At first blush, the NT writers appear confused about the timing of the second Advent of Jesus. Many say that the time was "near" or "at hand" such as:
- James 5:8 - You also be patient; strengthen your hearts, because the coming of the Lord has drawn near.
- 1 Peter 4:7 - Now the end of all has drawn near. Therefore be clear-minded and be sober for the purpose of prayers,
- Heb 10:37 – He who is coming will come and not delay
- 1 Thess 4:15 – Paul talks about the second coming and “we who are still alive”; thus he believed he would live to see the Lord return
- 1 Cor 7:29 – time is short
- Rom 13:11, 12 – salvation is nearer than when we believed.
- Rev 3:11 - I am coming soon.d Hold fast to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
- Rev 22:7 - Behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of prophecy in this book
- Rev 22:12 - Behold, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to what he has done.
- Rev 22:20 - He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
There is much more to this story - see the appendix below about the last days.
However, (and this is a significant BUT!) Paul says this in 2 Thess 2:1-3 -
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being
gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be easily
disconcerted or alarmed by any spirit or message or letter seeming to
be from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord has already come. Let no
one deceive you in any way, for it will not come until the rebellion
occurs and the man of lawlessness—the son of destruction—is revealed.
Thus, Paul is very clear that a series of important events concerning the "man of lawlessness" being revealed, etc, must occur before the Lord returned which he then describes in the chapter of 2 Thess 2 known as Paul's apocalypse.
Now, all this is rather theoretical, but we must recall that all of us are only one heartbeat away from death - any of us could expire at any moment! When that occurs, we must be ready to meet out Maker and Savior. Thus we must be ready at every moment of every day.
This is why the NT writers constantly stressed the nearness of Jesus' return.
APPENDIX - Last Days began at Jesus Resurrection
The New Testament calls the time after Jesus’ resurrection, the “last days”, or “last hour”, or similar. Note the following:
- Acts 2:17 – Peter calls the day of Pentecost the “last day” in fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. Compare v29-32.
- 2 Tim 3:1 – perilous times in the “last day” which Paul discusses as already at his time.
- Heb 1:2 – “These last days” God is revealed in Jesus.
- James 5:3 – warning against rampant materialism and worship of money in the “last day”, that is, the time of James himself.
- 1 Peter 1:5 – Christians reveal God and are miraculously preserved in the “last time”.
- 1 Peter 1:20 – Jesus revealed in these “last times”.
- 2 Peter 3:3 – Peter writes about his time as the fulfillment of that spoken by the ancient prophets about the “last days”.
- 1 John 2:18 – Twice, John calls his time the “last hour”.
- Jude 18 – Jude describes his time as the fulfillment of ancient prophecies about the “last time”.
- Rev 2:16, 3:11, 22:7, 12, 20 – Jesus says, “I am coming soon/quickly”.
- Even in a passage like John 6:39, 40, 54 where Jesus refers to the resurrection at the “last day” (see below) that time began with His death, Matt 27:50-53.
It should not be surprising that eschatology is defined in terms of Jesus – four times in the book of Revelation (1:11, 17, 2:8, 22:13) Jesus is called “the first and the last”. Thus, Bible eschatology, is the study of the time after Jesus inaugurated His Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 3:2, 4:17, 23, 5:3, 10, 19, etc).