“I am coming quickly”. A study in the Second Advent of Jesus
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”(Rev. 22:12, NASB)
One of the great mysteries, and stumbling blocks of many millions down throughout the ages, is Christ’s declaration that “I am coming quickly” recorded THREE times in the last chapter in the Bible (Rev 22: 7,12,20). Commentators argue if He meant “quickly” or “soon”.
The Bible closes with the text: He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
These are that last words of Christ to the last apostle. Clearly it was meant to help us, to encourage us and guide us. However, what Jesus spoke to the aged apostle on the island of Patmos has left the church with much confusion, speculation and uncertainty about His second coming for the last 2000 years.
Will it be soon? Will it be in my lifetime?
Evidently, this is what the apostle Paul thought when he wrote that “We who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”(1 Thess 4:17)
Did Paul get it wrong? Was he offering the Thessalonians “false hope”? I think one can assuredly assert that Paul truly expected to be with Christ during his lifetime. It should be noted that the first letter to the Thessalonians (52 AD) was written well before the Revelation (96 AD), so obviously the Spirit had already taught the church to be “ready and waiting” for His return.
Believe it or not, a section of the Church has changed the date of the writing of the Revelation to be before the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD). They do this, in spite of the evidence, to emphasize that “quickly” meant soon and that at the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus did in fact already come.
What I offer to you here is a great piece of writing that explains what I believe is really happening. God certainly knows the beginning from the end. He knew that when He said “I am coming quickly” that it would carry on for more than 2000 years. So what is going on….
“Known unto God are all His works from the beginning” (Acts 15:18); the real history and length of this dispensation [age] were of course not only foreseen, but foreordained of God. For certain reasons Christ never mentioned them to His disciples, and the Holy Spirit revealed but little about them to Peter and Paul.
What were those reasons?
To keep alive loving expectation of the Lord’s Second Coming, to encourage believers to constant watchfulness, to cheer them by a present hope, and to weaken the power of temptation to earthliness and worldliness, by stamping on all things here uncertainty and evanescence [temporariness]. Her ignorance of the time of the Master’s return, is made a motive to “patient waiting for Christ.” (2 Thess 3:5)
The first generation of believers took all the promises of His speedy return literally, and lived in the hope that they might remain to the blessed moment, and not sleep but be changed. The Holy Ghost did not undeceive them to any considerable extent; in one case, where the due balance of patience and hope had been in measure lost, express revelations of intervening events were given to restore that balance, but no periods were assigned to these events (2 Thess 2); the hope was left vivid as ever, if not quite so close at hand…
How could they have watched for an advent two thousand years off? What present practical influence could it have exerted over their lives? Their ignorance was evidently best for them, and God, in mercy, did not remove it. They held in their hands the prophecy, big with the mournful secret; but they guessed not its burden, in their blissful and blameless ignorance they concluded that the “I come quickly” (Rev. 22) of their absent Lord, meant “quickly” according to human calculations. To leave them in their ignorance was the gracious purpose of God, and His motive was their comfort and sanctification.
(H. Grattan Guinness, The Approaching End of the Age 1879)
Henry Grattan Guinness D. D. (August 1835–June 1910) was an Irish Protestant Christian preacher, evangelist and author. He was the great evangelist of the Evangelical awakening and preached during the Ulster Revival of 1859 which drew thousands to hear him. He was responsible for training and sending hundreds of “faith missionaries” all over the world.