2003-03-11 - Parousia
Acts 1:11"And they also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.'"
Parousia is the Greek term that refers to the second coming of Christ. The word does have some various uses in the Greek of the New Testament, but for our purposes today we will focus on the use where Christ returns in celestial majesty at the end of the world. This is the final triumph of His work of Redemption among those called by God to repentance and faith in Christ's work of atonement.
There has been a lot of speculation among many in the church as to the approaching return of Christ. Jesus never specified a time for His return. In fact the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-12) seems to suggest Christ's return will not only surprise many, but will be a long time in coming. Something else that suggests that there will be a delay in Christ's return are the lessons of the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven (Matthew 13:31-33). They imply that the kingdom of God will grow slowly which would suggest that Christ's return would have to be delayed until that was accomplished.
We are told in Mark 13:10 that the gospel must be preached to all nations. Some understand this in various ways. One interpretation of this verse is that by nations, what is meant is not physical countries with boarders, but rather that the gospel must first be preached to all people groups. This has yet to happen. We can also say that there are many passages that warn us that the parousia will be unexpected and even startling. It is compared to a thief coming into the house without warning (Luke 12:39). The suddenness of Christ's return is also compared to the Flood in Noah's time and the story of Lot and his family (Luke 17:26-32). There is ample evidence that the return of Christ will be a surprise.
The parousia will once for all reveal to all the world the dignity, power, and glory of the Son of God. Today many people deny the divinity of Christ. At the return of Christ they will have their mouths stopped up. This will also lead to the judgment where all will be gathered to give an account. So the parousia begins to launch the determination of the future destinies of all those who have ever lived. The kingdom of God will then be established. Things will change as we now know them to be. The supremacy of God and His righteousness will rule and all sin, self-deception, and falsehood will be done away with.
This will be a glorious day, but I don't suggest we dwell too much on it. We can encourage ourselves and one another with these things, but we can't bring them to pass. Our focus should be upon being prepared for that day and ready to meet the Lord when He comes. Rather than looking for the day of parousia, we ought to look to our hearts and seek to bring them into conformity to God's will for our lives. Let us be like the wise virgins who were ready to meet the Bridegroom when He came for them.
Soli Deo Gloria,