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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Second Coming, the

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biblical teaching on the return of Jesus to earth at the end of earthly history. In the latter portion of His ministry, Jesus told His followers that He would be leaving them but would return again to the earth. This message of the second coming is referred to as the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13 ). Jesus warned His followers that they should be prepared to welcome Him back (Matthew 24-25; compare Mark 13:1 ). In the upper room with His disciples, Jesus told them He was going away but promised that He would come again one day (John 14:3 ). At His ascension, the two angels declared that He would return (Acts 1:11 ).

Jesus' Form in His Coming Many who agree about the fact of Jesus' second coming are not sure about the form it will take. Some say He was referring to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, others that He was referring to His resurrection, others to the fact that He was going to be spiritually present with us (Matthew 28:20 ), others to an individual's conversion experience (see Revelation 3:20 ).

All of these are incomplete at best. Jesus warned of misrepresentations (Matthew 24:4-5 ,Matthew 24:4-5,24:11 ,Matthew 24:11,24:23-26 ) and said His appearance would be bodily and unmistakable (Matthew 24:27 ,Matthew 24:27,24:30; compare Acts 1:11 ).

Effects of Christ's Second Coming The second coming is to effect believers in a number of different ways:

Believers are to be watchful. There being no certainty as to the time of Jesus' return, it is important that we be on the alert as to the possibility that it may come at anytime (Matthew 24:42 ). However, they are not to believe that Christ must return in a given space of time, on a specific date. In His parable of the foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13 ) Jesus told of them sleeping and not being ready when the Bridegroom came (compare James 5:7-8 ). Peter warned against unbelief that could blunt the expectant spirit and cause people to say, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4 ).

The believers are to use the hope of Christ's second return as a motivation to work. In His parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30 ), Jesus reserved His condemnation for the man who did nothing, simply taking his talent and hiding it. Convinced that their Lord will return at any moment the believers will give all their energies to serving Him. Because Jesus may return at anytime a believer strives to live a pure and blameless life: “Every man that hath this hope purifieth himself” (1 John 3:3; compare 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Colossians 3:1-17; 1 John 2:28 ).

The Time of His Return One of the most difficult aspects of the second coming is the time when Jesus will come. There has been much speculation across the years. One sect even claims that Jesus returned in 1914. The emphasis on the exact time and date is mistaken. As one man says it, “I am not on the time and place, but on the welcoming committee.” Jesus Himself said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36; compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Peter 3:4-11 ). This blessed hope is to mark the climax of experience for believers when they shall see Christ (1 John 3:2-3 ), shall be transformed (Philippians 3:20-21 ), receive the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4 ), and be made like Him (1 John 3:3 ).

The Meaning of the Second Coming The coming brings believers joy in Christ's presence, particularly as they see people to whom they have ministered (1 Thessalonians 2:19 ). The coming is for both those already dead in Christ and for those still alive (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; compare 1 Corinthians 15:23; Colossians 3:4 ).

“Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20 ). See Future Hope; Eschatology; Christology; Jesus Christ; Rapture .

John W. Drakeford

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Second Coming, the'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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