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 and other New Testament writers’ statements3,5,7,11 would be false 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 about, but they were testing God!
  2. Every single time we see expressions of Jesus’ “imminent return”1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,11, 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!
  3. 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.
  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. We don’t need to worry about it but only follow Him10 and remain strong3,5,7,9,11. 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 but 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.”

And yet another irony exists with a second passage10 sometime 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 that would continue, even today, to perpetuate that lie.

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