Basic doctrines on Second Coming of Jesus

Have you ever wondered why the New Testament speaks so often about the imminent return of Christ? Have you considered that the Holy Spirit was speaking to the people in the first century? If the event wasn't going to happen in their lifetime, why speak so much about it? When we read the scriptures from the view point of the first century readers (audience relevance) we gain the intended perspective. Without question, the messages were written to them, not us. If we consider the time statements and context of the verses it becomes clear that the Holy Spirit was teaching the Christians of that time that Jesus should be expected to "come" in their lifetimes. Certainly, we can learn great lessons from these things. It emphasizes the power of the Lord to fulfill the prophecies concerning Him and firmly establishes the fact that He is Prophet, Priest, and King.

Jesus clearly said it would happen within their lifetimes, Matthew 24:34 "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."

Also, our Savour emphatically stated that they should be on constant watch for these things to take place, Luke 21:34-36, 34 “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Jesus again tells the Apostles he will "come” in their lifetimes in Matt. 10:23, “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes".

He is extremely clear about it in Matthew 16:26-27, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Luke 21:27-28 says, "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Verse 31, “So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near".

Jesus told John to preach that He (Christ) was ready to make good on the promise He made during His lifetime (His Coming). Rev. 1:1-8 (YLT)

1 A revelation of Jesus Christ, that God gave to him, to shew to his servants what things it behoveth to come to pass quickly; and he did signify [it], having sent through his messenger to his servant John,

2 who did testify the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, as many things also as he did see.

3 Happy is he who is reading, and those hearing, the words of the prophecy, and keeping the things written in it -- for the time is nigh!

4 John to the seven assemblies that [are] in Asia: Grace to you, and peace, from Him who is, and who was, and who is coming, and from the Seven Spirits that are before His throne,

5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born out of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth; to him who did love us, and did bathe us from our sins in his blood,

6 and did make us kings and priests to his God and Father, to him [is] the glory and the power to the ages of the ages! Amen.

7 Lo, he doth come with the clouds, and see him shall every eye, even those who did pierce him, and wail because of him shall all the tribes of the land. Yes! Amen!

8 `I am the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and end, saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is coming -- the Almighty."

As the book of Revelation closes Jesus says, in chapter 22, Vs. 6, "the things which must soon take place, Vs. 7, "I am coming quickly", Vs 10, "the time is near', Vs. 12 "I am coming quickly", Vs. 20 "Yes, I am coming quickly."

Can it possibly be any clearer? Jesus emphatically proclaimed His coming was going to be in a very short time. Does "quickly" mean thousands to millions of years? It just doesn't fit these plain and clear passages.

If we are going to be "just like the New Testament Church" then we must interpret the New Testament from their perspective. When we do that, then we can truly understand the message of the Bible and how it applies to us. The prophecies contained in the Bible are not for our day (or the future) but applied to those who lived in the first century. Jesus said in Matt 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Why did the first century church believe Jesus was going to return in their lifetimes? Because He told them what He was going to do and when He was going to do it, and they believed it.

I find it interesting that we formulate entire doctrines on a very few passages and rightly so, for they have compelling power.

For example:
Baptism: about 20
The Lord's Supper: about 15
Singing: about 7
Meeting on the First Day of the Week: 2
1st day of the week collection: 1

Yet, the overwhelming scriptural evidence regarding the first century return of Christ is patently ignored. Worse yet, it is even rejected and explained away. How can this be right?

It has long been accepted by Bible scholars that the first century church was looking for the Lord to come in their lifetimes. This concept is not new; it’s a 2000 year old belief!

Dear Christian, we can no longer ignore the truth! The list below of 126 New Testament passages concerning the return of Jesus demands our attention, study and acceptance.

Regarding the very things we are considering here, Daniel wrote, "Those who have insight will understand" (Daniel 12:10).

John Watson


1. That they all refer to one and the same period—a certain definite and specific time.

2. That they all either assume or affirm that the period in question is not far distant.

3. The limit beyond which it is not permissible to go in the New Testament scriptures, viz. the lifetime of the generation which rejected Christ.

4. This brings us to the period of the destruction of Jerusalem, as marking ‘the close of the age,’ ‘the day of the Lord,’ ‘the end.’ That is to say, “the coming of the Lord,” (The “Parousia.”)


1. Matthew 13:39, 40
2. Matthew 13:49 ,
3. Matthew 24:3
4. Matthew 28:20
5. Hebrews 9:26


6. Matthew 10:22
7. Matthew 24:6
8. Matt. 24:14
9. Mark 13:7
10. Luke 21:9
11. 1 Corinthians 1:8
12. 1 Corinthians 10:11
13. 1 Corinthians 15:24
14. Hebrews 3:6
15. Hebrews 3:14
16. Hebrews 6:11
17. 1 Peter 4:7
18. Revelation 2:26


19. 1 Timothy 4:1
20. 2 Timothy 3:1
21. Hebrews 1:2
22. James 5:3
23. 1 Peter 1:5
24. 1 Peter 1:20
25. 2 Peter 3:3
26. 1 John 2:18
27. Jude 1:18


28. Matthew 25:13
29. Luke 17:30
30. Romans 2:16
31. 1 Corinthians 3:13
32. Hebrews 10:25


33. Matthew 7:22
34. Matthew 24:36
35. Luke 10:12
36. Luke 21:34
37. 1 Thess. 5:4
38. 2 Thess. 2:3
39. 2 Timothy 1:12
40. 2 Timothy 1:18
41. 2 Timothy 4:8


42. 1 Corinthians 1:8 .
43. 1 Corinthians 5:5
44. 2 Corinthians 1:14
45. Philippians 2:16
46. 1 Thessalonians 5:2
47. Revelation 1:10


48. 2 Peter 3:12 12


49. Acts 2:20
50. Jude 1:6
51. Revelation 6:17
52. Revelation 16:14


53. Romans 2:5
54. Revelation 6:17


55. Matthew 10:15
56. Mark 6:11
57. Matthew 11:22
58. Matthew 11:24
59. Matthew 12:36
60. Mark 6:11
61. 2 Peter 2:7
62. 2 Peter 2:9
63. 1 John 4:17 .


64. Luke 21:28
65. Ephesians 4:30


66. John 6:39
67. John 6:40
68. John 6:44
69. John 6:54
70. John 11:24
71. John 12:48

Unclassified Passages

72. Matthew 23:39
73. Matthew 24:27
74. Matthew 24:30
75. Matthew 24: 36-39
76. Matthew 24:42
77. Mathew 26:64
78. Mark 8:36-38
79. Mark 13:26-27
80. Mark 13:35-37
81. Mark 14:61-62
82. Luke 9:26-27
83. Luke 17:28-30
84. Luke 18:8
85. Luke 21:25-28
86. John 14:1-4
87. Acts 1:11
88. Acts 3:19-21
89. 1 Corinthians 1:7
90. 1 Corinthians 4:5
91. 1 Corinthians 11:26
92. 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 .
93. Philippians 1:10
94. Philippians 3:20
95. Colossians 3:4
96. 1 Thessalonians 1:9
97. 1 Thessalonians 2:19
98. 1 Thessalonians 3:13
99. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-5:4
100. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
101. 2 Thessalonians 1:7
102. 2 Thessalonians 2:1
103. 2 Thessalonians 2:8
104. 1 Timothy 6:13-16
105. 2 Timothy 4:1-2
106. Titus 2:12
107. Hebrews 9:28
108. Hebrews 10:37
109. James 5:7-9
110. 1 Peter 1:3-5
111. 1 Peter 1:13
112. 1 Peter 2:12
113. 1 Peter 4:13
114. 1 Peter 5:4
115. 2 Peter 1:16
116. 2 Peter 3:8-10
117. 1 John 2:28
118. 1 John 3:2 .
119. Jude 1:14
120. Jude 1:21
121. Revelation 1:4
122. Revelation 1:7
123. Revelation 3:11
124. Revelation 16:15
125. Revelation 22:12
126. Revelation 22:20-21

The charge is often made against the faithful, that we should not be partaking of the Lord’s Supper today if Jesus returned in the first century.

It is evident that this charge is an attempt to discredit the true believers understanding of eschatology. However, when Christians understand the whole council of the God (Acts 20:27), the richness and fullness of the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper shines brightly in the hearts of those faithful brethren.
The passage referred to is 1 Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

The claim by those detractors is that Christians are only to partake of The Supper “until” Jesus returns, as they point to the same word in the verse. If we do our due diligence and examine this word we will see its’s clear meaning.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon
“STRONGS NT 891: ἄχρι, joined to the relative οὗ (ἄχρις οὗ for ἄχρι τούτου, ᾧ) it has the force of a conjunction, until, to the time that: followed by the indicative preterite, of things that actually occurred and up to the beginning of which something continued,”

Thayer says that “until/achris” means “…and up to the beginning of which something continued”. He is saying it is a point of reference, not of cessation.

If we use the Scriptures to interpret the Scriptures this point will become clear and evident. Let’s look at some other passages that use this same greek phrase. We will see that the use of the word “until” as understood by our first century brethren is somewhat different than the way we may understand it in our modern English.

Acts 7:17-18 says, 17 “But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, 18 until there arose another king over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph.” Does this mean that the people of God ceased to multiply after that king? Exodus 1:6-20 says no! Look at V20, “So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty.,” Is it possible for “until” here to mean “come to an end”? The Scriptures clearly say otherwise!

1 Corinthians 15:25, “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.” Did Paul teach something contrary to the rest of the Scriptures? Was he saying that King Jesus would lose his “reign” after His enemies are conquered? Luke 1:31-33, “31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (See also, Daniel 7:13-14, Micah 4:7, Heb 1:8) When will the “reign” of the Christ end? Never! So 1 Cor. 15:25 cannot mean His reign will last only until He has put down His enemies. Have you ever known of Kings to conquer their enemies only to give up their reign immediately afterward? The answer is an obvious and resounding, no! It is clear that the word “until” in this passage is illustrating the action leading up to a certain noteworthy event to emphasize the next action to take place, His never-ending reign!

Galations 3:19, “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.” Did the Law of Moses end at the birth of Jesus? By the hermeneutic applied to 1 Cor 11:26, we would be forced to conclude that very idea. However, Galatians 4:4 says, “4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,” No question here, Jesus was born under the Law of Moses. So, we see that the word “until” here is definitely not a point of cessation but a point of reference.

These passages use the same word and all make a point of reference known to the intended audience. Why would the same not apply to 1 Cor 11:26?

Otherwise, Paul directly contradicted his own command to Timothy to “study to show thyself approved..” (2 Tim 2:15). If “until” means “come to an end”, then Timothy and the local brethren would have been required to stop reading and teaching the Scriptures, because in 1 Tim 4:13 Paul stated, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of scripture and teaching”. There is not a Christian alive who would conclude that Timothy and the brethren must stop studying and teaching at any point!

Paul was simply using the language they were familiar with to make the point of continuing the Lord’s Supper for the reasons he enumerated in the context of chapter 10 and 11.

All those who hold to the first century model of the Lord’s church understand the importance of partaking of The Supper with our Lord. Paul said if we do not do this we will become spiritually weak, sick and fall asleep, becoming condemned with the world (1 Cor 11:30,32).

Paul was reminding them to “proclaim the Lord’s death”. Was he really telling Christians to stop proclaiming the Lord’s sacrifice? That would make no sense at all!

Whether they approve or not, those who are true to the Lord and His will, will continue to proclaim the Lord’s death “en memoriam”.

The following is taken from the New Ford Automobile Owner’s Manual:

“If the car is not equipped with a starter the engine is started by the lifting of the starting crank at the front of the car. Take hold of the handle and push firmly toward the car till you feel the crank ratchet engage, then lift upward with a quick swing. With a little experience this operation will become an easy matter.”

I can just see some people going out and looking at their new Ford vehicle to see if there is a provision for starting their vehicle in such a manner. After being puzzled for a moment, they might think to see which car that owner’s manual belongs. With a little research, it can easily be determined that it belongs to a 1926 Ford Model T. Now, the original intended audience would have known immediately what that information meant. That is what we refer to as “Audience Relevance”. In other words, how is the information relevant to the audience to whom it was intended? When we read old letters, books, documents and such, we automatically ask ourselves some basic questions. To whom was it written? How would they understand it based on the time and situation? What was the terminology of the day?

This concept became very clear to me when I read Mark Twain’s, “Puddin’ Head Wilson”. I had to choose one of two things. I could have misunderstood and misapplied it because of the unfamiliar language. Or, I could choose to understand the customs and terminology of that day and glean much from a masterpiece. I chose the latter.

Unfortunately, our society has chosen to interpret the Bible with the “misunderstand and misapply” method. For some reason, we tend to read the Bible like it was written to us today, in 21st century terminology.

If we fail to use “Audience Relevance” when reading the Bible, we can really misunderstand the point of a passage. Consider Mark 16:16, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” If we interpret this passage by the standards and beliefs of today, we must believe that it teaches that baptism is either sprinkling of water or that of the Holy Spirit (based on popular beliefs of today, such as miraculous gifts). However, if we use Audience Relevance, we see something quite different. Let’s ask some common-sense questions. Q. To Whom was it spoken? A. Jewish disciples of Christ. Q. When was it spoken? A. 30AD. Q. Where was it written? A. Jerusalem. Q. How did they, the intended audience, understand baptism? A. Being Jews living in the first century, in Jerusalem, they would have understood the need for ritual cleansings as commanded in the Law of Moses (Numbers 19:7-8 for starters). The definition of their word for baptism (Greek word “baptizo”) is “to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe” (Strong’s #907). So, they would have understood Jesus to say, belief in Him as well as water baptism (being immersed into Him) is necessary if a man wishes to be spiritually saved and not spiritually condemned. Using “Audience Relevance” brings a great many other passages into clear focus, illustrating what they believed and practiced, such as, Acts 2:38, 8:36-39, 10:48, Romans 6:3-7, Eph 5:25, Titus 3:5 (and many, many more). As we can see, “Audience Relevance” (by its very nature) demands that the passage under consideration must harmonize with all the other passages on the related subject.

Let’s see how much easier it is to understand a difficult and often misinterpreted verse using “Audience Relevance”. Matt 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” Granted, this verse is plucked from the middle of a difficult section of prophetic scripture. That doesn’t mean it can’t be easily understood. If we interpret this verse as if it were written to us, the verse would seem to say the earth will be destroyed at some point in the future and the words of Jesus will be all that is left. There is something about it that just doesn’t flow with the context. Remember, it was not written to us, it was written to the Jewish community in the 1st century. Let’s follow our formula for “Audience Relevance”. How would they have understood the words of Jesus? To the Jewish mind there would not be an end to the physical planet. They were anticipating an end to the “age” in which they were living, the Mosaic Age (Psalms 102:25-26, Isa 34:4, 51:6, 1 Cor 13:12, 2 Cor 3:18, Heb 1:10-12 8:13).

From the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia (regarding the beliefs of the ancient Jews), Charles C. Torrey notes, “The more unlikely it seemed that Israel would ever be able to get the upper hand of the surrounding nations, the stronger grew the feeling that the final triumph would be preceded by a complete overthrow of the existing order. The present age would come to a sudden end; and a new age, ushered in by the "day of the Lord," would take its place. This "end" would be announced by great portents, and convulsions of nature, "signs" on the earth and in the heavens; and in speaking of these things, a phraseology highly figurative and mysterious became fixed in use., “

How did the Jews understand the term “heaven and earth” used by Jesus? The scriptures clearly illustrate the term is used to reference the Old Covenant Law of Moses (Deut 31:24-29, Isa 51:14-16, 65:17-18, Matt 5:17-18). So, when the Jews of the 1st century heard and read those words of Jesus (Matt 5:17-18 ,24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33, Rev 21:1-4), they automatically knew He was not referring to the physical destruction of the planet, rather the spiritual end of the age of the Law of Moses, ushered in by “great portents, and convulsions of nature, "signs" on the earth and in the heavens.” All of that being contrasted by Jesus affirming when those things would happen, the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Correctly viewed through “Audience Relevance” Jesus was simply teaching that the Law of Moses would be destroyed (in context, at the Destruction of Jerusalem) and His Law and kingdom would remain forever, never to be destroyed (Daniel 2:44, 7:13-14, 1 Chron 17:10-14).

Is this the easiest way to study the Scriptures? No. The easiest thing to do is just read it like it was written directly to us today and interpret it using our understanding of modern English. However, in doing so we will never understand the intended truth of the message. The only way to see Biblical truth is to view it through the eyes and understanding of the original intended audience. 2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Eccl 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”. If we want the quick, fast and easy, then we must be willing to settle for incomplete and erroneous. At what peril?

Understanding and using audience relevance in relation to studying the Bible will help the dedicated student to dispel the myths and misinterpretations of today and reveal the original message intended for that audience. Thereby, today we can glean the maximum benefit of the word of God as it was originally intended and apply it as appropriate.

Are we going to start looking for the crank on the front of our new car because the New Ford Owner’s Manual said it is there?