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The Return of Christ

Did Jesus Imply Its Immediacy?



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PURPOSE

The primary purpose of this brief document is to demonstrate that Jesus did not imply at any time that His return was imminent (even though some of the versions of some of the many Epistles of the New Testament appear to have prophesied His immediate return).


This seemingly technical point is important, because Roman Catholic Church authorities and other "known faces" are attempting to defuse any urgency in the preparation for the End of These Times. They say that the imminent return of Christ was expected in Paul's day, and it did not happen then or at any time in the last 2,000 years – so that any expectation today of an imminent return of Christ is likewise erroneous.


INTRODUCTION

The only way to resolve this - once and for all - is to carefully review all four Gospels and scrutinize every statement made by Jesus that could be construed as  implying His immediate return. This is to be done keeping in mind the appropriate manner in which Biblical Texts must be approached.

Remember - an improper approach of the Biblical Texts only leads to more confusion. As another example, beyond those already used in our two documents addressing Biblical Literalism, (1) let us take Peter's speech after Pentecost.

.... Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and with your ears receive my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day: [Acts 2: 14-14]

Considering the importance wine has had in the New Testament (remember the wedding feast at Cana),  from this statement, enemies of the Bible could claim that the Apostles must have been known for frequently getting drunk - but not so early in the morning.

The key is that Peter was addressing people from all over the Roman Empire and beyond, and the mentality and customs of some of them could have caused them to think of drunkenness. But even if the Apostles would have been thought of as heavy social drinkers, social drinking did not start so early in the morning, thus Peter's remarks underscoring the time.


DETAILS

A kind soul, Mrs. R.M. from Puerto Rico, read the four Gospels in Spanish and provided us with the quotes, in both Spanish and English, where Jesus may have mentioned anything related to His Second Coming. We carefully reviewed the quotes submitted (2)(3)(4)(5) and selected the ones which could have lent themselves to misinterpretation. Same-subject quotes from different Gospels were only addressed once.

We will now reproduce the selected quotes and address each one - one at a time.

From the Gospel According to Matthew

3: 7
“And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them: Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come?”

Although this was John the Baptizer speaking, he was referring to the End of Time. In verse 12 we read "...he (Jesus) will thoroughly cleanse his floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

The wheat and chaff separation and the unquenchable fire are associated with the Final Judgment and the End of Time, and not the Second Coming at the End of These Times.


4: 17

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say: Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus speaks about here is at its beginning. When a soul achieves a true conversion, that soul's Eternal Life starts right then and there - not when the soul leaves the body. The following readings make that crystal clear: Matthew 13:33, Matthew 13:44-45 and Matthew 13:47.

10: 23

“And when they shall persecute you in this city, flee into another. Amen I say to you, you shall not finish (preaching in) all the cities of Israel, till the Son of man come.”

He is addressing the twelve apostles as individuals and as heads of the waves of Evangelizers to fan across the world. Obviously all the cities of Israel are not Evangelized/converted yet, thus the Evangelizers will not finish before His Second Coming.

In other words - The Evangelization of the unconverted Jews will still be in progress at the time of the return of Jesus. Let us not forget that the State of Israel came into being in 1948.

16: 27-28

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works. Amen I say to you, there are some of them that stand here, that shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

First Jesus is talking about the Final Judgment, then He is referring to His transfiguration where Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus in His Divine Splendor. In a way He was saying - "If you do not believe what I am saying about the Final Judgment, wait until you see my Glorious Divinity and you will then believe."

23: 36-39

“Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not? Behold, you house shall be left to you, desolate. For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Jesus is referring to the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. "This generation" means the people that He was addressing at the time, which probably spanned two generations - 50 years.


From the Gospel According to Mark



13: 13-14


And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake. But he that shall endure unto the end, he shall be saved. And when you shall see the abomination of desolation, standing where it ought not: he that readeth let him understand: then let them that are in Judea, flee unto the mountains:

This is a dual prophecy. It is primarily for the time that Romans razed Jerusalem and the Temple. But it is also for the End of These Times. Notice Jesus said: "he that readeth". He is referring to others besides those to whom He was speaking: those who would read His Word centuries later.


13: 24-26

 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. And the stars of heaven shall be falling down, and the powers that are in heaven, shall be moved. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds, with great power and glory.

These two verses refer to the End of These Times, the second part of the prophecy (see above explanation about Mark 13: 13-14). The confirmation is found in the preceding verses, Mark 13:19-23:

[19]  For in those days shall be such tribulations, as were not from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, neither shall be. [20]  And unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect which he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

[21] And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; lo, he is here: do not believe. [22] For there will rise up false Christs and false prophets, and they shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce (if it were possible) even the elect. [23] Take you heed therefore; behold I have foretold you all things.

It is crystal clear that He is speaking now about the End of These Times.

13: 29-30

 So you also when you shall see these things come to pass, know ye that it is very nigh, even at the doors. Amen I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, until all these things be done.

Once again let us see what precedes these two verses.

[28]  Now of the fig tree learn ye a parable. When the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves are come forth, you know that summer is very near.

Notice that He has moved on to the fig tree parable which illustrates the recognition of what is to come by what one may see now  The problem word in verse 30 is "all" since if the verse read instead: Amen I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, until these things be done. then the "this generation" would have applied to the first part of the prophecy - the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. (See Matthew 23: 36-39 above.)

Considering what His words have gone through (1) for nearly 2,000 years, we would not let the qualifier "all" be only the proof that Jesus was speaking of His imminent return.

14:62

“And Jesus said to him: I am. And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Remember - Jesus knew that the Temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed in the time of  "this generation" and, by default it can be understood that He had not returned yet. Therefore we must assume that Jesus meant that the High Priest would see Him at a time when the High Priest had already left his human body and not before.


From the Gospel According to Luke



11: 50-51


“That the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation, From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who was slain between the alter and the temple: Yea I say to you, It shall be required of this generation.”

Again, "this generation" is the one which will witness the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.


19: 11

“As they were hearing these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately be manifested.”

Here and the associated verses Jesus is making it clear that it is a very long process and the Kingdom of God - as they visualized it - would come only after His return.

21: 20-21

And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army; then know that the desolation thereof is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea, flee to the mountains; and those who are in the midst thereof, depart out: and those who are in the countries, not enter into it.

Again, He is referring to the Roman assault on Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple on 70 AD.
See Matthew 23: 36-39 above.


From the Gospel According to John


5: 28-29

Wonder not at this; for the hour cometh, wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that have done good things, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.

He is speaking of an undefined future time "for the hour cometh" which, before His Redemptive action, was "not coming yet". This future time is split in two events: His Second Coming with the First Resurrection [Rev. 20:5] and the Final Judgment as illustrated in Revelations 20: 6-15 (the resurrection of judgment).


CONCLUSION


Undoubtedly we may have overlooked a verse or two since, even within the same language, different versions sometimes appear differently as we have explained in our documents about Biblical Literalism. (1)  However, we feel that we have covered the key verses that could lend themselves to misinterpretation.

As it should be readily obvious, nowhere did Jesus say that His Second Coming was imminent.

Now, it is.

Maranatha!

_____________________________
(1)
Biblical Literalism  Part I  and Part II
(2)
  Quotes from Matthew
(3)  Quotes from Mark
(4)  Quotes from Luke
(5)  Quotes from John



Published on October 28th, 2010 - Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles - European Union

Copyright 2010 by The M+G+R Foundation. All rights reserved.

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