What Do Seventh-day Adventists Believe about The Second Coming of Christ?
The Second Coming of Jesus is so important to Seventh-day Adventists that they even have it as part of their identity. The word advent in “Adventist” refers to the Second Coming, or Second Advent, of Jesus.
This belief of a literal return of Jesus 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:
- What the Bible says about the Second Coming
- The joy and hope packed into the Second Coming
- The manner of Jesus’ Second Coming
- The timing for the Second Coming
- The signs of the nearness of Christ’s Coming
- How we can prepare for the Second Coming
Before we dive in, let’s take a look at the Adventist church’s official statement of this belief:
The Saviour’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.)
How do Seventh-day Adventists understand the Second Coming?
For Adventists, the Second Coming is their “blessed hope,” since it is when they will see their beloved Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, NKJV).
It is also a time when Jesus comes to claim His church as His own, and take them to Heaven. And after that, they’ll get to be with Him for the rest of eternity.
It’s when He will permanently save His followers from this world of sin, evil, and suffering.
This belief is strongly tied to their roots as Adventists.
It began when the early members of the Advent movement began studying their Bibles for themselves in the 18th and 19th centuries. They learned that the Second Coming was a literal event—which was not the prevailing belief at the time—and a promise of God that suffering and sin will one day come to an 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. And their spiritual growth mattered more.
Even to this day, a constant awareness of the soon coming of Jesus always leads to a reformation in one’s life.
How it fits into the big picture
Imagine kidnappers nab the child of wealthy parents and demand an exorbitant ransom. With no force to fight the kidnappers, and concern that the child would be harmed, the parents pay the money just as the kidnappers had demanded.
And once the money has been paid, the parents are told where to go in order to retrieve their child.
What if after paying such an expensive ransom, the parents do not 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 of Salvation of the human race.
After offering the incomputable price by sending Jesus to die here on earth for us, He then returns to finally take those who accepted Him from this evil world.
Paul describes Jesus as the one “who gave Himself as a ransom for all ” (1 Timothy 2:5–6, NKJV).
The apostle Peter also wrote that we were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19).
And Jesus Himself said that He came “to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28, NKJV).
The concept of “redeemed” reflects the ransom paid for our redemption through Christ’s own life.
It’s at the Second Coming that all who have died believing in Jesus will be resurrected to receive their eternal rewards (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
We see its implications in Paul’s words when He says,
“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).
Jesus’ return indeed 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).
No question—from what we have looked at, the return of Jesus is a radically world-altering, earth-shattering event. An event with effects of global proportions that will end this corrupted phase of our existence and usher in a whole new reality.
What else does the Bible say about the Second Coming of Jesus?
Throughout the Bible, we can find texts that either directly or indirectly refer to the Second Coming of Jesus.
Even in the Old Testament, numerous Bible texts point to events that are clearly linked to the Second Coming. Especially when pieced together with the ones in the New Testament.
A good example is in the Old Testament book of Daniel.
First, it shows a sequence of earthly powers that would come and go. Then it points to a judgment in heaven that leads to the end of this world. And finally, the eventual establishment of a new one.
“Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7: 27, 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 has passed away. (Revelation 21:1).
But before God’s eternal Kingdom can be ushered in, the Second Coming must happen first.
Jesus also left us the promise that pointed to His Second Coming when He said, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3, NKJV).
And when He ascended into Heaven after His resurrection, Luke records that an angel appeared to His followers and 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).
And we have a promise “to those who eagerly wait for Him, [that] He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28, NKJV).
Also, the writer of the book of Revelation gives us the assurance that, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him” (Revelation 1:7, NKJV).
What Do Adventists believe about how Christ will return?
Adventists believe that Jesus’ coming will be literal, visible, loud, and glorious. And it will be witnessed by everyone as it happens, worldwide.
We must admit that there are different views among Christians regarding the manner and nature of Christ’s return. Popular books and movies like the Left Behind series are based on the Second Coming of Jesus.
But let’s hone in on what the Bible teaches about the Second Coming.
It will be a literal event
The Bible says that 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus was taken to heaven in a cloud. He was simply lifted up from the earth and taken away.
“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, just as literally as they saw Him go up, He’ll come down from the sky in a cloud.
It will be a visible event
Jesus Himself told the religious leaders that they’ll “see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62, NKJV).
In fact, Matthew 24:30 says that “every eye will see Him.”
It will be a loud event
Paul 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” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, NKJV).
And Matthew says that God will then send out His angels “with a great sound of a trumpet” (Matthew 24:31).
Also, there will be great signs that will accompany His coming that will 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).
Then “all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him” (Revelation 1:7, NKJV).
This is not going to be a quiet, secretive event. Instead it will be loud and audible to anyone who can hear.
This may seem very different from what some have heard, especially since there is a popular belief of 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, 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. For those who have not been preparing by a daily surrender of their lives to God, they will be caught by surprise. And they’ll be left behind while those prepared will be taken to Heaven.
Many people also believe that 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 to save them from suffering with the unrighteous.
(We can take a deeper look into Scripture to see what it says about the tribulation, the Second Coming, and the Millenium.)
It will be a worldwide event, not local
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. Imagine that!
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 will make such claims He called 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 will not come in a specific desert or someone’s house. But it 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 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.
We learn that He won’t even touch down, but will remain in the clouds. Then the righteous will meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
It will be 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).
Not as 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 in His Father’s, and of the glory of His holy angels” (Luke 9:26, NKJV)
When will Jesus Return?
We don’t know when He’ll return.
Jesus Himself was clear about it when He said, “but 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, we are told that 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 people 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 as the Day when He comes. That’s what’s meant when we hear that He’s coming soon. It could be in 10 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 (Revelation 3:4; 3:15-17; Zephaniah 1:12; Hebrews 10:24, 25; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
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.
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 worshiped, so that he sits [c]as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (1 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 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 will go on as it always does. We wait patiently, but we don’t “stop” to wait.
We keep up with our responsibilities as we’re supposed to. The only danger is if we stay “stuck” in the rat race, looking down at everything around us as if this is all there is—and never looking up.
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 to be 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 the time that it was uttered. Because the church consisted of only a handful of followers who hadn’t fully understood who Jesus was, His mission to save men, or the Gospel.
And though many people still need to hear the Gospel (See Revelation 14:6, 7), it’s evident that it’s being spread across the globe quickly. And especially with the new technological advances.
The fast fulfillment of these signs are evidence of Jesus’ soon return.
But why hasn’t Jesus returned since His ascension about 2000 years ago? Yet all His disciples and followers have always said His coming is near?
The Apostle Peter gives us an answer.
He says that 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. And that “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 3:3-9, NKJV).
In other words, God has delayed His coming in order to give us time to get ready. Because that day will also be a “day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7, NKJV).
So the delay is actually for our own good. It gives us more time to make our lives right with God, and share the hope with others as well.
And considering that those who died will be resurrected during and after the Second Coming to meet their judgement, the Second Coming becomes closer to each of us. If you die today, the next thing you will wake up to is the return of Christ (if you’re a believer, or at the end of the Millennium to be destroyed eternally for unbelievers).
So, we need to live each waking moment preparing for that grand event. We need to be always aware that Christ’s return is the next event after the end of our lives. And this could happen anytime for any of us.
How can we Prepare for Christ’s Return?
We prepare for Jesus’ return by a daily, and moment by moment surrender of our will to God. By prayerfully reading His Word, and obeying what we learn to be God’s way. That’s how we walk with Him.
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 exhorts us as children of the light who don’t need to be overtaken by the Day of the Lord as a thief. He urges us not to sleep “as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, NKJV).
As a symbol of His return, Jesus told a parable about 10 virgins who were waiting for the coming of the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13).
This 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 us to invoke fear. 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 salvation in Jesus today. By surrendering to Him, in faith, obedience, and by prayer, you can be saved. For 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 I now, and ultimately on the day Jesus returns.
[Want to deepen your faith and understanding of the Bible?]
Questions about Adventists? Ask here!
Find answers to your questions about Seventh-day Adventists
How Important is a “Day of Rest?” Why God Created a Day for Downtime by Martin Casper Do you ever experience the feeling of complete overload? Do you feel like the only way you can get ahead is by slamming it 24/7? I hear these types of comments more and more...
7 Reasons Why a Day of Rest is ImportantWe live in a fast-paced world. It seems as if success is measured in how much you can do in a short amount of time. (Extra points for the service or product that is available 24/7). The idea that we will be more successful if we...
How do Adventists choose what to eat?Every day, parents go through the ritual of getting their kids to eat what is healthy and good while trying to steer them away from what can hinder the growth of their developing bodies. Nutritionists work with their clients to...
Is it possible to have a happy marriage?
How do Adventists make movie and music choices?Cinema has come a long way since the first clips of motion pictures came to light in 1878. As the decades rolled on, film and music producers have created rivers of movies and albums for the masses. Today, watching movies...
Why are many Adventists Vegetarian?The diet intended for man is outlined in Genesis 1:29, “And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.’”...
Didn’t find your answer? Ask us!
We understand your concern of having questions but not knowing who to ask—we’ve felt it ourselves. When you’re ready to learn more about Adventists, send us a question! We know a thing or two about Adventists.