The Second Advent and General Judgment

by A. A. Hodge

                1. What is the meaning of the expressions "the coming," or "the day of the Lord," as used in boththe Old and New Testaments ?

                1st. for any special manifestation of God’s presence and power.––John 14:18, 23; Isaiah 13:6; Jeremiah 46:10. 2nd, By way of eminence.(1) In the Old Testament, for the coming of Christ in the flesh, and the abrogation of the Jewish economy. Malachi 3:2; 4:5. (2) In the New Testament, for the second and final coming of Christ.

                The several terms referring to this last great event are, 1st, ajpoka>luyiv, revelation.– 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 4:13. 2nd. parousi>a, presence, advent.––Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39;1 Corinthians 15:23;1 Thessalonians 2:l9; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:28.3rd. ejpifa>neia, appearance, manifestation.–2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13.

                The time of that coming is designated as "the day of God." 2 Peter 3:12. "The day of the Lord."––1

                Thessalonians 5:2. "The day of the Lord Jesus, and of Jesus Christ."––1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6, 10; 2 Peter 3:10. "That day."––2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Timothy 1:12, 18. "The last day."––John 6:39–54.

                "The great day," "the day of wrath," and "of judgment," and "of revelation."–Jude 6; Revelation 6:17; Romans 2:5; 2 Peter 2:9.

                Christ is called oJ ejrco>menov, the coming one, with reference to both advents.––Matthew 21:9; Luke 7:19, 20; 19:38; John 3:31; Revelation 1:4; 4:8; 11:17.

                2. Present the evidence that a literal personal advent of Christ still future is taught in the Bible.

                1st.  The analogy of the first advent. The prophecies relating to the one having been literally fulfilled by a personal coming, we may be certain that the perfectly similar prophecies relating to the other will be fulfilled in the same sense.

                2nd. The language of Christ predicting such advent admits of no other rational interpretation. The coming itself, its manner and purpose are alike defined. He is to be attended with the hosts of heaven, in power and great glory. He is to come upon the occasion of the general resurrection and judgment, and for the purpose of consummating his mediatorial work, by the final condemnation and perdition of all his enemies, and lay the acknowledgment and completed glorification of all his friends.––Matthew 16:27; 24:30; 25:31; 26:64; Mark 8:38; Luke 21:27.

                3rd. The apostles understood these predictions to relate to a literal advent of Christ in person. They teach their disciples to form the habit of constantly looking forward to it, as a solemnizing motive to fidelity, and to encouragement and resignation under present trials. They teach that his coming will be visible and glorious, accompanied with the abrogation of the present gospel dispensation, the destruction of his enemies, the glorification of his friends, the conflagration of the world, and the appearance of the "new heaven and new earth." See the passages quoted under the preceding chapter, and Acts. 1:11; 3:19–21; 1

                Corinthians 4:5; 11:26; 15:23; Hebrews 9:28; 10:37.–Dr. Hodge’s "Lecture."

                3. What three modes of interpretation have been adopted in reference to Matthew 24and 25. ?

                "It is to be remarked that these chapters contain an answer to three distinct questions. 1st. When the temple and city were to be destroyed. 2nd. What were to be the signs of Christ’s coming ? 3rd. The third question related to the end of the world. The difficulty consists in separating the portions relating to these several questions. There are three methods adopted in the explanation of these chapters. 1st. The first assumes that they refer exclusively to the overthrow of the Jewish polity, and the establishment and progress of the gospel. 2nd. The second assumes that what is here said has been fulfilled in one sense in the destruction of Jerusalem, and is to be fulfilled in a higher sense at the last day. 3rd. The third supposes that some portions refer exclusively to the former event and others exclusively to the latter. It is plain that the first view is untenable, and whether the second or third view be adopted, the obscurity resting upon this passage can not properly be allowed to lead us to reject the clear and constant teaching of the new Testament with regard to the second personal and visible advent of the Son of God."–Dr. Hodge.

                4. In what passages is the time of Christ’s second advent declared to be unknown?

                Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; Luke 12:40; Acts 1:6, 7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1–3; 2 Peter 3:3, 4, 10; Revelation 16:15.

                5. What passages are commonly cited in proof that the apostles expected the second advent duringtheir lives ?

                Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 1:5; James 5:8.

                6. How may it be shown that they did not entertain such an expectation ?

                1st.  The apostles, as individuals, apart from their public capacity as inspired teachers, were subject to the common prejudices of their age and nation, and only gradually were brought to the full knowledge of the truth. During Christ’s life they expected that he would establish his kingdom in its glory at that time, Luke 24:21; and after his resurrection the first question they asked him was, "Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?"

                2nd. In their inspired writings they have never taught that the second coming of their Lord was to occur in their lifetime, or at any fixed time whatever. They only taught (1) that it ought to be habitually desired, and (2). since it is uncertain as to time, that it should always be regarded as imminent.

                3rd. As further revelations were vouchsafed to them, they learned, and explicitly taught, that the time of the second advent was not only uncertain, but that many events, still future, must previously occur, e.g., the anti–Christian apostasy, the preaching of the gospel to every nation, the fullness of the Genthes, the conversion of the Jews the millennial prosperity of the church, and the final defection.–Romans 11:15–32; 2 Corinthians 3:15, 16; 2 Thessalonians 2:3. This is clear, because the coming of Christ is declared to be attended with the resurrection of the dead, the general judgment, the general conflagration, and the restitution of all things. See below, Question 9.

                7. What is the Scriptural doctrine concerning the millennium ?

                1st.  The Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, clearly reveal that the gospel is to exercise an influence over all branches of the human family, immeasurably more extensive and more thoroughly transforming than any it has ever realized in time past. This end is to be gradually attained through the spiritual presence of Christ in the ordinary dispensation of Providence, and ministrations of his church.––Matthew 13:31, 32; 28:19, 20; Psalm 2:7, 8; 22:27, 29; 72:8–11; Isaiah 2:2, 3; 11:6–9; 60:12; 66:23; Daniel 2:35, 44; Zechariah 9:10; 14:9; Revelation 11:15.

                2nd. The period of this general prevalency of the gospel will continue a thousand years, and is hence designated the millennium.––Revelation 20:2–7.

                3rd. The Jews are to be converted to Christianity either at the commencement or during the continuance of this period. Zechariah 12:10; 13:1; Romans 11:26–29; 2 Corinthians 3:15, 16.

                4th.  At the end of these thousand years, and before the coming of Christ, there will be a comparatively short season of apostasy and violent conflict between the kingdoms of light and darkness.––Luke 17:26–30; 2 Peter 3:3, 4; Revelation 20:7–9.

                5th.  Christ’s advent, the general resurrection and judgment, will be simultaneous, and immediately succeeded by the burning of the old, and the revelation of the new earth and heavens. "Confession of Faith," Chaps. 32. and 33.

                8. What is the view of those who maintain that Christ’s coming will be "premillennial," and that hewill reign personally upon the earth a thousand years before the judgment ?

                1st.  Many of the Jews, mistaking altogether the spiritual character of the Messiah’s kingdom, entertained the opinion that as the church had continued two thousand years before the giving of the law so it would continue two thousand years under the law, when the Messiah would commence his personal reign, which should, in turn, continue two thousand years to the commencement of the eternal Sabbath. They expected that the Messiah would reign visibly and gloriously in Jerusalem, as his capital, over all the nations of the earth, the Jews as his especial people, being exalted to pre–eminent dignity and privilege.

                2nd. The Apostolical Fathers of the Jewish Christian branch of the church such as Barnabas, Hermes, and Papias, adopted it. It prevailed generally throughout the church from AD. 150, to AD. 250, being advocated by Irenaeus and Tertullian. Since that time the doctrine taught in this chapter has been the one generally recognized by the whole church, while Millenarianism or Chilianism has been confined to individuals and transient parties. Its advocates based their doctrine on the literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1–10, and held––(1) That after the development of the anti–Christian apostasy, at some time very variously estimated, Christ was suddenly to appear and commence his personal reign of a thousand years in Jerusalem. The dead in Christ (some say only the martyrs) were then to rise and reign with him in the world, the majority of whose inhabitants shall be converted, and live during this period in great prosperity and happiness, the Jews in the mean time being converted, and restored to their own land.(2) That after the thousand years there shall come the final apostasy for a little season, and then the resurrection of the rest of the dead, i.e., the wicked and their judgment and condemnation at the last day, the final conflagration, and new heavens and earth.

                3rd. Modern premillenarians, while differing among themselves as to the details of their interpretations, agree substantially with the view just stated. Hence they are called premillenarians, because they believe the advent of Christ will occur before the Millennium.

                9. What are the principal Scriptural arguments against this view ?

                1st.  The theory is evidently Jewish in its origin and Judaizing in its tendency.

                2nd. It is not consistent with what the Scriptures teach. (1) As to the nature of Christ’s kingdom, e.g., (a) that it is not of this world but spiritual, Matthew 13:11–44; John 18:36; Romans 14:17; (b) that it was not to be confined to the Jews Matthew 8:11, 12; (c) that regeneration is the condition of admission to it, John 3:3, 5; (d) that the blessings of the kingdom are purely spiritual, as pardon, sanctification, etc., Matthew 3:2, 11; Colossians 1:13, 14. (2) As to the fact that the kingdom of Christ has already come. He has sat upon the throne of his Father David ever since his ascension.––Acts 2:29–36; 3:13–15; 4:26–28; 5:29–31; Hebrews 10:12, 13; Revelation 3:7–12. The Old Testament prophecies, therefore, which predict this kingdom, must refer to the present dispensation of grace, and not to a future reign of Christ on earth in person among men in the flesh.

                3rd. The second advent is not to occur until the resurrection, when all the dead, both good and bad, are to rise at once. Daniel 12:2; John 5:28, 29; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 20:11, 15.

                Only one passage (Revelation 20:1–10) is even apparently inconsistent with the fact here asserted. For the true interpretation of that passage, see next question.

                4th.  The second advent is not to occur until the simultaneous judgment of all men, the good and the bad together. Matthew 7:21, 23; 13:30–43; 16:24, 27; 25:31–46; Romans 2:5, 16; 1 Corinthians 3:12–15; 2 Corinthians 5:9–11; 2 Thessalonians 1:6–10; Revelation 20:11–15.

                5th.  The second advent is to be attended with the general conflagration and the generation of the "new heavens and the new earth."––2 Peter 3:7–13; Revelation 20:11; 21:1. "Brown on the Second Advent."

                10. What considerations favor the spiritual and oppose the literal interpretation of Revelation20:1–10.

                The spiritual interpretation of this difficult passage is as follows: Christ has in reserve for his church a period of universal expansion and of pre–eminent spiritual prosperity, when the spirit and character of the "noble army of martyrs" shall be reproduced again in the great body of God’s people in an unprecedented measure, and when these martyrs shall, in the general triumph of their cause, and in the overthrow of that of their enemies, receive judgment over their foes and reign in the earth; while the party of Satan, "the rest of the dead," shall not flourish again until the thousand years be ended, when it shall prevail again for a little season.

                The considerations in favor of this interpretation of the passage are—

                1st.  It occurs in one of the most highly figurative books of the Bible.

                2nd. This interpretation is perfectly consistent with all the other more explicit teachings of the Scriptures on the several poinits involved.

                3rd. The same figure, viz., that of life again from the dead, is frequently used in Scripture to express the idea of the spiritual revival of the church.––Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:12–14; Hosea 6:1–3; Romans 11:15; Revelation 11:11.

                The considerations bearing against the literal interpretation of this passage are—

                1st.  That the pretended doctrine of two resurrections, i.e. ,  first of the righteous, and then, after an interval of a thousand years, of the wicked, is taught nowhere else in the Bible, and this single passage in which it occurs is an obscure one. This is a strong presumption against the truth of the doctrine.

                2nd. It is inconsistent with what the Scriptures uniformly teach as to the nature of the resurrection body, i.e., that it is to be "spiritual," not "natural," or "flesh and blood."––1 Corinthians 15:44. It is, on the contrary, an essential part of the doctrine associated with the literal interpretation of this passage, that the saints, or at least the martyrs, are to rise and reign a thousand years in the flesh, and in this world as at present constituted.

                3rd. The literal interpretation of this passage contradicts the clear and uniform teaching of the Scriptures, that all the dead, good and bad, are to rise and be judged together at the second coming of Christ and the entire revolution of the present order of creation. See the Scripture testimonies collected under the preceding question.

                11. Show that the future general conversion of the Jews is taught in Scripture?

                This Paul, in Romans 11:15–29, both asserts and proves from Old Testament prophecies, e.g., Isaiah 59:20; Jeremiah 31. See also Zechariah 12:10; 1 Corinthians 3:15, 16.

                12. State the argument for and against the opinion that the Jews are to be restored to their ownland ?

                The arguments in favor of that return are—

                1st.  The literal sense of many old Testament prophecies. Isaiah 11:11, 12; Jeremiah 3:17; 16:14, 15; Ezekiel 20:40–44; 34:11–31; 36:1–36; Hosea 3:4, 5; Amos 9:11–15; Zechariah 10:6–10; 14:1–20; Joel 3:1–17.

                2nd. That the whole territory promised by God to Abraham has never at any period been fully possessed by his descendants, Genesis 15:18–21; Numbers 34:6–12, and renewed through Ezekiel, Ezekiel 47:1–23.

                3rd. The land, though capable of maintaining a vast population, is as preserved unoccupied, evidently waiting for inhabitants.––See Keith’s "Land of Israel."

                4th.  The Jews, though scattered among all nations, have been miraculously preserved a separate people, and evidently await a destiny as signal and peculiar as has been their history. The arguments against their return to the land of their fathers are––

                1st.  The New Testament is entirely silent on the subject of any such return, which would, be an inexplicable omission in the clearer revelation, if that event is really future.

                2nd. The literal interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies concerned in this question would be most unnatural–(1) Because, if the interpretation is to be consistent, it must be literal in all its parts. Then it would, follow that David himself in person, must be raised to reign again in Jerusalem. Ezekiel 37:24, etc. Then the Levitical priesthood must be restored, and bloody sacrifices offered to God.––Ezekiel 40-46; Jeremiah 17:25, 26. Then must Jerusalem be the centre of government, the Jews a superior class in the Christian church, and all worshippers must come monthly and from Sabbath to Sabbath, from the ends of the earth to worship at the Holy City.––Isaiah 2:2, 3; 66:20–23; Zechariah 14:16–21.(2) Because the literal interpretation thus leads to the revival of the entire ritual system of the Jews, and is inconsistent with the spirituality of the kingdom of Christ.—See above, Question 9. (3) Because the literal interpretation of these passages is inconsistent with what the New Testament plainly teaches as to the abolition of all distinctions between the Jew and Gentile; the Jews, when converted, are to be grafted back into the same church. Romans 11:19–24; Ephesians 2:13–19. (4) Because this interpretation is inconsistent with what the New Testament teaches as to the temporary purpose, the virtual insufficiency, and the final abolition of the Levitical priesthood and their sacrifices, and of the infinite sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ, and the eternity of his priesthood.-–Galatians 4:9, 10; 5:4–8; Colossians 2:16–23; Hebrews 7:12–18; 8:7–13; 9:1–14.

                3rd. On the other hand, the spiritual interpretation of these Old Testament prophecies––which regards them as predicting the future purity and extension of the Christian church, and as indicating these spiritual subjects by means of those persons, places, and ordinances of the old economy which were typical of them––is both natural and accordant to the analogy of Scripture. In the New Testament, Christians are called Abraham’s seed, Galatians 3:29; Israelites, Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12, 19; comers to Mount Zion, Hebrews 12:22; citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, Galatians 4:26; the circumcision, Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11, and in Revelation 2:9, they are called Jews. There is also a Christian priesthood and spiritual sacrifice.––1 Peter 2:5, 9; Hebrews 13:15, 16; Romans 12:1. See Fairbairn’s "Typology Appendix," Vol. 1.

                13. Who is to be the judge of the world ?

                Jesus Christ, in his official character as Mediator, in both natures, as the God–man. This is evident, 1st, because as judge he is called the "Son of Man," Matthew 25:31, 32, and the "man ordained by God."–Acts 17:31. 2nd. Because all judgment is said to be committed to him by the Father.–John 5:22, 27. 3rd. Because it pertains to him as Mediator to complete and publicly manifest the salvation of his people, and the overthrow of his enemies, together with the glorious righteousness of his work in both respects, 2 Thessalonians 1:7–10; Revelation 1:7; and thus accomplish the "restitution of all things."–Acts 3:21. And this he shall do in his own person, that his glory may be the more manifest, the discomfiture of his enemies the more humiliating, and the hope and joy of his redeemed the more complete.

                14. Who are to be the subjects of the judgment ?

                1st. The whole race of Adam, without exception, of every generation, condition, and character, each individual appearing in the integrity of his person, "body, soul, and spirit." The dead will be raised, and the living changed simultaneously. Matthew 25:31–46; 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:6–10; Revelation 20:11–15. 2nd. All evil angels. 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6. Good angels appearing as attendants and ministers. – Matthew 13:41, 42.

                15. In what sense is it said that the saints shall judge the world.

                See Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29, 30; 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3; Revelation 20:4.

                In virtue of the union of believers with Christ, his triumph and dominion is theirs. They are joint heirs with him, and if they suffer with him they shall reign with him.––Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12. He will judge and condemn his enemies as head and champion of his church, all his members assenting to his judgment and glorying in his triumph.––Revelation 19:1–5. Hodge’s "Commentary on 1st Cor."

                16. Upon what principles will his judgment be dispensed ?

                The judge is figuratively represented (Revelation 20:12), after the analogy of human tribunals, as opening "books" in judgment according to the things written in which the dead are to be judged, and also "another book," "which is the book of life." The books first mentioned doubtless figuratively, represent the law or standard according to which each one was to be judged, and the facts in his case, or "the works which he had done." The "book of life" (see also Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 20:15) is the book of God’s eternal electing love. Those whose names are found written in the "book of life" will be declared righteous on the ground of their participation in the righteousness of Christ. Their holy characters and good deeds, however, will he publicly declared as the evidences of their election, of their relation to Christ, and of the glorious work of Christ in them.––Matthew 13:43; 25:34–40.

                Those whose names are not found written in "the book of life" will be condemned on the ground of the evil "deeds they have done in the body," tried by the standard of God’s law, not as that law has been ignorantly conceived of by each, but as it has been more or less fully and clearly revealed by the Judge himself to each severally. The heathen who has sinned without the written law "shall be Judged without the law," i.e., by the law written upon his heart, which made him a law unto himself.–Luke 12:47, 48; Romans 2:12–15. The Jew, who "sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law."––Romans 2:12. Every individual dwelling under the light of the Christian revelation shall be judged in strict accordance with the whole will of God as made known to him, all of the special advantages of every kind enjoyed by him individually modifying the proportion of his responsibility.––Matthew 11:20–24; John 3:19.

                The secrets of all hearts, the inward states and hidden springs of action, will be brought in as the subject matter of judgment, as well as the actions themselves, Ecclesiastes 12:14; 1 Corinthians 4:5; and publicly declared to vindicate the justice of the Judge, and to make manifest the shame of the sinner.––Luke 8:17; 12:2, 3; Mark 4:22. Whether the sins of the saints will be brought forward at the judgment or not is a question not settled by the Scriptures, though debated by theologians. If they should be, we are sure that it will be done only with the design and effect of enhancing the glory of the Savior and the comfort of the saved.

                17. What do the Scriptures reveal concerning the future destruction of our earth by fire?

                The principal passages bearing upon this point are Psalm 102:26, 27; Isaiah 51:–6; Romans 8:19–23; Hebrews 12:26, 27; 2 Peter 3:10–13; Revelation 20 and 21.

                Many of the older theologians thought that these passages indicated that the whole existing physical universe was to be destroyed. This view is now universally discarded. Some held that this earth is to be annihilated.

                The most common and probable opinion is that at "the restitution of all things,"Acts. 3:21, this earth, with its atmosphere, is to be subjected to intense heat, which will radically change its present physical condition, introducing in the place of the present an higher order of things, which shall appear as a "new heavens and a new earth," wherein "the creature itself, also, shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God," Romans 8:19–23, and wherein the constitution of the new works will be adapted to the "spiritual" or resurrection bodies of the saints, 1 Corinthians 15:44, to be the scene of the heavenly society, and, above all, to be the palace–temple of the God–man forever.––Ephesians 1:14; Revelation 5:9, 10; 21:1–5. See also Fairbairn’s "Typology," Vol. 1., Part 2., Chap. 2., sec. 7.

                18. What should be the moral effect of the Scripture doctrine of Christ’s second advent ?

                Christians ought thereby to be comforted when in sorrow, and always stimulated to duty.—Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:4, 5; James 5:7; 1 John 3:2, 3. It is their duty also to love, watch, wait for, and hasten unto the coming of their Lord.––Luke 12:35, 37; 1 Corinthians 1:7, 8; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10; 2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Peter 3:12; Revelation 22:20.

                Unbelievers should be filled with fearful apprehension, and with all their might they should seek place for immediate repentance.—Mark 13:35, 37; 2 Peter 3:9, 10; Jude 14, 15. Brown’s "Second Advent."


                Augustine (" De Civitate Dei," 20, 7) states, that he once held the doctrine of a millenarian sabbath, but then rejected it and advocates the doctrine of this chapter, which has thenceforward prevailed in the Roman Church.

                " Augsburg Confession," Pt. 1, Art. 17.—"They also teach that Christ will appear at the and of the world for judgment, and that he will resuscitate all the dead, and that he will give to the pious elect eternal life and perpetual joy, but condemn wicked men and devils that they shall be tormented without end. They condemn the Anabaptists, who believe that there will be an end of the future punishment of lost men and devils. And they condemn others who scatter Jewish opinions, to the effect that before the resurrection of the dead the pious will occupy the kingdom of the world, and the wicked be everywhere in subjection."

                " The English Confession of Edward VI."––"Those who endeavor to recall the fable of the Millenarians, oppose the sacred Scriptures, precipitate themselves into Jewish insanities."

                " Belgic Confession," Art, 37.—"Lastly, we believe, from the word of God that our Lord Jesus Christ will return from heaven bodily and visibly, and with the highest glory, when the time predetermined by God, but unknown to all creatures, shall arrive, and the number of the elect be complete. . . . At that time all who have heretofore died on the earth shall arise."

                " Westminster ConfessionChaps. 32and 33; " Larger Cat. , Ques. 87–89.–These teach—1. At the last day shall be a general resurrection of the dead both of the just and of the unjust. 2. All found alive shall be immediately changed. 3. Immediately after the resurrection shall follow the general and final judgment of all angels and men, good and bad. 4. That the date of this day and hour is purposely kept secret by God.

                In Ques. 53–56, we are further taught, that Christ’s second coming will not occur until "the last day," "the end of the world," and that he will then come "to judge the world in righteousness."


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