The two most important events in world history are the first and second advents of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t you agree? Jesus’ disciples asked him an important question in Matthew 24:3: “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (Greek aion – age)?” As we consider the second coming of our Lord, we look at the scriptures and find something very interesting in the Greek of the New Testament. Did you know that according to the Rotherham Bible, the Greek word “parousia” typically translated “coming” in English language Bibles should be translated “presence” in most cases? Does it make a difference? Absolutely.
If I asked you if your spouse or friend was on their way home (coming) or if they were at the door of your home (presence), there would certainly be a shift in meaning. One is you’re on your way and the other is you’re there already. In the Rotherham’s Bible appendix, p. 271, it says that the original Greek word “parousia” being translated “coming” in Matt. 24:3 (and 21 other times in the New Testament) is obviously wrong. For example, in 2 Corinthians 10:10,“parousia” clearly means presence. In 2 Corinthians 10:10, the translators couldn’t translate the Greek word as “coming” because it would have been absurd to do so. Here, Paul is contrasting his bodily presence with his absence to the Corinthians. Paul is contrasting his bodily “presence” with his being away and writing letters to them. Neither in Philippians 2:12 could the translators substitute “coming” for “parousia.” The verse reads, “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.” “Presence” for the Greek “parousia” is obviously the only correct word choice. Not “coming”! Therefore, the question arises, why not always translate the Greek word “parousia” as “presence”?
Thus, the question Jesus’ disciples were asking him in Matt. 24 was, “what shall be the sign of thy presence”? Jesus could have answered, “Well, just look for me in the sky” – but he did not. Why? Because Jesus also said in John 14:19, “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me (Greek: “to be a spectator”) no more.” That is a plain statement. The world sees Jesus NO MORE! Thus, Jesus said in the verses following in Matt. 24:3, do not be in too much of a hurry. A lot of events and time will pass before you see me again.
But since Jesus gave up his perfect human life as a ransom for all (I Tim. 2:5-6), he will not be taking it back again as a human being. Although Jesus appeared as a man several times after his resurrection (Matt. 28:9,10,16-20; Luke 24:15-31,36-51; John 20:14-23,26-29), his disappearance at the end of each showed that he was no longer human but a great spirit being, whose appearance in his spiritual glory blinded Saul of Tarsus. (Acts 9:3-8) Jesus will NOT fly through the sky in a rapture scenario for the world to see.
Instead, we will have to look for the signs of his invisible presence because he will never return as a human being again. Even Paul told the Thessalonians in 2 Thess. 2:2, something quite similar when confronting those who were teaching that the “day of Christ” had already come. Paul could have said, “Christ could not be here yet, otherwise you would see him in the clouds.” That would have been a simple answer to their mistaken assumption. Instead, in verse 3 Paul gave them two signposts of events that would have to take place before Christ’s day would come and Jesus’ returned. Those signposts would be (1) a falling away of the faith and (2) the man of sin being revealed.
There are many signposts of Christ’s presence in the world today. Israel, returning to their land after 26 centuries, is a huge signpost (Daniel 12:1; Matt. 24:32,33). A time of trouble such as never was before in the world was prophesied by both Daniel (Daniel 12:1) and Jesus (Matt. 24:21,22) as another signpost. Daniel prophesied knowledge being incredibly increased, and travel being dramatically increased as well as signposts (Daniel 12:4). When reading Daniel 12: 1-4, recognize that Daniel’s people were Israel.
Most of the world and Christianity are in the dark regarding our Lord’s return. However, if you would like to walk in the light of what the scriptures give us as signposts of our Lord’s invisible return, we offer the booklet “Our Lord’s Return” listed below. For a more in-depth study, we offer the books The Divine Plan of the Ages and The Time is at Hand, both from the series Studies in the Scriptures. See the advertisements for these under the Books listed on our website.
May the eyes of your understanding be opened to this great truth is our prayer. Amen.
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