Growing up in a church environment that made use of “end times charts,” I’ve not always found books on the second coming of Jesus all that helpful. Far too many authors have too little understanding of the biblical authors’ worldview and spend most of their time simply trying to connect current events with what they think the Bible taught. In fact, one of my text books for an Old Testament survey class, which was published in the 60’s,, had a section on Daniel that tied all biblical eschatology to the fall of the Soviet Union. The problem was that I took that class in 2001 and none of the events tied together the way the author was absolutely sure of.
So it’s understandable that some would be slightly cynical about books on eschatology. While eschatology is a dominant theme of the New Testament, and I’m certainly convinced the Church is an eschatological people, not all books on the subject are helpful. But some are!
Stephen Motyer has written an excellent book on the subject, Come, Lord Jesus: A Biblical Theology of the Second Coming of Christ.
Motyer’s methodology for writing a biblical theology is in keeping with a hermeneutic that is shaped by the historical-grammatical method and his writing style is readable and engaging. In addition to engaging, Motyer’s value (passion?) for the subject is obvious, as evidenced in the introduction:
The second coming of Jesus Christ is the core of the biblical world view, the climax of the biblical message, the cornerstone of biblical theology, and the centerpiece of authentic biblical faith for the twenty-first century.”
Come, Lord Jesus is organized in two parts, starting with “The Biblical Frame,” a look at the Old Testament background. Motyer provides a very solid framework for understanding how the New Testament authors were shaped by Psalms 89-90, 18, and Daniel 7. Motyer’s section “Onward to Biblical Theology!” is worth the price of the book itself, as it provides an excellent understanding toward chronos and kairos, not to mention a number of other valuable aspects in developing a biblical theology of the second coming.
This first section provides what is arguably the foundational concepts that are, according to Motyer, crucial toward understanding the second coming in a biblical-theological approach. After he works through the specific texts in question, Motyer suggests that “time has a very distinct quality in the Bible.” This is helpful in that Come, Lord Jesus addresses the question, “Why has it been so long?” Not only is Motyer’s suggestion that the kingdom language of “present” and “future” helpful in connecting the parousia to the consummation of the kingdom, it actually helps provide a helpful starting point toward discussing suffering and God’s intervention.
The second part, “New Testament Hopes and Visions,” is essentially Motyer’s exegesis of eleven significant biblical texts from the New Testament that address the topic of the second coming. Motyer’s selections include passages from the Gospels, Acts, several Pauline epistles, as well as Hebrews, 2 Peter, and Revelation. This is where Motyer shines. Each text is given detailed engagement and though one may squabble over an exegetical point here and there, Motyer’s work is extremely convincing because his work is so thorough.
Come, Lord Jesus is, for lack of a better word, brilliant. It accomplishes all that it sets out to do and, I believe, provides some excellent segues to topics related to the second coming. For example, as previously noted, questions about God’s timing are engaged well and Motyer’s analysis would help pastors in thinking about the issues of evil, suffering, and patience. Moreover, Come, Lord Jesus is written from the perspective that the second coming is the center piece of Christian hope. Readers will be constantly confronted with this fact in that the textual analysis is so convincing it would be hard not to walk away from the book with a renewed love for, appreciation of, and eye toward the Lord’s final return.
All in all, Motyer’s Come, Lord Jesus should be on the shelf of every pastor, biblical scholar, and theologian. And more so, it needs to be read and engaged. It’s exegetical analysis, theological conclusions, and practical application are all extremely helpful in framing a biblical theology of Jesus the Messiah’s second coming. In my estimation, it’s better than N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope. That says something, I think.
Pick up a copy of Come, Lord Jesus. You won’t be disappointed.