The ‘Comings’ of Christ in Revelation 2-3 -- By: Robert L. Thomas
MSJ 7:2 (Fall 96) p. 153
The ‘Comings’ of Christ in Revelation 2-3
Professor of New Testament
Six of the seven messages of Christ in Rev 2–3 contain references to His coming. In three instances He promises to come and deliver His faithful from persecution, and in three He threatens to come and judge the unfaithful. In all six His coming is imminent, whether for deliverance or for judgment. The only way this can happen is for the deliverance—the rapture of the church—and the judgment—the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week—to occur simultaneously. The two chapters provide three more passages that refer to His coming indirectly. The forecast in these too is for His return at any moment. A survey of other relevant NT passages reflects the same dual imminence for the two events. The phenomena surrounding these predicted comings lead inevitably to the conclusion that Christ’s return for His church must be pretribulational, because this is the only way to explain satisfactorily how the two future events can be simultaneous.
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In Revelation 2–3 Christ speaks of His coming explicitly in six of the messages to the seven churches of Asia. He does so in three of the messages through a form of the verb ἔρχομαι (erchomai, “I will come”1 ) (2:5, 16; 3:11). In two of the messages he does so with the verb
MSJ 7:2 (Fall 96) p. 154
ἥκω (hēkō, “I come”) (2:25; 3:3). In one message εἰσέρχομαι (eiserchomai, “I enter”) refers to his coming (3:20). Smyrna is the only church that receives no word about a coming of the Lord.
The ‘comings’ fall into two categories, one with overtones of comfort and encouragement and the other with the tenor of threat and judgment. The ‘comings’ for judgment lend themselves to interpretations somewhat more controversial than those pertaining to deliverance and blessing, though one of the latter (3:20) poses a special challenge to interpreters. The following discussion will delve first into the positive ‘comings.’ Then it will inve...
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