(Say the Jesus Creed daily during Lent.)
Does Tom Wright believe in the Second Coming? That question has been asked since Tom wrote his exceptional book on Jesus called Jesus and the Victory of God. I recall a conversation I had with my teacher and former colleague, Grant Osborne, about this. Does he? Here’s what Tom says.
“Let me say it emphatically … the second coming has not yet occurred.” Tom denies he is a preterist. “Jesus,” he says about our future, “will be personally present, the dead will be rasied, and the living Christians will be transformed” (133).
So, Tom does believe in the Second Coming, but it doesn’t mean what many think it means:
1. The Son of Man “coming” refers to Jesus’ vindication before the Ancient of Days along with the saints.
2. The King returning refers, not to Jesus’ return, but to God returning to Zion.
These two views created confusion about Tom’s views. He is speaking here of what Jesus taught.
3. The rest of the NT teaches the presence and appearing of Jesus, but this does not mean he will descend on clouds from the heavens and light atop the Temple in Jerusalem.
4. Parousia means not “coming” but “presence,” in both a divine, saving presence and a royal presence.
5. The “rapture” text in 1 Thess 4 is a metaphor for the Presence/Appearing of Christ and the greeting of Christ by his followers — the Church — who, as a colony’s citizens did, will leave the city to greet the Emperor. They are the same as 1 Cor 15:23-27, 51-54 and Phil 3:20-21.
Here’s a conclusion: “The promise is not that Jesus will simply reappear within the present world order, but that when heaven and earth are joined together in the new way God has promised, then he will appear to us — and we will appear to him, and to one another, in our own true identity” (135).
Thus, “in the great renewal of the world that Easter itself foreshadowed, Jesus himself will be personally present and will be the agent and model of the transformation that will happen both to the whole world and also to believers” (136).