Vindication or Condemnation

The “arrival” of Jesus will mean the vindication of the righteous, but the judgment and condemnation of the wicked

In the New Testament, several Greek terms are applied to the return of Jesus, including parousia (“arrival”), erchomai (“coming”), and epiphaneia (“appearance”). But regardless of which term is used, in each instance, it is in the singular number - it describes only one “coming” of Jesus. And each passage provides only limited information about the event.

The term parousia applied to the future “arrival” of Jesus is found on his lips in the Gospel of Matthew - “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 will arrive “upon the clouds with great power and glory,” and at that time he will dispatch his angels to gather his disciples, and he will “render to each man according to his deeds.” – (Matthew 24:27-28).

Thus, his “arrival” will be a time of gathering, some men for punishment, and others for reward. Similarly, in his parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus gave a pictorial representation of the judgment on that day:
  • 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).
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 that has been prepared for the Devil and his angels!” Men and women who have given their allegiance to Satan will partake of the same horrible fate as his.

His “arrival” will be “just as it was in the days of Noah” when people were “eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage,” and otherwise going about their daily business. But “they observed not until the flood came and took them all away.” Thus, also, will it be when the Son of Man “arrives,” a day that will bring “sudden destruction” on the wicked - (Matthew 24:37-39).

The unprepared will be overtaken by the unexpectedness of that day. 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.”

The Apostle Paul described the same event, the “Day of the Lord” that will bring destruction to the wicked, but glory to the saints:
  • And to you that are afflicted release with us by the revealing of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his angels of power, in fiery flame; holding forth vengeance against them that refuse to know God and them who decline to hearken to the gospel of our Lord Jesus, who, indeed, a penalty shall pay, everlasting 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 marveled at in all who believed, because our witness to you was believed, in that day” - (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
In contrast to the wicked and the unprepared, at his “arrival,” faithful disciples will find themselves wholly sanctified and “blameless.” Dead believers will be resurrected and reunited with fellow believers who remain alive, and together, they will be “seized on clouds for a meeting of the Lord in the air” as he descends from heaven, and thereafter they will be with him “forevermore” - (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 5:23, 4:13-18).

But his “arrival” from heaven will not occur until after the “apostasy” and the “revelation of the man of lawlessness”:
  • Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him; to the end that you be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand; let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the apostasy come first, and the man of lawlessness be revealed… Whom Jesus will slay with the Spirit of his mouth and paralyze with the manifestation of his arrival” - (2 Thessalonians 2:1-9).
This wicked one will be destroyed on the same day when Jesus gathers his elect to himself; that is, on the “Day of the Lord.” Both the wicked and the righteous are dealt with decisively by the Lord on that day.

In Corinth, Paul responded to church members who were denying the future resurrection by presenting arguments that demonstrated the necessity for the resurrection. In the process, he listed several things that must occur by the “arrival” or parousia of Jesus, including the final subjugation of all his enemies, AND the resurrection of the righteous dead. And the resurrection will mean the end of the “last enemy, death.” It is at that time, the “arrival of Jesus,” that the saints receive “immortality” - (1 Corinthians 15:20-57).

According to Peter, his “arrival” will bring with it the “day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” This will occur on 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.” Its arrival will bring with it the final judgment and the New Creation - (2 Peter 3:3-13).

Finally, Christians must “abide in him” so that, at his “arrival” they “may have boldness and not be put to shame.” An inference is that anyone who does not “abide in Jesus” will suffer loss when he comes in his glory - (1 John 2:28).

In summary, the arrival” of Jesus will be a universal event that will affect all humanity and even the entire creation. It will be marked by terrestrial and celestial upheaval. Christ will send his angels to gather his people to himself “forevermore,” and they will inherit “everlasting life.” In contrast, the wicked will be rounded up for judgment, and they will receive “everlasting destruction” along with the Devil and “his angels.”

Thus, the “Day of the Lord” will mean vindication and life for some, but condemnation and disaster for others. Both results occur when Jesus “arrives” from heaven in great power and glory at the end of the age. For all concerned, it will be a day of great finality. And on that day, on which side of the Great Divide one is found standing is dependent on how one responds to Jesus Christ today.


Son of Destruction

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