The question of why Jesus has not yet returned is one that has puzzled Christians for centuries. The Bible provides some insights into this question, though ultimately the exact timing of Christ’s return is known only to God the Father (Matthew 24:36). Here are some biblical reasons that help explain the “delay” in Jesus’ second coming:
2 Peter 3:9 says that God is “patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God desires all people to repent and know Him before Christ returns in judgment. He is delaying the Second Coming in order to allow more time for people to turn to Him.
The Full Number of Gentiles Must Come In
Romans 11:25 explains that Israel has experienced a “partial hardening” until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. God is waiting until more non-Jews turn to faith in Christ before Jesus returns and restores Israel spiritually.
The Gospel Must be Preached to All Nations
Matthew 24:14 declares that “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” There are still people groups today that have not heard the gospel message. Jesus will not return until everyone has a chance to hear about salvation.
God is Waiting for the Appointed Time
Galatians 4:4 says that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…” God has an appointed time for everything to happen. We do not know exactly when that due date is for Christ’s return. But we can trust God’s perfect timing.
Current Events Must Align with Biblical Prophecy
Certain end time biblical prophecies regarding the state of the world have yet to be fulfilled. These include events like the Antichrist’s reign, the rebuilding of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and more. Current world affairs must align with what Scripture foretells before Jesus comes back.
To Display God’s Mercy and Allow More Time to Repent
God has been extremely patient in delaying Christ’s return. As 2 Peter 3:15 says, “count the patience of our Lord as salvation.” God’s apparent “slowness” to return is because He is being merciful and giving people more time to get right with Him before it’s too late. When Jesus does come back, there will be no second chances.
To Vindicate Himself and Prove that He Alone is God
The delay in Christ’s return displays God’s sovereignty. He wants to give people adequate time to choose who they will serve – Himself or idols. In the end, God will vindicate Himself as the one true God when Jesus comes back and judges the wickedness of the world (Isaiah 43:10-13).
To Allow More Time for Spiritual Growth and Ministry
God is delaying Christ’s return to give believers more time to spiritually mature and do the work of ministry He has called them to. As Hebrews 5:12 says, there are many dull of hearing Christians who need more time to grow. Delay allows for discipleship and outreach.
To Let Christians Mature Through Suffering
James 1:2-4 teaches that trials develop perseverance and maturity in Christians. God uses the difficulties and pain we experience on earth to refine our faith and strengthen our trust in Him. The present suffering prepares us for future glory when Jesus returns (Romans 8:17-18).
To Display God’s Wrath and Justice Against Sin
The Bible says God’s wrath is presently being revealed against ungodliness (Romans 1:18). As sin and rebellion increase, it is storing up more of God’s wrath. His anger will culminate at the Second Coming when Christ judges the world in righteousness (Revelation 19:11). God is patiently waiting for that appointed time.
To Give Unbelievers Enough Rope to Condemn Themselves
The longer Jesus delays His coming, the more time unbelievers have to walk in disobedience. In a sense, God is giving the wicked “enough rope to hang themselves.” When Christ does return, the ungodly will be without excuse and unable to blame God for judging them (Romans 1:20).
To Allow Satan Time to Gather His Forces
Revelation speaks of a time when Satan will empower the Antichrist and False Prophet who will deceive many (Revelation 13). God is permitting Satan to assemble his forces in rebellion. But Jesus will ultimately crush Satan when He returns and lock him away (Revelation 20:1-3).
To Follow God’s Perfect Timetable
Psalm 102:13 says that God has “appointed a time” for acting on behalf of His people. Galatians 4:2 mentions “the time appointed by the Father.” God is working according to His perfect timetable which we cannot fully understand. But we trust His timing is best.
To Wait for God’s Enemies to be Made a Footstool
Hebrews 10:13 says that Jesus is waiting for God the Father to subject all His enemies under His feet. There are still powers and dominions that have yet to be abolished. Once Christ defeats the last enemy – death – He will return for His people (1 Corinthians 15:25-28).
To Prepare Places in Heaven for Believers
In John 14:2-3, Jesus said He went to prepare a place in heaven for His followers. He needed time to get those dwellings ready for the saints to inhabit. When He returns, believers will dwell with Him forever in those heavenly homes Christ prepared.
To Test the Perseverance and Faith of Believers
1 Peter 1:6-7 talks about trials testing our faith so that it may result in praise and glory when Christ returns. Waiting for Jesus’ Second Coming examines our perseverance and purifies our trust in God. The delay separates true believers from false converts (Matthew 25:1-13).
To Allow Believers to Experience the Fruit of the Spirit
As Christians wait for Christ’s return, God develops His character in them – love, joy, peace, patience, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23). The delay allows the Holy Spirit time to produce spiritual fruit in and through believers for God’s glory.
To Provide an Example of Patience for Future Generations
James 5:10 encourages believers to look to prophets like Job as examples of patience in suffering. Similarly, the long wait for Jesus’ return sets an example of endurance and trust in God’s timing for future Christians who will read about it.
The Completion of God’s Plans and Purposes
God is sovereign over all things and works out all matters according to His divine will (Ephesians 1:11). Certain aspects of His plans and purposes have yet to fully unfold. Once God completes everything He intends to do, then Christ will return for judgment and restoration.
The World is Not Yet Bad Enough
Unfortunately, the world still hasn’t reached an apex of evil, rebellion and hardness of heart (2 Timothy 3:1-5). When wickedness, lawlessness and apostasy completely saturate the earth, that sinful ripening may usher in the Second Coming and start of God’s wrath (Genesis 15:16).
The question of why Jesus has not yet returned is a fascinating one. While the Bible provides some glimpses into the reasons for the apparent “delay,” the exact day and time remains a mystery known only to God (Mark 13:32). Whatever the case, believers can rest assured that Christ’s coming is certain and His timing is perfect. Until then, we faithfully watch and wait with hopeful expectation.