Stephen Whitsett BA
The traditional view of the promise of the second coming as expressed by the majority of scholars such as Ice, Hitchcock, and other dispensationalist as well as Full Preterits claims the promise of a second coming is first found in Mathew 24:30
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
N T Wright along with many other scholars affirm when Jesus spoke these words he was partially quoting from Daniel 7:13
13“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
This passage has nothing to do with Christ coming to earth but invokes a scene of Christ exaltation to the throne in heaven. N T Wright states
"First, when Jesus speaks of “the son of man coming on the clouds,” he is talking not about the second coming but, in line with the Daniel 7 text he is quoting, about his vindication after suffering. The “coming” is an upward, not a downward, movement. In context, the key texts mean that though Jesus is going to his death, he will be vindicated by events that will take place afterward
If Christ is invoking this passage for himself, and it is not recognized as a second coming passage by any scholar how do we claim it to be a passage about the second coming? Similar language is found in Acts 1 where the angel promises Christ will return with the clouds, the faulty association of coming on clouds is assumed to be the same instead of connecting it to its Old Testament passage.
Don Preston in his book “We shall meet him in the Air” expounds the Old Testament idea the events of 70 AD are of how God came in the Old Testament judgments when he came on “clouds” as imagery for judgment such as Jeremiah 4:13, Ezekiel 30:3. In this we whole heartedly agree, so there is no promise of a physical returning king or of resurrection of the dead found in the Olivet discourse. It is from His exalted position where He is given dominion and a throne and so executes judgment “from the right hand”
In Michael Sullivan’s chapter “Mathison’s Madness” in “House Divided” he addresses this issue and states, “and at the same time it could be that his coming in A.D. 70 was also “his actual coming”. He then offers three “allegorical” possibilities of what this verse means which in every sense is an argument against the literal exegetical meaning of the words. The problem again is the nature of the second coming dictates it could not have happened in 70 AD.
“Son of man coming on clouds” then should not be viewed as a second coming phrase but an image of coming judgment as John 5 states, “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man”, “son of man” then becomes the reference to Christ exalted position as Lord and judge. In Mathew 26:64 Jesus repeats this claim of his right to judge and a promise they will see his judgment come upon that generation. “Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
“Seated at the right hand” is the expression of shared authority
and “coming on clouds of heaven” is judgment, “Son of Man” is a term for
the deity of the Messiah, Christ was claiming to be equal with God and
have his same authority to judge, this is exactly what Caiaphas
understood that Jesus was saying so Caiaphas tore his clothes and cried
In Mathew 25.31 "When the son of man COMES in the glory of his father,
and all the angels with him, -then
he will sit on his glorious throne." Mathew 16:17 and
19:28 us the same phrases but leaves out, "then he will sit on his
glorious throne." The Son of Man comes, is never about His coming
to earth but to heaven, in his fathers presence.
Again we have the specific statement of Mathew 16:27, 28 where Jesus claims,
"For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.-
its about his coming to his fathers presence and sending
Coming in his Kingdom is his
ascension to receive dominion.
There would be some alive who would see this coming of judgment, if they had been alive to see the judgment then they would have seen the second coming, the resurrection of the dead, and those who are alive being changed and gathered to him yet not one-person recording seeing the resurrection of the dead or experiencing in any manner the second coming of Christ.
We conclude then Mathew 24:30 is not about a second coming but the coming of Judgment from the messiah in his vindication. This coming of
Judgment then would happen in this generation and there is no need to posit the events described in the Olivet as all future. What we find of the Early Church Fathers also believed Jerusalem was destroyed according to Jesus prophecies. Eusebius cites Luke 21 as being fulfilled and yet still holds to a future
Again no one saw the son of man coming in 70 AD
despite the claims of some who do believe he physically he did come. To
understand then the physical nature of his coming we must go to what
Paul taught about the nature of the Second Coming
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Eschatology