The Messiah in the Old Testament By Chuck Missler We frequently quote St. Augustine’s observation,…
The Coming of the Son of Man, Part 2
By Randy Nettles
Coming of the Son of Man
In the Matthew account of the Olivet discourse, Jesus is definitely revealing details of his ‘coming’ again (after his death and resurrection) to set up His Millennium Kingdom and the events and signs that precede it. The disciples understood this upcoming event simply as His “coming into His Kingdom,” not as His “second coming” as believers do in this age.
Jesus himself called it the “coming of the Son of Man,” and the term is used five times in Matthew 24. In three of these verses (27, 37, and 39), the Greek word for coming is parousia, which means advent, presence, a being near, or a coming. In the other two verses in Matthew 24 (30, 44), the Greek word for coming is erchomenon, meaning to come, go; to come from one place into another. It is widely used in the Bible in a general sense of people traveling from one place to another.
Primarily, the word parousia refers to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It can refer to either His Second Coming/Advent to the earth at the end of the 7-year Tribulation or to His coming in the sky to rapture His Church prior to the Tribulation. The Second Coming parousia is a visible event that the whole world will witness. The Rapture is an invisible parousia, which no unbeliever that is left behind will witness.
Some examples of Second Coming parousia are Matthew 24:27, 2 Peter 1:16, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, and 2 Peter 3:4. It’s interesting to note that the word parousia is only used in the Matthew account of the Olivet discourse. In Mark and Luke, the word erchomenon is used instead, although it is clear that the Second Coming is the context of these verses, as Jesus is ‘coming’ from heaven to the earth.
Some examples of rapture parousia are 1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and 5:23, James 5:8, 1 John 2:28, and 1 Thessalonians 4:15.
Now we come to the pivotal verse of Matthew 24:36. “But of that day and (or) hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” I believe this verse and the following verses (37-51) are the answer to Jesus’ second question (what will be the sign of your coming?). The pre-tribulation Rapture, as represented by the hour, is the supernatural 7th sign that Jesus will come again to set up His Millennial Kingdom. It will occur at least 7 years before the Second coming. The Day of the Lord is when God/Jesus Christ intervenes in the affairs of mankind at the end of the age.
Hosea, the Old Testament prophet, spoke of these end times. “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” (Hosea 6:1-3). I believe this ‘rain’ is a typology of Jesus’ coming to the earth at his first and second advent.
Day 1 is the age of grace. It started with the giving of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ apostles at Pentecost (start of the Church) and will end with the Rapture of the saints (end of the Church). Day 2 is the Day of the Lord. It will start with the pre-tribulation Rapture and will end with the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth. Day 3 consists of the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords over all the nations of the earth.
The Olivet discourse of Matthew, Mark, and Luke refers to Day 2 of Hosea’s prophecy, with the Coming of the Son of Man at the pre-tribulation Rapture (Matthew 24:37-51) and then the Coming of the Son of Man at the Second Advent (Matthew 24:1-29). The Rapture is the first hour of the Day of the Lord. It is part one of two parts of the “coming of the Son of Man.”
The Rapture in the Fourth Gospel of John?
John the apostle and author of the books of John and Revelation (as well as 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John), quoting Jesus, had this to say about the hour of the resurrection of the dead that occurs at the Rapture. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life [at the Rapture]; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” [at the Great White Throne Judgment] (John 5:25-29).
The great resurrection of the dead in Christ will occur at the time of the Rapture. All those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ during the Church Age (Pentecost to the Rapture) will be resurrected at the Rapture. At this point, chronologically speaking, Jesus didn’t mention the ‘harpazo’ of the Rapture, only the resurrection of the dead. Harpazo is the Greek word for “caught up” as mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. “The English word ‘rapture‘ comes from a Latin word, ‘rapio‘, which means to seize or snatch in relation to an ecstasy of spirit or the actual removal from one place to another. In other words, it means to be carried away in spirit and or in body. The Rapture of the church means the carrying away of the church from earth to heaven.” 
The first time Jesus mentions the harpazo, in my opinion, is in John 11:25-26. Jesus was speaking to Martha in regard to her brother’s (Lazarus) death and his resurrection to come. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
These three sentences aptly describe the Rapture. In the first sentence, Jesus calls attention to Himself as the power that resurrects the dead believers. The second sentence could be in reference to the resurrection of the Old Testament saints and Tribulation martyrs that occur at the Second Coming, but I believe it is a reference to the Rapture. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The third sentence, “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die,” is proof that He is talking about the Rapture. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them [resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Jesus’ next laconic teaching of the Rapture occurs a few days before the Passover and his crucifixion. It is recorded in John 14:1-3 and is revealed in only three verses. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
These three references to the Rapture, found in the fourth gospel of John, set the precedent that the pre-tribulation Rapture was taught (however vague) by Jesus to his disciples in the gospel accounts, including the Olivet discourse. All of the teachings in these verses of the gospels by Jesus to his disciples occurred during the last week of Jesus’ life, called the “passion of Christ.” Jesus didn’t go into great detail regarding this great mystery but merely mentioned it, so later (after his death, resurrection, ascension, and the giving of the Holy Spirit), the disciples would remember it and write down the words Jesus spoke.
Rapture in the Olivet Discourse?
Matthew 24:37-39 compares the coming of the Son of Man to the days of Noah. So, which ‘coming’ (parousia) are these verses referring to, the Second Coming or the Rapture? To me, they sound exactly like what will happen in the pre-tribulation Rapture. The activities that are mentioned (eating, drinking, marrying, and given in marriage in the days of Noah; also in Luke 17, they sold, they planted, they built in the days of Lot) are all normal daily activities that seem unlikely in the end days of the Great Tribulation, when people will just be trying to survive. “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).
Matthew 24:39 says that the ungodly people of Noah’s day “did not know” of the impending disaster until the flood (antediluvian’s tribulation) took them away. How can the survivors of the Tribulation not know Jesus is coming again (Second Coming) in judgment and punishment after the cataclysmic seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments? Also, the message of the Kingdom of God will be preached to all the world by the 144,000 Jewish evangelicals and by the angel of Revelation 14, who will preach the everlasting gospel “to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.”
In contrast, it will be business as usual during the days before the pre-tribulation Rapture. “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
The great flood is a typology of the Tribulation. The days of Noah represent the evil days and people before the Tribulation (including the days before the rapture). The ark represents the pre-tribulation Rapture. It represents safety from judgment or an escape from the Tribulation. Luke 21:36 says, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” There is no means of escape from the Tribulation after the Rapture other than death. Noah and his family represent the righteous (in God’s eye) saints that God allows to escape the coming apocalypse.
Of course, the unbelieving doomed citizens of the antediluvian age (whom the flood came and took them all away) represent the ones who will perish during the Tribulation. They have waited too long to get on board the ark (Rapture) to escape the great flood (Tribulation).
Let’s examine the next two verses of Matthew 24. “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left” (Matthew 24:40-41). Are these verses talking about the pre-tribulation Rapture or the Second Coming? To me, it sounds more likely that they are rapture events, where Jesus takes (catches up, seizes, snatches) the believer and leaves the unbeliever. If, on the other hand, they are talking about the Second Coming, several problems arise. Even if conditions in some parts of the earth are capable of producing crops, after all the judgments from God that destroy most of the land, which one (worker) is taken and which one is left? The Bible doesn’t actually say.
Mister Walvoord believes the unbelievers are taken and the believers are left. “At the second coming of Christ, the saved remain on earth, and the unsaved are taken away in judgment at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. The very word taken away in Matthew 24:40-41 is used of Christ being taken away to the cross, obviously being taken in judgment as used here (as per John 19:16).” 
If this is true, it presents a problem in the next chapter (Matthew 25) where all the nations (peoples) that are still alive at the end of the Tribulation will be gathered before Lord Jesus, and He will separate them one from another. This is known as the sheep and goat judgment and is described in Matthew 25: 31-46. The sheep represent the saved (and the ones who help the Jews during the Tribulation). They are placed on Jesus’ right-hand side. The goats represent the unsaved (and the ones who do not help the Jews), and they are placed on Jesus’ left-hand side. The sheep survivors will inherit the kingdom of God, and the goat survivors will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
If the ones who were taken in verses 40 and 41 are the goats, that means the ones who were left are the sheep. This begs the question, why weren’t they both taken by the angels to face Jesus at the sheep and goat judgment? If the ones who were left weren’t taken by the angels to the sheep and goat judgments, how do they get to Jerusalem (where Jesus will have His throne) from all over the world?
The last three verses of Matthew 24 all talk about not knowing what hour Jesus is coming, so the people need to watch and be ready. In verse 42, He is called Lord. In verse 43, He is compared to a thief who comes unexpectedly. And in verse 44, He is called the Son of Man. I believe this hour is none other than the Rapture as taught by Paul in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Paul was the man that Jesus chose to reveal the details of the Rapture and thus to teach the other apostles and the entire world about this great mystery.
It is my opinion that in both the Second Parousia and the Harpazo Parousia no one will know the day or the hour Jesus will return. The Rapture is a signless and imminent event, so no one will know in advance the day or hour it occurs. Even though there are many signs for the Second Advent (including the pre-tribulation Rapture), the conditions of the earth after all of God’s judgments and the effects of war (probably some nuclear) will render the exact day and hour of the Second coming unknowable.
But come He will, and every eye will behold Him!
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”