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What Is the Coming of Christ?

What Is the Coming of Christ?

The Bible’s answer

 The Scriptures make dozens of references to the future time when Christ comes to judge the people of the earth. a For example, Matthew 25:31-​33 says:

 “When the Son of man [Jesus Christ] comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.”

 This time of judgment will be part of a “great tribulation” unlike anything in human history. That tribulation will culminate in the war of Armageddon. (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 16:16) Christ’s enemies, described in his illustration as goats, “will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 19:11, 15) In contrast, his faithful servants, the sheep, will have the prospect of “everlasting life.”​—Matthew 25:46.

When will Christ come?

 Jesus said: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows.” (Matthew 24:36, 42; 25:13) However, he did describe a visible, composite “sign” that would identify the period leading up to his coming.​—Matthew 24:​3, 7-​14; Luke 21:10, 11.

Does Christ come in a body of spirit or of flesh?

 Jesus was resurrected with a spirit body, so he comes as a spirit creature, not in the flesh. (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Peter 3:​18) For this reason, Jesus could tell his apostles on the day before his death: “In a little while the world will see me no more.”​—John 14:19.

Common misconceptions about Christ’s coming

 Misconception: When the Bible says that people will see Jesus “coming on the clouds,” it means that Jesus will come visibly.​—Matthew 24:30.

 Fact: The Bible often associates clouds with something hidden from view. (Leviticus 16:2; Numbers 11:25; Deuteronomy 33:26) For example, God told Moses: “I am coming to you in a dark cloud.” (Exodus 19:9) Moses did not literally see God. Likewise, Christ ‘comes on the clouds’ in that people perceive his coming even though they cannot literally see him.

 Misconception: The expression “every eye will see him,” used at Revelation 1:7 when speaking of Christ’s coming, is to be understood literally.

 Fact: The Greek words in the Bible for “eye” and “seeing” are sometimes used in the sense of discerning or perceiving rather than referring to literal sight. b (Matthew 13:15; Luke 19:42; Romans 15:21; Ephesians 1:​18) The Bible says that the resurrected Jesus is “the one . . . who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man . . . can see.” (1 Timothy 6:​16) Thus, “every eye will see him” in that all people will perceive that Jesus is the one who brings God’s judgment.​—Matthew 24:30.

 Misconception: The words of 2 John 7 show that Jesus will come in the flesh.

 Fact: That Bible verse states: “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those not acknowledging Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”

 In the apostle John’s day, some denied that Jesus had come to earth in the flesh as a man. They were called Gnostics. Second John 7 was written to refute their false claim.

a Although many people use the terms “second coming” or “second advent” to refer to Christ’s coming, those terms do not appear in the Bible.

b See The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1981), pages 451 and 470.