Christ’s Coming, Coming, Coming, Coming

When Is He Coming?

I find discussions about Christ’s Second Coming to be interesting. Jesus tells us to watch for Him, be ready for Him, comfort one another with these thoughts, know the signs of the times, etc. So it’s only natural that many Christians get excited about the topic. What’s kinda fun is that we split into (generally) two different camps: Jesus coming before the Great Tribulation, and Jesus coming after the Great Tribulation.

Both views claim the Bible supports their position – but they can’t both be right. One or both views are wrong. But which one(s)?

In trying to study up on Christ’s Second Coming, I ran into several people who insisted that the precise use of the word “coming” is the key to unlocking the mystery. Passages dealing with the topic, specifically 2 Thess 1 and 2, must be interpreted with careful attention to how Jesus is coming: is He coming with His saints, or is He coming for His saints. They insisted that if a phrase says He’s coming with His saints, then it’s the Second Coming at the end of the Great Tribulation. If the phrase says He’s coming for His saints, then the verse is talking about the pre-trib Rapture.

Or so they claim.

This approach seems to leave a valid option off the table.

Me: “But why can’t the rapture be at the end of the Great Tribulation, seconds before the Second Coming?”
Them: “Nope! Check 1 Thess 4:17. Jesus comes and we’re caught up to meet Him in the air!”
Me: “Not so fast – that passage makes no mention of where Jesus goes after meeting His saints in the air. Does He go back up to heaven with His saints? Does He continue down to earth with His saints? The passage doesn’t say, yet you’re insisting it’s one and not the other. On what basis?”
Them: “Well.. .. it’s in Revelation!”

And of course when you try to get them to show you where in Revelation, they point to a vague verse (usually Rev 4:1), and when you say it’s vague, they say it’s clarified by a proper (ie, pre-trib) understanding of 1 Thess 4:17ff. If this sounds circular to you, then you’re hearing what I’m hearing.

Eventually the topic comes back to a “proper” understanding of 1 Thess 1 and 2, where one fellow got quite belligerent with me, insisting that I’m not paying attention to the specific use of the word ‘coming’ in those passages. “You’ve got it wrong because ‘coming *WITH*’ is not the same as ‘coming *FOR*’. So it HAS to mean that there are two different events!! You can’t merge them!! There are TWO ‘comings’!!”
Me: “So why does Paul switch back and forth between the two different comings so quickly from verse to verse. That seems rather inelegant.”
Him: “You’re missing the point!!”

Ya don’t say.

Come Again?

So I thought I’d read through the Bible and look for all references to Jesus’ “coming” and see if there are any differences between these “comings”. Lo and behold: there aren’t two comings – there are FOUR!!!

Comes with Angels:
[+] For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. (Matt 16:27)

[+] When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. (Matt 25:31)

[+] For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)

[+] For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26)

Comes with Clouds:
[+] And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62)

Comes with Clouds AND Angels:
[+] Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt 24:30-31)

Comes WITHOUT Clouds or Angels:
[+] When he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2Thess 1:10)

Looks like I’m going to have to revise my Larkin Dispensational Chart.


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