The “Second Coming” is the term used to refer to the future event when Jesus will return to Earth, conquer His enemies, and reign as King of the world. Jesus described His return inMatthew 24:30: “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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.” John saw Jesus as a mighty warrior inRevelation 19:11-16: “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The concept of Jesus’ second coming was a mystery to Jews and Jesus’ followers until He ascended into heaven after His crucifixion and resurrection. The Jews knew of the suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) and the conquering King, but they didn’t understand that the work of the Servant and the work of the King would occur at two different times (Isaiah 7:14,9:6-7;Zechariah 14:4). People laid down their coats and palm branches for Jesus during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem because they expected a military leader to save them from Roman rule. Even after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples didn’t understand He had to leave and return. After Jesus ascended to heaven, the angels explained to the confused disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
People today still confuse Jesus’ second coming with the rapture of the church, which occurs prior to Jesus’ Second Coming. The rapture is described inI Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” During the rapture, Jesus will come down to the skies to collect His followers, but He will not set foot on the Earth; He will remain in the air.
Zechariah 14:4says that Jesus’ feet will “stand on the Mount of Olives.” When Jesus returns, He will fulfill prophecy, destroy His enemies (Zechariah 12:1-9;Revelation 19:15-16), gather and bless His people (Isaiah 11:11;Zechariah 12:10), and reign as King (Isaiah 11). We cannot know when Jesus’ second coming will occur (Matthew 24:36;2 Thessalonians 2:1-2), although we can look for signs—events that must occur beforehand (Matthew 24:4-29;2 Thessalonians 2:1-12;Revelation 6–18). Like the other prophecies about the end times, the promise of Jesus’ return is to give us encouragement (Titus 2:13) and to exhort us to continue to trust and obey Him (Matthew 25:19-21).