Archive for the 'Second Coming' Category

Is Jesus coming soon or quickly?

Monday, January 27th, 2014

(courtesy Google, public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

Do the Scriptures lie about the second coming of Jesus or have the translators got it wrong? Is he coming soon or quickly?

1.  One man’s vision of the final day

On Youtube there is an interview with a David Jones by Sid Roth on his TV program, ‘It’s supernatural’. The title of the interview is ‘The final day’. Jones claims to have received an open vision of the final day on earth, a visionary experience of the day of the Lord in which he was exposed to the terror of the Lord. This was revealed in Isaiah13:6-9 and the Book of Revelation (Rev 6:15-17).

Now David Jones claims to have seen this final day as an open vision and that time is running out. He claims to have seen the coming of the Son of God.

Why don’t you watch the interview? I have a couple of issues with the TV program:

(1) It’s in a TV interview where there is drama and it is made to have a Hollywood touch of the dramatic and commercialism. Why should I believe David Jones when Isaiah and Revelation have already revealed the nature of that day?

(2) Jesus told us that nobody knows when he will return, including Jesus himself. Only the heavenly Father knows when that will be.

(3) It requires a premillennial end-times (eschatological) perspective.

This we know from Mark 13:32-33: ‘But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come (ESV).

Why should it be revealed to a contemporary human being that the final day of the Lord is soon and that time has run out and it is too late? Jesus himself did not know this. We have the warnings in Isaiah and the Book of Revelation. Why do we need David Jones’ warning?

2.  Soon or quickly? Does it matter?

Revelation 22:7 (courtesy Bible Hub) states in these versions:

New International Version
“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”
New Living Translation
“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.”
English Standard Version
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
New American Standard Bible
“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
King James Bible
“Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”
Holman Christian Standard Bible
“Look, I am coming quickly! The one who keeps the prophetic words of this book is blessed.”

The NIV, NLT and ESV state that Jesus is coming ‘soon’, but the NASB, KJV, HCSB state he is coming ‘quickly’. Which one is it? Are the translators confused or is something else going on? If Jesus was said to be ‘coming soon’ and that was about 2,000 years ago with the composition of the Book of Revelation, it seems as though John the Revelator did not get an accurate message from God. He got it wrong!

But is that a correct conclusion?

3.  ‘Soon’ in English

What does ‘soon’ mean in English? According to dictionary.com, it means, ‘within a short period after this or that time, event, etc.; we shall know soon after he calls; before long; in the near future; at an early date; promptly or quickly; readily or willingly; early in a period of time; before the time specified is much advanced’.[1]

So to English speakers, ‘soon’, as applied to Jesus’ second coming and the day of the Lord, would generally mean within a short period of time after John the Revelator revealed this.

4.  ‘Quickly’ in English

Dictionary.com gives the meaning of the adverb ‘quickly’ as: ‘with speed; rapidly; very soon’.[2]

So even in English there can be a difference between saying something will happen soon and it happens quickly. If it happens soon, it means in the near future. Quickly can mean rapidly.

Therefore in Revelation 20:7, was John stating that Jesus was coming in the near future or that when he comes it will happen quickly? Let’s check the original language of the New Testament.

5.  ‘Soon’ or ‘quickly’ in New Testament Greek

Which Greek word is used in Revelation 22:7? The ESV translation of this verse states, ‘And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book’. Is ‘soon’ the correct translation?

By the way, the same word is repeated in Rev 22:12, 20 and other verses in the Book of Revelation. The adverb translation ‘soon’ or ‘quickly’ is the Greek, tachu, from the verb, tachus. Arndt & Gingrich’s Greek lexicon gives the meaning of tachus in Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:11; 11:14; 22:7, 12, 20 as ‘without delay, quickly, at once’ but they note that ‘it is not always possible to make a clear distinction between this meaning’ and ‘in a short time, soon’ as in Mark 9:39 (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:814-815).

Greek exegete, George Eldon Ladd, in his commentary on the Book of Revelation wrote of Rev 22:7,

The word may mean ‘quickly’ (AV) or ‘soon’ (RSV). The Christian community should always live under the expectancy of the imminent coming of the Lord. No man knows the day nor hour (Matt. 24:36) and no one can set dates or calculate the time of his coming; but every generation must be awake as though the coming of Christ was at the threshold (Matt. 24:42-44). The biblical warnings involve a spiritual and moral tension of expectancy and perspective (Ladd 1972:290).

Lutheran commentator, R C H Lenski, confirms this understanding of Rev 22:7, ‘That Jesus is coming quickly is, indeed, Jesus’ own word as v. 20 shows. The angel quotes it twice, here and in v. 12’ (Lenski 1943/1963:659).

The passage of time has spoken as to which is the meaning in the verses in the Book of Revelation that use tachu associated with the second coming of Christ. It could not mean soon, meaning without delay or at once. It surely means ‘quickly’ because that is how Jesus stated his return will be.

  • ‘You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’ (Luke 12:40 ESV).

6.  False predictions have come and gone

Image result for Ellen G White photograph public domain
(courtesy ellenwhitelibrary.new)

 Ellen White held a special place in the ministry of the Seventh-Day Adventists. Arthur L White in his brief biography of Ellen White stated:

Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was more than a gifted writer; they believe she was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent. From the time she was 17 years old until she died 70 years later, God gave her approximately 2,000 visions and dreams. The visions varied in length from less than a minute to nearly four hours. The knowledge and counsel received through these revelations she wrote out to be shared with others. Thus her special writings are accepted by Seventh-day Adventists as inspired, and their exceptional quality is recognized even by casual readers (Arthur White: 2000).

Arthur White wrote that Ellen White’s writings included ‘prophecy’ and that ‘this remarkable woman who, meeting all the tests of a true prophet as set forth in the Holy Scriptures, helped found the Seventh-day Adventist church’ (Arthur White: 2000).

Here are a couple of online paragraphs from Ellen White’s, ‘The Mark of the Beast‘:

In a view given June 27, 1850, my accompanying angel said, “Time is almost finished. Do you reflect the lovely image of Jesus as you should?” Then I was pointed to the earth and saw that there would have to be a getting ready among those who have of late embraced the third angel’s message. Said the angel, “Get ready, get ready, get ready. Ye will have to die a greater death to the world than ye have ever yet died.” I saw that there was a great work to do for them and but little time in which to do it.

Then I saw that the seven last plagues were soon to be poured out upon those who have no shelter; yet the world regarded them no more than they would so many drops of water that were about to fall. I was then made capable of enduring the awful sight of the seven last plagues, the wrath of God. I saw that His anger was dreadful and terrible, and if He should stretch forth His hand, or lift it in anger, the inhabitants of the world would be as though they had never been, or would suffer from incurable sores and withering [65] plagues that would come upon them, and they would find no deliverance, but be destroyed by them. Terror seized me, and I fell upon my face before the angel and begged of him to cause the sight to be removed, to hide it from me, for it was too dreadful. Then I realized, as never before, the importance of searching the Word of God carefully, to know how to escape the plagues which that Word declares shall come on all the ungodly who shall worship the beast and his image and receive his mark in their foreheads or in their hands. It was a great wonder for me that any could transgress the law of God and tread down His holy Sabbath, when such awful threatenings and denunciations were against them (emphasis added).

Language such as ‘time is almost finished’, ‘little time’, ‘soon to be poured out’, ‘get ready, get ready, get ready’, regarding the outpouring of God’s wrath, and that was 163 years ago, suggests that Ellen White, the SDA prophetess, got it badly wrong in her supposed prophecy. She was a false prophetess.

I shared this passage with posters on a Christian forum and how do you think an SDA promoter would respond? He wrote:

Do we throw out all prophets that say things like that?

Rev.22:12 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

That was about 2000 years ago. I guess you are missing something. Like what is 168 years compared to 2000??

You KNOW that there are more prophecies in the Bible just like that one. What is a thousand years more or less when
you are talking about eternity??[3]

My response was: ‘Are you saying that the Apostle John, under the inspiration of the Spirit, got it wrong? Are you prepared to admit that Ellen White got it wrong in 1850?[4] His reply was off at a tangent. He didn’t want to deal with Ellen White’s false prophecy so here is what he stated:

Got what wrong? That Jesus is coming back? I think every
church should be teaching that. Don’t you? I posted Rev.22
just to make the point. That prediction is about 2000
years old. Does that make it a false prophecy??

Nobody knows when He is coming.

Look over your library of SDA writings and find me one
time when anyone set a date. Preachers all over, today,
are preaching the same message. GET READY. Jesus is coming,
SOON. Do we know when? Of course not.
[5]

That is a red herring logical fallacy, where an unrelated comment is designed to divert attention from the topic being discussed. What is there to say to challenge him when he used such illogic? A reasonable conversation is not possible. I pursued the discussion regarding the topic of Ellen White prophesying that time is almost finished and we are to get ready:

Language such as ‘time is almost finished’, ‘little time’, soon to be poured out’ and that was 163 years ago [back in 1850], suggests that Ellen White, the SDA leader and prophetess, got it badly wrong in her supposed prophecy.

The facts are that White stated, ‘Time is almost finished…. Get ready, get ready, get ready’. She was dead wrong. She was a false prophetess.
Why don’t you admit it and quit the SDAs who continue to promote this false prophetess?

This thread deals with Ellen White’s false prophecy that time is running out and we are to ‘get ready, get ready, get ready’ – it was so urgent she repeated it 3 times. That false prophecy was given in 1850.[6]

His come back did not address Ellen White’s ‘get ready, get ready, get ready’ and Jesus coming back in a ‘little time’. He wrote:

Ellen White never set any dates. She is warning people, as any good Christian should, that when Jesus comes, that is the end of probation. If you are not ready, you will not go. Will He be here tomorrow, next week, month?? YOU nor I know the answer to that one. Are you ready?

So, is He coming soon or in another century more or less? Tell us.[7]

Harold is correct. Ellen White did not set any dates, BUT she might as well. Her warning was that there was ‘little time’ and that one should ‘get ready’ for the coming of the day of the Lord. Failing to give a specific date does not obliterate her prophetic expectation that she was warning people to get ready for the coming of the Lord as there was ‘little time’ to go. This kind of expectancy given in a prophecy amounts to a false prophecy as it has not taken place since 1850.

7.  Conclusion

Since tachu, the adverb, in Rev 22:7 may be translated as either ‘soon’ or ‘quickly’, the fact that it is 2,000 years since Christ’s death and resurrection and he has not returned, the meaning must therefore be ‘quickly’. The Book of Revelation was not lying because God, the originator of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17), cannot lie (see Num 23:19; Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18). Luke 12: 40 confirms that Christians should be ready for Jesus is coming again ‘at an hour you do not expect’ and when he comes, it will be ‘quickly’ (Rev 22:7).

The warning is that Jesus’ second coming will come quickly (suddenly) and all people need to be ready. That can never be for unbelievers. They will be caught unawares. It will happen quickly. They need to be warned of the horrific nature of what will when the day of the Lord comes.

Isaiah 13:6-9 

New Living Translation (NLT)

6 Scream in terror, for the day of the Lord has arrived— the time for the Almighty to destroy.
7 Every arm is paralyzed with fear. Every heart melts,
8 and people are terrified. Pangs of anguish grip them, like those of a woman in labor.They look helplessly at one another, their faces aflame with fear.

9 For see, the day of the Lord is coming— the terrible day of his fury and fierce anger. The land will be made desolate, and all the sinners destroyed with it.

Works consulted

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.[8] Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Ladd, G E 1972. A commentary on the Revelation of John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Lenski, R C H 1943/1963. Commentary on the New Testament: The interpretation of St. John’s Revelation. Minneapolis MN: Augsburg Publishing House (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. edn.).

White, A L 2000. Ellen G. White: A brief biography. The Ellen G. White Estate, Inc., available at: http://www.whiteestate.org/about/egwbio.asp (Accessed 25 January 2014).

Notes


[1] ‘Soon’, Dictionary.com, available at: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/soon?s=t (Accessed 25 January 2014).

[2] Dictionary.com, ‘quickly’, available at: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/quickly?s=t (Accessed 25 January 2014).

[3] Christian Fellowship Forum, Contentious Brethren, ‘Ellen White: Time is almost finished’, Harold#12, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=11&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship&tid=122828 (Accessed 25 January 2014).

[4] Ibid., ozspen#13.

[5] Ibid., Harold#14.

[6] Ibid., ozspen#15.

[7] Ibid., Harold#17.

[8] This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’ (4th rev & augmented edn 1952) (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 October 2016.