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Question Box





Christ’s Return


References are to the NIV-UK


Q. James 5: 8 reads:‘. . . be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near [close by].’

As the Apostle wrote these words to the early Church, two thousand years ago, in what sense was the Lord’s ‘coming’ or ‘presence’ close by?


A. Certainly not in the way Jesus intended in Matt. 24: 37: ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming [presence, Gk. parousia] of the Son of Man.’

The Lord here describes events which were to occur centuries later, at the end of the Gospel Age a time far distant from the brethren of James’ acquaintance.

Indeed, the Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, cautions the brethren not to fall for the rumour that Christ had already come.

He goes on to tell them them how many events were yet to occur before the Second Advent, events which were not fulfilled in his lifetime (2 Thes. 2: 1-3).


In one sense the presence of the Lord is perpetually imminent.

For example, Jesus announced in Matt. 10: 7 that the ‘kingdom [basileia] of heaven is near’, in the sense that the calling of the heavenly elect had begun.

And in Matt. 28: 20 He comforts His disciples with the promise that He is ‘with them’ until the end of the (Gospel) age a long period of waiting until His Second Advent.

This so-called dialectical tension on the matter of the Lord’s Coming it is ‘at hand’, it is ‘far off’ baffles many approaches to this subject. However, it serves to remind us that from the time Christ first appeared in the earth, He has never effectively been absent.

All events since the First Advent have step by step accomplished His Gospel mission.

Through the epistle of James and the other New Testament writings, the elect Church was exhorted to live as though the ‘time is short’. They are reminded that although being in this world, they are not ‘of’ it. It is as though they had vaulted over the present age into the presence of the returned Lord. Indeed, from the personal point of view, the presence of the Lord is as close as one’s death.


Feb.-Mar. 2019 – – no copyright


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