Could Jesus Return At Any Moment? | John Ankerberg Show

Could Jesus Return At Any Moment?

By: John Ankerberg Show
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By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©2004

Does the Bible indicate that it’s possible for the Lord Jesus to return even today to rapture His Bride the Church out of the world? I’m convinced that it does indicate that. The New Testa­ment teaches the imminency of the Lord’s return, and that means that Christ could return at any moment. Even back in New Testament times He could have returned at any moment. Now, He hasn’t yet, but it was possible back then. And the imminency concept carries with it the idea that there may be many things that WOULD happen before Christ comes, but biblically there’s nothing that HAS to happen before the Lord Jesus would come to rapture the Church out of the world to be with Him in the Father’s house in Heaven.

Now, where do we get this concept that the Lord could come at any moment, maybe even today?

Well, there are a number of passages in the New Testament that really convey that concept and I’d like to deal perhaps with just three of them for our study today. First, in 1 Corinthians 16:22, the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthian Christians, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.” And then Paul interjected at the end of this verse, interesting expression, “Maranatha!” Now, what does that term mean?

Well, it’s very interesting to note that that word was derived from the Aramaic language. Let me explain. The Aramaic language was the language that was spoken in the land of Israel during Jesus’ day. From all we can discern, that was even the language the Jesus spoke while He was here in the world. It was kind of a mixture of Hebrew and importing things from other languages where the Jews had lived over the centuries.

This was an Aramaic expression. In fact, “Maranatha” is made up of three Aramaic words: the first one is the word MAR which meant “Lord,” and then the next one is ANA which means “Our,” and the third was THA which means “Come.” So putting it together, Maranatha means “Our Lord, come.” The interesting thing is, this was in the form of a petition so that when Christians would make that statement, as Paul did here, he was actually petitioning the Lord to come.

Now, the question is, “Why petition the Lord to come if He can’t come at any moment?” If you know that He can’t come until a year from now, or ten years from now, or a hundred or a thou­sand years from now, it would really be useless to be petitioning the Lord as if He could come right now.

Another intriguing thing about this is that, although this is an Aramaic expression which ap­parently began with Jewish believers in the Lord Jesus in the land of Israel during the first cen­tury, here Paul uses this word to Greek speaking people at a Greek Church in the city of Corinth. And he’s writing it in a letter that he wrote in the Greek language.

So scholars have asked the question: “Why would Paul throw out an Aramaic term at people who knew the Greek language and in a Greek book that he’s writing?” Scholars have concluded that the reason for that is that this expression had become a widespread expression by Chris­tians all over the ancient world. Even though they may not have known any other expression in the Aramaic language, they learned what this one meant, so they used it as a byword. Some feel they even used it as a greeting when they would see each other to identify themselves as believers. They would say, “Maranatha” (Our Lord, come.) But again, it’s conveying a concept that the Lord could come at any moment, otherwise, why petition Him to come? It’s imminency that’s being conveyed here.

A second significant passage out of many others in the New Testament on the imminency of the Lord’s return is 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Here the Apostle Paul is in this context is talking about commendable attitudes or deeds which were characteristic of the Thessalonians Chris­tians of this time. And one of those commendable attitudes or actions was this: they were “wait­ing for God’s Son from Heaven.”

Now, some fascinating things about the verb form translated “wait.” That word literally meant “to wait up for,” and it was used back in the ancient world for people who were waiting up for the arrival of a person whom they were expecting to come. Now, the idea behind that is, they were waiting up for this arrival. It’s the idea that they didn’t go to bed at their normal time. And the reason they wouldn’t go to bed at their normal time was because they were expecting this person could arrive at any moment.

If they knew that this person couldn’t arrive, say, for another four, five, six hours, the normal thing for them would not be to wait up but to go to bed for the four, five or six hours, set the alarm clock (if they had alarm clocks at that time), and then wake up at the time that they knew the person would arrive. So the very fact that Paul says that the Thessalonian Christians had the attitude of waiting up for God’s Son to come from Heaven tells us that they were expecting Him to come from Heaven at any moment.

Another interesting thing about this term, and scholars point this out, is that this indicates patience and confidence. And in addition, it’s in the present tense and normally in the original language of the New Testament the present tense, unless the context tells us otherwise, has the idea of a continuous action. So Paul was teaching here that the Thessalonian Christians were “continuously” and “patiently” awaiting the Lord’s coming, waiting up for Him to come, because they were confident that He could come at any moment. Again, the idea is, they believed in the imminent return of the Lord Jesus.

Now, a question we could ask at this point was this: Where did they get this idea from, that the Lord could return at any moment? Well, when you read the book of Acts, which records what Paul did when he went to the city of Thessalonica on one of his missionary journeys, we find that Paul is the one who taught them what they knew about the Scriptures and the truth of God.

When you read 1 Thessalonians there are several indications. Paul reminds them of things that he had taught them when he was with them. So if the Apostle Paul had been their major teacher of God’s truth, to my way of thinking, that implies that Paul was the one who had taught them of the imminent coming of Christ, that He could come from Heaven at any moment for His believers to take them home to glory to be with Him. It’s very intriguing to notice as well that Paul did not rebuke them or correct them for having this expectation and this attitude and there’s no indication that he rebuked them or corrected them at all. In fact, when you read the context, he seems to be commending them for having this attitude. So I get the distinct impres­sion that Paul was fully convinced himself that the Lord come return at any moment, and there­fore they were right in having this expectancy.

Then, a third passage that I’d like to focus our attention upon for the imminency of the Lord’s return is in James 5. We want to begin with verse 7: “Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord; behold the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth and has long patience for it until he receive the early and latter rain. Be you also patient; establish you hearts, for the coming of the Lord draws nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge stands before the door.”

I’d like to draw your attention to two verb forms that James uses here. At the end of verse 8he says, “the coming of the Lord draws nigh” and then in verse 9, “the judge stands before thedoor.” A very important thing to note here is that, in the original language that James wrote, bothof those verbs are in what the Greeks called the perfect tense. And the significance of the Greekperfect tense was that it is referring to an action that was completed in the past, but then there is a resultant state that continues on from that action. It just continues on indefinitely.

What James is indicating there is this: that the Lord’s coming had already drawn near before James wrote this letter and the Lord’s coming continues to be near at hand, even while James wrote the letter and it would continue thereafter.

And as well, “the judge stands before the door”; he was saying that there’s a sense in which Jesus Christ as the Judge of believers took His position of the door of Heaven and was standing there; He even took that position and began to stand there before James wrote this epistle and He continues to stand at the door of Heaven.

A number of scholars that I researched on this said James is trying to emphasize to his readers the imminency of the Lord’s return. The idea is, the Lord could come as the Judge of Heaven through that door of Heaven at any moment and then immediately, Christians would stand before Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They have their works as believers evaluated by the Lord. It’s imminency that he’s talking about here. And I’m convinced that just as it was imminent back then, the Lord could have stepped through the door of Heaven at any time.

The same is true today—Christ could step through the door of Heaven at any moment, and we who are believers in Jesus Christ would be ushered into His presence and then would stand before Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ to have our works evaluated by the Lord.

John Ankerberg Show

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EDDIE CAIRNSRachelRichard J. WoernerKelleyMicah Ben-Yehudah Recent comment authors
EDDIE CAIRNS
EDDIE CAIRNS

Before Jesus returns Egypt attacks Syria, Syria invades Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia and Israel. Three and a half years after Israel is overrun by Syria Jesus returns.

Rachel

I believe in pre trib. rapture, looking at the world situation now, that can happen any moment. we all should should be ready and keep watching!

Richard J. Woerner
Richard J. Woerner

I believe in a pre-trib rapture regardless of what these so-called self-imposed theologians say. However, since this IS NOT an essential doctrine, all the bashing for yea and nay is rather unscriptual (read Romans 14 about how we should deal with each other’s differences.) If folks believe it, secured in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, who are you to to say otherwise. I like the quip about the supposed false teachers from other great men and women that have written on God’s word. Usually those that deny certain things biblically are those that like to trash folks such as… Read more »

steven
steven

Thank you for the good article above. My understanding on this subject of rapture is on several Bible references. 1. The parable of the fig tree. (Matt. 24:32-35) … this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled. 2. Psalm 90:10 The days of our lives are 70 years; and if by reason of strength they are 80 years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. 3. II Peter 3:8 … that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a… Read more »

James
James

NO date setting my friend–that kind of talk cannot be trusted–contradicts the Scriptures. Sorry

James
James

John A. should invite me–an ordinary Christian– to his show so that I might prove Scripturally to the professing Christian world that pre-tribulationism (any moment rapture) is make-believe–a fable, a myth, a fairy-tale. So sorry to say it like that but it’s true. We will CERTAINLY be “raptured”–caught up to meet the Lord in the air at His coming, but not until the moment that He has stated–immediately after the tribulation (Matt. 24:29-31). The awful confusion surrounding this doctrine prevails because people–some good and some bad–refuse to pay attention to the actual words of Scripture. We would rather believe what… Read more »

Tim

don’t waist your time reading this post..people are ignorant and could care less. When Christ returns he comes in flaming fire taking vengeance upon them that know not God. The pretrib view is a lie even with a man with DR.before his name. He is a false teacher. Read Rev.20:4 2 Thes.2:1-4 The body of Christ is in spiritual captivity and they don’t even know it!

James
James

I believed in the “any moment” rapture position for the 1st 15 years of my Christian life. But my understanding of the doctrine was changed by the actual words of the text of Scripture. Both the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught that our gathering together unto Him (the rapture) cannot occur until after the man of sin is revealed (Matt. 24:15, 29-31; 2 Thess. 2:1-4). The vast majority of Bible teachers and interpreters are forced to misrepresent the plain words of these text to hold to a pre-tribulation viewpoint. Jesus NEVER mentioned an “any moment” rapture nor did… Read more »

Frank

John what your saying is veary true , I study a lot on this subject , what you and Jimmy DE Young teach it line up with the Word of God I am convinced that the Lord could at any time , I am a pretrib believer , many I know are saying mid or post I don’t believe that, Revelations say in chapter 3:10 that he Jesus will make away of escape from the hour of testing.

Curtis gill
Curtis gill

Greetings Dr. Ankerberg! I am so excited about the rapture! My heart is so full of joy,and i know Christ return is imminent. I am tremendously blessed by the first two articles and i eagerly anticiparte the folowing three. I love you..MARANATHA!!!!

Frank Chisholm
Frank Chisholm

Although there are many places where the impression of imminence may be implied (as a may have looked longingly over the horizon for her beloved, prior to the expected day) IT IS NOT SO EXPLICITLY STATED. Further, Christ’s returning is always accompanied by great commotion (as in 1 Thes. 4:16). Thirdly, Christ explicitly stated that the destruction of Jerusalem, and diaspora, would take place first (as in Luke 21:28-28) where he returns in a cloud, exactly as the angel said He would in Acts 1:11, and is described in Zech. 14:1-3 . . . and is in the process of… Read more »

Frank Chisholm
Frank Chisholm

Sorry, that first comment is supposed to be on a bride looking longingly across the sea for her beloved!

Ralph Filicchia
Ralph Filicchia

This whole thread is pathetic. The arguments used for Jesus imminency are childish and an insult to anyone’s intelligence.The pre-trib rapture is one of the great hoaxes of our time, and those who push this lie are doing great harm to many believers

Karl Wagner
Karl Wagner

What about 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Jesus’ coming may be soon, but imminent? Again, the Bible doesn’t speak of two different comings. The rapture and the glorious coming of the saints are the same event. The end of Chapter 6 in Revelation asks the question “Who is able to stand?” The answer is in chapter 7, the 144,000. The army of God (John takes this imagery from Joel). John… Read more »

Micah Ben-Yehudah
Micah Ben-Yehudah

The two big messages above should read correctly with yhe first name of Micah, noy Mkcah.

Ronald Maddox
Ronald Maddox

I made a mistake and cancelled my discipleship training . Please continue to send me my emails.

Saleem Mathew
Saleem Mathew

Dear Dr John
I try to regular watch and read your articles. Thanks for enlightening us on this very important subject which is our greatest hope. All I can say is Maranatha and God bless you and your team.
Mathew
AMCF Vice President ( S Asia)
Pakistan

Mkcah Ben-Yehudah
Mkcah Ben-Yehudah

This set of theories was posited by me back in the mid eighties as witnessed by John Loeffler of the Steel on Steel radio program in Denver, Colorado, along with his other guest Donald McElvaney. The language in the part of the article I send in this quote is identical to that which I relayed to the public that day. Another indication of Mr. Mark Littleton, Sr.’, plagiarism is my statement of being Jewish (see his/my “tidbit on my faith). I do not know where Mr. Littleton obtained my material as I have posted in a number of internet locations;… Read more »

Mkcah Ben-Yehudah
Mkcah Ben-Yehudah

“…Chapter 20, of Revelation states when those who have been murdered/beheaded because of the Word of HaShem/Yeshuah, WILL rise FIRST; BUT, unlike the following sentence, believers who live through the Tribulation WILL ALSO live through the Wrath of HaShem/Yeshuah. Though, not necessarily IN His wrath. They, as well as my fellow Jewish believers, might very well be under His protection as are my fellow Jews, in the Rocks (most likely, like or in PETRA). This paragraph falls completely in line with 1 Thess 4.16 thru .18. The correlation of the two prove the Resurrection (and the so called rapture) is… Read more »

Kelley
Kelley

Those who believe the rapture will happen either mid-trib or post -trib are ignoring what the angel Gabriel told the prophet Daniel in Daniel 9:24-27. The 70 weeks are determined upon Daniel’s people which is Israel. 69 of those weeks have already happened. The 70th which is a 7 year period is still determined upon Israel. No where does scripture indicated the church will be involved in this. According to the book of Hosea and other scriptures, Israel, metaphorically is the unfaithful wife of God. During the Great Tribulation she will be restored back to God. Joseph and Moses are… Read more »

Micah Ben-Yehudah
Micah Ben-Yehudah

Kelly – If Gabriel specically stated an order and time of a Pre-Trib Rapture, then you can ascribe a Pre-Trib Rapture. But Gabriel does not ascribe a Pre-Trib to his statements. If you would read the references I gave which specifically tell when the “resurrection of the dead in Christ” is, then it is foolish to believe in Pre or Mid Trib raptures. If one recalls the order of resurrection Shaul of Tarsus gives in I Thess. 4.16, at the sound of the trump, the dead in Christ shall rise FIRST [I reiterate FIRST]. That verse matches Rev. 20.6. It… Read more »

Kelley
Kelley

Gabriel was not speaking about the rapture. The rapture only applies to the church. Gabriel was speaking about Israel. If Rev 20:5-6 is the only part of the First resurrection, how does the resurrection of Jesus and also the two witnesses in Rev 11 fit into this? They were resurrected before this. Do they have to be resurrected again at the time of Rev 20:4-6? Rev. 20:5-6 is not giving the timing of the resurrection but the end results of it. The First Resurrection is not limited to a one time event, but rather it is the quality of the… Read more »

Micah Ben-Yehudah
Micah Ben-Yehudah

Kelly – I don’t know where you learned English, but “first means first”, not second, third or anything but FIRST”

Kelley
Kelley

Micah, first means first in the context it is used, like first generation, or first production model. There could be many units in this context but first one produced in this context would be number one. But after number one would not each one produced after still be the “first” model So if as you say first means first not second or third, then you must be saying that all who are part of the first resurrection will be resurrected at the same time. So how does Jesus and the two witnesses Rev 11 fiit this scenerio? You haven’t answered… Read more »

Chris
Chris

The Old Testament also shows the principle that Saints do not go through the judgement of God and of the rapture of the saint’s.

Enoch -Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
Elijah was raptured.
Noah was saved before the Jugement of God
Lot was saved before the judgement of God

Jude 14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

John David
John David

The Lord can come at any time there we who are in the Lord should be ready or get ready

Daniel
Daniel

I do not understand why my biblical references are linked to NIV? I didn’t mean that! I have cited only from King James AV Bible!

Daniel
Daniel

Hello…

I do not for what reason my biblical references are linked to NIV? I didn’t mean that! I have cited from King James AV! 🙂

Daniel
Daniel

It is not true, this could not happen at any moment! Read Matthew 24 from 15 to 31! ”Immediately after the tribulation… the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: … And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Then, who are ”his… Read more »

Chris
Chris

Hi Daniel you state “It is not true, this could not happen at any moment! Read Matthew 24 from 15 to 31!” Matthew 24 has nothing to do with the church. The context is not about the church it is about the nation of Israel. The church is not the subject or the context of Matthew. Matthew chapter 24 is about Israel, see v.15, 16. See also “Sabbath day” 24:20. The church is already gone during this time of “great tribulation”. The context of these verses is the Second Coming, when Jesus comes back with His saints. c.f. Matthew 24:30… Read more »

Daniel
Daniel

Hi Chris!

You have just made an allegory! Be careful!

Because of this unscriptural doctrine, a lot of christians will not recognized the antichrist, when he will come!! A lot of christians will be perished because of this lie! Simply, you cant recognized the antichrist because you think that the great tribulation will come after the tribulation! So, in this maner, a lot of christians will be deceived to believe that the next world president shall be a man like the other, just a simply politician!

Linda Fuller
Linda Fuller

I loved reading this! All I know is that if we could say that the Rapture wouldn’t happen until a long time off, (mid or post-trib), then people would be discouraged and perhaps not keep their hearts focusing on the importance of staying close to Christ daily..? Since Jesus is our Blessed “Hope”, then I think he wants us to be excited and looking for him every day. I like what it speaks of in Matthew Chapter 25 of the ten virgins , when 5 had oil in their lamps and were watching for the Bridegroom and the other 5… Read more »

Charles Best, Jr.
Charles Best, Jr.

I enjoy your teaching on the rapture. Great job!!!!. JESUS, could take us home at any time. Can’t wait to see my LORD and SAVIOR.

Jeff
Jeff

Jesus can not comeback at any time. Please explain Rev. 20:4-6. If Jesus can come back anytime, including today, then Rev. 20:4-6 is a lie. The First resurrection is after the mark of the beast at the end of the final seven years, not before. Please do your homework, and stop listening to false teachers teach a false prophecy.

George Stefan
George Stefan

Is it possible this could be referring to a christian”s death? Jesus
will be there to welcome into GLORY? This could happen at any moment.

J. William Howerton
J. William Howerton

Dear Dr. Ankerberg, I watched your shows these past two weeks and your interviews with Jimmy DeYoung. While Jesus will return, and can return at His time, which could be anytime, I remain unconvinced that any rapture will come prior to the bad times. (pretrib) The dead in Christ will rise first, but those alive on earth will not be “raptured” until after the identification of the Anti-Christ. (Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians) Although Paul claims there will be a rapture of the “Church,” at least that which is not apostate, he does not specifically say when. Looking at… Read more »

BMC
BMC

Read this website for some insight into The Second Coming.
http://www.christrocknroll.com

Kathy Meyer
Kathy Meyer

What about 2Thess 2:1-9?

David Fairfield
David Fairfield

amen & amen

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