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28 August 2019

The Parousia of Jesus

New Dawn
The New Testament uses several Greek terms for the future “coming” of Jesus. Most common in the Apostle Paul’s letters is the noun parousia, which means, “advent, arrival, coming, presence.” Its basic sense is arrival.
For example, in 1 Corinthians 16:17, Paul expresses his joy at the “arrival of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus.” In 2 Corinthians 7:6-7, he is “comforted by the arrival of Titus.”
Each time parousia is applied to the “coming” of Jesus only one “coming” is in view. Each passage contains limited information about that event; to acquire a more complete picture it is necessary to evaluate related data from all relevant passages.
The term parousia for his future “arrival” is found on the lips of Jesus in Matthew 24:27-28:  For just as the lightning flashes forth from the east and shines into the west, so shall be the arrival of the Son of Man.” Christ warns of false prophets and deceivers who disseminate false information about the “coming” of the Son of Man. Disciples must not  be deceived.  The analogy of lightning flashing across the sky emphasizes the suddenness and universality of this event. No one will miss it.
This “arrival” of the Son of Man will occur “after the tribulation of those days.” How long after is not stated. That day will be marked by great celestial disturbances:  the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give her brightness, and the stars will fall from heaven.” This is not a secret rapture or an event that only affects the church. The entire created order is disrupted.
When Jesus arrives, “all the tribes of the earth smite their breasts” (Matthew 24:30. Cp. Zechariah 12:10-14, Revelation 1:7). This event is not limited to Judea and its environs; it is global and all the nations of the earth see it. 
Jesus will arrive from heaven “upon the clouds with great power and glory.” Then he will dispatch his angels to gather his disciples (Matthew 24:30-31). He previously described how one day he would “come in the glory of his Father with his angels to render to each man according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:27). The coming of the Son of Man will be a time of gathering, some for punishment, others for reward.
The Apostle Paul described this same event in his second letter to the Thessalonians:
(2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) - “At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power, in flaming fire rendering vengeance to them that know not God and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, everlasting destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints.”
Jesus gave his parable of the Sheep and the Goats, a pictorial representation of the great judgment to occur at his coming (Matthew 25:31-46). When he “arrives in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his throne of glory. And there will be gathered before him all the nations, and he will separate them one from another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
This judgment scene is set at the arrival of Jesus “on the clouds” in glory. To the godly, he declares: “Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But to the ungodly, “Depart from me into everlasting fire, which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels!”
The days before his “arrival” will be “just as in the days of Noah” before the Flood. Then people were “eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage.” This is a description of normalcy, people going about their daily business as if nothing catastrophic would ever occur; “they observed not until the flood came and took them all away” (Matthew 24:37-39). Thus, will be the parousia of the Son of Man.
The unprepared will be overtaken by the suddenness of the event. Christ’s arrival will result in the separation of the godly from the ungodly. Two will “be in the field, one is taken near and one is left behind. Two women grinding at the mill, one is taken near and one is left behind” (cp. Matthew 25:31-46). Because this day’s timing is known only to the Father, disciples must watch and prepare for its sudden arrival.
The Apostle Paul responded to some church members at Corinth who denied there would be a future resurrection. In doing so, he gave a series of arguments to demonstrate the necessity of the resurrection. In the process, he listed several things that will occur at the “arrival” of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:20-57):
1)   The bodily resurrection occurs at Christ’s parousia (15:22-23).
2)  The Kingdom of God is consummated (verse 24).
3)  All “rule and all authority and power” are subjugated to Jesus and “he puts all his enemies under his feet.” 
4)  The cessation of death, the overthrow of God’s “last enemy” (verse 26).
5)   Believers still alive on that day are transformed to receive their glorified bodies (15:51-55).
6)  All this occurs “at the last trumpet.”
The Thessalonians are to be Paul’s “crown of boasting” at Christ’s parousia when he arrives will all his saints. Faithful disciples will find themselves wholly sanctified and blameless on that day (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 5:23).
At the Parousia, dead believers are resurrected and reunited with those still alive. Together, they will be “seized on clouds for a meeting of the Lord in the air” as he descends to the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). A great trumpet and the “voice of an archangel” will accompany him. Paul says nothing about what occurs after this midair “meeting” except, thereafter, believers will “be with the Lord evermore.”
Paul explained to the Thessalonians that the parousia would coincide with the “day of the Lord,” the time when believers are “gathered together” to Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). This “gathering together” can only refer to the same event detailed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Neither the “day of the Lord” nor the parousia occur until after the “apostasy” and the revelation of the “man of lawlessness.” At his Parousia, “the Lord Jesus will slay the lawless one with the Spirit of his mouth and paralyze him with the manifestation of his arrival.” If the “man of lawlessness” is identical with the Antichrist, then he is destroyed at Christ’s Parousia, not several years later.
Christians are exhorted to be “patient until the arrival of the Lord.” Like a good farmer, the Lord is patiently “waiting for the precious fruit of the earth.” In the interim, disciples must remain patient and prepare their hearts, because the arrival of the Lord is near (James 5:7-8).
According to the Apostle Peter, the parousia means the “day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). This occurs on the “day of the Lord” at which time “the heavens will pass away with a rushing noise…and the earth and the works therein will be discovered.”  Any apparent “delay” in that day’s arrival is not delay at all but, instead, God’s mercy and His patience. He “is not minded that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
When the “day of God” arrives, the heavens “will be dissolved and elements becoming intensely hot are to be melted.” This does not mean the destruction of God’s creation but the replacement of the old order with the “new heavens and new earth according to his promise wherein righteousness is to dwell” (2 Peter 3:10-13). In short, the “arrival of the Lord” means the judgment and the New Creation.
Finally, Christians need to “abide in him” so that at his parousia they “may have boldness and not be put to shame” (1 John 2:28).
The parousia or “arrival” of Jesus will be a universal event. All nations will witness it; his coming will affect all the peoples of the earth, both the godly and the ungodly. He will arrive on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. The day will be marked by celestial upheaval. Jesus will send his angels to gather his people to himself, wherever he may be. 
Following Christ’s arrival, humanity is judged; righteous men and women inherit everlasting life, the unrighteous receive everlasting punishment. This is the “day of the Lord,” the final moment when God’s people are vindicated and the disobedient condemned.
When Jesus descends out of heaven the “dead in Christ” are resurrected and those Christians still alive are transformed. His arrival means the final overthrow of all God’s enemies and the establishment of His reign unopposed throughout the Cosmos. The “man of lawlessness” is destroyed as well as the “last enemy,” death. The arrival of Jesus means nothing less than the New Creation.

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