Parousia of Jesus - Vindication and Judgment

Synopsis:  The “coming” of Jesus will mean the vindication of the righteous, the replacement of the old order with the New Creation, and the judgment of the wicked.  

Sunrise over a lake
The New Testament uses several Greek terms for the future “coming” of Jesus. Most frequent in the letters of Paul is the noun parousia, which means, “advent, arrival, coming, presence.” Its basic sense is arrival, and sometimes “presence.” For example, in 1 Corinthians 16:17, Paul expresses his joy at the “arrival of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus” (Compare - 2 Corinthians7:6-7).

Each time parousia is applied to the arrival of Jesus, one and only one “coming” is in view. Each such passage contains a limited amount of information about that event; to acquire a more complete picture, it is necessary to evaluate related data from all relevant passages.

The term parousia used to refer to the future “arrival” of Jesus is found on his lips 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.” He warned of false prophets and deceivers who would disseminate false information about his “coming.” However, disciples must not be deceived. His advent is compared to lightning flashing across the sky to emphasize its suddenness and universality. No one could possibly miss it.

Jesus will arrive from heaven “upon the clouds with great power and glory.” Then he will dispatch his angels to gather his disciples. At that time, he will “come in the glory of his Father with his angels to render to each man according to his deeds.” Thus, the coming of the Son of Man will be a time of gathering, some for punishment, others for reward (Matthew 16:27, 24:30-31).

The Apostle Paul described this same event in his second letter to the Thessalonians:

(2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) - “And unto you that are afflicted release with us — by the revealing of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his messengers of power, In a fiery flame; holding forth vengeance — against them that refuse to know God and them who decline to hearken unto the glad-message of our Lord Jesus, Who, indeed, a penalty shall pay — age-abiding destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might — Whensoever he shall come to be made all-glorious in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all who believed — because our witness unto you was believed — in that day” – (The Emphasized Bible).

Likewise, in his parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus gave a pictorial representation of the great judgment to occur at his coming. 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” (Matthew 25:31-46).
The judgment scene in this parable is set at the arrival of Jesus “on the clouds” in glory. To the godly, he will declare: “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.” Thus, also, will it be when the Son of Man arrives (Matthew 24:37-39).

Torah Scroll - Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash
By Mick Haupt on Unsplash
The unprepared will be overtaken by the suddenness of the event. His arrival will result in the separation of the godly from the ungodly. Two will “be in the field, one is taken near, one is left behind. Two women grinding at the mill, one is taken near, and one is left behind.” Because the timing of this event is known only to the Father, disciples must watch and prepare always 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.”
At the parousia of Jesus, the church at Thessalonica will be the Apostle Paul’s “crown of boasting” he arrives will all his saints. Faithful disciples will find themselves wholly sanctified and blameless on that day, in contrast to the unprepared and the wicked (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 and, thus, be with him forevermore (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The parousia will not occur until after the “apostasy” and the revelation of the “man of lawlessness.” At his arrival, “the Lord Jesus will slay the lawless one with the Spirit of his mouth and paralyze him with the manifestation of his arrival.” Thus, this wicked one is destroyed on the same day that Jesus gathers his elect (2 Thessalonians 2:1-9).
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.” In the interim, they must persevere and prepare their hearts, because the arrival of the Lord is near (James 5:7-8). 

According to the Apostle Peter, the arrival of the parousia will bring with it the “day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly men.” 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 a delay at all but, instead, God’s mercy and patience. He “is not minded that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” In short, the “arrival of the Lord” means the judgment and the New Creation (2 Peter 3:3-13).

Finally, Christians need to “abide in him” so that at his parousia they “may have boldness and not be put to shame.” An inference of this statement is that anyone who does not “abide in Jesus” will suffer loss on that day (1 John 2:28).

In summary, the parousia or “arrival” of Jesus will be a universal event that will affect the whole created order, including every man, woman, and child. The day will be marked by terrestrial and celestial upheaval. At that time, Jesus will send his angels to gather his people to himself. In contrast, like bundles of weeds gathered up to be burned in a fire, the wicked will face judgment and punishment. The righteous will inherit everlasting life, the unrighteous will receive everlasting punishment. The “day of the Lord” means vindication for some, but condemnation for the others. All this occurs when Jesus arrives from heaven in great power and glory.


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