The Second Coming Versus The Appearing
Most all of orthodox Christians recognize the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ will come again. Some see the fact that He will come to the Mount of Olives. Others see an added facet of His coming and that is His coming into the regions of the lower atmosphere at which time some saints will be “caught up..to meet the Lord in the air.” Certain orthodoxy only sees the former; the more fundamental sees both the former and the latter. The latter referred to as the “rapture”, which incidentally is not a Scriptural word. Nevertheless, there are two phases or aspects of the second coming of the Lord.
Both phases are related to the “coming of the Lord.” It is the “coming” of the Lord that both aspects will be completed. When the Lord Jesus Christ was received up into heaven two angels stood by the disciples and said,”…Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
This definite statement links the prophecy of Zechariah 14:4 and the second “coming” of the Lord we read in Zechariah, “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”
The Lord Jesus Christ will return again to this earth from the point that He left, the Mount of Olives (see Acts 1:12). It should be noted that throughout the Pentecostal dispensation this was in view. In the third chapter of Acts, Peter tells the men of Israel that if they would change their attitude concerning Jesus Christ of Nazareth God would send Him back from heaven and the long awaited Kingdom would be restored to Israel (see Acts 3:19-26).
For this Kingdom to be instituted Jesus Christ must of necessity return to this earth. So with the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles it is seen that the burden is the return of the Lord from heaven to earth. This is referred to as His “coming”. That is, He leaves heaven and comes to earth. This is what the saints looked for during the Acts period.
It must be stated that the “coming” is intimately related to the Kingdom. This fact was in view all through the Acts. The Kingdom hope penetrated from Acts 2 clear through Acts 28. Along with the Kingdom hope goes the return of the Lord, which is His second “coming” All of the epistles written during the Acts period relate to His “coming”.
However, after Acts 28:28, we find that the Apostle writes seven other epistles and there is a very obvious omission of the reference to the “coming of the Lord”. This study purposes to show that if words have any meaning and are to be studied for the purpose of God making known to us His truth then we must recognize that in Paul’s latter epistles he makes no reference to the “coming of the Lord”. There seems to be an obvious omission of the words “come” and “coming” in the last seven letters written by Paul.
The last seven epistles make known present truth. They are Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, 1Timothy, Titus, and 2 Timothy. In these letters the Apostle makes known the present calling of the Church of the One Body. It is here also we learn what is the One Hope (Eph.4:4) of our calling. It is not mentioned as being connected with any movement on the part of the Lord at all. But rather it is connected with His manifestation in Glory. The Scripture speaks of it as His “appearing”.
Before Acts 28:28 the hope anticipated by believers was that of the “coming (i.e.back to earth) of the Lord.” After Acts 28:28 the hope that the believers should anticipate is that of the Lord’s “appearing” in the Glory “far above all heavens” (Eph.4:10). However, failure of Christians to rightly divide the Word of Truth has resulted in confusion as to what the real hope of the believer is in this dispensation of the grace of God. They seem to cling to the hope that was set aside that is not even available today. The Pentecostal believers were to look for the coming of the Lord. But when the dispensational crisis occurred and Israel became “Lo-ammi”
(Hos.1:9 i.e.not God’s people) at Acts 28:28, the return of the Lord became impossible. He is no longer waiting Israel’s repentance, but now, after Acts 28:28, He is enthroned as the Highly Exalted One, who is Head over all things to the Church which is His Body, the fullness of Him Who filleth all in all (Eph.1:22-23). In the capacity as the Head of the Church which is His body, He remains as such until such time as the Church is received up into glory and there manifested with Him in the heavenly places.
The Lord Jesus Christ will pick up His dealings with Israel again. At that time His return to earth will be the hope of the awaiting Israel as well as those believing Gentiles who will be counted as the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:29)
Many Christians who ignore the dispensational dividing line of Acts 28:28 confuse the two hopes and make them one. We are clearly told that in this dispensation there is but ONE HOPE (Eph.4:4). Those who rightly divide the Word of Truth recognize the difference between the “appearing” of the Lord in Glory and the “coming” of the Lord.
The New Testament books written during the Acts of the Apostles all speak of the return of the Lord. The Lord descending from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel and the trump of God (1 Thess. 4:14-17) all speak about the Lord “coming”. For Him to “descend from heaven” he must leave heaven and “come”. That was the hope of the believers during the period of time covered by the Book of Acts. Notice the references set forth in the books written during that period. You will note the references to “come” and “coming”.
REFERENCES TO HIS 2ND COMING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT – “COME” and “COMING”
1 Cor 1:7 – “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
1 Cor 4:5 – “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come,…” 1 Cor 11:26 – For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.
1 Cor 15:23 – “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming“.
2 Thess. 1:10 – When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe…”
1 Thess. 2:19 – “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?”
1 Thess. 3:13 – “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
1 Thess. 4:15 – “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”
1 Thess. 5:23 – “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thess. 2:1 – “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him…”
2 Thess. 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…”
James 5:8 – “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”
2 Pet 1:16 – “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
2 Pet 3:4 – “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
REFERENCES TO HIS 2ND COMING IN THE GOSPELS – “COME AND “COMING”
Mat 16:27 – “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
Mat 16:28 – “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
Mat 24:3 – “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
Mat 24:30 – “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Mat 25:31 – “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”
Mark 13:26 – “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”
Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
John 14:3 – “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
John 14:28 – “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.”
Luke 19:13 – “And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.”
Luke 21:27 – “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
Throughout the period covered by the Acts of the Apostles believers anticipated the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven. Some would be changed, “put on immortality”, and be “caught up” to meet the returning Lord in the air. They would accompany Him back to the Mount of Olives. Paul entertained his hope during the Acts period (see 1 Thess. 4:4-17 and 1Cor. 15:51-55).
The Lord also promised the Twelve that they would to sit upon 12 thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel when He comes from heaven to the earth to set up His Kingdom (Mat 19:28).
However, when Israel was set aside God ushered in a new dispensation (Acts 28:28) and with it the Apostle Paul learned that the new outcalling’s destiny was that of being received up into Glory. Connected with that new calling is “the appearing’. Search the Scriptures written after Acts 28:28 and you will find no mention of the return of the Lord. When describing the hope of the Church which is His body Paul does not choose to use the words “come” or “coming”. Rather he chooses, under the inspiration of God, to use the words “appear” and “appearing.”
If words that the Holy Ghost uses to teach by mean anything then there is much we can learn. We learn that the believer in the dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:2) looks for something other than the COMING OF THE LORD. The believer’s hope is now tied in with the “appearing of the Lord” in Glory.
Col 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Col 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall
ye also appear with him in glory.
That is, when the Lord Jesus Christ appears in the heavenly places we will appear with Him there. He is presently hid in God in the heavenlies. But when He is manifested in the highest glory then will the Church of the One Body be manifested with Him in that sphere. Not in the lower atmosphere, or in the clouds but “far above all” (Eph.1:21), “far above all heavens”(Eph.4:10)
“That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing (not His coming) of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Tim. 6:14)
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing (not His coming) and his kingdom” (2Tim.4:1)
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (not His coming)” (2Tim. 4:8)
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13).
It should be clearly apparent that there is indeed a differrence in the words “come”, “coming” and “appear”, “appearing”. The first two sentences of the Lord Jesus Christ leaving a place, namely the heavenlies, and going to another, namely the lower atmosphere. There some saints will meet Him and will accompany Him back to earth, namely the Mount of Olives. While the other set of words do not intimate any movement on the part of Christ, but rather simply a manifestation (i.e. appearing visibly to the heavenly creatures from whom He is now veiled off). When He “appears” to those creatures in heavenly places (i.e.in Glory) the Church of this dispensation will “appear with Him” in that sphere “far above all heavens.” For His Church of the One Body has been demonstrating to those creatures the Lord’s manifold wisdom(Eph.3:10).
We are instructed to “rightly divide” and to “approve things that are excellent.” The two hopes must then be rightly divided. One belongs to the Pentecostal church, the other to the Church, the Body of Christ. The two hopes must be distinquished in order to approve the things more excellent (Phil 1:10, Rom. 2:8). Only the Church which is His Body has the promise of enjoying heavenly places. No other company of God’s redeemed has such a glorious privilege, for heavenly places is not just a place of splendor and magnificence. God is the Father of the place of Glory (Eph.1:17). It can truly be said that Glory will be the future dwelling place of the Church of the One Body. The distinctions are clearly drawn in the Word of God between the “coming” and the “appearing.” May the Father of Glory give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation and enlightened eyes to see what is the hope of the calling of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head.