His Return

Several Greek terms are applied by the New Testament to the return of Jesus, including ‘Parousia’ (“arrival”), ‘erchomai’ (“coming”), and ‘epiphaneia’ (“appearance”). Regardless of which is used, it is always singular in number, referring to only one future “arrival,” “appearance,” or “coming.” The term ‘Parousia’ is used most often in the letters of Paul, though not exclusively so. It denotes an “arrival” rather than the process of someone or something “coming.”

For example, in the city of Corinth, Paul was “comforted by the arrival of Titus,” his ‘Parousia.’ The first application of the term ‘Parousia’ to his return is found in the Olivet Discourse of Jesus as 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, 1 Corinthians 16:17, 2 Corinthians 7:6-7).

Sun - Photo by Todd Rhines on Unsplash
[Photo by Todd Rhines on Unsplash]

When he arrives “
on the clouds of Heaven,” the creation will be disrupted, and “all the tribes of the Earth will smite their breasts.” This event will not be limited to Judea. It will be global if not cosmic in scope.

All nations and peoples will see and experience it. He will arrive “in great power and glory,” and he will dispatch his angels to gather his “elect” - (Matthew 24:30-31, 25:31-46, Zechariah 12:10-14, Revelation 1:7).

Judgment will occur at that time. The godly will “inherit the Kingdom,” whereas, the ungodly will be cast “into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.”

Before his “arrival,” life will be “as it was in the days of Noah” when men were “eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage” until the Flood came and destroyed them all. This is a picture of NORMALCY – men going about their daily business as if nothing catastrophic would ever occur - Matthew 24:37-39).

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul responded to individuals who were denying the future resurrection of the righteous. In the process, he listed several events that would transpire on or before the ‘Parousia’ of Jesus, including:

  • The consummation of the Kingdom of God.
  • The bodily resurrection of dead believers at his ’Parousia’.
  • The subjugation to Jesus of all “rule and all authority and power.”
  • The cessation of Death, the “Last Enemy.”
  • The bodily transformation of believers who are still alive from mortality to immortality.

To the Thessalonians, Paul described how the saints would become his “crown of boasting” at the arrival of Jesus “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).

Dead believers will be resurrected and assembled along with those saints who remain alive on the Earth 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).

DAY OF THE LORD


In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul locates the ’Parousia’ on the “Day of the Lord” when believers will be “gathered” to the Lord. However, it will not occur until 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).

In his second letter, Peter writes that the ’Parousia’ will mean nothing less than the “Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Like Paul, he links it with 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 heavens will be dissolved and elements becoming intensely hot are to be melted” - (2 Peter 3:3-14).

The old order will make way for the “New Heavens and the New Earth… in which righteousness dwells.” His ‘Parousia’ will cause the destruction of the present order and the inauguration of the new one.

Thus, the New Testament tells a consistent story. There will be one and only one future “arrival” of Jesus at the end of the age. It will be a universal event. All men, women, and children on Earth will see and experience it, and it will be marked by celestial and terrestrial upheaval.

Sunset mountains - Photo by Marco Meyer on Unsplash
[Photo by Marco Meyer on Unsplash]

When he does “
arrive,” Jesus will gather his people to himself. The final judgment will take place. The righteous will be vindicated and inherit everlasting life, and the ungodly will receive “everlasting destruction.”

His “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ will mean the final and total defeat of all God’s enemies, including “Death,” and the consummation of His unopposed reign. These events will occur at or just before the appearance of the Son of Man “on the clouds of Heaven.”



RELATED POSTS:
  • Waiting for Him - (The Thessalonians began to serve the Living God and now eagerly await His Son’s arrival from Heaven – 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10)
  • Crown of Glory - (If the Thessalonians continue to emulate the apostolic example, they will receive the Crown of Glory when Jesus arrives from Heaven – 1 Thessalonians 2:1-20)
  • Sanctified Wholly - (Considering the future arrival of Jesus, Paul summons the Assembly to become sanctified completely by that Day – 1 Thessalonians 5:23)

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