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Does Jesus know when He will return?

08.27.14 Scriptures: 1 John 3:20, Acts 1:7, John 1:1, John 2:25, John 3:13, John 4:34, John 5:30, John 6:38, Mark 13:32, Matthew 24:36, Matthew 28:18, Philippians 2:5-11, and Philippians 2:6–8 Topics: End Times, The Person of Christ

In regards to the Second return of Christ, Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”(See also Mark 13:32)

When you read this passage it is healthy to ask “Why didn’t Jesus know the time of his return”? Those who acknowledge Jesus as God should wrestle with this passage and question. The reason we need to wrestle with this passage and question is because of what we know about the nature of God. God is all knowing (1 John 3:20). Therefore if God is all knowing, and Jesus is God, how could Jesus not know when he is returning?

The answer to this question is found not in the deity of Christ but in the humanity of Christ. While Jesus is fully God (John 1:1, 14), he also became fully man. This is what we call the Hypostatic Union of Christ (Two natures in one). Jesus is eternally God and Jesus became a man. When he came to earth as a man, he voluntarily restricted the use of certain divine attributes (Philippians 2:6–8). He did not manifest his divine attributes unless he was directed to do so by the Father (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38). He demonstrated His omniscience (means all knowing) on several occasions (cf. John 2:25; 3:13), but He voluntarily restricted that omniscience to only those things God wanted Him to know during the days of His humanity (John 15:15). Such was the case regarding the knowledge of the date and time of His return. This means that Jesus lived in complete submission to the Father as an example and sacrifice for mankind. Verses such as John 5:30; 6:38; 8:28-29; 10:30; 12:49; 14:28, 31; and Matthew 26:39, 42 demonstrate Jesus’ submission to the Father as well as their Oneness in the Godhead. Yes, they are both God. But some things Jesus had apparently chosen to “give up the rights” to during His earthly ministry (see Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus, now exalted in Heaven, surely knows all, including the timing of His Second Coming.

In conclusion, when Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 24:36 to the disciples, even He had no knowledge of the date and time of His return. After He was resurrected, Jesus resumed His full divine knowledge (cf. Matthew 28:18; Acts 1:7).