Sunday, January 24, 2010

How many second comings?

I’m indulging in a little axe grinding again. Pretribbers are often accused of “traditionally” believing in a two-stage Second Advent for scripturally unsound reasons.

Here’s a sample Q & A which appears HERE:

Q: Can you point to a direct scriptural reference that states that Jesus' return will be a two-stage event — a “spiritual” or “visible” (but not bodily) return at the rapture for the Church and then a “bodily” or “physical” coming at Armageddon?

Answer: No such scripture exists. When the return of Christ is mentioned in scripture it is always mentioned as a singular event

Another sample HERE:

Pre-Tribulation Theory incorrectly teaches two separate Comings of Christ, one when He comes "for His Church" and the second when He comes "with His Church" without one verse of explanation. There is but one Return of our Lord taught throughout the Old & New Testament, and is never referred to in the plural.


The term is always stated in the singular, not Comings. There is only one Second Coming (Parousia). Further, it is reading one's tradition in this term when it is suggested that there are "two stages of Comings." It is common to hear that Christ will come first for his Church secretly, then return seven years later with his Church. This notion is foreign to any Parousia text. There is only one future Coming (Parousia), in which God will fulfill certain Divine purposes.

In his book "The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church" on pp 222-223 and 294, Marvin Rosenthal asserts that there is only one “coming and a continuous presence to accomplish a number of divine purposes”.

I don’t intend this post to be an in-depth apologetic for the pretribulational belief that the rapture and second coming are two distinct events separated by a period of time. Despite assertions, there is no Scripture that invalidates that view. Furthermore, Rabbis reading Moses and the Prophets would be hard pressed to be convinced of two comings of Messiah, yet we know that that is the case. Jesus’ reading of Isaiah 61:1,2 in Luke 4:17-20 illustrates my point.

What confused me when I initially began to study Mr Rosenthal’s system is that in Rev 7:9 the “raptured” great multitude is standing before the throne and the Lamb in heaven. As I dug a little deeper I discovered that the above statements are made by people who subscribe to an eschatology that teaches multiple future comings.

Following Marvin Rosenthal’s book, Robert Van Kampen’s “The Sign” was published. Ironically, between pages 304 to 423 of that book, Mr Van Kampen identified FOUR separate future comings.

Dr Charles Cooper’s article “The Parousia of Jesus Christ” which can be read HERE also ends with a most interesting final paragraph that lists a number of Christ’s movements between heaven and earth, post rapture and prior to the Millennium.

Finally, Dr Elbert Charpie provides the following justification for his belief in a multi-stage Second Advent:

Jesus does come back and rapture His saints and He does deal with them in Heaven, but at the same time He deals with the Jewish remnant here on earth. It is no problem for Him to travel back and forth. Furthermore, He is God and as God shares the attributes of God including omnipresence (the ability to be everywhere at the same time). As far as the Jews are concerned, they are not raptured. The Jewish remnant will enter the millennial kingdom in their earthly bodies and will have charge along with a multitude of Gentiles that survive the 70th Week to re-populate the earth….Read it HERE

Now, whether the Lord can be physically omnipresent is a whole new subject and the questionable necessity for a single/technical parousia is also another matter. However, one cannot legitimately declare that all biblical references point to a single second coming and then assert there are other comings following that one. In light of the attention John Darby has received, perhaps a legitimate question to ask is; were all these comings taught by the early Church fathers or is this tenet a recent development?

In conclusion, and given the above statements and admissions, it is somewhat inconsistent of these people to accuse pretribulationists of incorrectly teaching a two-phase Second Advent.

Further reading:

New Testament Words for the Lord’s Coming

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