Question: "What is the day of Christ?"


The day of Christ is a prophetic event specifically referenced three times in the New Testament; the apostle Paul speaks of “the day of Christ,” “the day of Jesus Christ,” and “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Other New Testament passages may allude to the day of Christ, but the use of this phraseology is unique to Paul’s writings. Let us examine these three passages within their proper scriptural context. The first is Philippians 1:3–6:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (ESV).

Besides assuring Christian believers of their eternal security, this passage teaches that the day of Christ marks the time when our sanctification will be complete. At long last, we will enjoy sinless perfection and dwell in resurrected, immortal, glorified bodies. In reference to this same bright future, John wrote, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2, ESV).

The next mention of “the day of Christ” is in Philippians 2:14–16:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain (ESV).

From this passage, we can be assured that the difficulties believers face in a hostile, godless world will pass and that, in the day of Christ, the struggles will end for those who persevere. In another passage, the apostle Paul writes, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, ESV).

The third and final of Paul’s references to “the day of Christ” is found in 1 Corinthians 1:4–8:

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (ESV).

Again, the apostle Paul assures all believers of their eternal hope, for when the day of Christ comes, they will be counted among the redeemed. This blessed hope is also expressed in our Lord’s words, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39, ESV).

The day of Christ points to the time when our struggles end and victory over sin and death is no longer a promise, but a glorious reality. We believe the day of Christ begins at the rapture of the church and continues through the millennial reign. The day of Christ is a time of lavish promises fulfilled and decisive victories achieved—a time when believers no longer walk by faith but by sight, for our enemies will be our Lord’s footstool (Psalm 110:1).

The day of Christ is related to but probably distinguished from the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord is a time of judgment in which God pours out His consuming wrath upon a hostile, rebellious, unbelieving world:

Alas for the day!
For the day of the Lord is near,
and as destruction from the Almighty it comes (Joel 1:15, ESV)

Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it will come! (Isaiah 13:6)

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light (Amos 5:18, ESV)

For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
your deeds shall return on your own head (Obadiah 1:15, ESV)

The day of the Lord is a time of worldwide judgment; the day of Christ has to do with believers meeting Christ and receiving their heavenly inheritance. Thankfully, God’s people will not face the unleashing of God’s righteous fury when the day of the Lord comes (I Thessalonians 5:9). The day of the Lord is reserved for unrepentant sinners who refuse God’s mercy. The haughty and proud rebels who snub His mercy must face His judgment. By contrast, the day of Christ is a time of hope and promise and, indeed, a day of celebration. May we join King David in singing,

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1–3, ESV).