From the perspective of the Old Testament saints, the coming of the Messiah would end up being a two-part process—first as the Suffering Servant and next as Victorious King. That could lend credence to the same type of perspective in the eyes of the New Testament saints—first as Deliverer of the church and next as Victorious King.
Although the Greek for the words day and hour allow for more general time references, it would seem that their use as a unit is significant to a specific day and hour which would include the thought of a specific year.
I think at this point, based on the verses that follow, that Jesus is making reference to the rapture, the catching away of the church before the start of Daniel’s 70th week, since that concept is presented in scripture as something that could happen at any moment with no preceding signs of identification. This seems out of context with the coming of the kingdom, but is reasonable in light of Old Testament prophecies that referenced a span of time or more than one event, e.g., Isaiah 61 as noted above.
Isaiah 61:1–3 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
When Jesus read from this section in the synagogue in Nazareth, he stopped after “the acceptable year of our LORD” and declared that He was fulfilling the scripture that day. He did not continue reading because the rest of that prophecy made reference to His second coming as Messiah the King.
Though the disciples would not have understood the distinction between the rapture and the return of Jesus as King Messiah, it in no way changes the truth of each. The LORD waited to reveal this mystery through the Apostle Paul.
1 Corinthians 15:51–53 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Paul is describing a time, a moment, when living believers will be caught up in the air with believers that had already died to be resurrected to incorruptible bodies. It is an event that can happen at any moment.
In light of that truth, the LORD encourages His followers to be aware, watch and pray because they could not know the time of His return. I believe He is addressing spiritual readiness. We are to be perceptive of what is happening around us—able to recognize the signs given by the Lord. We are to be spiritually alert and not affected by the world’s outlook as described by Peter.
2Peter 3:4 “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
(to be continued...)