Why didn't Jesus come back?

Jesus said in his so-called Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21) that he would come after the destruction of the Second Temple, and several times he taught that his return will be in the generation of his disciples. The temple was destroyed, and the catastrophe described in the Gospels took place. However, Jesus did not come back. 2 Peter 3 notes this and answers the questioners, whom he calls scoffers:

”They will say, ’Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’
For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” - 2 Peter 3:4-9

Okay, for an answer, Peter first gives an exposition of something that is not clearly related to the question at all. Then he appeals to God’s perspective of events, and God’s patience.

Are these valid arguments, or pious excuses for a prophecy early believers desperately wanted to be true? And what about the fact that Jesus has been coming ”soon” for two thousand years.

The case seems to me more like what Deuteronomy has to say about prophets. Immediately after the ”Prophet like Moses” passage often identified as a prophecy about Jesus, it says the following:

”But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’
And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’-
when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” - Deuteronomy 18:20-22

I want to put my doubts to a test and hear your thoughts about this.


@jsamaho Great question. Honestly, this subject is complicated. How you answer this question depends upon how you interpret Revelation and how you understand the Scriptures about the end times. Throughout Christian history, there have been Christians who believed that there were two comings predicted by Jesus.

  1. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans and the temple torn stone from stone. In the Bible, God is often depicted as coming on the clouds in judgment whenever He uses one nation’s army to judge another nation. Mark 14:61-62 is a clear example of where it seems Jesus is telling the high priest they will see Him coming on the clouds.

  2. The final return of Christ. All Christians within orthodoxy have believed that Christ will indeed return one day at the Day of Judgment and end of all things. Acts 1:11 and the Great White Throne judgment are clear examples (most believe) of this coming.

This issue took me years of study to actually make a decision about because you really have to study the texts and all of the different views. I think there is a lot of confusion around this topic, but I’ve provided some resources below that I found helpful. Hope you find them helpful too :slight_smile: Christ grant you wisdom.

Mark 14:61-62 - Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Acts 1:11 - “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

1 - Futurist - the idea that most of Revelation will occur at the end of history right before the return of Christ
2 - Partial Preterist - most of Revelation was fulfillment by the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and now we only await the return of Christ and new heavens / new earth
3 - Idealist - Revelation has no historical fulfillment - it is instead a depiction of the great struggle that is ongoing in every generation between God’s Kingdom and evil world empires
4 - Historicist - each section of Revelation represents a different portion of history - so we could break history into chunks of a few hundred years and correlate them to Revelation (Roman Empire, Muslim invasions, Papacy) - this view is not common anymore


It’s hard to add anything to a SeanO answer but I do have some thoughts about Peter.

Maybe a little background might be helpful in understanding Peter’s response to the questions about “the coming day of the Lord”. In chapter 2 he brings up Noah. I think that as a 1st century Jewish listener you would connect Noah and the flood account in chapter 3. What was Noah’s place in the 1st century Jewish thought? Noah was a hero and considered righteous, blameless and the second Adam. Not many OT folks were deemed righteous or found blameless by God. It was a short list. Peter’s use of Noah was comparable to Paul’s use of Moses in away you could say that Noah was Peters Moses. So why the reference to the flood when ask about the return of Jesus? Peter was driving home the point that the God of creations had already destroyed the world by water and this very water was also used to save Noah and his family. Think Paul, Moses and his use of the Exodus story as it relates to the idea of coming through the water (the Red sea account) from exile to the new creation (Paul’s understanding of the Messiah event). In both cases the writers are using examples of God delivering his people from a hopeless situation by means of water that both saves (the Hebrews in the one and Noah in the other) and destroys at the same time. (Pharaoh’s army in the one and the wicked pre-flood world in the other). Using this as the proof that God was faithful in the past they can be assured that he will be faithful in the future. He reminds them that next time it will not be water that destroys but fire, He ties all this to God’s grace and mercy as it pertains to the present and the future.

Just out of curiosity what makes you think people were desperately wanting this to be true? I see a church eagerly waiting but not desperate.

My thoughts.