The Second Coming 


The Bible says Jesus will come again someday, and the world as we know it will come to an end. There are many ideas and opinions about the end-times, but the Bible gives very few details of exactly what will happen. Most questions do not have a clear answer in the Bible. Instead, the Bible advises us to be spiritually prepared for judgment at any moment and to put our trust in God that He will make everything right in the end.

This article summarizes what the Bible does say about the second coming of Jesus and the events surrounding it.

Jesus Will Come AgainThe Bible presents God’s work of redemption as an ongoing process. Throughout the Old Testament, He leads His chosen people toward truth and righteousness. The final phase of the process of redemption began with the first coming of Jesus and will culminate in the events surrounding His Second Coming. There will be a final judgment of all people, living and dead. The faithful will receive new spiritual bodies for eternal life; the wicked will be cast into hell. There will be a final defeat and destruction of all evil — Satan, sin, suffering and death. The kingdom of God will come to its fulfillment at last.

Jesus left no doubt that He will return again to complete His mission of salvation for mankind:

“Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (NLT, John 14:1-4)

Related verses: Matthew 23:39, Luke 18:8, John 14:18, 28-29, Acts 1:11, 3:20-21, 1 Corinthians 11:26, Philippians 4:5, Colossians 3:4,1 Thessalonians 1:10, 2:19, 3:13, 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Timothy 6:14-15, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 9:28, James 5:7-9, 2 Peter 1:16, 1 John 2:28, 3:2, Revelation 3:11, 22:12, 22:20.

When Will Jesus Come Again?The Bible tells of many events that will occur before the Second Coming and which will be signs that the end is near. There will be wars, famines, earthquakes, false prophets, persecutions, and an increase in wickedness. The Gospel must first be preached to all nations. The temple at Jerusalem would be destroyed. (The temple was in fact destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.)

Many of Jesus’ followers expected Him to return within their lifetimes, and that expectation was supported by several passages such as:

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (NAS, Luke 21:32-33)

On the other hand, passages such as this one place the Second Coming much farther in the future:

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”(NAS, Matthew 24:14)

No completely satisfactory resolution of these differences in the Bible has ever been found, and the timing of the Second Coming has been a subject of hot debate within Christianity from the beginning. Jesus, Himself, said no one would be able to predict exactly when He would return:

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” (NIV, Mark 13:32-33)

The event, when it happens, will be swift and unexpected:

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (NIV, Matthew 24:43-44)

Over the past 2000 years there have been countless attempts to interpret current events according to the signs in the Bible. There have been innumerable predictions that the Second Coming was imminent. All have been wrong.

Related verses: Matthew 16:27-28, 24:1-51 26:24, Mark 9:1, 13:1-36, 14:62, Luke 9:26-27, 21:5-36, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, 2 Peter 3:8-14, Revelation 1:7

Be Prepared!Because no one knows when Jesus will come again for the final judgment, we must always be prepared. Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) speaks directly to the need to be spiritually prepared for the final judgment, and a number of His other sayings make the same point.

Related verses: Matthew 24:42-51, Mark 8:38, 13:33-37, Luke 9:26, 12:35-47, 21:34-36, 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, 2 Timothy 4:8, Hebrews 9:28,1 Peter 1:7, 13, 4:13, 2 Peter 3:10-14

ResurrectionEveryone who has ever lived will be brought back to life in some form to face the final judgment along with those still living:

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.(NKJV, John 5:25-29)

Related verses: Mark 12:18-27, Luke 14:12-14, Acts 4:2, 17:18, 29-32, 23:6; 24:15-16, 21, Romans 4:17, 5:17, 6:5, 8, 8:11, 11:15, 1 Corinthians 6:14-15, 15:23, 2 Corinthians 1:9, 4:14, 5:1-10, Philippians 3:10-11, 21, Colossians 1:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 2 Timothy 2:18, Hebrews 6:2,11:19, 35, Revelation 20:12-13

Final JudgmentWhile we are still living, or until Jesus comes again, we have every opportunity to repent (change our ways from evil to good). But in the end we will all be judged.

Everyone, the still living and the resurrected dead, will face God’s judgment. Even those who profess Christianity will be judged by the deeds they have done in life (Matthew 7:21-23, 2 Corinthians 5:10). Those who have lived righteous lives will be granted eternal life; those who have lived evil lives will be condemned to eternal punishment (Matthew 5:29-30, 25:31-46, Mark 9:43-48). The apostle Paul put it this way:

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (NIV, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10)

The righteous who are granted eternal life will receive new spiritual bodies that are in some ways similar to the old earthly body and in some ways different.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (NIV, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Related verses: Matthew 7:1, 21-27, 16:24-27, John 3:16-21, 5:21-30, Acts 10:39-43, 17:29-31, Romans 2:5-16, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 15:23,2 Timothy 4:1-8, James 2:12-17, 4:11-12, 5:7-9, 1 Peter 4:1-6, Jude 1:14-15, Revelation 2:20-23, 20:11-15, 22:12-13

Related article: What does the Bible say about salvation?

The New Heaven and EarthThe final result of the Second Coming will be fulfillment of all the promises of the kingdom of God. Satan will be destroyed, and there will be no more sin, suffering or death.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (NIV, Revelation 20:10)

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” (NIV, Matthew 13:40-43)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (NIV, Revelation 21:1-4)

Related verses: Matthew 8:11, 19:28-30, Mark 14:25, Luke 13:29, John 14:2-3, Romans 8:18-21, 16:20, 1 Corinthians 2:7-10, 13:8-13, 15:20-26,45-49, Colossians 3:4, 1 John 2:17, Revelation 7:14-17, 11:15, 19:19-20, 22:1-5

Miscellaneous TopicsSeveral topics receive less prominent mention in the Bible than those above, but may provide additional insight into the events surrounding the Second Coming. Because these topics are not fully explained in the Bible, a number of different interpretations have arisen, and many of those interpretations go far beyond any Biblical basis.The AntichristThe antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3, 2 John 1:7) is identified as a liar and deceiver who denies that Jesus is the Christ. As of the writing of 1 and 2 John, at the end of the first century, many antichrists were said to be already present in the world. It is not clear, but there may be another antichrist to come whose spirit is already present in the world.

The antichrist is sometimes said to be the beasts of Daniel 7:1-12, the beast of Revelation 13:11-18, or the “lawless one” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, but those interpretations are not certain.

At various times in history one group or another has tried to turn Bible prophecies into propaganda by proclaiming the identity of the antichrist. Those who have been so named include the Roman emperors Caligula, Titus, Nero and Claudius, Muhammad (the prophet of Islam), popes, Protestant theologians, political leaders, and many other individuals. However, such assertions seem to be based on little more than prejudice and hatred. The Bible does not give any clues about the identity of the antichrist and does not encourage speculation.

The Great TribulationThe Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:14) is a period of great suffering and distress which will occur in conjunction with the Second Coming. It is often seen as a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27.

Related verses: Psalms 2:1-12, Matthew 24:15-51, Mark 13:14-25, Revelation 9:1-11, 16:13-16

The MillenniumThe Millennium (Revelation 20:1-10) is described as a period of a thousand years during which Satan is bound and the resurrected saints reign with Christ before the final judgment. There is no other clear mention of the millennium in the Bible. The nature of the millennium is a subject of great debate within Christianity, and beliefs about it fall into several categories:

Amillennialism views the millennium as a symbol of the present age where the Church carries on Christ’s work and the binding of Satan was accomplished by Jesus in the past.Postmillennialism views the millennium as a future period during which the gospel message will eliminate evil from the world and Christ will rule spiritually for a thousand years before the Second Coming.Premillennialism views the millennium as a thousand year period between the Second Coming and the final judgment. Two subcategories of premillennialism can be identified:

Historic premillennialism views the millennium as the next stage in advancement of the kingdom of God, coming after the present age of the Church and before the new heaven and earth.Dispensationalism views the millennium as a period during which the Old Testament promises to the nation of Israel will be fulfilled. In this view:

Establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 is evidence that the Second Coming is approaching.The Rapture (see below) will occur before the Great Tribulation begins so that Christians will not have to face that time of suffering.The RaptureThe Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) refers to the departure of faithful Christians (the Church) to meet the Lord in the air. There are three theories about when the Rapture will occur:Pre-tribulational rapture: When John ascends to heaven (Revelation 4:1-2)Mid-tribulational rapture: When the two prophets ascend to heaven (Revelation 11:11-12)Post-tribulational rapture: At the end of the seven bowls (Revelation 16:17-21).

The Second Coming in Popular CultureThe second coming of Jesus, the Rapture and related Bible prophecies have spawned a whole industry in recent years. Hal Lindsey’s 1970 book The Late Great Planet Earth and the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins have been at the forefront. Besides the many books, there are websites, TV evangelists, lecture series, movies and videos. Some of these feature imaginative and vivid embellishments of Bible prophecies mingled with contemporary political and social theories. Most of these works go well beyond anything revealed in the Bible and are properly classified as fiction – not as Bible prophecy.