Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

From Jesus:

Luke 17:37 (NLT)

 37 “Where will this happen, Lord?” the disciples asked.
   Jesus replied, “Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.”

Matthew 24:28 (NLT)

28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.

Revelation 3:11 (NLT)

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.

Revelation 22:7 (NLT)

 7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.”

Revelation 22:12 (NLT)

 12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.

Revelation 22:20 (NLT)

 20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”
   Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

From others:

Philippians 4:5 (NLT)

5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

1 Peter 4:7 (NLT)

 7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

[Emphasis all mine.]

Well, looking at the calendar, I see it's at least 1,800 years after these scriptures were written. Clearly, this is not "soon" in any modern sense of the word. Thus, I'm asking:

What does "soon" mean in these verses?
share|improve this question
    
+1 Wow. What a heavy hitting question. –  Richard Sep 17 '11 at 23:33
    
I'm not allowed to post scripture without comenting on it for an actual answer, so here I will just ask you to read 2nd Peter 3, as that's exactly what he addresses in verse 8 and 9, but please read everything in context as well. biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Peter+3&version=NIV –  2tim424 Sep 17 '11 at 23:54
    
@WhatAboutJohn3_17: thanks for the excellent passage! I included it in my answer (that I first wrote quoting just the other two passages). –  dancek Sep 17 '11 at 23:59

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Some translation details

The passages from Revelation you refer to (3:11, 22:7, 22:12, 22:20) all contain the same Greek phrase:

ἔρχομαι ταχύ

The phrase is translated "I come quickly" or "I am coming soon" in most English translations.

Strong's Concordance has the following definition for ταχύ:

Neuter singular of G5036 (as adverb); shortly, i.e. Without delay, soon, or (by surprise) suddenly, or (by implication, of ease) readily -- lightly, quickly.

Some claim the correct translation would rather be suddenly. This would be in line with the following three passages, at least:

2 Peter 3:8-10 (ESV)
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Matthew 24:44 (ESV)
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

1 Thessalonians 5:2 (ESV)
For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.


As for the other passages, I cannot answer. I suspect the all-encompassing answer isn't just a bunch of translation notes but will require some theology, too.

share|improve this answer

God is outside of time. Soon is a relative term. I think God wants everyone to be ready because the return of Jesus will happen and only God knows the exact time. My guess is that it will be soon. Days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries? Yes. The question is "are you ready?" Are you living your life as one who is ready?

share|improve this answer

This post does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this post by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

1  
Hi Bruce! On the Christianity.StackExchange site, we're looking for answers that express actual doctrines of groups of Christians. Your answer, while interesting, doesn't refer to any group of Christian that holds this as a belief. Can you edit it to demonstrate that there are such groups? –  Matt Gutting Oct 24 at 18:45
    
Welcome to the site! This next is just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites?, and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Oct 25 at 22:42

Your question, is one which has been around for quite some time. I can remember hearing it when I was a kid back in the 1950's, (and yes there are some of us that old still around).

All Scripture is quoted from the King James translation, unless otherwise noted.

We as mere humans seem to not be able to understand what time is, and that it has no function in eternity. Time was created by God in Genesis, as a way of dividing his labors into segments.

Genesis 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Genesis 1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

If you will; notice in Genesis 1:5, that God called the light which he had created day and the darkness which the light divided he called night. It is also noteworthy that he began his first day and all following with the darkness beginning the day. The darkness of the first day is Eternity before God created the light.

Genesis 1:1 through 4 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

So therefore Creation began some where in eternity, but we actually have no time reference as to when since, that first night was eternity. It is also cogent to notice that God divided the light from the darkness. This brings up another controversy, in how can you have both light and darkness at the same time, and the only answer I can come up with for that is:

Mark 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

So our definition of time is not the same as God's, with God a day can be just as long as he wants it to be, but with us a day can only be twenty four hours long. We as mortals have to fit things neatly into a package of our making, but with God he is unrestricted, and we need to conform to him and he is in no way compelled to conform to our concepts of either time or space.

As an example in Genesis which God must have given to Moses, He says:

Genesis 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

and

Genesis 5:4 and 5 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

Notice that in these Scriptures God's use of the phrase;(all of the days) even though Moses has substituted years.

With God there are no such thing as years, or decades or centuries, or for that case not even millennia, there is only undivided eternity. All divisions of time other than days are a creation of man, and as an example a month on the current Calendar can be 28 days, 30 days or 31 days long; but the Hebrew calendar, which predates our calendar, all months were 30 days long. Man has so completely confused the division of time that eternity has no real concept anymore, and man appears incapable of comprehending such a thing as not having an alpha and omega.

As a consequence; whether the Scripture means either quickly or soon, that time period is determined by God and not by us.

share|improve this answer

The KJV renders the Revelation quotes as "coming quickly," not "coming soon". This can be understood as arriving suddenly, without warning, and brings to mind a passage in Matthew 24 a bit later than the one quoted in the example:

Matthew 24: 43-44

43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

As for the parallel verses in Matthew and Luke, they don't say that the end is near now; they clearly say that when "these signs" come to pass, then we will know that the end is near.

Not sure about the other two, though...

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.