from Early Church Fathers on the Twofold Coming of Christ
Transfiguration of Christ by
watch, he is to come again
Ephrem of Edessa (306-373 AD)
To prevent his disciples from asking the time of his coming,
Christ said: “About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the
Son. It is not for you to know times or moments.” He has kept those things
hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come
in our own day. If he had revealed the time of his coming, his coming would
have lost its savor: it would no longer be an object of yearning for the
nations and the age in which it will be revealed. He promised that he would
come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations and ages
await him eagerly.
Though the Lord has established the signs of his coming, the time of
their fulfillment has not been plainly revealed. These signs have come
and gone with a multiplicity of change; more than that, they are still
present. His final coming is like his first. As holy men and prophets waited
for him, thinking that he would reveal himself in their own day, so today
each of the faithful longs to welcome him in his own day, because Christ
has not made plain the day of his coming.
He has not made it plain for this reason especially, that no one may
think that he whose power and dominion rule all numbers and times is ruled
by fate and time. He described the signs of his coming; how could what
he has himself decided be hidden from him? Therefore, he used these words
to increase respect for the signs of his coming, so that from that day
forward all generations and ages might think that he would come again in
their own day.
Keep watch; when the body is asleep nature takes control of us, and
what is done is not done by our will but by force, by the impulse of nature.
When deep listlessness takes possession of the soul, for example, faint-heartedness
or melancholy, the enemy overpowers it and makes it do what it does not
will. The force of nature, the enemy of the soul, is in control.
When the Lord commanded us to be vigilant, he meant vigilance in both
parts of man: in the body, against the tendency to sleep; in the soul,
against lethargy and timidity. As Scripture says: “Wake up, you just, and
I have risen, and am still with you,” and again, “Do not lose heart. Therefore,
having this ministry, we do not lose heart.”