13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
God’s grace, which brings salvation to us (v. 11), teaches us to live a sanctified life in this present world (v. 12) in anticipation of Christ’s glorious appearing (v. 13). As we live on earth in this present age, we anticipate our “blessed hope”, which is “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”.
The Christian’s hope of Christ’s return is called “blessed”. The word “blessed” denotes all the blessings of His divine presence (cf. 1 Timothy 1:11; 6:15). What a blessing it is to have such a hope! Eternal blessings await Christians at His coming. When He comes, we shall be eternally delivered from all the temptations and trials of this world, and shall enter into eternal sinless perfection, joy, bliss, rewards and glory. We live every day with that sure hope. So we long for His return. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
There has been some debate as to whether “that blessed hope” and “the glorious appearing” of Christ are two different events, namely Rapture (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:6-17) and His return to this earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation (cf. Revelation 19:11-21). But there is little in this verse’s context to suggest that Paul was distinguishing those future events in connection with Christ’s return. Paul was simply saying that we are looking for the blessed hope, which is the appearing of the Lord. Although we understand those events of Rapture and His subsequent glorious return to rule the world for a thousand years (cf. Revelation 20:1- 10; Isaiah 2:1-4; 11; Ezekiel 37; Daniel 2:44-45; 7:13-14; Zechariah 14) as distinct, Paul is here referring to the return of Christ as a whole, and not its various stages. The blessed hope is a fixed historical reality which we long for.
Yet another great truth is mentioned by the apostle in this verse. It is Christ’s divinity. He is “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”. Jesus’ life on earth, His claims about Himself, His doctrines and His works – all prove Him to be God. If one rejects His deity, one can only think of Christ as a deceiver and demonic person, like the Jews who killed Him. One can have Christ only as the divine Saviour – or not have Him at all.