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The teaching that Christ will return in glory to judge the living and the dead and to terminate history. The main Christian traditions, while holding that Christ's words predict the certainty of a final judgment and the replacing of the present order by the eternal state, yet have opposed speculation as to the exact manner and time of the coming. Many believers, however, have advocated a more detailed plan of the event and believe that there will be a reign of Christ on earth for a long period, the Millennium, before the last judgment. They feel that the coming of Christ will be followed by a binding of Satan and the resurrection of the saints, who will join Him in a temporal kingdom when He reigns on earth. At this time the prophetic statements of the OT which indicate that there will be a kingdom of peace, plenty, and righteousness are to be fulfilled (such as Isa. 11).
The early church holding this premillennial view looked for the imminent return of Christ as witnessed by the writings of Papias, Irenaeus,, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodus, Commodianus, and Lactantius. When the Christian Church was given a favored status under Emperor Constantine (fourth century), the Millennium was reinterpreted. This amillennial view was presented most clearly in the work of Augustine, who taught that the 1,000-year period is no literal piece of history; it is a symbolic number coextensive with the history of the church on earth between the resurrection of Christ and His return. Hence there is to be no millenial reign of Christ either before or after His second coming. Throughout the the Augustinian view held sway except for the teaching of isolated individuals such as .*
In the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries premillennial teaching about the second coming of Christ was emphasized once again by men such as J.H. Alsted* and,* and it encouraged many of the participants in the English Civil Wars of the 1640s. At the close of the seventeenth century the development of postmillennial views and the growth of Enlightenment thought led to a decline of premillennialism. * and other postmillennialists believed that the return of Christ would not occur until the kingdom of God had been established by the church in human history. Thus Christ will triumph through the church and after this golden age will return to raise the dead, judge the world, and inaugurate the eternal order.
During the nineteenth century there was a revival of premillennialism which has continued to the present. A new element, Dispensationalism, added through the* movement, held that the references to the in Scripture are primarily concerned with the fate of restored Israel in the last days and not with the church. This interpretation of the Second Coming has become prominent among evangelicals in the twentieth century through the work of men such as W.E. Blackstone,* C.H. MacIntosh, Harry Ironside,* A.C. Gaebelein,* C.I. Scofield* (and the Scofield Reference Bible), John F. Walvoord, and most recently Hal Lindsey.
J.A. Seiss, The, or Thoughts on Momentous Themes (1878); D.H. Kromminga, The Millennium in the Church (1945); L.E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers (4 vols., 1946-54); E.L. Tuveson, Millennium and Utopia (1949); G.E. Ladd, Crucial Questions About the (1952); L. Boettner, The Millennium (1958); C.B. Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism (1960).
SECOND COMING, the future return of Christ to the earth. A prominent doctrine of Christology, the predicted Second Advent of Christ is implied in hundreds of OT prophecies of future judgment on the world and a coming kingdom of righteousness on earth and is explicitly detailed in major NT passages. The last book of the Bible, the Revelation of , refers specifically to His itself (ch. 19), and the millennium and future state which follows (
General OT references.
Second Coming in the Psalms.
Another complete presentation of the Second Coming of Christ and its result is found in
Second Coming in the Prophets.
The major prophets take up the same theme of the coming of the Lord to reign. A familiar text is
Jeremiah speaks of the results of the Lord’s coming when the Son of David “shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (
One of the most specific references to the Second Coming in the OT is in
General NT references.
The Second Coming in the gospels.
The Second Coming in Jude.
presents the Second Coming as a time of judgment, quoting Enoch, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (
The Second Coming in the Revelation.
John opens his presentation of the Second Coming with the words, “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war” (
This awe-inspiring scene is attended by the invitation of the angel to the birds of heaven to eat the flesh of men and beasts slain in the great battle which follows. The armies of the world gathered in the Holy Land at that time in the final great world conflict are destroyed. The beast or world political leader, and the false prophet, the world religious leader, who had dominated the preceding period are thrown alive in the lake of fire (
The rapture of the Church.
In addition to major passages dealing with the Second Advent are prophecies of a rapture or catching up of believers in Christ to meet the Lord in the air. The coming of Christ for His own was mentioned by Christ in the
This simple revelation is later amplified by Paul (
A parallel revelation of this event is given in
Because of certain similarities in describing the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ to the earth, prob. the majority view, esp. of amillenarians and postmillenarians, is that the rapture is a phase of the Second Coming of Christ and occurring at the same time. Many premillenarians, however, hold that the rapture occurs some years before the formal Second Advent to the earth. Usually a seven-year period, referred to in
The Early Church Fathers interpreted Scripture as teaching the rapture as possible any moment. Because they mistakenly identified their sufferings as those of the great tribulation, they did not distinguish the rapture itself from the Second Advent to the earth. Pretribulationists emphasize the imminency and deny that the rapture and the Second Advent are the same event. Modern posttribulationists usually deny imminency in the sense of daily expectation, and combine the rapture and the Second Advent to the earth as one event.
Within orthodoxy, regardless of details of the time of prophetic fulfillment, a personal, visible, bodily, Second Coming of Jesus Christ has been considered the normal interpretation of prophecy from the 1st cent., and its denial has never been the orthodox interpretation. Generally speaking, those who affirm a literal first advent, a virgin birth of Christ, a literal death and resurrection of Christ also hold to a literal Second Advent.
R. Anderson, The Coming Prince (1915); W. E. Blackstone, Jesus Is Coming (1917); L. S. Chafer,, IV, 305-307 (1947); L. Berkhof, The Second Coming of Christ (1953); R. Pache, The Return of Jesus Christ (1955); J. F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (1959), 263-275; J. D. Pentecost, Things To Come (1961), 370-426.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
See Parousia; ESCHATOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, V.