Two Returns of Christ?


#1

Can I be a Post-Tribulational Premillennialist without being heretical? I am very confused about how to understand the Millennium. I don’t mean to sound like a psycho, but it would seem that we must affirm Three Comings of Christ! Please help me to avoid misunderstanding God’s inerrant word.

  1. Scripture says that the Second Coming occurs after the tribulation [2 Thess 2:1-9; Rev 19:11-16].
  2. Christ establishes His Millennial Kingdom upon His Second Coming [Rev 20:4-5].
  3. The Church teaches that this Millennial Kingdom does not involve a visible earthly reign of Jesus [Denzinger 2296].{1}
  4. Therefore after His Second Coming, Jesus must again ascend to Heaven and rule from there during the Millennial Kingdom.
  5. Scripture says that the General Resurrection occurs after the Millennium [Rev 20:7-15].
  6. Jesus will return to earth for the General Resurrection [Rev 20:11-15].
  7. Therefore Scripture says that there will be a Third Coming of Jesus which is the herald of the General Resurrection!

Therefore Amillennialism, despite being the majority view, must be false: the Last Judgment is separated from the Second Coming (by the Millennium). Amillennialism teaches that the Millennium is merely symbolic and is only Christ’s current reign which began when He was resurrected. But the Millennium properly speaking cannot have started yet. Christ throws the beast (Antichrist) and false prophet into Hell [Rev 19:20] and only afterwards establishes His Millennial Kingdom [Rev 20:4-5]. Since He has not thrown them alive into Hell yet, the Millennium cannot have already begun!

I haven’t seen any Scripture verses which, in my limited and fallible understanding, appear to exclude the idea that Christ will return twice. Mt 16:27 refers to the General Judgment but does not say that it occurs at the Second Coming. The same is true of Mt 25:31-46. I can’t find anything in these verses to prove that the General Judgment occurs at the Second Coming, in other words, that the Second Coming of Christ is the Final Coming of Christ. And it seems that the Amillennialist’s appeal to Heb 9:27-28 does nothing to discount the fact that the Apocalypse appears to require two Returns of Christ.

So dear brethren, I ask you for your expertise: May I hold to the following eschatological view without contradicting Church teaching and committing the grievous sin of heresy?:
After the Tribulation, the Second Coming occurs and Christ establishes the Millennial Kingdom (during which He will not reign visibly and bodily like an earthly king but will reign from Heaven via the Eucharist in a more profound way than He does now) and then ascends to Heaven. When this Millennial period (which is not a time for luxury and carnal/sensual delights) is over (it does not last for literally exactly 1000 years) and after the release of Satan and rebellion of Gog and Magog [Rev 20:7-9], Christ returns for the General Resurrection on Judgment Day (Third and Final Coming). Hasn’t the Magisterium left it open for the faithful to affirm a bodily First Resurrection of only martyrs [Rev 20:4-5] and a Millennial Kingdom, within the limits just specified (i.e. to avoid heretical Millenarianism which teaches a visible bodily earthly reign of Jesus as if He was a political ruler).

Thank you very much for your time and input and may God bless you and yours richly!

{1} Denzinger 2296 is the 7/21/1944 decree of the Holy Office that “In recent times on several occasions this Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has been asked what must be thought of the system of mitigated Millenarianism, which teaches, for example, that Christ the Lord before the final judgment, whether or not preceded by the resurrection of the many just, will come visibly to rule over this world. The answer is: The system of mitigated Millenarianism cannot be taught safely.”


#2

Fr. Gobbi and the Marian Movement of Priests has a booklet that addresses that question:
mmp-usa.net/publications.html
In Defense of the Orthodoxy…
See also this discussion at catholicculture.org:
catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=4182

I have some controversial articles on the subject:
catholicplanet.com/future/millennialism-defined.htm
catholicplanet.com/future/two-returns.htm

And from this page:
mmp-usa.net/arc_defense.html

Especially significant are the words of Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in this regard. Theologian Martino Penasa, presented him with this question of Christ’s spiritual millenary reign (not millenarianism), and the Cardinal reassured him that the matter is still open to discussion and that “the Holy See has not yet made any definite pronouncement in this regard.” (“È imminente una nuova era di vita cristiana?” Il Segno del Soprannaturale, Udine, Italia, n. 30, p. 10, Oct. 1990; The Triumph of God’s Kingdom…, Fr. Iannuzzi, p. 43)


#3

According to Rev 20:4-5, Christ establishes His Millennial Kingdom at the first resurrection. You have assumed that this is the same as His Second Coming. However, the Bible speaks of a resurrection of some saints after Jesus’ own resurrection in Matthew 27:53 that could very easily qualify as the first resurrection that began His Millennial Kingdom.


#4

Hi,

I found this explanation on gotquestions.org.:slight_smile:

Question: “What is the Millennial Kingdom, and should it be understood literally?”

Answer: The Millennial Kingdom is the title given to the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. Some seek to interpret the 1000 years in an allegorical manner. Some understand the 1000 years as merely a figurative way of saying “a long period of time.” This results in some not expecting a literal, physical reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. However, six times in Revelation 20:2-7, the Millennial Kingdom is specifically said to be 1000 years in length. If God wished to communicate “a long period of time,” He could have easily done so without explicitly and repeatedly mentioning an exact time frame.

The Bible tells us when Christ returns to earth He will establish Himself as King in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33). The unconditional covenants demand a literal, physical return of Christ to establish the kingdom. The Abrahamic Covenant promised Israel a land, a posterity and ruler, and a spiritual blessing (Genesis 12:1-3). The Palestinian Covenant promised Israel a restoration to the land and occupation of the land (Deuteronomy 30:1-10). The Davidic Covenant promised Israel forgiveness—the means whereby the nation could be blessed (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

At the second coming, these covenants will be fulfilled as Israel is re-gathered from the nations (Matthew 24:31), converted (Zechariah 12:10-14), and restored to the land under the rulership of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks of the conditions during the Millennium as a perfect environment physically and spiritually. It will be a time of peace (Micah 4:2-4; Isaiah 32:17-18); joy (Isaiah 61:7,10); comfort (Isaiah 40:1-2); and no poverty (Amos 9:13-15) or sickness (Joel 2:28-29). The Bible also tells us that only believers will enter the Millennial Kingdom. Because of this, it will be a time of complete righteousness (Matthew 25:37; Psalm 24:3-4); obedience (Jeremiah 31:33); holiness (Isaiah 35:8); truth (Isaiah 65:16); and fullness of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29). Christ will rule as king (Isaiah 9:3-7; 11:1-10), with David as regent (Jeremiah 33:15,17,21; Amos 9:11). Nobles and governors will also rule (Isaiah 32:1; Matthew 19:28). Jerusalem will be the “political” center of the world (Zechariah 8:3).

Revelation 20:2-7 simply gives the precise time period of the Millennial Kingdom. Even without these Scriptures, there are countless others that point to a literal reign of the Messiah on the earth. The fulfillment of many of God’s covenants and promises rest on a literal, physical, future kingdom. There is no solid basis to deny a literal understanding of the Millennial Kingdom and its duration being 1000 years.


#5

Revelation 20:4-7 does not explicitly say that the Millennial Kingdom will be “on earth.” The other verses that are mentioned do not necessarily apply to the Millenial Kingdom but could easily apply to the era of the new heaven and new earth when the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven as mentioned in Revelation 21.


#6

Honestly, I do not have an opinion either way because I have not studied and interpretation of this. I just found this article and thought I would put it out there;)

The one thing I did find interesting is that it said the millenial kingdom will be full of joy, peace etc. All good things. So, if that is true then we cannot be in the millenial kingdom now.:shrug:


#7

[quote=Todd Easton]According to Rev 20:4-5, Christ establishes His Millennial Kingdom at the first resurrection. You have assumed that this is the same as His Second Coming. However, the Bible speaks of a resurrection of some saints after Jesus’ own resurrection in Matthew 27:53 that could very easily qualify as the first resurrection that began His Millennial Kingdom.
[/quote]

Mt 27:53 is not the first resurrection.

Paul gives a short description of the first resurrection in 1 Cor 15:20-28, and states who it is that will be raised in the first resurrection.

Concerning those who will be raised in the first resurrection, v23 states:**1 Corinthians 15:23

But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,**That’s those who are His at His second coming, not at His first coming (cf 1 Thess 2:19;
cf 1 Cor 6:14; 15:16; 1 Thess 4:16)

[quote=Todd Easton]Revelation 20:4-7 does not explicitly say that the Millennial Kingdom will be “on earth.” The other verses that are mentioned do not necessarily apply to the Millenial Kingdom but could easily apply to the era of the new heaven and new earth when the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven as mentioned in Revelation 21.
[/quote]

Rev 20 does say the 1,000 year reign will be on earth:**Revelation 20:2-3

And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

Revelation 20:8-9

and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.**Where are the nations except on the earth? And, where are the four corners of the earth except on the earth?


#8

Mt 27:53 is the first account of a mass resurrection of saints that I am aware of. If it is not the first resurrection, what is it?

Paul gives a short description of the first resurrection in 1 Cor 15:20-28, and states who it is that will be raised in the first resurrection.

Concerning those who will be raised in the first resurrection, v23 states:
1 Corinthians 15:23****But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,That’s those who are His at His second coming, not at His first coming (cf 1 Thess 2:19;
cf 1 Cor 6:14; 15:16; 1 Thess 4:16)

1 Cor. 15:22-23 is talking about a general resurrection, a resurrection “of all…of all who belong to Him.” Revelation 20:4 identifies the first resurrection as a limited resurrection, specifically a resurrection of martyrs only and “the others who were dead did not come to life till the 1000 years was over” (Rev. 20:5). St. Paul has the general second resurrection at the end of the world in mind in 1 Cor 15:23 and not the first resurrection.

Rev 20 does say the 1,000 year reign will be on earth:
Revelation 20:2-3****And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

Rev 20:2-3 indicates that there will be a period 1000 years in which Satan will not deceive the nations. Perhaps the worship of false gods is meant. But hasn’t the percentage of the world’s population who worship false gods decreased considerably since the time of Christ and as Christianity has spread throughout the world? This decrease in Satan’s ability to deceive the nations since the time of Christ would seem to support the notion that the beginning of the 1000 years occurred at the time of Christ and that would make the resurrection of saints mentioned in Matt. 27:53 a good candidate for the first resurrection.

Revelation 20:8-9

and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.Where are the nations except on the earth? And, where are the four corners of the earth except on the earth?

The nations are certainly on earth and the beloved city where the saints are encamped is on the earth too. But the verses you cite do not explicitly say that Jesus and those raised in the first resurrection are with those encamped saints. If Jesus were with his saints on the earth, one would expect that he would to be explicitly mentioned as being there with them but he is not mentioned, only his saints. If Jesus and those raised in the first resurrection are not with his saints on earth then they were probably reigning in heaven at the time, as the fire that delivered the saints came from heaven as the last verse you cited indicates.


#9

Dear Ron,

  1. I am a great fan of your writings and have written positive reviews of them on my blog and defended your eschatological views in the comments section of one of apologist Dave Armstrong’s posts. I have read basically the totality of your writings and largely agree with them (eschatology, Mariology, etc.). I read and highlighted Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi’s article just the other day after studying Revelation and your articles intensively. One thing that stood out is that St. Bernard’s quote from his fifth sermon on Advent cannot be used to support our understanding of eschatology which requires three comings of Christ:

We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming, He was seen on earth, dwelling among men … In the final coming, …all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look upon Him whom they have pierced.’ The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect will see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In His first coming, our Lord came in the flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming, He is our rest and consolation. In case someone should think that this middle coming is sheer invention, listen to what our Lord Himself says: ‘… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him.’ (Sermo 5, Adventu Domini, 1-3; The Triumph of God’s Kingdom…, Fr. Iannuzzi - pp. 78-79)

  1. You see, the return of our Lord to precede the Millennium cannot be invisible. The context shows that St. Bernard was talking about the entrance of Christ into the life of the predestined believer rather than a bodily appearance of Jesus.

  2. However, the quotes from John Paul II in light of Rev. Albert G. Roux’s right reason provide support for the idea that the Second Coming and Last Judgment are separate: Does it seem rational that our unceasing prayer would be: ‘Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!’; if all that we had to look forward to was the final judgment? No — we are full of hope because we are anticipating a renewed kingdom of holiness, of justice, of love and of peace." But I am not sure if that was the understanding of the Pope himself. In any case, it appears that our view is permissible in light of the statement of His Holiness Benedict XVI before he became pope that Fr. Iannuzzi quotes on p. 43 of his book.


#10

Although these verses use similar language they do not describe the same event.
2 Thes is after the millenium and Rev is before.

(2 Thes 2:7) is the chaining of Satan during the millenium.

**For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene. **

(2 Thes 2:8-10) describe (Rev 20:7-10)

  1. Christ establishes His Millennial Kingdom upon His Second Coming [Rev 20:4-5].

Incorrect.

  1. The Church teaches that this Millennial Kingdom does not involve a visible earthly reign of Jesus [Denzinger 2296].{1}

That is correct. The “souls” whou are mentioned as ruling (Rev 20:4) do not have bodies. The first resurrection is the taking of a soul to Heaven by God. The resurrection of all people for their final judgement does not occurr until (Rev 20:12)

Christ throws the beast (Antichrist) and false prophet into Hell [Rev 19:20] and only afterwards establishes His Millennial Kingdom [Rev 20:4-5]. Since He has not thrown them alive into Hell yet, the Millennium cannot have already begun!

(Rev 19:20) does not refer to the final antichrist. The beast is Nero.

Being thrown in the fiery pool burning with sulfur is a symbol of God’s punishment. It is different from the abyss which is hell.

So, this isn’t describing the physical coming of Jesus. The heavens opened but it doesn’t say anything about a physically coming to earth. Treading out the wine press is used to describe the destruction of God’s enemies.

Jesus is perfectly capable of doing that while reigning from heaven.

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (1 Cor 15:25)

Thank you very much for your time and input and may God bless you and yours richly!

Hope that helps.

Peace,

Ryan :slight_smile:


#11

[quote=Todd Easton]Mt 27:53 is the first account of a mass resurrection of saints that I am aware of. If it is not the first resurrection, what is it?
[/quote]

Where do you get that it was a “mass” resurrection? The text says “many…were raised.” How many is many? Can you give a specific number?

This raising of many, and not all, of the dead, was a one of some miraculous signs recorded at the death of Christ—the veil of the temple was torn in two, the earth shook and rocks were split, many, not all, bodies of the saints were raised (recorded only in Matthew).

What you are positing is two first resurrections. That cannot be, as it establishes a contradiction. John specifically describes what has been revealed to him as the first resurrection; he references no other scripture, specifically, he does not reference Mt 27, but an event that is yet future to what he is seeing, correct?

Is there any historical record of the events recorded from Rev 4 onward? Has the earth experienced the seal judgments? The trumpet judgments? The bowl judgments? If so, when?

[quote=Todd Easton]1 Cor. 15:22-23 is talking about a general resurrection, a resurrection “of all…of all who belong to Him.” Revelation 20:4 identifies the first resurrection as a limited resurrection, specifically a resurrection of martyrs only and “the others who were dead did not come to life till the 1000 years was over” (Rev. 20:5). St. Paul has the general second resurrection at the end of the world in mind in 1 Cor 15:23 and not the first resurrection.
[/quote]

Paul is talking about a specific resurrection; namely, the resurrection of believers”those who are Christ’s at His coming.” John also is talking about “those who are Christ’s at His coming,” and not just martyrs only, as you say, but those who had not worshipped the beast, nor his image, neither had they taken the beast’s mark on their forehead, or hand; IOW, only those martyrs who will be contemporaneous with the future world ruler whom John is seeing—the beast “out of the sea” (cf 13:1), and not all of the martyrs of all time.

There will be a resurrection of OT saints, but also a resurrection of those saints who will be killed in the course of the Great Tribulation according to Rev 20:4. In that verse, John sees two groups of saints co-reigning with Christ. First, those to whom judgment was given. Those saints are the church; the second group is those who had not taken the mark of the beast.

The first resurrection involves the resurrection of believers only. It is recorded in Rev 20:5. According to that verse, the resurrection of the Tribulation saints completes the first resurrection; it is separated from the completion of the second resurrection by one thousand years, and one thousand years, means one thousand years.

How many years did Israel wander in the wilderness? Forty years.

How many days was Christ in the wilderness when driven there by the Spirit? Forty days, and nights.

How long will those in the first resurrection reign on the earth with Christ? A thousand years.

In 1 Cor 15, Paul is giving the ”order” of the first resurrection, which comes in stages.

Paul states that the righteous will be resurrected each in his own order (v 23). The word translated order is a military term used for a sequence of troops of soldiers marching in a procession or in battle. One troop division comes first, followed by another troop division, and so on. The point is that all of the righteous will not be resurrected at the same time, but rather in a definite sequential order.

The first resurrection includes the following five stages: The first was the resurrection of Jesus (v23)—He is the firstfruits of the first resurrection; the second is the resurrection of the Church saints (1 Thess 4:16) prior to the Great Tribulation; the third will be the resurrection of the Two Witnesses in the middle of the Tribulation; fourth will come the OT saints (Is 26:19; Dan 12:2) during the 75 day interval after the Tribulation (Dan 12:11-12; cf Rev 11:2; 12:6); and fifth the Tribulation saints (Rev 20:4).

(continued below)


#12

(continued from post # 11)

[quote=Todd Easton]Rev 20:2-3 indicates that there will be a period 1000 years in which Satan will not deceive the nations. Perhaps the worship of false gods is meant. But hasn’t the percentage of the world’s population who worship false gods decreased considerably since the time of Christ and as Christianity has spread throughout the world? This decrease in Satan’s ability to deceive the nations since the time of Christ would seem to support the notion that the beginning of the 1000 years occurred at the time of Christ and that would make the resurrection of saints mentioned in Matt. 27:53 a good candidate for the first resurrection.
[/quote]

Again, you are positing two first resurrections, and that creates a scriptural contradiction.

Furthermore, Rev 20:2-3 states:**And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.**What is stated in the passage is that Satan is bound, or confined, for 1,000 years (v2).

Additionally, verse 3 states the place, purpose, and promise regarding the binding of Satan: the place will be the Abyss, the temporary place of confinement for fallen angels; the purpose is that he should no longer be free to do his work of deception—at all—among the nations, and not merely a ”decrease” in his activities, as you put it; the promise, is that he will be released for a short time, to test mankind at least one more time.

That binding did not happen at the time of Christ, as you suggest, as Peter states:1 Peter 5:8

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.Satan prowls the earth today, as he always has, and will do so even more in the future, when a war breaks out in heaven, and Satan is finally cast out of heaven forever (Rev 12:6-12). After that, in Rev 20, he will be bound in the abyss for one thousand years.

[quote=Todd Easton]The nations are certainly on earth and the beloved city where the saints are encamped is on the earth too. But the verses you cite do not explicitly say that Jesus and those raised in the first resurrection are with those encamped saints. If Jesus were with his saints on the earth, one would expect that he would to be explicitly mentioned as being there with them but he is not mentioned, only his saints. If Jesus and those raised in the first resurrection are not with his saints on earth then they were probably reigning in heaven at the time, as the fire that delivered the saints came from heaven as the last verse you cited indicates.
[/quote]

It is said of those saints that they will reign with Christ, and they will do that on the earth in the beloved city.


#13

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