The Use of "Appear" and "Appearing"

Posted in: 2008
By Tom L. Ballinger
May 1, 2008 - 9:08:02 AM

May 1, 2008

No. 208


“When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

Paul, the Apostle for the Gentiles, makes use of three Greek words which are translated as “appear,” and “appearing.” These words convey profoundly significant truths when considered in the light which the Apostle used them.

The three Greek words are “phaino,” “phaneroo,” and “epiphaneia.” The first two words are verbs, and both are translated as “appear” in the King James Bible. The third word, “Epiphaneia,” is a noun and is translated as “appearing,” as in 2 Timothy 4:1. One of the dictionary definitions of “appearing” “is something that appears—a phenomenon.”

It has been pointed out that the phenomenon will be the “Epiphaneia” which will result in the “phaino” and the “phaneroo.” Many students and teachers use the verbs as if they are independent of the noun, “Epiphaneia.”

Two words found in the Apostle Paul’s Prison Epistles, when correctly understood, stand-out like the Dallas skyline, at night, on the Texas prairie. They are the words, “appear” and “appearing.”

The word, “appear,” is a verb, and the word, “appearing,” is a noun. A verb is a word that represents an action, or a state of being, while a noun is a person, place, thing, or quality.


First, we will consider the verbs, “appear,” as they occur, twice, in Colossians 3:4:
“When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear [phaino.], then shall ye also appear [phaneroo] with him in glory.”

In Colossians 3:4, the first mention of “appear” is the translation of the Greek word, “phaino.” It is used 32 times in the New Testament. The Active Voice of the verb, “phaino,” means, “cause to shine, to show,” while “phaino,” in the Passive Voice, means, (1). “to shine, be bright, or resplendent.” (2). “To be brought forth into the light, to become evident, to appear.” (3).”to become clear or manifest.” (4). “To appear in the mind” – (Thayer’s Lexicon).

In Colossians 3:4 where the text reads, “When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear [phaino],” it is very important to know that the verb, “phaino,” is in the PASSIVE VOICE.

This is significant if we remember our grammar lessons; the difference between Active Voice and Passive Voice. A brief refresher course is probably in order. It will be well worth our time to recall the following:


Sentences can be written, or spoken in the “Active,” or “Passive Voice.” “Voice” relates to the use of verbs. Verbs can be either “Active,” or “Passive.” In the active voice, the subject of the sentence ACTS UPON something, or someone. In the Passive Voice, the subject is ACTED UPON by something, or someone.

Additionally, “Voice” is a term that indicates whether a writer has emphasized the “doer,” or the “receiver” of an action.
“Active Voice” ─Is when you wish to emphasize the “doer” of an action.
“Passive Voice” ─Is when you wish to emphasize the “receiver” of an action.

“Active Voice:” The twister left a path of destruction.
In this case, the “doer” of the action, the twister, is in the Active Voice.
“Passive Voice:” A path of destruction was left by the twister.
However, in this case, the “receiver” of the action, the “path,” is in the Passive Voice.

Another set of examples:
“Active Voice:” Babe Ruth hit the ball.
“Babe Ruth” is the “doer” of the action, thus, the verb, “hit,” is in the Active Voice.
“Passive Voice:” The ball was hit by Babe Ruth.”
Here, the “receiver” of the action is the “ball,” thus, the verb, “hit,” is in the Passive Voice.
So, we learn, or recall that when a verb is in the Passive Voice, the subject of the sentence receives the action of the verb.
“When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear [phaino]” (Col. 3:4a). The subject is Christ, and He is the Receiver of the action of something,” thus, causing Him to “APPEAR.”

“Christ,” as the subject, receives the action of the verb, “shall appear.” “Christ” is not the “Doer” of the action, to wit, He does not make Himself appear. He receives the action, passively. The action is caused by “something.” We are not told, within the context, what that something is. The something which causes Christ to “appear” is the Phenomenon of His “Epiphaneia,” to wit, “His Appearing” (2 Tim. 4:1).

It is from the scope of the passage, 2 Timothy 4:1, that we learn WHAT IS THE SOMETHING THAT CAUSES HIM TO APPEAR! His “Appearing,” that is to say, “His Kingdom” is the event that causes Christ to become manifest or appear.


“…then SHALL YE also appear [phaneroo] with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4b).

The second time the word, “appear,” is used in Colossians 3:4, it is derived from the Greek verb, “phaneroo.” It, too, is in the Passive Voice; meaning that the subject of the phrase, “ye,” is the receiver of the action of something, thus, causing “ye” to “APPEAR.” The “ye” refers to the Church Which is His Body. Something takes place, to wit, a phenomenon, which causes the Church to “appear,” or “to be manifested.” That “something” is “the Phenomenon—His Epiphaneia.”

The Greek word, “phaneroo,” is most illustrative. It is akin to “phaino.” “Phaneroo,” in the Active Voice; is to manifest. In the Passive Voice, is to be manifested, to be visible, or known. “Phaneroo” is used 50 times in the New Testament; only seven times, is it translated, “appear.” Most often, it is translated as “manifest.” Five times, it is rendered “shewed.” Thirty-eight times, it is “manifested.”

In W. E. Vine’s “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” he makes the observation, which is very amazing, concerning “phaneroo.” He wrote, “To be manifested in the Scriptural sense of the word, is MORE THAN TO APPEAR. A person may appear in a false guise or without a disclosure of what he truly is; to be manifested [phaneroo] is TO BE REVEALED IN ONE’S TRUE CHARACTER; this is especially the meaning of ‘phaneroo.’”

The Church over Which Christ Jesus is the Head, is the “receiver” of the action, and as such, its true character will be revealed. During the life of this Church, its true character has been “hid with Christ in God.” The world will be staggered when it realizes the TRUE CHURCH, during the Dispensation of Grace, was not the church which paraded across the world-scene with all of its hypocrisy, pomp, and ceremony. But rather, its composition will be made-up of obscure people who played no major role in the “Christian-world” during the Dispensation of the Grace of God. When the “true Church” is made to appear [phaneroo], it will be viewed in its true character which will be a major testimony to His Grace.

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together among heavenly [rulers] in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7).

Joseph H. Thayer notes in his “Greek-Lexicon” that “phaneroo” (Strong’s No. 5319), in Colossians 3:4, is “Passive Voice, to become known, to be plainly recognized, thoroughly understood: who and what one is, …what sort of person one is.” The Church Which is His Body, in the ages to come, will become known, plainly recognized, and thoroughly understood to be:

“To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph.1:6).

The most unlikely ones, who were never REALLY approved in this world, will be honored by being ACCEPTED IN THE MOST EXCLUSIVE CIRCLE of all—the BELOVED!

The Church over Which Christ Jesus is the Head is currently “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). In order to gauge the work of Christendom, the world looks to the visible Church. The world, as well as, most Christians, believes that the visible Church is the work of God in today’s world. But, the truth of the matter is that the true Church is being silently chosen, and positioned by Christ, and are IN-WAITING—that is to say, waiting for the calling from on high which will call the true Church into session. This happens when the Lord Jesus Christ begins to judge the quick and the dead at His Appearing and His Kingdom. This Phenomenal Event “triggers” the “phaino” of Christ, and the “phaneroo” of the Church Which is His Body. Neither Christ, nor His Church will “appear” without the phenomenal event taking place which is the Appearing of His Kingdom!

In thinking, “How might I liken the ‘phaino’ of Christ and the ‘phaneroo’ of the Church,” I decided to use the following illustrations. Let’s say that, in a packed theatre, the leading actor ends the stage-play with a bow, and the curtains close in front of him and the entire cast who are arrayed behind him. The audience begins to applaud and after a few minutes, the actor parts the curtains with his hands. He steps in front of the curtains, and the results are; he APPEARS [phaino] to the audience (Active Voice). In this instance, the leading actor is the DOER of the ACTION. (The Actor, for illustrative purposes, is Christ, and the entire cast represents the Church Which is His Body.)

By contrast, in the same setting, the Actor bows when the stage-play ends, and the curtains close on Him and the entire Cast. After a prolonged applause by the audience, the curtains are opened, and the Actor is made to APPEAR [phaino] (Passive Voice). The “round-of-applause” is the TRIGGER which caused the Actor to APPEAR. He is the RECEIVER of the Action.

The Church, i.e., the Cast, is also, made to APPEAR with Him. “Appear” is “phaneroo,” which is in the Passive Voice. The Church is the RECEIVER of the Action. There will be an event which causes the “phaino” and the “phaneroo.”

The “Epiphaneia” is the phenomenon which “triggers” (i.e., sets off, initiates, or precipitates) the “phaino” of Christ, and the “phaneroo” of the Church Which is His Body.

The “perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1) during the “last days” of the Mystery ends, suddenly, when the Appearing of Christ’s Kingdom takes place. This will be when Christ, Who is our life, shall APPEAR, THEN, we the Church, shall APPEAR with Him in the glory of His Kingdom (Col. 3:4).


After hundreds of years of the benevolent rule of Christ from heaven, He loosens the restraints of evil, gradually, thus, testing the world. The relaxing of the restraints will give rise to the Antichrist’s Rebellion against the Government of God. The Rebellion (i.e., the Tribulation) will last seven years. Jesus Christ comes to end the Rebellion. It is when the “Parousia” of Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven in blazing fire, with His powerful angels, that the Antichrist’s war is ended in defeat.

“and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”
(2 Thess 1:7-8) NIV.

The “Parousia,” i.e., the 2nd Coming of Christ, intervenes in the affairs of the world and establishes His one-thousand year rule and reign. His intervention will not be Passive—He will be the “Doer” of the action! Active Voice.

The idea that the “Parousia” is associated with the “phanio” of Jesus Christ and the “phaneroo” of the Church is faulty reasoning. We cannot overlook the fact that the “phaino” and the “phaneroo” are in the Passive Voice, and as such, grammatically, cannot be coupled with the 2nd Coming (i.e., the Parousia) of Christ. The idea of linking, together, the “Parousia” of Christ with the “phaino” of Christ and the “phaneroo” of the Church Which is His Body is at best, nonsense, and at the worst, deliberately misleading.

Christ’s’ intervention into world-affairs, in First Century Greek, is an “epiphaneia.” The Greek-speaking world used the word when they believed the gods, suddenly, intervened in the world on their behalf. When Christ intervenes, it will be on behalf of mankind and is, truly, an “Epiphaneia.” His prodigious intervention ushers in the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) and the establishment of His Government in the earth, thus, suddenly and dramatically, ending the “perilous times.”

The way Biblical truth unfolds, the words “epiphaneia” [appearing] and “basileia” [kingdom], are intimately bound together according to 2 Timothy 4:1. When the word, “Appearing” (epiphaneia), occurs, one should connect it with “His Kingdom” (basileia).

There cannot be the “phaino” of Christ, or the “phaneroo” of the Church without the “TRIGGER” – The “Epiphaneia” Phenomenon.

Tom L. Ballinger