Single and Final Return of Jesus

SYNOPSIS - The Parousia of Jesus will be a singular event of great finality, both for the righteous and the wicked

Sunshine - Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Several Greek terms are applied by the New Testament to the future “coming” of Jesus, including the noun parousia, which means “advent,” “arrival,” “presence” (New Analytical Greek Lexicon, p. 315). Each time it is applied to his “arrival,” it refers to one - and only to one - event destined to occur at the end of the present age. The basic sense of the word is “arrival,” the state of having arrived at a specific place, condition, or time. - [Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash].

For example, Paul expressed joy at the “arrival of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus.” Similarly, he was “comforted by the arrival of Titus.” It was the actual arrival of Titus that brought him joy, not the knowledge that he was in the process of traveling to meet him - (1 Corinthians 16:17, 2 Corinthians 7:6-7).

The first application of parousia to the return of Jesus is found on his lips in the ‘Olivet Discourse.’ He compared its arrival to lightning, an analogy that indicated a sudden, unexpected, and universal event - Something no one could possibly miss:
  • (Matthew 24:27-28) – “For just as the lightning goeth forth from the east and shineth unto the west, so shall be the arrival of the Son of Man.
He warned that deceivers would disseminate false information about this event, even claiming that the Messiah was “over here or over there…in the wilderness…or in the secret chambers.” However, just as lightning flashes suddenly from east to west, “so shall be the arrival of the Son of Man.”

The parousia or “arrival” of the Son of Man will occur “after the tribulation of those days.” How long afterward is not stated. That day will be characterized by celestial and terrestrial upheaval:
  • The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her brightness, and the stars will fall from heaven.”
The universe will be disrupted by his sudden arrival, and “all the tribes of the earth smite their breasts.” This event will not be limited to Judea; it will be global, even universal. All nations – All men and women - will experience it.

Jesus will arrive “upon the clouds in great power and glory” to dispatch his angels to gather all his disciples to himself - (Matthew 24:30, Zechariah 12:10-14, Revelation 1:7):
  • (Matthew 24:30-31) – “And then will be displayed — The sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then will smite their breasts — all the tribes of the earth; and they will see the Son of Man — coming upon the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. And he will send forth his messengers with a great trumpet, and they will gather together his chosen — Out of the four winds from heavens’ bounds unto their bounds.” - (Compare - Matthew 25:31-46).
The judgment will occur at the time of his arrival, not years or even centuries later. The godly will “inherit the kingdom,” while the ungodly will be 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 the flood came suddenly and destroyed them all. This describes normalcy - Men and women going about their daily business as if nothing catastrophic would ever occur - (“They observed not until the flood came and took them all away”). Thus, it will be at his Parousia:
  • (Luke 17:26-30) – “And as it came to pass in the days of Noah, so will it be even in the days of the Son of Man:  They were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage — until the day that Noah entered into the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all. In like manner, as it came to pass in the days of Lot, They were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building — But on the day Lot came out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all: — According to the same things will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” – (Compare - Matthew 24:37-39).
In his first letter to the Corinthians, responded to some believers who were denying the future bodily resurrection. In the process, he presented arguments to demonstrate the necessity for the resurrection. In the process of doing so, he listed several events that will transpire at or prior to the parousia of Jesus - At the “last trumpet” - including:
  • The bodily resurrection of dead believers at Christ’s parousia.
  • The consummation of the kingdom of God.
  • The subjugation to Jesus of all “rule and all authority and power.”
  • The cessation of death, the “last enemy”.
  • The bodily transformation of believers still alive from mortality to immortality.
Paul expected the saints at Thessalonica to become his “crown of boasting” at the parousia when Jesus arrived “with all his saints.” On that day, his disciples would be sanctified wholly and made blameless - (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 5:23).
At his “arrival,” dead believers will be resurrected and gathered with the saints still alive for “a meeting of the Lord in the air.” Jesus will be met by his church as he descends from heaven. He will be accompanied by the sound of a great trumpet and the “voice of an archangel.” Paul said nothing about what occurs after this meeting “in midair,” except that believers will “be with the Lord evermore” afterward. Precisely where they remain with him is not stated - (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul explained that the parousia will coincide with the “Day of the Lord,” the time when believers are “gathered together to Christ.” This “gathering” must refer to the same one described in his first letter:
  • (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) – “But we request you, brethren, — in behalf of the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto him, That ye be not quickly tossed from your mind, nor be put in alarm — either by spirit or by discourse or by letter as by us, as that the day of the Lord hath set in: That no one may cheat you in any one respect. Because that day will not set in — except the revolt come first and there he revealed the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction.”
Neither the “Day of the Lord” nor the parousia will occur until after the “apostasy” and the unveiling of the “man of lawlessness.” Furthermore, at his parousia, the Lord Jesus will slay this man of lawlessness with “the Spirit of his mouth and paralyze him with the manifestation of his arrival” - (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).

In the interim, Christians must remain “patient until the arrival of the Lord.” Like a good farmer, the Lord is patiently “waiting for the precious fruit of the earth.” Likewise, disciples are to remain patient and prepare their hearts - For the “arrival” of the Lord is near - (James 5:7-8).

According to Peter, the parousia means nothing less than the “day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly men.” Like Paul, he also linked the “arrival” of the Lord to the “Day of the Lord” - An event when the “heavens will pass away with a rushing noise…and the earth and the works therein will be discovered” - (2 Peter 3:7-13).

When that day arrives, the “heavens will be dissolved and elements becoming intensely hot are to be melted,” as the old creation order makes way for the “new heavens and new earth according to his promise in which righteousness dwells.” The parousia of the Lord means the final judgment, the dissolution of the present world order, and the arrival of the New Creation.

Finally, Christians must “abide in him.” In this way, at the parousia of Jesus, they “may have boldness and not be put to shame” - (1 John 2:28).

The New Testament presents a consistent picture. Ths parousia will be a universal event and all humanity will experience it - Both the godly and the ungodly. He will arrive on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. Celestial and terrestrial upheaval will occur, and Jesus will send his angels to gather his people to himself.

While God alone knows the timing of the advent, 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” - Then the “end will come” - Men will be judged and separated into two groups - The righteous to inherit everlasting life, and the ungodly to receive everlasting punishment. His “arrival” in glory is the “Day of the Lord” when the just are vindicated and the unjust punished.

When Jesus “arrives,” a trumpet and voice summon his people. The dead in Christ are raised and Christians still alive are transformed. Both groups reunite to meet him “in the air”; thereafter, they are with him forevermore.

His “arrival” means the final defeat of all the enemies of God and the consummation of His unopposed reign throughout the Cosmos, including the destruction of the “man of lawlessness” and the end of death, the “last enemy.” His parousia means nothing less than the arrival of the New Creation in all its glory.

In each of the preceding passages, one future “arrival” of Jesus is envisioned - And only one. Jesus will arrive with great finality – Glory and reward for the righteous, but everlasting destruction for the wicked.


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