As Christians worldwide prepare for Easter, a time of reflection on Jesus’ death and a celebration of his resurrection, many seem to be looking forward as well.
The above chart, from a Pew Research Center survey on the religious beliefs of Christians in the United States, shows that about half believe Jesus will either definitely or probably return in the next 40 years.
Theologians and scholars have debated the Second Coming for centuries, arguing over when it will happen, if it can be predicted, and signs showing its imminent arrival. The Bible states that no one but God knows when Jesus will return and that the return will be swift and unexpected: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”
Still, predicting when and where Jesus will return is a popular business. Christians, popes, Mormonism’s founder, modern-day biblical teachers like Harold Camping, and countless others have all tried and failed. People have coveted knowledge of the Second Coming for millennia, and, if history is any example, predictions will continue to roll out as time goes on—that is, if 40 years pass by and Jesus is still nowhere to be seen.