Wondering if Jesus already returned is as old as the gospel itself. It was something the first-century Christians were concerned about. We have the record of Paul assuring the Thessalonians that Jesus had not yet returned (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). However, we also find Paul rendering a scathing condemnation to men that were teaching that Jesus already returned (2 Timothy 2:16-18).
With that backdrop, we find some today teaching that Jesus already returned. A movement called ‘Preterism‘, aka ‘AD70 doctrine’, teaches that Jesus already returned with the destruction of the Jewish temple in AD70. This teaching is conditioned on several false premises including a misunderstanding about the nature of the kingdom of God and when it was established. However, the central premise leading to the false conclusion that Jesus already returned seems to rest on several ‘timing’ statements made by New Testament writers.
How Scripture answers "Has Jesus already returned (Revelation 22:20)?"
Basing a conclusion that Jesus already returned in AD70 (or any other time) because of Jesus1,4,12 and other New Testament writers’ statements3,5,7,11 would be false for several reasons:
- None of the New Testament writers knew when Jesus was returning2. If no one knew the timing of “that day”, then these writers weren’t only being deceitful by offering something of which they knew nothing about, but they were testing God!
- Every single time we see expressions of Jesus’ “imminent return”1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,11, it is coupled with or in the context of admonitions to remain strong or patient. In other words, the writer is not trying to proclaim the literal timing of Jesus’ return (again, something they knew nothing abouta). Rather, they want to convey urgency to the Christian living in ‘man’s time’ to not become complacent in their faith. As far as they or their listeners were concerned, Jesus could return at any time so they needed to be ready!
- Isolating these as literal, definitive, ‘man’s time’ declarations is not consistent with the rest of Scripture. In light of the Bible pattern regarding God’s time in relation to man’s time, we must conclude that these are not literal, “man-time” statements.
- If Jesus already returned, then what does the Christian do with Jesus’ admonition2 and all the other inspired writers’ points to remain strong? Do we just disregard, and thus disregard the need to remain patient and vigilant in our faithb? NO, because Jesus is “coming soon”1!
No, Jesus has not already returned. Rather, it is His second coming8, not the third, that happens next. We don’t need to worry about it but only follow Him10 and remain strong3,5,7,9,11. Will you be ready?
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I don’t see reference to Matthew 16:28 where Jesus said, 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. My apologies if I’ve just missed it.
So logic would claim that since all those who He was speaking to (above scripture) at that time are dead, then He has already returned. Many say that the ‘Dark Ages’ is when Jesus was here on earth and that it’s been covered up by the powers that be. I mean, did humans really revert so severely that they stopped recording history, as its stated about the dark ages? That just seems pretty convenient to me.
Thanks for your comment, Jules. Some do believe this passage from Matthew would apply to this question (and we will add it!). However, it really comes down to what “coming in his kingdom” means. Does it *have to* mean his second coming? Could it mean something different? We believe the context here gives one clue. What immediately follows that some of them see? Additionally, we can look at the parallel accounts that both Make and Luke provide. We believe their wording makes it even clearer what the “coming in his kingdom” is in reference to Jesus establishing his kingdom.
Yes, I’ve wondered about what that meant exactly, until they see the Son of man “coming in His kingdom.” And I’ve often wished I could speak Hebrew so I could know the true translation/ meaning. I’ve thought that it could mean when he was resurrected and then went to God in Heaven… but that’s Him going up, not coming here. It’s confusing. I’ve had people say they believe He’s already come, and if that’s so, it makes me sad, because then what. What are we doing? What are we supposed to do. Will He come again? … it’s disheartening. I love Jesus, and will always keep doing what He wants. I just really hope and pray that I haven’t missed the boat so to speak. Thank you for your response.
Thank you for your sincere words. You are much like the Thessalonians who also worried they “missed it” but Paul reassured them they had not. He only encouraged them to be ready…which is exactly your commitment as well! If we could suggest one thing? Don’t buy in to the idea that you need to “speak Hebrew” in order to understand God’s word. God didn’t reveal Himself to us through His word, only to make it unknowable. He only requires reading it with an open heart and willingness to accept it. Making that point is really one of the main reasons for this site. “The sum of [His] word is truth.” (Ps 119:160)