Second Coming: Must the world first be evangelized?
What did Jesus tell His disciples about this in His earthly ministry? Didn’t He say the gospel He was preaching would first be preached throughout the whole world and that He would then return?
Matthew 24:3 & 14
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Their question was answered with a list of events [signs] that would occur to denote the nearness of His time of return. The last of the events He gave in this account of it was to do with the evangelization of all the world.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. [Emphasis added]
Please notice the name or title of this gospel message He speaks of as the one that must be preached throughout the world before Christ returns. Most people think there’s only one gospel in the Bible, but that’s where the confusion begins. Here He speaks of what is called The Gospel of The Kingdom. Is this the same gospel the apostle Paul presented called The Gospel of The Grace of God? It is not! Has this gospel, The Gospel of The Kingdom, been preached throughout the world? Has the world been evangelized with this message, this gospel? Has that happened yet? Answer: No, it has not! But please notice what the apostle Paul tells us about his gospel. In his writings he says the entire world HAS ALREADY been evangelized with the gospel message he proclaimed. And that was in the first century A.D.! That was many centuries ago. What are we to think of all this? Why hasn’t Christ already returned if Peter’s gospel is the same as Paul’s? Is this confusing? What people say about it often IS confusing! But the truth about such things is never confusing. God always makes it easy to learn. Just look at what the Bible says about all this. It clearly tells us that the entire world was evangelized with Paul’s Gospel of The Grace of God in the first century. Can’t we trust what the Bible tells us about this?
I Thessalonians 1:8-9
8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; [Emphasis added]
But then there’s more, much more!
Colossians 1:6 & 23
6 Which [Paul’s gospel of grace] is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
Then look at what Paul said just a few verses later.
23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; [Emphasis added]
Can it be any plainer? People everywhere were hearing of Paul’s gospel message. Word of mouth travels quickly, even back then. Even Luke speaks of this in his writing of the historical book of Acts.
6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; [Emphasis added]
So, why is it that I often hear believers and evangelistic organizations talking about how they are getting close to evangelizing the entire world with the gospel?
In the Acts passage given above he’s talking about Paul’s gospel message, not Peter’s. Can’t we trust what the Scriptures tell us? Surely, we can, and we should! Does it get any plainer than all this? Do we need still more biblical evidence that the world has already been evangelized with Paul’s gospel? If you’re still in doubt about this, here’s still even more evidence for you to consider.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. [Emphasis added]
I know very well how difficult it can be to unseat someone’s long held traditional thinking about something. In my early days of ministry, some fifty plus years ago, one of my first sermons was on the Second Coming of Christ. I still remember going through the “signs” Christ gave about it in His earthly ministry. My point was that they were then being fulfilled, or at least that’s what I thought. But one very important thing about this I didn’t know is that there are TWO future “comings” of Christ discussed in the Bible. I’d heard a little about the Rapture but didn’t know much about it. But I soon began to get these things sorted out because I could see that it looked like there were contradictions in Scripture about all this. However, I soon came to fully understand that TWO events, two comings, not one, were under discussion. I also learned that TWO gospels, not one, are found in the Bible. The Twelve Apostles were commissioned with the Gospel of The Kingdom [Matthew 28:19-20 & Mark 16:15-20], but it was the apostle Paul who was commissioned with the Gospel of The Grace of God [Acts 20:24 & 2 Corinthians 5:18-21]. These gospels are also called the gospel of the circumcision and the gospel of the uncircumcision in Galatians 2:7. The Twelve Apostles always spoke of the Second Coming of Christ that occurs at the end of a seven-year period of serious tribulation on earth. That’s because they knew nothing about the Rapture. That information had still not been revealed. On the other hand, the apostle Paul spoke of the Second Coming, but he also spoke of another coming of Christ as having been a mystery, that is, a secret that the prophets of old knew nothing about. Because they knew nothing about it, they wrote nothing about it. There’s at least one passage that appears otherwise.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
This verse is about what is called the baptism of fire that occurs at the Second Coming. In this case, it is the unbeliever that is removed, and the believer is left to go into Christ’s earthly kingdom. Only the apostle Paul writes about the Rapture. And when he speaks of it, he often calls it a mystery. It is within this truth that had been a secret that we learn about this other “coming” of Christ which we now speak of as the Rapture. That word [Rapture] is not in the Scriptures, much like the word trinity is not, but the principle is taught there.
I Corinthians 15:51-53
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery [MUSTERION = a secret]; We shall not all sleep [speaking of physical death], but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [Emphasis added]
More specific details on this “coming” are given in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again [a reference to OUR gospel today, the one first disclosed to and by Paul], even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord [a reference to special revelation given to Paul], that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord [a reference to the Rapture, NOT the Second Coming] shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together [Raptured] with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: [we meet Him in the air, but He does not come to the Earth] and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. [Emphasis added]
All this is about the Rapture, not the Second Coming of Christ. These are two separate events. One was “a mystery” totally unknown to anyone prior to the revelation of this through the apostle Paul. The other, the Second Coming, is something all the prophets of old wrote about. Because of that, these two comings are not, nor can they possibly be, the same event. You’ll find another article about these two contrasting events on this website entitled Rapture: What is the meaning of this term? There I list nine (9) differences in these two events. One of these comings of Christ had been a secret and the other had not, being spoken of by all the prophets of old.
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery [secret] of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [Emphasis added]
Along with this revelation stated in verse six that Jews and Gentiles would be made one body was the revelation of this event we speak of as the Rapture. There are also other categories of truth that had been unknown that were then revealed through Paul’s teaching.
As you’ll often hear me say, understanding the right division of Scriptures is crucial to your correct understanding of the Bible.
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]
Without this understanding of the right division of Scripture, you will certainly be confused. In this case, there will be confusion and resultant misunderstanding about these two distinctly different “comings” of Christ.
In conclusion, how refreshing it is to pull all this together and to see a clear picture of these two distinctly different coming events. The entire world was evangelized with The Gospel of The Grace of God [Paul’s gospel] in the first century. It is when the world is finally evangelized with The Gospel of The Kingdom [Peter’s gospel] that Christ will return to set up His earthly kingdom. Again, the prophets of old all speak of it.
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ [a reference to His second coming], which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. [Emphasis added]
BUT no prophecy at all has to be fulfilled for the Rapture to occur. Christ’s return for this event of meeting us in the air has ALWAYS been imminent. There’s never been any prophecy that needed to be fulfilled for this to occur. The apostle Paul doesn’t give us signs to look for. Instead, he simply speaks of historical trends to let us know that things aren’t going to get better internationally before the Rapture.
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
There will always be people doing crazy things that are in violation of God’s will. But the day will finally come when our resurrection, the Rapture, will come. This is something we should all eagerly anticipate.
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [Emphasis added]
Meanwhile we’re to do everything we can to inform and work to convince people to accept the good news about what Jesus Christ did to provide them with a way of salvation through His death, burial, and resurrection. Question: WHO are you now working with to persuade?