The Parousia: The Coming

Posted in: 2006
By Tom L. Ballinger
Feb 29, 2008 - 5:44:31 AM

August 30, 2006


Within the last twenty years, a Hellenistic Greek word, Parousia, has found its way into English Dictionaries. It was not transliterated, but rather, brought whole from the Greek into the English language because it is a technical word. This word is translated, “coming,” in the NT. It refers to the Second Coming of Christ. Parousia was a Greek word used twenty-four times in the Greek NT. What is very significant is that the word is only used four times in the Gospels. It first shows up in Matthew 24:3 and is used three other times in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. This fact speaks volumes concerning the lack of preeminence our Lord Jesus Christ gave to His Parousia (2nd Coming) during His ministry as “a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God” (Rom. 15:8).

This should indicate that the Parousia was not the burning issue proclaimed by the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. The burden of His ministry, confirming the promises made to the fathers, was the restoration of the Kingdom. The Lord Jesus said over-and-over, again, that “the Kingdom was AT HAND.” He never preached, nor did John the Baptist, that the Parousia (2nd Coming) was AT HAND. And that’s not all; the Apostle Paul never taught that the Parousia was imminent or at hand. We have hesitated to make the following statement until we were comfortable with the conclusion we had reached. We think we can do so without reservations. “Christian teachers, scholars, and theologians have given the Second Coming of Christ a more prominent role than the Scriptures have.” Admittedly, this is a hard saying; who can receive it? The overwhelming theme of the Bible is the coming of God’s Rule from heaven over the earth—the coming Kingdom of God.

“Parousia” was used to denote a personal presence of someone, when he was present, because of who he was, and what he did in view of his position. Hence, it is a technical word. That is to say, embodied in the word, parousia, are the ideas that someone is personally present to perform a duty that is his because of who he is or what position he holds. In fact, during NT times, parousia was the Greek technical word used to describe the arrival of a visiting king, or ruler, to another nation.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says “parousia” is employed to denote the ceremonial arrival of rulers. It points out that many times when kings would make an official visit to a nation, parousia coins were struck in celebration of the rulers’ official visit. Even parousia taxes were levied. The ISBE lists all of the references of parousia in the NT and says, “The word is so frequent that it has been taken over into English.”

In Vines Expository Dictionary of NT Words, he says, “In a papyrus letter a lady speaks of the necessity of her parousia in a place in order to attend to matters relating to her property there.” The lady had to be personally present in order to attend to property matters that only she could perform; hence, the necessity for her parousia.

Another example of a parousia could be, if a friend, who is an air conditioning repairman, comes to your home for the purpose of discussing the Scripture. His presence in your home is not a parousia. But, the next day, your air conditioning unit fails and you call him to come and fix the unit. This “coming” is a parousia because, as a repairman he is officially present to fulfill his position as a repairman. When the translators translated the Authorized Version, there was no English equivalent to the Greek word “parousia.” So, they translated it as “coming.”

However, the word, “coming,” as used in English, only scratches the surface of what lies latently profound in the Greek word, parousia. Since there is no English equivalent, it is now incorporated into the English language.

All twenty four uses of the word “parousia” will be listed in the verses as they occur:

1. Matt. 24:3: “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 (parousia) , and of the end (consummation) of the world (age)?” This refers to the Second Advent of Christ. When He returns to the earth, it will truly be a parousia. He will be present to officially fulfill His role as King of kings, as well as, all the concomitant things that go along with overthrowing the antichrist, binding Satan, placing him in the bottomless pit, saving Israel, raising the dead, catching-up the living saints, sitting on David's Throne in Jerusalem and ruling the nations for 1,000 years. In fact, this event is a 1,000 year parousia. The Parousia is the crowning consummation of the Kingdom dispensation

2. Matt. 24:27: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming (parousia) of the Son of man be.” It is noteworthy that the Parousia is associated Christ as “the Son of man,” rather than the “Son of God.”

3. Matt.24:37, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming (parousia) of the Son of man be.”

4. Matt. 24:39: “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming (parousia) of the Son of man be.”

5. 1 Cor. 15:23: “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming (parousia).” The subject here is resurrection. The Kingdom begins with the resurrection of those who are Christ’s “first-fruits,” AFTERWARD, hundreds of years later, a resurrection, or change, takes place for those who are Christ’s at His Parouisa (Coming). There is a long interval between the “Appearing” [the Epiphany] and the Parousia.

6. 1 Cor. 16:17: “I am glad of the coming (parousia) of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.” These three men made up an official delegation from the church at Corinth to help the Apostle Paul. He honors these men’s presence by calling it a parousia.

7. 2 Cor.7:6: “Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming (parousia) of Titus.” As an official associate of Paul, Titus’ presence was used by God to comfort Paul. Hence, Titus’ arrival and presence was a parousia.

8. 2 Cor. 7:7, “And not by his coming (parousia) only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.” Paul was still speaking about Titus.

9. 2 Cor. 10:10: “For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence (parousia) is weak, and his speech contemptible.” What this means, in plainer words, is that during Paul’s entire presence (i.e. parousia) at Corinth, they said his body was weak, and his speech was contemptible. He was at Corinth as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. His time, there, was a parousia.

10. Phil. 1:26: “That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming (parousia) to you again.” Their rejoicing would be more abundant if he made another parousia to them as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

11. Phil. 2:12: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence (parousia) only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” They were beloved because they always obeyed, not just during his parousia at Philippi, but even during his absence.

12. 1 Thess: 2:19, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming (parousia)?” Paul was confident that the saints at Thessalonica would be noteworthy trophies of his stewardship, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at His Parousia.

13. 1 Thess: 3:13, “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

14. 1 Thess. 4:15: “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming (parousia) of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”

15. 1 Thess. 5:23: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

16. 2 Thess. 2:1: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.”

17. 2 Thess. 2:8: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming (parousia):” Paul spoke, here, concerning the consummation of the Kingdom eon in that Jesus Christ will destroy the wicked one by His Parousia. This does not happen at the conclusion of the Dispensation of Grace.

18. 2 Thess. 2:9: “Even him, whose coming (parousia) is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,” The antichrist even has an official role to play in God’s scheme of things during the great Tribulation. He will be present to lead the revolt against the Government of God. The antichrist’s workings are the works of Satan. He will be the devil’s official agent. Thus, the Holy Spirit refers to the antichrist’s arrival and presence on the world’s stage as that of being a parousia.

19. James 5:7: “Be patient therefore, brethren unto the coming (parousia) of the Lord.”

20. James 5:8: “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming (parousia) of the Lord draweth nigh.” It must be pointed out James wrote this as if he, and those to whom he was writing were already living during the Kingdom of God. The truth of the Epistle of James will be applicable during the Reign of Christ from Heaven.

21. 2 Peter 1:16: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” When Peter, James, and John witnessed the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus, what they saw was the majesty and glory of His Parousia. It was a magnificent preview of the far distant Parousia of their Lord.

22. 2 Peter 3:4: “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming (parousia)? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” During the “last days” of the Kingdom of God, while Christ governs from Heaven's Throne and as the restraints of evil are gradually lifted, there will be those who feigned allegiance to Heaven’s rule and will scoff (v.2) saying, “So what about this promise of the Parousia of Christ?” Since it was delayed in their eyes, it was not going to happen, it was just a fable. They will fall for the devil's snare, they will believe the Lie and will suffer destruction at the unexpected, and sudden, Parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ.

23. 2 Peter 3:12: “Looking for and hasting unto the coming (parousia) of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” Note here, “the Day of God.” It is in contrast with “the Day of Christ” and “the Day of the LORD.” These three “days” should be rightly divided.

24. 1 John 2:28: “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming (parousia).” Like James’ letter, so was John’s. It was written as if they were living in the last days of the pre-millennial Kingdom, and this will be appropriate truth for the last days of the Kingdom.

So what is in question? It is simply not His coming, but rather, His Parousia. That is to be Personally present and to perform the duties of His office: King of kings and Lord of lords.

The Parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ will be sudden, and dramatic, and public. Those who are alive and believing at the time will be caught up to meet Him in the air and will accompany Him back to earth to be present with Him during His 1,000 year Parousia. The Parousia speaks of His arrival as well as His 1,000 year presence on earth to do only what He can do.

The Parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ is the event that brings Him back to this earth, so He will be personally present to perform all of His official responsibilities associated with His millennial reign.

The Parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be distinguished from His Epiphany. The two events are probably separated by hundreds of years. The Day of Christ fills the interim between the Epiphany and the Parousia.

Tom L. Ballinger