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Christmas, The Second Coming, And The Present

For many Christians, Christmas is about the first coming of Jesus — his birth as recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The second coming is often wrapped in eschatological mystery. It’s not part of the Christmas celebration, but perhaps we should at least think about it during this season.

It’s seems that New Testament writers thought that Christ’s second coming was imminent, within their lifetimes. Paul leaned in that direction: Romans 13:11-12; Romans 16:20; I Corinthians 7:29-31; I Thessalonians 4-5. But in I Timothy 6:14-15, Paul referred to the second coming as something “God will bring about in his own time.” And in II Peter 3:8-10, after some Christians became concerned about whether there would be a second coming in light of the length of time that had already passed after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, it is said: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

Jesus too seemed to think that his second coming was imminent when he told his disciples in Matthew 16:28: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Yet later in Matthew 24:36, he said: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

I’m not smart enough or discerning enough to know what to make of the scripture about Christ’s second coming. I believe it will happen but know nothing else.

When Christians celebrate Jesus’ first coming and ponder his second, maybe we should simply be grateful with Paul that, for now, “Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)


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