Commentaries: Subjective Second Coming

Below are verses and commentaries on the Subjective Coming of the Lord.  Assembled will be those comments which point to the personal gathering of believers out of this realm, and the simultaneous corporate gathering into the eternal realm.


Augustine

“For this Reason he speaks to All, Things, which in their literal Sense belong to such only as shall be found alive at his second Coming, because they do really in this Respect concern All, that the Last Day shall find them in the very same Condition, that the last Day of their life left them in. Such as every one dies, such shall he come to Judgment. And hence it is his Duty to watch for the Lord’s Coming; because that Last Coming shall find him unprepared, if his Death found him so.”

Jerome

“By the Day of the Lord, understand the Day of Judgment, or the Day or every particular man’s departure out of the body. For what shall be done in the day of judgment to all, the same is fulfilled, as to each single person, in the day of his death”


 Frank Morehead Thomas (1913)
“Christ’s Second Coming is synchronous with the resurrection and glorification of the body.  This is the plain teaching of Paul.” (The Second Advent of Jesus Christ in the Light of Scripture and the World Order)

M.W. White
“One requires but slight knowledge of things to perceive how the commands to prepare for the Lord’s coming—to bear in mind that the Judge standeth at the door—to watch for the Bridegroom—and other like expressions, could have no special reference to the Second Advent, in such a way as that the apostles and brethren—as that Luther and Calvin—as that Owen and Baxter—were to expect the visible descent of the Lord before they died; for the Holy Ghost presents no fallacious motive. We do not suppose any one will dispute this from Matt. xvi. 28; for it has already been shown that John, Peter, Paul, knew this was not the case; and yet the motive to watchfulness is a real one, and one given in the most solemn way. Compare Matt, xvi. 26, 27. How are we to explain this ? Not surely in the way the Jews account for the non-appearance of their expected Messiah.

The church of God in all ages is one, though with a dissimilarity of dispensation. All it is required to believe will, therefore, be one too, with just the corresponding dissimilarity. The same motives urging to diligence in business, fervency of spirit, and the service of the Lord, will be presented to the whole church, and will contain these two elements, that an account has to be rendered, and that life is very short. We find death held up for this purpose to the view of one part; will it not be so to the other, only with the particular dissimilarity? That it will, our Lord’s words already quoted, and Heb. ix. 27, show clearly and indisputably. And we think a good rule of biblical interpretation is this: when a special result is desired, and when every element is alike in both the cases where it is wished, except the aspect of the motive presented to induce it, that motive is not two but one, although it may be presented in two different aspects. At least we have the reason of congruity and scriptural unity for believing so. We hear the Lord referring to death as the end of all labour in his own case, and looking upon it as a motive for increased activity. He speaks of it in such a way as to imply the generic nature of the rule; are we not, therefore, to conclude that the same thing is, in some way or other, indicated in the many injunctions given elsewhere to watch—to be diligent—to be holy—to be weaned from the world?

To be more precise. We point attention to the fact that the New Testament does not urge us to prepare for death in the same way that the Old does; but that it directs us to be ready for the Lord’s coming, and to have our loins girt and our lamps burning, not knowing when the Bridegroom may come, and the cry be heard, “Go ye out to meet him.” Indeed, it would be more correct to say of all its commands, that they urge us to prepare for life rather than for death. And yet the words, “The night cometh when no man can work,” show that both relate to one and the same event; only in different aspects. And, whether we may be able to give a satisfactory explanation of the reason of this, we maintain it forms no difficulty to our system, but does very much so to that of the premillenarians. It will not do to run away with an idea, and cast a one sided statement in the face of an opponent. Our friends are bound to look this matter directly in the face. They have met our system with it again and again. Well, can they explain it themselves? Can they face the difficulty which has now been started? They must know that the Lord places death before the minds of men as a close to all their activity, that the Old Testament does so too; and yet that our minds are called to a very different matter seemingly, throughout all the Christian volume, when it throws men upon thoughts of the future, and warns them of the possibility of a meeting with their Lord ere many days or hours have fled. We cannot see that it is very kind to shackle us with this matter till an intelligent account be given,—on their principles,—of this interesting and solemn but difficult subject. How can it be said we remove the motive and incentive to Christian watchfulness, by denying the kind of Advent they hold, when Paul and the primitive church had no such incentive held out to them 1 How can they say these injunctions given to the New Testament church to watch for the Lord’s coming mean that they should expect the Second Advent every day, when the Master himself shows that it is death which is referred to—referred to, indeed, in a different way from what it was before, but still referred to 1 And, if not, then is there no command to prepare for death in this new dispensation; and that event described in the Old Testament as so terrible, is made nothing of in the New; not only is its sting taken away, but all thought of it is lifted away; it is not even mentioned in such a way as to stir men up: and those who knew that the Advent was far off from them are thus left without any motive for watchfulness and activity!

We are now prepared to show (at least to make the attempt, for we move with diffidence into the field that is stretching before us), that the hour of death is referred to in those passages of which our friends have made so much use; and still farther to prove that it is they who remove the motives to Christian watchfulness, and give room and reason to the foolish virgins to fall asleep, by explaining all these peculiar texts according to their ideas of the Second Advent. This is a grave charge. When directed against the system we defend, we have felt it was a serious charge. We should not like to sit at ease in any system that lay open to such a heavy accusation. We think our friends will not— friends in the real meaning of the word,—for we love some of them much, and are persuaded they do the same of us. We know they are earnest men. It is their deliverance from an error we aim at.

There are two ways in which we would explain the fact, that when Christians are called upon to be ready for death, the command is expressed in such words as these, “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh,” “The Judge standeth at the door,” “Watch, for you know not what hour your Lord doth come.” So far as we can characterize one phase of the difference between the old and the new dispensations, we would do it thus:— The Jew was told that his system was to fade into that which was more perfect, so as to become old and vanish away when the new covenant was established. His religion is to die into a brighter and a better. His religious life is to contemplate an end. So far as he is a believer, he has the bright hopes that we cherish; but so far as he is under a system, he is—to compare Job, chapter xiv., with the words used by Paul in Hebrews viii. 13—like an old man ready every day to vanish from the land of the living. Death is the terminating object to him ; eternity to us: he passes onward to death; we to eternity. The motive urging him to diligence is that he has to die; that which incites us to the same is that we have to live—to live eternally. He must watch for death; we for eternity. No one will mistake us, as if we assumed the views of those who imagine the Jew knew nothing of a resurrection. He did know of it. Job knew of it. And, if it had suited the design of Old Testament revelation, we should have been made better acquainted with the secret experience which the believers undoubtedly had in this particular. What we view at present is the genius of the two dispensations, in the exhibition of which lies one of the many internal evidences of the divinity of the Scriptures: the Old Testament speaking much of death and little of resurrection, the New speaking little of death and very much of the resurrection and the Second Advent; and with our view on that, we affirm that when the New enjoins us to wait and watch for the Lord’s coming, it means the same thing as the Old does when urging us to remember the days of darkness which shall be many, and to seek the Lord in our youth, as there shall be no knowledge nor device in the grave. To the church as a body, the Second Advent occupies the same position as the first did to the Jewish church: it is its consummation, it should keep its eye fixed steadfastly upon it. But to individuals, as such, the motive for diligence in the one case is, that they may die at any moment; and in the other, that at any moment they may look upon their Lord.