The Gospel According to Mark

Mark 13 Key Terms

Second Coming |=> Mark 13

The second coming refers to Christ's promise to return to earth following the end of the present age. The second coming of Christ "has been understood as an act of vindication, a time of visitation, a decisive moment of judgment, a time of deliverance and the climatic event of consummation." [ref] While Jesus' first visit to earth was marked by humility and weakness as he paved the way for the establishment of God's kingdom through his sacrificial death for the sins of the world, his second visit will be marked by "great power and glory" (Mark 13:26, NLT) as he returns to punish his enemies and reward his followers in the full consummation of God's kingdom.

God's Kingdom. Although the term "second coming" is not in the Bible, the fact of Christ's return is both anticipated in the OT and clearly referred to (more than 300 times) in the NT. [ref] "The [OT] prophets had declared that God's purpose in history would reach its goal in a future period of blessing under God's rule, a rule that would be righteous, peaceful, universal, and permanent (Isaiah 11:2–5; 60; 65–66; Micah 4:3–4)." [ref] There was to be "a great king whom God would send at the end of the world, a deliverer who would set God's people free from their oppressors." [ref]  Enter: Jesus. Since Jesus himself was (and is) the embodiment of God's kingdom, to accept and follow Jesus is to become a citizen of God's kingdom. In simplest terms, "the kingdom of God is the dynamic reign of God over his people." [ref] Jesus taught that there is an "already and not yet" element associated with the kingdom. [ref] As we strive for perfection (= obedience), we are actually furthering God's kingdom on this earth. But just as absolute perfection will come only with our new, glorified bodies, so too God's kingdom will be completely established only after Jesus returns to rule forever over the entire earth.

Historical perspective. The second coming of Christ is but one link in a long chain that begins with the fact that human history is being driven toward the goal God has set for his creation. [ref] God created human beings with the ability to know, love and serve him. Our first human parents, Adam and Eve, chose to rebel against God and his rightful rule, plunging the entire human race into sin and separation from God. Even though he certainly had every right to do so, God chose not to give up on us. Instead, he confronted our sin head-on by sending Jesus Christ to pay our penalty, our sin debt. Jesus came to make a way -- the one and only way -- to God. In the interim between Christ's first and second comings, God has given us his Word and Christ has established his Church [ref] so that those who follow Jesus can a) be strengthened and encouraged, b) love and support one another, and c) share with the entire world the incredible good news of genuine love, real joy, and true peace available through personal, committed faith in Jesus Christ.

Prophecy. Prophecy includes both "predictions about the future and the end-time," as well as "special messages from God, often uttered through human spokesmen, which indicate the divine will for mankind on earth and in heaven." [ref] The second coming of Christ is an example of apocalyptic (from apokalypsis, meaning "disclosure," "revelation") prophecy. Our two greatest biblical (and thus factual, not fictional) examples of this type of prophecy are the books of Daniel and Revelation. Composed during a four-hundred year period running from 200 B.C. to A.D. 200, apocalyptic writings are fictional accounts in which an individual (the author) experiences a vision wherein he is carried to heaven and shown what will take place in the future. The vision included "complex and unusual symbols, often involving bizarre animals and mythological beasts." [ref]  Apocalyptic writings represent a fusing together of prophetic writings and wisdom literature, [ref] and were first written to fill the prophetic void that followed the closing of the OT. [ref] "Written or revised during times of social or political crisis," [ref] apocalyptic writings often sought to explain the apparent incongruity between prospering evil-doers  and suffering saints.  [ref]

While we wait. Like all prophecy, the second coming of Jesus is meant to sober us and to prepare us. Preparation, it should be noted, does not center on speculation or timetables or charts. Rather, the best way to prepare for tomorrow is to live as we should today. The sudden and unexpected return of Christ, along with our need to be ready, is captured in several biblical images, including: "the thief who comes in the night (Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4; Revelation 3:3; 16:15), the master who returns after a long journey (Mark 13:34–36; Luke 12:35–38, 42–48) and the bridegroom who arrives in the middle of the night (Matthew 25:1–13)" [ref] Here and elsewhere Jesus emphasized that in light of the certainty of his future return, those who follow him today are to watch, wait, and work.  [ref] Which in turn calls for being alert, being patient, and being diligent. The practical implications of Jesus' second coming can also be seen in the fact that "the greater part of Jesus' teaching concerned life here and now and the way people should live in the service of God." [ref]

Our final destiny. Depending on how we have chosen to live their lives, at his second coming we will greet Jesus with either "joy or terror." [ref]  The final destiny of those who have rejected Jesus will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (see Matthew 13:40–42). The final destiny of those who have known, loved and served Jesus will be quite different indeed:

The destiny of the redeemed is

  • to be like Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2)
  • to be with Christ (John 14:3; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17)
  • to share his glory (Romans 8:18, 30; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:17; Colossians 3:4; Hebrews 2:10; 1 Peter 5:1) and his kingdom (1 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26f.; 3:21; 4:10; 20:4, 6)
  • to be sons of God in perfect fellowship with God (Revelation 21:3, 7)
  • to worship God (Revelation 7:15; 22:3)
  • to see God (Matthew 5:8; Revelation 22:4)
  • to know him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12) [ref]