“The Second Coming of Christ” is a term with which just about every Christian is familiar. It refers to the first Coming of Christ, or what some know as “The First Advent,” where Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem, where, as the Apostle John tells us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). And Jesus has told us that He will come again (I’ll get into this below). But a strange teaching continues to resurface, these days on social media.
What is that strange teaching? That Jesus’ return will be the Third Coming of Christ, not the Second Coming.
Is this true? The short answer is “no it’s not.” We’ll get into more details below.
the social media post that started it all
I was on social media yesterday, scrolling through my news feed, when all of a sudden I saw a post about the Second Coming of Christ. The poster, a relative of mine, shared it, and some of the readers of the post used the laughter emoji to express how funny they thought it was. Well, I assumed that those laughers were anti-Christian or unsaved persons and moved on. I went into the comments section, though, and saw that a cousin of mine had posted words to the tune of “I want to be ready when Jesus comes.” I wrote back that I was hoping to be ready as well. And that’s when the poster responded with the words, “there is no second coming of Christ.”
Now, the poster, whom I assumed was Christian, wrote this, and it made me think that maybe the poster wasn’t saved as well — that I thought wrongly about him. But he believes certain things as a believer, which I take to mean that he’s a Christian. I immediately asked him what he thought about Hebrews 9:28 and he dismissed Paul’s writing (which is a problem I’ll also get into). Essentially, he got to the heart of his interpretation of what a “coming” is for Jesus, but it didn’t fit the theological context.
Now for the actual details.
stuffing the definition: “coming” as death and resurrection
As I talked with this individual (the poster who put up the statement about the Second Coming of Christ), I discovered what he meant by “coming.” I had seen the statement somewhere else before, so it wasn’t new to me. But I hadn’t seen it in a while and figured I’d play along to find out exactly what this person meant by claiming that the Second Coming had already taken place and that the Third Coming was next.
He essentially said that Jesus died and was resurrected, and that the death and resurrection of Jesus constitutes an additional “Coming.” At this point, I respectfully disagreed. My reason? Because when Jesus died, He didn’t go out of the world.
why jesus didn’t go out of the world when he died and rose
According to Scripture, Jesus went to the grave, Sheol, the place of the dead:
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:8-9, NKJV)
29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. (Acts 2:29-31)
Here in Romans 10:9, we find that “God raised Him,” the “Him” being a reference to God’s Son, Jesus. God raised Jesus from the dead. The emphasis is on Jesus’ death. Jesus didn’t “go out the world” when He died. His body was wrapped and laid in a tomb belonging to a wealthy Pharisee by the name of Joseph of Arimathea (see John’s Gospel). And, as Peter says in Acts 2:29-31 in his sermon, David spoke about Jesus when he wrote that God wouldn’t allow Jesus’ soul to remain in Hades. Hades, in the time of David’s writing of Psalm 16:10, was a reference to the grave, Sheol (Hebrew pronunciation SHAY-OL). Jesus, then, wouldn’t be left in the grave because, only with His resurrection could mankind be saved. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22), but without resurrection, there is no justification by faith (Romans 5:1, 9, 10).
So no, death and resurrection do not constitute a “coming,” an advent.
how jesus defines “coming”
How does Jesus define “coming”? The idea that “going out the world” at death and resurrecting constitutes a “coming” is a foreign definition thrown into a theological discussion. And that’s the problem with the false idea: you can’t take a foreign definition not found in the Scriptures and plaster it onto a discussion about Jesus. And if the Scriptures define “coming” through the words of Jesus, then we must accept what Jesus says about it. Here’s what Jesus says:
For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:33)
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38)
This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. (John 6:50)
These three instances show us that Jesus came down from Heaven to earth, and that He defined His coming in this manner. And, in case Jesus’ words aren’t enough, we have the words of the angels at His ascension:
9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
As can be seen, Jesus ascended into Heaven, and He will return to earth from Heaven a second time. The two angels said this, reminding us the the return would be the same as the first coming. The Second Coming of Christ, then, matches the first coming. Jesus’ death and resurrection wasn’t like His first coming, so it doesn’t qualify as a second coming.
How early church apostles define “coming”
Jesus considered a “coming” to be a descent from earth to Heaven, and the early church apostles give their “amen” to the words of Jesus and the angels.
Paul confirms that there are two comings in his letter to the Hebrews:
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:27-28)
He refers to “a second time” for Jesus’ appearance on earth, again reinforcing the idea that “coming” is about the journey from Heaven to earth, not from death to resurrection. Jesus told the disciples that He would “come again” and take them back to Heaven with Him (John 14:2-3). In order to take back His own, He must return to earth a second time.
social media and the false doctrine of the third coming
In the words of Jesus and the statements made about Him, the coming is not a death and resurrection. Jesus went to the grave when He died; He didn’t go out the world. But His Incarnation (coming to earth as one fully human and fully divine) was the first advent to earth. The second one which Jesus speaks about in John 14:2-3 is the second one, Paul reiterates in Hebrews 9:28.
And yet, you’d have to do away with Paul’s claim that Jesus’ next coming will be the “second time” to affirm the false doctrine of “The Third Coming of Christ.” Since the “third coming” is unbiblical, it is false doctrine.
When Paul addressed false doctrine in the New Testament letters, he didn’t have to fight social media. Twenty centuries later, though, Christians today have to contend with it. Back in the first century, you had to spread false doctrine by word of mouth; today, you need only social media to post something and watch it go viral within hours.
And yet, the church still has a job to do in combating false doctrine. It’s out there, and we’re still charged to uphold the truth and put down false doctrine. Remember, false doctrine can lead Christians to apostatize and fall away from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1-3).
We have to watch what we share on social media. Social media can be a good thing, but it becomes bad when we use it to spread lies and false doctrine. Check something before you click “post.” If something causes you to have questions or if you’re not sure about it, it’s best to seek counsel from others or not post it at all. You may discover later it’s false doctrine and may just save yourself from embarrassment. Think when reading, and think before you post.