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 who 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 of this false gospel that Jesus already returned rests precariously on several ‘timing’ statements made by New Testament writers.

“We are told, ‘It’s appointed once for man to die and then after this comes judgment.’8 Well when I was a futurist that passage worked great…”
John Watson sermon on August 20, 2023, (more on the 'Preterist Preacher's Playbook')

How Scripture answers "Has Jesus already returned (Revelation 22:20)?"

Concluding that Jesus already returned in AD70 (or any other time) because of Jesus1,4,12 and/or other New Testament writers’ statements3,5,7 would be misguided for several reasons:

  1. 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, but they were testing God!
  2. Every single time we see expressions of Jesus’ “imminent return”1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, it is coupled with or in the context of admonitions to remain strong or patient11. 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!
  3. Isolating these as literal, definitive, ‘man’s time’ declarations are 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.
  4. 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 and it will be obvious to all11. We only need to worry about following Him10 and remaining strong and ready3,5,7,9,13. Will you be ready?

Rather ironically with the Preterist’s position, within the very text4 that often plays into these types of ‘end times’ debates, Jesus warned there would be those claiming that Messiah returned (Mt 24:5). He even repeats the warning a little bit later and further emphasizes, “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (also Luke 1711)

And yet another irony exists with a second passage10. It is sometimes quoted to “prove” Jesus has returned. The argument is that Jesus said He was returning in John’s lifetime. The obvious irony is that the same saying spread in the first century…which is why John bothers to squash that rumor and emphasize the point that Jesus was making. No doubt, John is just shaking his head at those who would continue, even today, to perpetuate that lie.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
The One testifying to these things [Jesus] says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
The final words in the Revelation of John and the Bible as a whole.
Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus says that He is “coming soon.”

But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.
In regards to the exact time [that Jesus returns] nobody knows, not even the heavenly court, nor the Son, but only the Father. Therefore, be on guard and keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come.

A portion of Mark’s account

Scripture-block application to this question

Only the Father knows the time of Jesus’ return.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Since the end of all things is present, we should be serious and disciplined in order to pray continually. Most of all, continue to love each other earnestly since loving actions keeps one from sin. Be hospitable to each other without complaining.

Peter’s first letter to the “elect exiles” (brethren) that were faced with “various trials” (1:6). He wrote to strengthen and encourage them since they could or likely would be tested by a “fiery trial” (vs 12). This could be a trial peculiar to this particular group of Christians, but it is more likely the general “tribulation” that all Christians are promised during their lives of faithfulness.

Scripture-block application to this question

Peter’s reason for Christians to be serious and disciplined is because “the end” is here.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Peter has already established that Jesus’ appearance was in the “last times” (1:20), so all that is left is “the end of all things.”

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 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.

After the tribulation of those days, the material elements of this world will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven causing all on earth mourn, seeing Him coming on the clouds in the sky with power and glory.  He will send His angels with a loud trumpet and they will gather the saints from the all the earth.

This chapter, along with the next (chapter 25), constitutes a discussion between Jesus and his disciples sometimes referred to as the “Olivet Discourse.” Matthew is the only gospel writer to record the second half (chapter 25), while shorter versions of the first half can be found in Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 17:20-27 & 21:5-36.

Upon leaving the temple, Jesus comments on its destruction (vs 2).  Subsequently, they wanted to know about three things from Jesus: 1) the timing of the temple’s destruction, 2) the sign of His coming, and 3) the end of the age (vs 3). Jesus begins His answer, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and they will lead many astray.” (vs 4-5)

Taking this backdrop and chapters 24 & 25 together it is clear Jesus is addressing God’s judgment on both the nation of Israel and His final judgment on all mankind. We can further contextualize this discussion by looking at other instances when God, through a prophet, would pronounce judgment on a nation. When we read Amos or Hosea regarding Israel’s judgment, Isaiah or Jeremiah regarding Judah’s judgment, or Obadiah regarding Edom’s judgment, we read about not only God’s judgment on that nation (a near-term “day of the Lord”) but also His eventual judgment on all mankind (a longer-term final “day of the Lord”). In fact, often the prophet (e.g. God) will go back and forth between near-term judgment events and long-term judgment events.

This is the same with Jesus and how He speaks about God’s judgment in chapter 24. Remember, the disciples had asked about both the timing of the destruction of the temple and His return (vs 3). Jesus shares events (vss 15-28) that will take place in their generation (vs 34) regarding the destruction of the temple (in fact, taking place about forty years later in 70AD).  He then speaks primarily about what will happen “immediately after the tribulation of those days” (vs 29), namely His return (vss 29-44), before concluding with three parables and describing what the final “day of the Lord” will look like.

Detail of the sequencing of Jesus’ prophecy re: a near-term “day of the Lord” and the final “day of the Lord”:

  • 24:4-14 – A broad review of events during the ‘end times’ (both near-term and long-term) when “lawlessness is increased”.
  • 24:15-28 – A near-term description of events that they would experience relating to the destruction of Jerusalem.  Something that in fact, would happen about forty years later (70AD).
  • 24:29-31 – A long-term description of the events of the second coming, the final judgment.
  • vss 32-34 – The near-term timing that He relates and explains with a parable about the fig tree for how they would identify the occurrence of “these things” (vs 33) and says, “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (vs 34).
  • 24:35-44 – The long-term timing, transitioned by contrasting things that will and won’t pass away (vs 34-35) and with “But…” (vs 36). This timing “no one knows” – not even Himself (vs 36).
  • 24:45-25:30 – Three parables about being ready for His coming because we don’t know when it will be:
    • 24:45-51 – The “faithful and wise servant”
    • 25:1-13 – The “ten virgins”
    • 25:14-30 – The “talents”
  • 25:31-46 – Description of how it will be on that final “day of the Lord”. A good portion of this is repeated by Jesus in a different setting in Luke 17:20-27.
Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus, in what has to be ‘God’s time’ language, describes a sequence to follow “after the tribulation of those days” that leads up to “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” accompanied with “a loud trumpet” and a gathering of the “elect”.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

A literal interpretation of Matthew’s “immediately” withers a bit as Mark 13:24 records the transition simply as “after that tribulation” while Luke 21:25 has no transition and just says that “there will be signs”. Besides Luke 21, Luke 17:20-3711 must also be weighed since it also mirrors a portion of the Matthew 24 discourse but in a different setting.

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

Brethren, patiently await the coming of the Lord. Learn from how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being nourished by both the early and late rains. Be patient like that, establishing your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Don’t grumble against each other, lest you yourself be judged by the Judge that is standing at the door.

James’ letter throughout is about encouraging and warning Christians to live out the “word of truth” (1:18) in their lives and gives many practical examples of what that looks like.

Scripture-block application to this question

Much like Peter2, James counsels that Christians have patience and pay attention to their conduct since the Lord’s return is what is to happen next2,4.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

He goes on to give examples of the endurance of the prophets and Job.

Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.

My people! Hide yourselves for a little while inside your homes and shut the doors behind you until the fury has passed. Behold, God is coming out from His abode to punish the wicked on the earth which will show all the bloodshed and no longer conceal her dead.

After several oracles/judgments on specific nations such as Cush, Egypt, Moab, Tyre, etc. in the preceding chapters 15-23, Isaiah seems to turn to a broader declaration of judgment on all mankind in chapter 24.  This begins a particular concentration of “in/on that day” declarations that are dispersed throughout chapters 24-27.  Often, but not always, these declarations are describing circumstances that are fulfilled in the first century and the coming of Christ and His kingdom.
Scripture-block application to this question

God, through Isaiah, tells the people to hide “for a little while” for a devastating judgment on the wicked.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

God gives instruction regarding a judgment we still have yet to experience nearly 3,000 years later.

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

Brothers, it is the last hour, and many antichrists have come just as you heard would happen.  This is how we know it’s the last hour.

The Apostle John is writing to Christians to remain steadfast.  After reminding them that they are “not of this world”, he calls to their attention those that are personally antagonistic to Jesus (“antichrist”) and His teaching.  He marks those false teachers and implores his “children” to “let what you heard from the beginning abide in you” (vs 24).

Scripture-block application to this question

John describes the “last hour”, just as Jesus had described the tribulation with many false Christs and false prophets4 (e.g. “antichrists).

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Just as man’s appointment is to die and then face judgment, so also Christ has already been offered to bear the sins of many and will appear a second time not to deal with sin but to save those still waiting for His return.

The Hebrews writer is in the midst of his argument about why Jesus and the new covenant are better than the old – here specifically arguing about His superiority as a High Priest.

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus only comes twice – the first was to “deal with sin” and the second (e.g. “judgment”) will be to “save those who are eagerly waiting”.

Now Enoch, the seventh in descent beginning with Adam, even prophesied of them, saying, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied about them saying, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Jude is writing a brief, but stern letter of warning “to those who are called” (vs 1) to “contend for the faith” (vs 3) and remaining obedient. He also warns about false teachers (vs 4), but continues to give several examples from the Old Testament of those that did not remain faithful (for various reasons) and were condemned as a result.

It is these false teachers and generally those “following their own sinful desires” (vs 16) that Jude says Enoch was prophesying about in his statement of judgment for their “deeds of ungodliness” (vs 15).

Scripture-block application to this question

Enoch, sometime approx. 5,000 years ago, told the people of his day to “Look! The Lord is coming…”.

Jesus said to him, If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me! So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?

Jesus responded to him [Peter] that it was none of Peter’s concern whether or not it be His will that he [John] remain until His return. Peter only needs to follow Him. As a result, a rumor spread among the brethren that John was not going to die [before Jesus returned], but that’s not what Jesus had said. He had only said that it wasn’t Peter’s business whether or not it was His will for John to remain until He come.

The closing and final appearances of Jesus in John’s gospel account. Jesus has risen and demonstrated His complete bodily resurrection by having breakfast with them, where they all know it is the risen Lord (vs 12). After eating, Jesus is walking with Peter and questions him three times about if he loves Him, concluding with the command to “Follow me”. (vs 19) It’s after this that Peter sees John “following them” (vs 20) and asks Jesus the question, “What about this man?” (vs 21)
Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus makes no statement here about when He might return or if it would be in John’s lifetime (probably because He didn’t know2). His only point to Peter was, “You follow Me!”

And he said to the disciples, The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, Look, there! or Look, here! Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.
Jesus warned His disciples that a time was coming when they would desire to see Him in their presence (but they would not). He also warns that they would be tempted by others who will tell them He has returned. But they should not listen, since they would certainly know His return as it would be brilliant and obvious.

After being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus elaborates on the coming of the kingdom even further to His disciples (only recorded in Luke).

He goes on to repeat portions from Matthew 24 when He tells them that there will come a day when they long it to be like when the Son of Man was with them but it won’t be so (vs 22).  He says this would happen between the time He is “rejected by this generation” (vs 25) and “when the Son of Man is revealed” (vs 30).

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus makes it clear that there will be days coming when they will be tempted by others saying that He has returned. However, He assures them that His return will be unmistakable!

Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

I [Jesus] tell you a truth that some standing here now will not die before they see the Son of Man glorified in His kingdom.

Near the end of Jesus’ public ministry and six days before (17:1) the transfiguration of Jesus that was witnessed by Peter, James, and John. Jesus is preparing them for His coming death and kingdom. He had instructed them to pray to God that His “kingdom might come on earth, as it is in heaven” at the beginning of His ministry (Mt 6:10). Now He’s just told them that beginning with Peter, they would wield authority for the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” (vs 18).

There are parallel accounts in Mark 8:31-9:1 and Luke 9:22-27. Also, Jesus uses a similar statement earlier when He sends the twelve out, “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Mt 10:23)

Scripture-block application to this question

This statement recorded by Matthew is sometimes used to “prove” Jesus returned in the lifetimes of some of those to which He was speaking. However, He is referring to the establishment of His kingdom as a result of His first coming, not His second coming.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Only six days later, three of those present when He made this statement witnessed His transfiguration, or, “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Mark describes what they would see as, “the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mark 9:1) which even would extend their “witness” to the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Luke simply says they, “will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:27) Jesus confirms this again later when He says, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, Look, here it is! or There! for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:2111)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

By the authority of God and Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by the His appearing and kingdom: preach the gospel, being ready at all times whether it’s popular or not to correct, confront, and encourage, instructing with all patience.

The closing comments of Paul’s second letter to the young evangelist Timothy. He feels that his death is imminent (vss 6-8) but is hopeful to see Timothy again (vs 9).

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul does two important things here when encouraging the young Timothy: (1) he connects Jesus’ appearing with His kingdom – these two things were connected; His kingdom initiated with His first coming12, and (2) he charges to “be ready”…for His return.

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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.


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.