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08.08.2021 Feature Article

Did Jesus Return in First Century?

Did Jesus Return in First Century?
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THE BIBLE, a library of 66 authoritative books, is a Christian Scripture given by the inspiration of God and it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness so that believers can be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16).

However, to achieve the intended result stated above, the Bible must be read and taught, preached and interpreted or explained. Now, if all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, is it not obvious that inspiration of God will equally be required to teach and interpret it? Or any educated person can read and explain it just like any other literary work?

Questions like these continue to be asked over the years as many people including unbelievers who attempt to make meaning out of the Bible give conflicting interpretations to some of its passages. Often, unbelievers quote some of these perceived controversial passages to mock and ridicule Christians.

They even say mockingly that the Lord Jesus came back after His ascension to take His disciples to heaven in the first century and that He would not come again thereby encouraging people to disregard the Bible and live their lives the way they want it. These modern false teachers with atheistic or antichristian attitudes appear to repeat similar false teaching Paul, the apostle, encountered and dealt with in his ministry.

In 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2, Paul wrote: “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

Paul had to refute the false teaching that sought to abuse the minds of the church in Thessalonica that Christ Jesus had come or coming immediately in their day. The Apostle made it clear that coming of Christ to gather the saints would be preceded by two great events such as the climatic rebellion, apostasy against God or falling away and the revelation of the man of sin or lawlessness.

Unfortunately, many antichrist elements fail to consider these events, but narrow their arguments to a few texts which they do not even understand to scorn Christ and His Church. Two of such texts which have been misinterpreted and distorted to bastardise the Bible are discussed in this article. They are Matthew 16:27-28 and Matthew 10:23. Let us first consider Matthew 16: 27- 28. It says: “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Many have understood this portion of the text: “For the Son of Man is going to come…” to mean that Christ was talking about His ascension and second coming to judge the world. But this teaching is erroneous; we need to examine the passage contextually and be guided by the revelation of the Holy Spirit to be able to understand it properly.

First, we need to ask and answer some basic questions. Where did Jesus say He was going to? And where would He come from? Was He going to heaven and return for the second time bodily to judge the world? Unfortunately, many have answered these questions in the affirmative. But we need to do Holy Spirit-assisted careful reading of the whole chapter 16 of the book of Matthew.

Verse 21 of Matthew Chapter 16 tells us specifically where Christ said He was going to. He said He was going to Jerusalem to be killed and buried and on the third day be raised from the dead or come back to life. It should be understood that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is His coming. And did He come, or was He raised from the dead with His angles?

Yes, the Bible clearly teaches that when Christ Jesus was raised from the dead after His burial, He came with His angels in the glory of His Father as angels were seen at the tomb (John 20:12).

The passage under discussion also talks about Jesus Christ promising to repay each person according to what he has done. Now the question is: did Christ repay people for what they had done? Of course, yes. The people who lived in that period and interacted with received their rewards for their work. To be satisfied with the answer, we need to know and understand the work being talked about in this context. Remember the Bible did not say “works” but “work”.

The work Christ expected them to do was the work of God. And the work of God they were expected to do was to BELIEVE in Jesus Christ. In John 6: 28-29, Jesus taught that BELIEVING in Him was the real work of God people were expected to do. That is, as He preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God, His hearers should believe in Him as the promised Messiah.

And so those who did that work of believing in Him were rewarded or repaid after Christ Jesus's resurrection or coming from the dead. They were given the gift of the Holy Spirit as their reward for their act of believing in Him. But those who did not believe in Him were denied the Holy Spirit. That was their reward also. To me, the Holy Spirit is the greatest reward one receives on earth for doing the work of believing in Jesus Christ.

To be continued…

By James Quansah

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