Troublesome Topic: What Does “Come” Mean?

Revelation 22:20


The one testifying to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’”




I am the one who confirms that these things are true, and I say, ‘Yes, I am coming without delay.’”

(John said) “May nothing I do stand in the way of it being so. Come SAVIOR AND SUPREME RULER!”

When Jesus says, “I am coming soon,” and when John replies, “Come, Lord Jesus,” what is meant by “come?” Most of us have been taught that this means we will be whisked out of here before things get too tough.

However, God delights in the sacrifices we make for Him, in fact self-sacrifice is what is meant by a “sweet smelling sacrifice.” Keeping us from persecution, or getting us out of it when it comes, has never seemed to be high on His list of priorities. So it does not seem to fit that rescue would be the primary purpose of His coming.

We tend to make it about us; We should make it about Him. He is coming to do His work which is in accordance with His nature. He will eventually take us home to be with Him, but that is not the only reason for His coming to earth again. He is coming to punish and reward.

The word “come” used throughout the vision, is a word with vast implications and possible meanings. “Come” can mean “go,” and it can even be a warning or an encouragement. I am convinced “come” can mean that Jesus visits us in our hours of trial and gives us the strength we need to endure them in ways that give Him the glory. “Come” can also mean that Jesus will visit upon the wicked the punishment they deserve for having rejected God. It can also refer to a final coming to render the final judgment. Which meaning of “come” is in view at any given point in Revelation is hard to say. I suggest that it is quite often both the immediate “coming” and the final “coming,” for both can be pictured at one time by one word. Those suffering persecution would usually have interpreted this to mean the immediate and personal “coming” of Jesus, and in so doing the purpose of the vision would be fulfilled—to encourage those facing strong opposition or persecution. But they would have agreed that the final “coming” was also a possibility.

We should be careful to not limit the word “come” only to the climactic, final visit of Christ for the purpose of punishment and reward, and we should be careful to not ignore the personal and repeated “comings” of Christ to give immediate encouragement and strength to His embattled saints. We need both perspectives to fully understand Revelation, and I fear many do not understand it because they have only heard one of those ways of looking at “come.”

John was pleased to hear Jesus say, “I am coming soon.” At first he had wept when no one could open the scroll and read its words of encouragement. Now he rejoiced because Jesus had given him the message he was desperate to hear. He received hope and strength from those words. But did Jesus actually “come” to John at that time, or not? Most modern experts in eschatology would say, “No, Jesus has not come in His final appearing yet, so John’s joy could not have been related to any immediate or personal event, it must have been based on general joy related to a future ‘coming.’” I would say that Jesus did “come” to John in his hour of need and therefore John’s joy was well-founded, his hope was reinvigorated, his suffering was made more bearable and his faithfulness was rewarded. I believe John saw “come” primarily as something immediate and personal, and John was not disappointed.

Jesus “comes” to us in the person of His Holy Spirit. He “comes” to us personally and will come for all of us globally; He “comes” immediately when we need His strength, and He will come for the final judgment.

There is one more aspect of the word “come” which needs to be brought into this discussion. By “coming” to us Jesus reveals more of Himself. Each time He gives us strength, endurance, patience, and wisdom to face trials which are caused by our taking a stand for Him, we get a fresh glimpse of who He is; we see Him more clearly. By “coming” to us He is getting closer to us and we see Him more fully. The same is true in the ultimate sense of “coming” to render judgment. In that final coming all mankind will see Him more clearly and understand more fully His Holy standard. They will see Him as He truly is, and see themselves as they truly are. In that way Jesus will prove to be the righteous judge who judges fairly and equitably.

The next lesson is: Additional Topics in Revelation