One Return of Jesus

The arrival of Jesus from heaven will be a singular event of great finality, both for the righteous and the unrighteous. 

Sunburst Norway - Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash
The New Testament presents a consistent picture. The “
arrival” of Jesus will be universal - all humanity will experience it, the godly and the ungodly. He will appear on the “clouds of heaven” accompanied by celestial and terrestrial upheaval. He will send his angels to gather his people to himself, but the wicked will receive “everlasting destruction” - [Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash].

In the New Testament, several Greek terms are applied to the future “coming” of Jesus, including the noun ‘parousia,’ meaning “advent,” “arrival,” or “presence.” But regardless of which term is used, each time it refers to one and only to one event.

The first application of ‘parousia’ to his return is recorded in Matthew when Jesus compared his “arrival” to lightning, an analogy indicating something sudden, unexpected, and universal, something no one could possibly miss, and it will be characterized by celestial and terrestrial upheaval. The event will not be limited to Judea; it will be global, even universal. All nations and all men and women will experience it – (Matthew 24:27-28, Zechariah 12:10-14, Revelation 1:7).

The Great Judgment will follow his “arrival.” The godly will “inherit the kingdom,” while the ungodly are cast “into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels” - (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, Revelation 20:11-15).

Those days will be “just as in the days of Noah” prior to the Flood. Men were “eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage,” until disaster came suddenly and destroyed them all. These words describe normalcy, men going about their daily business as if nothing catastrophic would ever occur. And so, it will be at his “arrival - (Luke 17:26-30Matthew 24:37-39).

When responding to believers at Corinth who questioned the bodily resurrection, Paul listed several events that will transpire at or prior to the “arrival” of Jesus, including the resurrection of dead believers, the consummation of the kingdom of God, the final subjugation of all “rule and all authority and power,” the termination of death, and the bodily transformation of believers still alive on that day from mortality to immortality – (1 Corinthians 15:20-57).

In Thessalonica, Paul expected his converts to grow and become his “crown of boasting” when Jesus arrived “with all his saints.” On that day, his disciples would be sanctified wholly and found “blameless” - (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 5:23).
When Jesus “arrives,” dead believers will be resurrected and gathered with any saints remaining alive for “a meeting with the Lord in the air” as he descends from heaven.

The Apostle explained to the Thessalonians that the ‘parousia’ would coincide with the “day of the Lord,” the time when believers are “gathered together to Christ,” and this “gathering” must refer to the same one described in his first letter - (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

According to Peter, that day will mean nothing less than the “day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” He also links his “arrival” to the “day of the Lord,” when the “heavens will pass away with a rushing noise…and the earth and the works therein will be discovered.” The ‘parousia’ will usher in the final judgment, the dissolution of the present world order, and the arrival of the new one - (2 Peter 3:7-13).

While God alone knows the timing of that day, it will not occur until “after the tribulation of those days,” the proclamation of the gospel “to all nations,” the apostasy, and the unveiling of the “man of lawlessness,” and then the “end will come.” Humanity will be judged and separated into two groups: the righteous who inherit everlasting life, and the ungodly who receive everlasting punishment. The “man of lawlessness” will be destroyed, death will cease, and the New Creation will commence.

In each of the preceding passages, one future “arrival” of Jesus is envisioned - And only one. Regardless of which Greek term is used, it is always singular. He will arrive on that singular day with great finality - glory and reward for the righteous, but everlasting destruction for the wicked.

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