Soon is a relative term. If you are microwaving popcorn, soon means within the next three minutes. If you are awaiting the birth of a child, soon can mean anything up to nine months. So when we ask, “Is Jesus coming soon?” we have to qualify the meaning of soon.
Jesus Himself said that He is coming soon: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon’” (Revelation 22:20). And then John adds these words: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” John’s book was penned nearly two thousand years ago, which leads many people to wonder what Jesus meant by “soon.”
The Greek word tachu, which is translated “soon” or “quickly,” means “without unnecessary delay.” It does not mean “immediately.” The same word is used in other places in the New Testament, but, interestingly, it is used most often by Jesus in the book of Revelation (Revelation 2:16; 3:11; 11:14; 22:7, 12, and 20). The meaning seems to be that events have been set in motion that will usher in His arrival without any unnecessary delay. Everything is moving along according to God’s timetable.
Peter reassures us that God is not dragging His feet concerning prophetic events. God’s timing is perfect: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In this light we may understand that Jesus is coming “soon” in that God’s plan is advancing and is only delayed to allow for all the elect to be saved (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:5)—a necessary postponement.
The Bible teaches that Jesus’ return for His church is imminent, which means the rapture could happen at any moment. The apostles seem to have believed that Jesus would come back in their lifetimes. They referred often to the “last days” (1 Peter 1:20; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:2) and urged believers to be ready. It appears that Jesus also intended for us to believe in His imminent return, because He often urged His followers to “be ready” (Luke 12:40; 21:34–36; Mark 13:33). Because no one has known or can predict exactly when He is coming again (see Matthew 24:36), we should live in the expectancy that He may come any moment. That seems to be Jesus’ point in not being more specific. He wants every generation to live with the conscious awareness that the Lord may suddenly appear and we will have to give an accounting of the way He finds us (Luke 12:38). To answer the question, “Is Jesus coming soon?” we say, “Yes, He will come without unnecessary delay.”