20 November 2022

His Parousia


The arrival of Jesus will mean the resurrection of the dead, the commencement of the New Creation, and the final judgment

Clouds over sea - Photo by Nick Scheerbart on Unsplash
Several Greek terms are applied to the future return of Jesus. These include
parousia (“arrival”), erchomai (“coming”), and epiphaneia (“appearance”). Regardless of which term is used, in each case, it is singular and refers to only one “coming.” Nowhere does Scripture refer to two or more “comings” of Christ - [Clouds photo by Nick Scheerbart on Unsplash].

The term parousia is applied to the return of Jesus most often in the letters of Paul, though not exclusively so. It signifies an “arrival” rather than the process of “coming.” For example, in Corinth, Paul was “comforted by the arrival of Titus” – (1 Corinthians 16:17, 2 Corinthians 7:6-7).

ACCORDING TO JESUS


The first use of parousia for Christ’s return is found in the version of the ‘Olivet Discourse’ recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Just as lightning flashes from east to west, “so shall be the arrival of the Son of Man” - (Matthew 24:27-28).

At that time, the creation itself will be disrupted, and “all the tribes of the earth will smite their breasts.” The event will not be limited to Judea. It will be global if not cosmic in scale. All nations and peoples will experience it.

Jesus will arrive “upon the clouds in great power and glory” and dispatch his angels to gather his “elect” to himself - (Matthew 24:30-31, 25:31-46, Zechariah 12:10-14, Revelation 1:7).

Judgment will occur at that time, not years or centuries after his “arrival.” The godly “will inherit the kingdom,” and the ungodly will be cast “into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.”

Prior to his “arrival,” it will be “just as it was in the days of Noah” before the great flood. Men were “eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage” until the flood came suddenly and destroyed them all. This describes normalcy - men and women going about their daily business as if nothing catastrophic will ever occur - Matthew 24:37-39).

ACCORDING TO PAUL


In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul responds to certain men who are denying the future resurrection of the righteous. In the process, he lists several events that must transpire at or before the “arrival” or parousia of Jesus, including:

  1. The consummation of the kingdom of God.
  2. The bodily resurrection of dead believers at Christ’s parousia.
  3. The subjugation to Jesus of all “rule and all authority and power.”
  4. The cessation of death, the “last enemy.”
  5. The bodily transformation of believers who remain alive at the time - from mortality to immortality.

For the Thessalonians, Paul describes how they will become his “crown of boasting” at the Parousia when Jesus arrives “with all his saints.” On that day, believers will be wholly sanctified and made blameless before him - (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 5:23).

At his “arrival,” dead believers will be resurrected and assembled along with those saints who are still alive for “a meeting of the Lord in the air” as he descends from heaven. He will be accompanied by the sound of a great trumpet and the “voice of an archangel.” Thereafter, believers will “be with the Lord forevermore” - (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul describes how the parousia will coincide with the “day of the Lord,” the time when believers will be “gathered together” to Christ. That day will not occur until after the “apostasy” and the unveiling of the “man of lawlessness” whom the “Lord Jesus will paralyze with the manifestation of his arrival” - (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 2:1-9).

ACCORDING TO PETER


According to Peter, the parousia will mean nothing less than the “day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly men.” Like Paul, he links the “arrival” of Jesus with the “day of the Lord,” the time when:

  • The heavens will pass away with a rushing noise…and the earth and the works therein will be discovered…the heavens will be dissolved and elements becoming intensely hot are to be melted” - (2 Peter 3:3-14).

On that day, the old order will make way for the “new heavens and the new earth according to his promise in which righteousness dwells.” His parousia will result in the destruction of the present order and inaugurate the new one.

The New Testament tells a consistent story. The “arrival” of Jesus Christ will be universal - all men and women will see and experience it. It will be marked by celestial and terrestrial upheaval. Jesus will gather his people to himself. The final judgment will occur when the righteous are vindicated and inherit everlasting life, and the ungodly are condemned and receive everlasting destruction.

His “arrival” will mean the final defeat of God’s enemies and the consummation of His unopposed reign. Death will cease forever, and the New Creation will be unveiled in all its glory. All these events occur at or just prior to the parousia or “arrival” of the Son of Man.



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