The Bible nowhere speaks of a unique “second coming” of Christ. Similarly there is no mention of such things as Christmas, Easter, the “immaculate conception” of Mary, mass, popes, church buildings, or the Trinity.
Before reading this study remove from your terminology the multitude of non-scriptural and extra-biblical expressions carried over from previous experience. Christian teaching has coined a great many unscriptural terms that have been misleading in the understanding of the scriptures and the plan of God.
To hear Christians today constantly talking about “our pastor,” “their pastor,” “your pastor, “my pastor,” and “the pastor,” one would be led to believe that this position of “the pastor” must be one of the primary doctrines and a highly acclaimed office in the New Testament. The phrase “the pastor” however is entirely foreign to the Word of God. It is an un-scriptural and extra-biblical term.
There was no man in the New Testament church who ever occupied a position called “the pastor.” Not one church raised up by the twelve apostles or by Paul had any such ministry as “the pastor.” There were “pastors” plural (Eph. 4:11), but no single minister of God in the New Testament was ever elevated to the position of “the pastor” of an assembly.
In every case in the Greek New Testament where the word for pastor (poimen) appears in the singular accompanied by the definite article, it is used in reference solely to our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is ‘the pastor’ of the flock, the shepherd of the sheep. “The LORD is my shepherd (pastor).” Any man who takes to himself this title the ‘Pastor’ usurps the place and headship of the Lord. One may be “a pastor,” but never ‘the pastor.’ The saints should know that if any one comes inquiring after “the pastor” they should be told that the pastor is the Lord. If they were asked, “Who is the pastor here?” they should reply, “The Lord is the pastor here.”
(Matt. 24:27). For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also thecomingof the Son of man be.
(I Thes.) We which are alive and remain unto thecoming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
(II Thes. 2:8) And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming
(James 5:7) Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
(James 5:8) Be also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws nigh.
These example texts, and many others, all include the English word “coming.” Habitual adding of the word “second” to every “coming” in the New Testament, leads to adding the “second coming of Christ” to nearly every chapter in the Bible—even in the Old Testament. Such adding of “second” to the word “coming” does violence to the meaning. Jesus did not say, “the second coming of the Son of man.” James did not say, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the second coming of the Lord.” Peter did not ask, “Where is the promise of His second coming?” Paul did not say, “Then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall … destroy with the brightness of His second coming.”. The Holy Spirit inspired these verses to be written exactly as they should be written—without the word “second”.
The word “second” is NEVER used in Scripture with the word “coming.” This is elementary and basic to correct understanding of the coming(appearing) of the Lord.
The appearing a second time in Hebrews
Can the expression “second coming” be justified by the closing verse of the ninth chapter of Hebrews? The passage says: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. This verse can be rightly divided only when taken within the context of the verses preceding it. The writer says: (Heb. 9:24-26) For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world has He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
The words “appear the second time,” or “second appearing” may be thought to be the equivalent of, or a synonym for, the “second coming”. The two “appearances” in this passage do not however refer to either the so-called “first coming” of the Christ in, or His “second coming” from heaven at the end of this age. The Lord has had many “appearings” on this earth. In Hebrews two of these many appearings have been contrasted one as the “first,” and the other “second.”
The first of these two appearings is in the presence of God for us. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands … but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
The typology of the Old Testament atonement was not complete with the killing of the animal and the sprinkling of the blood on the altar, the people and the tabernacle. Completion required the High Priest to present himself in the, in the presence of God with the blood of the sacrifice. This was a picture of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. It also was not completed with the shedding of His blood and His death on the cross. He also had to present himself in the presence of God by His own blood to make atonement for our sins.
This is the sense of the Hebrews verse; Christ entered the Holiest, into heaven itself before the presence of God, in the eternal realm of spirit, as the bearer of our redemption. He appeared in the presence of God for us. Verse twenty-eight speaks of the other appearing, a second appearing in connection with our salvation. “And to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation”.
This is not alluding to a visible coming at the end of the age. The word “appear” is a general word and it is the word used in reference to His manifestation to His disciples after His resurrection. It occurs four times in I Cor. 15:5-8 translated “was seen”. The Lord appeared to many following His resurrection. The Lord Jesus appeared to the apostle Paul entirely apart from His two appearings in Hebrews chapter nine. The Lord Jesus appeared to Paul in the form of a bright light above the brightness of the noon-day sun. Jesus manifested Himself to Paul in the form of light to commission him to the work of the gospel.
Acts 26:16) Rise, and stand upon your feet: for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of these things which you have seen, and of those things in the which I will appear to you.
The Hebrews statement is not prophetic, but doctrinal; and the doctrine in question is not the so-called “second coming,” but His saving priesthood. It is not the prediction of an event to be realized by those who shall be alive on earth at the time of the end, but the declaration of a truth and a fact to be realized by every elect member of the body of Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ does appear a second time to those who look for him, who diligently seek for Him and follow after Him; not any more as a sin offering appearing in heaven for us, but in the manifestation of His power to us. This salvation is the work of our great High Priest.
(Heb.7:25) Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them.
Saving to theutermost
“He is able to save to the uttermost”—completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity.”
Not a salvation affected by Jesus flashing across the sky, but by the great High Priest ministering from His throne of intercession.
The “uttermost” salvation cannot be understood apart from the High Priest who has secured it and who now ministers it to us from that higher realm of incorruptibility. Jesus pointed to this day when, on the night of His judgment He announced to the High Priest, Caiaphas: (Heb.7:25) You will see the Son of man “sitting on the right hand of power,” and “coming in the clouds of heaven.
We tend to view these as two events separated by a vast span of time. Our conception is of Jesus sitting upon the right hand of God for two thousand years or more. At the end of this time He leaves His throne to “come in the clouds of heaven.”
(Mat 26:64 NRSV) Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you,From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”</i
The coming is “from now on” not a sitting and later coming. These two events, the sitting and the coming, are simultaneous. They are to both happen “from now on.” He sits and He comes. He sits upon the throne of heavenly power and He comes in the clouds of heaven. Coming in clouds is not new He came to Moses in a cloud. He sits as our great High Priest and He comes as our transforming Savior.
The subject is not His “second coming,” but His glorious saving priesthood. We have been led to think in terms of the first coming and the second coming, whereas the Bible speaks in terms of the progressive revelation of Jesus Christ. Our God does not talk about the “first coming” and the “second coming” – He talks about the progressive revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Bethlehem and coming
Scripture does not treat His coming at Bethlehem as an isolated event. Although it is important, it is not considered out of proportion to other and comparable events. His coming as a man was a step in the development of God’s plan for redemption of the world. Bethlehem is one in a series of appearances of Christ into the world. It is not His last coming to the earth.
Comings Before Bethlehem
An abundance of scripture supports the fact that Jesus Christ was before Bethlehem. He is just as real in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament.
Before Abraham was, I AM..” Also He said, “my Father works hitherto and I work.”
Both He and the Father were working long before. John opened his Gospel with this statement: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
The prophet Isaiah had made a very careful distinction about His birth at Bethelehem: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Micah, the contemporary of Isaiah, said that He would come forth and: His origins have been from of old, from everlasting.“
The pages of the Old Testament are sprinkled with the accounts of the Lord’s comings, beginning in’s Garden and continuing through all generations of old. On the day man sinned he
heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day(Gen. 3:8). The casual way in which this is stated suggests that this was a normal event, perhaps a daily appointed time when the Lord manifested His presence to communicate with the man He had placed on this planet. The Lord still walked among men even after Adam was banished from the Garden.
Gen. 17:1, The Lord appeared to Abraham.
Gen. 17:22, God left off talking to Abraham, and went up from him.
Gen. 18:1, And the Lord appeared to him.
Gen. 18:33, The Lord went His way, as soon as He left communing with Abraham.
Gen. 26:24, the Lord appeared to him (Isaac) the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham your father: fear not, for I am with you.
Gen. 35:7, And he (Jacob) built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el: because there God appeared to him.
The Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 16): for they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them: and that Rock was Christ (I Cor. 10:4).
Ex. 19:9, 18 and 20: And the Lord said to Moses, Lo,I come to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak to you …
“the Lord appeared … for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel (I Sam.).
In II Chron. 3:1 the Lord appeared to David … in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. In I Kings 3:5 the Lord appeared to Solomon.
These records of the Lord’s comings in the Old Testament times takes on special significance when exclaims, The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying, Yea I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you (Jer. 31:3)
Spiritual or Physical coming
The Lord has already had many comings, many appearings. The tendency is to say the comings of Jesus are strictly two because our terms “first coming” and “second coming,” limit coming to a return of the physical man Jesus. It is more correct to suggest: He came; He continued to come; He comes; He continues to come; He will come; and He will continue to come.
There are numerous “comings” and “appearings” of the Lord in the New Testament but they do not all refer to the same event. The word “coming” is very often used in the scriptures of a spiritual visitation or manifestation of the Lord to judge or bless or accomplish some aspect of His plan and purpose among His people and in the earth.