Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 14, 1963
NUMBER 44, PAGE 8-12d-13

The Second Coming Of Christ

A. H. Payne

That Christ will come the second time is without question to the believer of the Bible. There is abundant evidence upon every hand that proves beyond any question that Christ will come again Jesus said "Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3) Jesus knew that he would die and then the heavens would receive him for a time, but he would come again.

The Angels of God instructed the apostles that Jesus would return. While the apostles were watching Jesus ascend into heaven, two men in white clothing stood by them and said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven." (Acts 1:11)

The Holy Spirit testified through earthen vessels that Jesus would return. Two statements from the inspired writings will be sufficient for the time. "And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8) There will be a time when Jesus will return, says this inspired letter. Again, "And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment; so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation." (Hebrews 9:27-28)

Only the infidel is in position to deny the second coming of Christ.

Time Of Coming

There have been those in every age who would take the liberty of establishing the time of the second coming of Christ. This was true of those who were living during the first century and we have not enjoyed relief from such prognosticators in this age.

William Miller, the originator of Adventism, predicted the return of Christ in 1844. When Christ did not come, Mr. Miller revised his predictions and set the date one year later. The followers of Miller sold their earthly possessions and ascended the highest positions, but the morning passed and night fell without the return of Christ.

Bear in mind what God said. "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously." (Deuteronomy 18:22) Miller and those to follow, prove themselves as false prophets.

A while back there was recorded in Life Magazine a brief historical account that is of interest here. There was, in a certain locality, a follower of Miller who was prepared and waiting for the return of Christ. He had ascended the tallest tree that stood in his yard, there to hear the trumpet sound and the Saviour appear and to be one of the very first to meet him. But, across the town there was a man, the town drunk who had spent the night satisfying his most earnest cravings. Upon leaving the saloon he took from the wall an old army bugle. As he staggered toward his home he sang and played upon the instrument. It so happened that his home was in the direction of the man who was in the top of the tree waiting for the Saviour, and as the drunk came near he began to play the bugle. The man in the tree heard the sound and thinking it to be the signal of the coming of Christ, took a leap toward the heavens there to be received by the Saviour, but instead came crashing to the ground, suffering serious bodily injury.

Charles T. Russell was another of the "date-setters" and through his calculations determined 1914 as the date for the return of Christ. When this date passed without his prediction's being fulfilled, another date was set for 1913. Russell and his successor, Rutherford, both died without seeing Jesus. These men are of "Jehovah's Witness" fame. Their present followers continue their troublesome predictions that the coming of Christ is imminent.

Matthew 24 And The Speculators

The speculators take Matthew 24 as the basis for most of their theories. They claim that Jesus was answering the question as to when the end of the world would come when he gave a series of signs that would first appear. The signs are: 1. False teachers leading many astray. 2. Wars and rumors of wars. 3. Famines. 4. Earthquakes. 5. Hate multiplied &Iniquity increase. 7. The love of many become cold. 8. Then shall come the end. You can hear them cry of the many false teachers, the awful wars, famines and earthquakes, the rapid increase of hate among men and how that iniquity is multiplying and finally, how that the love of many grows cold. "What better evidence could be presented to prove that Jesus is about to come?" they say. And as one listens to their reasoning, they put up a pretty good case until their theories are compared closely with Matthew 24.

What Does Matthew 24 Teach?

We will list in order the facts of Matthew 24 as it relates to the second coming of Christ and as It contradicts the many theories of the predictors.

1. The first paragraph takes up a discussion between Jesus and his disciples. The disciples show him the building of the temple. Jesus then predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by saying that there would not be left one stone upon another. (Matthew 24:1-2)

2. The disciples ask Jesus TWO questions. (a) "Tell us, when shall these things be?" (b) "and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" In order to properly understand the succeeding statements of Jesus, these questions must be understood and separated. If they are answered as one question, trouble will follow. First, the disciples wanted to know when the temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed. Secondly, they wanted to know the sign of his coming and the end of the world.

3. The answer to the first question is recorded by Matthew in verses 4-34. Jesus said that before Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed there would arise false teachers who would lead many astray, the disciples would hear of wars and rumors of wars, there would be great famines and earthquakes, hate and iniquity would multiply, the love of many would grow cold and then would come the end of Jerusalem and the temple.

4. The great sufferings and sorrows of this period are foretold and then in figurative language the end of the Jewish nation is described. (verses 29-31) Jesus continues with a reference to the fig tree and how the disciples were to learn from it, but concludes by a statement that is definite and final and around which the entire chapter and this first question must be interpreted: He said, "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished." (Matthew 24:34) The foregoing events, namely the destruction of Jerusalem, would come to pass during the lifetime of those disciples who heard these words spoken.

5. The answer to the second question, and the question to which this paper is addressed, is given following verse 34. We restate the second question: "And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" To this question Jesus gives an answer that should end all controversy. "But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only." (Matthew 24:36) The day and hour of the second coming of the Son of man was unknown by the angels and by Jesus himself. Only the Father in heaven knew the time. Two other statements are made by Jesus that aid us in determining the full answer to the question: (a) "Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh." (Matthew 24:42) (b) "Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:44)

6. Certain signs would precede the destruction of Jerusalem to which the disciples could give attention and save themselves from that awful calamity. All the signs of Matthew 24 have reference to the destruction of Jerusalem.

7. Jesus gave no signs that would indicate his coming, but said that he and the angels did not know. Surely no man would be such a simpleton as to set the date. The knowledge of the time of the second coming is reserved for Heaven and man errs when attempts are made to establish a date.

More Proof

One basic rule of Bible interpretation is that a difficult passage must be understood in the light of other passages that bear upon the subject. There is abundant proof from several clear statements that the time of the coming of the Lord is unknown.

1. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10) The Lord is not a thief, but his coming will be in the manner in which a thief comes: unknown and unexpected.

2. "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

3. More attention is given to the second coming of Christ in the second letter to the Thessalonians. "Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him; to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2) A false teacher had circulated a document that Paul calls "an epistle as from us" to the disturbance of these brethren. The contents of the epistle claimed that Christ's coming "is just at hand." Such claims are denied and refuted by Paul when he says, "Let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." (2 Thessalonians 2:3) The coming of the Saviour, therefore, was not at hand and would not come before the falling away. The false teacher and his epistle were considered in and as error. We may safely conclude that when any person takes the liberty of predicting the coming of the Lord that such a one is condemned by the same authority that condemned the false teacher who had troubled the people of Thessalonica.

Conclusion Because the coming of Christ is certain and the time of his coming is unknown, there are several duties that are imposed upon the human race. The accomplishment of these several duties is within the grasp of all, who will with meditation and prayer, set out to do the task. We submit a generic listing of such duties:

1. Give Heed — "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Hebrews 2:1-3a)

2. Obey Christ — "And having been made perfect he became unto all them that obey him the author of salvation." (Hebrews 5:9)

3. Live Holy — "Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye be in all holy living and godliness." (2 Peter 3:11)

4. Watch — "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness; that that day should overtake you as a thief: for ye are all sons of light, the sons of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness; so-then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober." (2 Thessalonians 5:4-6)

— 1570 Maria Drive, Jackson, Mississippi