Is There Only One Future Coming of Christ or Two?
Only in the last couple hundred years has it been prominent to hear taught that Christ has two future comings, a coming for His saints and a coming with His saints. In more recent years many tables have been produced attempting to show differences that they think cannot be harmonized, proving that there are two future comings of Christ. However, these tables fall far short of providing such proof. Instead they expose the misunderstandings and inconsistencies of those who promote such a teaching. Their "two future comings" doctrine has a secret (without Christ's revelation) rapture of the church and a glorious second appearing taking place seven years later. Below is a short harmony of the texts that many attempt to divide in support of two future comings of Christ. When considering Christ’s Parousia (His coming) it is important to realize that those who fail to recognize the difference between that period of unprecedented persecution of the elect and ethnic Israel that Jesus called great tribulation and the period of the eschatological wrath of God in the day of the Lord, are forced into dividing Christ’s singular future Parousia, His second, into two future comings. It is true that believers will not experience God's eschatological wrath, but the church will most certainly go through the unprecedented persecution of the great tribulation that precedes the day of the Lord. The Scriptures testify of that which the churches have taught throughout the last 2000 years, the singular future parousia of Christ, His second.
Believers have always recognized that Jesus would remain with the Father in Heaven until He is sent by Him at the times of the restitution of all things. That is what Peter said.
Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Act 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
Act 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
Paul said that His coming would be His second, at which time He will bring salvation.
Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear THE SECOND TIME without sin unto salvation.
There is no mention of a third or fourth parousia in the Scriptures. We are raptured at His second parousia. His first parousia took place ~ 2000 years ago at Christ's first advent. The Greek word parousia means arrival and subsequent presence. It is found 24 times in the NT. It is translated “coming” or “presence”. In 17 of the 24 appearances in the NT it refers to Christ's arrival and subsequent presence. It cannot be overemphasized, that it refers to more than His initial arrival. It involves the whole of Christ's activity after He is sent by the Father (Gal 4:4; Acts 3:19-21). His first coming was more than His conception. It involved His life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection. So also, shall His second coming (parousia) involve much more than His initial appearing. It will include all His eschatological activity through the millennium at the least.
The classic rapture passage is a description of our gathering unto Christ at this parousia, Christ's second.
1Th 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the COMING [parousia] of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
Our gathering unto Christ at the rapture is associated with the Parousia, His second coming.
2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the COMING [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by OUR GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM,
The resurrection of those who are Christ's takes place at this parousia. 1Co 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his COMING [parousia].
It is at this coming [parousia] that we are rescued, before the wrath falls, like Noah and Lot were rescued before God's wrath fell in their days.
Mat 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the COMING [parousia] of the Son of man be.
Mat 24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
Mat 24:39 AND KNEW NOT until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the COMING [parousia] of the Son of man be.
It is at this coming that Christ will REVEAL Himself in glory with the mighty angels. Notice that His Revelation takes place at His Parousia.
Luk 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
Luk 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Luk 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
Luk 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Luk 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is REVEALED [apokalupsis].
Jesus taught that the wrath that He brings at His coming and revelation is unexpected by the unbelieving, Beast worshiping, earth dwellers. He also taught that the righteous (those justified in Him) would be taken to safety before His wrath falls. There is one more important truth that He emphasizes in the Luke 17:26-30 passage. It is the same day connection between our rescue and His wrath falling upon our persecutors.
It is at this COMING and REVELATION that the persecuted church will rest from persecution and Christ will, in RECOMPENSE, begin to tribulate those who persecuted us.
2Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to RECOMPENCE tribulation to them that trouble you;
2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be REVEALED [apokalupsis] from heaven with his mighty angels,
2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking VENGEANCE on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
2Th 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
It is this coming that initiates the day of the Lord, the period of God's eschatological wrath. It is a RECOMPENCE of VENGEANCE upon those who persecuted us who are His elect.
Isa 34:8 For it is the day of the LORD'S VENGEANCE, and the year of RECOMPENCES for the controversy of Zion. Isa 35:4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with VENGEANCE, even God with a RECOMPENCE; he will come and save you.
It is a response to the cries of the saints that their blood be avenged upon the Beast worshiping, earth-dwellers who persecuted them.
Rev 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
Rev 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and AVENGE our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
Rev 6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
When the final number of those to die as martyrs in the great tribulation is fulfilled, Christ will come speedily and avenge them. But between the many who fall away and those slain as martyrs shall there be Faith on the earth?
Luk 18:7 And shall not God AVENGE his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
Luk 18:8 I tell you that he will AVENGE them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Jesus said that the violent persecution of the great tribulation will cause "many to be offended" and the false prophets of that day, who use lying signs and wonders, "shall deceive many." Will any believers remain?
Mat 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
Mat 24:10 And THEN SHALL MANY BE OFFENDED, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and SHALL DECEIVE MANY.
Paul referred to this falling away, saying that it must come before Christ’s Parousia, before His day.
2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come A FALLING AWAY first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Jesus says that the days of that unprecedented persecution and supernatural deception must be shortened (cut short) to save some of the elect alive upon the earth.
Mat 24:21 For then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Mat 24:22 And except THOSE DAYS should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
It is these who make it through the great tribulation persecution of the elect, that are "ALIVE AND REMAIN" when Christ comes.
1Th 4:17 Then we which are ALIVE AND REMAIN shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. It is they of whom Christ said: Mat 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same SHALL BE SAVED. The salvation in context is the physical deliverance that shall come at Christ’s appearing and revelation. It is that salvation that we are appointed unto in 1Thes 5:9. 1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Th 5:10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. The wrath, that we are not appointed unto, is God’s wrath in the day of the Lord. We see this from the context of 1Thes 5:9 as seen in verses 2 and 3. Notice that the sudden (unexpected) destruction comes upon the earth dwellers in the day of the Lord. 1Th 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
1Th 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Notice that the wrath of God in the day of the Lord comes unexpectedly upon the unbelieving, Beast worshiping, earth dwellers. But we are told that we are not in darkness that the day should overtake us as a thief. Christ’s arrival will not be unexpected for us because Christ has given us many signs which will precede His coming. The sign that immediately precedes Christ’s arrival in the clouds with the mighty angels is that cosmic sign that was said to come before the day of the Lord. It is the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars that is often spoken of in association with the day of His fierce wrath. Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. John sees this very sign when the sixth seal is opened. It follows a great earthquake that moves mountains and islands out of their places. Rev 6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
Rev 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Rev 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. These are the very events that Jesus says, when we see them, to be encouraged (“lift up your heads”) and look to the sky (“look up”) for our redemption is nigh. He communicated that when these things happen, He will arrive to gather us unto himself at any moment. Notice how Jesus describes the effects of the great earthquake, “the sea and the waves roaring”. Even the fear, perplexity, and distress match John’s description in Rev 6:15-17 and Isaiah’s in Isa 2:19. Luk 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Luk 21:26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Luk 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. After the cosmic sign Jesus will be revealed coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Every eye will see Him with the mighty angels. Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. Mat 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. It is following His revelation that Christ raises the dead (1Cor 15:23), changes the survivors of the great tribulation (1Cor 15:51-52), and gathers us to Himself via the angels (1Thes 4:15-17; Matt 24:31). Notice that the cosmic sign comes after the great tribulation (Matt 24:29). The tribulation of those days is the great tribulation referred to by that name in verses 21-22.
May our gracious Lord open your eyes to these truths.