This question is inspired by a question asked in 2013: 'Do all Christian traditions expect a second coming of Christ?' Do all Christian traditions expect a second coming of Christ?

Although it is my understanding that mainstream Christian denominations uphold the Athanasian Creed which declares that "Jesus will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead" there are some Christian denominations who deny that Christ Jesus will return visibly, when he comes with the heavenly hosts to judge the living and the dead. Jehovah's Witnesses are one example of a denomination who deny that Christ Jesus will return visibly.

Revelation 1:7 declares that "every eye will see him" when he comes with the clouds, but some denominations think this is a euphemism for "seeing" with spiritual eyes; of being spiritually enlightened, that the clouds will obscure any literal sight.

What is the biblical basis for Christians to believe that when Christ Jesus returns he will be seen - he will be visible to all the people on earth?

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    Acts 1:11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven., Luke 21:27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory., Matthew 24:30 Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory
    – user50422
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 18:09
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    Rev 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 21:28
  • Isn’t it claimed by some denominations that Jesus will come back twice? The first time for his people and the second time for the whole world, or something like that? Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 23:19
  • @Constantthin the rapture is what I think you're referring to. It happens on the "last day" of the world after the dead in Christ rise first (the resurrection). Christ returns with His holy angels to gather His elect. Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 1:56
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    I think its very important to understand what "coming on the clouds" symbolizes in the bible. Throughout scripture "cloud" is used to represent spirit. Eg: The pillar of cloud that lead the Israelites in the wilderness in the book of Exodus 13:2. To the cloud filling the first temple when Solomon opened it (2 Chronicals5) Cloud means "spirit" in biblical symbology. When it says Jesus will come on the clouds - it means coming in spirit. Like he did on Pentacost. Now Pentacost was "visible" in that the power of the spirit was made manifest in the followers - but Jesus did not appear "in body"
    – Marshall
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 18:26

4 Answers 4


Here are a few references to Jesus return:

  • Heb 9:28, “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
  • It will be glorious, visible and unmissable because of great events in the heavens and earth (Matt 24:27, 29-31, 16:27).
  • The Second coming will also be very loud and audible as described by the trumpet call of God (Matt 24:30, 1 Thess 4:16, 17).
  • Jesus will return personally and visibly just as He left (Acts 1:11). Indeed, Rev 1:7 says that every eye will see Him.
  • There is nothing secret about the return of Jesus except the date, 2 Peter 3:10, 1 Thess 5:2, Matt 24:32-41, 42-51, Acts 1:7. The actual event will be seen by all.
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    "There is nothing secret about the return of Jesus except the date" and with Bible verses to back up your answer.
    – Lesley
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 13:43

"There are some Christian denominations who deny that Christ Jesus will return visibly, when he comes with the heavenly hosts to judge the living and the dead. Revelation 1:7 declares that "every eye will see him" when he comes with the clouds, but some denominations think this is a euphemism for "seeing" with spiritual eyes; of being spiritually enlightened, that the clouds will obscure any literal sight.

What is the biblical basis for Christians to believe that when Christ Jesus returns he will be seen - he will be visible to all the people on earth?"

There is very clear and solid Biblical evidence for the literal , physical and visible return of Christ.

First we should look at the basic principles of Hermeneutics - or principles of Biblical Interpretation.

  1. Look at the Historical Context, Grammatical context, cultural context and literary context.

  2. Who was the author, and who was the audience.

  3. What other passages shed light on this, or confirm this. Scripture interprets scripture.

So first we have this verse in Revelation that says "every eye will see him." As you mention, those who deny the literal and visible return of Christ bring up the valid point that this is apocalyptic literature and Revelation is filled with imagery, symbolism and metaphors. If this were the only verse - it would be hard for people to say with certainty that the return is visible.

Fortunately, we have other verses. First we have to look at Matthew 24. The Context of this is very very important. It is the Gospels- so eyewitness accounts. It's part of the well-known teachings called the Olivet Discourse. This context is extremely important; it was Christ speaking to his disciples about the events that would happen at the 2nd Advent [All the events part of End Times - the Great apostasy, the rapture, the tribulation, the Anti-Christ, the Abomination of Desolation, the temple, bowl judgments, and the ultimate return of Christ as Judge and conquering King.

John 14:1-3. Jesus comforts his Disciples. He tells them he is going away, but that he is coming back. Here he uses a specific Hebrew idiom for a wedding which was instantly understood by his Galilean disciples.

According to Avi Ben Mordechai, a Jewish scholar who became a Christian, he says in "Signs in the Heavens - A Jewish Perspective on the Last Days" that the phrase "I go to prepare a place for you" was a common idiom used by the groom to be, for his bride. They would typically add on another room to the father's house where the new couple would live

This is significant because they all understood that the groom would come back for his bride literally and visibly and take her to the new place. Christ used a real, literal event from the culture to describe his return - just like in a Hebrew wedding. It is no accident that Paul and other writers say that the church is the bride of Christ.

Then, the best confirmation of all is in Acts. Again - the context is very important - and here we see that Acts is historical genre - real events in the lives of the early apostles , the birth of the church and rise of Christianity. The context is the Ascension, Christ's last words before leaving earth. Where ? The Mount of Olives. The same place as the famous Olivet discourse where Christ told his disciples about the signs before the rapture and events of the Second Advent.

Acts 1:9-11 9 "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were watching, and a cloud took Him up, out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, then behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, 11 and they said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

They watched him ascend literally and physically up from earth into heaven. Also, Christ said that he would return in the same way he left, and he will return to the same place.

Then, we also see this same detail confirmed hundreds of years before Christ's first Advent, by Zechariah the prophet, who prophesies about the second advent, and even specifically names the city of Jerusalem and prophesies that Christ will come down on the Mount of Olives. The fact that he names the real city and real mountain tells us his return is visible.

Zech 14:4 "On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south."

Lastly- we see that Paul describes the events of the rapture, to believers in Corinth and also in Thessalonica.

It's not poetry, or apocalyptic literature or symbolic. He comforts them, because some had thought that the Day of the Lord had already happened and the entire theme of I Thessalonians is "Understanding the Day of the Lord" - a literal event.

◄ 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ► "For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words."

Here we see the same pattern repeated again - at the rapture. Paul tells us that Christ will come in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air - literally, physically.

It should be noted that this is the same context, same audience and same passage that Paul tells us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the Dead in Christ will be resurrected.

Those who deny the literal and visible rapture or second coming, have no basis to claim that the dead in Christ will literally and physically be raised again.

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    It is interesting to compare Bible verses in Biblehub. The Contemporary English Version and the God’s Word Translation add the word “already” to 1 Thess 4:15. Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 1:05
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    @Tennman7 - I appreciate your answer but please note, I am NOT asking about any views regarding a rapture. +1 for saying "Those who deny the literal and visible... second coming, have no basis to claim that the dead in Christ will literally and physically be raised again."
    – Lesley
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 11:38

I could spend all morning on this, but I'll try to get my idea across briefly. My vision of this comes principally from Mark, and I think it is worth noting that conclusions about Christ differ by author. Even if you read the bible as one supertext, authors differ in what points they choose to bring out.

Jesus speaks of the end times in Mark 13 in response to a question from Peter, Andrew, James and John, his very first disciples, three of whom saw him transfigured.

Jesus begins by admonishing them not to be deceived. Just prior in chapter 12, we have a pairing of "the scribes in long robes... who swallow the property of widows" and a poor widow putting all her money into the treasury. She is deceived, and yet Jesus praises her for her devotion to God. It is not either/or. The widow is BOTH 100% deceived by the corrupt Temple system, AND beautifully acting out a sincere devotion to the truth as she understands it as she makes her contribution.

So Jesus' point is that he wants his disciples to clue into an understanding that is different from popular belief. The rest of chapter 13 is allegory about purification of the soul, which culminates in the son of man coming on the clouds in power.

A couple key passages. "When you see the disastrous abomination set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand)..." Does this refer to what the Greeks did in the time of the Maccabees and what the Romans were doing/were about to do/had just done? Yes. But if Mark is a timeless book, then "disastrous abomination set up where it ought not to be" can also be read as a sin you cherish or a false idol like money in your heart.

Then the lines about fleeing and hardship can be read as referring to ridding yourself of that sin. And when we get to the line, "then they will see the son of man coming..." the word "they" is extremely important. NOT everyone everywhere. "They" refers to those who have gone through the process of removing their false idol or most deadly sin from their lives (and other sins or temptations or false devotions have also fallen away: sun and moon lose their brightness, stars fall down and the powers in the heavens are shaken.)

Now the lines about "no one knows the hour" also clear themselves up. It is a different hour for every soul. The whole sequence ends with "be on your guard" and "be awake" because anyone at any moment is no more than a turn of heart away from beginning/continuing this process.

So popular belief nowadays about a physical second coming? OK, sure. Believe that sincerely with a heart devoted to God and you are as praiseworthy as the widow.

But now that I've seen this I can't unsee it. Mark is absolutely clear that he expects more than a surface reading. Look at Mark 6:51-2 They were utterly and completely dumbfounded because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant. Mark thus makes it clear that in addition to actions and words, there are meanings there for us.

Mark wrote to dispell this idea of a physical end times. Most Christians understand that Jesus' life radically redefined the idea of Christhood. Why are so many stuck in a first century idea of the end?

Mark anticipates this as well. In Mark 13 Jesus says that many will come claiming to be the Christ and that many false prophets will produce signs and portents. In my opinion, stitching together a bunch of scriptures (which Jesus' life re-defined, none of which define Jesus) to make claims about the end is exactly what is being warned against. "When they say, look here, look there, do not believe it. I have warned you of everything."

Whatever else is in the bible, Mark wrote his book with Jesus pouring water on this burning desire for physical end times. Can physical end times still be argued for? Obviously. Is everyone a charlatan who does so? Maybe not. But any literate person can see what I'm saying about Mark. Dismiss it if you like, but it's there. Physical end times are now and have always been a hustle. Jesus and Mark lay it out clearly.

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    – agarza
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 21:46

There is no biblical basis for this concept.

This misunderstanding is similar to another foundational difficulty.

Believers and unbelievers are two distinct groups that are not to be intermingled.

The grace of God has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11) but only those who humble themselves before God receive grace (James 4:6) and derive the benefit of being taught to deny ungodliness, Titus 2:12.

The confusion of the “Day of the Lord” and the “Second Coming” concepts are responsible for the inaccurate concept of a physical second coming.

Every eye sees Jesus coming in the clouds as is seen in Isaiah 19:1 and Rev 1:7.

Isa 19:1 ¶ The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

Re 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Both Believing and unbelieving people will see the Judgment of God/Day of the Lord, (Joel 1:15), since everyone reaps what they sow”, Gal 6:7.

Joe 1:15 Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.

Ga 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

However, only Believers will see Jesus as He comes in the Second Coming (Heb 9:28), and then only when they look for Him.

Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Jesus said that after His Ascension unbelievers’ would not see Him again until they said blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord, Mt 23:39 and Lk 13:35.

Mt 23:39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Lu 13:35 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Until unbelievers acknowledge “Jesus as Lord” they will not see Him.

When they acknowledge Him He comes to them spiritually in the Second Coming.

When unbelievers “Look for Him” they become believers.

Jesus said “Only at that time” would they see or perceive Him, as He and the Father come to make their abode with the individual, Jn 14:23.

Joh 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

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