His Appearing

When Jesus “appears” again, faithful believers will rejoice exceedingly and participate fully in the glories revealed on that day

Appearing - Photo by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash
In his first epistle, the Apostle John exhorted his congregations to “
abide” in Jesus so that “when he shall appear, we may have boldness and not be shamed away from him at his arrival.” This was his summons to believers for holy living in consideration of the inevitable “arrival” of Jesus and the rewards that he will bring with him – (1 John 2:28–3:3). - [Photo by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash].

The Christian hope is that, when he does “appear,” the believer will be found “like him,” for he will “see him just as he is”; that is, at his “arrival.” If one has this hope, he or she will work to “purify himself,” just as Jesus is “pure.” Often, and all too easily, daily life dulls our spiritual wits. Fixing our attention on his return keeps them sharp by reminding us of our real priorities.

In the passage, “arrival” represents the Greek noun ‘parousia,’ the term applied frequently by the Apostle Paul to the “coming” or “arrival” of Jesus at the end of the age (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Here, John also applies the verb “appear” or ‘phaneroô’ to his return, which means “to appear, manifest, show” (Strong’s - #G5319). This leaves no doubt that both terms refer to the same event.

John does not elaborate on the return of Jesus; it is not one of his main subjects in the letter. However, several times he applies the same verb, ‘phaneroô,’ to the first “appearance” of Jesus. He was the “word of life,” and in him, “life appeared.” He “appeared” to “take away sins,” for the “Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the Devil” – (1 John 1:2, 3:4-8).

The term ‘phaneroô’ does not, in and of itself, refer to the return of Jesus or to anything spectacular that we might label “apocalyptic.” It means nothing more than to “appear,” to “manifest.” However, in context, John’s usage suggests a day of evaluation when the faithfulness of believers will be rewarded, and alternatively, a time of loss for the unfaithful. That does not mean their destruction; however, they will know “shame” at his “arrival.”

In his earlier letters, Paul most often referred to Christ’s “arrival” (‘parousia’), his “coming” (‘erchomai’), and his “revelation” (‘apocalypsis’). He only used the term “appearance” or phaneroô’ in his later letters. For example, he wrote to the Colossians that when Jesus “appears,” our life will “appear in glory.” Consequently, believers must avoid “fornication, impurity, passion, lust, and greed, which is idolatry.” Presumably, if they do not, they will not appear “glorious” at his “appearing,” they will suffer loss – (Colossians 3:4).

Paul did use the related compound noun ‘epiphaneia’ once for the “appearance” of Jesus at his “arrival” (‘parousia’). At that time, he will destroy the “man of lawlessness.” As with John, his usage confirms that both terms refer to the same event, at least as far as Paul was concerned - (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).

Paul “charged” Timothy to keep the “commandment without spot and without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Throughout this life, the Christian must strive for obedience and faithfulness, and if he or she is very fortunate, right up until the moment Jesus “appears” – (1 Timothy 6:14).

Sunburst - Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul “
charged” him “in the sight of God and Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and at his appearing,” to preach the gospel, which was especially important since the time was coming when men would not “endure the sound doctrine,” and they would “turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside to fables.” Here, Paul was predicting a future apostasy from the faith. Only the truth of the gospel, the “sound teaching,” could prevent believers from apostatizing – (2 Timothy 4:1-8).

Likewise, with Titus, Paul exhorted him to “speak the things that befit sound teaching,” including principles on proper conduct between people. That would serve to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things,” for His grace “appearedbringing salvation for all men.”

Considering this, saints must “live soberly and righteously in the present world, awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God, and our of Savior, Jesus Christ.” If they do so, presumably, they will experience great glory and blessedness on that day, and if not, they will suffer loss – (Titus 2:1-13).

In Titus, two “appearings” are mentioned. First, the “appearing” of salvation and grace in the life, ministry, and death of Jesus, and second, his “appearing” in great “glory” in the future. With the latter in mind, believers must live righteously, which suggests, and strongly so, they will be held accountable when he does “appear.”

The Apostle Peter also referred to the “appearing” of Jesus in his first epistle. Considering the “glory that is going to be revealed,” he exhorted elders to “shepherd God’s flock” with great care and humility. Elders who did so would receive an “unfading crown of glory” on the day when the “Chief Shepherd shall appear.”

Peter’s choice of words may reflect the larger context. From the outset of his letter, he referred to the future “revelation” of Jesus, his ‘apocalypsis.’ When he comes, “salvation will be revealed in the last season.” Faithful Christians will receive praise, glory, and honor at the “revelation of Jesus.” They must remain sober and set their hopeon the grace that will be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” That is why beleaguered believers can rejoice “in fiery and manifold trials,” for when he is “revealed in all his glory, faithful Christians will “rejoice with exceeding joy  – (1 Peter 1:6-13, 4:13).

When the Lord Jesus is “revealed” on the last day, he will “appear” in all his glory for all to see. Saints that have remained faithful despite trials and persecutions, will rejoice in the glories of that day. However, believers who do not persevere by living soberly and righteously regardless of whatever life brings, his “appearance” will mean “shame,” and they may suffer loss.


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