August 5, 2022

Will Christ Really Return?

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so, we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

In the dome of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington DC is an inscription which reads, “One far-off event towards which all creation moves.” A visitor, seeing the inscription, turned to a guide and asked, “What does that mean?” Hesitating for a moment the guide replied, “I think it refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ.”

A casual reading of the New Testament would lead a person to conclude that the believers who lived in the first century fully expected Christ to return in their own lifetimes.  When Christ did not return and some of the believers began to lose faith and grow concerned, the staunch defender of the faith, the Apostle Paul, picked up his pen and began to combat the belief that Christ would not literally return just as He came the first time.

But that was a long time ago, and we are living in the twenty first century.  Have we lost sight of the hope of a personal return of Christ to our world?  Has it simply become a “dogma” of the church, a doctrine which has taken its place in the dusty recesses of theology?  Has it simply become part of the heritage of Christianity–something explained in broad generalizations?  Something symbolic?  Something spiritual–but not literal?

There are indications that many have done this today.  Take for instance the fact that many modern versions of the Bible (most of them, in fact) have dropped a word that meant a great deal to the early Christians.  That word is MARANATHA, and it is found in the Bible in I Corinthians 16:22.  The word is neither Greek nor English.  Actually, it is Aramaic, and it was handed down in its Aramaic form until a few years ago when translators began omitting the word and trying to give it a more modern equivalent.  Now, remember that the Corinthians were not Aramaic.  They were Greeks, and when Paul used that word writing to them, it was just as foreign to them as it is to us.

Just what does MARANATHA mean?  Literally that word means, “He cometh!”  Used by the early Christians as a battle cry, it was a reminder that Christ is coming again.  In fact, when Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he soundly reproved them, but then completing his letter he used this word like a two-edged sword.  He said, “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.”  The Corinthians knew what the Greek word ANATHEMA means.  Literally it means “accursed” or “rejected”, so Paul is saying…”A man is in trouble who does not love Christ, for Christ is coming back.”

When Christians greeted one another, it was with the word MARANATHA.  It was a word of encouragement.  Today we need to discover the truth and the joy of MARANATHA.  In a weary world of turmoil and distress, we need to remind ourselves that the end of all things will not be a hydrogen bomb that reduces planet earth to a giant crematorium and leaves it a cinder.  If, of course, the early believers were deceived, then perhaps it would be better to symbolize the prospect of the return of Christ.  But if the early Christians were right, and the record of Scripture is true, then we had better remind ourselves that MARANATHA is still the only hope of the world.

Are you interested in knowing more about what the Bible has to say about the return of Christ?  You can read about it in the Bible, in the book of Acts, Chapter one, and in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, Chapter 4.  It is a good idea to rediscover the truth of that old Aramaic word, MARANATHA.

 

Resource reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18