“But all references to Jesus’ coming are in written in the future tense!”
Of course they are. That’s because they were all written by either Jesus or his disciples, and it was in their future that Jesus was to come.
“So how do we know it’s not in our future?”
If all that was written was, “He is coming back to judge,” or “I am coming to judge,” then there would be no way. However, if little clues could be presented, say, in the subtle phraseology and grammar, perhaps some insight could be attained…
“Are there any such clues?”
Bearing in mind that Jesus and the writers of the epistles were either writing about something that was going to happen within their lifetime, or writing about something that would happen in a couple of thousand years or more, how would you have interpreted these words if you had been there to hear them?
Matthew 10:23 – “…for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.”
You = ? In the context of the passage (starting verse 5), Jesus is clearly addressing the twelve specifically and personally.
Matthew 16:28 – “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
See my study, “Some of Those Standing Here“. Most Christians who cannot accept the plain reading of this argue that “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” means practically anything other than “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Matthew 23:35,36 – “…upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth… Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.”
‘You’ is not the Jews generally, but the scribes and pharisees specifically – just look at the context. It was their generation that would commit the ultimate murder after a long succession of murders, for which they would take full responsibility.
Matthew 24:34 – “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
Arguments over the meaning of ‘generation’ are desperate. It means, and always means in the context of Jesus’ words, the generation of Jews alive at that time.
Luke 23:28,29 – “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, “Cover us.”
The daughters of Jerusalem and their children – that generation – were to ask of the mountains what “the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man” asked after the opening of the sixth seal in Revelation 6:16, after the stars of heaven fell to the earth, and the heaven was rolled up and the mountains were moved out of their places.
Romans 13:11,12 – And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.
Their salvation would be complete upon Jesus’ coming. When did they start believing? 20 years before? 30 years before? Salvation was even closer in time than that.
Romans 16:20 – And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
Crush = destroy? At the very least, Satan was to be permanently done away with (See the promise of Genesis 3:15). What happened in Revelation 20:10? Of course, people argue that “soon” means “in thousands of years.”
1 Corinthians 7:29,31 – But I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on both those who have wives should be as though they had none;… for the form of this world is passing away.
For the first heaven and the first earth passed away… (Revelation 21:1) A radical thing, telling married Christians to act as if they were not! Only one reason: They were to witness the passing away of the world.
1 Corinthians 10:11 – Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Upon whom had the ends of the ages come?
1 Thessalonians 4:15 – …we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord…
It’s one thing to say that ‘you’ might mean someone thousands of years away, but who is ‘we’?
1 Thessalonians 5:23 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your body be preserved until the coming of our Lord? If you had heard Paul speak these words, would you have assumed he meant you? Or someone in the future?
1 Timothy 6:14 – that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 10:25 – … but encourage one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10: 36,37 – For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. “For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.”
Even if you think that 2000+ years is a very little while, and not a delay… Who needed endurance? Why?
James 5:7-9 – Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.
Not: “Be patient for the coming of the Lord,” as if they might never see it. Rather, “Be patient until the coming of the Lord.”
‘Until’ means ‘until’, implying that they would in fact be there when it happened.
1 Peter 4:7 – The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgement and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.
‘At hand’ is beyond debate. See my study, “At Hand“. It means imminent. The end of what?
1 John 2:28 – Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.
Again, ‘we’ will be there when He appears. Who was ‘we’?
Jude 4,14-15 – For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out (written about) for this condemnation…And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones to execute judgement upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Enoch prophesied about the Lord’s coming with many thousands to execute judgement upon all. He was writing, according to Jude, about people alive in that day.
Jude 17-19 – But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
Peter foretold them (2 Peter 3:3ff). Jude points them out. This was ‘the last time’. If necessary, read what Peter had to say about these people.
Revelation 22:10 – And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophesy of this book, for the time is near.”
… whereas Daniel was told to seal his words up because the time was not near – Daniel 12:4
There cannot be any doubt that the apostles and Jesus Himself believed that the judgement and His return would occur in a matter of not centuries or millennia, but years at most.
Either they were wrong, and Scripture is not inspired, or they got it right, and the church’s interpretation is not inspired! What do you believe?