"If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? ..." (John 21:22)

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (John 21:20-23)

What does Jesus mean by 'until I return'?

The Greek word being translated to "return" here is ἔρχομαι (erchomai). According to Thayer's lexicon, this word means "to appear, make one's appearance, come before the public." When used metaphorically, the word means: "to come into being, arise, come forth, show itself, find place or influence" and "be established, become known, to come (fall) into or unto."

The concept of "return" is being inferred here by institutional translators* who have failed to understand the spiritual nature of Jesus' statements regarding his relationship with his followers.

Jesus is not speaking of returning to the physical world. If this were true he would be missing them, because he has yet to return and they have long passed away - nearly two thousand years ago.

Rather, Jesus is speaking of reuniting with them in the spiritual realm after they leave the physical world.

The metaphorical use of the word ἔρχομαι (erchomai) is also used by Jesus within the Lord's prayer - and also mistranslated to "come:"
"... Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." (Matt. 6:10)
In this reference, Jesus is not speaking of God's kingdom literally "coming" - or even "returning." The statement speaks of the kingdom of God becoming present in our life: Allowing us to live within a particular consciousness - of being one of God's loving servants.

Furthermore, as stated in the lexicon, when the word is used metaphorically - as it is applied to the spiritual context Jesus utilizes in his teachings, the word can mean:

"to come into being, arise, come forth, show itself, find place or influence."

We can also see this mistranslation with this statement:
“And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62)
Here we can see clearly that if Jesus is "sitting" he cannot also be "coming" as would be applied to travel. Again, the word ἔρχομαι (erchomai) is referring to becoming present somewhere - "to appear."

We can see this mistranslation (and misinterpretation) even more clearly in another statement made by Jesus regarding his coming appearance:
"Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." (Matt. 24:30)
Again it is obvious that "when they see" relates to Jesus' presence - rather than "coming" on the "clouds of heaven."

Is this about presence or appearance?

Jesus' statements go to the very root of the misinterpretation of Jesus' presence in heaven - or in this case as he speaks of his beloved disciple to Peter - "to arise" - we find a clearer understanding of how the spirit-person of one who dedicates himself to God will "arise" and return to the spiritual realm at the time of death.

The verses above (Mark 14:62 and Matt. 24:30) - usually quoted out of context - have been used by some to teach that Jesus will be seen riding through the sky on horseback or on clouds as the world is coming to an end. This teaching typically comes alongside threats of eternal damnation if we don't join their institution.

The reality is that Jesus is speaking metaphorically of his followers reuniting with him at the time of death. The words "heaven" and in "clouds of heaven" are being taken from οὐρανός (ouranos), which means, according to the lexicon, "the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings."

This is quite obviously not the same sky we see above us in the physical world. This is the metaphysical "heaven" - the spiritual realm.

And "the peoples of the earth" in Matt. 24:30 are not people living on the earth. The term comes from φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς - meaning "tribes of the earth" - better defined as "people of materialism."

Jesus is functionally speaking of his becoming present to his followers at the time of death - after they leave their physical bodies and return to the spiritual realm. And those who choose not to follow him will "mourn" when they realize - after the death of their physical body - that Jesus truly is God's representative.

Jesus also expressed this when he said:
"And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given me, but raise them up at the last day." (John 6:39)
The "last day" is the time of death of the physical body. As is repeatedly taught in the scriptures - at this point our lives will be judged - and we will go to our next destination according to our life's activities and consciousness.

This is called "judgment day." The day - or moment - that each of us is judged for our life's activities and consciousness.

What is Judgment Day?

Judgment day takes place at the time of death when our physical lives are assessed. This assessment is not a cruel and mean assessment. It is a fair and loving assessment that we take part in. After our time of death, each of us will appear before God's council and address the shortcomings and achievements of our lifetime. These relate not to material achievements, but to spiritual gains. How we have progressed in our love for God and others, and how we have treated others during our physical lifetime.

We take part in this assessment. It is not like we are arrested and brought before a judge. After the death of our physical body, we are met with love and compassion. Then we are escorted to appear before God's council. Here we are asked questions about our life and discuss what we achieved during this lifetime. It is an individual process that honors our spiritual identity and our need to progress spiritually.

What happens if someone dies before this supposed "judgment day"?  According to their philosophy, if we happen to die before "judgment day" we will have to wait in a limbo state until that "day."

Yes, they are imagining a single day in all of time where every single person who has ever lived will be judged - all at once. This is a ridiculous assumption.

Some institutions have created a speculative explanation called purgatory - as though these billions of people are all floating around in limbo for thousands of years - all awaiting that single day when Jesus will ride across the sky on horseback over the clouds.

This would mean that every single person - billions upon billions of people - who has ever lived on the planet - will have to wait around somewhere for this single day to come. Where are all these people been waiting - some for thousands of years? 

Why couldn't God judge them earlier? Are they saying that God is limited in His ability to judge people? That He can only judge once in all of time?

This confounding assumption has a very large problem. If all those billions of people who have already died are in purgatory - someplace we can obviously not see around us and doesn't exist physically on the planet - then how will they be able to see Jesus riding across the sky on horseback? Their bodies are dead and decomposed - along with their eyes. So how can they see Jesus in the sky if their eyes have decomposed?

The reality is that this entire assumption of Jesus' physical "second coming" has been speculatively invented by those who misidentify themselves with the physical body, and simply want to create fear in people in order to boost their followings.

The goal and result has been to increase their number of followers.

Is there a second coming?

Not in the form imagined by some sectarian teachers over the centuries. Just consider the list of just some of the priests, preachers, and other officials - and even founders of the various sects - who have predicted the "end of the world" and Jesus' "second coming" with the particular date:

Hilary of Poitiers: 365 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Martin of Tours: 375 to 400 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Hydatius (Bishop of Aquae) 482 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Sextus Julius Africanus: 500 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Hippolytus of Rome: 500 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Beatus of Leibana: 793 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Gregory of Tours: 799 to 800 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Thiota: 847 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Pope Sylvester II: 1000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Gerard of Poehlde: 1147 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John of Toledo: 1179 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joachim of Fiore: 1205 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Pope Innocent III: 1284 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joachimites: 1290 and 1335 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Jean de Roquetaillade: 1368 and 1370 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Amaldus de Villa Nova: 1378 (predicted doomsday date)
Thomas Muntzer: 1525 AD  (predicted doomsday date)
Johannes Stoffler: 1524 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Hans Hut (Anabaptist): 1528 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Melchior Hoffman (Anabaptist): 1533 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Jan Matthys (Anabaptist): 1534 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Martin Luther (Augustinian monk): 1600 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Christopher Columbus: 1658 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joseph Mede: 1660 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Sabbatai Zevi: 1648 and 1666 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Fifth Monarchists: 1666 and 1673 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Benjamin Keach (Baptist): 1689 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Pierre Jurieu: 1689 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John Mason (Anglican): 1694 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Johan Heinrich Alsted (Calvinist): 1694 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Cotton Mather (Puritan): 1697, 1716 and 1736 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Henry Archer (Fifth Monarchist): 1700 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa: 1700 to 1734 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Camisards: 1705 and 1708 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
William Whitson: 1736 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Emanuel Swedenborg (Lutheran): 1757 AD (predicted doomsday date)
The Shakers (Ann Lee): 1792 and 1794 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly: 1789 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Charles Wesley (Methodist): 1794 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Christopher Love (Presbyterian): 1805 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Margaret McDonald: 1830 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joseph Smith (Mormon): 1832 and 1891 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Johann Albrecht Bengel (Lutheran): 1846 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John Wesley (Methodist founder): 1836 AD (predicted doomsday date)
William Miller (Millerites founder): 1843 and 1844 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
George Rapp (Harmony Society founder): 1847 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Harriet Livermore: 1847 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Ellen White (Seven Day Adventists): 1850, 1856 and "early 1900s" AD (predicted doomsday dates)
John Cumming: 1862 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Joseph Morris (Mormon): 1862 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John Wroe (Christian Israelite Church): 1863 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Jonas Wendell and other Adventist preachers: 1863, 1874, 1870 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Mother Shipton: 1881 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Wovoka (Ghost Dance): 1890 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Catholic Apostolic Church: 1901 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses): 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994 and others more recent. (predicted doomsday dates)
Margaret Rowen (Seventh-Day Adventist): 1920 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Spencer Perceval (Catholic Apostolic Church): 1926 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Wilbur Glenn Voliva: 1935 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Herbert Armstrong (Worldwide Church of God founder): 1936 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Florence Houteff (Branch Davidians): 1959 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Johann Bischoff (New Apostolic Church): 1951 and 1960 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Jim Jones (People's Temple cult): 1967 AD (predicted doomsday date)
George Williams (Church of the Firstborn): 1969 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Herbert Armstrong (Worldwide Church of God): 1972 AD (predicted doomsday date)
John Wroe (Christian Israelite Church): 1977 AD (predicted doomsday date)
William Branham (evangelist): 1977 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel): 1981 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Pat Robertson (evangelist): 1982 and 2007 AD (predicted doomsday dates)
Lester Sumrall (Pentecostal): 1985 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Edgar Whisenant: 1988 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Elizabeth Clare (Summit Lighthouse): 1990 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Rollen Stewart: 1992 AD (predicted doomsday date)
David Berg (The Family): 1993 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Harold Camping: 1994, 1995, 2011 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Ronald Weinland (Church of God): 2011 and 2012 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Aggai: 1997 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Marshall Applewhite (Heavens Gate cult): 1997 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Archbishop James Ussher: 1997 AD (predicted doomsday date)
James Gordon Lindsay (Christ for the Nations): 1999 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Jerry Falwell (evangelist): 2000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Ed Dobson: 2000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Lester Sumrall: 2000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
Jonathan Edwards (Congr. Protestant): 2000 AD (predicted doomsday date)
David Meade: 2017 and 2018 AD (predicted doomsday dates)

All of these "prophesies" were wrong. Yes, these teachers and institutions threatened and scared their followers. They did this by telling them the end of the world was coming on a particular date. And they were wrong. 

This means they misled their followers. They lied to them. They said they knew something but they didn't.

How can a sane person believe these teachers after they have misled so many on this topic? Are we supposed to trust them on how they represent Jesus' teachings?

Time has revealed that these sectarian teachers were deceiving people. Once the predicted date passed, their deception was revealed. Time proved them to be wolves in sheep's clothing. Jesus spoke of these:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matt. 7:21-23)
Note the "'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name..." This is precisely what they are doing in Jesus' name: "Prophesy" means to predict the future. Predicting the end of the world or Jesus' "second coming" is a prophecy.

What does Jesus mean by 'alive'?

Consider again the meaning of ἔρχομαι (erchomai) - "to appear" or "to arise" - and the word οὐρανός (ouranos) meaning the spiritual realm -"heaven." Jesus is speaking of being present for his followers at their time of death. At their time of death, they will arise to be escorted back to the spiritual realm, where they will be present with Jesus in the company of the Supreme Being.

Given the real meaning of ἔρχομαι (erchomai) and οὐρανός (ouranos) we find a more appropriate translation in the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"If it is willed that he remains here before arising, what is that to you? You must follow me."
The Greek text does not describe being "alive" in the early texts of John 21:22. This has been injected into the translation. The word θέλω (thelō) - being translated to "I want" - actually means "to will, have in mind, intend."

Is Jesus saying it is his will? Not necessarily. We might infer it. But it would be more appropriately understood - given the context - as being God's will, confirmed by Jesus praying to the Supreme Being:
"Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39)
Remember that Jesus is responding to Peter's question about this disciple:
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"
Jesus' reply admonishes Peter:
"... what is that to you?"
The next part of Jesus' statement relates to each of them having their own personal spiritual journey. He is admonishing him that the other disciple's journey with Jesus was not his concern.

What does 'arising' mean?

The word ἔρχομαι (erchomai) - "to arise" - is being used in conjunction with his disciple's death - following Jesus' discussion of Peter's death in the previous verse.  Jesus is discussing the disciple's spirit-person arising and returning to the spiritual realm. This is stated as one might refer to a person leaving one place and traveling to another.

This is also confirmed by the lexicon, which includes in the standard definition of the word ἔρχομαι (erchomai) - "to come from one place to another, and used both of persons arriving and of those returning."

This is in fact what Jesus is speaking of - departing from the material world and arriving in the spiritual realm - arising.

Each of us will rise from the physical body at the time of death - confirmed by hundreds of thousands of cases of clinical death, where a person whose body is revived recalls floating up over their dead body after it clinically died. They accurately describe the events taking place around their body even though the body's eyes were closed and their brain was legally dead. So who was looking down upon the body? The spirit-person who dwelled within the physical body. We cannot see this spirit-person with our physical eyes because it lies on another plane of existence.

We might refer to another verse that discusses this same element, yet slightly differently:
"Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." (Matt. 16:28)
Just like John 21:22, Jesus is speaking of being present rather than "coming" "in his kingdom" in Matt. 16:28. How could a person "come" "in his kingdom" anyway?

This verse uses the phrase γεύσωνται θανάτου - translated here to "taste death." But the word θανάτου - translated to "death" here means, according to the lexicon, "the death of the body - that separation (whether natural or violent) of the soul and the body by which the life on earth is ended" but also "with the implied idea of future misery in hell." and "the power of death - since the nether world, the abode of the dead, was conceived as being very dark, it is equivalent to the region of thickest darkness i.e. figuratively, a region enveloped in the darkness of ignorance and sin."

Those who are able to return to the spiritual realm and see Jesus' presence there, are escorted back to the spiritual realm without "tasting [spiritual] death."

So we can see here that Jesus is discussing death from a metaphorical - and spiritual - aspect. We can compare this with another statement of his:
“Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60)
Here we find that Jesus is speaking of physical death and metaphorical death at the same time - metaphorical in the sense that those who are mourning over the physical body's death are "dead" spiritually.

What kind of relationship is Jesus discussing?

A loving relationship. When someone sees Jesus as he is, they are seeing his loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This is the secret of Jesus' teachings. He is teaching love of God and he is God's perfect lover. Thus to see Jesus "in His kingdom" is to see Jesus' intimate loving relationship with the Supreme Being.

But in John 21:23, Jesus is also speaking of practicalities. While Peter will be reunited with Jesus at the time of death of Peter's body - when Peter's spirit-person rises from the body (resurrection) - the other disciple will "remain." This means that the other disciple will not be returning to the spiritual realm as quickly as Peter will. He will be remaining within the physical world.

But Jesus also clarifies that this is not Peter's concern: "what is that to you?"

Jesus is chastising Peter for not focusing on his own personal relationship with Jesus and God:, as he states: "You must follow me."

In fact, the writer of the Book of John then indicates that he was that disciple:
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. (John 21:24)
It also states about this disciple: ...the disciple whom Jesus loved... (John 21:20) - again revealing Jesus' loving relationships with his dedicated students.

In his love for Peter, Jesus instructed Peter: "You must follow me."

And what does following Jesus mean? It means to follow his teachings. And what was Jesus' most important teaching?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)