Apocalypse (3)1 “The Second Coming”

John, in his first letter which is so closely connected with his gospel and like the old presbyter himself in his last years is overflowing with love, states that for us, who are God’s children now, “it does not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2). This will be the secret of our connection with the Son of man: that when we will be ready “to be like him”, recognizing in him “what we shall be”: then he will be coming – even when Christ is already present in us, among us, by virtue of his parousia.

This same reciprocity was felt by Paul, who when speaking of love in his first letter to the Corinthians, recognized that as we are now we “see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face”. “Now I know in part”, as is usually translated (meaning “on the basis of fragments”, “because I see only fragments before me”), “then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood” (1 Cor 13:12). What Paul here describes on the epistemological level, John experienced as the ultimate apocalyptical mystery.

The Opening Vision

In the Revelation to John we find this same dual reality of Christ “being there” and still having “to come”, because human beings are yet in the process of growing into beings who are really human on the level of the Risen Christ. As they are still in need of growing inwardly, in order to perceive His coming as “a son of man”. In the opening vision this comes through clearly.

This “son of man”-like being appears in John’s opening vision in a powerful way: in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, his congregations, having the stars of their angels in his right hand. When speaking to the individual angels of the congregations, he shows many facets of his appearance. As the one holding the seven stars in his right hand and walking among the seven lampstands he speaks to the first angel, to the second in the way he characterized himself to John in the first words he spoke to him – as the first and the last, who died and came to life. Speaking to the third angel he speaks as the one who has the sharp two-edged sword, but to the fourth he goes way beyond the one who has eyes like a flame of fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze; he speaks the words of the “Son of God”. To the fifth angel, he who has the seven stars also speaks as the one who has the seven spirits of God which already appeared in John’s initial greeting and will appear burning before the throne and as the eyes of the Lamb (1:4, 4:5 and 5:6). When speaking to the sixth and seventh angel, he goes fully beyond the appearance of one who is “like a son of man”.

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