Wed April 26th, 2017
Academics have a word for the second coming – it is “Parousia”, and simply means “the arrival (of royalty)”, so if I use that word you know what it means.
Jesus talked about the Son of man coming again in judgement – the day of the Lord, the day of judgement (e.g. Luke 17:22–37). He talked about his church being ready and warned us not to be consumed by this life else we miss His return (e.g. Matthew 25:1–13).
In what we believe to be the first part of the New Testament that was written down, Ist Thessalonians, this is a big issue.
The first point that Paul teaches us is that Jesus died and rose again.
There is no second coming without the resurrection. Jesus has to be alive to return – and return he will! Paul validates our resurrection using Jesus’s. Those Christians who are asleep (dead) will rise.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again , in the same way God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (died) 1 Thess. 4:14
Parousia as a word was often used of state visits by Caesar and a message that Paul clearly wants us to hear is that Jesus will return to this land as the greatest leader of all time, in a class above Caesar, not approaching from Rome but from Heaven. Usually the city that was about to receive Caesar would send out a party to meet him, hence the talk of us meeting Jesus in the air, as he is not coming from the road to Rome.
Two reunions will take place – living Christians with those Christians who had been dead, and both meeting the Lord together. The language of clouds reminds us of Sinai – where God met Israel and gave them the law, and it talks of Jesus returning in glorious victory.
Paul says we will be ‘caught up together’ which is the same sort of language that can be used in a militaristic such as ‘taking plunder’. It is as if Paul is alluding to the taking of Enoch.
So Enoch’s life lasted 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him (Genesis 5:23-24)This idea, which is generally referred to as ‘the rapture’ is a widely held belief but there is no record of it in church history before 1830 when a man named Irving taught it and it was then spread by John Nelson Derby to America, from which we hear it over Christian TV and radio all the time.
It would be just as well understood as the spiritual SAS coming in from heaven and snatching or rescuing us away from where we have been held hostage.
They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will send out his angles with a loud trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matthew 24:30-31The Exodus theme continues here – where God sends his angels (instead of Moses) to take his chosen people out of their place of persecution. The point of Paul’s description of our future is not to give us clarity on exactly what will happen and when, but rather that we might be encouraged by his explanation.
Therefore encourage one another with these words I Thess. 4:18Then the first half of chapter 5 talks again about the day of the Lord and that we must maintain our readiness.
Some confusion has been created by the fact that in one place Jesus talks about the weeds being snatched away not the righteous:
The weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom all who cause sin and those guilty of lawlessness(Mt 13:38–41)
The reality is that there will be a separation between those who have relationship with God (i.e. the righteous) and those who do not.
About the return of Jesus, no matter who tells you they know don’t believe them because:
Now concerning that day and hour no one knows – neither the angels of heaven nor the Son – except the Father alone. Matthew 24:36So in the short time available to us in this session, this is what I can assure you of:
1. Jesus is alive, so He will return
2. Because Jesus underwent resurrection, so will we.
3. Some generation will of course be alive when Jesus returns
4. The dead are not disadvantaged – we will all see Jesus together.
5. Jesus will certainly rescue us from our persecutions
6. Be ready!
We could spend days talking about this issue but it is important that we know these things so that we can encourage one another with these words!