Will Jesus “Walk the Streets” When He Returns?

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“Bible Answer Man” Hank Hanegraaff was asked on his broadcast, “What does it mean that Jesus will actually come back?” adding, “Will I see him on the street?”

Hanegraaff, who is president of the Christian Research Institute, said the caller would know of Christ’s return because the second coming will “put all things right.” Christ’s restorative power would be seen in the universe being delivered from decay and the resurrected bodies of believers.

Hanegraaf said Christ’s second coming will be physical, “Jesus appears physically—of that there is no doubt. The Christian faith is not platonic, it is physical. That is one of the reasons God used physical objects on this Earth to point to spiritual verities.”

Whether Jesus will be seen walking the streets is not the typical question asked about the second coming, most deal with the various views of eschatology and how Christ’s return relates to the tribulation.

John MacArthur was asked a similar question, “What does it mean that Jesus will come in the clouds (Revelation 1:7?)”

“Some have tried to allegorize Revelation 1:7 by assigning various figurative meanings to the ‘clouds.’ But there is no need to look for hidden meanings here, for the passage means just what it says, as do the two passages it quotes. There is nothing more to make of the statement that ‘He comes with the clouds.’ It simply means that Jesus will appear to all people as He comes to earth out of the heavens.”

John Stott, the late theologian, said of Christ’s return;

“He will return personally, for the one who is coming is “this Jesus” whom the apostles saw ascend into Heaven. (Acts 1:11)

“He will return visibly, so that “every eye will see him.” (Revelation 1:7)

“So differently from the first time, he will return in power and glory.  These words are borrowed from Jesus himself. (Mark 13:26)

“He will return to complete his salvation and judgment. (John 5:21-29, Hebrews 9:27-28)”

Gavin Ortlund,  a research fellow at the Carl F.H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School envisions a similar return;

“The second coming of Jesus Christ is the personal (he won’t send an angel in his place), visible (every eye will see him), physical (he will come in the body in which he was crucified, raised and glorified) return of Jesus to this earth to consummate the salvation of his people (Phil. 3:20-21; Heb. 9:28; 1 John 3:1-3), to be glorified in them (2 Thess. 1:10), and to inflict vengeance on those who have defied him and the gospel of grace (2 Thess. 1:8).”

N.T. Wright has a different view, noting “the American obsession with the second coming of Jesus—especially with distorted interpretations of it—continues unabated,” adding with his dry, British wit, “Little did Paul know how his colorful metaphors for Jesus’ second coming would be misunderstood two millennia later.”

Wright believes Paul’s reference to “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” (Mark 13:26, 14:62, for example) are about Jesus’ vindication, his “coming” to heaven from earth. The parables about a returning king or master (for example, Luke 19:11-27) were originally about God returning to Jerusalem, not about Jesus returning to earth. This, Jesus seemed to believe, was an event within space-time history, not one that would end it forever.”

Paul’s description of Jesus’ reappearance in 1 Thessalonians 4 “is a brightly colored version of what he says in two other passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and Philippians 3:20-21: At Jesus’ “coming” or “appearing,” those who are still alive will be “changed” or “transformed” so that their mortal bodies will become incorruptible, deathless.”  

Wright says Paul’s “rich metaphors” are not to be understood as literal truth but rather “as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere.”

Whether we see Jesus walking the streets following a dramatic return to earth a second time is debated, but there is one thing on which all agree; believers will one day walk with him on streets of gold.

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.

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