Pastor David B. Curtis

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Media #973 MP3 Audio File Video File

The Second Coming in Thessalonians

Delivered 8/18/19

For our study this morning we are going to look at what Paul taught the Church at Thessalonica about the Second Coming of Christ. Let’s start by looking at the founding of this church:

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Acts 17:1 ESV

The city of Thessalonica was founded in 315 B.C. and was named in honor of the daughter of Philip II, Thessalonicas. It was a trading city of at least 200,000 people and was the capital of Macedonia. Three great rivers ran through it and converged into the sea, and so it was a very important port. Also, the Egnation Highway went right through the middle of Thessalonica, so everyone traveling east and west passed through Thessalonica. It was populated by Greeks, Roman citizens, Jews, and Orientals. Notice that at this time the Jewish religious influence was having an effect among the population, and, therefore, Paul found many "God-fearing Greeks" among the citizens.

What do you think was the first thing Paul did once he reached Thessalonica?

And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:2 ESV

I'm sure the first thing he did was go to the synagogue. Wherever Paul went, he always started his ministry in there. Why did he do this? It was because this was where he could find some who already had a knowledge of the Scriptures. This is where he could find those who were looking for the Messiah. He spent much time with them

explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Yeshua, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” Acts 17:3 ESV

"Explaining” The Greek word here means "to open." Luke used it to convey God’s opening the eyes of the men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:31). Both Paul and Luke were explaining the Hebrew prophesies.

"Proving" The Greek term means literally "to place before or alongside." Paul took what was known as Messianic promises and then put them “alongside” the events of the life and ministry of the Lord Yeshua in order to prove their fulfillment in Christ.

What we have here in verse 3 is a rhetorical syllogism. A syllogism is a logical formula consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.  For example:

Major Premise: Only God can forgive sins.

Minor Premise: Yeshua forgave men's sins.

Conclusion: Yeshua is God.

In verse 3 we find the same formula:

Major Premise: The characteristics of the Christ (Messiah) are that He must suffer and rise from the dead.

Minor Premise: Yeshua modeled these characteristics in his death and resurrection. It was well known that He had suffered death, and Paul had abundant means of proving that He had risen again.

Conclusion: Yeshua is the Christ.

The absolute and total fulfillment of prophecy is the most convincing argument for the truth of who Yeshua is.  Over 1,000 prophecies were fulfilled in Christ's first coming.

And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. Acts 17:4 ESV

Who is the "them" here? It is the Jews of verse 1. Some of the Jews were persuaded that Yeshua was the Christ. They believed Paul's words and put their faith in Yeshua. Not only Jews believed Paul's message, but so did “a great many of the devout Greeks.” Devout points to that class of monotheistic Gentiles who worshiped the God of Israel as the one God, respected the Old Covenant and the moral teaching of the Jews, attended synagogue, observed the Sabbath, and practiced the main requirements of Jewish piety.

But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. Acts 17:5 ESV

It seems that every time Paul finished his teaching in a synagogue, the next verse opens with the words, "But the Jews…” We see this over and over in the book of Acts. Like Jonah of old, like the people of Nazareth (Luke 4:16ff.), and like the Jews of Jerusalem mentioned later in Acts 22:21-22, these Jews were greatly angered that a "salvation of the Jews" was being offered to the Gentiles and that many of them were placing their trust in Christ.

You would think that Paul would avoid going to the Jews and to the synagogue, especially since he was still hurting from the beating he just received in Philippi. But not Paul. This was a courageous man.

So this mob assaulted the house of Jason, where the apostles and others were supposed to be staying, and they sought to bring them out to the people. So, what we find is that Paul went into the synagogue, preached the Gospel, caused a riot, and was run out of the city. We really don't learn much about the Thessalonians from this text in Acts, but what we do learn is that many of them believed Paul's preaching and came to faith in Christ, and a church was planted.

I want to look this morning at the results of the visit of Paul, Silas, and Timothy to Thessalonica. We learn much about the believers in Thessalonica in the two letters written to them by Paul.

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Yeshua the Christ: Grace to you and peace. 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ESV

These are the three men who brought the Gospel to the citizens of Thessalonica on Paul’s second missionary journey. Paul is here writing to the church in Thessalonica. What is special about Paul’s letter? It is significant because it is not only the first inspired letter that Paul wrote, but it is also the first inspired letter of the New Testament.

On their second missionary journey, Paul and his companions were driven out of Thessalonica by persecution after only a brief stay. After they were forced to leave, they went to Berea. While Paul was in Athens, he tried to go back to Thessalonica. He says:

because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 1 Thessalonians 2:18 ESV

At least twice, Paul tried to return to Thessalonica, but Satan hindered him. So, while Paul was waiting in Athens, he sent Timothy back up to Thessalonica to see how those new converts were doing:

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 ESV

Now, while Timothy was in Thessalonica, Paul went on to Corinth and began his ministry in there. While Paul was still in Corinth, Timothy came back from Thessalonica and brought a glorious report. When Paul heard it, he sat down and wrote the first letter to the Thessalonians.

After about five months, Paul wrote a second letter to them from Corinth in which he addressed a misunderstanding in the church. These are the very first letters of the New Testament. Any dates assigned to them are approximate, but they were probably written around A.D. 51-52.

What is really convicting is that these two letters are written to new converts, many of whom were converts out of pagan idolatry. These Christians at Thessalonica have not even been Christians for a year. They were only several months old in the Lord when Paul wrote to them. And, yet, when you read these letters and look at the doctrinal content of these epistles, it is almost unbelievable. Nearly every major doctrine of the Christian faith is mentioned. The amount of doctrine taught in this short span of time clearly demonstrates the priority that Paul placed on the doctrines of the Word. These new converts out of pagan idolatry have a solid understanding of Christian doctrine.

Most Christians today, even those who have been saved for decades, don't know enough about the Bible to even discuss it intelligently. But here we see these new converts, many who had been worshiping idols all their lives, having a good grasp on Christian theology. Paul speaks to them about the doctrines of salvation, of assurance, of sanctification, of election, of the Trinity, of the nature of man, of the judgment day of the Lord, and of the Second Coming of Christ. He writes these things to them as though they are perfectly familiar with them. Notice what Paul says to them:

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 ESV

Then in the second letter, in referring to the events that would precede the Second Coming, Paul writes:

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 2 Thessalonians 2:5 ESV

When preaching in Thessalonica, Paul obviously preached the judgment of God, the return of the Lord, and our accountability to Him. The Thessalonians knew all about the Second Coming of Christ. This is a remarkable thing. How many Christians can you say this of today? These converts are less than a year old in the faith, and they didn't have the New Testament—it wasn't written yet. It was in the process of being written. All they had were portions of the Tanakh and the teachings of Paul.

Compare them with us. We have the complete Bible and every imaginable Bible study tool.  Many of us have the Bible on our computers and can search through the whole thing in seconds. I even have the Bible on my phone so that any time I want I can take out my phone and read Scripture. And yet it appears that they knew way more than we do. We should be ashamed!

After Paul left this brand new church, these new converts were subject to severe persecution:

For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Yeshua that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Yeshua and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 ESV

Those in Thessalonica were experiencing the same suffering that the first Christians in Judea suffered. Do you remember what that was? The apostles were beaten and told to keep quiet about Yeshua:

and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Yeshua, and let them go. Acts 5:40 ESV

Then we see that Stephen was stoned to death. And Saul tried to destroy the church:

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Acts 8:1 ESV

"That day” is emphatic in the Greek text. It refers to the day of Stephen’s being stoned to death.  “On that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem.”

But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Acts 8:3 ESV

"Ravaging the church” is from the Greek word lumainomai which literally means "he exercised brutal and sadistic cruelty."

In the midst of all this talk about suffering and persecution, a major theme arises in the study and reading of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. That theme is the return of the Lord Yeshua the Christ. This is a subject found at the close of every chapter of the first letter. Concerning Christ's return, there is a two-fold emphasis of both a confident expectation along with the call to live in readiness in the light of His imminent coming.

As we read the Bible, we must keep in mind the hermeneutical principle of audience relevance. This essential approach seeks to discover what the original audience understood a passage to mean. The concern of the evangelical interpreter is to understand the grammar of a passage in light of the historical circumstances and context of the original audience.

The Bible was not written to us, but it was written for us. I have had some Christians flip out on me for making that statement. They think that the Bible is written to us. It should be quite simple to show them otherwise. I was discussing this very subject with a man who said, "All the Bible is written to us." To show him how ridiculous this position was, I took him to the following passage:

You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Joshua 6:3 ESV

I asked him, "Who is the 'you' in this verse?" He replied, "It's us." I said, "So we are supposed to march around Jericho?" And he said, "Yes!" At that point I ended our discussion. This is an absolutely insane view. I don't think that he actually believed that he was commanded to march around Jericho (even though he said that he was). But for him to admit that this command was not given to him would have required an admission on his part that the Bible is written for us and not to us.

If you ignore audience relevance and view the following verse as written to you, what do you have?

But Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua 6:25 ESV

Is Rahab still living in Israel today? If she is, she would be well over 3,500 years old. We know this is ridiculous. Why does the Bible say she is still living in Israel today when she isn't? When the book of Joshua was written, she was still living in Israel. This statement was true and accurate when it was written. But to us, some 3,500 years later, it must be viewed in light of audience relevance.

Let me ask you a really difficult question: "To whom are the letters of 1 and 2 Thessalonians written?" The Thessalonian Epistles were written to the believers who lived in Thessalonica in the first century.

These young converts in Thessalonica were suffering greatly for their faith in Christ. So, when Timothy comes back to Paul in Corinth, he reports that there is much suffering for these new believers. Their property was being confiscated, and they are being beaten and imprisoned. Yet in the midst of it all, they were still as true to Christ as the day they had first trusted in Him.

Timothy also reported that they had a problem. They were looking for the Coming of the Lord and waiting for the Son of God from heaven. But in the meantime, some of their loved ones had died. Their families were breaking up, and the Lord had not come. They wanted to know if their dead loved ones had a part in the Kingdom of Christ. So Paul wrote the first letter to the church at Thessalonica.

The most impressive topic of the Thessalonian Gospel, from what we can gather from these letters, was the Coming of the Lord Yeshua in His heavenly kingdom. This letter is loaded with eschatology. It was evidently the topic of frequent conversations when Paul was in Macedonia. Eschatology is a major theological issue not just in the  Thessalonian letters but in all of Scripture as well. R.C. Sproul says that two thirds of the New Testament is either directly or indirectly eschatological. Other experts say that 25 to 30 percent of the whole Bible is eschatological. Every one of the five chapters in this first letter ends with a reference to the Second Coming of Christ. With audience relevance in mind, let's look at these letters:

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Yeshua who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 ESV

The faith of the Thessalonian believers is summed up in these two things: serving a living and true God and waiting for His Son from heaven. How did they wait for His son? Were they to do this while in the grave? Did they serve the true God from the grave? No! While they were on earth, living and breathing, they were waiting for the Second Coming of Christ. They expected it in their lifetime.

Where did they get the idea that the Lord would return in their lifetime? They got if from Paul who got it from Yeshua. Notice what Yeshua said:

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Mark 13:30 ESV

Yeshua here, very plainly and very clearly, tells HIS DISCIPLES that ALL of the things He had mentioned would come to pass in THEIR GENERATION. This includes the Gospel being preached in all the world, the Abomination of Desolation, the Great Tribulation, and the Coming of the Son of Man. This is so clear that it greatly troubles those who hold to a Futuristic eschatology. Listen to what C.S. Lewis said:

“The apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, 'This generation shall not pass till all these things be done.' And He was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else. This is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.” [Essay "The World's Last Night" (1960), found in The Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 385]

To deny the time statements that the Bible gives of the Second Coming is to deny inspiration. Because of his physical view of the nature of the Second Coming, Lewis could not believe this clear time statement. He felt that it had not happened yet, and therefore Yeshua had to be wrong. That would be, in fact, much more than embarrassing; it would be devastating to the credibility of Yeshua. If Yeshua was wrong, as Lewis says He was, what else might He have been wrong about? What if He was wrong when He declared that those who believe in Him have everlasting life? Relax! Yeshua was not wrong. It is Lewis who was wrong. We can count on the truthfulness of what Yeshua tells us. Aren't you glad of that?

Back to the passage in Thessalonians, “Yeshua who delivers us from the wrath to come”—what wrath is this? This is the wrath that Yeshua predicated would come upon Jerusalem. Who is the “us” that Yeshua delivers from the wrath? It is Paul and the Thessalonians. If they are going to be delivered from the wrath, they must be around when the wrath happens. Look what Luke 21:20 says:

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, Luke 21:20-21 ESV

This is clearly a reference to A.D. 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem. Notice what Yeshua says next:

for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Luke 21:22 ESV

This is a very significant verse. Yeshua tells us here that ALL things which are written would be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. What does He mean by that? "All things which are written" refers to all prophecy. All prophecy was to be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. This makes the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 a very significant event for all Christians. Everything that was ever prophesied to happen was fulfilled in Jerusalem's fall. Please consider the weight of this statement!

Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. Luke 21:23 ESV

The coming wrath was on Israel. The Parousia of Yeshua is associated with judgment.

We must understand that the coming of Christ was not a physical coming in a biological body. When Christ came, he came in judgment but not in a bodily form. He came in judgment against Jerusalem. We would understand this if we knew the Tanakh. Let’s go to Isaiah 19.

An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. Isaiah 19:1 ESV

Yeshua is said to come on a cloud, and here Yahweh is riding on a cloud. When the Bible speaks of Yahweh riding on a cloud, it is speaking of judgment. The Egyptians didn’t see anyone riding on a cloud. We know from chapter 20 that Yahweh used the Assyrians to destroy Egypt.

In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it— Isaiah 20:1 ESV

The Assyrians are the instrument of Yahweh’s wrath but the verse says “the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence.” Yahweh was present in the judgment but nobody saw Him; they saw the Assyrians. This is clearly the nature of Christ’s coming on a cloud. He came in judgment against Jerusalem, but he used the Roman army. Just like in Isaiah 19, Yeshua’s presence was made known in judgment against Jerusalem.

Alright, let’s go back to Thessalonians:

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Yeshua at his coming? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 ESV

The “you” here are the first century Thessalonians. They were going to be there when he came.

so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Yeshua with all his saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 ESV

When is he going to establish their hearts blameless in holiness? At the coming of the Lord Yeshua.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Yeshua died and rose again, even so, through Yeshua, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ESV

It appears as though the Thessalonians were concerned for their departed loved ones. Paul reassures them by telling them in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 not to worry because they would rise with Christ at the Parousia ("We who remain alive will also rise!"). This is directed very specifically toward the first-century Thessalonians.

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ESV

Notice what Paul wrote: "By the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord…" The "we who are alive, who are left" is indeed a TIME STATEMENT because the "we" MUST be seen as the collective group of Paul and his audience. They (Paul and the Thessalonians) were expecting the return of Christ in their lifetime. This is very clear throughout the book:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ESV

As we compare Scripture with Scripture, we see that this is apocalyptic language speaking of judgment. Comparing this text to a parallel text in Matthew 24 will help us to better understand its meaning:

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:30-31 ESV

Does that sound familiar? It should. This is a parallel text to the Thessalonian passage. In Matthew 24, Yeshua predicted His Coming to gather together the saints in that generation. In 1 Thessalonians 4-5, Paul spoke of the same Coming of the Lord to gather the saints. How many Comings of the Lord with his angels, in fire, and in power and glory to gather the saints are there in the New Testament? Just ONE! The conclusion is inescapable: 1 Thessalonians 4-5 is dealing with exactly the same coming, judgment, and gathering that is found in Matt. 24:

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ESV

The words "caught up" are from the Greek word harpazo which means "to snatch away." This is where the word "rapture" comes from. But certainly being "caught up" means something different than a levitation of the physical body from earth up into the atmosphere of the sky. Remember, this being "caught up" happens sometime after the Second Coming.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV

The “you” and “your” refer to the first century Thessalonians. This is a prayer that they would still be in their biological bodies when the Lord returned. Physical death separates the spirit and body. To be preserved complete is to still be alive at the Second Coming.

After that first Epistle was written, there came a report to Paul about some doctrinal issues. So, he wrote a second letter to correct those misconceptions. We will look at that shortly, but first I want to show you something in the first chapter. In the first chapter, Paul speaks about their suffering—it was real, and they were hurting. With what doctrine does he comfort them? Let's look at the text:

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Yeshua is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Yeshua. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-8 ESV

He comforts them with the doctrine of the Second Coming. Notice that he says, “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” Who were "those who afflict you"? It was the Jews! We have already seen this. Verse 7 says that God would give them relief from their suffering—when? “When the Lord Yeshua is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire.” Paul says that they will have relief from their suffering at the Second Coming. Do you see that? Now, if the Second Coming is still future, we have a problem! If Paul was giving them false hope, how can we believe anything he says? If Yeshua did not come in the lifetime of those living first century Thessalonian Christians and give them relief from their persecution as promised by Paul, then Paul lied to them. If his prediction failed, he is a false prophet! He is a cruel false prophet. That is the problem this text presents to futurists, and it is unavoidable.

Paul wrote the Second Thessalonian letter to correct a serious misunderstanding. It seems that somebody wrote one or more fictitious letters and signed Paul's name to them and circulated it up there in the Thessalonian Church. And that forgery obviously was saying that the Second Coming had already happened. This was causing great difficulty among the believers in Thessalonica. Notice that Paul closes this Second Thessalonian letter with:

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 2 Thessalonians 3:17 ESV

Paul is essentially saying: “You can easily recognize a genuine letter from me because I will always close it with my own handwriting, and I will sign it with my own hand” (his personal mark in every Epistle).

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 ESV

This verse shatters the paradigm that views the Second Coming as the fiery destruction of the whole earth. Do you see that? If the Thessalonians believed the modern view that the nature of the Second Coming was to involve an earth-burning, total destruction of the planet, how could they have been deceived about its arrival? Why wouldn’t Paul have written them and said, "Look out the window, the earth is still here, so the Lord has obviously not come." They thought it had already happened, so they must have viewed the nature of the Second Coming differently than most folks today view it. If we can allow a crack in this earth-ending Second Coming paradigm, maybe we can begin to understand the truth of the Second Coming.

Whenever I talk about the time statements of Scripture, someone inevitable says, "Yeah, but a day with the Lord is as a thousand years" (2 Peter 3:8). That is true. God is not bound by time. But man is, and He is writing to men. As we have seen, the Second Coming was "imminent" in the first century, but was it imminent before the first century? The fact is that what God said was near to the apostles was not near to the earlier prophets:

The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.” Daniel 8:26 ESV

This was written in the 6th century B.C., and the vision pertained to “many days from now.”  In other words, it was a long time off. It was to be kept secret or sealed up. Now notice:

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Revelation 22:10 ESV

This was written in the 1st century A.D., and the time of the vision "was near." God said that was far away in Daniel's time was near in the apostles' time. The implication is inescapable: soon means "soon" and near means "near.” God knows how to tell time.

These events were imminent in the first century. The believers at Thessalonica were waiting for the Coming of Christ, they expected it in their lifetime, and it happened in their lifetime. God gave them rest from their affliction by destroying the Jewish temple, nation, and people.

Those who oppose a first century return of Christ will often accuse us of not believing in the Second Coming. I strongly believe in the Second Coming, but I believe it is past, not future. To deny the fact of the Second Coming is to deny the inspiration of Scripture. Do you agree? Well, I believe that the time of the Second Coming is just as clear as the fact of the Second Coming. I believe that to deny the time statements that the Bible gives of the Second Coming is also to deny inspiration.

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