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In Christianity, the Second Coming of Christ, the second advent, sometimes called the parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus to Earth. The Second Coming belief is based on prophecies found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian eschatologies. Christians generally believe the anticipated event is predicted in biblical messianic prophecies. Views about the nature of Jesus' Second Coming vary among Christian denominations and sometimes among individual Christians.
Most English versions of the Nicene Creed in current use include the following beliefs about Jesus: "...he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. ... We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."
- 1 Terminology
- 2 Signs of Christ's return
- 3 Christian views
- 4 Last Day counterfeits
- 5 Specific date predictions and claims
- 6 Non-Christian viewpoints
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
Several different terms are used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ:
In the New Testament, the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια (epiphaneia, appearing) is used five times to refer to the return of Christ.
The Greek New Testament uses the Greek term parousia (παρουσία, meaning "arrival", "coming", or "presence") twenty-four times, seventeen of them concerning Christ. The word is also used six times referring to individuals: Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus [1Co.16:17], Titus[2Co. 7:6-72] and of Paul himself [2Co. 10:10] [Phil 1:26] [2:12] and one time referring to the "coming of the lawless one".[2Thes 2:9]
...In the N. T. [New Testament] esp. [especially] of the advent, i.e., the future, visible, return from heaven of Jesus, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God.
And in the Bauer-Danker Lexicon:
...of Christ, and nearly always of his Messianic Advent in glory to judge the world at the end of this age.
In the New Testament the second Parousia, or coming of Christ as Judge of the world, is an oft-repeated doctrine. The Saviour Himself not only foretells the event but graphically portrays its circumstances (Matthew 24:27 sqq. [Olivet discourse]; sqq. [Judgment of the Nations]). The Apostles give a most prominent place to this doctrine in their preaching (Acts 10:42, ) and writings (Romans 2:5-16; ; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1; 2 Thess 1:5; James 5:7). Besides the name Parusia (parousia), or Advent (1 Cor. 15:23, 2 Thes. 2:1-9), the second coming is also called Epiphany, epiphaneia, or Appearance (2 Thes. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1; Titus 2:13) and Apocalypse (apokalypsis), or Revelation (2 Thess. 2:7 1 Pet. 4:13). The time of the second coming is spoken of as "that Day" (2 Tim. 4:8) "the day of the Lord" (1 Thess. 5:2), "the day of Christ" (Phil 1:6), "the day of the Son of Man" (Luke 17:30), and "the last day" (John 6:39-40).
Adolf Deissmann (1908) showed that the Greek word "parousia" was used as early as the 3rd century BC to describe the visit of a king or dignitary to a city arranged in order the show his magnificence to the people. The Roman Advent Coins struck by the cities of Corinth and Patras for Nero's visit reveals the correspondence between the Greek "parousia" and the Latin "Adventus" and their relationship to the Greek word "epiphany" that means "appearing".
Signs of Christ's return
The Acts of the Apostles states:
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."—Acts 1:9-11
- The coming of Christ will be instantaneous and worldwide. "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." —Matthew 24:27
- The coming of Christ will be visible to all. "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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." —Matthew 24:30
- The coming of Christ will be audible. "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." —Matthew 24:31
- The resurrection of the righteous will occur. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first." —1 Thessalonians 4:16
- In one single event, the saved who are alive at Christ's coming will be caught up together with the resurrected to meet the Lord in the air. "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." —1 Thessalonians 4:17
According to historian Charles Freeman, early Christians expected Jesus to return within a generation of his death and the non-occurrence of the second coming surprised the early Christian communities.
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
The position associating the Second Coming with 1st century events such as the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish Temple in AD 70 is known as Preterism.
Some Preterists see this "coming of the Son of Man in glory" primarily fulfilled in Jesus' death on the cross. They believe the apocalyptic signs are already fulfilled including "the sun will be dark", the "powers ... will be shaken," and "then they will see". Yet some critics note many are missing such as "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10) And "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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." (Matthew 24:30)
Some, such as Jerome, interpret the phrase "this generation" to mean lifetime of the Jewish race; however, other scholars believe that if Jesus meant "race" he would have used genos (race) not genea (generation).
Catholic and Orthodox
Most English versions of the Nicene Creed in current use include the following beliefs about Jesus: "...he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. ... We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."
It is the traditional view of Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, preserved from the early Church, that the second coming will be a sudden and unmistakable incident, like "a flash of lightning".[Mt 24:27] They hold the general view that Jesus will not spend any time on the earth in ministry or preaching. They also agree that the ministry of the Antichrist will take place right before the Second Coming.
Respected Orthodox layman Alexander Kalomiros explains the original Church's position regarding the Second Coming in River of Fire and Against False Union, stating that those who contend that Christ will reign on earth for a thousand years "do not wait for Christ, but for the Antichrist." The idea of Jesus returning to this earth as a king is a heretical concept to the Church, equated to "the expectations of the Jews who wanted the Messiah to be an earthly King." The Church instead teaches that which it has taught since the beginning—Christ will not return to earth, rather the Kingdom of Heaven, the New Jerusalem, will be established through the Resurrection of the dead.
The many denominations of Protestantism have differing views on the exact details of Christ's second coming. Only a handful of Christian organizations claim complete and authoritative interpretation of the typically symbolic and prophetic biblical sources. A common thread is the belief that Jesus will return to judge the world and to establish the kingdom of God (fulfilling the rest of Messianic prophecy).
A short reference to the second coming is contained in the Nicene Creed, a prominent Christian statement of faith: "He [Jesus] shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead; and His kingdom shall have no end." An analogous statement is also in the biblical Pauline Creed.[1Cor 15:23].
Generally, Protestant Christianity does not offer predictions on the date of the second coming, though some may form their own ideas of how and where it will happen.
Fundamental Belief #25 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church states:
The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour's coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ's coming is imminent. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times. (Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; Matt. 24:14; Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:43, 44; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:8; Rev. 14:14-20; 19:11-21; Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 1 Thess. 5:1-6.)
Jehovah's Witnesses rarely use the term "second coming", preferring the term "presence" as a translation of parousia. They believe that Jesus' comparison of "the presence of the Son of man" with "the days of Noah" at Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-30 suggests a duration rather than a moment of arrival.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that biblical chronology points to 1914 as the start of Christ's "presence", which continues until Armageddon. Other biblical expressions they correlate with this period include "the time of the end" (Dan 12:4), "the conclusion of the system of things" (Matt 13:40,49; 24:3) and "the last days" (2 Tim 3:1; 2 Peter 3:3). Witnesses believe Christ's millennial reign begins after Armageddon.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Latter-day Saints believe that Christ shall return as it is written in the Bible. Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the Twelve Apostles, wrote, "I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father, to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings." Full text
Notably Latter-day Saints have particularly distinct and specific interpretations as to various signs presented in the Book of Revelation.
Esoteric Christian teachings
In Rosicrucian esoteric Christian teaching, there is a clear distinction between the cosmic Christ, or Christ without, and the Christ within. According to this tradition, the Christ within is regarded as the true Saviour who needs to be born within each individual in order to evolve toward the future Sixth Epoch in the Earth's etheric plane, that is, toward the "new heavens and a new earth": the New Galilee. The Second Coming or Advent of the Christ is not in a physical body, but in the new soul body of each individual in the etheric plane of the planet where man "shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." The "day and hour" when this event shall be, as described in the Bible, is not in the human knowledge domain. The esoteric Christian tradition teaches that first there will be a preparatory period as the Sun enters Aquarius by precession: the coming Age of Aquarius.
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- The coming of Christ will be instantaneous and worldwide. "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." ~ Gospel of Matthew 24:27
- The coming of Christ will be visible to all. "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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." Matthew 24:30
- The coming of Christ will be audible. "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matthew 24:31
Last Day counterfeits
Many Christians believe there will be a great deception before the coming of Christ. In Matthew 24, Jesus states:
For at that time there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect they will be shortened. If anyone says to you then, 'Look, here is the Messiah!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect.—Matthew 24:21, 24 (NAB)
These false Christs will perform great signs and are no ordinary people "For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." (Revelation 16:14) Satan's angels will also appear as godly clergymen, and Satan will appear as an angel of light. "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."—2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will impersonate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour's advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. (Revelation 1:13-15). The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: "Christ has come! Christ has come!" The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed.—The Great Controversy, p. 624
Specific date predictions and claims
A number of specific dates have been suggested for the Second Coming of Christ. Some of these predictions have passed many decades ago and some are decades away.
Victor J. Stenger notes that Jesus is recorded as saying, " ...there are some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom ", Matt 16:28. He makes similar predictions in four other places in the Gospels; Mark 9:1, Mark 13:30, Matt 24:34, Luke 9:27. In Stenger's view, when the coming did not happen within the life-times of his disciples, as Jesus prophesied, Christianity changed its emphasis to the Resurrection and promise of eternal life.
- Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
- Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
- Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)
- Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world ― on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).
Regarding the Christian idea that these prophecies will be fulfilled during a "second coming," Ohr Samayach states "we find this to be a contrived answer, since there is no mention of a second coming in the Jewish Bible. Second, why couldn't God accomplish His goals the first time round?" Rabbi David Wolpe believes that the Second Coming was "grown out of genuine disappointment" and invented by Christians to theologically compensate for Jesus' death.
In Islam, Jesus (Isa; Arabic: عيسى ʿĪsā) is considered to be a Messenger of God and the Masih who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl) with a new scripture, the Injīl. The belief in Jesus (and all other messengers of God) is required in Islam, and a requirement of being a Muslim. The Qur'anic verse alluded to as an indicator to Jesus's future return is as follows:
“And he (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but follow ye Me (Follow the guidance and instruction of Allah): this is a Straight Way.”[Quran 43:61]
According to Islamic tradition, Jesus's descent will be in the midst of wars fought by the Mahdi (lit. "the rightly guided one"), known in Islamic eschatology as the redeemer of Islam, against the al-Masīh ad-Dajjāl (literally "false messiah", synonymous with the Antichrist) and his followers. Jesus will descend at the point of a white arcade, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes—his head anointed. He will then join the Mahdi in his war against the Dajjal. Jesus, considered in Islam as a Muslim (one who submits to God) and one of God's messengers, will abide by the Islamic teachings. Eventually, Jesus will slay the Antichrist Dajjal, and then everyone from the People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb, referring to Jews and Christians) will believe in him. Thus, there will be one community, that of Islam. Sahih Muslim, 41:7023
"Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (Mariam) (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts)."
After the death of the Mahdi, Jesus will assume leadership. This is a time associated in Islamic narrative with universal peace and justice. Islamic texts also allude to the appearance of Ya'juj and Ma'juj (known also as Gog and Magog), ancient tribes which will disperse and cause disturbance on earth. God, in response to Jesus's prayers, will kill them by sending a type of worm in the napes of their necks. Jesus's rule is said to be around forty years, after which he will die, (according to Islam Jesus did not die on the cross but was taken up to heaven and continues to live until his return in the second coming). Muslims will then perform the Salat al-Janazah (funeral prayer) for him and bury him in the city of Medina in a grave left vacant beside Muhammad.
The Ahmadis believe that the promised Mahdi and Messiah (being one and the same person) has already arrived in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). This is rejected by all other Muslims, many of whom do not regard the Ahmadiyya as Muslims.
The hadith (sayings of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad) and the Bible indicated that Jesus would return during the latter days. Islamic tradition commonly depicts that Jesus, upon his second coming, would be an Ummati (Muslim) and a follower of Muhammad and that he would revive the truth of Islam rather than fostering a new religion.
The Ahmadiyya movement interpret the Second Coming of Jesus prophesied as being that of a person "similar to Jesus" (mathīl-i ʿIsā) and not his physical return, in the same way as John the Baptist resembled the character of the biblical prophet Elijah in Christianity. Ahmadis believe that Ghulam Ahmad demonstrated that the prophecy in Muslim and Christian religious texts were traditionally misunderstood to suggest that Jesus of Nazareth himself would return, and hold that Jesus had survived the crucifixion and had died a natural death. Ahmadis consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (the founder of the movement), in both his character and teachings, to be representative of Jesus; and subsequently, he attained the same spiritual rank of Prophethood as Jesus. Thus, Ahmadis believe this prediction was fulfilled and continued by his movement.
Bahá'u'lláh claimed to be the Return of Christ. Followers of the Bahá'í Faith believe that the fulfillment of the prophecies of the second coming of Jesus, as well as the prophecies of the Maitreya and many other religious prophecies, were begun by the Báb in 1844 and then by Bahá'u'lláh. They commonly compare the fulfillment of Christian prophecies to Jesus' fulfillment of Jewish prophecies, where in both cases people were expecting the literal fulfillment of apocalyptic statements.
In modern times some traditional Indian religious leaders have since moved to embrace Jesus as an Avatar, or incarnation, of God. In light of this, the Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, scribed an extensive commentary on the Gospels published in the two-volume set The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. In the tradition of the Gnostic Gospels, the book offers a mystical interpretation of the Second Coming in which it is understood to be an inner experience, something that takes place within the individual heart.
Stating that "Paramahansa Yogananda was sent to the West by Jesus Christ himself" with the said intent to "restore the original Christian teachings among his followers", in Revelations of Christ Swami Kriyananda, Yogananda's disciple and Ex-minister of the Self-Realization Fellowship, provides a distilled commentary on the life and teachings of Christ, all of which is meant to serve as an anticipatory primer to Yogananda's more philosophically nuanced treatment in The Second Coming of Christ. Turning directly to The Bible, Kriyananda argues for a more scripturally mature Christianity in which The Second Coming is treated not in terms of a profane materialism - one which favors a literal, physical and subsequently anti-spiritual resurrection - but rather unfolds in accordance with the more spiritual aspirations of The Book of Luke; for "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21)
This attempt to accommodate Jesus within the framework of Hindu theology, however, is neither unique to Yogananda or his disciple, Swami Kriyananda. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada, author Bhagavad Gita As It Is and founder of the Hare Krishna Movement, has propounded the same pluralistic, nonsecular view: that "'Christ' is another way of saying Krsta and Krsta is another way of pronouncing Krishna, the name of God." Stating that "A son may call his father 'Father', but the father also has a specific name. Similarly, God is the general name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose specific name is Krishna", "Therefore", he writes, "whether you call God 'Christ', 'Krsta', or 'Krishna', ultimately you are addressing the same Supreme Personality of Godhead."
In January 1946, Theosophist Alice A. Bailey prophesied that Christ (who is regarded by Theosophists as being identical with the being known by Theosophists as the Maitreya) would return "sometime after AD 2025".
- Life of Jesus in the New Testament
- List of people who have claimed to be Jesus
- Realized eschatology
- "The Second Coming", a poem by William Butler Yeats
- NT usage
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- compare Mark 13:24 to Mark 15:33
- compare Mark 13:25 to Mark 14:63 and Mark 15:5
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- 1Cor 15:50, John 18:36
- 2Cor 5:1-3, Greek "politeuma" [commonwealth], "Our commonwealth is in heaven ...": Philippians 3:20-21
- Matthew 24:30, 1Thess 4:17, Acts 1:10-11, 1John 3:2
- Matthew 24:23-27
- The Aquarian Age (cf. 1Cor 2:6-16)
- The Great Controversy chapter, entitled "The Time Of Trouble", Ellen G. White, p. 624-625
- Chapter 2, ' The Folly of Faith ' p54 in " The New Atheism " by Victor J. Stenger, published 2009 by Prometheus Books, ISBN 978-1-59102-751-5
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- Heindel, Max, How Shall We Know Christ at His Coming?, May 1913 (stenographic report of a lecture, Los Angeles), ISBN 0-911274-64-2
- James Stuart Russell. The Parousia, A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
- Emanuel Swedenborg The Consummation of the Age; the Coming of the Lord; and the New Heaven and New Church, Chapter 14 in The True Christian Religion Containing the Universal Theology of The New Church Foretold by the Lord in Daniel 7; 13, 14; and in Revelation 21; 1,2 (Swedenborg Foundation 1952)
- "Lecture XV: On the Clause, And Shall Come in Glory to Judge the Quick and the Dead; Of Whose Kingdom There Shall Be No End.", delivered by Cyril of Jerusalem in the mid-4th century.
- "The Second Coming.", a summary article.