An important idea that runs throughout the inspired scriptures (& that was emphasized repeatedly by Jesus) is that all people will live forever. No, our physical bodies will not live forever; in the flesh, we will all experience the adventures of aging. But our spirits will live forever; we will one day no longer be subject to the ravages of time. The question is: Where will our spirits live after this earthly life is over?
Near the very end of his earthly life, John the Witness received an extended visionary revelation about the end of the world & the life beyond time that will follow for all people – the living & the dead, believers & non-believers. At the time, John had been exiled to the Greek island of Patmos, for the crime of being a Christian. Jesus himself gave John this vision & told him to write it down (343).
Near the end of his earthly life, Jesus had told his chosen witnesses that he would return to heaven after his execution & resurrection. But he had also promised them that he would later return to the earth.
The revelation given by Jesus to John has been variously interpreted. But virtually all interpreters agree that, through this revelation, Jesus is giving John more insight into his promised future return to the earth (or his “second coming”).
One of many interpretations is that the second coming of Jesus may occur in two phases. First, at an unknowable time, Jesus will come to take faithful members of his body to heaven. He will not have another earthly ministry at this time; he’ll simply come to take his true church to heaven. The inspired scriptures suggest that people who call themselves Christians, but who don’t live like Christians, will not among those taken to heaven at this time; they will be left behind, along with all those who have openly rejected Jesus.
Then, perhaps just a few years later, after a period of devastating tribulation on the earth, Jesus will again return with the army of his saints, to restore & rule the earth for a thousand years.
After that, all people will be finally consigned to their eternal destinies, either in heaven or in hell.
Prior to filling in some details of these future events, Jesus first had John record letters to seven churches in various parts of Turkey (344).
The general pattern of these short letters from Jesus is as follows:
- Commendation for things they were doing that brought glory to God
- Warning about things they were doing that did not bring glory to God
- Encouragement to persevere in faithful well-doing
- Promise of reward for persevering in faithful well-doing
These messages, addressed to seven Turkish churches 2000 years ago, remain relevant for all Christian churches today.
(343) Revelation 1
(344) Revelation 2-3