Is Jesus Returning Soon?

Me: “I am coming to your house soon.”

You: “Great! When?”

Me: “I have no idea. I don’t even know what day.”

You: “Um, okay.”

Me: “You’ll have to wait a really long time.”

You: “But you said you’d be here soon.”

Me: “Soon, sure! But it could be centuries.”

If I delivered mixed messages like this, you would think I’m unreliable. Untrustworthy, even. “Paul doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I wouldn’t believe anything he says.” Yet apparently this is how Jesus talks. According to some, Jesus is confused and unreliable.

Let me ask you a serious question: Is Jesus coming soon? Yes or no?

The Bible offers a straight answer to this question, and it may not be what you think:

“I am coming soon.” (Rev 22:20, NIV)

There you go. Case settled. Jesus is coming soon. He said so. But wait a sec… Didn’t Jesus also say he did not know the hour or day of his return (Matt 24:36)? And didn’t Jesus also tell parables about servants having to wait a long time for their masters’ return?

See the problem? Jesus seems to say he’s coming soon and not soon. He’ll be here in a jiffy, but you could be waiting thousands of years. What are we to make of these mixed messages?

Mr. Preterist: “Jesus did come soon, when he unleashed hell on Jerusalem in AD70.”

Mr. Paradox: “Soon means not soon because a day with the Lord is like a thousand years.”

Mr. Prophet: “Soon means 2019 because Jesus was speaking of our generation when he spoke to the disciples.”

Yeah, nah.

There’s a simple solution to this soon puzzle, and it’s this: Jesus never said he was coming soon. Not once. In fact, Jesus said his servants might be waiting a long time (Matthew 24:48, 25:5, 25:19). Having to wait for the Lord’s return is a message often repeated in scripture (see Luke 12:36, Romans 8:23, 8:25, 1 Corinthians 1:7, 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Philippians 3:20, James 5:7, Jude 1:21).

But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. (Hebrews 10:12–13)

Jesus is waiting, not coming, but the wait will not be forever. One day he will return to earth in glory.

“So why did Jesus say he was coming soon?” He never did. That verse at the top of this article is a terrible translation. Jesus actually says this:

“I am coming quickly.” (Rev 22:20)

Only the Father knows when Jesus will return. The Son does not know the day or hour. But when the Father gives the word, Jesus will come quickly, without delay.

In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay. (Hebrews 10:37)

“Okay, so we don’t know the day of the Lord’s return, but surely we are in the final season.”

Who knows? Jesus told the disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons” (Acts 1:7). This could be the final season; it might not be. We don’t know. When it comes to the timing of the Lord’s return, we are like Sergeant Schultz. We know nothing.

If someone asks you, “When will the Lord return?” the best answer is the one Christ gave. “No one knows the day or hour, but be ready.” Jesus could come at any time.

“But what about Matt. 10:23, 16:28, 26:64, Mark 13:26, 14:62? These scriptures seem to suggest Jesus is coming soon.” True, but not to earth. When Jesus talks about coming in the clouds to his kingdom, he is referring to his ascension and return to heaven.

(Sidebar: The scriptures discuss no less than five comings of Jesus and it’s easy to get them confused. Here we are concerned with his final return to earth.)

“But didn’t the early Christians think Jesus would return soon? Check out this verse:

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

“See? The early Christians expected to still be in their bodies when Jesus returned in the first century.”

Except Jesus didn’t return in the first century and the early Christians all died. Every last one of them.

(What is Paul saying in the passage above? He is exhorting the Thessalonians to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). It’s a mistake to think that because our spirits are saved we can treat our bodies like they don’t matter.)

The early church used to greet one another with the word Maranatha, which can be translated, “Lord, come” (see 1 Cor. 16:22). It was an expression of longing similar to the one uttered by Jews at Passover: “Next year in Jerusalem.” Maranatha does not mean, “I expect Jesus to return by September.” It means, “I am looking forward to his coming, and the sooner the better.”

For 2000 years, people have believed that Jesus was returning soon. For 2000 years they have been wrong. It is foolish to think we know more than the Lord on this subject, yet whenever something happens – a tsunami, an earthquake, a war – the false prophets get on their soapboxes and Christians run around like headless chickens. It’s embarrassing, and a bad advertisement for Jesus.

How can you avoid being suckered into dodgy end times’ predictions? Easy. Put your faith in what Jesus said and don’t let anyone convince you they know more than he does.

___________

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52 Comments on Is Jesus Returning Soon?

  1. Gloria Lombardi // January 3, 2019 at 1:21 am // Reply

    I love the way Paul writes, but I’m also getting a double message of what he believe, as far as, the Preterist view versus Futurism? Does anyone know?

    • I have a pretty good idea of what Paul believes. Why not ask me?

      • Gloria Lombardi // January 3, 2019 at 11:10 am //

        Hi Paul, yes, why didn’t I ask you? I don’t know. Maybe I thought it was a bunch of Christian brothers and sisters talking with one another and that would get me an answer. I didn’t ever comment on this or any other thread cause I just joined after I started reading your book AD70. Thanks for the question and I wait for your answer in great anticipation.

      • Hi Gloria, I’m not sure what your question is, but if you’re after a fuller explanation of my views on preterism and futurism, you will surely find them in AD70.

  2. Great post, Paul! Maranatha!

  3. Richard Nkunze // January 3, 2019 at 2:27 am // Reply

    Paul, you are right in the above message. Let us be so concerned with doing what Jesus commanded us to do, walk the walk and talk the talk than putting our hearts on the results instead of living according to His Word that will inevitably determine the results.
    Happy New Year.

  4. sharon dickman // January 3, 2019 at 3:04 am // Reply

    Thanks Paul. You always seem to make the truth so easy.❤️

  5. We also shouldn’t be duped by someone saying, “I am He”. When Jesus returns, He won’t be in a manger this time, it will be unmistakable.

  6. Ladye Newby // January 3, 2019 at 3:52 am // Reply

    This is fantastic, Paul. Thanks for the clarification of this.

  7. Great word !!! Thank You..

  8. alan babcock // January 3, 2019 at 4:35 am // Reply

    Paul, You mean I can remove my rooftop Rapture platform and hope for an abundant life in my future? Amen & Amen.

  9. Dustin Jovan Olson // January 3, 2019 at 4:42 am // Reply

    Just an edit comment… Just wanted to let you know.

  10. You are right it is embarrassing and so are those terrible rapture movies!

    I would be surprised though if the Lord does not have to step in at some point in the next hundred years to keep us from the madness of annihilating one another! Which very sadly is actually possible nowadays. It could well be longer, but like I said, I would be surprised. Come Lord Jesus!!!

  11. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. “Behold, I am coming quickly! for the time is at hand. And behold, I am coming quickly, Surely I am coming quickly.
    -These are all from the last book of the Bible, Revelation…. I ain’t too smart….buuuuuut…
    Blessings

  12. Richard Burrows // January 3, 2019 at 7:24 am // Reply

    Where in the Bible does it use the term “final return”?
    And there’s certainly NO WHERE that it uses the term “second coming”.
    I also notice that you didn’t mention Matt. 24:34 “this generation shall not pass away until all these thing be fulfilled” including “the coming of the Son of man” (vs 27)?
    I’ve heard all the desperate explanations to denounce this scripture – nonsense.
    Jesus uses the term “this generation” 5 times in Matthew, every timing referring to the generation that He’s speaking to. It’s ridiculous to claim that 4 of them refer to that generation and 1 refers to some generation 2,000 plus years into the future.

  13. ‘No one knows the day or hour, but be ready!’
    Thank you for putting everything back in perspective! 🙂

  14. “No one knows the day or hour, but be ready.”
    That’s it!
    Thanks for putting it back into perspective! 🙂

  15. Again, great and clear explanation, thanks Paul!

  16. Thank you for explaining that translation!

  17. Lance Tweedie // January 3, 2019 at 2:21 pm // Reply

    What is the difference between ‘soon’ and ‘quickly’. If ‘quickly’ doesn’t mean soon, what does it mean?

    • It’s the difference between pace and timing. I can come to your house quickly; doesn’t mean I’m coming soon. It’s a huge difference – just ask all those people who sold their houses and gave the proceeds to the church in AD999 because they had been told that Jesus was coming soon. They were impoverished by a bad belief. Jesus never said he was coming soon.

    • Squawks 5000 // January 5, 2019 at 4:31 pm // Reply

      If I said, “I will do my homework SOON”, I mean that within a short period of time, I will do my homework. In other words, I would not procrastinate.

      If I said, “I will do my homework QUICKLY”, I mean that the time it takes to finish my work is a short period of time. I could start immediately or procrastinate until the day before the due date, but when I start my homework, it would not take long for me to finish.

  18. In Rev. 22:20, if soon is better translated as ‘quickly’. What does he mean by ‘quickly’. It obviously doesn’t mean soon. Is he saying, when I decide to come back it will be a short trip? Seems a silly thing to say. 🙂

  19. Paul have you considered that Mat 24:36 was a reference to feast of trumpets? The fulfillment of the fall feast will be for His second coming. He actually said v.36 before His ascension. His statement in Revelation covered the soon to come fulfillment within their generation (Mat 24:34). Just a thought thanks

  20. John W Reed // January 3, 2019 at 7:27 pm // Reply

    I personally through my studies of His great Word find the preterist view lacking. That said this post is joyously received. Why? Because it’s the honest truth whatever end time view one clings to. We can debate preterism vs this or that but we should all agree that Jesus IS coming again. That is the one certainty we can all find hope in.
    Paul, this is an honest look at Jesus words. We don’t know the day or the hour. As I have said, I find some flaws with the preterist view, but with the future view there is one glaring mistake we who lead this way tend to make. We look at men like Hitler or Mussolini and think its over He’s coming next week. What that means is some quit occupying. They lose sight of making Jesus known and abandon the world around them. They cease kingdom building and kingdom advancing. They hide away awaiting the end.
    He is coming, be ready, but at the same time let’s get the Good News known. Let’s make Jesus famous. Let’s advance His kingdom as much as possible in this fractured creation.

  21. I get very angry at the end time prophets. It was and is this type of false teaching about Jesus returning at any minute or at least in the next 3 years of any time in my life (since 1966) that has caused not only me but many others I know to set aside doing any long term planning in this life. My wife has asked if we can sue the church? I read your book AD70 and have found it an excellent explanation of many confusing statements in scripture. Even the coming of Christ seems to be an arbitrary time if we don’t understand the true facts that the “church” seems to miss. “In the fulness of time” is not referring to some arbitrary time.

    I would like to see how you handle the teaching of tithing under the New Covenant vs the Old. That is another great false teaching I believe of the “church”. These preachers love to tell people to tithe but what about the other 12 offerings that should be included with the Malachi “tithes and offerings” plus the temple tax? What about divorce addressed in Malachi?

    I am not in the “ministry” but I find it appalling that people whose profession is presenting Bible facts seldom go beyond their basic training to get their positions.

  22. One question — didn’t Hebrews 10:37 (the verse used in article) also say that he would come “in a little while” in addition to “quickly”?

    • Indeed, and you will note the passage is in quotation marks. The author is quoting someone. Who?

      • Anonymous // January 8, 2019 at 8:34 am //

        The author is quoting Habakkuk (God’s response to Habakkuk’s second complaint). The author uses it to encourage Hebrew Christians to persevere. So what’s your point?

      • I know the NIV margin notes say its Habakkuk, but Habakkuk never says these words (unless you read him sideways and substitute revelation for Jesus and basically change everything else). As I say in another comment, when you know who said it, you’ll know which coming he referred.

  23. Richard Burrows // January 7, 2019 at 11:27 am // Reply

    Hebrews 10:37 “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”
    Sure sounds like he’s talking about a very short time – certainly not 2000+ years???

  24. What a fabulous read, thank you. It’s balanced and wise.
    I was in a “partial pretorist” church for some years and sadly this morphed into a universalist mindset. People dribbled out the door over a period of five years unable to reconcile a past tradition of being always ready just in case to “too late! Show was over long ago!”. I came to a point where I (& others) languished between the “soon” and “shows over”, and found my faith eroding. I have slowly thankfully rebuilt my relationship in Christ and moved away from this fellowship.
    End times hang ups can certainly erode faith and create division.

  25. Richard Burrows // January 8, 2019 at 5:45 pm // Reply

    Where do you get these “quotes” from? The KJV doesn’t have any quotes.
    In Hebrews 10 versus 5, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, and 30 it’s talking about Jesus!
    And now all of a sudden it’s NOT talking about Jesus???
    Then in versus 35 & 36 he uses the words ‘reward’ and ‘promise’, then he says “37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”
    Are you insisting that this is NOW not talking about Jesus?
    You shouldn’t have to twist scripture that much to make it not contradict your doctrine!

  26. Paul it seems that Heb 10:37 little while coming is a continuation of Heb 9:28 which is about Jesus second coming for Salvation === to consummate the feast days fulfillment (i.e. atonement). Jesus said this “little while” return in John 16. which was the time of the time of sufferings and great tribulation (birth pains) in John 16. The Revelation time statements like “time is at hand, I am coming quickly” perfectly coincides with Jesus’ statement in Mat 24:34 that all those things will occur in their generation.

    • I suppose it would, if you ignored the context. The “things which must shortly come to pass” in Rev 1:1 concern those events which are about the affect the seven churches, as described in Rev 2 and 3. These could be the events for which “the time is at hand” (Rev 22:10). In the first half of Matt 24, Jesus lists several signs in connection with the fall of Jerusalem, an event which he rightly predicted would happen within a generation. In neither case was Jesus speaking of his physical return to earth. The coming that Jesus described in John 16:7-16, refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit, which indeed did occur in just a little while, as he said it would.

  27. LORD has come and is building firstfriuts to model Ripe fruit for harvest. Firstfruits who have overcame by the blood of the Lamb and word of THEIR Testimony. Lord has done His part ” OUR part is with Testimony of works of faith/authority that model: “restore all things”. Testimony has meaning of “do it again”, OUR Testimony of words of truth is releasing power of love poured into hearts, bringing light to bind and loosen darkness already been bound and loosed in heaven by Lord’s “blood”.

    Firstfruits ministering our identity as KINGdom people, new race, foreigners, but legal immigrants never to be deported but destined to expand JesUS Christ in OUR midst, again, NOW. God came First in one man and now again in many men on earth for all to see. A body of A/alpha growing the fullness of stature of Omega, Firstfruits seed planted disciplined, grounded in love, fruit that is NOW discipling to produce more fruit “after His kind” to model His “Spirit of Power and Fire”. Holy Spirit raising up HIMSELF, his spirit anointing within to “Come Upon” some saints in fullness as firstfruits. JesUS was born of God and after 30 years had what was in come upon Him We have resurrection life within that surrender to that life will allow Him to come upon
    Lord show me how to not eat of evil not even touch it
    “Nor shall you touch it lest you die”

  28. Paul Im not clear with your view. Can you be clear if your interpretation of Heb 10:37 is about Jesus second coming or no? thanks

  29. So true…its difficulties in finding a church that doesn’t lie about the bible sayings. (Missundersderstood verses should be more open to the public.
    Something else you should touch on. Very much appreciated. Grand teahings. Thank you.
    Nancy Clark

  30. Awesome!

  31. Paul, you have amazing articles here. I’ll probably will spend the rest of the night reading them now. But this one got me puzzled. And not about what Jesus said about His return. It’s ok if he doesn’t know when it will be and he returns quickly, as lightning across the sky.. What I’m puzzled about is what you said and what many christians say.. So I hope you don’t mind the question.. Why would you be so happy about His return? Maybe I don’t understand something.. and I really want to..
    Allow me to explain. I’m a kinda person who doesn’t say that I found Jesus. Jesus was never lost. I was lost. Jesus found me in a ditch. Found a way to my heart and saved me (and it doesn’t mean that my life became all rainbows and unicorns – quite the opposite). “Good Shepherd” finds the lost “sheep” and not the other way around. I know that when Jesus died on cross, he died with weight of my sins on his shoulders too.. And did it without me asking Him to. In a way.. for all these 2000 years Jesus never really left us. He hears us when we pray. We can hear Him answering if we listen. He still is our door to Father. We still can get to hear his sermon on the mount. All these 2000 years Jesus is saving those who are lost.. So the day when he will return – will be the day he gives up the rest. On those who didn’t answer His call. On those who didn’t pick up that motel Bible. That’s it.. So i kinda get the part where christians are happy about that day for themselfs.. But aren’t you sad about all those commies who didn’t get you Bibles in China? Or everyone who has to be saved will be saved.. everyone will answer the call.. And there’s no reason to be gloomy about that day? Happy ending and all? 🙂

  32. Neil MacEwan // August 14, 2019 at 8:20 am // Reply

    You made a long issue about how the Rapture has already happened a long time ago, so we shouldn’t be concerned about the ever present info re the AntiChrist and all the pressure that creates……

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