The Second "Parousia" Of Christ
-- Re-Examined

THE RETURN OF CHRIST— WHEN?

 

The "Second Coming of Christ" -- No Bible topic over the past 2 millenniums, some 2,000 years, has perhaps evoked more debate, more conjecture, and sheer speculation than this subject taken from Matthew chapter 24. Yes, the second "coming" of Christ is indeed an event that professed Christians of various religions all over the whole earth are anxiously awaiting. This Bible subject has literally thrilled the hearts and fired the imagination of millions of professed Christians world-wide. It is a topic on which almost everyone has an opinion, that is, this second advent or wondrous "return" of Christ in glory. Needless to say, there are many varied views and ideas taught concerning the subject, all claiming to be based upon the Bible itself. Therefore the question could be raised: How will the "return" of Christ truly manifest itself?  And, what event or "sign" can we look for to signal that glorious "return," or second "coming," and/or "parousia," of Christ is either ahead of us, or as some believe, underway even as we speak?

Part 1

If you are one of Jehovah's Witnesses or have studied the Bible with them extensively, you know that their beliefs concerning the glorious return of Christ are quite unique among religions today. And what is this' "unique concept" concerning Christ's glorious return?

 

Well, the Watchtower Society has taught for some time now that Jesus actually has a two (2) part second "coming" of sorts, although the first part is not really viewed as a "coming" at all, but a second "presence." And the two are not to be confused with each other. Yes, the Watchtower Society maintains that Jesus Christ actually has an

 

(a) "Invisible Presence" or "Parousia" which started in 1914, undetected by mankind in general. During this particular invisible "parousia" or "presence" of Jesus, he quietly surveyed all religions of the earth and judged them unfit and cast them of resurrected the faithful "dead in Christ" from years gone by to immortality in heaven, and further appointed a "faithful Slave" of "anointed" ones, principally the Watchtower Society of Brooklyn Heights New York, of course, over "all of his belongings" earth wide. This is all reported to have been completed by the spring of the year of 1919. Additionally, since 1914, Jesus, "invisibly," and unbeknownst to mankind in general, began to "separate" the "sheep" from the "goats" worldwide, as described in the parable recorded at Matthew chapter 25.

 

Since the churches of Christendom were "cast off' in 1919, the Jehovah's Witnesses are taught by the Watchtower Society that this separation work has been uniquely and solely accomplished by their door-to-door and public preaching, teaching, and dissemination of Bible literature printed by the them and the Jehovah's Witnesses as a nation. And, it is this particular literature that the world must respond favorably to if they are to receive any reward of future life from Jehovah God's now appointed "Judge" of mankind, Jesus Christ. This point leads us to the second phase of the return of Christ which the Watchtower Society calls

 

(b) The Second "Coming" of Christ. The second "coming" of Christ occurs when the aforementioned global "separation" work that started in 1914 is completed, under the direction of the Watchtower Society. Jesus' "second coming" [Greek: Erchomai] occurs just before the Battle of Armageddon which inevitably results in the complete and entire destruction of all wicked mankind as well as all political sovereignties and governments who are opposed to God's Will. All who are not Jehovah's Witnesses at this time will be destroyed totally, everlastingly.

 

Therefore, the year of 1914 becomes the "touchstone" by which all men are judged and separated based upon their response to the door-to-door preaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses in our day and time. There can be no question that the year of 1914 really proves to be the pivotal year of importance in the minds of all Jehovah's Witnesses. This is the year of the beginning of that all-important judgment period upon mankind living in this 20th century. And according to the Watchtower Society, the effects of this judgment are everlasting. There can be no question but that the teaching of 1914 in conjunction with Jesus second "parousia" and/or "coming" is of vital importance to all Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide. It is a primary teaching of the Watchtower Society.

 

We may remember the following words of Jesus concerning his coming "parousia:"

 

Matthew 24:4-8

 

"Jesus said to them: 'Look out that nobody misleads you; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. You are going to hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not terrified. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet.

 

"For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress."

Mark 13:5-8

 

"So Jesus started to say to them: 'Look out that nobody misleads you. Many will come on the basis of my name, saying, "I am he," and will mislead many. Moreover, when you hear of wars and reports of wars, do not be terrified; these things must take place, but the end is not yet.

 

"For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, there will be earthquakes in one place after another, there will be food shortages. These are a beginning of pangs of distress."

Luke 21:8-11

 

"He said: 'Look out that you are not misled; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, "I am he," and, "The due time has approached." Do not go after them Furthermore, when you hear of wars and disorders, do not be terrified. For these things must occur first, but the end does not occur immediately.'

 

"Then he went on to say to them: 'Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs."

COMPARE

In the above verses, it is explained by the Watchtower Society that the events such as "earthquakes," "pestilences," "world wars," and "food shortages" would occur on a global scale and would become particularly noticeable since the key year of 1914. Yes, all of the above events make up what is called a "composite sign" and thus prove conclusively that Jesus Christ began his royal "parousia" and began ruling in Kingdom Power. Each individual event, such as 'earthquakes, food-shortages, nation against nation' are various features of a singular, composite "sign" that would alert followers of Christ that he was indeed invisibly present in Kingdom power. No, they could not see that he had gained kingdom power with the naked eye, but they would be able to tell that he was enthroned and ruling in heaven by the terrible things that would be happening upon the earth.

 

The Watchtower Society also pointed out that, on the basis of Matthew 24:34, all of the aforementioned events combined within one generation, a period of about 70 to 80 years, make up the "composite sign" that Jesus spoke about. Yes, all events would happen within one generation, including the "arrival" or second "coming" of Jesus at the Battle of "Armageddon." You may remember, in numerous articles in the past, the length of a "generation" has been linked to Psalms 90:10 which states, in gist, that man's life span would be 70 or 80 years in duration. No doubt on the basis of this information, many Jehovah's Witnesses rightly expect something significant, perhaps the end of this wicked old system of things to occur around the mid-1990s, or so. Think about it.

 

Therefore, how are we to understand such events?

 

WHEN DOES THE CHRIST "COME" OR "ARRIVE?"

 

If you were to ask any one of Jehovah's Witnesses the question:

 

"When does the Christ "arrive?" — You could get one of two different answers.

 

The first "witness" could say that

 

Jesus Christ actually "arrived" in 1914, with all of his "angels," in "glory," and sat down upon his glorious throne and began "separating the sheep and the goats." And of course, the scriptural basis he would cite as proof would be Matthew 25:31, 32. The Watchtower Society would say that this was indeed a correct answer given to the inquirer.

 

However, another Jehovah's Witness could answer the question this way:

 

"Jesus Christ will actually "arrive" at "Armageddon," or the end of this system of things. And the scripture that he would cite as proof would be 1 Corinthians 10:26, which states that true Christians should proclaim Christ's death until he "arrives." And of course, Jehovah's Witnesses continue to memorialize Christ's death every year, and will continue to do so until the end of this wicked system, or, as they say "Armageddon" — when Christ "arrives."

 

Therefore, the question could be raised,

 

Why does the Watchtower Society explain the "arrival" of Christ two completely different ways?

 

Well, this is because the Watchtower Society uses the word "arrival" in a way designed to turn a person's attention away from seeing that the "coming" of Christ is actually the same as the "parousia" or so-called "presence" of Christ. In other words, the skillful use of the word "arrive" keeps the disciple from seeing the actual fact that there really is no difference between the two expressions, namely, the "coming" of Christ and the "parousia" or presence of Christ. Believe it or not, this method has been quite effective in deceiving many among the organization.

 

Yes, it is pretty obvious that this is a "tricky" maneuver or ploy by the Watchtower Society to mislead the reader into thinking that the Greek word "eltho," "elthon," or "elthe," which are all translated as "arrive" in certain instances, and the Greek word "erchomai," which is translated as "come" in the New World Translation, are totally different words in the Greek language. However, this is not the case. The Greek words "eltho," "elthon," and "elthe," and "erchomai" are actually the same Greek word as far as meaning is concerned. Remember, as we said, "eltho" is simply another form of the word "erchomai." In other words, "eltho" is really the same Greek word as "erchomai," it is a variant of it. And that is why both words are listed in Strong's Concordance as #2067. Yes, they are the same Greek words! Think about it.

 

To further highlight this point, let's look at Mark 13:35, 36 in the New World Translation. Here we find conclusive evidence that "come" would actually have been a more appropriate rendering of the word eltho than "arrival" In any case, you will see that the way Jesus used the Greek words, they simply must mean the same thing and are therefore interchangeable. The account states:

 

"35 Therefore keep on the watch, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming (erchomal) whether late in the day or at midnight or at cockcrowing or early in the morning, 36 in order that when he arrives (eltho) suddenly, he does not find you sleeping." — New World Translation.

 

Please check the New World Kingdom Interlinear Translation on this verse. Once again the word—for—word translation for eltho is "having come." The context is very clear here, the "coming" mentioned in verse 35 is obviously referred to and repeated in verse 36. The word translated as "coming" in verse 35 is eltho a form of the word erchomai. Essentially, these are different forms of the same word but the Watchtower Society has translated "erchomai" as "come" and the "elthq" as "arrived." If you check the following sources, you will see the validity of the above information. (Please see the American Standard Version, New International Version, New American Bible, The Bible In Living English, The King James Version.)

 

One final example that really shows that these two Greek words actually mean the same thing is found for us at 1 Corinthians 4:5. It states:

 

"Hence do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes [Greek Elthon], who will both bring the secret things of darkness to light and make the counsels of the hearts manifest, and then each one will have his praise come to him from God."

 

Again, we see an excellent example illustrating that the Greek word "Elthon" actually means "come," as demonstrated even in the New World Translation. In this particular case, they again show that the word simply means "come" and nothing more. Think about it.

 

GREEK WORD TRANSLATED "PRESENCE" [PAROUSIA] SIMPLY MEANS "COME"

 

Yes, the more we examine the situation, the more we see that the Watchtower Society is trying to uphold the idea that Jesus has a second "presence" and a second "coming." Remember, this is the teaching that makes them unique, makes them different from other religions today. Yes, it is the "invisible presence" which supposedly started in 1914 and continues right down to the end of this present system of things or Jesus'" second coming." Yes, it is at Jesus' "second coming" that he will destroy the wicked at Armageddon. But think, how can Jesus "come" without being present? And further, how can Jesus be "present" without actually "coming" to inspect earth's affairs? Can you explain this? No, the teaching simply does not make good sense, when you really think about it.

 

Clearly, the Bible does not teach that this is the case at all. And the best way to demonstrate this is by examining the Watchtower Society's use of the Greek word "Eltho" which has been translated as "arrive." You see, the Watchtower Society has run into some problems in their use of this word itself "Problems," you say. Yes, problems. We can say this since the Watchtower Society teaches that Jesus "arrived" in all of his Glory in 1914. However, they also teach that the "memorial" celebration of Jesus' death will continue until Jesus Christ "arrives," that is at Armageddon, or the end of this system. Now, remember this is the same Greek word eltho that has been translated as "arrives" instead of as "coming." Therefore, we can see that this is very confusing. If you were to ask a Jehovah's Witnesses today, when does Jesus "arrive," one could answer in 1914, another could answer at "Armageddon." And both answers would be correct, according to the Watchtower Society.

 

Another point also surfaces when we examine this subject or teaching of a supposed "invisible" parousia. And that is this: how did the disciples understand Jesus' word on the Mount of Olives? Quite frankly, even the Watchtower Society admits the following:

 

“When they [the apostles] asked Jesus, ‘What will be the sign of your presence?’ they did not know that his future presence would be invisible.” — Watchtower January 15, 1994, page 50, par. 6.

 

Now let's think about what the Watchtower Society has just admitted ... think. Clearly, the disciples or apostles had no such knowledge or idea of an "invisible parousia" or second coming of Christ. In fact, when we examine Acts 1:6, we can clearly see that the apostles looked forward to a restoration of an earthly kingdom and therefore they looked to a visible, earthly return or second coming of Christ, something they could see, and not an invisible one that needed to be identified by things like "wars," "food-shortages," "pestilence," and "earthquakes." These aforementioned things would merely serve to show that the "master" was near, but not actually here invisibly and thus would need to show it by these traumatic events. No, but it would be as Matthew 24:33 clearly says:

 

"Likewise also you, when you see 'all these things, know that he is near at the doors."

 

Yes, "he is near," but not actually here, invisibly present. There is a difference. Remember, the Watchtower Society says the "wars" and "earthquakes" would serve as a "sign" to show that Jesus was "invisibly" present. But Matthew 24:33 clearly says that these things were to serve as "sign" to show that the master was "near" and not "here." That's what the scripture said, didn't it? Think about it.

 

A FITTING ILLUSTRATION

 

But think one minute:

 

If the "presence" of Jesus, which we will call "A" is equal to the "arrival" of            Jesus, "B"

 

And the "coming" of Jesus, which we will call "C"
           is equal to the "arrival" of Jesus, "B"

 

Then,                      the "Presence" of Jesus, "A"

                                            must be equal to the "coming" of Jesus, "C"

 

In other words, if "A" is equal to "B," and "B" is equal to "C," then "C" must be equal to "A." Therefore, the so-called "presence" or parousia, the "arrival" or eltho and the "coming" or erchomai are all equal, they mean the same thing. There is no difference in the meaning of these words, as far as it pertains to the "coming" of the Christ. They all mean the same thing.

 

 

Something To Think About!

Written By Donald C. Burney

Next we will consider the idea of whether

first century Christians actually EXPECTED the imminent return of Jesus

in their own lifetimes ... in PART 2 of …

 

The Second "Parousia" Of Christ
-- Re-Examined

© 1994 - 2017  Donald C. Burney

COMPARE

COMPARE

Click Picture

Click Picture

Click Picture