Jesus said that he will come again with power and glory. He will return not as child rather as a judge and king of the world. He claimed that he will come again on the clouds of heaven when celestial bodies and powers will be shaken. Jesus reassured to his disciples that his return will be a phenomenon of swiftness and suddenness and of unexpected hour and day. Jesus clarified that he will come at the end of the tribulation. His coming will be in days like those of Lot’s and Noah’s. His return, according to Jesus, is conditioned with preaching of Gospel to the entire world. He will come again to take the believers and to separate the sheep from the goats. Jesus’ return, as he said, will be at the time when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies.
In this essay, I will focus on the return of Jesus Christ’s in the light of Christ’s own teaching and the implications of his teachings for the doctrine of eschatology in the Pentecostal church.
DEFINITION OF PAROUSIA AND CHRIST’S TEACHINGS ABOUT HIS RETURN:
The return of Christ is often substituted with the word Parousia. The word Parousia can be defined as: ‘The expected return or the second coming of Jesus Christ in which he will announce the last days and the final judgment by God of humanity’.
A comprehensive picture of eschatology is clearly visible in the synoptic gospels in Mathew: 24, Mark: 13 and Luke: 21 in Jesus’ own words. The synoptic Gospels present Jesus as the Son of Man who will return soon to take the believers with him as is also said by Christ: ‘Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’. Matt 24:30
In contrast to his first coming as a little child and as a messiah, his second coming is significant as he will come as a judge and a king that he will come to judge the blessed and wicked i.e. to separate the sheep from the goats. Jesus spoke ‘when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats’. Matt 25:31 Jesus again highlighted that he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other’. Matt 24:31
SIGNS OF CHRIST’ S SECOND COMING:-
Jesus did not mention when he would exactly return to take his people. It is only known to God the Father because of His unlimited knowledge, sovereignty and omnipotence. Jesus said:’ No one knows about the day or hour ,not even the angels in the heaven , nor the Son but only the Father'(Matt.24:36).The suddenness of Christ’s return is explained in the synoptic gospels in line with the days of Noah , an unexpected time when people were doing normal activities of life like now-a-days.
The second coming of Christ will coincide with the other events on the prophetic agenda of Christ. It will be an age and time of great destruction of the Holy city of Jerusalem and a horrible war between Christ’s army and Antichrist’s army. Jesus said ‘when you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near’. Luke 21:20
Jesus used the fig tree as an illustration, saying that ‘when the branch is tender and puts forth leaves, we know that summer is near means Christ’s return is soon. Even so, when you see that these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door’ Mark 13:28-29. Trask and Goodall expounded:’ Famine has come to Africa. Again, twenty-six million people are at risk in Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Malawi, Angola, and Mozambique. In all these places ….civil war conspires with drought in wiping out the human race’.
Particularly when ‘Jesus emphasized that this generation or race or lineage will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened’ Mark13:30. Even since the restoration of Jews or Israel to the Promised Land in this century we have seen that generation .At the same time Jesus said that he will return when the Gospel is propagated in the entire world. ‘And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’. Matt 24:14
False prophets and false Christs as was prophesized by Christ are dominant in this world. A nuclear race has started which may lead to third world war. ‘Jesus said to them, many will come in my name, claiming, I am he, and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed .Such things must happen, but the end is still to come’.
DIFFERENT VIEWS OF SCHOLARS REGARDING THE RETURN OF CHRIST:-
But Rudolf Boltzmann suggests that, in Jesus’ mind there was to be no interval between his death and his second coming. Albert Schweitzer like Rudolf Boltzmann emphasised that Christ’s return was supposed by Christ during his own life. Similarly, C.H.Dodd opposed the idea of an interim between Christ’s death, resurrection and second coming on the clouds but highlighted that it is evident from the Christ’s own teachings as well as the Acts and Pauline epistles that kingdom of God is already very much in power.
But in David E.Aune’s sight, these passages of the gospels like Mathew: 24, Mark: 13 and Luke: 21and Mathew10:28) have been wrongly interpreted as is usually said that these passages of gospels describe those events that had occurred in Jesus’ own life. But a note of delay is highlighted in the parables of ‘my master is delayed’, ‘the bridegroom was delayed’ as is illustrated by Jesus that ‘The bridegroom was a long time in coming and After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them’. Matt 24:5&19.
John Calvin affirmed that Christ would come again, and the renovation of the world had, in a manner already begun, in Christ’s glorified humanity.
SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND ITS PENTECOSTAL IMPLICATIONS:-
Firstly, alive believers will be taken up by Christ to receive him.
The rapture is also considered essential in the Pentecostal church as being a sign of Jesus’ return. ‘The Rapture is the term commonly used to designate the catching up of Christians at the second coming’.
Secondly, the devil will be trapped for a thousand years and those who died in Christ will be raised to rule over the world with Christ for a thousand years.
Thirdly, Satan will be released after a thousand year’s rule of Christ and he will rebel against the dominion of Christ. Devil will deceive the nations and persuade them to war against God. ‘When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released’. Persecution of the church must occur and borne by the believers before the consummation of the world. ‘The tribulations will be a time of unparalleled horror for all those left behind to live through the final seven years of this age’.
Finally, the believers will be rewarded but wicked will be punished. Those who had been martyred for His name and Gospel’s sake will be privileged to share the throne with Christ after having a crown of life (James1:12, Rev 2:10).Every individual from all the nations is to be judged by God in accordance with their treatment with His disciples as well as their works. As Gray notes: ‘the main point of the parables about his kingdom is the acceptance or the rejection of the Christian faith’. Saints will also get a crown of glory as a reward in return of their service for God and His kingdom.
It can be said that Jesus will come again as he himself emphatically mentioned His return several times that he will come again with his angels and saints with the great sound of trumpet and with power and glory to reign on earth for a thousand years. He will come to bring justice for the righteous and unrighteous as well as living and dead on the earth as he will be a king of peace and justice. It is also evident from the signs of His second coming that His coming will be like the days of Noah. When lightening comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Christ be.
In the light of the sayings of Christ and stances taken by giants of theology it can be concluded that Christ will come again. In a nut shell, it cannot be ignored that the second coming of Jesus is a phenomenon of future which is visible from its various eschatological implications.