What Will Jesus’ Second Coming Look Like?

Luke 12:39-40 – “…But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Under the broad category of eschatology, there are individual themes that appear throughout the Scripture. Each of these themes is critical for God’s people to understand the purpose of life, what happens after death, where our deceased loved ones are until the resurrection, when Jesus will return, and what happens after He raises His people from the dead. 

Here is a brief summary of the major eight themes in eschatology from an encyclopedia of the Bible:

Death. The Bible teaches that all humans will die (Heb 9:27). The only exceptions will be those who are still alive when Christ returns (1 Thes 4:17). Physical death, or the ‘first death,’ is the separation of the soul from the body…

The Intermediate State. This refers to the condition of the person between the time of death and the resurrection. The traditional orthodox view is that believers experience a state of conscious bliss in the presence of the Lord, while unbelievers are tormented by separation from the presence of God….

The Second Coming. Scripture teaches that at the end of time Christ will return in a personal, bodily form (Acts 1:11). No one knows exactly when this will occur, and it will consequently catch some by surprise, coming as a thief in the night (Lk 12:39, 40). Although the time is not known, the fact that it will occur is very definite. Many of Jesus’ parables (esp. in Mt 24; 25) refer to this fact and to the appropriateness of alert, faithful, and intensive activity.

The Resurrection. All who have died will come to life. This will be a bodily resurrection, a resumption of bodily existence of each person. For believers this will take place in connection with the second coming of Christ, and will involve the transformation of the body of this present flesh into a new, perfected body (1 Cor 15:35–56). The Bible also indicates a resurrection of unbelievers, unto eternal death (Jn 5:28, 29).

The Judgment. There will be a time of judgment…some will be sent off to everlasting reward and others to eternal punishment…

The Final States. The Bible teaches the existence of heaven, a place of eternal joy, where Christians are in the presence of God, and of hell…

The Millennium. Many Christians believe there will be an earthly reign of God, called the millennium, immediately preceding the final judgment…based on Revelation 20:4–7. Those who hold that Christ will return personally to inaugurate this period are called premillennialists. Others, who teach that the kingdom will be established through the progressive successful preaching of the gospel, are termed postmillennialists. Still others, called amillennialists, do not believe that there will be any earthly reign of Christ at all, interpreting the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 symbolically.

The Great Tribulation. The Bible speaks of a time of great anguish or tribulation…exceeding anything that has ever occurred before. Some, identifying this with the 70th week of Daniel 9:24–27, believe it will be of seven years duration. Some believe the church will be present to experience this, the Lord not returning until the end of the period. These are termed posttribulationists. Others, known as pretribulationists, believe that the Lord’s second coming will be in two stages, or phases—that, in addition to his public second coming, Christ will come for his church, to remove them from the world, or “rapture” them, before the great tribulation. Still others, known as midtribulationists, believe that the church will be present for the first half of the seven years but will be removed before the severe part of the tribulation begins.” (1)

Eschatology can be a fun area of Bible study to discuss, dialogue, and debate. However, we must not let it become a divisive issue between Christians. The one thing we all agree upon is that we will be together forever with Jesus, and every one of us will learn some things that we were wrong about while we studied the Bible on the earth. Jesus encouraged us to approach the last days with humility saying in Matthew 24:36, “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” 

What do you think Jesus’ Second Coming will look like? 

  1. Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Eschatology,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 716.

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