Christ’s Parousia – Presence or Arrival?

Some present the thought that the parousia of Jesus refers to his arrival, not “presence.” We present below our short study regarding this.

Initially, Christ comes as a thief in the night, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come with observation.” (Luke 17:20, World English Bible translation) “nor will they say, `Look, here it is!’ or, `There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21, NASB translation) Then Jesus states, as recorded in Matthew 24:27:

Matt 24:27 “For just as the lightning (Greek, astrape: light, bright shining) comes from the east and flashes [Greek, phaino: shines] even to the west, so will the coming [Greek, Parousia: presence] of the Son of Man be. (NAS)

Lightning does not generally come from the east and shine even to the west, but the sun does. The word “lightning” is a poor translation of the Greek word “astrape,” which signifies “bright shining” (as given in Luke 11:36 in the KJV), and really refers here, as the context indicates, to the sunlight which shines always from the east even to the west, while on the other hand, lightning flashes in a variety of directions, wherever the electrical forces producing it may be discharged. A flash of lightning would only luminate the sky for a split second, which is not a good illustration of Jesus’ return.

When the word “presence” is substituted for “coming,” the statement is seen to declare that the presence of Christ will be like the sunlight, gradually illuminating the world. It is not split second of time, in which all the world sees and recognizes Jesus, as some have seemingly assumed.

Those who are awake and watching, the children of the light, are the first to discern and rejoice in His presence. The children of the night and of the darkness will awake when the Sun of Righteousness will arise in His full glory, and all the sin-sick will rejoice in the healing to be gained through the influence of His rays. Therefore, Jesus uses here the illustration of how the sun brings light as it comes up the east and goes to the west. This well depicts the sun of righteousness who arises with healing in his wings. (Malachi 4:2) The shining is not confined to any one place, but its effect is different in different places. The bright shining (verse 27) means truths and knowledge greatly increases, especially during the time that Christ is returning. That this shining is visible from the east to the west, refers to the fact that our Lord’s presence reveals truth that not only is seen now, but even unto the west, the end of the Millennium, even as the sun gradually moves across the sky from east to west. (Revelation 21:23-24). When the sun first rises in the east, it is not especially bright, but the rays of light can be seen gleaming through the sky. As it continues its journey, the shining gets brighter and brighter.

The sun shine of this new day, however, is different from a normal day, for the prophecy says that the bright shining is darkened by the clouds. (Isaiah 5:30; Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15) The clouds we understand to mean obscurity — darkness and trouble on earth. (Isaiah 8:22) It is a unique day, different from what we have known before, for we are told that at evening time, rather than darkness coming, there will be light. (Zechariah 14:7) Thus seen, we can see that this day endures on into the millennial rule, when the world will be instructed in the ways of Yahweh, and the knowledge of Yahweh will fill the earth. — Isaiah 2:2-4; 6:11.

At first, only those who are spiritually awake recognize this presence, (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6) but after Satan is abyssed, all men will become aware of his presence. (Revelation 20:3; Isaiah 25:7; Revelation 1:7) To the watchers in Zion, this light is now seen in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies, as well as a flood of knowledge that causes understanding of many spiritual truths that were hidden in the darkness of the wilderness for over a thousand years. Thus to them it has a special meaning. But to the world the light first brings a time of trouble, as never seen before in history, for poor humanity, still being out of harmony with God and truth, cannot properly control the increase of knowledge that has so gradually filled the world since 1799. (Daniel 12:1,4) Yet they are ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7) God’s kingdom is in their midst, but they do not recognize it. — Luke 17:21.

Thus seen, in agreement with other scriptures, Christ’s parousia, covers a period of time, in which many things occur. Yes, Jesus does arrive at the beginning of his parousia, his presense as King, and thus remains present. The Greek word parousia means more than just his arrival, since it also includes the things prophesied to happen during his parousia.

W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words: Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being.denotes both n 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.’

One way of showing that the parousia is a period of time can be seen by comparing two scritpures:

Matthew 24:37-39 – As the days of Noah, so will be the coming [parousia — kingly presence] of the Son of Man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming [parousia – Kingly presence] of the Son of [the] Man

Luke 17:26 – As it happened in the days of Noah, even so will it be also in the days [parallels with “parousia” of Matthew 24:37] of the Son of Man.

Thus the world in general is carrying on these affairs in the days of Jesus’ parousia, that is, his parousia is not known to them. It is not until after the resurrection, that even those who pierced him will be brought back to life so that they may “see” him, and thus “They also who err in spirit shall come to understanding, and those who murmur shall receive instruction.” — Revelation 1:7; Isaiah 29:24.

For more on this, see:

Astrape in Luke 17:22; Matthew 24:27

Related:
Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being
Did Jesus Raise Himself from the Dead?
Jesus’ Appearances in the Locked Room

For various viewpoints being presented on chronology, see:
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/bsllinks/Doctrine.htm