Q: What is the meaning of Revelation 1:7?
The apostle John wrote, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Rev. 1:7). This text refers to Jesus Christ’s return to Earth, which He spoke of at least 22 times in Scripture.
Some people mistake the verse as referring to the Rapture of the church. However, at the Rapture, only Christians will be caught up to meet Christ in the air and be transported to heaven (Jn. 14:1–3; 1 Th. 4:16–17). Christ does not come to Earth.
The Rapture occurs quickly, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52). Therefore, not everyone on Earth will see the event. But Christ comes directly to Earth at His Second Advent, and every eye will see Him. “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem” (Zech. 14:4).
Some say His coming will be gradual, not instantaneous; and as the earth rotates, everyone will see Him coming. Others point out that modern technology makes it possible for the whole world to view the event simultaneously. Scripture says He is coming “with power and great glory” (Mt. 24:30). In Christ’s glorified state, He will light up a dark universe (v. 29), so everyone will see this spectacular event.
John said, “even they who pierced Him” will see Him (Rev. 1:7). How can that happen if they’ve been dead for centuries? Yet Zechariah prophesied, “They will look on Me whom they pierced” (Zech. 12:10). The word they refers to Jewish people; Me refers to Jesus, the divine Messiah of Israel.
Jesus was falsely condemned at an illegal, Jewish religious trial. There, Jesus told His accusers they would see Him “coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mt. 26:64). He was also accused at a Roman trial before Pontius Pilate and taken to be crucified (27:1, 11–31). The word pierce means to “thrust through,” normally with a sword or spear, resulting in death. Gentile Roman soldiers actually crucified Christ. God, however, clearly holds all people responsible (Acts 2:23; 4:27–28).
Even those dead for centuries will see Jesus return to Earth. Then “all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him” (Rev. 1:7; cf. Mt. 24:30). Some will mourn in repentance over their sin and be saved (Zech. 12:10–14), while others will mourn in despair, knowing He is coming in judgment (Rev. 19:11–16).