The Words of the Stephens Family
The Second Coming Principle
Why the Second Coming of Christ Is Not Going To Be Jesus in the Flesh!
It Will Be A Man In The "Spirit and Power" of Jesus
James L. Stephens
Revised, August 1989
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. The Second Coming Principle – Introduction
II. Principle of Second Coming applied to the Second Coming of Elijah:
A. Prophesy at the birth of John the Baptist
B. Jesus testifies John the Baptist is Elijah
C. Jewish people did not believe that John the Baptist was Elijah
D. John himself did not believe he was Elijah
E. John the Baptist did not fulfill the prophesy concerning Elijah
F. John the Baptist in the end doubted Jesus was the Messiah
G. Was John the Baptist saved
III. The Principle of Second Coming applied to Jesus' Second Coming
A. Prophesies of a man coming in the spirit and power of Jesus
B. Prophesy of the birth of a man-child
C. The Purpose of Christ's second coming will be physical redemption and the establishment of God's Will and Kingdom on earth
D. Interpretation of the supernatural prophesies
1. Lightning, sword, breath, fire are all symbols for the new understanding of God's Word, God's truth that will be revealed
2. Earth, moon, and stars symbolize the parent figures and their children
3. Heaven and sky when used as symbols mean a holy place. Likewise, the symbolic earth means evil place
4. Clouds symbolize many believers or "crowds" of spiritually high people
Section I. Introduction
What is the meaning behind "second coming" in the Bible? God created human beings with an original purpose to be in His image and likeness. But man fell. Subsequently, salvation became necessary. God's salvation history advances forward by the faithfulness of chosen individuals, families, tribes and nations. If God's providence which is centered on certain chosen individuals is not completed to the full extent God intends, then others must be chosen at a later time in the same position and responsibility.
Thus a "second coming" is a continuation of the original mission by another person that God chooses to carry on the same responsibility. One example is the three families of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All three were "one" in the Bible because it took these three generations to lay the foundation for Israel.
The principle of "second coming" that is used by God can be most clearly seen in the example of the second coming of Elijah. We will look at this first to give us a clue to understanding the Second Coming of Christ.
Section II. Principle of Second Coming applied to the Second Coming of Elijah:
The clearest case of a second coming in the Bible is the case of the second coming of Elijah. In the last paragraph of the Jewish scriptures, the Old Testament, the Jewish people were told to expect Elijah to return.
Mal. 4:5 "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
Mal. 4:6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. *
* (NOTE: All scriptures are taken from the New International Version)
The common Jewish understanding of this scripture was to expect the return of the same Elijah from 800 years B.C. who had ascended into the sky. They are still today waiting for his return (at least in tradition) regarding it as a precursor to the messiah's coming.
A. Prophesy at the birth of John the Baptist
The following verses refer to the birth of John the Baptist. They also explain God's mission for John, clearly stating that he came in the "spirit and power" of Elijah.
Luke 1:16-17 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Luke 1:76-77 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.
John 1:6-9 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world
Mark 1:2-8 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way-a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 3:3-6 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.'
John the Baptist was born amid prophesies indicating he would have the spirit and power of Elijah and he would do the same things that Elijah was foretold to do when he returned (i.e. prepare people to believe in Jesus and to be saved).
B. Jesus testifies John the Baptist is Elijah.
Jesus himself testifies on several occasions that John the Baptist was the expected Elijah. This thus demonstrates the second coming principle. A second coming is another person who has the same spirit and power and will act and do the same things in principle that the first coming did.
Matt. 11:10-11 This is the one about whom it is written: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Matt. 11:14-15 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.
C. Jewish people did not believe that John the Baptist was Elijah.
Unfortunately, the Jewish people did not understand the principle of second comings. Jesus' words in Matt. 17:11 clearly show that the people did not believe that John the Baptist was Elijah.
Matt. 17:10-13 The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first? Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands. Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
D. John himself did not believe he was Elijah.
Even more unfortunate, John the Baptist shows by his words that even he didn't understand that he was Elijah.
John 1:19-21 Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ. They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No.
E. John the Baptist did not fulfill the prophecy concerning Elijah.
The New Testament indicates that John testified to his experience of seeing the spirit descend on Jesus, however he never went about "making the way straight" for Jesus. This is one major reason that the Jews could not accept Jesus as the messiah, because there was no Elijah.
In fact, John the Baptist testifies to Jesus only in the Gospel of John (1.29-42). The Synoptic Gospels; Matthew (3.16-17), Mark (1.9-11), and Luke (3.21-22), do not mention that John testified to Jesus at all. Even in John's Gospel, the Baptist testifies to Jesus only twice and just two disciples are influenced to follow Jesus. This can hardly be considered fulfilling the prophesies of Malachi 4:6, Luke 1.16, Luke 1.76 or Mark 1.2 (see pages 1-2). In fact, the curse described in Malachi 4:6 came upon Israel, indicating John the Baptist did not fulfill the prophesied mission for Elijah's return.
Mal. 4:6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.
F. John the Baptist in the end doubted Jesus was the Messiah.
At the end of his life John the Baptist clearly does not know if Jesus is the Lord. Jesus' reply in Matt. 11 is a rebuke of John the Baptist for his faithlessness.
Matt. 11:2-6 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciple to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else? Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.
G. Was John the Baptist saved?
Jesus even indicates that John the Baptist did not make it into the kingdom of heaven because he called him "less than the least" who entered. John was destined to be the greatest man ever. And he was on course, up until the time he met Jesus. We can only guess why John fell away from his initial faith in Jesus as the coming Lord. Probably Jesus did not fulfill John's expectations. Maybe he expected the Lord to come from the sky. Maybe he expected him to be a powerful warrior. Jesus was the son of a carpenter, even an illegitimate son, and his own relative.
In all probability his failure to follow Jesus cost him his own salvation and made Jesus' way much more difficult.
Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
John 12:26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.
Matt. 10:22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Matt. 11:11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Matt. 11:12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
Jesus says John is less than the least in the kingdom which he defines in Matt. 5:19-20 and indicates his difficulty since the days of John.
Matt. 5:19-20 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Section III. The Principle of Second Coming applied to Jesus' Second Coming:
If this is the principle that God will use for the second coming of Jesus, then what should we expect will take place?
We can predict that the "Second Coming" of Jesus will be a man in the spirit and power of Jesus who will act and do the same things that Jesus would do. That man will be anointed by Jesus and then he must suffer through many trials and tribulations, as did John, but he must remain faithful to the end.
A. Prophesies of a man coming in the spirit and power of Jesus.
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus speaks several times about "the one who overcomes". Jesus will write on him a "new name" (Rev. 2). This person with the name "no one knows but himself" will be called "Faithful and True", "Word of God", and "King of Kings, Lord of Lords" (Rev. 19:7-16). He will lead the armies of heaven and rule the nations with an iron scepter. This person will have the same authority as Jesus, but clearly he will be a different person. Jesus will be the one who anoints this man and gives him the authority.
Rev. 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
He is a man to replace Adam who was barred from the tree of life. (Gen. 3:24)
Rev. 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
The white stone is Jesus, (Matt. 21:42, Mark 12:10, Acts 4:10-12, and I Peter 2:4-8). He who overcomes will a man with a "new" name.
Rev. 2:26-29 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery'--just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The "morning star" is Jesus (Rev. 22:16) and he will give his authority to this man.
Rev. 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Rev. 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Jesus will give him a seat on his throne and share his position and authority.
Rev. 14:14 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
Rev. 19:12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.
This new man will be wearing a crown.
Rev. 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.
Rev. 19:13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.
He will be anointed by the blood of Jesus and will speak the Word of God. He will be called "King of Kings".
Rev. 19:14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
Rev. 19:16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Rev. 22:16 "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.
B. Prophesy of the birth of a man-child.
Revelation also speaks of the birth of a man child which is not commonly interpreted to be a literal baby. However, let us remind ourselves that most of the Jews 2,000 years ago expected the "Son of Man" to come on the clouds in great glory (Daniel 7:13). Very few looked for a child (Micah 5:2). We cannot rule out the possibility that God may act in the same way that he did 2,000 years ago.
Rev. 12:1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.
Rev. 12:4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.
Rev. 12:5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
Rev. 12:17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
This male child is not Jesus but another man to rule the nations. Jesus may even have hinted at this in John 16:20-25.
John 16:20-22 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
John 16:25 Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.
C. The Purpose of Christ's second coming will be physical redemption and the establishment of God's Will and Kingdom on earth.
The salvation that we are awaiting at the Second Coming of Christ needs to be a physical redemption and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Romans 8:23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
I Peter 1:5 Who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Acts 15:16 After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it.
God's original ideal for Adam and Eve (i.e. true manhood/true womanhood, ideal marriage, procreation of sinless children) must still be pioneered on earth by the coming Advent. After Jesus' crucifixion, celibacy was deemed the highest virtue, but clearly God could not intend this to be the eternal standard. The Second Advent will come to replace Adam and fulfill God's ideal for him, i.e. be fruitful, multiply, and have dominion (Gen. 1:28). Therefore he must marry a second Eve and multiply descendents.
D. Interpretation of the supernatural prophesies:
Daniel 7:13 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.
There are many expectations of the second coming of Jesus but almost all of them are of a supernatural appearance very similar to the incorrect expectations at his first coming 2,000 years ago. If God's principle of second coming determines that it will be another man in the flesh with the spirit and power of Jesus, then today's Christians are in danger of being the "second coming" of the Jews of 2,000 years ago who failed to recognize Jesus as the Christ.
If the return of Christ will be in the same manner as he came 2,000 years ago, then what is the meaning of the numerous prophesies of a supernatural return? As this paper is already too long, I will very briefly interpret the symbolism of the last days and present a more thorough examination in another paper.
1. "Lightning", "sword", "breath", and "fire" are all symbols for the new understanding of God's Word, God's truth that will be revealed.
At the Second Advent, much new truth will be revealed and old truth will be clarified as never before.
John 16:12-13 I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.
I Cor. 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
I Cor. 13:9-10 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
I John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
The Bible uses many symbols for God's truth, for example: lightning, sword, breath, and fire.
Ephes. 6:16-17 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Luke 12:49 "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.
Jer. 23:29 "Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.
Hosea 6:5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.
II Thess. 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
The prophesies of the second coming of Christ that use these symbols refer to the new understanding of truth Christ will bring.
2. "Earth, moon, and stars" symbolize the parent figures and their children.
The interpretation for the meaning of the symbols of earth, moon, and stars can be found in Genesis 37:9-10.
Gen. 37:9-10 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me. When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?
When truth comes, darkness passes away. Therefore, evil and falsehood will be destroyed. Old truth will be superseded. Therefore, all the things that the Bible says will be destroyed in the last days are symbolic. What will actually be destroyed is old truth, partial truth, faithlessness, sin, hell, etc.
Matt. 24:29 "Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
At the time Jesus came on the earth, the parental figures (sun and moon) were Moses and the Hebrew scriptures and the children (stars) were the Israelites. Jesus brought new and stronger light, dimming the Old Testament in comparison. The Jews who clung to their interpretations of Moses and scriptures did not unite with Jesus, thus "falling from heaven", falling into faithlessness.
At the "second coming", the person chosen by Jesus will be given new truth and understanding by Jesus about himself and the Bible that will be a brighter light than denominational theologies of today. Thus the current understandings of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (the father and mother: sun and moon of the New Testament) will dim as this new light of understanding from Jesus shines.
Isaiah 60:19 The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
Rev. 12:1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. (Her foundation is Jesus, the New Testament, and the saints.)
And the Christians (the New Testament "stars" or children) stand in danger of being "falling stars" if they do not unite with Jesus' newly revealed truth brought by the man that Jesus chooses.
Matthew 7:20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!
3. "Heaven" and "sky" when used as symbols mean a holy place. Likewise, the symbolic "earth" means evil place.
Clearly the words "heaven" and "earth" are used both in a literal way and in a symbolic way in the Bible. Heaven can mean the literal sky or it can mean a spiritual place of holiness. Earth can be the literal soil or a spiritual place of evil and hell.
John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 3:31 "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.
John 8:23 But he continued, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
Just as Jesus Christ could say that he came down from heaven and yet be born on earth through a woman's womb, this anointed "second coming" of Christ could also say he "came from heaven" (God, Jesus) while being born on earth.
4. "Clouds" symbolize many believers or "crowds" of spiritually high people.
Clouds in the Bible may be literal, but they also have the symbolic meaning of "many people" or "crowds", particularly "crowds of believers". Water is often used in connection with a purification process. In baptism, people go under the water as sinners and come out purified. Thus clouds are people that have been purified. The Old Testament prophesies the messiah will come on the clouds. In the Gospels Jesus is constantly met by and surrounded by crowds, thus fulfilling that Old Testament prophecy.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Mark 13:26 "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
Jude 1:12 These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm--shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted--twice dead.
Section IV. Conclusion
In conclusion, if you are looking for the second coming of Jesus, don't look to the sky only, but look also for Christ's second coming to be a man surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, people who are like saints. You will know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:20). Look also for a man speaking the truth of God far deeper than anyone in 2,000 years and knowing Jesus better than anyone else in the world. Look for a man with authority like Christ who will be about building the kingdom. Look for a man with the "spirit and power" of Jesus.
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