There is scripture supporting both so I just need some clarification.
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The return of Jesus Christ is likened to the coming of a thief in the night. Two passages use the wording "a thief in the night": Matthew 24:43, "Understand this: If the owner of the house had know...
Jesus' second coming will be in sight of the Earth, accompanied by trumpets and the shouts of the angels. Rev 1:7 says, "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the Earth will wail on account of Him." Many misunderstand this 'thief' analogy. 'Like a thief' in scripture does not mean 'silently, the only evidence the theft in the morning' any more than it means 'wrongfully thieving, taking what is not His'. While those are aspects of thieves, they are not the aspects scripture is emphasizing. Rather, scripture shows that 'thief' was chosen for the analogy as a thief comes when no one is expecting it (Matt 24:42-44, Rev 3:3, Rev 16:15, II Pet 3:10-15). He comes when everyone thinks things are 'safe and peaceful.' (I Thess 5:1-3) It is for that reason He tells us to stay on our guard (Matt 24:44, Luke 21:34-36). The second area of confusion is some thinking that it is a 'good' thing to be caught by the thief, vs. A bad thing. The people caught unaware by the 'thief' are the people who are -not- ready for Christ (Rev 3:3), the wicked (Matt 24:38-39, Matt 24:48-51), those who do not stay awake and clothed (Rev 16:15), etc. [One can see an example of this from history, although the Matt 24 prophecy has not had its ultimate fulfillment yet. During a lift in the siege in Jerusalem, the Christians fled through the mountains, heeding the signs. The Jews thought the lift in the siege meant 'peace and safety', that their troubles were over. History does not record the death of a single Christian due to the siege, yet it shows the Jewish population was cut in half (from about 4 million to about two million) over the ~4 years. Those on their guard had true safety; those ignoring the signs and unprepared died (were taken away, like those in the flood)] A third area of common confusion is exchanging Christ's second coming (public) for the idea of a secret rapture some years prior, a doctrine scripture does not teach. https://ebible.com/questions/637-what-is-the-difference-between-the-rapture-and-the-second-coming#answer-16223 One passage commonly used to teach a secret rapture (I Thess 4:14-18) actually shows the very public and loud entrance of Christ, much as a king entering into His kingdom. Here are many other verses that show the public nature of the second coming of Christ. Note the repetition of common symbols (clouds, angels, shouts, trumpets, judgement following after, etc). Matt 24:31-32: angels, loud trumpet call I Thes 4:16-18: Christ descends to lower atmosphere, cry of command, voice of archangel, sound of trumpet, we meet Christ in lower clouds Rev 1:7: coming with the clouds, every eye will see Heb 9:28: Christ will appear a second time to bring salvation II Tim 4:1 Christ will judge us at His second coming and commencement of His kingdom Matt 16:27: Son of man shall come in glory, angels, judgement Rev 11:15: Kingdom of the world becomes the Kingdom of Christ Acts 1:10-11: Jesus will return from heaven in the same manner he ascended John 6:39-40: Believers resurrected Col 3:4: When Christ appears, we will also appear with Him in glory Acts 17:31: World judged by Christ Luke 21:27: World sees Christ coming in a cloud with great power and glory Luke 9:26: comes in glory, glory of Father, glory of the holy angels John 5:28-29: All those in graves hear voice, judgement, Resurrection Matt 24:27: Coming visible even to those not directly beneath, like lightning Matt 25:31-32: glory, angels, sits on throne, all nations, judgement 2 Thes 1:5-10: Christ revealed from Heaven in blazing fire, judgement, glorified in holy people I Cor 15:23-24: Christ's coming & Resurrection, followed by the 'end' Some related eBible topics: https://ebible.com/questions/4862-when-will-the-tribulation-begin#answer-8456 https://ebible.com/questions/4160-is-the-left-behind-series-biblical#answer-1691
1 Thessalonians 5:2 uses the "day of the Lord" in its context which is consistently associated with wrath, destruction, misery and judgment. It will come as a surprise to the unbelieving world. "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." 1 Thessalonians 5:3 "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." If we back up to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul describes the rapture of the Church. The phrase in verse 17 "shall be caught up" according to Strong's concordance is här-pä'-zō meaning to: I.to seize, carry off by force II.to seize on, claim for one's self eagerly III.to snatch out or away See also 1 Corinthians 15: 50-58 The day of the Lord and the rapture are two distinct and separate events separated by at least 7 years. There is an important difference between resurrection of the dead and resurrection from among the dead.
My favorite "Thief in the night" reference can be found in 2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." This will hardly be a secret event. Everyone will see and hear it. The term "thief in the night" is only used to describe the timing of the event. None of us knows if a thief is going to visit us on any given night so we take steps to prepare for such an eventuality like locking our doors, putting alarms on our homes and cars, etc. If we knew that a thief was coming at a specific time, we would not worry about these preparations until just before the time has come. We would probably be standing there waiting on the thief. The same thing applies to getting to know Jesus. We need to always be prepared for His second coming as we do not know when it will be. If we did know, we could easily live like hellions until the last moment and then get to know Him. Yes, this is a bad example as Jesus knows our hearts and its not likely that the change I just mentioned would be a heart change, but you get the point. The verse above also spells out what other verses elude to; if the earth is burned up then no one will be left to wonder where all of the believers disappeared to.
First, as Christians we should unite on the FACT that Christ is coming again, not when or how. That being said, I believe I have somewhat to offer: First, Christ comes only twice. The first, as a humble and lowly servant, in which He conquers Hell and death and Satan through his life and work on the cross, being crushed for our iniquities and being pierced for our transgressions and being dead three days, He rises again, establishing His Kingdom through regeneration. The second time, for judgement and final consummation. I agree with Jennifer's point on the thief, namely that it will be a time many will not expect, and likewise, will be an event that ALL will see, suggesting a loud trumpet call. BUT I think it is important to see how the prophets describe this event and how the apostles interpret. So, Peter is who I would like to start with. In 2 Peter 3, he writes concerning this very event using the context keys 'last days' and 'promise of His coming' (vs 3-4). But here is where many diverge. Peter goes on to use a parallel story, that of the flood and Noah (2 Peter 3:6). This is a very physical, open and obvious event that would be impossible to miss or misunderstand (ie. Like a trumpet call) In the next verse, Peter confirms that we are discussing the final judgment (2 Peter 3:7). And Christ Himself confirms this will be as the days of Noah (Matt 24:36-39) and that it will come when we least expect (ie. Like a thief). Peter then goes on in this manner in 2 Peter 3:8-10 first emphasizing the importance of THIS TIME, THE TIME OF SALVATION (2 Peter 3:8-9,14-15). It is 'Today' as the writer of Hebrews writes, 'Today' if you will hear His voice and enter into His rest. The sabbath is not Saturday, or Sunday, it is Today. It is every day. It is dying to self, and resting in Christ and His finished work, the gospel invitation, that He may live within us, and being restored to His presence, 'we live and reign with christ' (Rev 20:4), through faith (Heb 3, Heb 4; Rev 21:8; Col 1:27; 2 Col 5:17; 1 John 4:4; Zechariah 2:10, 12:7-8; etc. Etc.) Peter then goes on to discuss THE DAY, keeping with his literal motif, 'in which the heavens will pass away' (2 Peter 3:10, Matt 24:35) and the 'elements will melt with fervent heat' and be dissolved (2 Peter 3:10-12). And this word, this final shaking, 'signifies the removing of those things that can be shaken, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain' (Heb 12:25-29; Rev 20:11) wherefore, the writer of Hebrews and Peter and John and Paul and Christ and the prophets all agree, we look for a 'new heavens' and a 'new earth' where dwells righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). Christ's second coming will be in jealousy, for His bride that has been beaten, shamed, and killed by the world and worse, those falsely religious. And in His jealousy, He comes as an ALL CONSUMING FIRE. 'Behold, He cometh on the clouds, and every eye shall see Him' and in another place, unto the end of the world we proclaim, 'behold, thy salvation cometh, behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him'. Even so come, Lord Jesus.
Jesus talks about two different events in Matt 24. This is in response to two separate questions from the disciples. They ask him "when will the temple be destroyed" and "what will be the sign of the end of the age". Matt 24:3. These are two different events. And Jesus takes steps to ensure that they do not confuse the two. He says the first event will be gradual like expecting the birth of a baby and accompanied with signs so that you can see it coming, Matt 24:6-8 while the second event will be sudden and there will be no signs so you don't know when it is coming, like a thief in the night. Matt 24:36-44. Unfortunately many Christians do not notice that the disciples are confused about the two events and wrongly think of them as one and end up confused themselves. However, it is quite easy to distinguish which bits of the passage apply to which of the two events. Since the first event is quite close he expects the disciples to witness it and he talks about "you will see this" but the second event is far off and he doesn't expect them to see it so he talks about "they will see this". Keeping these two events clear and separate in your mind is the whole key to understanding Matt 24 and avoids the errors that many Christians fall into when they try to look for signs of the return of Christ, when Jesus himself has said there are none. Regards Philip
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