I do not know every detail concerning the second coming of Christ. I only know what the Bible has to say about that event. In this post I will try to lay out the major tenants of Christ's coming that I believe can be supported by the scriptures. If I have missed something please let me know.
Christ Is Coming
In my mind one of the most important aspects of Christ's coming is its certainty. That he is coming again is backed up by four major witnesses.
1. Christ said he would come again.
John 14:1-4 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Here Christ tells us that he would come again. I Peter 1:25 tells us that the word of the Lord endures forever. John 14:6 tells us that Jesus is truth. In short Jesus, whose true word endures forever, tells us that he will return. "For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done." - Matthew 16:27
2. As Angels proclaimed his birth so they also proclaim his second coming
In Acts 1:11 the Apostles have just witnessed the ascension of our Lord. As they are standing looking up into the sky two angels proclaim: “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
3. The Apostles, through the Holy Spirit, have proclaimed the second coming of Christ.
Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” The writer of Hebrews says “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. ” - Hebrews 9:27-28 (Also see, Hebrews 10:37)
4. We are Given the Holy Spirit as a Guarantee of the promises of the Lord.
The promises of our Lord includes his return and our inheritance upon his return. Paul dwells on this on II Corinthians 5:1 - 5. In verse one he tells us about the promise of God that we will have an eternal home. “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” In verse five he tells us that we can be assured of this promise. “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” In Ephesians 1: 13-14 Paul clearly tells us the the Holy Spirit is, "the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it."
Our Lord is coming back. Christ has promised to us that he will return. Angels have proclaimed his return. The Apostles have revealed, through the Holy Spirit, that Christ will return. Finally we have been given the Holy Spirit as Guarantee of the promises of God, including the return of our Lord.
What can we learn from the scriptures concerning his return?
There is no one scripture that specifically lays out the events that will take place in the order in which they will take place. I Corinthians 15:52 tells us that all of these events will take place “in a moment in the twinkling of an eye”. So, while I will attempt to place an order on these events, in reality they will most likely occur simultaneously.
Christ's Second Coming will be a Worldwide Event
When Jesus comes back it will be a worldwide event. "For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us will give an account of himself to God" - Romans 14:11-12 This scripture indicates to me that the second coming of Christ will encompass the entire world. It will not be possible for anyone to miss the second coming because, "every" knee will bow before the Lord. This scripture falls right in line with Jesus' parable in Matthew 25:31-36. There Jesus tells us that all nations will be gathered to him in judgement. There is no doubt. No one will escape the second coming of our Lord. Although only a few acknowledged the divinity of our Lord while he was on this earth. When he comes again all will acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God.
The Last trumpet will sound.
The second coming of our Lord will be heralded by the sound of a trumpet. This trumpet call will mark the beginning of the end for all that is.
“at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound,” - I Corinthians 15:52
And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. - Matthew 24:31
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. - 1 Thessalonians 4:16
He is coming back on or in the clouds
When Christ returns he will arrive in the clouds. In fact there is no scriptural evidence that he will even set foot on this earth. In fact we are told in I Thessalonians 4:16 that we will "meet him in the air."
Matthew 26:64 Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven."
Matthew 24:30 “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Acts 1:10 - 11 “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
The dead will rise.
In Luke 20:36-38 Jesus confirms that the resurrection of the dead will take place. He concludes his arguments saying that God: “is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to Him.”
I Corinthians 15:52 – “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised”
Everyone dead and living, Good and Evil, will receive a spiritual body.
Philippians 3:20 – 21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
I John 3:2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
I Corinthians 15:51-53 - Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
Here Paul tells us the purpose for the transformation. We who are alive must exchange this mortal, frail body for one that is immortal, and ready to endure for eternity. Now: If the righteous receive a body that is prepared for eternity, so that they may enjoy the true fullness of their reward in heaven with the Lord. It makes perfect sense to me that the evil will receive the same. So that they too may receive the fullness of their punishment. Matthew 18:8 Jesus tells us that there will be an “eternal fire” for the evil. In Matthew 25:46 Jesus referred to it as “eternal punishment” II Thessalonians 1:9 describes it as the “punishment of eternal destruction”. If Hell is for eternity, then those who are destined for eternal damnation need a Body that will endure for eternity.
Christ will Judge all
I don’t know how often I have heard someone of the world describe the Judgment as being carried out by Peter. But, this could not be further from the truth. Peter himself will be in Judgment like anyone else. Christ will Judge.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 Timothy 4:1
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:10
Revelation 20: 11 – 15 "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
Matthew 25:31-46 describes a very similar scene. Christ will be sitting on a throne Judging all!
The Dead in Christ will be reunited with Him.
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. I Thessalonians 4:14-15
We Christians who are alive will be united with him.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The physical universe that is will be destroyed.
In my mind this event could easily follow everyone receiving a spiritual body. Revelation 20 seems to depict a scene where the earth is no longer present. If that is the case then this event really needs to take place before judgement.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 2 Peter 3:10-12
Peter emphasizes this fact by drawing the point that if all creation is going to be dissolved by the Second coming of our Lord. Then we must live upright and holy lives to the Lord. Christ will only return once. When he returns the first time all things that are will be no more!