For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; NASB
Christ’s coming, indicated by the word “appearing,” or epiphaneia in the Greek, is found in two places in this passage. In verse 11 His appearing is clearly a reference to His first coming to bring us salvation. It is interesting here that Christ is referred to as the “grace of God.” What a marvelous way to describe Him. John’s gospel, in John 1:14, brings Him to us this way too.
And the Word [Jesus] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
So here we see that Jesus was the grace of God, and the glory of God; and in this grace and glory He appeared to us. And He offered salvation to all men when He offered Himself to us and gave His life for us.
This Jesus (the grace of God) taught us how to live godly lives in this present evil world. One aspect of our new life (our righteous and holy life in Christ) is to be always “looking for the blessed hope,” which is a reference to the coming of Jesus Christ to complete our salvation—to transform our body into a glorious body like His (Rom. 8:254-25; 1 Jn. 3:3).
Yes, Jesus is our blessed hope; and His “appearing” will be glorious, for He is “our great God and Savior.” All these wonderful terms (in verse 13) are descriptive of the first phase of His second coming, when He resurrects and snatches up all believers in Christ, then transforms them and takes them to heaven.
As I have mentioned before, there is some argument over whether this is the rapture or the second coming, because some say that the term “glorious appearing’ doesn’t equate with a secret rapture. But I would argue that His appearing here will only be visible to His believers; every eye of the unbelievers on earth will not see Him. Christ will always have a glorious appearing, but He will appear to all on the earth only when He comes after the tribulation to judge the world.