Coming or Arriving?

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Coming or Arriving? Audio Version

Just like English, Biblical Greek has one word that means to come, and another that means to arrive. For the Greek geeks, the words are respectively ἔρχομαι and ἥκω. But although the two words are technically different, they are commonly and casually used interchangeably. Such overlap usage is both understandable and forgivable, because we do exactly the same thing in English. Yes, we do. 

For example, if she were running later than expected, I might text my wife and ask her, “When will you come home?” But if I were instead to ask, “When will you arrive home?” I would mean essentially the same thing. In such a scenario, I am basically using the words come and arrive interchangeably. No big deal; most everyone talks this way.   

But if you think about it, there is technically an itty-bitty difference between the two words. To come home implies and involves the movement, transit, or (in her case) the drive from one starting point to another destination. Alternatively, to arrive specifies not the transit, but the exact ending point of the transit. Someone can only arrive after they have come.  

Therefore, if my wife wanted to mess with me, she could reply to my inquisitive text with something like, “I will come home in about 15 minutes. But I will not arrive home for about 30 minutes.” In which case, I would smirk, because I would realize that she is being unnecessarily technical, when I just wanted a general answer. Plus, she knows me well enough (and English well enough) to correctly interpret my text. I just wanted to know what time she’ll get home. 

But so what? I just spent four paragraphs discussing the difference between the words come and arrive. Why bother discussing the technicalities of common words?    

Well, I bother because Jesus is coming quickly, but no one knows exactly when he will finally arrive. He is coming quickly but arriving slowly. Let me nuance that statement now. On occasion and all along, Jesus has been coming quickly since he ascended to heaven; but he has yet to finally and ultimately arrive. 


Jesus has not arrived yet, in an ultimate second-coming sense. That said, I should affirm that he could arrive very soon. Indeed and frankly, I expect his ultimate arrival, his Parousia, in the near future. I even hope to skip the grave and live to see it.   

Alternatively, Jesus has come and continues to come (quickly) through the years. In some manner or another Jesus has already come, even numerous times. For example, Jesus came when he appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus. And Jesus came when he appeared to John on the Island of Patmos. 

Someone will likely protest, “But those appearances do not count! Jesus did not actually come to Earth. Those were only visions or voices.”

Okay, I will grant you that Paul and John may not necessarily have had a physical encounter with Jesus, though in the case of John, that is entirely debatable. But they both really, truly encountered him. Or rather, Jesus encountered each of them. In that way, Jesus did actually come. They had a genuine encounter with the risen, ascended Jesus. And each of them were alive and breathing on Planet Earth when it occurred. Since he appeared to them, it is fair to say that Jesus did come for them.

Please notice that I am making a distinction here between coming and arriving. I am not saying that Jesus has arrived. I am just saying that he briefly came. In the Book of Revelation, this is an important distinction that will help a reader make sense of a lot of Jesus’ statements.        

I would like to suggest that we should recognize the paradoxical validity of both the distinction and the overlap. To arrive and to come can effectively mean the same thing. But they do not always mean the same thing. In the Book of Revelation when we hear Jesus saying, “I am coming quickly,” we should ask ourselves whether he is possibly pointing to brief provisional historical appearances or to his ultimate eschatological arrival. Consider that paradoxical possibility as you read through the Book of Revelation. It might help you make sense of a number of passages. It does make sense of things for me.   

Without Qualification

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

Without Qualification, Audio Version

We are very close to the apocalyptic final return of Jesus Christ. Because we are close to the return of Jesus Christ, the study of the Book of Revelation is not just somewhat pertinent, it is essential. The Book of Revelation was given for such a time as this. It was given to the Church for the purpose of discerning these days — these very days, right now. And it was given in order to help us understand how to make it through these days without losing hope or losing faith. We do well to be wise and take heed to what is written therein. The wise will pay close attention to the message of the Book of Revelation during this time.

Is the previous paragraph propeller-hatted crazy talk? Does it come across as the ranting of a fanatic fundamentalist? Does it sound like something a cult leader would say to attract the naïve and impressionable? Or is it spot-on? I will show my cards here: I believe every word of it. I believe we are living just before the return of Jesus Christ. Thus we are wise to live accordingly, and foolish to live otherwise. Matthew 25:1-13 comes to mind here.   

As I wrote the first paragraph, I gave thought to how it might be perceived. People will deem it outlandish, I thought. People will think it extreme. I imagined someone I know well shaking his head in disapproval, not necessarily because he would disagree with what I say, but because I say it so bluntly. After I wrote it, I thought about editing it extensively. Perhaps I should add lots of qualifiers, in order to sound less loony. Academics will disapprove of the lack of nuance, I realized. They will immediately think of numerous crazies throughout history who misled people with exactly this kind of apocalyptic talk. Should I qualify it somewhat? Should I nuance it?  

But I decided not to. Even knowing how it might be perceived, I decided to let it stand as is, because I actually believe every word of it. And because I do, I think it is extremely important that people hear it. The time is very near. It really is. 

But what if I’m wrong? What if the time is not near? What if the return of Christ is decades or even centuries off? Am I willing to go down as another crazy zealot predicting the end of the world? People might even call me a false prophet for saying what I say here. Am I okay with that? 

Sigh. I guess so. I’m willing to be wrong. I’m willing to be called crazy. I’m willing to be misperceived, or alternatively, rightly perceived as an apocalyptic kook. I believe what I’m saying enough to say it, even if I am wrong. 

Of course, at this point, I sorely want to launch into an explanation for why I am right and why you should believe me. But I will not do that yet. Yes, I will do it, but not yet.

Instead, I just ask you to consider everything I am saying with a dose of empathy. For a moment, try to view it hypothetically. You don’t need to believe a word I’m saying; just put yourself in the shoes of someone who truly does believe that Jesus Christ is about to come back. If you were that person, what would you do? Would you feel compelled to say something? Would you want to warn people? I would like to suggest that yes, you would.

Without doubt, you would be tempted to qualify and nuance what you say, because if you’re even a bit smart, you would realize how crazy it might come across. You would also realize that if you’re wrong, you would become a laughingstock and another case study in the history of apocalyptic crazies. But if you truly believed what you claim, you would say it all the same, because you are convinced that a lot of people need to repent, and a lot of people need to get ready to face their Maker. Love for others would compel you to run the risk of sounding crazy.

That’s me. I am that guy.     

So I am left with burden of trying to convince you and everyone who reads or listens to this that I’m not crazy. I do realize that. And I know ahead that I will not be entirely successful. A lot of people will just sign off here. Alright, thank you for your time and goodbye.

But for those of you who are still listening, I’ll just start by calling your attention to current events. The world around you is going crazy. Have you noticed? Have you noticed that we are living in especially turbulent times? In Matthew 24:8, Jesus spoke about global birth pangs. Do you recall that? These are those. When you hear the news, do you wonder, even in passing, if these might indeed be the end times, the last days? Perhaps you ought to wonder about that some more. Perhaps you should not immediately dismiss that thought, even if it feels scary. We are indeed seeing the fulfillment of many biblical prophecies, right now. There are many biblical reasons to think that Jesus might be coming back, and very soon. Most importantly, what we are seeing happen increasingly fits what Revelation symbolically prophesies, as I hope to demonstrate and convince you. When you see that, it is both astonishing and awesome.   

It all admittedly hinges on how the Book of Revelation is interpreted. Know that from the get-go. Whether I’m right or not about our proximity to Christ’s return depends entirely on my interpretation of Revelation. So I need to explain that further and in greater detail. It’s worth your time, I believe. But you have to decide for yourself. If you are interested in learning my interpretation, please continue to read or listen to this blog.