha 😂

  28. Solitary Voyager // July 26, 2017 at 8:34 pm // Reply

    From above, 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).

    Given that the author knew what he was saying, isn’t it curious that he used the plural, i.e. times, epochs. Is there not a suggestion that the time is always now, always this age. The Christ has been, is here, is coming. Forever and ever.

    Both Einstein and Gödel inferred that time was an illusion, so why not an ever appearing Christ. And for those who cannot remember anything about him having already been, perhaps we don’t truly understand the multiverse. It’s not like God is going to have a problem creating an infinite number of universes, each slightly different.

    I know it sounds like a joke, but check out the conversation between Jesus and the Devil in “Last Days in the Desert” and the ballpark scene in M.I.B 3
    (it’s always October, November, March)

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