The Return of Jesus

Jesus died and rose again. Forty days later he was taken up into heaven, but God promised that he would return. There are more than 400 verses in the New Testament alone which refer to this event.

Here are a few examples:

"So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.' And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'"                  (Acts 1:6-11)

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This refers to the day on which Jesus rose to heaven in the sight of his disciples. Immediately after Jesus had ascended two angels spoke to the disciples. The passage follows a common scriptural convention of describing these as “men” because the appearance of angels is exactly like that of human beings. The angels tell the disciples that Jesus will return from heaven.

Two points which can be made from this passage are:

v11  Jesus is to return as he went. Jesus ascended to heaven physically and visibly; he is to return physically and visibly.

v7    No one knows, or can know, when Jesus will return. This is knowledge which God has reserved for himself.

 

A second passage is from Acts 3:

"But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago."                      (Acts 3:18-21)

Again, one can make several points from the passage:

v18  The passage begins with the crucifixion of Jesus. It points out that the suffering of Jesus on the cross was predicted in the Old Testament.

v19  Refers to the idea that sins can be forgiven through the death of Jesus and that we need to return to the way of God.

v20  Tells us that God will send Jesus - he will return to earth from heaven where he now is.

v21  This event (the return of Jesus) was also predicted by the prophets. These must be the Old Testament prophets as no other Scripture was written at the time that the events of this passage took place.

 

A third passage is in 1 Thessalonians:

"For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."

                                                                                                                                                                          (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

 

This is a very clear statement about the return of Jesus. It reminds us that Jesus will return in a way which cannot be unnoticed or ignored. It tells us that Jesus will raise the dead and gather the living for judgement, and that the faithful will be with Jesus after his return. Other passages tell us that this will be the start of the Kingdom of God.

 

A final passage is found in the Gospel of Matthew:

"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."                (Matthew 24:30,31)

 

Again, the passage confirms the picture we have from other passages.

  • It speaks of the return of Jesus being seen: it will be visible.

  • It speaks of the angels being sent out to gather the living faithful from wherever they are on the earth.

 

And again, this passage in Matthew tells us that we cannot know in advance when Jesus will return.

"But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only."

                                                                                                                                                                                      (Matthew 24:36)

This emphasises the fact that only God, the Father of Jesus, knew when Jesus would return. This is a vital point to understand. Anyone who claims that they know when Jesus will return, or who asserts that he has already returned is contradicting the plain meaning of Scripture

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