There is no doubt that Jesus will return in person to establish His Kingdom. He said "I go to prepare a place for you ... I shall return again to receive you to myself" (John 14:2-3). To confirm this Paul writes "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven " (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

When Jesus comes again it will be in glory and power to establish His eternal Kingdom in the earth. "Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord" (Philippians 2:11). 

Although the return of Jesus will be in power, it will still be the same Jesus who "offered himself as a ransom for all men" (1 Timothy 2:6), for "He is the same yesterday, today and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8). "For God did not send His Son to condemn the world but that through Him it might be saved" (John 3:17). 

The return of Jesus is in accord with the Eternal Purpose of restoring creation "for the heavens must receive Him until the times of the restoration of all things which God has spoken of by the mouths of all His Holy prophets" (Acts 3:21). The return of Jesus is a time of great expectation, for it shall see the culmination of God's great plan of redemption. 

What are the implications of His return and in what mannor will it be ?

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned. (2 Thessalonians 2:1 - 12) 
From this passage we can see some very important points:

Our being gathered together to him

This speaks of the calling up of the true church by Jesus. 
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:13 -17) 
There can be no doubt that Jesus will come and take up His church to be with Him.

That day will not come unless the rebellion comes first

This indicates that there will be a major problem within the church prior to the Lord's gathering of his people. Peter writes:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought them -- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Even so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these teachers the way of truth will be maligned. (2 Peter 2:1 - 2 ) 
Jesus also indicated that there would be problems in the Church before His return

The Lawless One

Of all the characters in the Bible, the "lawless one" is the one who has caused most discussion among Bible students. Who is he ? 
Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:18 - 22) 
From this we may deduce that he is a master liar who denies that Jesus is the Messiah. In fact it could be that he will try to claim this title for himself. "He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God."

In Isaiah we read:

How you have fallen from heaven, O Lucifer (Satan), son of the morning ! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations. For you have said in your heart: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest side of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the most high" (Isaiah 14: 12 - 14) 
This description of Lucifer's sin and the actions of the "lawless one" are very much alike. There is some conjecture that the Anti-Christ, or "lawless one", may in fact be the son of Satan. This would give rise to his claim of "divine origin", all be it from the " god of this world" and not from the true God. 

That Satan is an angel does not stop him from fathering children. In the time before the flood we observe that the "sons of God" (B'nai Elohim) took wives of the "daughters of men," which gave birth to the "Nephilim", mighty men of the old world who may have precipitated God's swift intervention into human affairs then.

This may also be backed up by his use of powerful signs to convince the masses of his claim. "The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved."

The one who now restrains it is removed

I think it is reasonable to assume that it is the Holy Spirit who is restraining the operation of lawlessness in the world at the moment. The interesting point about the removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth is that at the moment the Spirit resides in believers. "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you" (1 Corinthians 6: 19). For the Holy Spirit to be removed requires the believers to be removed also. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the removal of the true church will occur before the final revelation of the "lawless one". This event is referred to as the "Rapture" by many Christians.

The "Rapture" is characterized in the New Testament as a "translation coming" (1 Corinthians 15:51- 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) in which the Lord comes for His church, taking her to His Father's House (John 14:3). However, at Christ's Second Coming with His saints, He descends from heaven to set up His Messianic Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:4-5; Matthew 24:27-31). The differences between the two events are harmonized naturally by the "pre-tribulation" position, while other views are not able to ac count comfortably for such differences. 

A New Testament Mystery 

Paul speaks of the Rapture as a "mystery" (1 Corinthians 15:51-54), that is, a truth not revealed until its disclosure by the apostles (Colossians 1:26). The Second Coming, on the other hand, was predicted in the Old Testament (Daniel 12:1-3; Zechariah 12:10; 14:4). In fact, the oldest prophecy uttered by a prophet was given before the flood of Noah and was of the Second Coming! It was given by Enoch, quoted in Jude 14-15. 

The movement of the believer at the Rapture is from earth to heaven; at the Second Coming it is from heaven to earth. At the Rapture, the Lord comes for His saints (1 Thessalonians 4:16), while at the Second Coming the Lord comes with His saints (1 Thessalonians 3:13). 

This is also shown in the book of Revelation where "The Bride of Christ", the church, is made ready to accompany Christ to earth (Revelation 19:7-8, 14) before the Second Coming.

Putting it all together

Therefore, there is an order in which events will take place:

  1. There will be a "falling away" (most likely by the organised church)
  2. The true believers will be "snatched away" by the Lord.
  3. The lawless one will be revealed.
  4. The Lord will come in power and glory with His saints.
  5. Final the Kingdom of God will be established fully on earth.

Created: 23 - Jan - 1997.
Last modified: 18 - Sept - 1998.
Copyright © 1998, Graham Brodie.

Maintainer: Graham Brodie, Email