Something has been bothering me for some time now and I thought I should get some input from professing believers. It pertains to the second coming of Christ. A while back I was reading the book of Revelation when I ran across verse 22:20 “… Surely, I [Jesus] come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (KJV – see also 3:11; 22:2,7,12). Out of curiosity I looked up the word “quickly” in my Strong’s Concordance and it had this word and definition: Grk. Tachu (adv.) – quickly, speedily (without delay). Expressed is the idea that Jesus would return very soon. In fact most Bible versions translate the word “soon” and The Message goes so far as to paraphrase “’…. I’m on my way! I’ll be there soon!’ Yes; Come, Master Jesus!” (22:20). I also looked for other Bible verses that used the word "tachu" and none of them corresponded to an extended delay (over many years), all meant "soon" quite literally. It's quite clear that the New Testament encourages believers to mature in Christ with the expectation that Jesus would be returning “soon.” However, here we are some 2000 years later and Jesus has not returned. I'm having trouble seeing how this is not a Bible contradiction. I’ve tried talking with my friends about this issue but they typically brush off the topic with the excuse that the word “soon” is relative and that it could basically mean at any time. They also explain that God’s concept of time is different from ours, so we can’t really know what “soon” means. However, in my studies it seems that when God speaks to mankind through Scripture He does so in terms man can understand. For example, in the book of Genesis it is written that God created the world and all things in it in six days and rested on the seventh. The majority of Christians that I know take this quite literally. When the Bible says that Jesus arose on the third day believers also take that literally. However when John records Jesus as saying “…. I come quickly [soon]” all of a sudden time is relative and “soon” could mean anything?
I’ve heard some believers state that what’s taking so long is that certain things have to happen before the return of Christ (i.e. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Luke 17:20-37) and that things are definately shaping up for His return. Some even point to technological advancements as “evidence” for the approaching of Christ's return. But when I read Scripture it’s quite apparent that the New Testament believers actually thought Christ would return “soon”, most probably in their time or shortly thereafter. Paul apparently believed that he lived in the “last days” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Peter believed that “… the end of all things is at hand [draws near, approaches]” (1 Peter 4:7). Throughout the book of Revelation John encourages believes to 'shape up before they ship out', believing that Jesus would return “soon”. So if the return of Christ would be thousands of years later, then why were these divinely inspired New Testament writers so convinced that Jesus would return very soon? And why did John use a certain word (tachu) when quoting Jesus as saying He would come "soon" if divine foresight should have known that 2000 years later Christ would not have returned? He could have easily said "some day", "eventually", or "after much time passes" instead. These questions are very bothersome to me and have really hurt my faith. Worst of all I'm criticized by some of my friends for "doubting" despite the fact that I'm just quoting Scripture. Any help would be appreciated.