The ‘Comings’ of Christ in Revelation 2-3 -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 07:2 (Fall 1996)
Article: The ‘Comings’ of Christ in Revelation 2-3
Author: Robert L. Thomas


The ‘Comings’ of Christ in Revelation 2-3

Robert L. Thomas

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 Daniels 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 Christs return for His church must be pretribulational, because this is the only way to explain satisfactorily how the two future events can be simultaneous.

* * * * *

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

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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