His Parousia

The arrival of Jesus in glory will mean the resurrection of the dead, the commencement of the New Creation, and the final judgment

Arrival - Photo by Christian De Stradis on Unsplash
Several Greek terms are applied in the New Testament to the return of Jesus at the end of the present age, including 
parousia (“arrival”), erchomai (“coming”), and epiphaneia (“appearance”). But regardless of which term is used, in each instance, it is singular and refers to only one “coming” of the “Son of Man.” Nowhere does Scripture refer to two or more comings of Christ - [Photo by Christian De Stradis on Unsplash].

The term parousia is applied to the return of Jesus most often in the letters of Paul, though not exclusively so. It signifies an “arrival” rather than the process of someone or something “coming.” For example, Paul was “comforted by the arrival of Titus” – (1 Corinthians 16:17, 2 Corinthians 7:6-7).

The first use of parousia for his return is in the version of the ‘Olivet Discourse’ 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).

At that time, the creation itself will be disrupted, and “all the tribes of the earth will smite their breasts.” The event will not be limited to Judea and its environs. It will be global in scale and all nations will experience it. He will arrive “upon the clouds in great power and glory” to dispatch his angels to gather his disciples to himself - (Matthew 24:30-31, 25:31-46, Zechariah 12:10-14, Revelation 1:7).

Judgment will occur at that time, not years or centuries after his “arrival.” The godly “will inherit the kingdom,” and the ungodly will be cast “into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.”

Prior to his “arrival,” it will be “just as in the days of Noah” before the great flood. Men were “eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage” until the flood came suddenly and destroyed them all. This describes normalcy - men and women going about their daily business as if nothing catastrophic would even occur (“They observed not until the flood came and took them all away” - Matthew 24:37-39).

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul responded to some voices that were denying the future resurrection of the righteous. In the process, he listed several events that must transpire at or before the “arrival” or parousia of Jesus, including:
  • The consummation of the kingdom of God.
  • The bodily resurrection of dead believers at Christ’s 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 remain alive at the time - from mortality to immortality.
To the Thessalonians, Paul described how they would become his “crown of boasting” at the parousia of Jesus when he arrived “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).

At his “arrival,” dead believers will be resurrected and assembled along with those saints still alive on that day 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).

The parousia will coincide with the “Day of the Lord,” the time when believers will be “gathered together” to Christ. But that day will not occur until after the “apostasy” and the unveiling of the “man of lawlessness” whom the “Lord Jesus will paralyze with the manifestation of his arrival” - (2 Thessalonians 2:1-9).

According to Peter, his parousia will mean nothing less than the “day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly men.” Like Paul, he links the “arrival” of Jesus 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).

On that day, the old order will make way for the “new heavens and the new earth according to his promise in which righteousness dwells.” His parousia will result in the destruction of the present world order and inaugurate the new one.

The New Testament tells a consistent story. His “arrival” will be universal - all men and women will experience it. It will be marked by celestial and terrestrial upheaval. Jesus will gather his people to himself. The final judgment will occur when the righteous inherit everlasting life, and the ungodly receive everlasting punishment.

His “arrival” will mean the final defeat of God’s enemies and the consummation of His unopposed reign. Death will cease, and the New Creation will be unveiled in all its glory. All these events occur at the parousia or “arrival” of Jesus.



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