Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18
THE RETURN OF JESUS THE CHRIST – MESSIAH
The word prophecy has a “value added” thing about it – scary, ominous, “heavy. Some Bible prophets seemed to play on that with strange clothing and loud voices! However, the basic purpose of prophecy is to prepare the Way of the Lord. This is the essence of the Gospel. This is the essence of preaching and teaching. Proclaiming God’s Word warns, guides, prepares and points the Way.
All this is evident in the prophecy of Jesus that we have been looking at. Some of what He said included words from the O.T. prophets. Much is new and has a different focus. There is the emphasis on Christ’s Return in the context of Israel. The revelation in His words is that the Messiah would appear on earth twice.
The Old Testament declares one appearance of the Messiah that has two distinct parts – suffering and glory. The apostle Paul brings prophetic word to us about Christ’s Return and gives us the context for the Church. Peter writes about the Return of Christ in the context of the New Creation. John, in Revelation, writes about the Return of Christ in the context of the whole world.
…as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
2 Peter 3:12-13
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. Revelation 1:7
Jesus brought encouragement to watch and pray, be on guard and be ready.
Paul, Peter and John bring similar encouragement, warnings and commands about being ready.
Words used in the New Testament for “appear”
- Phaino epiphaino anaphaino phaneroo emphanizo optomai optano
- Erchomai [coming]
- Apokalupsis epiphaneia parousia
In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of His PAROUSIA – His Coming back into the world. Meaning that it will be bright and sudden like lightning. In 1 Thess. 4:15, Paul speaks of Christ’s Parousia for the Church, His Body. In Revelation 1:7, John uses the word ERCHOMAI which refers to an actual, physical appearing. In 2 Tim. 1:10 Paul writes about the EPIPHANY of Jesus. Meaning that He has appeared and will appear again. In 2 Tim.4:1, Paul uses EPIPHANY to describe the appearance of Christ’s Judgements and Kingdom. In cases where Paul received direct revelation of God’s purposes for Him or the Church, he uses APOKALUPSIS (unveiling) – as in Romans 16:25.
- The word ERCHOMAI refers to actual, physical appearing
- The word EPIPHANY is generally understood to mean an appearing or manifestation of Jesus Christ with the idea of LIGHT connected. This works well for Old Testament appearances of the Angel of the Lord. It applies to His coming into the world “in fashion as a Man”.
- The word PAROUSIA refers to the actual advent or coming near of Jesus on the Earth. ”. It refers to His Presence with us. It refers to to His Presence in the Last Days for us.
- The word APOCALYPSE refers to specific revelation of something. Paul uses it to describe his experiences of enlightenment from God.
Usually the words Parousia and Apokalupsis are simply translated as “The Coming of Christ”. However, John uses ERCHOMAI in Revelation chapter 1:7 –
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
It is important to recognise the context of each use of these words. The most common word used is Parousia (24 times) which is usually qualified with “of the Lord” (or similar). We need to associate this word with the fact of Christ’s physical appearance in the world. Apokalupsis appears 14 times and is more often associated with uncovering or unveiling of God’s purposes. So, John received the Apokalupsis of God’s purposes given to him by the Lord Jesus. This reveals judgements and describes wars and suffering. Epiphaniea is used in more broad terms to describe Christ’s appearing in all kinds of contexts. It is used about Christ’s return.
while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13
What do we make of it all?
Well Christ has appeared on earth and will appear again a second time.
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear [ be seen] a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28
Christ appeared to His disciples after He rose from the dead. Also, Christ’s light can appear in our hearts and minds to give us a sense of His Presence. Christ will come to us in revelation and understanding. Christ will come for us and make all things known to us.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, [phainero – simpler version of epiphaino] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2
Christ will Physically RETURN for His Church
According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming [Parousia] of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:15
Christ will be REVEALED at the culmination of the judgements of God at the Day of the Lord as KING of KINGS. Here the word APOKALUPSIS describes the unveiling of Christ, demonstrating Who He is.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. Revelation 19:11