The Bible says Jesus will return. But many are confused about how He will return. He predicted this and told us what we need to know about the second coming.
The second coming of Jesus Christ is a topic that has been interpreted in many ways. Though the biblical teaching is straightforward, confusion still abounds about the nature of Christ’s return.
There have been many different interpretations and teachings about it—some radically different from others. Here is just a sampling:
- There have been people who have appeared at various times and places claiming to be the returned Jesus Christ. (More on this below.)
- Some teach that Jesus’ return is spiritual and allegorical—not literal.
- In the evangelical world, many believe in two future comings of Christ—one a temporary return to “rapture” Christians and a second to destroy the Antichrist and judge the world.
- Some teach that Christ’s return will be short and temporary. He comes, judges and then returns to heaven with His saints.
- Another church teaches that Jesus’ coming occurred in the early 20th century and that He will return in an invisible manner again in the future.
- One religious organization currently claims that Jesus will return as a flesh-and-blood man to its property in the midwestern United States.
- Throughout the centuries, and continuing today, individuals have predicted Jesus would return on specific dates. There is a natural desire to figure out when He will come, but all previous dates have proven wrong. Some have learned to stop setting dates, while others continue moving the date further into the future (usually blaming their failed prediction on a calculation error).
We could go on and on—but the point is that there is a wide range of ideas on the topic. Some of those teachings directly contradict each other. But this shouldn’t be a surprise. Jesus, in His Olivet Discourse, predicted this confusion.
“False christs” in the end time
Right after discussing the beginning of the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21), Jesus transitioned to His return to earth. He began with a warning:
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (verses 23-24).
Jesus had already warned about general religious deception (we covered those warnings in part 2 of this series). But this follow-up warning had a different focus. He warned that in the end time there would be a surge in both “false christs” and “false prophets.”
“False prophets” are religious leaders who generally preach false doctrines. “False christs” are people who claim to be a messianic figure sent from God—or, in some cases, who claim to be Jesus Himself. Some may read that and dismiss people who make these claims as crazy fanatics who only appeal to a handful of gullible people. But Jesus wasn’t just warning about fringe extremists with tiny followings. He described these people as also showing “great signs and wonders to deceive” (verse 24).
“Signs and wonders”
Someone with long hair and a robe coming along and claiming to be Jesus is one thing. Such people are easy to dismiss. But Jesus said these future “false christs” will be much more dangerous because some of them will actually perform miracles. Not parlor tricks, but actual delusions manufactured by Satan himself.
Scripture shows that the demonic realm does have the ability to manipulate the laws of nature to make it appear certain people have miraculous powers.
In the book of Exodus, there is an interesting encounter between Aaron and Pharaoh’s magicians. After God miraculously transformed Aaron’s rod into a serpent, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to mimic the miracle “in like manner with their enchantments” (Exodus 7:11-12).
In the New Testament we read about a false teacher named Simon who built a following for himself due, in part, to his ability to perform miracles (Acts 8:11). Simon convinced many people that his miracles came from God (verse 10).
But these miracles were not from God. They were done through the power of Satan.
It is possible for people to perform miracles even though they in no way represent the true God.The point is: It is possible for people to perform miracles even though they in no way represent the true God.
In the end time, these miracles will be so impressively deceptive that even the elect—God’s people—could be taken in by them. “Signs and wonders” appeal to the emotions. Miracles can seem to validate a message, but God warns us reject any messages that conflict with God’s law and biblical truth (Isaiah 8:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
When we allow our emotions to be stirred to the point that we prioritize emotion over truth, we are in grave danger and easy prey for deception.
This is what will happen in the end time. People will be taken in by titillating “signs and wonders” and end up inadvertently following false teachers and the dark forces behind them.
Don’t be one of those people.
After Jesus warned about miracle-working “false christs,” He continued: “See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:25-26, emphasis added).
Jesus was talking about individuals who not only claim His authority, but claim His very identity. The few who make these kinds of claims today don’t have significant followings. But as the end time gets closer, there will be more and more of them. They will be more persuasive and attract larger followings.
To repeat Jesus’ words: “Do not believe it!”
What will Jesus’ second coming be like?
So how will you be able to know the difference between a “false christ” and the real Christ?
Jesus provided the litmus test in the next verse: “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (verse 27).
The genuine second coming of Jesus Christ will be unmistakable and absolutely impossible to miss or counterfeit. Jesus compared His return to lightning flashing across the sky. Just as natural lightning appears above us in the sky, is immensely powerful, and can’t be faked—Jesus’ return will be from the sky, will be a colossal display of supernatural power, and will be a sight and sound beyond anything any human force could produce.
A few verses down, Jesus elaborated further: “And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (verse 30).
“Power and great glory”—that is how Jesus will return. There will be nothing secret about it. But when Jesus says, “they will see the Son of Man”—to whom does they refer?
“Every eye will see Him”
That question is answered in Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him.”
It’s hard to grasp how a being could descend from the clouds and be seen by every single person around the globe. But that is how Jesus will return.
That doesn’t mean everyone will immediately grasp who He is (He won’t look anything like the popular image of Jesus). But every person on earth will hear an ear-piercing trumpet blast and see an immensely powerful spirit being, Jesus Christ, emanating energy, glowing white, with eyes like burning fire, riding a gallant white horse, and carrying a sword to make war (Revelation 1:14-15; 19:12).
Don’t be confused by any human impostors or anyone claiming Jesus’ second coming will be anything other than the earthshaking spectacle described in your Bible. When Jesus returns, you will know it. You won’t have an iota of doubt.
To learn more about the second coming of Christ, read the articles on our website in the section “Why, When and Where Will Christ Return to Earth?”
Eight Unmistakable Signs of Jesus’ Second Coming
Here are eight things that Jesus will do when He returns. Anyone who does not meet all of the following eight criteria is not the returning Jesus Christ.
- The returning Jesus Christ will visibly come down from the clouds (Matthew 24:30).
- The returning Jesus Christ will be seen by all people (Revelation 1:7).
- The returning Jesus Christ will be announced by the blast of a trumpet (Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
- The returning Jesus Christ will appear as a powerful spirit being, not a flesh-and-blood man (Revelation 1:14-15; 19:12).
- The returning Jesus Christ will make war with armies that will try to fight Him—and will easily defeat them (Zechariah 14:3-4, 12; Revelation 19:17-21).
- The returning Jesus Christ will gather His people—both those in the grave and those alive on earth (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
- The returning Jesus Christ will land on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, splitting it into two parts (Zechariah 14:4).
- The returning Jesus Christ will remain on earth and rule over the nations (Micah 4:1-2; Revelation 12:5).