there be a second and third coming of Christ?
Rev. Bill Lee-Warner
for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great
God and Savior, Christ Jesus"
2:13 is often used by pretribulationists to show that there is a
difference (of time and objective) between what they refer to as
"the Rapture" and "the Revelation of Christ."
"blessed hope" and the "glorious appearing"
are said to be two different events, or in effect, two distinct
comings of Christ. For the pretribulationist, the "blessed
hope" is seen as the Rapture, when Christ comes (secretly)
"for" the saints at the beginning of the 70th Week of
Daniel while the "glorious appearing" is seen as Christ's
physical return to earth "with" His saints at the end
of the 70th week of Daniel, for the final judgment of the world
and the setting up of the Millennial Kingdom on earth.
the following reasons, this passage in Titus cannot support the
notion that there are two comings (parousia) of Christ: one
for the saints, the "blessed hope" and one for the world,
"the appearing of the glory of... Christ Jesus."
In Greek grammar, there is a rule known as Granville Sharp's rule,
which says in simplified form that if two nouns of the same case
are connected by the conjunction 'and' and if the definite
article (the) is used preceding the first of the nouns and is not
(necessarily) repeated before the second noun, the latter always
relates to the same person or event described by the first noun
as identical or at least similar.
using Grandville Sharp's rule in Titus 2:13, we see that the "and"
joins "the blessed hope" and "the appearing of our
... Savior, Christ Jesus". The meaning of the conjunction "and"
may be translated "even" or "also". It is therefore
to be understood that the two phrases are equal in relationship.
In other words, they are not two completely different time and event
references, rather, they are both speaking of an event that has
a common referent or focal point.
literal translation of Titus 2:13 would then be:
we wait for the blessed hope even [the] glorious appearing
of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,"
In I Peter 1:13, Peter writes: "...fix your hope completely
on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Peter understood that the believer realizes his "blessed hope"
at the revelation of Jesus. It is interesting that Peter, who surely
would have known if there was to be both a time period and a different
focus or objective between the Rapture and the Revelation of Christ,
did not even hint at such a difference. Rather, he simply says that
the hope of the believer is to be realized "at the revelation
of Jesus Christ". The conclusion one reaches based on this
verse is that the blessed hope of the believer takes place at the
same time as the revelation of Christ, the time when Christ comes
to rescue the righteous (the rapture) and pour out His wrath on
the wicked (the revelation, as per the pretrib definition).
use Titus 2:13 as a Scriptural base for establishing a pretribulation
Rapture is a weak argument at best. Not only is the Rapture, separated
from "the revelation of Jesus Christ", not the intention
of the passage, it cannot be hermeneutically substantiated by any
other verse in all the New Testament.
Paul reminds his young disciple, Titus, that believers are to look
"for the blessed hope". The context of this verse gives
us insight as to what is intended regarding the meaning. In verse
11, Paul is emphasizing the "grace of God" through which
He has brought salvation to all men. Then, in verse 12, he appeals
to that gift of God as the foundational motive for believers to
live "righteously" and "godly in this present age"
as they move toward that "blessed hope".
the New Testament, the hope of believers is mentioned over 50 times.
As one traces the use of the word "hope" throughout the
New Testament, one discovers that nowhere is the believer's hope
ever understood to be limited to that of the Rapture of the saints.
The Rapture is certainly included, but it is not the sole idea.
On the contrary, the New Testament writers use the word to speak
of the broad experience of being liberated from the effects of sin,
experiencing the full blessing of their inheritance in Christ, and
being unhindered in their worship and adoration of their Lord.
make the Rapture the entire focus of the believer's hope is to apply
a meaning the New Testament writers did not intend. Certainly the
Rapture is a part of the "blessed hope", albeit a significant
part, but it is not the sole meaning.
When the student of prophecy studies the writings of the early church
fathers, he discovers an interesting phenomenon: the vast majority
of the Ante-Nicene Fathers (living between the end of the Apostolic
age and A.D. 325) who wrote on the subject of the 2nd coming understood
that the church in the latter days would face the persecution of
Antichrist, which commences 3 1/2 years after the beginning of the
70th Week of Daniel (cf. Daniel 9:27; Matt. 24:15).
implication then is that the believer's hope (which includes the
anticipation of the rapture) will be realized sometime after
the midpoint of the 70th Week and after the beginning of
the great tribulation at the hands of Antichrist. If this is the
case, and Scripture abundantly supports this view (cf. the sequence
in Matt. 24:3-31), then the clear teaching of Scripture on the coming
of Christ, both for His church, and with wrath (the Day of the Lord
- Zeph 1:14-18, and described as beginning with the cosmic lights
being extinguished ((Joel 2:31; Matt. 24:29; Rev. 6:12-17)), is
that the Rapture and the Day of the Lord occur on the same day (cf.
Luke 17:26-30). Therefore, there is no time separation between the
Rapture and the Revelation of Christ.
believer on that day will lift his head knowing that his "redemption
is drawing near" (Luke 21:28) but the world at the same
time will be in "perplexity at the roaring of the sea and
the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things
which are coming upon the world, (in context - because of the
extinguishing of the cosmic luminaries) for the powers of the
heavens will be shaken. And then will THEY (emphasis added)
[in context - the people of the world] see the Son of Man coming
in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 1:25-27)
light of what Scripture records, Robert Gundry has written, "Every
Ante-Nicene writer who wrote in any detail upon the tribulation,
resurrection, rapture, or second coming ...[understood] ... the
church will undergo persecution at the hands of Antichrist".
That means that the Rapture takes place sometime after the persecution
starts (the midpoint of the 70th Week) and is not prior to the 70th
Week as the pretribulationist insists. Mr. Gundry goes on to say
that the only outstanding early fathers missing (that taught differently)
were Clement of Alexandria and Origin, who used an allegorical method
examples corroborating the teaching that the church is present through
some portion of the persecution and therefore not removed from the
earth in a secret coming prior to the 70th Week are Irenaeus (the
disciple of Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John) and Justin
Martyr. Irenaeus wrote, "And they [the ten kings] ... shall
give their kingdom to the beast, and put the Church to flight."
(Against Heresies 5:26.1)
Martyr, wrote, "The man of apostasy [Antichrist] ... shall
venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians."
early church fathers understood there to be only one coming of Christ.
They never separated His coming into the idea that He would come
first in a secret coming for His church and then later (perhaps
seven years) with His church to pour out His wrath on wicked mankind.
the above reasons, to understand that a difference was intended
in Titus 2:13 between "the blessed hope" being the (secret)
Rapture of the saints and "the appearing of...Christ Jesus"
as the Revelation of Christ at the end of the 70th Week, is to incorrectly
understand the verse. Therefore, there is not a distinct second
and a third coming, rather one coming, one Parousia at which time
God "sum[s] up ... all things in Christ" (Eph. 1:10).