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The word “soon” can be quite ambiguous, if not misleading. When asked about homework, a teenager might reply that they expect to finish sometime soon. In my family, that word could equal 30 seconds for one child or 30 minutes for another. But despite these variations, the word “soon” still conjures up an idea of an approaching realization, like a progress bar on your phone that reads 99% complete.

We’ve all seen the signs that read, “Jesus is coming soon.” Taken straight from the Bible, we see no less than three times in one chapter when Jesus mentions “I am coming soon” (Rev 22:6-7, 12, 20). To some readers, this is a source of great hope and encouragement, but to others it is a source of mockery since it’s been nearly 2000 years since His statement was written down. So what gives?

To clarify confusion, we must take a closer look at the translation of the word tachos from Greek to English. Rather than an “almost there” connotation, the meaning behind the word has more to do with the speed or quickness of an event. Most of us have experienced the heart-stopping feeling when a bolt of lightning suddenly strikes nearby. One moment it was one way, and the next moment your hair was looking like Marv on Home Alone 2.

History is not much different. In the famous feast from which the phrase “writing on the wall” was coined, we see how the kingdom of Babylon was suddenly overtaken by the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5). All appeared to be normal and fine and then suddenly BAM! It all changed in an instant.

In light of this, the reader of Revelation can appreciate how God utilizes tachos similarly in His appeal to readiness. Rather than happening “soon” as many texts read, listen to how it sounds: “A revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His bondservants what must happen suddenly” (Rev 1:1). See the difference?

Doug McIntosh in his preaching commentary on Revelation notes, “Casual believers will miss much of what is revealed here as the truth of this book describes things that must happen suddenly. Suddenly translates a Greek prepositional phrase that often means quickly or in rapid succession. The exact phrase used here also occurs in the Greek Old Testament or Septuagint (abbr. LXX) rendering of Psalms 2:12, which warns, “Seize upon instruction, lest the Lord be angry, and you will perish from the righteous way, when his anger suddenly blazes out.” Clearly Jesus Christ did not see any contradiction between avenging His servants’ mistreatment suddenly and the lapse of a long period: “Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them suddenly. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8).[1]

The idea seems to be that most of the events that are predicted in Revelation will happen unexpectedly and quickly once they begin.

Consider the pattern in other parts of Scripture.

  • Isaiah 29:5-6 “Suddenly, in an instant, the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.”
  • 1 Thess 5:1-4 “Now brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.”
  • Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming suddenly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

McIntosh further amplifies, “The voice of the Lord Jesus interjects a dose of reality: “Behold, I am coming suddenly.” After the conflagrations begin it is too late. When death may ensue at any second it is not the right time to reflect on the gravity and truthfulness of the message. For those who are faithful, the Lord holds forth a lovely promise: “My reward is with Me.” The words echo Isaiah 40:10, where the prophet proclaims, “Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him.”[2]

Just as God judges unbelievers on the basis of their works, so He will judge believers at the judgment-seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 3:10-15). Good intentions and good theology are irrelevant. Only actions count: to give to everyone according to what he has done. Jesus can do this not only because He is the perfect Man but also because He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13).

The question for us all is not so much, “How soon before He returns?” but rather, “Am I right now ready for Him?”


[1] page 12.

[2] Ibid., page 172.

Recommended resources related to the topic:

How Can Jesus be the Only Way? Mp4, Mp3, and DVD by Frank Turek

Jesus, You and the Essentials of Christianity by Frank Turek (INSTRUCTOR Study Guide), (STUDENT Study Guide), and (DVD)     



Kent Suter was raised in Atlanta, GA and earned his Bachelor’s degrees in Biblical Studies and in Christian Education from Bryan College in Dayton, TN (2002). From there he attained a Master’s degree in Christian Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary (2008) where he served as student assistant to his late mentor and friend, Dr. Norman Geisler. Following his time at SES, he moved back to Atlanta and served as Youth Pastor for middle and high school students for 15 years at Cornerstone Bible Church. Today he and his wife of 20 years, Brook, and their four children reside in Orlando, FL.


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