WILL CHRIST RETURN WITH SAINTS OR WITH ANGELS?
I will begin by stating that I believe that Christ will return with both saints and angels. That is to say in Zechariah 14:5 tells us that Christ will return with saints and Matthew 25:31 tells us that Christ will return with angels. Because there are no contradictions in the Word of God, I believe both must be true.
Let us begin this study with Zech. 14:5, “……and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee“. The note in the Companion Bible on the word “Thee” tells us that “Some codices with Aram., Sept.; Syr., and Vulgate read ‘Him‘….”. That makes this verse a prophecy concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ. And the note on the word “saints” reads, “saints =holy ones, i.e. angels as in Job 5:1, Ps. 89:5 and 7, Dan. 4:13 and 8:13, Matt. 24:31, 25:31 and Jude 14”
The Hebrew word translated “saints” in Zech. 14:5 is “kadosh”. The word means “holy” and is used in reference to a “holy nation” in Ex. 19:6. It is used in reference to a “holy place” as in, for example Ex. 29:31, and in reference to God Who is “Holy” as in, for example, Lev. 11:45. My point is that the Hebrew word itself does not tell us what it is that is “holy”. In order to determine that, we must consider the context and/or a parallel passage.
Let us consider the verses mentioned above, in which Dr. Bullinger suggests the “holy” ones are angels. Job 5:1 reads, “Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints will thou turn”? Is “kadosh” correctly translated “saints” in this verse, or should it be “angels” as Dr. Bullinger believed? Let us consider the context. This verse is included in Eliphaz’ answer to Job (see 4:1). The previous verse, i.e. 4:21 reads, “Doth not their excellency which is in them go away?” To whom does the pronoun “their” in the phrase “their excellency” refer? The next phrase of that verse reads, “they die, even without wisdom”. Angels are spirit beings and therefore they do not die. Consider also 5:2, “For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one”. The surrounding verses speak of men, not angels. I believe therefore that the KJV is correct in its translation of “kadosh” as “saints” in Job 5:1.
Let us consider Ps. 89:5-7 which reads, “And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, O Lord: Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord: God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence of all them that are about Him”. Because this passage centers on those in heaven and there are no saints in heaven, I believe we may conclude that in this passage “kadosh” is in reference to angels, as Dr, Bullinger suggested.
Dan. 4:13 reads, “I saw the visions of my head upon my bed, and behold a watcher and an holy (Heb. “kadosh”) one came down from heaven”. Because the holy one “came down from heaven” I believe that in this verse, the “holy one” was an angel.
Let us consider Dan. 8:13, which reads, “Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, ‘How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifices…..” It is not obvious in this verse to whom “kadosh” refers, but in my opinion, because this context speaks of Daniel’s vision, I believe it does refer to angels.
As for the New Testament verses suggested by Dr. Bullinger, they do indeed speak of angles, but the Greek word translated “angels” in those New Testament verses is, of course, not the Hebrew “kadosh” and therefore can not be used to prove that Zech. 14:5 refers to angels or to saints. Those verses do however, tell us that Christ will return with angels.
The point of what has been written thus far is that the Hebrew word itself does not tell us what it is that is “holy”. In order to determine that, we must consider the context and/or a parallel passage. With that in mind let us look once again at Zech. 14:5, “……and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Him”. I find no clue from the immediate context as to whether the Holy Spirit means us to understand “kadosh” in this verse as saints or as angels. But I believe a parallel passage will help us answer our question as to whether Zechariah is telling us of Christ’s coming with saints or with angels. We read in Rev. 19:19, “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him That sat on the horse and against His army“. Zech. 14:5 and Rev. 19:19 are parallel verses in that they both have to do with the second coming of Christ. So what one verse does not make clear, the other may. In this case, I believe that where Zechariah speaks of “kadosh” coming with Christ, John speaks of an “army”. In other words, the “kadosh” is the army that will come with Christ as He returns to earth. Now we are ready to determine if this army will be saints or angels.
Let us consider Rev. 19:20, as it will help us determine if this army can be saints. That is to say, if this battle is before the resurrection, it must be an army of angels because saints will not have been raised. On the other hand if this battle is after the resurrection, the army could be one of raised saints. That verse reads, “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone”. It is clear that Christ and His army will fight this battle as Christ comes to earth, i.e. the final step of His second coming, the first step would be His appearing in the clouds. That would put this battle after the resurrection. In other words, the army could be saints. But will they be? Is there any Scriptural evidence that points to an army of saints (as opposed to angels) in the end times? And that brings us to Ezek. 37.
We read in Ezek. 37:9-10, “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them (Israel), and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army“. This comes in the context of the resurrection of Israel. Note that upon resurrection there will be “an exceeding great army”. So we have the connection of time between the armies of Rev. 19 and the armies who will be raised upon resurrection. And we also have mention of an army that will be resurrected for the coming of Christ.
Is. 2:4 comes in the context of millennial prophecies and reads, “And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”. That being true, there would be no need in the millennium for an “exceeding great army” to be raised. Indeed the existence of an army would contradict what we have learned in Is. 2:4. I believe that there will, however, be need for this great army when Christ returns to earth to fight the battle recorded in Rev. 19. And that leads me to the conclusion that “the exceeding great army” of Ezek. 37 will be the resurrected of Israel that will be riding white horses as Christ comes to earth.
But we read in Matt. 25:31, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory and all the holy angels with Him….”. The Greek word translated “angels” is not the same word as is translated “saints”. Therefore, we may conclude that this verse tells us that Christ will come with angels. There are, of course, no contradictions in the perfect Word of God. Therefore, I believe that the answer to the question posed in the title of this study is that Christ will come with both angels and saints. Given that angels are spirit beings and do at times take on literal bodies, I believe that the horses these armies will ride are angels in the form of horses.
Let us return briefly to Zech. 14:5, “……and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee“. We learned in the first paragraphs of this study that the Hebrew word translated “saints” can can be used of both “saints” and “angels”. I suggest therefore that we have in this verse the figure of speech “Double Meaning” which is defined in the Companion Bible as, “A word or phrase susceptible to two interpretations, both absolutely true”.
In conclusion, I believe that both angles and believers of Israel will be raised as “an exceeding great army” to join their King to battle the enemies of God as Christ returns to earth.
APPENDIX I: A CONSIDERATION OF ZECHARIAH 14:1-5
1) “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2) For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the People shall not be cut off from the city” 3) then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. 4) and His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. 5) and ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come and all the saints with Thee” (The note in the Companion Bible on the word “Thee” reads, “some codices, with Aram., Sept,. Syr., and Vulg., read ‘Him’….”) …
I believe this passage refers to the day the Lord returns to earth which will be after the day of the Lord. But the KJV of verse reads, “The day of the Lord cometh”. ” The note on Is. 2:11 in the Companion Bible on the phrase “day of the Lord” tells us that there are four passages in which the Old Testament Hebrew has “l” as a prefix which, means “for” or “to” Jehovah. In other words, the Hebrew does not read “day of the Lord”. Those four passages are: Is. 2:12, Ezek. 30:3, Zech. 14:1 and 17. Also, the NASB has, “A day is coming for the Lord…”. And the NRSV has, “See, a day is coming for the Lord”. I must confess that I am not sure what “a day for the Lord” means, and because the prefix, according to Dr. Bullinger can also mean “to” and because we are told in verse 7 of a day “which should be known to the Lord” it could be translated either as the two translations quoted above do, or, in my opinion, it could also be translated “a day known to the Lord” which incorporates the ellipsis “known” taken from the context (vs. 7). At any rate, the KJV “the day of the Lord” seems to be, according to all these sources, incorrect. Verse 1 speaks of a day to or for the Lord, i.e. not the day of the Lord.
Verse 2 (“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle……..”). Note that the Lord Himself will gather the nations against Jerusalem. And those nations will conquer Jerusalem. But, as we learn in verse 3 when the Lord returns He will go forth to battle against those very nations that He had gathered (please see Appendix II for a more complete discussion of this verse)..
Verse 3 (“then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle””. This tells of the battle of Rev. 19, i.e. the one at His coming.
There are two important facts in verse 4 that should be carefully noted. The first is that ” His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives”. The second is that when the Lord comes to the mount of Olives that mount will split in order to create a “great valley”.
And in verse 5 we read “and ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains”. When will this flight take place and who will flee? Let us consider the time of this flight first.
We read in Matt. 24:15-16 our Lord’s warning to flee. That passage reads, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains”. But the placing of the abomination of desolation in the holy place is the act that will precede the tribulation. In other words, the flight our Lord spoke of is the flight to escape the tribulation while Zech. 14 is a passage that concerns the day the Lord returns to earth, which is, of course, after the tribulation. So the two take place at different times.
Our next question concerns who will flee. Our only clue is the word “ye” in verse 5 ( i.e “ye shall flee to the valley…”). I believe that the “ye” refers to those who will be alive at the time the Lord returns to earth. But those who will be alive at the time of the return of Christ will have been caught up with Him in the clouds before Christ returns to earth. Because a valley will be created for them to flee, I believe that they (i.e. those who will be raptured and resurrected when Christ appears in the clouds) will come down to earth for the ensuing battle but will be given a great valley to which to flee.
For the sake of clarity I will present a scenario that describes the events of Zech. 14:1-5 as I see it.
On a day know to the Lord (or “a day for the Lord”), Jesus Christ will return to earth. But a great battle will ensue (as described in Rev. 19) in which Christ with His army of resurrected Israelites (see the body of this paper) will battle against the armies of the antichrist. As Christ comes to the mount of Olives that mount will divide into a great valley into which those who have been raised or raptured and return with Christ to earth, will flee.
APPENDIX II: WHO WILL LAY SIEGE OF JERUSALEM IN THE LAST DAYS?
It seems rather strange to me that in Zech. 14:2 we read that the Lord will gather the nations to lay siege on Jerusalem (“I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle”) but in the next verse we read, “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations.……”. In other words, the Lord will fight against the very nations He gathered against Jerusalem.
Note also verses 1-2 which read in the NASB “Behold a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against you…..”.The first verse speaks of that which is taken from the citizens of Jerusalem and then given back to them. Note the word “for” that begins verse 2. That tells us that it was the nations that God had gathered against Jerusalem that will take the spoil from Jerusalem. And because the taking of that spoil which will then be divided among those in Jerusalem, is also spoken of in the same verse, that dividing is also due to the nations that God gathered together for the siege of Jerusalem. In other words, God gathered the nations against Jerusalem so that they might both take and then divide the spoil among those very ones from whom they had taken it.
To add to the seeming difficulty we read in Dan. 9:26 that “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary and the end thereof shall be with a flood…”. The “prince that shall come” is the antichrist because we read in the next verse that “he shall cause the sacrifices and oblation to cease”. So this verse tells us that the city will be destroyed by the antichrist. But in Zech. 14 we read that it is the nations that God had gathered that laid siege on Jerusalem.
This is a difficult passage. But I believe the paper on this web-site which discusses the differences between the tribulation and the day of the Lord. may hold a clue to help us to understand it. This paper shows that one of the main differences between the tribulation and the day of the Lord is that the tribulation is Satan driven and the day of the Lord is God driven. But as will be seen in this paper, while it is true that God allows Satan his time to test Israel in the tribulation, God does not give him a free hand. For example, we read Rev. 7:3 of the angel “saying, ‘Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads”. My point is that Satan was limited in such a way as to not hurt those who had been sealed.
In my opinion, the answer to the dilemma of the verses quoted above is that the antichrist will destroy Jerusalem in the end times, but God not only allows it, He facilitates it by gathering the nations against Jerusalem. Why would God do that? I believe that God will gather the nations against Jerusalem to facilitate the siege of that city so that when Christ returns to earth to fight the battle described in Rev, 19, the nations will be in one place facilitating God’s destruction of them. In other words, what Satan may consider a victory in his siege of Jerusalem, God will turn to his defeat. And this is not the first time such a thing will occur. For example, during the entire Acts period Satan succeeded in preventing Israel’s acceptance of their risen Messiah, but it was because of Satan’s success that God set aside Israel and His plan for the church came to fruition.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org