Recently, I engaged in a formal written debate with Olan Hicks, long time member of the churches of Christ and experienced debater. Response to that debate has been excellent. Jim Hopkins is an astute Bible student and read the debate as well. Recently, he wrote some thoughts about the debate and shared them with members of a blog. I asked permission to post his thoughts and he graciously gave his permission. I will post his comments in a series of articles. Be sure to read all of them.
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I am deeply grateful to brothers Hicks and Preston for their thoughts on the Second Coming of Christ. It isn’t often that you see a debate on this subject conducted in such a gracious manner. If anyone needs a copy of the debate, please ask of me privately at the above address.
It is not my intention to replay the debate, but I would like to expand upon the points that bro. Hicks brought forth in his 1st Affirmative. You will note in the latter part of this paragraph below that bro. Hicks said: “Promoters of the AD70 theory admit that Jesus was not there in person.”
(1) Christ will return in person. Jesus said, “If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:3). Here, in personal pronouns, the Lord Jesus said that He will come again and receive His followers to Himself. What this says, in the ordinary meaning of words, is clear. The word “myself” in the text is a reflexive pronoun form of “autos,” which means it refers to the same one speaking or being spoken of. In other words the same “I” who said He was going away is the same “I” who will return and receive them. The clear statement is that Jesus would himself return. This agrees with Acts 1:11. When He left to go and prepare this place, the apostles watched Him go up to heaven in visible form. The angels said to them, “He shall come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” This did not occur in the AD70 event. Promoters of the AD70 theory admit that Jesus was not there in person. Therefore it was not His second coming. These are explicit statements. His coming will be in person as His ascension was in person.”
End of Quote:
I see this argument as being promoted on the basis of hearsay evidence and a false conclusion drawn, when he states: “Promoters of the AD70 theory admit that Jesus was not there in person. Therefore it was not His second coming.” The source of this statement is not given. I would like to suggest another statement.
What if the statement was: “Promoters of the AD 70 theory admitted that Jesus was there in person?” Is now the conclusion, “Therefore, it was His second coming?” Probably not. But I am one that believes that Christ Jesus came in person just like he said he would, and did so in 70 AD.
Now, the passages that I give are not always agreed upon to be 70 AD passages, but since I see them as such, I give them as part of my proof texts. We can discuss them later as needed. The first I give is Mt 10:23.
Mat 10:23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Jesus taught his disciples early on that “the Son of Man comes.” This teaching was specifically geared to the persecution that they would experience. Some would claim that this was an event that happened before the cross, but the disciples never experienced persecution before the cross…only Jesus. That this is after the cross is shown by the references to their deliverance before councils and scourged in their synagogues. They would be brought before governors and kings. They were not to worry about what they would say, the Holy Spirit would speak for them. It would be a time when brother would deliver brother, a father, his child, or children against their parents. Those who endured to the end would be saved. This is the same teaching as is given in Mt 24:12-13.
He comes as the Son of Man in person.
Mat 13:39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.
Mat 13:40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.
Mat 13:41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,
Mat 13:42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
The coming of our Lord in person is not usually seen in this quotation. The coming of our Lord the Second Time is readily apparent when we see the time of the activity, the end of the age, the sending forth of the angels and the judgment that follows. The judgment is twofold: for those outside the kingdom, the tares are gathered and burned; for those in His (Christ’s) kingdom, those that cause offense and practice lawlessness (the Jews), are cast into a furnace of fire, a more intense judgment. In Mt 8:12, Jesus had taught a time when the “sons of the kingdom” would be cast out. This is the time for their casting out.
Verse 40 makes it very clear that Jesus is speaking concerning the end of the age in which he lived, “the end of this age.” Jesus taught his disciples that he was coming the second time in judgment on “this age”, the Old Covenant age. It is at the end of “this age” that the Kingdom of God appears. It is called “the Kingdom of the Father” in this reading and “the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.” It is a reference to Dan 12:3. “Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.” It is the Son of Man in person that performs this judgment.