The return of our Lord is the New Testament hope. The story of the primitive fellowship begins with the promise that the Jesus who has been taken up shall return in the same manner as he went into heaven. Likewise the preaching of the early Church, preserved in Acts 2:35; 3:19–21; 10:42; 17:31, includes the testimony that he shall reign until he has overthrown all his enemies and returns as the Judge of the living and the dead.
Paul’s earliest account of his own preaching is that men turned from idols to serve the living God and to wait for his Son from heaven, the resurrected Lord who will save us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10). The gospel of the death of Christ for our sins and his resurrection on the third day is the message which assures us of the resurrection of our departed loved ones at his coming in glory (1 Cor. 15; 1 Thess. 4:13–18). Moreover, Paul finds this hope in “a word of the Lord,” even as each of the four Gospels represents Jesus speaking of the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds for the resurrection and for judgment.
The more the first century records of Judaism, of John the Baptist, of the primitive Church, of Paul and of Jesus are studied the more certain grows the conviction that the coming of the Messiah in glory is integral to their thinking.
Christ’S Return An Event
As the advent of Jesus in Bethlehem was an event, indeed the event by which all other occurrences are dated, so his return to inaugurate the Kingdom in its manifest glory will be an event which will occur. Temporal terms, such as days and hours (Mk. 13:32; Phil. 1:6, 10) and times and seasons (Acts 1:7) are used in reference to it. It is to be preceded by events, such as the preaching of the Gospel to the nations and the appearing ...1
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