"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:3)
When this age-abiding promise was first uttered by Jesus to his apostles, it did not make sense. To the naturally minded men who followed Jesus, they assumed the logical move would be for Jesus to take charge as a King, throw off the yoke of Roman bondage, exalt the Jews and bless the world. Why should he leave now? There was work to be done here. When Jesus spoke of his death and strangely of his leaving, the idea simply did not fit into their expectations.
But as they wended their way along the path to Gethsemane, Jesus had assured them,
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.
Dazed, these words made little impression on his little band. But forty days later on Mt. Olivet, huddled together in amazement with eyes turned heavenward, straining to catch the last glimpse of their ascending Lord, this promise came alive. "I will come again." Yes their beloved Master would return. The Apostles wove that glorious theme into the fabric of their ministry and their very lives.
No other doctrine is discussed more in the New Testament—over one third of its writings deal with this momentous event. How our hearts trill at the hope of being united with the returned Lord, our heavenly Bridegroom, seeing him as he is, living with him and experiencing his love forevermore—and the reality of reigning with him (Rev. 20:5) in a kingdom that extends to the ends of the earth, bringing "peace…like a river and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream." Isa. 66:12
Long have faithful Christians prayed with the Apostle John, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Centuries have passed. Seemingly nothing has happened. But suddenly our day is charged with an air of expectancy.
Few would question that we are living in an unprecedented time of human history. Most Bible-believing Christians feel we are living in the very time the Bible says Christ is to return. There is a surge of interest in prophecy—a revival of interest in the Second Advent. Many speak of the imminent coming of Christ. This expectancy is based on Our Lord's Great Prophecy recorded in Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and 21.
Many believe that the nearness of Christ's return is indicated by such signs as were suggested in our previous study entitled “Signs of Christ’ Presence”, such as:
1) Israel restored (Matt. 24:32; Jer. 16:13-18);
2) Knowledge and travel increased (Dan. 12:40);
3) Evils exposed as never before (Luke 12:2; 1 Cor. 4:5);
4) Infidelity rampant from university to pulpit (Luke 18:8; 2 Tim. 4:1-4);
5) Men seeking pleasure, morality rotting (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13);
6) Strikes, walkouts (James 5:1-4);
7) Racial strife, riots (Zeph. 1:7-9)'
8) Juvenile delinquency (2 Tim. 3:2);
9) Wars and war preparations intensified (Joel 3:9-11;1 Thess. 5:3, Luke 21:26);
10) Trouble everywhere (Matt. 24:21,22).
But let us take a closer look at our Master's words and see what these signs really prove.
“And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying; tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming [Greek, parousia], and of the end of the world?” (Matt 24:3)
Coming or Presence
The Greek word translated "coming" is parousia. It really means "PRESENCE." If parousia means "presence," then the fulfillment of the signs of this prophecy would mean that Christ is not coming shortly, but that he is already secretly here as a "thief in the night."
Remember, the Scriptures declare that Christ's initial return would be a thief-like, secret presence (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15) BEFORE the period when "every eye shall see him." The following dictionaries (standard works in fundamentalist and evangelical bookstores) confirm this definition of presence.
W. E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words: Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being…denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with."
Robert Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence."
Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: "Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means 'presence.'"
The Bible Definition
However, we are not confined to dictionary definitions. The Lord has provided a Scriptural definition for the Greek word parousia. Parousia appears in Matt 24:27 where it is mistranslated "coming." The following chart compares its parallel citation in Luke 17:26, providing the Bible's own definition for parousia.
Matt 24:37 “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
Luke 17:26 “As it was in the days of Noah, so also will the parousia of the Son of man be = so shall it be in the days of the Son of man”.
The phrase "parousia of the Son of man" in Matt 24:27 means the same as the phrase, "in the days of the Son of man" in Luke 17:26. The "days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26) refers to the time that Christ is present, just as the "days of Noah" would refer to the time when Noah was present among his wicked generation. Therefore, parousia in Matt 24:37 should be translated "so also will the PRESENCE of the Son of Man be” instead of "COMING" of the Son of man."
This is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul's usage of the word. The thought of "presence" is plainly shown by the contrast with "absence" in Phil 2:12. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence [Greek, parousia] only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." This is also shown in 2 Cor 10:10.
Continued with next post.
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