Twenty Prominent Facts
Taught in the New Testament
on the Return of the Lord
Written in 1925 A. C. Gaebelein
In our examination of
the teaching in the New Testament on the return of the Lord Jesus
Christ we have discovered the great prominence of this doctrine.
The Lord Jesus Christ spoke frequently of His second coming. He
announced it to His disciples. He gave them prophetically the
program of the end of the age. He spoke of His return in different
parables. He gave in His farewell discourse the promise of the
blessed hope to His eleven followers, the Apostles. Even in the
presence of His accusers He mentioned His return in the clouds of
At His ascension the two heavenly visitors re-stated His return in
like manner as He went up to heaven. We have learned that Peter
preached it in his second address in the book of Acts, and that
apostolic preaching and teaching did not neglect this great theme;
it held an important place in their ministry and was the hope and
comfort of the early Church.
Furthermore the testimony of the great documents of Christianity,
the Epistles, teach that His return is the goal of redemption. Some
of the most vital doctrines of the faith are linked to this truth,
that Christ will come back. We have seen that the resurrection of
those who died in Christ, our re-union with them, the rewards for
faithful service, the promised crowns and also the promised
blessings for the earth are, besides much else, entirely dependent
on His return. If there is no second coming of Christ the whole
truth of Christianity breaks down. Then we learned from the last
book of the Bible, the Apocalypse, the fitting capstone of the whole
Word of God, the last word on His return. Here the Old and New
Testament revelations as to this event, what precedes and what
follows His return, are all restated.
And now we give facts taught in the New Testament about the
1. The New Testament does NOT teach that the gift of the
Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is the second coming of Christ.
This is one of the
erroneous theories taught by commentators. They claim that when our
Lord spoke of His return, that He meant the coming of the Holy
Spirit. But such a teaching is unknown in the New Testament. The
Holy Spirit is the third* person of the Trinity. How then can the
third* person of the Godhead be the promised return of God the Son,
the second* person?
Note (bible centre):
'third' or 'second' is used by way of distinction, not rank
(co-equality within the Godhead).
2. Nor does the
New Testament teach that the Destruction of Jerusalem is the
promised return of Christ
This view is also found
in many commentaries. It is repeated by others, who, instead of
searching the Scriptures search the comments of expositors of past
generations. The destruction of Jerusalem was predicted by the Lord
Jesus Christ. But nowhere does He say that He would come again at
that time. Matthew 24:31 is the fatal blow to this view. Many
commentators teach that verses 29 and 30 mean His coming in the
destruction of Jerusalem. But when Jerusalem was destroyed He did
not send His angels to gather His elect, the people Israel, from the
four winds. They were scattered into the four corners of the earth
3. Christ does not come again when the believer dies
This also is taught by
many. When the Lord Jesus said to His disciples "I will come again
and receive you unto myself," they say, He meant the death of the
disciples, when He would come to take them to Himself. But the death
of the believer is never spoken of as the second coming of Christ.
When the believer dies the Lord does not come for him, but the
believer goes to be with the Lord. For this view there is not a line
of Scripture in the entire New Testament.
4. His return is a personal return
He said that He would
go away. It was not a phantom departure, but He went in person. And
he said "I will come again." He did not mean a spiritual return, but
a personal coming again. His words cannot be interpreted in any
other way. Furthermore the two men in white apparel said to the
disciples "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven,
shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven"
(Acts 1:11). Wherever His return is mentioned in the New Testament
it means the return of the same One who lived on earth, who died on
the cross, was buried, rose again and ascended up on high.
5. It will be a visible return
His words "they shall
see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 24:30)
teach His visible coming again beyond the shadow of a doubt. So does
Rev. 1:7, "Every eye shall see Him." Scoffers sometimes say, How is
this possible? But every eye on earth every twenty-four hours sees
the sun in the heavens. Thus in that day when He descends in the
cloud every eye will behold Him.
6. His return will be in great power and glory
"And then shall they
see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory"
(Mark 13:26). The Epistles speak of His glorious appearing [with
power] (Titus 2:13; 2 Thess. 1:9). This power and glory is
prominently revealed in the Apocalypse.
7. The Angels of God will accompany Him in His return
"For the Son of Man
shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels" (Matthew
16:27). "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His
mighty angels" (2 Thess. 1:7). He will send forth the angels and use
them as His messengers. These unseen tenants of the heavens will
become visible in His return.
8. He will bring all His Saints, the redeemed of both
Testaments, with Him
(See 1 Thess. 4:14). It
will be His glorification as well as the glorification of the
Saints. "When He shall come to be glorified in His Saints, and to be
admired in all them that believed in that day (because our testimony
among you was believed)" (2 Thess. 1:10).
9. His return will be suddenly, like the lightning and like
The following passages
teach this: Matthew 24:27; 42-51; Mark 13:35, 36; Rev. 16:15; 22:7;
10. The present age remains unchanged till He returns
The New Testament
teaches that not Christ, but Satan, is the god of this age and the
prince of it. (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2). Satan is not dethroned till
Christ comes again. (See Rev. 20:1-2.) Therefore this age remains an
evil age down to its end.
11. His return is preceded by the falling away
Throughout this age
there has been going on a falling away from the truth. John wrote of
the many antichrists in his day. (1 John 2.) The mystery of iniquity
was then already at work (2 Thess. 2:7). When the end of the age
comes (Matthew 13) the harvest, the tares which began in the
beginning of the age will be full grown. When He comes again He will
not find "faith on the earth" (Luke 18:8); the days of Noah and Lot
have returned, days of violence and lust (Luke 17:26-37). The
Epistles bear a startling testimony as to the final great apostasy,
an apostasy which is apparent today, for the modernistic rationalism
in the different evangelical denominations is the beginning of this
falling away (See 2 Thess. 2; 1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 4:1-4;
Epistle of Jude; 2 Peter 2 and 3).
12. His return is preceded by the manifestation of the
final, personal Antichrist, the man of sin and the son of perdition.
The Lord announced the
coming of such a one. He predicted false Christs, with lying signs
and wonders (Matthew 24:24-25; 2 Thess. 2; Revelation 13).
13. His return is preceded by the budding of the fig-tree
[=Israel] and a final witness to the nations of the world (Matthew
24:14 and 32, 33).
There will be national
revival among the Jews and the Lord will call a remnant from among
them to herald the coming of the King, preaching the Gospel of the
kingdom to all the nations of the world (see Rev. 7). The great
multitude coming out of the great tribulation (Rev. 7:9-17) is not
the Church, but the multitude represents those of the nations who
believed this final witness, given by the 144,000 Israelites, not
Gentiles, who bear this final witness.
14. His return is preceded by the great tribulation and
followed by the judgment of the nations
Nowhere is it predicted
that when Christ comes back He will find a converted world, that
righteousness and peace will reign before His return. The Lord and
His Apostles teach something entirely different. (See Matthew 24:21;
Luke 21:25-26; Revelation in its main portion reveals the events of
this time of greatest trouble. He returns at the close of the great
tribulation, Matthew 24:29-30. He will come as judge after the
tribulation. See Matthew 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:8-9).
15. The New Testament reveals His coming as a blessed hope
unknown in former ages
revelation the Lord Jesus Christ predicted as to His visible,
personal and glorious return, preceded by the great tribulation and
the manifestation of the Antichrist, is also revealed in the Old
Testament. But in one passage He spoke of something new, altogether
new, unknown to the prophets and to the Old Testament Saints. This
is found in John 14:1-4. It is the first intimation of the blessed
hope for the Saints of the New Testament.
It was given to the Apostle Paul to receive the full revelation
concerning "that blessed, hope" (See again 1 Thess. 4:16-18 and 1
Cor. 15:51-52). This blessed hope has rightly and scripturally been
coming of the Lord for His Saints"
in distinction from "the
of the Lord with His Saints." The
latter takes place when He is visibly revealed out of heaven.
16. The coming of the Lord for His Saints takes place before
the end of the age sets in, before the final great apostasy, before
the great tribulation and before the manifestation of the man of sin
The denial of
this has led to much confusion. Good men teach, what is an
unscriptural theory, that the Church will be on earth to the very
end of the
Some speak of the Church having yet to pass "through a Gethsemane
experience." But where is this taught in Scripture? Nowhere. The
second chapter of the second Epistle to the Thessalonians shows that
the falling away and the man of sin, cannot come as long as there is
the hindering One on the earth. That One is the Holy Spirit. He
dwells in the true Church, as He dwells in every individual
believer, and must be taken out of the way first. He will be taken
away in hindering power with the rapture of the Saints.
The reason why our Lord said nothing about tribulation to His
disciples in the upper room when He first mentioned "that blessed
hope," is because the true Church has nothing whatever to do with
that period of time. There is no tribulation of a punitive character
in store for her, nor any wrath whatever (1 Thess. 1:10). The
Saints during the great tribulation
are Jews. In the Old Testament it is spoken of as "the time of
Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7); and Daniel speaks of it in the same
way (Dan. 12:1-2). The scope of the Book of Revelation proves
conclusively, that before even the Lord receives the book of
judgments and tribulation from God's hands, the Saints must first be
brought to glory. Not one of the Epistles has anything to say about
that great tribulation. There is a significant silence. It is
because the true Church will not be here when that time comes.
17. All true believers will be taken when the Lord comes
Some teach that only a
certain class of believers will participate in the glorious rapture.
According to some only those will meet the Lord who believe in His
coming; holiness sects claim that one must have had a "deeper"
experience to be fit for His coming. Others make "Divine healing"
the test, or the "gift of tongue" delusion, or something else. All
these theories are not found in Scripture. Every child of God, no
matter how ignorant, how weak in himself, how imperfect in walk and
service, is nevertheless a child of God and as such belongs to the
Father's house. Every true believer, independent of his experience,
whether "deep" or "shallow," independent of his attainments, is
through grace a member of the body of Christ, the Church. No member
of that body will be left behind, when He comes for His Saints, for
that body will be presented as a complete body in His presence.
There is no such thing taught in the New Testament as a "piece-meal
rapture," such as certain English and American, Bible-teachers
claim, to the confusion of simple and young believers.
18. His coming for the Saints will mean a blessed re-union
with our loved ones, who have gone before, and with all the Saints
It is therefore called
"the comforting hope." Apart from the coming of the Lord for His
Saints there is no ray of hope in Scripture of meeting our departed
ones again. But when He comes for His Saints, those who died in
Christ will be raised in incorruption; we, the living ones, will be
changed. All will take place by the mighty power of God, in a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Together with them we shall be
caught up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
19. The New Testament teaches that there will be a
judgment-seat of Christ
There the hidden things
of our lives as to service, Christian living, Christian sacrifice
and suffering, will be brought to light. Rewards and crowns will be
bestowed upon those who were faithful. Others will be ashamed before
Him in His presence and will be crownless, though saved as by fire.
Then the Apostle Paul and all the Apostles and martyrs will receive
their crowns in that day (2 Tim. 4:8). The blessed hope becomes
therefore a great incentive to holy living and untiring,
20. With His coming the Church will be glorified and share
with Him His glory and His kingdom
He will present the
Church to Himself "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle,
or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish"
(Eph. 5:27). Every individual believer will see Him as He is and
will be like Him. Every believer will receive an eternal body, like
unto His own glorious body. His prayer is answered "Father, I will
that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that
they may behold My glory." His glory will be our glory. With Him we
shall be priests and kings, and reign with Him for a thousand years
in His Kingdom over the earth. With Him the Church shall judge the
world and shall judge Angels.
Arno C. Gaebelein wrote this article in 1925, before Israel was even
a nation. Many religious leaders thought that Gaebelein was "way
off" when he stated that God would regather the Jews back and Israel
would once again become a nation before the end times. Many in his
day felt that the Church replaced Israel but as we know, this is not
the case. Many who held to the erroneous "replacement theology" had
to rethink their beliefs when Israel became a nation in 1948.
Israel, the nation, will take center stage during the Tribulation,
when the Church is raptured. It is already the focus of much of the
news in our times. The Bible says in Zechariah 12:3 that Jerusalem
will be "a burdensome stone for all people" and this is already
being fulfilled in front of our eyes. God will never forsake Israel
though the whole world will come in against them... Jesus in the end
will rescue them and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced
And I will pour upon the house of David,
and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of
supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced,
and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and
shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his
Jesus said to Jerusalem in Luke 13:35
"Ye shall not
see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that
cometh in the name of the Lord."
Jesus comes the first time for His Church - the Saints. The Second
Coming is when He comes back with His saints and rescues Israel.
This teaching agrees completely with what the Old and New Testament
says concerning the Messiah and the End Times. If one sticks to the
literal interpretation of Scriptures, one is never wrong for the
Bible is always correct and current with the times.
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