BUFF SCOTT, JR.
The Future Advent Of Jesus & Our
I feel it is imperative that we examine the apostle’s remarks in detail. We’ll read them as they appear in the New International Version
. “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
“According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, and are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” [1 Thess. 4:13-17]. 1]
Paul is speaking of one event, one occurrence, one happening—not two. It all happens in instantaneous succession. 2]
A speedy return of the Lord apparently was on the minds of the Thessalonian saints, and they felt badly about those who had “fallen asleep” [died], thinking it a great loss that they were not alive to meet Jesus when He made His second advent [v.13]
When Jesus is personally revealed again, those saints who have died will be resurrected from their paradise abode and accompany Jesus as He gathers to Himself those who are still alive [v.14]
It would take a lot of theological distorting of verse 15 to make it mean something other than what Paul said. When Jesus makes His second personal advent, living saints will not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep, but “will be caught up together with them
[departed saints] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” 5]]
Jesus will return from heaven for the second time with an announcement everyone will be able to hear [v.16]
. The dead in Christ will be resurrected prior
to meeting the Lord, and prior
to living saints gathering to Him. 6]]
In verse 17, “after that” points directly to the same sequence of things, as mentioned in verse 16. In other words, living saints will be caught up with resurrected saints the moment those saints are raised. I repeat again: Only one advent is alluded to in these verses
Nowhere in scripture does it speak of Jesus making two personal advents, following His ascension into heaven two-thousand years ago. Nor do they speak of saints ascending into heaven twice. Saints have been reigning with Jesus in His current kingdom since He was “exalted
[enthroned] to the right hand of God” [Acts 2:33-35]
He now sits on “David’s throne” [Acts 2:30]
in heaven as King over God’s new nation or kingdom, the community of the saints. Jesus’ throne in heaven typifies David’s reignship over old Israel. David reigned as king over old Israel; Jesus now reigns as King over new Israel, the family of believers.
Paul affirms the saints at Colosse had been “rescued from the dominion
[kingdom] of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Son He loves” [Col. 1:13]
. As saints, we are in God’s kingdom today, just as the Colossians were. The eternal kingdom in heaven is an extension
our of current kingdom.
As there can be no body without a head, or a kingdom without a king, we conclude that since the believers at Colosse were citizens of God’s kingdom, Jesus must have been their King! If He is now King, and He is, why in logic’s name would He surrender his superior
kingship in heaven to return to earth to become King of an inferior
kingdom during an alleged thousand-year earthly reign? This would be regression, not progression
The Jews in Jesus’ day failed to envision His reign as spiritual because they were looking for an earthly kingdom with all of the political trimmings that accompany earthly kingdoms. Today’s earthly enthusiasts are making the same mistake. They’re looking for a “glorified kingdom” with all of the “glorified trimmings” that accompany “glorified kingdoms.”
In the meantime, they fail to understand that such a kingdom or reign has existed since the very moment Jesus was “exalted
[enthroned] to the right hand of God” [Acts 2:33]
. His kingdom is not earthly, palpable, and tangible now or in the future. It is spiritual in that its King reigns from heaven and in the hearts of His subjects.