Eschatology

 

 

There are two ‘returns’ of Christ; the first one occurred in 1914, while the second one will occur when he comes to earth to conduct the battle of Armageddon

 

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Christ did not establish the Kingdom of God at the time of His first coming. Neither did He establish this kingdom immediately after He had ascended into heaven, for His ascension was only the beginning of a long period of waiting for the establishment of the kingdom of God. When, then, was the kingdom of God actually established? Their answer is, ‘On October 1, 1914 (I leave out the fantastic calculations whereby the Witnesses have arrived at this date). For in that year Jesus Christ’s ‘return’ took place. I have put quotation marks around the word return because this was not really a return at all, since Christ did not go back to earth but simply began to rule over his kingdom from heaven. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses calls it Christ’s return (cf. Let God Be True, page 198; Make Sure Of All things, page 319). It must be said, however, that Watchtower publications prefer the designation ‘second presence’ (in their own Bible they have translated the Greek word parousia – when it refers to the second coming of Christ - as ‘presence’ in the following verses: Matthew 24:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2; James 5:8; 1 John 2:28; 2 Peter 3:3-4). To understand better what Jehovah’s Witnesses mean by Christ’s ‘return’, I will compare two statements from their writings. The former is from This Means Everlasting Life which reads: ‘When he ascended to heaven he sat down at God’s right hand to wait for that time of entering into his authority and ruling like Melchizedek over his enemies as his footstool’ (page 220), while the latter is from You May Survive Armageddon: ‘Jehovah the heavenly Father brought forth his kingdom by bringing forth his anointed King-Priest Jesus Christ and elevating him to the active kingship in the throne at God’s right hand’ (page 100). So we learn that from the time of His ascension to October 1, 1914 (when the kingdom was brought forth), Christ was sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and that on October 1, 1914, the Father placed the Son on the throne at His right hand. Thus the ‘return’ or ‘second presence’ of Christ simply means that Christ, who had been sitting at the Father’s right hand in heaven since his ascension, in 1914 ascended the throne of his kingdom at the Father’s right hand in heaven. According to Jehovah-Witness teaching, therefore, we need no longer wait for Christ’s personal and visible ‘return,’ because His ‘return’ has already taken place. Jesus Christ ‘became King of the earth at the time of his second presence, A.D. 1914’ (Make Sure Of All Things, page 234). The reason why they affirm that this ‘return’ of Christ was invisible is that according to their theology Christ was raised not with a body of flesh, but “in a spirit body” (The Truth Shall Make You Free, page 264), and this spirit body was not a visible body (so Christ, after His resurrection, revealed Himself to His disciples by materializing fleshly bodies on the occasions of His appearances, each such body being different from the others – cf. The Truth Shall Make You Free, pages 265-267), and in addition to this Jesus said: “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more …..” (John 14:19 – NKJV).

However, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach also that there is another ‘return’ of Christ which is still to come. When will it take place? At the battle of Armageddon (which will be fought at the close of the ‘time of the end’, which will be very soon). Then God will give Christ the command to destroy the devil’s wicked world. However, even this future ‘return’ will be an invisible one (cf. Let God Be True, page 205), for neither Christ nor his heavenly armies will be seen by men. This invisible ‘appearance’ of Christ on earth is called ‘the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven’ and ‘the final revelation of the King’, and is distinguished from the second presence of Christ which took place in 1914.

 

Confutation

 

The Holy Scripture teaches that there will be but one return of Christ from heaven, and His return will be visible.

In the book of the Acts of the apostles it is written: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). As you can see, those angels who appeared to the disciples of the Lord, as Jesus was going into heaven, affirmed that the same Jesus who was taken up into heaven before their eyes will come in like manner as they saw Him go into heaven. So the return of Christ from heaven will be visible as His ascension to heaven; in other words, just as Jesus was seen going into heaven, so He will be seen coming back from heaven. However, keep in mind that while at His ascension only a few people saw Him go into heaven, at His return everybody will see Him come back from heaven, as it is written: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7 – NKJV). That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will come back in person and visibly is evident also from the following biblical passages: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt. 24:30 – NKJV); “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

The Holy Scripture teaches also that when Jesus returns or is revealed from heaven the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be changed and caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Besides this, Jesus will punish those who do not know God and those who do not obey the Gospel (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10), and the Millennium – which is a thousand-year reign - will be established on the earth by the Lord Jesus Christ. During this earthly reign Satan will not be able to deceive the nations for at the coming of Christ he will be bound and thrown into the Abyss, where he will be kept until the end of the millennium.

Therefore, in the light of the teaching of the Scriptures, Jehovah’s Witnesses are greatly mistaken.

Now, I have already shown you from the Scriptures that Jesus was raised with a physical body, and not as a spirit, so let me explain to you what Jesus meant when He said: “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more …..” (John 14:19 – NKJV). Jesus was about to be arrested and led away to the high priest first and then to Pontius Pilate in order to be crucified. He knew that after His death the world would see Him no more for after His resurrection He would present Himself alive to His disciples and not to the world, and in fact if we read the apparitions of Jesus which took place between His resurrection and His ascension to heaven we realize that He did not appear to unbelieving people (that is, people who had not believed that He was the Christ whom God had sent into the world) but only to people who had believed in Him. That’s why He said that before long the world would not see Him anymore. I would like you to notice that Jesus said that before long His disciples would not see Him either, as He said to them: “In a little while you will see me no more ….” (John 16:16 – NIV), for He knew that He was going to be crucified. However, while on the one hand He said that the world would not see Him anymore, on the other hand He said that His disciples would see Him again, for He said to them: “But you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19 – NKJV), and again: “And again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father” (John 16:16 – NKJV). The disciples of Jesus did not understand what Jesus meant by saying “and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father,” so Jesus explained them those words. Here is what John wrote: “Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:17-22). And that’s exactly what happened, for when Jesus died the disciples wept and lamented, but when He appeared to them on the first day of the week they “were glad” (John 20:20 – NKJV).

Brothers and sisters in the Lord, keep waiting for the glorious coming of the Lord, and beware of the lies taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses on the second coming of Christ and refute them.

 

 

 

 

 

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