DAY OF CHRIST, DAY OF THE LORD - WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
By John Aldworth
14 July 2012
Day of Christ, Day of the Lord - is there a difference?
Yes there is and a very important one at that. You see, in English “Christ” and “Lord” are words as distinct and separate in meaning as the Greek words Christos and Kurios that they translate.
Yet nearly all modern Bible translations wrongly translate Christos (Christ) as “Lord” in 2 Thess. 2:2, thus making the words read the “day of the Lord” not “the day of Christ” as it is correctly rendered in the King James Bible (KJB). Yet the Majority Greek Text clearly has it as the day of Christ (Gk: Christos), not the day of the Lord ( Gk: Kurios).
Why, you might ask? Answer: Because they cannot or will not believe the actual words of God that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to write.
They see difficulty because "the Day of Christ” in verse two is sandwiched between a reference to the Day of the Lord, identified as the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” in verse one, and a further discourse about the Day of the Lord in verses 3-12.
So they alter the word of God to comply with what they see as the meaning of the context. Invariably they do so because make no room in their eschatology (scheme of End Time events) for a Day of Christ so they dump it into the Day of the Lord, the time when Christ returns bodily to earth in flaming fire to take vengeance on a world rejecting Him and to bring in his Millennial (1000-year) rule and reign upon earth.
Thus the easy “way out” for these Bible “correctors” is to simply change God’s word in 2 Thess. 2:2 to read the “Day of the Lord” and thus make it comply with their inadequate theology.
Sadly, in doing so they are hiding one of God’s glorious truths from his people. Because there really is a Day of Christ; seven verses in the King James Bible say so. And seven is the perfect number of God. The modern Bible versions, however, have at best six references to the Day of Christ. And as you know the number six is the number of fallible, fallen man.
Despite such modern infidelity it is the ancient testimony of bibles from the Gothic Version of 350AD through to the King James Bible and even in the New King James Bible that the verse really does read:
“That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ be at hand.”
Sadly, even the NKJV, having correctly translated “day of Christ”, nullifies this by a footnote which reads: “NU-Text reads the Lord.” So today the KJV stands almost alone in insisting on “the day of Christ” while almost all modern bibles mistranslate the phrase “the day of the Lord”.
One reason for such change is the undue weight is given to the words “for that day shall not come” in 2 Thess. 2:3. In the KJB these words are in italics meaning they are not in the original Greek text and have been inserted as an ellipsis (words added to make better grammatical sense), thus leaving the reader with the option of ignoring them if he so decides.
If they are left out, as they should be if we wish to read the text as the Holy Spirit intended it to be read, then the emphasis would be on “let no man deceive you by any means” and the subsequent nine verses would proceed to set out just how the “man of sin” does indeed deceive. There will come “come a falling away first”, then he will be revealed with “signs and lying wonders” and “all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish”.
But why is Paul telling the Thessalonians this? After all they will be long dead before the Day of the Lord comes. Answer: because at a future time they will be among the company resurrected at Christ’s parousia, his coming to earth. They will be among “they (to be resurrected) at Christ’s coming” (see 1 Cor. 15:23 and 1 Thess. 4:15).
By contrast those resurrected or changed in the Day of Christ are members of the Body of Christ and thus comprise “Christ the firstfruits”, the resurrection company that will be resurrected first in the order laid down in 1 Cor. 15: 23. They are saints who have followed Paul upward in the “high calling of God” of Phil. 3:14 and will in the Day of Christ rule and reign with Him in his heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 2:12 with 4:18). Proof that this is an earlier resurrection is seen in Col. 3:4 and Phil. 3:20-21).
Thus, with the exception of 2 Thess. 2:2, all of chapters one and two in the epistles have to do with events that must precede the Day of the Lord. That means that, verse two apart, they are not talking about the Day of Christ which, according to Paul’s prison epistles, is the very purpose of the Mystery and the hope of saints receiving the “high calling” (Phil. 3:14). While the Day of the Lord lies far in the future, perhaps up to 1,000 years from now, the Day of Christ by contrast is the very next thing on God’s agenda. It will be ushered by a blaze of heavenly glory when Christ draws the current dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:2) to a close.
So should it be the Day of Christ or the Day of the Lord in 2 Thess. 2:2? As a King James Bible believer I believe the KJV to be the 100 per cent divinely preserved, accurate inspired word of God. So for that, if for no other reason, I would believe the KJV’s rendering of 2 Thess. 2:2 to be the truth. But there are other reasons, among them the fact that that “Christ” is the correct translation of the Greek word Christos, as it is in hundreds of other Bible verses.
Looking more closely at 2 Thess. 2:2 let’s first note what the verse does not say.
It does not say that day of Christ is not at hand.
It does not say that there is no day of Christ
It does not say the day of Christ is the same as the day of the Lord.
What it does say is that the Thessalonian believers should not be soon shaken in mind, or be troubled in way by spiritual revelations, word of prophecy or letters supposedly from Paul or his team “as that the day of Christ is at hand”.
Soon is the key word. Paul did not want these saints suddenly troubled about a Day of Christ when he had been teaching them in depth, about another day, the Day of the Lord in which they would be resurrected. Yes, there would indeed be a Day of Christ, which is why in this verse Paul does not deny it. But at this point in his life and ministry even Paul himself had yet to learn much about it. And he could only learn such new and important truth as the Lord would choose to reveal it to him at various points during his ministry and lifetime. During this pre-prison epistle period in the apostle's life the Lord would only give hints of what He was to later reveal, it seems.
Special revelation of truth in the manner Christ promised Paul in Acts 26:16 was necessary, it seems, because the Day of Christ involves a heavenly hope, whereas the Day of the Lord which Paul and the Thessalonians already knew about (1 Thess. 5:1) is an earthly hope. Now the earthly hope is concerned with the Great Tribulation and the Lord’s bodily return to earth to rule and reign over a restored Israel from his earthly throne in Jerusalem. The heavenly hope is that of saints ruling and reigning with Christ in what Eph. 1:3 and 2:6 describe as “heavenly places” (Gk: epourianos) where He is enthroned in his “heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:18). This blessed abode is not only far above the earth, it is also “far above the heavens” (Eph. 4:10).
So it was that not until Paul was in prison in Rome that the hitherto hidden truth about the heavenly hope was revealed to him. Thus it is part of the Mystery. Consequently it is only in Paul’s prison epistles - Ephesians, to Philemon – that we read of it. Importantly, it is only after this new revelation of truth by the Lord that Paul could proclaim the hope of saints going to live with the Lord in heaven for ever. As a specific promise it is significantly absent from all preceding Scripture.
Granted, the truth of the Day of Christ is hinted at in earlier Pauline epistles, as indeed it is in 2 Thess. 2:2. However, the full orbed truth that underlies his teaching of the Mystery, the Dispensation of the grace of God, and the coming heavenly appearance of the glorified Lord “… as the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) and we with Him is only found in his prison epistles, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon. It had not been shown to Paul in AD54 when he wrote this, his second letter to the Thessalonians. By contrast, Ephesians, which does unfold such matters, was not written until AD64, 10 years later.
You see, until they were revealed to Paul in prison as truth specifically to be ministered by him to the Gentiles (Eph. 3:1-3), all these heavenly matters, such as the blessings of the dispensation of the grace of God, the Mystery, the important truth of Christ’s appearing (Gk: epiphaneia), his heavenly (as opposed to earthly) kingdom, the Day of Christ and the manifestation of heavenly glory of Christ and his saints remained largely hid from the apostle.
Prior to his prison period he but glimpsed the possibility of such further, higher truth and once was forbidden by Christ to reveal that which he had seen. Thus he could only teach such truth as he had Christ’s permission to disclose. Evidence of such prohibition is found in 2 Cor. 12: 4 where the apostle says that when he was caught up to the third heaven and to paradise he heard “…unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter”.
So to “… rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) the Bible student must realise that not until Paul’s imprisonment, when the risen glorified Lord revealed Himself more fully to his apostle to the Gentiles, were these new truths “given me to you-ward” (Eph. 3:2). In other words Paul could not speak about them until he had the Lord’s express command to do so.
Clearly when writing 2 Thessalonians Paul did not have the Lord’s command to speak at length about the Day of Christ which is why, apart from the single mention of it in 2 Thess. 2:2, he confines his teaching in chapters one and two to the day of the Lord. In other words, when Paul wrote to these saints the coming of the Lord (Gk: parousia, as opposed to Gk: epiphaneia, his appearing) was then “present truth” (2 Pet. 1:12) but the Day of Christ was not.
Remember that in Acts 26:16-17 the risen, ascended Lord commissioned Saul (soon to be Paul) as “…a minister and witness both of those things which thou hast seen and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.” Paul had seen the risen ascended Lord and could testify to that, but he could not testify of heavenly matters such as the Mystery, the Lord’s heavenly kingdom and the approaching Day of Christ until the Lord personally appeared to commission him to preach these truths.
Thus in 2 Thessalonians, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians such heavenly matters are only hinted at. For example, read 1 Cor.2:6-7 where such things are only spoken of in a mystery. This is because in this pre-prison period Paul and his converts still only “knew in part”. Thus in 1 Cor. 13:9-10 the Apostle says of this period that “… we know in part and prophesy in part but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away with”.
That which is “perfect” was then still to be fully revealed. The “perfect” in fact comprised the revelation of the Mystery, the fullness of the Dispensation of Grace, the heavenly upward calling, the Day of Christ and the hope of his appearing and the forthcoming manifestation of his heavenly kingdom.
So back in 2 Thess. 2:2 what was it that caused the Apostle to write about the Day of Christ then? Answer: the need to refute a ploy of the devil. This sought to frighten the Thessalonian believers by saying the Day of Christ was “at hand”. Such news would confuse them because they had been taught and believed that their resurrection and destiny lay in the Day of the Lord. The Day of Christ, then for them was not then “at hand” but only in the sense that the ascended Lord had not yet fully revealed it to his chosen teacher of the Gentiles, the Apostle Paul.
Notice that Paul writes urging the Thessalonians “…that ye be not soon shaken, or troubled in mind”. AD52, it seems, was too soon to reveal Day of Christ truth. Later in AD62 with Paul in prison evidently it was now the right time and, accordingly, Paul writes about the Day of Christ, our position in the heavenlies and our coming glory there in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and the pastoral epistles. He could do so by then because such truth had now been “given me to you-ward” for proclamation to the Gentiles, indeed to every man (Eph.3:2, 8, 9).
So back in AD52 the devil was trying to disrupt teaching about the Day of Lord by anticipating future revelation. You see leaping to the future so as to blindside humans to the “present truth” of God is a favourite ploy of Satan. For example very early in human history he told Eve: “…God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). That day hadn’t come yet so who was Satan to talk about it? Answer: “A liar and murder from the beginning”. Satan did not have God’s permission to talk about that day.
Yes, in his foreknowledge God knew man would fall and that from Genesis 3 through to now He would be at pains to teach man the difference between good and evil. But it wasn’t God’s will to anticipate this “day”. Rather He would have Adam and Eve simply obey his commandment not to eat of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. Through subtlety the devil brought sin and death on mankind by anticipating a future “day”. In just the same way today Satan today falsely persuades many to believe we are seeing prophetic fulfilment of the Book of Revelation when in fact it is yet to come. And back in 2 Thess. 2:2 Paul was thwarting a similar devilish plan to worry the Thessalonians about the Day of Christ before Christ had fully revealed this truth to and through the Apostle Paul.
So we see that the Day of Christ is not the same as the Day of the Lord but that the true word of God does mention it in 2 Thess. 2:2 to teach an important principle in right division: Just as it is wrong to “read back” into Old Testament scriptures understanding that was only revealed by God later, so it is wrong to anticipate future revelation of truth by God before He reveals it. Paul at this time could not share the whole truth of the day of Christ. Christ did not allow him to do so.
The day of Christ is also briefly mentioned in 1 Cor. 1:8 and again this is juxtaposed in the context of the “coming” (Gk: parousia) of the Lord Jesus Christ (vs 7). Clearly also here the timing, meaning and fullness of the day of Christ is left unexplained, again because Christ had not yet fully revealed it to Paul. The Day of Christ is also mentioned without adequate explanation in 1 Cor. 5:5 and 2 Cor. 1:14 for the same reason.
Now what is the real difference between these two great days? Simply put, the Day of Lord is the time of Christ’s coming to earth in bodily, personally presence, to physically reign over the earth from a throne in Jerusalem as king of a restored Israel. It is far in the future It follows the tribulation and will be preceded by the catching up of certain saints such as the Thessalonian and Corinthian believers who would one day in the far future be found among those that in 1 Thess. 4:14 Christ brings with Him at his coming (Gk: parousia). Back in AD52 that was the “present truth” that Christ was revealing to Gentiles through Paul in his pre-prison period.
By contrast, thanks to Paul’s writing of his prison epistles, the Day of Christ is now “present truth” for us. And now it can indeed be said to be “at hand”, since now it has been fully revealed to Paul by the Lord. This is evidenced by the fact that in Phil. 1:6, Phil. 1:10 and Phil. 2:16 it is described without any reference at all to the coming of Christ in the Day of the Lord.
Personally I believe that long before Christ’s coming in the Day of the Lord He will be revealed in heaven appearing in glory as “…the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”.
This appearing in glory ushers in the Day of Christ and is described in Titus 2:13 as the “blessed hope” we should be looking for. Why? Because at this his appearing [Gk: epiphaneia, as opposed to coming (Gk. parousia)] the truth of our hope expressed in Col. 3:4 will be realised:
“When Christ who is our life shall appear then shall ye also appear with Him in glory”.
This is the “hope of your calling” (Eph. 4:4). Paul looked for it with eager anticipation and we should do the same, because there is indeed “a crown of righteousness” which the Lord shall give “at that day” (i.e. the day of Christ) to “all them also that love his appearing” (Gk: epiphaneia) (2 Tim. 4:8).
This is a further article in a series on the Day of Christ and all that it means. There will be many more to follow. Track them online at the website Day of Christ Ministries or email firstname.lastname@example.org.