Before Christ suffered and died for our sins on the cross at Calvary, He promised that He would come back. The apostle John recorded these words in the book of John, chapter 14 and verses 1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”The second coming of Christ is an event that should be looked forward to by every Christian. It was an event that was certainly looked forward to by faithful Christians such as Paul, who encouraged his brothers and sisters in Christ to focus on this great event, so that they may not lose hope while living in a sinful world. The second coming of Christ was described in great detail so that Paul’s readers could visualize the wonderful things that they would see upon the Day of Judgment. The second coming of Christ was described in great detail in the book of I Thessalonians, and this paper strives to discuss various thoughts pertaining to Christ’s return according to Paul’s writings.
According to an article by Wayne Jackson, the second coming of Christ was referenced over 300 times in the New Testament. This same article states that the Second Coming of Christ is referenced eight times more often than the Lord’s first appearance upon the earth. This shows how important the inspired writers who penned the New Testament knew the second coming to be, and this should cause us all to see the importance of this event. Paul was no exception in that he knew that he needed to tell his readers about this wonderful event in his letters.
The church at Thessalonica was established by Paul around 50 A.D. during his second missionary journey. Thessalonica was located in Macedonia. Chapter 17 of the book of Acts records the event of the church at Thessalonica being established by Paul.
"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few" (Acts 17:1-4)
Paul, Silas, and Timothy faced opposition from the Jews in Thessalonica, who were envious of him, so he was sent to Berea and then to Corinth. It is believed that the first letter to the church at Thessalonica was written while Paul was at Corinth. It was while Paul was at Corinth that Timothy caught up with him and let him know how the Christians at Thessalonica were doing. Since the church at Thessalonica was a newly formed congregation, Paul wanted to write the Christians there a letter to encourage them to stay faithful.
Besides Paul’s description of the second coming of Jesus Christ in Thessalonians, there are other references to this event, also referred to as the Day of Judgment, in other parts of the New Testament. Christ Himself refers to this event in several parts of the New Testament. Matthew 16:26-28 records Jesus saying, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Likewise, Christ speaks about his coming in Mark 8:38 when He says, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Also, Jesus repeats His promise of returning to collect the faithful in John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Acts 1:9-11 records two angels speaking about Christ’s return to the apostles after they had just witnessed Christ in His resurrected state.
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
Likewise, Hebrews 9:27-28 states, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” The truth that Christ would come again at an appointed time known only to God was further asserted by Paul in Thessalonians.
Paul makes several references to the second coming in his letters to the church at Thessalonica. His purpose in doing this was to encourage the young congregation which had only been established a few months prior to stay faithful in Christ Jesus. Paul gives a description of the Day of Judgment in both I and II Thessalonians. Paul wishes the church at Thessalonica to comfort themselves with the thought that their diligence to remain faithful to Christ will result in His return to take them to Heaven to be with Him. In I Thessalonians 4:14-18 he writes,
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Likewise, Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; 
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."
In II Thessalonians 1:7-10, Paul continues to speak to the church at Thessalonica about the return of Christ.
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day."
Also, in II Thessalonians 2:1-2, Paul encourages the Christians of Thessalonica by saying “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Now that we have seen what Paul wrote in Thessalonians regarding the Second Coming of Christ, let’s look at how Paul described that day in more detail.
Before Paul left the church at Thessalonica, he had told the congregation about Christ’s return. When Paul had to leave suddenly due to persecution, the congregation at Thessalonica had thought about what Paul said and they had the misunderstanding that the second coming of Christ would take place before any of them died, and the faithful would be “taken up” with Christ into Heaven. While Paul was gone, Timothy, who stayed with the Thessalonians, noticed that they were beginning to have great sorrow because some of them were dying before the Judgment Day had come. The congregation in Thessalonica was under the impression that those who had died before the second coming would miss out on going into Heaven.
In I Thessalonians 4:13, Paul told the Thessalonians to not “be ignorant” and to “sorrow not” regarding those who were already “asleep” or dead. He goes onto say in verse 14, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” This shows that those who were already dead among the Thessalonians would still witness the second coming and the faithful would enter into Heaven with Christ. Paul goes on to say more about this in verses 15 and 16 of I Thessalonians chapter 4, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”.  Paul is saying here that the dead in Christ will rise up immediately and before those who are still living to meet Christ when He comes down from Heaven."
These words were given to help comfort the Thessalonians as well as keep them motivated to stay faithful Christians. No doubt those who read Paul’s words were relieved to hear that their loved ones would still be able to witness this great event!
Paul tells the Christians at Thessalonica that the second coming would begin with the coming down of Christ from Heaven “with a shout.” Edwards states that this “shout” could be the call of Christ for those in the grave to rise. Paul goes onto say in verse 16 that the voice of the archangel will also be heard. The archangel that Paul is referencing here is Michael. Some have erroneously speculated that Christ is the archangel instead of Michael according to what Paul wrote in verse 16. Such denominations as the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this.
However, Hebrews 1:1-6 disproves the idea that Jesus and the archangel are one and the same,
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him."
Since Jesus is made superior to the angels and the angels are commanded to worship Him, then Paul is stating in I Thessalonians 4:16 that everyone would hear both the voice of Jesus and the voice of the archangel, Michael, at the beginning of the Day of Judgment. Along with the voice of Christ and of the archangel, everyone would hear the “trump of God.” I Corinthians 15:52 calls the trump of God “the last trump” that would signal the dead to rise and to be changed into a new form. Also, Paul states in II Thessalonians 1:7-10, Jesus will descend to earth from Heaven, accompanied by all of the “holy angels” and to reward the faithful in Christ and with fire to punish the unfaithful. It is no wonder that the Christians in Thessalonica would not want their deceased loved ones to miss out on such an amazing sight!
Paul states in I Thessalonians 4:16 that the faithful Christians who are already dead at the time of the second coming would rise first and meet Christ in the air. After this event happens, Paul states in verse 17 that those who are living at the time of the second coming would also rise in the air to meet Jesus and then go with Him into Heaven with all of the faithful. One point that Paul did not talk about in I Thessalonians is that both the faithful and unfaithful of the deceased would be resurrected during the Second Coming. The faithful would go on to meet Jesus in the air, while the unfaithful would be left behind to suffer the consequences of being spiritually lost. Possibly Paul was only focusing on the faithful dead being risen to give the Christians at Thessalonica comfort regarding their own deceased loved ones. In II Thessalonians, Paul speaks about how Jesus would be admired and glorified by all of the faithful Christians living and dead.
Paul makes it very clear in I Thessalonians Chapter 5 that no man knows when the second coming of Christ will occur. It will come without warning, just as a thief would when breaking into a home, or as a woman who suddenly goes into labor. Jesus also stated that the second coming was known to no man, not even the angels, but to God only in Matthew Chapter 24. The reason that Jesus did not know when the time of the second coming would occur during His ministry while walking the earth was due to the fact that His knowledge was limited in certain areas while He assumed a mortal body here on the earth and as he grew older he gained back this knowledge, however, He did not know when the end of the world would be at that time. Philippians 2:5-8 confirms that Jesus willingly limited His knowledge by leaving Heaven to be born a baby and to grow older, saying,
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Jesus had the same feelings as we do, and was in full subjection to God while on the earth. After His ascension into Heaven, Jesus then regained all knowledge as part of the Godhead (I Peter 3:21-22).
In conclusion, Paul, through inspiration of God, gave a wonderful description of what the second coming of Christ would be like! It was a source of comfort to the Christians at Thessalonica to read Paul’s words regarding Christ’s return, as it is comforting today to read about what faithful Christians have to look forward to, also! We, as Christians, should do all we can to remain faithful for life, so that we can meet Christ in the air on that last day and be taken up into Heaven for an eternity of happiness! We should, also, do all that we can to take as many souls with us into Heaven. May we all strive to focus on the goal of gaining a home in Heaven each day of our lives so that we do not become discouraged by the sinful world in which we live. As Paul states in II Thessalonians 2:17, “Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”  We would do good to follow this instruction!
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