The Study of Last Things
by James T. Bartsch

Learning about the Future to Live Better Today

"...and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." Matthew 24:30

Prophecies of the Second Coming of the Messiah

In the New Testament there are two contrasting types of prophecies about the Second Coming of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Predictions containing MANY “signs” that must be fulfilled first.

There are notable prophecies about the Second Coming of the Messiah that feature “signs” or predicted events that must occur before He returns to earth. Two of the most notable prophecies are Matthew 24:1-28 and Rev. 6:1-18:24. Some of the signs included are terrible earthquakes (Matt. 24:7; Rev. 6:12; 8:5; 11:13; 16:18); famines (Matt. 24:6; Rev. 6:5-6); and catastrophic events in the heavens (Matt. 24:29; Rev. 6:12-14; 8:8, 10, 12).

Predictions containing NO “signs” that must be fulfilled first.

However, there are other prophecies about the Second Coming of the Messiah that reveal no signs whatsoever that have to take place before He returns. Some of these prophecies include John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

So how do we explain the difference?

So how do we explain the differences between a “many signs” return and a “no signs” return? The best answer is that Jesus’ Second Coming to earth should be understood as coming in Two Stages.

In Stage 1, Jesus returns without any preceding signs to take the Church with Him back up to heaven and prepare the Church for future service. We call this event the Rapture. The three most important passages about the Rapture are John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:50-57; 1 Thess. 4:13-18. None of these passages discuss any signs whatever that must be fulfilled before Christ’s return.

In Stage 2, following a great multitude of signs, Jesus returns to earth to Judge those who have rebelled against Him and to set up His Kingdom here upon earth. We call this event Jesus’ Second Coming in Power. Two of the prominent passages that contain many signs before Christ's Second Coming are Matthew 24-25 and Revelation 6:1-19:21. The actual return of Christ is described in Matt. 24:29-31 and Rev. 19:11-21.

(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB 1995.)

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Updated March 23, 2021