10 The doctrine of future things

549 How do we know about the events of the future?


The doctrine of those things that will come to pass in the future (eschatology) has its basis in Holy Scripture. Many references to the future of salvation history are contained in the gospels and in the letters of the Apostles. Some pivotal statements can also be found in the Revelation of John, which speaks of these future events in figurative language.


Eschatology: see explanation of Question 40→

550 What future event is the goal of faith of New Apostolic Christians?


Jesus Christ is coming again—that is a central statement of the gospel. Since His ascension into heaven the Apostles have proclaimed the return of the Lord. It is the goal of faith of New Apostolic Christians to be accepted by Him on this occasion.

551 Who promised the return of Jesus Christ?


Jesus Christ Himself promised His Apostles: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14: 3).

This promise of Jesus was reinforced by angels at His ascension into heaven: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1: 11).

552 Who knows the exact point in time when Christ will return?


Neither angels nor men know the day or the hour of Jesus Christ’s return. Only the triune God knows this.

553 What follows from the fact that no man knows the moment in time of Christ’s return?


Since no man knows the moment in time of Christ’s return, the believer is called upon to remain prepared for this event every day. The Son of God summarises this into the admonition: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24: 42). Jesus also made it clear in parables that believers are to be watchful in faith and expect His return at any hour.


Parables concerning the return of Christ: see Question 157→

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. [...] But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ [...] And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also [...] Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”  Mathew 25: 1-13

cf. also Matthew 24: 43-51; 25: 14-30

554 How did the early Apostles treat the promise of Christ’s return?


The promise of Christ’s return played a great role in the preaching of the early Apostles. Next to the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, it was among the most important contents of their faith. They were convinced that Jesus would return in their lifetimes: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15: 51).

Apostle Paul addressed the congregation in Corinth with the early Christian call of prayer: “Maranatha”, which means “O Lord, come!” (cf. 1 Corinthians 16: 22).

The call to be ready for the return of Christ at all times also comes to expression in the Revelation of Jesus Christ in the words of the Lord: “Behold, I am coming quickly!” (Revelation 3: 11; 22: 7, 12, 20).

555 What does the promise of Christ’s return mean for us?


It is one of the fundamental certainties of the gospel that Jesus Christ will return and take His bride unto Himself. He Himself has promised His return (cf. John 14: 3).


Bridal congregation: see Questions 562→ et seq.

556 Why do we believe that the promise of Christ’s return is near?


The fact that the Apostle ministry is once again occupied is a sign that the return of Christ is imminent. The expectation that this promise of the Lord will be fulfilled is as much the focal point of the New Apostolic faith today as it is the hope of each individual to personally experience the return of Christ and the rapture.


Transformation and rapture: see Questions 559→ et seq.

557 How do we prepare for the return of Christ?


The Apostles prepare the believers for the return of Christ through word and sacrament. The believers conscientiously align their lives by this.

558 How is the return of Christ described in the letters of Apostle Paul?


In 1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17 it says: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

In 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52 we read: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

In Philippians 3: 20-21 we find the statement: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."

559 What will happen at the return of Christ?


In summary, the following results from the statements of Apostle Paul:

At the return of Christ, the dead who have died in Christ, will be the first to resurrect incorruptible. The living who have allowed themselves to be prepared for the return of Christ will experience the transformation without having to suffer physical death.

Both the dead and the living will receive a glorious body. This body will be like the resurrection body of Christ. Together, they will be caught up to Jesus Christ and will thus enter into eternal fellowship with the triune God.

These events are part of the first resurrection mentioned in Revelation 20: 5-6.


Resurrection: see Questions 574→ et seq. Resurrection body: see Question 189→

‘Incorruptible’ means immortal, unperishable. Unlike our present body, the resurrection body will not be subject to decay.

560 What is the basis of the believers’ hope that they will not need to suffer physical death?


The hope of the believers that they will not have to suffer physical death is based on the statement of Apostle Paul: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven. [...] For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5: 2, 4-5).

With the word “habitation” the Apostle is referring to the glorious body which will not only be received by those who resurrect from the dead, but also by those who are to be transformed at the return of Christ: The expression “further clothed” means to receive a new body without having to die beforehand. Here “unclothed” is an expression for dying.

561 Who will be caught up at the return of Christ?


The rapture at the return of Christ is first of all promised to those who have been granted the rebirth out of water and the Spirit, who believe in Jesus Christ, and who follow Him. This group is also called the “bridal congregation” or the “male child” (Revelation 12: 5).

Whether God will also grant the grace of the rapture to others is beyond human judgement and is subject to the decision of God.


Rebirth out of water and the Spirit: see Question 528→

The ‘rapture’ (or the event of being “caught up to God”) means that human beings will enter into direct fellowship with God at the return of Christ.

562 Who is included in the “bridal congregation”?


Jesus Christ gave His Apostles the commission to prepare the church of Christ to be united with Him at His return. Apostle Paul writes as follows concerning this: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11: 2). The image of the “chaste virgin” is a reference to the “bride” in Revelation 19: 7. Those who will be included in this group and be united with Jesus will only be revealed at the return of Christ.

563 Are there any characteristics for those who will belong to the bridal congregation?


Yes—one such outstanding characteristic is that they wait daily for the return of Christ and are steadfast in praying: “Come, Lord Jesus!”(Revelation 22: 17, 20).

564 Does the Bible relate any other characteristics of the bridal congregation?


Yes. Further characteristics of the bridal congregation are mentioned in Revelation 14: 1-5. Here the image of a group of “one hundred and forty-four thousand” is used are a reference to the bridal congregation. The number “144,000” is not to be understood literally, but is of symbolic nature. It is derived from the twelve tribes of Israel and is described with the following images: “Behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. [...] These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.”