Is setting dates for the second coming of Christ wrong?

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By BibleAsk Team


The anticipation of Christ’s return is a central theme in Christian eschatology, often referred to as the Second Coming or Parousia. Throughout history, many individuals and groups have attempted to predict the exact date of this event. However, such attempts raise significant theological and scriptural concerns. This study explores why setting dates for the Second Coming of Christ is considered wrong, supported by references from the Bible.

Biblical Teachings on the Second Coming

The New Testament provides a wealth of information regarding the Second Coming of Christ, emphasizing its certainty but not specifying the exact time.

Jesus’ Own Words

Jesus Himself addressed the unpredictability of His return in several passages. One of the clearest statements is found in Matthew 24:36:

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:36, NKJV)

In this verse, Jesus explicitly states that the exact day and hour of His return are known only to the Father. This teaching highlights the mystery surrounding the timing of the Second Coming and warns against trying to determine it.

Additionally, in Acts 1:7, when His disciples asked about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, Jesus replied:

“And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.'” (Acts 1:7, NKJV)

Here, Jesus reinforces the idea that certain knowledge about the future, including His return, is reserved for God alone. This underscores the inappropriateness of attempting to set dates.

Parables and Warnings

Jesus also used parables to teach about the uncertainty and unexpectedness of His return. The Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 is a notable example. In this parable, Jesus concludes with:

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matthew 25:13, NKJV)

This admonition to “watch” implies a state of continuous readiness rather than pinpointing a specific date. The same theme is echoed in the Parable of the Faithful and Evil Servant (Matthew 24:45-51) and the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), where the importance of being prepared for an unexpected return is emphasized.

The Role of Faith and Preparedness

The New Testament encourages believers to live in a state of readiness and faithfulness, not date-setting. This approach fosters a genuine, ongoing relationship with God, rather than a reactionary or superficial faith based on perceived timelines.

Living in Readiness

The Apostle Paul, in his letters, frequently addressed the need for vigilance and readiness. In 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6, he writes:

“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6, NKJV)

Paul uses the metaphor of a thief in the night to describe the unexpected nature of the Second Coming. His call to “watch and be sober” emphasizes continuous spiritual vigilance and ethical living, rather than focusing on specific dates.

The Danger of Complacency

Peter also warns against complacency and skepticism regarding the Second Coming in 2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-10:

“Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’… But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-10, NKJV)

Peter’s message highlights that the perceived delay in Christ’s return is not due to forgetfulness or slackness, but rather God’s patience, allowing more people to repent. This perspective reinforces the need for continuous readiness and rejects the notion of date-setting as presumptuous and potentially misleading.

The Theological Perspective

From a theological standpoint, setting dates for the Second Coming can be seen as an act of hubris, assuming knowledge that belongs to God alone. It can divert attention from the transformative power of a lived faith and the call to discipleship.

Trust in God’s Sovereignty

Proverbs 3:5-6 offers a pertinent principle:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)

This verse encourages believers to trust in God’s wisdom and timing rather than relying on human calculations or interpretations. By acknowledging God’s sovereignty, Christians can focus on living according to His will rather than speculating about future events.

The Call to Discipleship

The New Testament calls believers to live out their faith through love, service, and discipleship. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commissions His followers:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV)

This Great Commission directs believers to focus on evangelism and teaching rather than eschatological speculation. The promise of Christ’s presence “to the end of the age” assures believers that they are not alone as they fulfill their mission, regardless of when He returns.

Conclusion

Setting dates for the Second Coming of Christ is considered wrong for several reasons. Biblically, Jesus and the apostles emphasized the unpredictability of His return, encouraging a state of continuous readiness and faithfulness instead. Historically, failed predictions have led to disillusionment and division. Theologically, such attempts can be seen as presumptuous and distracting from the core mission of discipleship and evangelism.

By focusing on living out their faith, trusting in God’s timing, and fulfilling the Great Commission, Christians can prepare for the Second Coming in a manner that aligns with biblical teachings and honors the sovereignty of God. The call is not to speculate on dates but to live in a way that is pleasing to God, ready to meet Christ whenever He returns.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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