Astrape in Luke 17:24; Matthew 24:27 -r

Please note that in this study, the scriptural references to “the Son of Man” should actually read, “Son of the Man.” In Greek, the indefinite “son of man” does not mean the same thing as the definite “Son of the Man”. See our study: “Son of Man and Son of God

While we are not with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, one of the books many cite related to our Biblical studies is Jehovah of the Watchtower“, by Walter Martin and Norman Klann. Our references to this work are to the Ninth Printing, dated 1981 (Copyright 1953, 1974). On page 88 of that book, we read: “In Luke 17:20-21, the Lord reveals the kingdom of heaven as within the believer in one aspect but clearly states that the heavenly aspect will be visible and observable at His return (vv. 23-26).” Actually, we find nothing in Luke 17:20-21 that says that kingdom of heaven is “within the believer”. Jesus was not speaking to believers, but unbelievers, the Pharisees. Was Jesus saying that the kingdom of heaven is “within” the Pharisees? Was Jesus’ illustration as presented in Luke 17:23-26 meant to say that the kingdom “will be visible and observable at His return”?

Before answering those questions, we first want to note what Martin and Klann next stated: “In Matthew 13, the Lord Jesus portrays the kingdom of heaven symbolically in parables, yet it is always pictured as a reality, not invisible phantom government.” We agree that the parables present the kingdom of heaven symbolically, and that it is always pictured as a reality. Martin and Klann seem to be under the false assumption, however, that an invisible presence means that it is not a real presence. This kind of reasoning, if applied to some scriptures, would mean that God is not real, since he is the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 6:15) God is a reality, however, even though we cannot physically see Him. Likewise, initially, when Jesus returns in his parousia, we believe that his parousia is unnoticed by the world, as we will show from the scriptures.

In the context, Jesus had stated:

Matthew 24:23 Then if any man will tell you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There,’ don’t believe it.
Matthew 24:24 For there will arise false Christs, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:25 Behold, I have told you beforehand.
Matthew 24:26 If therefore they tell you, ‘Behold, he is in the wilderness!’ don’t go out; ‘Behold, he is in the inner chambers,’ don’t believe it.

Jesus here warns against expecting to see him return in the flesh. As he stated elsewhere, however, “the world will see me no more.” (John 14:19) Jesus knew that the world would not see him when he returned because he knew that he was to sacrifice that flesh for all time. (Luke 22:19; John 6:51; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Hebrews 10:10) He knew that he would not return in the flesh, and yet he also knew that many would be claiming that he had returned in the flesh, and, in effect saying, “Here he is,” and “there he is.” And there have been many false prophets claiming such. Additionally, there have been many false prophets claiming that they have the authority of the Kingdom, and thus the sole right to speak for Jesus, such as the claims for the Papacy and that of the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many other religious sects and leaderships.

See our related studies:
The World Will See Me Know More
Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “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.” And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, `Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them.” — Luke 17:21-23 NASB translation.

And there have been many, from the first century to this very day, who have proclaimed this or that outward organization to be God’s Kingdom on earth; likewise, there have been many who have claimed to be Jesus, or in some way to exclusively represent Jesus. Nevertheless, because Jesus has sacrificed his flesh for sin (Luke 22:19; John 6:51; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Hebrews 10:10), one cannot point to any human being and claim that this or that human being is Jesus, as many have done are are still doing; when Jesus comes in his kingdom, one will not “see” Jesus’ body of flesh, since Jesus is no longer flesh, and since there is to be no more sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:26), he has no reason to come back in a body of flesh.
See our study: “Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being

Then Jesus states, as rendered by the New American Standard version of the Bible in Matthew 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)

Westcott & Hort Interlinear
hwsper gar hee astrapee exerchetai apo
AS EVEN FOR THE LIGHTNING IS COMING OUT FROM
5618 1063 3588 0796 1831 0575
anatolwn kai phainetai hews dusmwn houtws
EASTERN [PARTS] AND IS SHINING UNTIL WESTERN [PARTS], THUS
0395 2532 5316 2193_5 1424 3779
estai hee parousia tou huiou tou anthrwpou
WILL BE THE PRESENCE OF THE SON OF THE MAN;
1511_4 3588 3952 3588 5207 3588 0444

Astrape means:

lightning; light, ray of light

http://biblestudydata.com/moodle/mod/data/view.php?d=2&rid=845

The old English word “lightning” is a variant of “lightening”:
lightning. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lightning.

This word does not necessarily mean lightning in the sky as is often associated with thunderstorms.

Jesus’ words in Luke 17:24 read as:

“For just like the lightning, when it flashes [shines] out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day.”

Jesus, in answering the Pharisees, first lets them know that when the kingdom comes it will not be with observation, something that will be observed as such. No one will be able to legitimately say that the kingdom is ruling here, or it is ruling there, as though it will be actually seen, but that it is to be in their midst. He then explains to his disciples — not the Pharisees — that there will be those however, that will claim that God’s kingdom is ruling and can be seen, and warns not to follow these. Such claims have been made by Rome and many other church-state systems, including, I believe, the JW leadership. These proclamations of God’s kingdom, being seen amongst men, Jesus said, are not the real kingdom, and he tells his followers not to recognize them as such.

Then Jesus tells how God’s kingdom will come upon the world, by describing the light, that progresses from east to west in the sky. Many translations present this light as lightning and use the word “flash” rather than simply shines, but we believe that this leaves one with the wrong idea, as we will present below.

Electrical lightning associated with thunderstorms does not generally come from the east and shine even to the west, but the sun does. The word “lightning”, in the context given, is a poor choice to represent the Greek word “astrape,” which signifies “bright shining” (as given in Luke 11:36 in the KJV), or simply “the light”. The bright “light” actually being described here and applied figuratively to the parousia of the son of the man, 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 also is not a good illustration of Jesus’ return. When the the Greek word often transliterated as “parousia” is understood and “presence” rather simply as “coming” (in a split second?), the statement is seen to declare that the presence of Christ will be like the sunlight, gradually illuminating the world. It is not a split second of time, in which all the world sees and recognizes Jesus in the instant that he returns, as some have 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 returns and is present. 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, in this instance, 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, including those who pierced (who have to first be raised from the dead) him. (Revelation 20:3; Isaiah 25:7; Revelation 1:7) To many of the watchers who compare spiritual revealing with spiritual revealing in order to “see” spiritually, 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 still 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 presence as King, and thus remains present. His presence is not just a split second event. The Greek word parousia means more than just his arrival, but it also includes the many events prophesied concerning his coming.

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.’

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 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, as testified by the fact that they don’t know, or understand. When this present evil world is destroyed, then the sunlight of the kingdom and the righteous will be revealed — the revealing of the saints. Then will follow the resurrection of the world. It is not until after the world’s 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.

Someone has objected that lightning does go from east to west. This may be true in some cases, but such lightning is between clouds and still only lasts for a split second. Cloud-to-cloud lightning is said to occur more often than cloud to ground strikes, but such cloud-to-cloud lightning may or may not be seen from the ground, and is more often seen as light behind the shadows of the clouds. While it is very doubtful that this is what Jesus had in mind when he spoke his words, nevertheless, this could describe the conditions set forth in Isaiah 5:30; Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15.

The National Lightning Saftey Institute states: “Lightning’s behavior is random and unpredictable.”
http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls/lsvl_plans.html

Lightning, as seen from earth in the sky in Israel, usually is seen as going downward, not from east to west. This is in agreement with Luke 10:18, in which Jesus may have used astrape to describe lightning as falling from the sky in the land of Israel, although more than likely Jesus was referring to Satan figuratively as what we often call a “falling star” which falls from the sky.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/top-25-photos-year-gallery-1.1229140?pmSlide=17

http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Pszb-cX0I6q/Lightning+Storm+Brings+Much+Needed+Rain+Holy

http://www.flickr.com/photos/45712602@N07/8125253395/

He said to them, “I saw Satan having fallen like lightning [astrape] from heaven.”

True, Jesus is speaking figuratively, but, as it reads in most translations, the figure be using natural lightning to depict what happened when Satan disobeyed and fell out harmony with God.

However, as stated before, we tend to believe that astrape in Luke 10:18 refers to a falling star, not lightning, which would tend to support the idea that Matthew 24:27 refers, not to lightning, but to the sun traveling from east to west. This view is supported by the fact that astrape is derived from the Greek word *aster* which does mean “star.” Nevertheless, we should not expect that the Bible would use the words for “star” with the same classifications that modern scientists have developed.

Additionally, the Hebrew word often transliterated as ‘owr (Strong’s Hebrew #216) is used similarly, sometimes meaning lightning, sometimes meaning sunlight, light of a lamp, etc.
http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=0216

Lightning travels in both directions, upward and downward, but that which is usually seen from the earth is the shining which extends downward, not east to west.

http://thunder.msfc.nasa.gov/primer/primer2.html

Someone argues: “The point of Matthew 24:27 is to try to convey a understanding that when Jesus returns ‘every eye shall see him,’ just as every eye (person) sees the sun as it appears to go from east to west.” Yes, “every eye” will see Jesus, but Revelation 1:7 refers to a later stage of his return, not to the first appearance as likened to the sun. Those who pierced Jesus hve to be raised from the dead before they “see” Jesus in glory coming in the coulds. Thus, it is one of the events to take place sometime after the initial return of Jesus. After the sun has arisen, and Satan has been abyssed, all will be enabled to “see” the sun; this will be the time when he comes with all his saints to judge the world, that the world may be delivered (saved) from the bondage of corruption when the saints are revealed. (1 Thessalonians 3:13; Isaiah 2:2-4; Romans 8:19-21) However, Jesus first comes as a thief to harvest the earth, in which the tares are bound in bundles and symbolically cast into the symbolic furnace of fire, after which the sons of God are manifested; when the sons of God are finally made manifest Jesus comes with all his saints, and every eye shall see him, after the harvest is ended, and after Satan has been abyssed.

See the study:
The Parousia, Seventh Trumpet, and the Harvest

But what did Jesus mean when he said, “the kingdom is your midst”? (Luke 17:21) In the King James, and many other translations, this reads: “the kingdom is within you.” This leads to the false reasoning that the kingdom is within a person. Directly, however, Jesus was speaking to the unbelieving Jews; was he saying to those unbelieving Jews that the kingdom was within them? In the first century, the kingdom was in their midst in that the king of the kingdom was standing their in their midst, but they did not recognize him; they could “see” his body of flesh, but did not “see” him for who he was. (Matthew 13:13-17; John 1:10) Although more than likely Jesus was speaking prophetically of the future time when he would return in his kingdom, the circumstances of his first appearance in the first century do provide an illustration of this second appearance. At his second appearance, however, he does not come in the flesh, for he does not come again to sacrifice his flesh, since that flesh was sacrificed at his first appearing, and offered to God after Jesus ascended into heaven. — Hebrews 9:28; 10:10; 26; 1 Peter 3:18.

Addendum One:

Quote from Adam Rutherford:

The translation of the Greek word astrape by “lightning” in Matthew 24:27, Luke 17:24 in our English Bibles is misleading and is partly responsible for wrong conclusions regarding the manner of the Second Advent. It is true that astrape means “lightning” but it also has a wider meaning. Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon gives the meaning of astrape in New Testament Greek as “any bright light”. Jesus Himself, as recorded in Luke 11:36 speaks of “the bright shining (astrape) of a lamp”. The same Greek word is used again in Our Lord’s Great Prophecy of Matthew 24, where in verse 27 He speaks of a bright light “coming forth from the east and shining even unto the west”. There is only one bright light that does this, namely the sun (moonlight is faint and the starlight is small). So the correct translation of Matthew 24:27 is “For as the sunlight (astrape) cometh forth from the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the presence (parousia) of the Son of man be.” Only those who are awake and watching see the first gleams of light and watch the increasing light and dawn, whilst later when the sun rises in the sky and moves over to the west, it is observed by all. So likewise, only those awake to the signs of the times and watching discern the Lord’s presence in the early days of the Second Advent, whilst later, when He manifests Himself, “every eye shall see Him”, for His parousia, i.e. His presence continues throughout the Millennium. (Pyramidology, Book IV, 1972, page 1487)

Related Pages Online
We do not necessarily agree with all statements made.

Signs of Christ’s Presence: Bright Shining Sun
http://www.biblestudents.org/presence/signs_sun.htm

As The Lightning Cometh
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1956_12.htm#_Toc36375045
Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, December 1956.

The Appearing and Revealment of Jesus Christ
http://www.dawnbible.com/2006/0605cl-1.htm

The Promise of His Presence
http://www.heraldmag.org/bookstore/booklet_promise.htm
Herald of Christ’s Presence (booklet)

Messiah’s Kingdom To Be Invisible
http://www.agsconsulting.com/htdbv5/r5455.htm
Zion’s Watch Tower, Reprints 5455.

Sign’s of Christ’s Presence
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTFEB92.PDF
Beauties of the Truth, February 1992

Parousia (Discourse by Home Montague, Agawam Convention, 2009 – MP3)

Christ’s Second Coming – Its Manner and Purpose
http://www.dawnbible.com/2013/1302-hl.htm
The Manner of His Presence
http://www.dawnbible.com/1963/6302-hl.htm

The Parousia, the Seventh Trumpet and the Harvest

[Bibles, Bible-Related Books and Other Items]
[The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-Greek-English]
[Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]


Some have confused the matter concerning the parousia, and have evidently misread the arguments of many of the Bible Students so as to conclude that the word “Parousia” is being interpreted as having the definition of “invisible presence.” In other words, some have made the claim that Bible Students who believe that Christ’s parousia is invisible are presenting the word “parousia” itself as carrying the meaning “invisible.” Without judging the motives of those who would present this kind of argument, in reality the argument diverts attention from the invisible aspect of Christ’s return to the word “parousia” itself, and ends up being a strawman argument.

Some have cited some works of the Greeks and Romans concerning this, as alleged proof that the the word “parousia” does not mean “invisible.” Of course, the Romans and Greeks of the first century, not knowing or understanding spiritual matters, would not think of the word Parousia as expressing a spiritual presence that could not be seen. — 2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:7.

Nevertheless, the word parousia, of itself, does not prove either a visible or invisible presence, and we don’t believe most, if any, Bible Students have intended to leave that impression.

Jesus, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, and having once for all time offered up his flesh, will never be seen in that flesh again. (Hebrews 7:27; 9:28; 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18) However, this does not rule out the possibility that Jesus may manifest himself as did the angels of Yahweh in the Bible, who appeared as “men,” ate as men, and looked like men, manifesting themselves with a body of flesh. — Genesis 18:2,8,22; 19:1,5; Judges 13:2,6,8,9; Luke 24:4.
See the study:
Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being
http://atonement.reslight.net/archives/1.html

However, Jesus does indeed return bodily, with a body, that is, with the spiritual, celestial body, and with its glory. He no longer has the body of a man, a glory a little lower than the angels. (Hebrews 2:9) Having offered (to his God in heaven) his terrestrial, earthly, fleshly body for sin, once for all time (John 6:51; Hebrews 7:27; 9:11,12,24;10:10), he will never again be seen with that body. (1 Corinthians 15:40,44) Now being a life-giving spirit, he comes again from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:40,45-48), during the blowing of the last trumpet, the seventh trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 8:2,6), with a celestial, spiritual body, resulting in (not necessarily in the order given):

(1) The end of the age, during which a harvest of the people of God begins. This harvest begins while the nations are still blinded by Satan, but it ends after Satan is abyssed, when the saints, the sons of God of this age, will be manifested and “will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father.” (Matthew 13:3-43; Romans 8:19} Unlike many Bible Students, however, we do not believe that this harvest reveals who is of what class by any visible manifestation, except until after Satan is abyssed. Jesus said that the tares, not the wheat, are first gathered and bundled. (Matthew 13:39,40) Although the human servants of God labor in the harvest work, the harvest work itself is not entrusted to men, who would surely misjudge and treat much of wheat as tares, but it is entrusted to angels.

(2) The nations become angry, resulting in a great “time of trouble”, during which time the people in general do not take notice of the parousia. — Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-30; Revelation 11:15,18; Daniel 12:1,2.

(3) God’s wrath upon the children of wrath of this age comes to its conclusion — Ephesians 2:2,3; 5:6; Revelation 8:1.

(4) The dead are raised and the unjustified in this age are judged individually during the “last day” — Isaiah 2:2-4; Daniel 7:9,10; Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28,29; 6:39,40,44,54; 12:47,48; Romans 2:16; 3:6; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 6:2; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Revelation 11:18; 20:11-15.

(5) God’s servants, prophets, saints are rewarded in the first resurrection. — Isaiah 40:10; Daniel 7:9,10; 12:1,2; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 3:8,14; Colossians 3:24; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 15:18; 20:4; 22:12.

(6) Those who would destroy the earth are themselves destroyed after the judgment day. — Psalm 37:10; Revelation 15:18; 20:8,12; 21:8.

Thus, the seventh trumpet begins to sound while the nations are still ignorant and are angry, and continues to sound until after the millennial age, up to the age of the ages, the eternal age.

Of Moses, it is said that, “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) In context, “him” could be referring to the prehuman Jesus, who, before coming the earth, had the glory of the invisible, the celestial — the glory that he did not have while on earth. (John 17:5; 1 Corinthians 15:40) Or, more than likely, “him” probably refers to the God and Father of Jesus, who is the “invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15) Either way, Moses saw him who is invisible by the eye of faith, not by literal sight, for he did not see that which is invisible by means of the physical eye. The point is that “seeing” does not necessarily mean seeing with the physical eye.
On the other hand, the Jews in general saw Jesus at his first appearing in the flesh, but did not see who he was — the Messiah — which could only have been seen with the eye of faith. They did not recognize him. (John 1:10) Nor could they “see” the God and Father in Jesus. (John 14:9) Having seen Jesus in the flesh, however, Jesus said of the world that had seen him in the flesh, that they would see him no more. (John 14:19) Since they had only seen him in the flesh, and had not seen him with the eye of faith as the Messiah, the son of God, then this can only mean that they will never see him in the flesh again. They will see the Son of Man coming [Erchomai] on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, Amen. — Revelation 1:7.

The word “coming” in Revelation 1:7 is not “parousia,” but a form of the verb “Erchomai,” — to come. However, we have no doubt that it is reference to “coming” in the days of the son of man, the parousia. (Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26) The statement here is not that he comes on a cloud, a singular cloud, but rather “clouds.”

Another scripture describes this event in the Old Testament:

I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. — Daniel 7:13.

Again, the reference is to clouds, plural, not a cloud, singular. Prophetically, the plural can used to represent two, as “times,” representing two times. (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 12:14) Regardless, there is the possibility of at least two clouds being spoken of, indicating the possibility of two symbolic meanings. A cloud or clouds can represent: glory (Exodus 16:10; Ezekiel 1:28); guidance (Exodus 13:12); covering of sin (Isaiah 44:24); darkness (2 Samuel 22:12; Job 38:9; Psalm 18:11; Isaiah 5:30; Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15); a covenant, a promise of God (Genesis 9:13,16); God’s anger (Lamentations 2:1); alienation from God (Lamentations 3:44); storms (Ezekiel 1:4; 38:9; Luke 12:54; Jeremiah 4:13; Nahum 1:4); a hiding of the sun (Ezekiel 32:7); majesty (Isaiah 14:14); a communication from God (Exodus 24:16; Psalm 99:7; Matthew 17:5; Luke 9:35); trouble, distress (Ezekiel 30:3; Zephaniah 1:15).

In Daniel 7, the one like a son of man, in coming with the clouds, comes before the Ancient of Days, that is, Yahweh, and is presented to him. As a result, there was given to him an everlasting dominion, and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. (Daniel 7:14) This brings us into the age of the ages, the everlasting age after the millennial age, the age that will never end.

In Revelation 10:1, we find a reference to an angel coming in a cloud (singular).

Revelation 10:1 I saw another mighty angel coming down out of the sky [heaven], clothed with a cloud. A rainbow was on his head. His face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.

Here is depicted an angel clothed as with a cloud. Of course, the language is symbolic. The “angel” is either Jesus or a messenger (angel) representing Jesus. Jesus, of course, will come as the “sun of righteousness.” — Malachi 4:2.

The “rainbow” probably represents the new covenant, which will be the means by which the seed of Abraham will bring blessings to all the families of the earth.
This angel is clothed with a cloud, a symbol of majesty, and yet we believe that it is also includes a symbolism of mystique, as a cloud hiding the sun, producing darkness. The angel has a face like the sun of righteousness, as a great ruler, but he also has feet like pillars of fire, representing a distressful situation and/or destruction. “Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Yahweh’s wrath, but the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy.” (Zephaniah 1:18) “My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, even all my fierce anger, for all the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” (Zephaniah 3:8) In this is pictured the wrath of Yahweh (Revelation 11:18), which wrath is brought to a finish during the blowing of the seventh trumpet, by means of seven symbolic bowls that are poured out. — Revelation 11:15,18; 15:1,7.

Revelation 10:2 He had in his hand a little book open. He set his right foot on the sea, and his left on the land.
Revelation 10:3 He cried with a loud voice, as a lion roars. When he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices.
Revelation 10:4 When the seven thunders sounded, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from the sky saying, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders said, and don’t write them.”
Revelation 10:5 The angel who I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to the sky,
Revelation 10:6 and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there will no longer be delay,
Revelation 10:7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as he declared to his servants, the prophets.

Thus, we believe this cloud appears either shortly before or at the beginning of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the last trumpet. The prophetical statement is that when the angel is about to sound his trumpet, the last trumpet, then the mystery of God is finished. The Greek word rendered “about” — transliterated as “Mello,” does not necessarily mean “about,” as though it was something yet to happen. We believe that it can also refer to the actual “being about” of something, that is, the actual doing of what is being spoken of, and we believe, in accordance with the context, “in days of the voice of the seventh angel,” that this is meaning of Mello in Revelation 10:7. When the seventh angel, having the seventh trumpet, is about the business of blowing his trumpet, then the mystery of God is finished. Many believe that this mystery refers to completing the mystery members of the bride of Christ, but we believe it refers to the completing of the mystery pertaining to the ages; in other words, it pertains to bringing to completion God’s purpose of the ages (Ephesians 3:9,11,Young’s Literal), which would bring us to up to the foretold “world without end,” or the age of the ages, the final age that never ends. — Isaiah 45:17; Ephesians 3:21, See Young’s Literal for Ephesians 3:21.

I looked, and behold, a white cloud; and on the cloud one sitting like a son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. — Revelation 14:14
Another angel came out from the temple, crying with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Send forth your sickle, and reap; for the hour to reap has come; for the harvest of the earth is ripe!” — Revelation 14:15
He who sat on the cloud thrust his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. — Revelation 14:16.

Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First, gather up the darnel, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.” — Matthew 13:30.

The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. — Matthew 13:39.

The “age” being referred to this present evil age, the age in which Satan is god. — Galatians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 4:4.

By saying that the “harvest time” is the end of this age, and then describing events that take place during that “end,” Jesus shows that the “end” is not something that happens suddenly, but that the “end” itself — being “the time of the harvest” — is a period of “time.”

Revelation 14:14 depicts one like a son of man coming on a white cloud, a cloud of glory, and he has a sharp sickle in his hand.Revelation 14:16-20 shows that the sickle is used to harvest the earth.

When Jesus comes, one of the things he accomplishes is the harvest of the earth by means of his angels. This takes place during the “end” of the present evil age, while Satan is still the “god of this age.” As long as Satan is still blinding the minds of people, we know that this “harvest” has not ended. Nevertheless, the harvest does take place as a result of Jesus’ coming on the clouds.

Thus we conclude that the harvest has been going on, especially since about 1874, with an influx of worldly knowledge that is separating the tares from the true wheat. Jesus said that the tares were to be first separated from the wheat (Matthew 13:30), again indicating a time involved; the tares are thrown into the fiery furnace (symbolic of the the severe part of the time of trouble), and the wheat is gathered into the barn (representing a condition of spiritual safety; the spiritual ark, true faith in Jesus’ sacrificed body with its blood by which we are sanctified, set apart — Hebrews 9:12,14; 10:10,29). Then, after this, the wheat — the righteous — will shine forth as the sun, depicting the age to come, when Satan is abyssed so that he cannot deceive the heathen. — Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43; Revelation 20:3.

Jesus indicated that the foretold time of trouble is pictured by what happened in Noah’s day, thus, it is possible that the last part of the foretold time of trouble is depicted by the 40 days’ flood of Noah’s day. (Genesis 7:4; Matthew 24:37,38) We are now certainly experiencing a flood of knowledge now available through the internet and other means of fast communication. More and more professed Christians are falling into infidelity as a result of this influx of knowledge, thus proving themselves to be tares, rather than wheat. This increase of knowledge, however, brings discontent among the masses, and greed, and thus is also a source of trouble, and ends up being like a fiery furnace, as “fiery feet” stomping upon the people, with the trouble becoming so bad, that unless the days should be cut short, no flesh will be saved. — Matthew 24:21,22.

Addendum:

One asks if we believe that Jesus returned in 1874 and “inspected the temple”.

While we probably not put it that way, we do believe that Jesus began the harvest work related to the separating of the tares from the wheat; this is indeed an inspection of all who profess to be Christian, and since those who are being called to follow Jesus are spoken of as the temple of God,  one could say that this is a inspection of the temple. Many claim that the harvest is carried out along physical lines, but we believe the harvest is along spiritual lines, and that is carried out, not by the servants of Jesus in the flesh, but by the angels.

The questioner further asks:  “Did jesus make a decision during that time period and make a chosing of a particular group?”

The questioner is evidently asking if we have a belief similar the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claim that Jesus, in 1918, inspected the temple, and approved of Rutherford’s religion, to which our answer is no. We need to remember that that the choosing of the faith seed of Abraham has been going on ever since the first century. In 1874, we believe that a special period began which is called the “harvest”. However, we also believe that the choosing of the wheat class at the end of the age is done by means of the angels, and therefore, we conclude that the wheat class cannot be represented by any physical group, such as the Bible Students. The revealing of the wheat, however, cannot be until after Satan is abyssed.

The questioner further asks: “Did jesus really return and examine babylon the great, and then appoint a certain group? Was that the great tribulation? “

By “group”, I assume this refers to physical outward group, such the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the Bible Students movement. We have no reason to believe that Jesus has appointed a certain sectarian group, nor a certain individual, etc., to be “the true religion”, or “the true church.” Babylon the Great represents sectarianism, denominationalism, organizations (and associated false doctrines created by humans) that separate the sheep. To come out of Babylon the Great would signify rejection of denominational sectarianism and, and to the extent possible, the doctrines of men associated with such demoninationalism. The destruction of Babylon the Great signifies the destruction of all kinds of sectarianism and denominationalism. God is not going to allow such sectarian divisions to continue in His kingdom.

On the other hand, the tares are now being revealed as false Christians, often denying the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, accepting the idea that man got here by evolution, etc. Many of these tares openly deny Christ, and openly declare themselves as deists, agnostics, atheists, etc., while others retain the name of Christ, but in some way deny the power of blood of Jesus. Indeed, one can often hear of some claiming to be a Christian atheist, Christian agnostic, Christian deist, Christian Wiccan, Christian Buddhist, Christian Spiritualist, etc. We do believe, however, most of the Christians who profess Christ today will be found to be of the tare class. Nor does joining in association with the Bible Students movement make one of the wheat class. This does not mean that those who are found to be tares will be eternally destroyed, as the JWs teach; it simply means that their outward standing as a servant of Christ will eventually be burned up in the furnace of the time of trouble. No one amongst mankind, however, has been given any authority to point to this or that professed Christian and say “You are a tare,” although many are claiming they have authority to do so. Likewise, we have no authority to claim that one is of the wheat class because they belong to the Bible Students movement. Nor can we believe we have any authority to designate who among the “wheat” class will be found to arrived at the goal, the mark, of the prize of our high calling, so we should say to this person: “You are one of 144,000”, and to another, “You are not one of the 144,000.” We believe that all three major classes of Revelation 7 will be revealed after Satan is abyssed.

Thus, we do not believe that Jesus came in 1874 to inspect and approve any outward “group” as being approved as the JWs teach in doctrine concerning 1918. The inspection is of individuals, not of an outward “group.” Nor do we teach, as to the JWs, that one has belong to and/or recognize the Bible Students, Charles Taze Russell, or any other outward group, etc., in order to be saved, as as to live into the new age.

As Charles Taze Russell pointed out many times, the true church is not about an outward organization, but it pertains to individuals.

See also:

The Great Multitude
The 144,000 and the Twelve Tribes

Charles Taze Russell and sectarianism

The questioner asks if we “are saying that jesus inspected the temple in 1874, and found that the sect called ‘russelites’, or ‘bible students’ were thus in an approved condition?”

We do not know of any place that Russell taught expressly that Jesus “inspected the temple” in 1874, but Russell’s view of the temple had nothing to do with any external sect, group, denomination, etc. His view of the temple was that the temple is the church that belongs to Christ. Russell was non-sectarian.

Russell stated:“the Lord in Heaven records as members of His true Church all the saintly — whether Roman Catholics, Anglican Catholics, Greek Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.— and none others…. Do we not see that a part of our mistake was in calling the outward organization the Church of Christ, instead of remembering that the Lord alone writes the names of the Church, that He alone reads the hearts, that He alone is the Judge, and that He alone has the right to blot out the names of those who become reprobates?… We must see that the Church is a comparatively small company of saintly footstep followers of Jesus, irrespective of sectarian lines.”

And Russell stated: “all who are worshiping any church organization should be warned. See thou do it not.’ These are thy fellow servants.‘Worship God.’`Rev. 22:9`.”

He further stated:“so far as the true Church is concerned, the only authority in it is the Lord, the Head of the Church, and his Word, and the words of those whom he specially chose to be his mouth-pieces, the apostles.”

And,“we believe that in every nation and denomination there are some true saints of God, members therefore of the true Church of God.”
http://ctr.reslight.net/?p=505

Thus, Russell viewed the temple of God to be any true Christian, regardless of what external group or denomination he might be associated with. His view of the temple of God was not restricted to a “group”, such as the Bible Students, nor a denomination, nor a religious organization, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Indeed, Russell preached against the kind of authoritarianism and sectarianism that is found in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization.

See: Charles Taze Russell and the one true church

Related

Russell’s Disappointment Over 1878
The 144,000 and the Twelve Tribes – Revelation 7
Astrape in Luke 17:22; Matthew 24:27
Bible Chronology and Bible Time Prophecy

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