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Christ's Second Coming
Second Coming of Christ Jesus
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. (The Apostle Paul, Titus 2:13)
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin onto salvation. (Writer to the Hebrews, Hebrews 9:28)
Now I beseech you, dear disciples, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together onto him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by Spirit, nor by word, nor by someone reporting a false report as though it was from me, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day will not come until the yeast of the Gospel has fermented all three measures of society (see Matthew 13:33). For the heavenlies have received Christ Jesus until the time of restitution of all things (see Acts 3:21); at such a time He will return to judge the quick and the dead, at his appearing. (See 2 Timothy 4:1.)
When one speaks of the “day of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:2), one is usually referencing His physical return to the earth. Thus, the words of the angels (from Acts 1:11) come to mind: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (i.e. He was taken up, and the cloud received Him out of their sight).
The Scripture indicates the physical return of Jesus with the use of the Greek word parousia. However, by far, the most common word for the coming of Christ is erchomai. The word erchomai does not limit itself to a physical return (or coming), but may imply an invisible, spiritual, coming—depending on its context.
This twenty-second letter on Apostolic Kingdom Theology will focus on the second coming of Jesus; especially how these two words (i.e. parousia and erchomai) should shape our understanding of the subject.
The word “parousia” (Strong’s #NT3952) is broken down thusly: the prefix “par” means: with, or presence; the stem word “ousia” means: being. Therefore, the presence of one coming; hence the “coming,” “arrival,” “advent” (Joseph Henry Thayer). The word is used in the New Testament, especially for the second advent of Christ. (Jesus the Messiah’s future, visible, returned from heaven to raise the dead, hold the final judgment, and formally set up the glorious and eternal kingdom of God: Matthew 24:37; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; two Thessalonians 2:1; 2:8; James 5:7 and following; two Peter 3:4.)
It must be pointed out that in addition to the physical second coming of Christ, parousia is employed for the presence of Jesus in judgment upon the nation of Israel: See for instance Matthew 24:3, 27. in its application here we should consider the definition of parousia as given by James Strong: “a being near, i.e. advent (often: return; specifically of Jesus to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked); (by implication) physical aspect: coming, presence.” (Strong’s #NT3952). In this same type of application the word parousia is used of the “Day of God” (2 Peter 3:12).
Therefore, since parousia is used to reference the time of judgment upon unbelieving Israel (Matthew 24:3, 27) and the Day of God’s reckoning upon the wicked (2 Peter 3:12), its use is not confined to the personal advent of Christ, but can also indicate a spiritual presence of Jesus coming in a way that that presence would appear before men. (See letter Seventeen, Understanding the Question, B: What Shall Be the Sign of Thy Coming?)
At any rate, parousia means to identify a completed presence, as opposed to erchomai’s progressive presence. The manner in which parousia is used by the New Testament writers is demonstrated in Philippians 2:12, “Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,...” Parousia is here translated “presence,” while abousia is rendered “absence.”
Thus, from the above we have shown that the word parousia indicates the presence of one (physically or spiritually): such as Jesus, or, of some thing: such as “the Day of God” (2 Peter 3:12). However, more than just the presence: the fulfilled, completed presence.
The word “erchomai” is the most common verb for “coming” in the New Testament Greek. According to James Strong it (in all of its forms: erchesthai, eleusis; see also Joseph Henry Thayer) is only used in the present and imperfect tenses (see Strong’s #NT2064), i.e. showing continued and incomplete action. According to Joseph Henry Thayer: “denotes motion, or progress generally.”
So, many of the passages which referred to the “coming” of Christ in His Kingdom employ the word erchomai in the present tense which declares a ‘present’ coming that has continual action, which is progressive into the future. Thus: is now coming and continues to come.
The word is seen being applied metaphorically, “of Christ’s invisible return from heaven, i.e. of the power which, through the Holy Spirit, He will exert in the souls of His disciples: John XIV. 18. 23; of His invisible advance in the earth of believers, by which He takes them to Himself into heaven John XIV. 3” (Joseph Henry Thayer).
It is the word erchomai that is found in such passages as:
Matthew 24:30, “and they shall see the Son of Man coming (erchomai) in clouds of heaven with power and great glory.);
Revelation 1:7, “Behold, he, cometh (erchomai) with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen;”
Matthew 16:27-28//Mark 9:1, “For the Son of Man shall come (erchomai)... there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death til they see the Son of Man coming (erchomai) in his kingdom;”
Mark 8:38, “Whosoever, therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh (erchomai) in the glory of his Father with the holy angels;”
Matthew 26:64, “... Hereafter shall you see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming (erchomai) in the clouds of heaven.”
For clarification of our thesis, the following proposition is offered:
“The second coming (erchomai) of Christ was initiated on the day of Pentecost (A.D. 30), and the Messianic Kingdom was inaugurated with the destruction of the Jewish Temple (A.D. 70); both continue progressively toward their consummation at the time of the parousia (physical advent) when the dead will be resurrected, the Church caught away, the wicked judged, and a new heaven and a new earth established in righteousness.”
Definition of Proposition
1. “The Second Coming (Erchomai) of Christ was initiated on the day of Pentecost (A.D. 30).” ∼ This first statement of the proposition is supported by the review of Luke’s account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). It is apparent that the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of the promised Comforter, which Jesus speaks of in John’s Gospel 14:16. Jesus identifies the Comforter as Himself—in Spirit form. In verses 17 and 18 the identity of the Comforter is unmistakably clear: “Even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knoweth him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come (erchomai: literally, ‘I am coming;’ present tense: now, and continuing to come) to you.” Clearly, Jesus is speaking of Himself returning in an invisible and spiritual erchomai class coming; in which He will indwell the believers and through them be manifested unto the world. This is an erchomai class coming, and is therefore progressive (continuing throughout the church age). We are correct in saying it was initiated on the day of Pentecost. Moreover, what He initiated then continues: down to, including, and beyond today.
2. “The messianic kingdom was inaugurated with the destruction of the Jewish Temple (A.D. 70).” ∼ In Matthew 16:27-28//Mark 9:1, Jesus (the Messiah) tells the disciples that: “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death til they see the Son of Man coming” (erchomai class coming: not a finished event, but progressive and continuing) “in his kingdom.” According to Jesus, this erchomai class coming would take place within the lifetime of some of the disciples who stood before Him when He spoke those words. It would be natural to assume that Jesus was not referencing a timeframe of days, weeks, or even of months; but, most likely of years—several years at that. We are justified in assuming this, because “some” (not most) but “some,” of his hearers would still be alive when His words would be fulfilled. This timetable seems to look beyond Pentecost (when the disciples were all still living) to a time more distant, when MOST of them would have passed. It is agreed, by most Bible scholars, that the designated time Jesus gave for the end of the Jewish age and His return (which he gave in Matthew chapter 24) was referencing the capture of Jerusalem and the total destruction of the Temple by the Romans in A.D. 70. This statement (of A.D. 70, some 40 years after Jesus’ prediction) fits the prediction that “some” of the disciples would remain alive to see the “Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Speaking directly to this scenario is the Parable of the Husbandmen found in Matthew 21:33-46. When the first husbandmen proved unfaithful, the owner of the vineyard gave the vineyard to other husbandmen. Jesus interprets the first husbandmen as national Jewery, and the vineyard as the Kingdom of God; the new husbandmen He explains will be a people who have not been a nation until that time: namely, the Gentiles. The “Kingdom” was permanently taken from national Jewery in A.D. 70 and their “house” was left to them desolate (see Matthew 23:32-38).
It is most important that Jesus concluded the Parable of the Husbandman by putting the question to the Jews: “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh (elthai, from erchomai), what will he do unto those husbandmen?” (Verse 40.) When Jesus speaks of the COMING of the Lord of the vineyard, he is referencing the same COMING as he references in Matthew 16:28 when he says: “...they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Here Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man” (recalling Daniel 7:13, 14, 18) and states clearly that He will come (return) in the glory of the Father before all those to whom He spoke were dead. (Mark records a like statement, in Mark 8:38; 9:1.)
In conjunction with the sayings of Jesus, are His words spoken unto Caiaphas, the scribes, and the elders; where He said: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and coming (erchomai)” in the clouds of heaven.” The reference to “clouds of heaven” is synonymous with “glory of the Father” from Matthew 16:27. One is not to think of a natural (physical) cloud formation; it is the Old Testament idea of Shekinah that is intended. When Jesus announced to His judges (and executioners) that they would see Him coming in power and clouds (glory) of heaven, He was recalling the prophecy of Zachariah, where that prophet records Yahweh saying: “And they shall look upon me and whom they have pierced” (Zachariah 12:10). Christ is telling the high priest, and his company, that THEY would see His return. Jesus is referring to His coming in Spirit on the day of Pentecost (A.D. 30), in judgment upon Jerusalem (A.D. 70), and His power and expansion as manifested in and through His saints throughout time and space.
The apostle John adds his witness to this prophecy by writing: “Behold he cometh (erchomai) with clouds (glory of the Father) and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him” (i.e. Caiaphas, scribes, and elders - Matthew 26:57-64, see also Revelation 1:7). One may ask, If this coming is not the parousia at the end of history, how can every eye see Him? This statement must be understood within the context of an erchomai class coming—which is progressive and continual. Therefore, as Christ comes into the world, in and through His disciples (the Church), and His person is manifested throughout the earth in His mystic body, every eye (that is to say, all people: races, creeds, nationalities) will behold the progressive and continual coming of Christ throughout time and space. “Every eye shall see him,” is better rendered as “Every eye shall be seeing Him.”
The “coming” of Jesus referenced in the above passages was initiated on the day of Pentecost (A.D. 30, see Acts 2:1 and following) and the Kingdom formed then was inaugurated with a total destruction of national Jewery in A.D. 70, when the Temple was obliterated. The fact that it took exactly 40 years from the birth of the Kingdom, at Pentecost ( A.D. 30), to its inauguration (A.D. 70), demonstrates the number of generation. Namely this: in A.D. 70 the Messianic Kingdom came of age (40 years old); with Daniel’s 70 Week Prophecy being concluded (see Daniel 9: 24 through 27); and the tabernacle of David established throughout the earth (see Amos 9:11-12 compared to Acts 15:16-17).
My dear friends, having seen, as we have, that the Coming of the Lord (which we have looked for as long as we can remember) is an ongoing event which began on the day of Pentecost and continues to our day, and which will, no doubt, continue into our future, it behooves us as children of the Father to be prepared each day for His coming. The Lord continues to come in the earth, and every eye is indeed beholding His Majesty and Glory: as His will, and justice; His mercy, and love; permeates all nations and societies of man.
There is a very real sense, however, that this erchomai class coming may be personalized for any of us, at any given moment, of any given day. For indeed Jesus did say to his disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:3-4). Although, most un-informed people consider this to be a reference to Christ coming in a physical sense at the very end of our age, I feel a great mistake is made here. It is far more likely that Jesus is instructing His closest followers to be prepared for a time when His Spirit would come and call their spirits home and escort them unto a far better place.
Too much of the Church’s energy has been expended to direct our eyes toward another world, far removed from this one. In doing so we fail to recognize the progressive and continual COMING of Christ; we, sadly focus only on that physical coming at the end of human history. We miss the gloriously demonstrated “comings” of Christ, which are happening all around us.
For the last decade, or so, my mind has been troubled at the thought of missing the coming of the Lord. No, I am not concerned of missing the rapture of the Church; but rather, His coming in glory and majesty in our day. How sad it was that the Jewish teachers, who were living in the time of Christ, were teaching in the Temple on a daily basis; telling the people that the Messiah was coming, yet they missed Him. Yes, they were looking for him. They were even expecting him. He came, lived among them, spoke to them in the streets of their cities, taught in their synagogues and in their temple, but they did not recognize him. I am reminded of how, toward the end of His ministry, He paused on a hill overlooking Jerusalem and wept over the city and lamented the fact that they did not recognize the time of their visitation.
It is that very thing that concerns this writer. Will we miss the time of our visitation; the great COMING of Christ to our nation, to our family, or to each of us as men and women of God? The Jews in the time of Jesus looked for him. They taught the people to expect him, but because His coming was not as they had envisioned it, they failed to recognize Him. He was born as one of them, grew up among them, ate with them, conversed with them, carried on commerce with them, but they missed Him!
Can it possibly be true today that the untold number of pulpits around the world are preaching the second coming of Christ, but not recognizing the fulfilled prophecy of His second coming? Could it be possible that history will repeat itself and we who love His appearing, preach His appearing, will miss His appearing; because our idea of His coming has been skewed, for a lack of knowledge?
I do not know what one voice can do, but I feel the Holy Spirit has given to me the mission to “cry aloud and spare not:” “Behold he cometh, and every eye shall see him.”
It is my prayer, my dear friends, that the Lord of all Peace keeps you in His loving Grace.
☩ Jerry L Hayes
After spending over forty years in the dispensational doctrine, and having raise my children in that theological framework, I became a convinced adherent to a "kingdom" theology that recognizes the Church as the Israel of God, and that the first century actually saw the fulfillment of most of Matthew chapter 24. "Letters to My Children on Apostolic Kingdom Theology" is a compilation of twenty four letters written to my children explaining my journey, and showing how we were led astray from the apostolic teaching of Scripture to embrace a view recently come into the Lord's church, of which the apostles knew nothing. These "Letters" provide a systematic approach to Apostolic Eschatological study of Scripture. It is sure to interest all students of Scriptures.
Read more from the bishop on eschatology.
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