As we journey in Revelation 22 the Lord clearly tells us He will come “soon,” “quickly,” and the “time is near.”  The first century church was expecting Him to return then but He didn’t.  Were they wrong or did Christ mean something else?

The word “quickly” in the original also carries the idea of “suddenly.” Christ’s return in some way will be sudden, quick and unexpected. We should be ready and waiting as if He could come any time. The idea of these events happening “soon” or “near” would carry a similar idea.  This means His coming could be imminent or at any moment. Jesus told us no one will know exactly when (Mar. 13:32-33). The epistles also speak of this (cf. Rom. 8:19-25; 1 Cor. 1:7; Phil. 4:5; Jude 21).

However, a plain reading of Revelation makes it clear that a series of three major events or judgements (Rev. 6-18) must take place before Christ second coming in power and glory to the earth to reign (Rev. 19). Therefore, that particular coming cannot be said to be imminent.

However, the letters written to the churches (I Cor. 15:51ff and I Thes. 4:13-18) do speak about the Lord’s coming quickly “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” in the clouds. Believers are resurrected and living ones are all taken up to heaven. There are no events that led up to this. All prophecy to this point is already fulfilled. This could be seen as imminent and is commonly referred to as the Rapture. So, it appears the references to a sudden and quick return refer to this.

The exact time that this imminent coming occurs is debated.  However, in order to be truly imminent, it would need to be before any clearly prophesied event that happens during the Tribulation.

The implication of imminence is that we should be ready for Him to return at any moment. This is illustrated clearly in the story of the ten virgins that in Mat. 25:1-13. Are you living with that expectation?   "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Mat. 25:13)?   

-Pastor Mark

P.S. "Thank you DBC family for the many expressions of love and support you have shown to us--meals for our family, helping with Joanne's memorial service details (program, sound booth, pictures, music, etc.), providing food for the reception, and serving in many other seen and unseen capacities."  The Family of Joanne Richter