The Bible warns that many will ridicule us for our confidence in the second coming of Christ. “Where is he?” they will scoff, “It seems to be taking him a long time” (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-4). While we may respond defensively, inwardly a lot of Christians share their sentiment – especially when we revisit Christ’s repeated promise: “I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20). Before we are tempted by the mockers’ skepticism, we ought to be careful to rightly understand the biblical promise.
Peter offers two helpful explanations. First, he tells us that “soon” is obviously a relative term. God’s view of time is not our own (2 Peter 3:8). Ever since his ascension, Christ’s return is “soon to be accomplished” as the next big event on God’s agenda. Next, Peter reminds us that all that is preventing this world-changing event is the effortless command of God. With a single syllable, everything will change. This concept of “suddenness” is included in the sense of the ancient Greek word translated “soon”, and is the reason it is rendered “quickly” in some translations.
To quote a Hebrew text concerning the end, God has said, “In its time I will hasten it” (Isaiah 60:22). As James taught, the “nearness” of his return is as simple as the swinging open of a door (James 5:9). And Paul adds that the end will come “suddenly”, like “labor pains upon a pregnant woman” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). So remember, if your anticipation of Christ’s arrival feels like the never-ending “pregnancy”, know that the end will come swiftly and suddenly, and then, at last, we will see Christ face to face.