What Do Seventh-day Adventists Believe About The Second Coming of Christ?
The second coming of Jesus Christ is an event the Bible prophesies will occur at the end of this world’s history. It’s called His second coming to distinguish it from His first, when Jesus was born to Mary and lived as a human before dying on the Cross.
But at His second coming, He will arrive with unspeakable glory and power. It will truly be the most amazing thing anyone has ever seen!
This belief in Jesus’ literal return to earth was central to the formation of the denomination. And to this day, Adventists firmly believe it will be the climax of the plan of Salvation—and it could be happening soon!
You’ll learn more about:
- Why the Second Coming is important to Adventists
- What the Bible teaches about the Second Coming
- What the Second Coming will be like
- When it will happen
- The signs of His coming
- How we can prepare
Before we dive in, let’s take a look at the Seventh-day Adventist church’s fundamental belief about the Second Coming of Christ:
“The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel.
The Savior’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide.
When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die.
The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is near.
The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times.”
(Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:1-6; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:8; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; Rev. 1:7; 14:14-20; 19:11-21.)
Why is the Second Coming so important to Adventists?
The Second Coming is important to Adventists because it’s our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13, NKJV). It’s when we’ll see our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, and be rescued from this sin-filled world. Jesus will come to claim all His believers and take them to Heaven. And after that, we’ll get to be with Him for the rest of eternity.
This belief is strongly tied to our roots.
It began when the early members of the Advent movement studied their Bibles for themselves in the 19th century. They learned that the Second Coming was a literal event—which was not the prevailing belief at the time—and a promise from God that suffering and sin will one day end.
This was a powerful realization. Filled with hope and a revived faith, these believers began to teach others about the promise of the soon-coming Savior.
This new understanding also made a huge difference in how they lived their lives. Certain worldly things mattered less. There was a restored sense of anticipation and a new kind of peace to embrace. Their spiritual growth mattered more than the rat race the rest of the world stresses about.
Even today, our expectation of the Second Coming shapes how we live our lives.
What does the Bible teach about the Second Coming of Jesus?
The Bible teaches that the Second Coming is God’s way of returning to rescue all those who have accepted His costly ransom of humanity. When Jesus comes in a glorious display, He’ll raise His followers to life and bring them to Heaven with Him so that they never have to live in this world of sin, suffering, and evil again.
Jesus Himself promised, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1–3, NKJV). Hebrews 9:28 also tells us that “to those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28, NKJV).
Here’s an illustration:
Imagine that kidnappers nab the child of wealthy parents and demand an exorbitant ransom. The parents have no way to fight the kidnappers, and they’re concerned that their child will be harmed. So they pay the ransom.
And once the money has been paid, the parents are told where to retrieve their child.
What if, after paying such an expensive ransom, the parents didn’t go and get their child? That wouldn’t make sense!
Going to get the child after paying the ransom is exactly what the Second Advent is like in God’s plan to save the human race.
Paul describes Jesus as the one “who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5–6, NKJV). And Jesus Himself said that He came “to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28, NKJV).
The apostle Peter also wrote that we were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19). The concept of “redeemed” reflects the ransom that was paid for us with Christ’s own life.
And because God paid the incomputable price by sending Jesus to die for us, He’ll send Jesus back to rescue those who accepted Him.
Then, all who have died believing in Jesus will be resurrected to receive their eternal rewards (1 Thessalonians 4:13)—all because of Christ’s death and resurrection!
We see this idea in the apostle Paul’s words:
“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. . . . For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:13, 14, 17, NKJV).
Indeed, Jesus’ return sets everything right! There is no hope greater than this.
Paul says that the dead will be raised incorruptible, and then we’ll be given immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51–53; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).
There’s no question—the return of Jesus is a radically world-altering, earth-shattering event. It’s an event with global effects that’ll end this corrupted phase of our existence and usher in a new, unfathomably wonderful reality.
Events linked with the Second Coming
Many Bible texts—in both the Old Testament and the New Testament—point to a sequence of events linked to the Second Coming. These events include the judgment in Heaven and the recreation of the earth.
Let’s go to the Old Testament book of Daniel for an example.
Daniel 7 begins by showing a sequence of earthly powers that would come and go. Then, it points to a judgment in Heaven (Daniel 7:9–10) that leads to the end of the world and, finally, the establishment of a new kingdom:
“Behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away” (Daniel 7:13–14, NKJV).
The book of Revelation also gives another example.
It talks about “a new heaven and a new earth” that will be established after the first heaven and earth have passed away (Revelation 21:1, NKJV).
But before God’s eternal kingdom can be ushered in, the Second Coming must happen first.
What will the Second Coming be like?
Adventists believe that Jesus’ coming will be literal, visible, loud, and glorious. And it will be witnessed by everyone worldwide as it happens.
There are different views among Christians regarding the manner of Christ’s return, such as those promoted by popular books and movies like the Left Behind series.
But let’s home in on what the Word of God teaches about this event.
A literal event
The Bible says that 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus went to heaven in a cloud. He was simply lifted from the earth and taken to heaven:
“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, 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, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven?’” (Acts 1: 9-11, NKJV).
So, Jesus will return in the same way the disciples saw Him go up.
A visible event
Jesus told the religious leaders that they would “see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62, NKJV).
Matthew 24:30 also says that “every eye will see Him” (NKJV).
And finally, the writer of the book of Revelation assures us, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him” (Revelation 1:7, NKJV).
A loud event
1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (NKJV).
That passage was simply repeating what Jesus had said about God sending His angels “with a great sound of a trumpet” at the Second Coming (Matthew 24:31, NKJV).
And trumpets are not known to be quiet!
Also, His coming will be accompanied by signs that’ll cause a lot of noise and chaos on earth:
“There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25–26, NKJV).
It’s not going to be a quiet, secretive event.
This idea may seem very different from what you’ve heard. Some Christians teach a secret pre-tribulation rapture—a scenario where Jesus will come secretly and steal away those who believe in Him and leave behind those who don’t.
Those who believe in the secret rapture draw from verses like these:
“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, NKJV).
“I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17:34–36, NKJV).
But if studied in their immediate context, these verses refer to the suddenness of Christ’s return. Those who have not prepared by building a relationship with God will be caught by surprise. And they’ll be left behind while those prepared will be taken to Heaven.
Many people also believe there will be a millennial kingdom right before the secret rapture—that the saints will reign with Jesus for one thousand years on earth before being taken to heaven just before the great tribulation.
A worldwide event
As we’ve already noted about the visibility of the Second Coming, “every eye will see Him.”
Every single person living on earth at that time will witness His return simultaneously.
This is reinforced by Jesus’ warning to His followers against giving in to the idea of someone claiming to be the Son of God and appearing at given places. Those who make such claims are false prophets:
“If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:23–26, NKJV).
In the next verse, He clarified that He won’t come to the desert or someone’s house. His coming will be visible across the whole sky, just “as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27, NKJV).
And the angels of God will gather saints from the east to the west (Matthew 24:31).
This means that when various sect leaders label themselves as Jesus or the Messiah, they aren’t legit.
And the very fact that they are walking on earth goes against what the Bible teaches about Jesus at His return. He won’t even touch the ground but will remain in the clouds. Then, the righteous will meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
A glorious event
Talking about Christ’s return, Paul said that Jesus will come as a “Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:14, NKJV).
He won’t be the humble King of humanity that He was when He came to die in His first advent (Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 11:29).
He’ll come “on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30, NKJV).
And He’ll be surrounded by “His own glory, and…His Father’s, and [that] of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26, NKJV).
When will Jesus come again?
We don’t know when He’ll return. Jesus was clear that “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36; see also Mark 13:32, NKJV).
In fact, for most people, Christ’s return will come as a surprise.
Jesus used the imagery of a landowner who left his property to go away on a trip but gave the order for His servants to watch for his return. He said,
“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:35–37, NKJV).
It’s the same with Christ’s return.
Though we don’t know exactly when He’ll come, we should live each day in readiness.
His coming could be in ten years, or it could be next week. We have no way of knowing!
But the urgency of His coming is important. The Bible warns of the dangers of becoming complacent.1
But we aren’t to be extreme about this, either. When the early Christians became radical about Jesus’ return to the extent of refusing to work and take care of their own needs, Paul wrote to them and said:
“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” (2 Thessalonians 2:1–2, NKJV).
Jesus even told His followers that it will be similar to the coming of the flood in Genesis:
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:36–39, NKJV).
In other words, life continues to go on. And we should wait patiently for the Second Coming, but that doesn’t mean we “stop” life to wait.
Jesus instructs us to keep up with our responsibilities—to occupy ourselves until He comes (Luke 19:13).
The only danger is if we get “stuck” in the busyness of life, looking down at everything around us as if this is all there is—and never looking up.
Complacency ultimately means that we stop growing—and stop caring to grow. It’s resigning to the status quo.
That’s how it was in the days of Noah. He told everyone around him about God’s warning of rain. They ignored the signs and never looked up to see the clouds forming in the sky.
So what are the signs of the Second Coming?
Signs of Jesus’ soon return
Even though the exact day is not for anyone to know except God, He made sure to give us signs that will indicate His coming is near so we’re not caught off-guard.
- Natural events (Luke 21:25; Mark 13:24-25; Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:12).
- Great moral decline (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:12).
- Signs in the religious world (Matthew 24:5, 11; 1 John 2:18; 4:3, 2 John 7).
But amid mostly negative things, Jesus did give one very positive sign of the end: the spread of the Gospel to the world.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14, NKJV).
This was an amazing prediction at that time because the church consisted of only a handful of followers who hadn’t fully understood Jesus, His mission, or the gospel.
And though many people still need to hear the gospel (Revelation 14:6, 7), it’s being spread across the globe quickly—especially with the new technological advances.
The fast fulfillment of these signs indicates the nearness of Jesus’ return.
But why hasn’t Jesus returned since His ascension about 2000 years ago? How is it that His disciples and followers have always said His coming is near?
The apostle Peter gives us an answer. He says,
“Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ … But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:3–5, 2 Peter 8–9, NKJV).
In other words, God has delayed His coming to give us time to get ready. Because that day will also be a “day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Peter 3:7, CSB).
So the delay is actually for our good. It gives us more time to grow in Him and share the hope with others.
And keep in mind that those who die will be resurrected during and after the Second Coming to meet their judgment. This thought brings the Second Coming closer to each of us. If you die as a believer in Jesus today, the next thing you will wake up to is the return of Christ.
So, the Bible encourages us to live prepared for that grand event, constantly aware that Christ’s return is the next event after the end of our lives. It could happen anytime for any of us.
How can we prepare for Christ’s return?
We prepare for Jesus’ return by daily—and moment by moment—giving our lives to God. We choose to live with Him by prayerfully reading His Word and obeying what we learn to be God’s way.
By doing this consistently through the help of His Spirit, He transforms our characters, and we become more like Him. Our words, deeds, thoughts, and habits become more and more like what is shown in the Bible.
Paul urges us not to sleep “as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:4–6, NKJV). As children of the light, we don’t have to be surprised by the Second Coming.
Jesus told a parable about ten virgins who were waiting for the coming of a bridegroom (Matthew 25:1–13).
It was a symbol of people expecting the coming of Jesus.
Though all of these women were expecting Him, five of them were not ready when He finally came. They didn’t have oil in their lamps, which symbolizes the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
But remember that these warnings aren’t given to make us afraid.
God wants us to be vigilant, but that should never overshadow the tremendous hope this event represents.
No matter who you are, your past, or even your present, you can have the assurance of salvation through Jesus today. By giving your life to Him in faith, you can be saved because the Bible says that “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Romans 10:13, NKJV).
This gift has been made available for you and me now and, ultimately, on the day Jesus returns.
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