Jesus’ Coming As The Holy Spirit
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a “coming.” The Jews believed that Elijah was to “come” preceding the advent of the Messiah, based upon Malachi 4:5. (See Matthew 11:14; 16:14; 17:10-13; Mark 6:15; 9:12-13; Luke 1:17; John 1:21, 25.) In these Scriptures, Jesus clearly stated that John the Baptist was Elijah. Did He mean that John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah? No. He meant that the same Spirit that came upon and filled Elijah was that which filled John the Baptist, (Luke 1:17).
In this same sense, the coming of the Holy Spirit to fill all of the believer’s was the same Spirit that had filled Christ when He dwelt upon earth in His fleshly body. So, in the same sense that Elijah had returned in John the Baptist, so Christ returned in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
This view is opposed by many Pentecostal and Evangelical teachers. I will use the article by Ian Macpherson as an example of the standard, traditional teaching of these groups:
Macpherson first argues against the idea of “realized eschatology” which says that Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God had come in His ministry during His lifetime. Macpherson fails to deal with the fact that Jesus did indeed teach this doctrine, (Matt. 12:28; Luke 10:9; 11:20; Mark 1:14-15; Mark 9:1; Luke 4:43; 6:20; 9:27; 17:21; 22:16-18; and many other references too numerous to mention.
His second argument has it that Jesus’ promise of “another Comforter” could not have meant His own Spirit. Biblically, however, it must be so, for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One. Indeed, He said: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” (John 14:18). This is in the context of His promise of the Holy Spirit in verses fifteen to seventeen of the same chapter.
Thirdly, Macpherson argues that after the descent of the Holy Spirit, the New Testament points forward to the “Second Coming.” Indeed, Jesus never did refer to a single “Second coming.” It is therefore more accurate to refer to His “coming” as something that will happen often and repeatedly. There is nothing to prevent the interpretation that the descent of the Holy Spirit was a “coming” which occurred after His bodily ascension. (Macpherson admits that Biblical prophecy may have multiple fulfillments, p. 7).
Macpherson’s fourth argument that the “Second Coming” was not fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, (p. 7), takes no account of Josephus’ record of the appearance in the clouds. He ridicules Thomas Waugh who says: ” Actually… the Rapture occurred on that occasion, and … amid the cataclysmic struggles of the time the fact was not noted!” Macpherson concedes however, that the Christians did indeed escape the overthrow, but ignores the fact that their escape, under the circumstances, had to be miraculous if not an actual bodily translation from one place to another.
His fifth argument that Christ’s indwelling the believer does not qualify as the “Second Coming” is no argument at all. He does not deal with the clear evidence of Scripture (John 14:18, 23). This “coming” was not something that the world would see; nevertheless, He would be “manifest” to everyone who truly loved Him and the Father:
“20 At that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14)
Macpherson’s sixth argument that Christ’s spiritual presence in the Church is not a “Second Coming” in that His physical body was not present on the earth after His ascension, (Acts 3:20, 21; 7:55; 9:3). He does not allow for the fact that Christ’s glorified body was not subject to the laws of physics, that is, it was not “physical.” He makes no notice of the fact that Jesus said it was “expedient” for Him to go away. Christ therefore taught that His presence in the unlimited and unconfined Spirit was more “expedient” than would be a physical presence limited to one particular point in time and space.
Macpherson argues that “it seems much easier to believe such a visible, local reappearance of our Lord than His simultaneous manifestation of Himself to His people in all parts of the world!” It may be easier for Macpherson to believe, but that proves nothing about what Jesus said about it. He indeed makes clear that His salvation is available to “whosoever will” when they seek Him with a whole heart. This must be a “simultaneous manifestation of Himself to His people in all parts of the world.”
In his seventh argument that Christ’s coming at the death of the Christian does not qualify as a “Second Coming,” Macpherson admits that Christian biography is full of examples of this experience. However, he uses the passage in John 21:20-23 to “prove” his point. Indeed, this Scripture could be used to prove the opposite, for Christ said: “If I will that he tarry till I come what is that to thee? Follow thou me.” The disciples clearly misunderstood His saying, (v. 23), as has Macpherson, for Christ indeed “comes” for His Saints at their death.
An appearance or coming of “the Son of Man” was seen by the martyr Stephen, Acts 7:55-56:
“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
Macpherson cites Revelation 1:7 as proof that Christ’s “Second Coming” will be “a personal, physical, local, visible reentry into human history.” (p. 8). However, the rest of verse seven shows that it could not be too localized, for “every eye shall see Him”. It could not have been too far distant in the future, for among those who see Him are “those which pierced Him.” This must also be regarded as one fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, (Daniel 7:13), and of Christ’s prophecy, (Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; 14:62).
There was a tradition among the Jews that:
“If they are worthy, (i.e. the Israelites), then he shall come with the clouds of heaven; but if they are not worthy, then he will come poor, and riding upon an ass” (CNT, vol. 4, p. 90).
Jesus came to the fleshly Jerusalem “poor and riding upon an ass,” but He came to the spiritual Jerusalem, i.e. to saints such as Stephen, “with the clouds of heaven.”
( See also my Commentary on Revelation 22:3: “Anathema”; “Greek Words Translated Revelation” on Revelation 1:1; also Commentary at 1:8 “Alpha and Omega”; and 1:1 “Must.”)
 See G.K. Beale, The Use of Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and in the Revelation of Saint John, (Lanham, New York, London, University Press of America, 1984).
 Josephus records such an appearance during the destruction of Jerusalem (Wars 6.5.3).
 Ian Macpherson, “How Will Jesus Come Back?” in Pentecostal Evangel, February 9, 1975, 6-8.
 Strong’s #1718, meaning ‘to exhibit, disclose.’