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Second coming of Christ

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Second coming of Christ

For other uses, see Second Coming (disambiguation).
Major events in

Jesus' life
in the Gospels

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."

Terminology

Several different terms are used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ:

Epiphany

In the New Testament, the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια (epiphaneia, appearing) is used five times to refer to the return of Christ.[1]

Parousia

Main article: Parousia

The Greek New Testament uses the Greek term parousia (παρουσία, meaning "arrival", "coming", or "presence") twenty-four times, seventeen of them concerning Christ.[2] 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]]

The etymology of Greek word parousia is related to para "beside" ousia "presence". In English "parousia" always has a special, Christian, meaning.[3]

Definitions

In Thayer's Lexicon, the Greek word parousia is defined as Strong's G3952:

...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.[2]

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.

And in the Catholic Encyclopedia article on General Judgment:[4]

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 (John 6:39-40).

Adolf Deissmann (1908)[5] 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 Book of Acts 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

Other signs:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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

Christian views

Christian eschatology
Eschatology views
Christianity portal

1st century

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.[6]

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that 1 John 2:18

Preterism

Main article: Preterism

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.[7]

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",[8] the "powers ... will be shaken,"[9] and "then they will see".[10] 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)[11] 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)[12]

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).[13][14]

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 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.[15][16] They also agree that the ministry of the Antichrist will take place right before the Second Coming.[15]

Respected Orthodox layman Alexander Kalomiros explains the original Church's position regarding the Second Coming in 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.

Protestant

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]].

Some Lutheran, Anglican and United Methodist liturgies proclaim the Mystery of Faith to be: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."

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.

Seventh-day Adventists

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.)[17]

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that biblical chronology points to 1914[20] 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).[21][22] Witnesses believe Christ's millennial reign begins after Armageddon.[23]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Further information: Second Coming (LDS Church)

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.[24] According to this tradition, the Christ within is regarded as the true Saviour who needs to be born within each individual[25] 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":[26] the New Galilee.[27] The Second Coming or Advent of the Christ is not in a physical body,[28] but in the new soul body of each individual in the etheric plane of the planet[29] where man "shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."[30] The "day and hour" when this event shall be, as described in the Bible, is not in the human knowledge domain.[31] 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.[32]

Dispensationalists

Main article: Dispensationalism

Dispensationalists believe:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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

Main articles: Antichrist and False Prophet

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[33]

Specific date predictions and claims

Main article: Predictions and claims for the Second Coming of Christ

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.

Non-Christian viewpoints

Judaism

Judaism believes that Jesus is one of the false Jewish Messiah claimants because he failed to fulfill any Messianic prophecies, which include:

  1. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
  2. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
  3. 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)
  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).[35]
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?"[36] Rabbi David Wolpe believes that the Second Coming was "grown out of genuine disappointment" and invented by Christians to theologically compensate for Jesus' death.

Islam

In Islam, Jesus (Isa; Arabic: عيسىʿĪsā) 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.[37] 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:[38]

“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.”[43:61]

According to Islamic tradition, Jesus's descent will be in the midst of wars fought by the 41:7023

Abu Hurairah:

"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.[39] 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.[38]

Ahmadiyya

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.[40][41]

Baha'i Faith

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.[42] 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.[43][44]

Hinduism

In modern times some traditional Indian religious leaders have since moved to embrace Jesus as an Avatar, or incarnation, of God.[45] 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.[46] 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."[47]

Theosophy

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".[48]

See also

References

Bibliography

External links

  • Cyril of Jerusalem in the mid-4th century.
  • "The Second Coming.", a summary article.

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