Scripture vs. Tradition

It is traditionally believed that Jesus Christ’s Second Coming is yet to happen. Many claim the fulfillment of the Savior’s return is imminent – about to happen. Not surprising, for Jesus Christ did say, “I am coming soon,” four times actually in the Book of Revelation.

See Revelation 3:11; I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”

Also Revelation 22:7; And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Again Revelation 22:12; Behold, I am coming soon, bringing My recompense with Me, to repay each one for what he has done.

Finally, Revelation 22:20; “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

Actually that’s not all, the Book of Revelation overwhelmingly declared the soon coming or return of Jesus Christ. Let me make clear, though, “it’s soon to the audience of John, not to us,” the introductory and closing remarks of John in Revelation declared it clearly that “the time is near.”

See Revelation 1:1-3

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to his servants [John] the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

Next, Revelation 22:10-20

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing My recompense with Me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

In Revelation 22:18-19, what was/is the point of Jesus’ warning “not to add nor take away from the words of the book of this prophecy”? The Book of Revelation clearly speaks about the imminency of Christ’s return, which was the hope of the early church. So the warning has to do with false prophecy concerning His soon return. Do we see evidence of such danger on prevailing letters with that of Revelation? See 2 Timothy 2:15-19.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

The biblical concept for resurrection and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are synonymous events. 2 Timothy most clearly was the last of Paul’s letters. He spoke about his soon departure and the soon Return of Jesus Christ to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:6-8). By departure, Paul was talking about his martyrdom for the faith.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Clearly Paul was anticipating the imminency of his death, and he was looking forward to the yet coming Judgment Day of Jesus. In 2 Timothy 2:17-18, Paul made clear that the claim of Hymenaeus and Philetus were false; the resurrection had not yet occur because the Judgment Day had yet to come. The resurrection spoken by both Hymenaeus and Philetus denied the resurrection foretold in Daniel 12:1-4.

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people [Jews]. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people [Jews] shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.

But how could the resurrection of the last day have occurred if the Jewish Temple was still standing at the time Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy? Paul obviously was still looking forward to that Day; see 2 Timothy 4:8.

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Daniel 12:2 actually provided a clue when it would occur saying, “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time,” which was quoted by Jesus in Matthew 24 when He spoke about the destruction of the temple. See Matthew 24:15-28.

So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be [Matthew 24:21 cf. Daniel 12:2]. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

Bear in mind the context for Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:15-28 was from Matthew 24:1-3.

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when His disciples came to point out to Him the buildings of the temple. But He answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?

I have said this in my other blogpost, but let me reiterate it again. The disciples of Jesus clearly understood with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple then it’s the Coming of the Christ. They understood it because Isaiah prophesied about the final destruction of the Jewish Temple. Read Isaiah 24-27; it’s simply too long to include here. Perhaps I can write about the passage sometime soon. I hope it’s soon.

Anyway, centuries after the destruction of the Jewish Temple, Julian the apostate, a Roman Emperor years after Constantine, tried but failed to rebuild the Jewish Temple. You have to understand Rome was still the empire in power during those time, yet despite Julian’s approval and support, the Jews fail to rebuild it – simply because in Isaiah 25:2, Scripture said, “For you have made the city [Jerusalem] a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the foreigners’ palace is a city no more; it will never be rebuilt.

Oh yes, Jerusalem is back in the map of Israel since 1948, but until today, despite attempts, the Temple has not been rebuilt. In fact, the Dome of Rock, an Islamic Mosque, stands on the ground of the old Jerusalem Temple. War surely would erupt, and the Jews must win the fight, before the mosque may be destroyed then the rebuilding of the temple perhaps may commence. If God’s word said, “it wouldn’t be rebuilt,” then what would proponents for a rebuilt Jewish temple be? Pro or against God’s Word?

The idea of the Tabernacle was first mentioned in Scripture after the confirmation of God’s covenant made with Israel at Exodus (Exodus 19-24); see Exodus 25:1-9.

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for Me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

At the time of David and Solomon, the tent of tabernacle was made into a temple, which God approved upon the wishes of David, who desired a better dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 7:1-2). The temple therefore was the sign of God’s presence with Israel. Without the temple, then God’s presence was no longer with Israel. So even if Jews are back in Palestine, without the temple Jerusalem ceases to be the city of God. Israel of today is no longer the Israel of the Bible. Isaiah 25:2 had been fulfilled saying “For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin, the foreigner’s palace is a city no more; it will never be rebuilt.”

A pastor friend believing in the concept of a rebuilt Jewish Temple followed by the Second Coming of Jesus once said, “Don’t be too sure that it would not be rebuilt, it may happen before you know it.” My answer to him is simply to read Deuteronomy 18:18-22, for Scripture say it would never be rebuilt, but religious people say it will.

I will raise up for them a Prophet [Jesus] like you from among their brothers. And I will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And whoever will not listen to My words that He shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

It has been almost two thousand years since the final destruction of the Jewish Temple. Claims upon claims have been made, but the temple remains in ruin, just as Jesus told His disciples (Matthew 24:2). Everyone is free whatever he/she chooses to believe, but I will always choose to believe Jesus Christ, His Word, the Scripture.

So back to our discussion about Daniel 12 and Matthew 24, Jesus clearly warned about talks on the fulfillment of His Return before and after the destruction of the temple. That was exactly the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus; they spoke of the occurrence of the resurrection while the temple was still standing. It is silly then that some claiming to know Scripture used 2 Timothy 2:17-19 to refute the idea that Jesus had already return. To think that two verses before, Paul wrote, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the truth (2 Timothy 2:15).” Without a doubt, the destruction of the Jewish Temple, as understood by Jesus’ disciples, was the Return of Christ Jesus and the time of the resurrection (Matthew 24:1-3). It’s the completion of Jesus’ New Covenant and the passing of the Old Covenant (Hebrews 12:22-29).

The Return of Christ also signaled the completion of God’s Kingdom here on earth. See Matthew 6:9-10; Jesus, teaching His disciples about prayer, said:

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

See also Matthew 5:1-5

Seeing the crowds, He [Jesus] went up on the mountain, and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

In the Beatitude of Jesus, the blessedness of the meek is that they shall inherit the earth. How then could Jesus destroy the earth with fire as taught by tradition if it is part of the inheritance of the blessed people of God? Don’t you find that ridiculous?

The prayer that Jesus taught His disciples was for God’s kingdom to come on earth. Why then would Jesus destroy earth?

Despite the numerous mentions of imminency of Jesus’ return, the traditional Christian teaching continues to deny and declare that Jesus Christ is yet to come. We have to remember that the revelation of Christ, revealed none other but by God the Father to Jesus (See Revelation 1:1; “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants the things that must soon take place”), which was written down by John (the apostle) through the revelation of the Returning King, was announced almost two millennia ago, to real people and audience – the first century church. It made no sense to them (the first-century church) to believe the message of imminency if it would occur beyond their lifetime, and it makes no sense to us that Christ Jesus promised to return soon yet it has been two thousand years now. Obviously if we are sincerely seeking the Word of Truth, we need to recalibrate the traditional presupposition concerning the doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming.

The Gospel of Matthew spoke on the theme of the “Kingdom of Heaven” repeatedly – 32 verses altogether. The Book of Daniel revealed to us that Four Gentile kingdoms would rule over Israel before the appearance of God’s Kingdom. See Daniel 2:36-45.

This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. You, O king [Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon], the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, and into whose hand He has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. Another kingdom [Mede and Persia] inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom [Greece] of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And there shall be a fourth kingdom [Rome], strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom [Fourth kingdom] shall be partly strong and partly brittle. As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of those kings [iron & clay] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

According to the prophecy, the kingdom of heaven would appear during the time of the Fourth Gentile kingdom – Rome. Remarkably, Jesus Christ came announcing the imminent coming of God’s kingdom. See Matthew 4:17.

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The apostle Paul in turn clearly explained that the Kingdom of Heaven would fully be realized at the Return of Jesus Christ. See 1 Corinthians 15:22-26.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Incidentally, Paul was not talking about a physical resurrection. Look at 1 Corinthians 15:22 again: “For as in Adam all die.” Back in the Garden of Eden, God warned Adam and Eve that the moment they ate the forbidden fruit, they would surely die. Did they die? They lived on and had numerous children later. Certainly God’s Word cannot be thwarted, neither does it change. Then, a death must have occurred. Yes, of course, but it was a spiritual death – the breaking of God’s Covenant. Consequently, the resurrection must also be spiritual – Jesus’ offer of a New Covenant. Again, continuing with 1 Corinthians 15:22, “So also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Just as it was a spiritual resurrection, so God’s kingdom on earth is spiritual as well. See John 4:21-24.

Jesus said to her [Samaritan woman], “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Without a doubt, Scripture has a unified declaration concerning Jesus’ Second Coming. Several times, John, in Revelation, said, “The time is near.” Jesus, on the other hand, repeatedly said, “I am coming soon.” Everyone who insists and says otherwise, here is the question for you: “What is the meaning of ‘soon’ for you?”

Scripture versus tradition – why believe tradition over the Word of God? To have more insights on the topic of tradition, you may want to read my previous blogpost entitled “The Dilemma of Tradition”.

May God grant everyone the discernment to differentiate truth from error.

If you want to follow our journey of unlearning tradition and relearning Scripture, you can stay updated by liking our Facebook page. You can also head to our Home page and subscribe directly to receive notifications in your inbox.

Published by Eric

I am a pastor. In the course of leading Bible studies, I have noticed inconsistencies in the traditional Christian beliefs and teachings. So now I am on a journey of in-depth study of the Scripture. By the grace of God, having been liberated by the truths of the Word of God, now I am doing the ministry independently, teaching the Word of God.

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