What do you mean by the word “Imminent”?

By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©1996
Bible Prophecy Questions Answered by Leading Christian Scholars.


What do you mean by the word “Imminent”?

Dr. John Ankerberg: The English word imminent comes from the Latin verb imminere, which means “to over-hang; to project over.” The English word imminent means the same; it means an event always “hanging over one’s head” or “something constantly ready to befall a person,” or “an event so close at hand it could happen at any moment.”
Let me give you an example of imminence. I have two wonderful nephews, Jeff and Ryan, who live in Chicago. They once showed me a little plastic ball which was quite unique. They could throw it at a wall or a refrigerator and that plastic ball would stick for a moment and then drop off. One time they threw it up and it hit the ceiling and stuck there right over their heads. As they were gazing up, waiting for it to fall into their hands, I thought, that’s the idea of imminent. They knew the plastic ball was going to fall and it could fall any second. They just didn’t know the exact second.

Christ’s coming to rapture all believing Christians off of the earth is the same. It is imminent—it could happen any moment.

But I want to say three other things about the biblical definition of word imminent. First, if something is imminent, we cannot count on a certain amount of time transpiring before that imminent event happens. Therefore, we should always be prepared for it to happen at any moment.

Second, we cannot set a date for an imminent event to happen. Why? Because as soon as we set a date for an imminent event, we are thereby saying that a certain amount of time must transpire before that event can happen. But the time that must pass by before the imminent event can happen destroys the whole idea of imminence. An imminent event could happen at any moment.

Third, we cannot say that an imminent event will happen soon. Why? The term “soon” implies that shortly after a particular point of time, specified or implied, the event will happen. Once again a certain amount of time must take place before we reach the point specified as soon. But in contrast, an imminent event may take place within a short time, but it does not have to do so in order to be imminent. No period of time needs to pass—it could happen in the next moment.

So when you hear some teacher or religious leader say that Christ is going to come on some specified day, at such and such a time in the future, that cannot be correct because then the Rapture would not be an imminent event. They would be teaching, contrary to the Bible, that Christ cannot come back until the time between now and their date passes. But that is not imminence.

1 Comment

  1. Nathanael Leiws on January 24, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    And yet Jesus first teaching about the the signs of his return in Luke 21.8 is to warn that false teachers will arise, some claiming to be the returning Messiah or Jesus, and some preaching imminency ‘the time is near’. His command regarding such people like you who preach this false doctrine is simple. ‘Do not follow them’.

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