This first coming was terrific! Jesus came and healed the sick, he raised the dead, he fed the hungry, he loved the hurting, and finally he gave himself as a sacrifice for the sins of those who would believe in Him. He came to accomplish terrific things and to demonstrate his power and grace. But then he left. When He left, he gave a promise to his disciples that he would return. In Acts 1:11 we see the promise that just as he left and went into heaven, he would one day come back from heaven.
This second coming of Jesus is going to be different from the first. With salvation already accomplished, why would Jesus need to return? If he already accomplished the great things of the gospel when he was first here, why would he need to come back? Did he forget to do something? Did he leave a part of salvation undone? The answer is a resounding, “No!” Everything that was needed for our salvation from God’s wrath was accomplished 2,000 years ago in Jesus, once for all. Nothing has needed to be added to it, and nothing will ever need to be added to it.
So what then is the second coming? In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 we find a few descriptions of this return of Jesus that help us understand what is going on. Verse 7 uses the word that the Lord Jesus will be “revealed” from heaven. This word “revealed” is the translation of the Greek word that Paul wrote, apokalupsis, from which we get our word “apocalypse.” This second coming is commonly referred to as the Great Apocalypse, and rightfully so.
Whereas in the first coming Jesus came to bring hope to those who were to be judged by God, in the second coming he comes to bring judgment to those who had not accepted the hope that he had offered. Those who denied Him, and refused to accept him will be punished for their unbelief. Those who persecuted his followers will receive to themselves the vengeance of Jesus for that persecution. The first coming brought hope for the Godless. The second coming will bring judgment for the Godless.
As Paul writes to the believers, he is seeking to encourage them and inform them. The confusion that came to them concerning the return of Christ needed to be answered before it created fighting, division, and debilitation. It was important that this church understand the deep truths and doctrines of God. It was not good enough that they were loving believers; they needed to be truth-filled. Now they could know and have hope that one day, God would come and take away all of their persecution. One day Jesus himself would bring them peace and banish their persecutors. For now, they needed to keep their faith and hope in an all-wise God who was using the trials now to build patience and faith in them.
Food For Thought: Read Matthew 13:36-43. What is the parable that Jesus gave in this passage to describe his second coming?