Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Second Coming of Christ
|By: Lorri MacGregor; ©October 2001
|Jehovah’s Witness leaders declared that Jesus would return in 1914 (updated from 1874). When it didn’t happen, the leaders were forced to revise their prophecy. They declared that Jesus DID return in 1914—He just did it invisibly! Lorri MacGregor explains the contortions involved in this spin.
Christians throughout the centuries have been proclaiming the Second Coming of Christ for 2,000 years. Each one longs in his heart for the Redeemer to return and bring His judgments and the peaceful millennial reign to follow. As conditions on the earth worsen the Christian cry becomes louder, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Jehovah’s Witnesses have put a strange spin on the subject of the second coming of Jesus Christ. This was due to the failure of a prophecy by them that He was to return visibly in 1914 (updated once from 1874!). When Jesus did not show up on their date, they were forced to explain away the failure. They did this by seizing on a secondary meaning of one Greek word used in conjunction with Christ’s coming again. That word was parousia meaning “a being present, presence,” “a coming,” “an arrival.”
Aha! They had an “out”! They would teach that Jesus did “come” and was “present” on their date, 1914, but since He did this in heaven, those on earth could not see it! His coming was conveniently invisible! All Jehovah’s Witnesses must believe this today. This particular Greek word was used in two scriptures, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and 1 Thessalonians 3:13.
Let’s consider these two verses. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 reads in the New American Standard Version, “And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.”
In a reliable Bible version such as the one quoted, it is very clear that Christ will make an “appearance” which we will all see with our own eyes at “His coming.” Not so with the deliberately altered version of the Jehovah’s Witnesses which reads, “Then indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence” (New World Translation).
Notice how the word “presence” is used instead of “coming.” It is an acceptable translation from the Greek, but the presence is obviously not invisible, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach, since the whole phrase is “manifestation of his presence.” A “manifestation” comes from the root word “manifest,” which, according to the Doubleday Dictionary means, “to make plain to sight or understanding.”
Of course, the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim the secondary meaning of “understanding,” and claim that their “light” allows for it all to be “figurative” or “understood spiritually.” Such lengths to go to, to cover up a false, failed prophecy!
As a side note, since this Scripture mentions it, where is the evidence that the “lawless one” was defeated by the allegedly invisible Christ in 1914? Their claim that Satan was thrown out of heaven to wreck havoc on the earth does not indicate that he was “brought to nothing,” so this could not be Satan, as they claim. Who is it?
Also, sadly, notice that in their “bible” they use small letters for “his presence,” showing their downgrading of Jesus Christ, robbing Him of His Deity.
The second Scripture containing the verb form of parousia, used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to indicate the “presence” of Christ, is 1 Thessalonians 3:13, which reads in the New American Standard Version, “so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His Saints.”
This is exactly what the Church has been looking forward to for centuries, the second coming of Jesus Christ with all His Saints. What have the Jehovah’s Witnesses done with this? Let’s see what their New World Translation says, “to the end that he may make your hearts firm, unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the presence of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”
This rendering of “presence,” reportedly invisible, now includes “all his holy ones,” likewise invisible. Jehovah’s Witnesses really need a lot of faith to blindly accept this interpretation!
Ignored by the Jehovah’s Witnesses are the other Greek words used along with parousia to describe the second coming of Christ. To be really accurate we need to look at them all, not just selected, isolated scriptures that can be twisted to suit one’s preconceived ideas.
The Greek word apokalupsis, which means “an uncovering,” “laying bare,” and “a revealing, revelation” is used in 2 Thessalonians 1:7 and the verb form in 1 Peter 4:13. It is really difficult to try to make the events of 2 Thessalonians 1:7 invisible: “and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire” (NAS).
The same could be said of 1 Peter 4:13, “but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation” (NAS).
Kind of hard to “rejoice with exultation” at some invisible event, isn’t it? However, those of us who are looking for Christ to return in glory will be “rejoicing with exultation” when He comes in the clouds and we see Him!
The third Greek word used in connection with Christ’s second coming is erchomai, meaning “to come or to appear.” It is used in Matthew 26:64. The verb form is found in Mark 14:62, Luke 21:27, Acts 1:11, and Revelation 1:7, 22:7, and 12:20.
Let’s consider Matthew 26:64, “Jesus said to him, ‘you have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see the son of man sitting at the right and of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
Obviously a visual event! How can Jehovah’s Witnesses explain away all these verses? They do attempt a feeble explanation by adding a visible “second” coming to their invisible first one. Confused? Well, here’s their “explanation.”
They have invented an interlude where Christ first comes again (invisibly) and reigns from the heavens since 1914. Then He comes again—that makes three times, if you’re counting—and can be seen this third time, prior to Armageddon.
Why not just believe the Bible as it is written? The angels who were with the disciples after the ascension of Christ told the truth in this account:
- “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also 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 just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11 NAS).
So, Jesus “…will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Jesus Christ, in His resurrection body of flesh and bone, ascended into heaven and His followers watched Him until He rose above their line of vision. He will come again “in just the same way.” Not invisibly, but so that “every eye will see Him!”
Revelation 1:7, 8 says this: “Behold He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so, Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (NAS).
The weak attempt by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to say He will be seen only “with eyes of understanding” would be laughable, if it were not tragically blinding their members!
Jehovah’s Witnesses, please notice these additional truths in this Scripture. The dead are not unconsciousness or “sleeping” at this occurrence, as “even those who pierced Him” will witness this event. The wicked dead are conscious, not annihilated as your leaders teach.
Finally, most importantly, Jesus Christ is called “Almighty,” “Lord God” in this Scripture showing that He is not an inferior “god” /angel as you have been taught, but is truly God.
It is our prayer that many Jehovah’s Witnesses will come to know the truth about Jesus Christ, so they can be prepared for his visible second coming.