The Non-Return of Christ

Many Christians expect the return of Christ at any time today and his return has been Imminent ever since the pre-millennialism movements circa 1830. William Miller of the Millerite movement had Jesus returning and the end of the present age date set as 1844. Since that time many dates have been set but, alas, no return and no thousand-year reign on the earth has begun.

The New Testament writers are clear about the "soon" return of Christ over 1,900 years ago. Read what they have to say:

When John the Baptist began to preach, he warned everybody to repent because the kingdom of heaven was near (Matt. 3:2). When the people and their leaders came out to see John, he emphatically told them that the Day of Judgment was not far away (Matt. 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-9, 16-17).

After John the Baptist had been imprisoned, Jesus continued to preach repentance. The reason was the same -- the time had come and the kingdom was near (Mark 1:14-15).

When Jesus sent out the Twelve to the people of Israel, they were instructed to preach that the kingdom was near. He warned them that they would be persecuted because of Him. However, Jesus assured them that they would not run out of cities to flee to before He returned (Matt. 10:5-7, 22-23).

When Jesus dined with the Pharisees, He told them that it would be their generation that would be held accountable for all the righteous blood that had been shed on the earth (Luke 11:37, 50-51).

Near the end of His ministry, Jesus told His disciples that if anyone from their adulterous and sinful generation were to deny Him, upon His coming in the Father's glory with the angels, He would reward each one of them for what they had done by also denying them. Then, He flatly stated that some of the disciples to whom He was speaking would not die before they saw Him coming in His kingdom (Matt. 16:27-28; Mark. 8:38-9:1).

When Jesus pronounced His seven woes upon the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, He again stated that their generation would be the one responsible for all the righteous blood that had been shed on the earth (Matt. 23:35-36).

In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus explained to His disciples that their generation would not pass away before it had witnessed the Apostasy, the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world, the end of the age, the desolation of their temple, the overthrow of their nation, the coming of the Son of Man, and the Day of Judgment. He told them that they needed to watch and pray so that they could escape all the things that were about to transpire (Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36).

At His trial, Jesus told the High Priest that he would see the day when the Son of Man would be sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62).

Following His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus spoke to the apostle Peter about his own death. When Peter asked how the apostle John would die, Jesus implied that John might not die until He returned. Afterward, John wrote that some of the brothers believed Jesus had said that he would never die, but John countered by indicating that Jesus had only said that he might live until the Second Coming (John 21:18-23).

On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the people that the fulfillment of the prophet Joel's words had come. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was an undeniable sign that they were in the last days and that the manifestation of the Day of the Lord was not far away. Peter begged the people to save themselves from their corrupt generation. Some understood the urgency of Peter's words and in response were baptized (Acts 2:1, 16-20, 40-41).

Years later when he wrote to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul indicated that some believers might still be alive to witness the Second Coming (1 Thess. 4:15ff).

Paul told the Corinthians that there was not much time left and that the world in its present form was currently passing away (1 Cor. 7:29, 31). He informed them that the fulfillment of the ages had arrived (1 Cor. 10:11). Later, he said that not all of them would die before the resurrection had occurred (1 Cor. 15:51ff).

When Paul wrote to the Romans, he advised them that the hour had come for them to realize that their salvation was much sooner than originally expected (Rom. 13:11). Then, he told them that it would not be long before God crushed Satan under their feet (Rom. 16:20).

James instructed the people to be patient until the coming of the Lord. Next, he stated that Jesus and the Judgment were coming soon (James 5:7-9).

Paul informed the Philippians that the Lord's coming was near (Php. 4:5).

The author of Hebrews wrote that the Old Covenant was in the process of passing away and that it would shortly be abolished (Heb. 8:13). The regulations of the covenant were only to be applicable until the new order had arrived (Heb. 9:10). The author further informed the Hebrews that when Jesus entered into heaven it had occurred at the end of the ages (Heb. 9:26). The Hebrews were encouraged to meet with each other more often as they saw the Day of the Lord getting nearer. They were then told that the time was very short and that the coming of the Lord would occur without delay (Heb. 10:25, 37).

The apostle Peter told the people that it was the last times and their salvation was ready to be revealed (1 Pet. 1:5). He also informed them that the Lord had been manifested in those same last times for their sake (1 Pet. 1:20). In addition, he said that the Lord was ready to judge the living and the dead and that the end of all things was near (1 Pet. 4:5, 7).

Paul suggested that Timothy might still be alive at the Second Coming when he charged him to remain faithful until that time came (1 Tim. 6:12-14).

Jude warned the people that godless men had slipped in among them. Then, he reminded them that they were in the last times and their situation was just as the Apostles had foretold would happen (Jude 4, 18).

The apostle John told the people that the darkness was passing and the true light was already shinning (1 John 2:8). Afterward, he stated that the world and its desires were currently passing away (1 John 2:17). He told them that many antichrists had come. He then said that their presence was a clear indication that it was the last hour (1 John 2:18).

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John wrote that the events, which were being disclosed, were going to happen soon. He then stated that those who heard, read and took the prophecy to heart would be blessed because the time was near (Rev. 1:1, 3).

When Jesus addressed the church in Ephesus, He warned them that if they did not repent He would come to them very soon and remove their church from its place (Rev. 2:5). He told the church in Pergamum that they also needed to repent. If they did not, He said that He would quickly come back and bring judgment upon them (Rev. 2:16). To the church in Thyatira, Jesus advised them to hold on to what they had until He returned (Rev. 2:25). Jesus exhorted the church in Sardis to wake up or He would come like a thief and they would not know when He was going to come to them (Rev. 3:3). The church in Philadelphia was commended for their endurance. As a consequence, Jesus told them that He would keep them from the hour of trial that was about to occur. He then declared that He was going to come back soon (Rev. 3:10-11). In his message to the church in Laodicia, Jesus stated that He was about to judge them for their lukewarmness and that they should be zealous and repent (Rev. 3:16, 19).

At the end of the book, John was told that the things, which had just been revealed, would soon take place (Rev. 22:6). Following that, Jesus announced that He was coming soon and that those who kept the words of the prophecy would be blessed (Rev. 22:7). Afterward, John was instructed not to seal up the book because the time was near (Rev. 22:10). Jesus again proclaimed that He was coming soon. He then added that His reward was with Him and He would give to everybody according to what they had done (Rev. 22:12). Jesus closed by once more declaring that He would come back soon (Rev. 22:20).

Without a doubt, the smell of imminence was in the air. These passages prove it. Jesus said He was going to come back soon, before His contemporaries had all died off. He did not say that He would return anytime over a period of two thousand years or more. He said soon! All the authors of the New Testament wrote and preached the same thing. Any eschatological approach that claims otherwise, not only brings the consistency of the New Testament into question, but also ultimately calls Jesus and the New Testament writers liars. If they were merely mistaken then they spoke presumptuously and should not be listened to or fear anything they have said, according to the Law: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22).