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I Will Come Again
I Will Come Again
When this age-abiding promise
was first uttered by Jesus to his Apostles, it did not make sense.
To the then "natural minded" men who followed Jesus,
they assumed that Jesus' next logical move would be 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." John 14:3
Dazed, these words made little
impression on his little band. But forty days later on Mount
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.
Christ's Second Coming is the
most frequently discussed doctrine in the New Testament over one
third of its writings deal with this momentous event! As
Christians our hearts thrill at the hope of being united with the
returned Lord Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom, seeing him as he is,
living with him and experiencing his love forevermore and the
reality of reigning with him (Revelation 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."
Long have faithful Christians
prayed with the Apostle John, "Even so, come, Lord
Jesus." Long centuries passed during which, seemingly,
nothing happened. But our day is suddenly charged with an
atmosphere of great expectancy.
However, in order to appreciate
the reasonableness of the Bible's prophetic teaching on this
deeply interesting subject, it is necessary that we have clear
views of both the object of our Lord's second coming, and of the
manner in which he will be revealed.
The Manner and Objective of the Second
As we have observed, the object
of his coming is to reconcile "whosoever will" (Rev.
22:17) of the world to God, by a process of ruling, teaching and
disciplining. This is called judging and blessing. The manner of
our Lord's coming and appearing is of paramount importance, as the
student of prophecy strives to determine what manner of time the
Holy Spirit does signify for the establishment of God's Kingdom on
The Bible Student must hold
clearly in mind the object, while studying the manner, of our
Lord's return and both of these, when studying the time. This is
needful to offset erroneous views, already preoccupying many
minds, based on false ideas of the object and manner of our Lord's
Grasp and hold in mind as firmly
as possible the fact that God's plan is one harmonious whole,
which is being wrought through Christ. Hold in mind that the work
of the second advent stands related to the work of the first as
effect to cause: That is, that the great work of Restitution at
the second advent follows the work of Redemption accomplished at
the first advent as a logical sequence according to God's divine
Therefore, the Lord's return is
the dawn of hope for the world, the time for bestowing the
blessings secured by the redemption. The Gospel Age has been
merely a parenthesis, during which the Bride of Christ is
selected, to be associated with her Lord in the great work of
restitution, which he comes to accomplish.
Signs of His Coming
Few would question that we are
living in an era of human history, which is without precedent.
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.
Their expectations are based on
our Lord's Great Prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17
and 21. Many believe that the nearness of Christ's return is
indicated by such signs as the following: Israel restored (Matt
24:32; Jer. 16:13-18); knowledge and travel increased (Dan. 12:4);
evils exposed as never before (Luke 12:2; 1 Cor. 4:5); infidelity
rampant from university to pulpit (Luke 18:8; 2 Tim. 4:1-4); men
seeking pleasure, morality rotting (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13); strikes,
walkouts (James 5:1-4); racial strife, riots (Zeph. 1:7-9);
juvenile delinquency (2 Tim. 3:2); wars and war preparations
intensified (Joel 3:9-11); men crying fearfully for peace (1 Thess.
5:3; Luke 21:26); trouble everywhere (Matt. 24:21,22).
Coming or Presence
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?" Matthew 24:3
The Greek word here translated
"coming" is parousia. It really means
"presence." Therefore, if parousia means
"presence," then the fulfillment of the signs given by
our Lord in His prophecy would not mean that he is coming soon,
but that he is already secretly present—as "a thief in the
night." Remember, the Scriptures teach that Christ's initial
return would be a thief-like, secret presence before "every
eye shall see him." (See 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev.
Emphasized Bible, Vine's Dictionary of New Testament Words,
Young's Analytical Concordance, and many other standard
works in fundamentalist and evangelical bookstores confirm this
definition of "presence."
The Bible Definition
However, we are not confined to
dictionary definitions. The Lord has graciously provided His
people a Scriptural definition for the Greek word parousia
thus leaving us in no doubt as to its true meaning. Parousia occurs
in Matthew 24:37 where it is mistranslated "coming." The
following chart compares its parallel citation in Luke 17:26 and,
in so doing, the Bible provides its own definition for parousia.
|| Luke 17:26
|But as the days =
|| As it was
in the days
|of Noah were,
|| of Noah,
|so shall also the =
|| so shall
|parousia of the
the days of the
|Son of man be.
|| Son of man.
The phrase "parousia
of the Son of man" in Matthew 24:37 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" in Luke 17:26 refers to the
time that Christ is present, just as the "days of Noah"
refers to the time when Noah was present among his wicked
generation. Therefore, parousia in Matthew 24:37 should be
translated "presence of the Son of man" instead of
"coming of the Son of man."
The Scriptural definition of parousia
is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul's use of it. The thought
of "presence" is plainly shown by the contrast with
"absence" in Philippians 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."
While no doctrine is mentioned
more frequently in the New Testament than Christ's second advent,
few doctrines have been as greatly fragmented into such
diversified concepts. Much of the beauty of this doctrine has been
wrested from the grasp of God's people. All secular Greek
dictionaries define parousia, "presence." Most
Bible dictionaries likewise define parousia,
"presence." Most current fundamentalist and evangelical
writings on the second advent usually begin by correctly defining parousia,
"presence." Then something strange happens. Somehow the
word "coming" replaces "presence." Incorrect
theology requires parousia to be translated "coming,"
but Scriptural harmony requires that it be translated
The Main Point
If, as we have seen, parousia
means "presence," then all the signs that our Lord gave
us in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke chapters 17 and 21 do not
indicate his imminent coming—they indicate his secret thief-like
presence. We see those signs being fulfilled all around us.
The Scriptures show that the
first stage of our Lord's parousia, presence, will be
secret. "The day of the Lord will arrive [will be here,
Greek, heko—see Strong's, Young's or Vine's] as a
thief." (2 Peter 3:10, Rotherham) A thief enters a house
quietly, doing a secret work. Consequently, the first works of our
returned Lord are during a secret presence. The world will, at
first, be unaware that Christ has returned. "But ye brethren
are not in darkness that that day should overtake [implies a
period of overlapping] you as a thief." 1 Thess. 5:4
Later, his presence will be made
manifest to all. The Scriptures use another Greek word, apokalupsis,
to describe this revealment to all. "The Lord Jesus shall be
REVEALED [apokalupsis] from heaven in flaming fire taking
vengeance." 2 Thess. 1:7-8 It is in reference to this
revealment to all, that Scriptures like Revelation 1:7 apply;
"He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him."
Christians, who are not overcharged with the cares of this life,
will experience the joys of discerning the signs of his secret
presence (Luke 21:34-36), before they are "caught up
together" with him.
When Does the "Parousia"
A number of Christian writers
are publishing works which propose the date of Christ's return.
The fulfillment of the "signs" which our Lord gave us
indicate that we should be looking for his secret presence now.
Space does not permit a complete discussion of Bible time prophecy
nor a harmonization of seemingly conflicting scriptures [such as
"every eye shall see him"] regarding the second advent.
We encourage you to read the online book The
Time Is At Hand which contains detailed studies of the time
prophecies pointing to our Lord's return. You can also write to
obtain a hardcover copy of this book or a copy of the booklet "I
Will Come Again."