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Three phases for the second coming

The second coming

Introduction

As Christians, we are interested in the events surrounding the second coming of our lord. Many questions come to mind like "when will this happen?", "where will this occur?" and "what resurrections are involved with the phases of the lord's return?".  Please note that this study is preliminary and details will need to be adjusted as our understanding increases. There are some connections which are still yet to be made but it is my hope that this will be an informative, helpful and enlightening first dive into this subject.

Method of inquiry

We will, of course, wish to investigate this topic by observing the context of each family of God. 

KJV Ephesians 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

TBT Ephesians 3:15 ἐξ οὗ πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς ὀνομάζεται,

The anarthrous adjective "πᾶσα" meaning "every"  -- that is "every family in heaven and earth".  The second coming means something different to those whose family is destined to be in the heavenly places (examine the following verses and in particular note the use of the locative dative case "ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις" or "in heavenly places" informing the reader as to where his hope will be realized.


KJV Eph. 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

KJV Eph. 1:20  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

KJV Eph. 2:6  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

KJV Eph. 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

KJV Eph. 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The context demands that we examine the second coming relative to the particular promises given to various groups of people and note carefully the movement of scripture as God speaks to our family and other families of believers within close time proximity to us.

The picture below reminds us of some of the important movements of scripture. In particular when "the mystery" was revealed in relation to the book of Acts.

Acts-Mystery-Lo-ammi boundaries

Please examine studies on issues related to the above picture here:

 

Promises

The book of Acts covers a period of time when there was a continuation of the offer to Israel to repent.and receive Jesus as their Messiah (Acts 3:19ff). This continuation of God's dealing with Israel has many doctrinal consequences especially in relation to the "hope" entertained by  Jewish and gentile believers. Believers can have all sorts of hopes -- I am most interested in those hopes which the resurrected and immortal believers will enjoy. It should be pointed out that a believer might be resurrected and then enjoy some considerable time later (after beginning immortality)  the hope promised previously.

During the time of the Acts, Paul writes a number of epistles (7) which reflect the "then" hope which believers in Christ would look forward to. The nature of the hope is related to the "family" God is dealing with, the overcomer had a hope in the new Jerusalem which would finally descend out of heaven onto earth:

KJV Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. (Rev. 3:12 KJV)

Many in the Acts period would have entertained this hope since they knew Abraham as their Father who had an enlarged hope revealed to us for the first time in Hebrews where it is shown that Abraham lived in the land of promise as in a strange land

KJV Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

TBT Hebrews 11:10 ἐξεδέχετο γὰρ τὴν τοὺς θεμελίους ἔχουσαν πόλιν, ἧς τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς ὁ Θεός.

Indeed to those believers in Rome Paul delivered Abraham as their Father (Rom. 4.16) and to the Galatian believers, new Jerusalem as their mother (Gal. 4.26). It would, therefore, be completely consistent for Acts believers to hold a hope to overcome and after meeting the Lord in the air at his second coming and living through the Millennium finally enter the new Jerusalem on earth.

 KJV Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

TBT Revelation 21:2 καὶ ἐγὼ Ἰωάννης εἶδον τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἁγίαν, Ἱερουσαλὴμ καινήν, καταβαίνουσαν ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ἡτοιμασμένην ὡς νύμφην κεκοσμημένην τῷ ἀνδρὶ αὐτῆς.

The resurrection into the clouds at the last trump has heavy linkage with prophetical statements found in the gospel according to Matthew.

After the tribulation of those days

In reply to the disciples' questions, the Lord begins a very detailed series of answers, the questions are given in Matthew 24 

 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? (Matt. 24:3 KJV)

The lord warned about deception and later said:

 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
 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.
 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
 (Matt. 24:29-31 KJV)

After the tribulation, not before or mid-way through but "immediately after the tribulation of those days" there will be celestial movements and then shall appear

  • Phase 1: the sign of the Son of man in heaven
  • Phase 2: the son of man coming in the clouds of heaven

We can easily be fooled by emotional attachments to resurrection passages since the subject of our mortality is in itself naturally emotional to us. It is easy to look to such passages as 1 Cor. 15 and 1Thess 4 as bringing our much-needed comfort:

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

TBT 1 Thessalonians 4:18 ὥστε παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους ἐν τοῖς λόγοις τούτοις.

The problem with these passages is contextual "linkage" to Matthew 24 and hopes and promises that belong to Israel and attendant families. 

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor. 15:51-52 KJV)

Notice when this occurs -- "at the last trump" which links to "immediately after the tribulation" and in 1 Thess 4

 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
 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.
 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
 (1 Thess. 4:14-18 KJV)

Voice of the archangel, trump of God. There is way too much in common with the previous passages for us to ignore -- furthermore these all relate to the "parousia" 

Paul, therefore, is elaborating on the same circumstances of Math 24 above which date the parousia and the events of 1 Cor 15 and 1 Thess4 to be "immediately after the tribulation of those days". This makes sense when we find the last trump mentioned in Revelation:

KJV Revelation 8:2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

TBT Revelation 8:2 καὶ εἶδον τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἀγγέλους οἳ ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ ἑστήκασι, καὶ ἐδόθησαν αὐτοῖς ἑπτὰ σάλπιγγες.

These were blown in sequence -- the last trump is the seventh:

KJV Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
 (Rev. 11:15 KJV)

This is when the Lord returns and sets up the kingdom.

Phase 1 in relation to the series

According to Math 24 the first phase has to do with a sign in heaven. We do find that the sign is elaborated in 2 Th 2:8

KJV 2 Thessalonians 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:

TBT 2 Thessalonians 2:8 καὶ τότε ἀποκαλυφθήσεται ὁ ἄνομος, ὃν ὁ Κύριος ἀναλώσει τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ, καὶ καταργήσει τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ·

The lawless one will be destroyed with the sword of the Lord's mouth and be brought to nothing by "the appearing of his coming". The greek text does inform us concerning the effect of the appearing in relation to the lawless one.

Friberg's lexicon says:

15296  καταργέω fut. καταργήσω; 1aor. κατήργησα; pf. κατήργηκα; pf. pass. κατήργημαι; 1aor. pass. κατηργήθην; 1fut. pass. καταργηθήσομαι; from the basic sense cause to be idle or useless, the term always denotes a nonphysical destruction by means of a superior force coming in to replace the force previously in effect, as, e.g. light destroys darkness; (1) in relation to soil use up, make barren (LU 13.7); (2) as release by removal from a former sphere of control free from; passive be discharged from, be freed from (RO 7.2); (3) as destruction by replacement abolish, destroy, cause to cease, put an end to (1C 2.6; 13.11) 

A complete concordance for the same verb is: Lk. 13:7; Rom. 3:3, 31; 4:14; 6:6; 7:2, 6; 1 Cor. 1:28; 2:6; 6:13; 13:8, 10-11; 15:24, 26; 2 Cor. 3:7, 11, 13-14; Gal. 3:17; 5:4, 11; Eph. 2:15; 2 Thess. 2:8; 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14

"The appearing of his coming" will have an effect as that of an invisible force replacing that force which the lawless one wielded up till then. That is why I am confident it is practically contemporaneous with the parousia -- it happens first but is a part of a rapidly moving succession. The epiphaneia has an effect on the antichrist and is completed with the Lord's presence in the parousia on earth.

The close connection between the appearing and coming is seen also in John's writings -- for example:

KJV 1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

TBT 1 John 2:28 καὶ νῦν, τεκνία, μένετε ἐν αὐτῷ· ἵνα ὅταν φανερωθῇ, ἔχωμεν παρρησίαν, καὶ μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ.

Notice the cognate verb φανερόω expressed in the above passage in the aorist passive subjunctive form communicates the idea of being made manifest. This is Phase 1 and finally Phase 2,3 "before him at his coming" where the word parousia is used.The manifestation at His appearing cannot be far removed from His parousia.

The appearing

We should note that Paul the prisoner makes it plain that members of the family of whom Christ is head have a resurrection at the appearing to the place where the first phase is (no other writer says this). A concordance of "appearing" will be useful:


KJV 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:

KJV 1 Tim. 6:14  That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

KJV 2 Tim. 1:10  But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

KJV 2 Tim. 4:1  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

KJV 2 Tim. 4:8  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.

KJV Tit. 2:13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

 

The blessed hope is the glorious appearing. Note that our lord has already made an appearing in his first coming (2Tim. 1:10, Heb 9:26, 1Pet.1:20). It is fascinating that the next quote relates to a judgment at the Lord's appearing and kingdom (2Tim. 4:1). We could treat the phrase "his appearing and his kingdom" to refer to two separate but closely related events. 

  • The appearing (Judgment of quick and dead)
  • The Kingdom (Judgment of quick and dead)

An "appearing" acts to make manifest and reveal things -- see all the contexts above. In summary, then, the Lord has made an appearing in His first coming and will again in the second coming -- the second coming has an appearing and a prophetic kingdom stage where the parousia is manifest in cloud meeting and return to the earth. The first phase will be for the heaven dwellers the second phase for those whose fatherland is the New Jerusalem who meet the Lord in the air and return to earth with Him.

The "exanastasis"

Paul adds one layer of complexity to this, he shows that the way the Lord will reward faithful service is through a special resurrection called the "out-resurrection" which means that some could attain to a resurrection prior to phase 1.

KJV Philippians 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

TBT Philippians 3:11 εἴ πως καταντήσω εἰς τὴν ἐξανάστασιν τῶν νεκρῶν.

This means that it is entirely possible that the bulk of heaven dwellers will meet prior resurrection believers in glory who had previously attained glory status.

See articles and other media on the out resurrection