Jesus’ Coming and Paul

03 Jul

Second ComingIn Matthew 24:3 the Apostles asked Jesus what would be the sign of his coming or parousia (G3952). Jesus told them that his coming could not be hid (Matthew 24:27), and it would come upon the people suddenly when they least expected it (Matthew 24:37-39). Recently I wrote that Peter, James and John believed and taught Jesus coming would be in their expected lifetimes in the 1st century AD. What did Paul believe and teach? Did he agree with those who knew Jesus the longest, or did he teach something different?

Paul wrote about the raising of the dead (1Thessalonians 4:13-14) or the time when Christ would come. Paul claimed that Jesus would bring those who have died with him, because we who are alive at Jesus’ coming or parousia (G3952) would not be caught up with Christ before those who have died were raised (1Thessalonians 4:15). The resurrection of the dead would occur first (1Corinthians 15:52):

(1 Thessalonians 4:16 KJV)  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Afterward, those who are alive and remain on the earth will be caught up with them to greet Jesus in the sky (1Thessalonians 4:17). Paul goes on to say that the Thessalonians already knew these things, because Paul taught them, while he was with them (1Thessalonians 5:1), yet this day would come upon the world unawares, as a thief in the night. In fact, when they expected peace, sudden destruction would come (1Thessalonians 5:2-3). After encouraging the believers further, Paul said he prayed that God would preserve them wholly—spirit, soul and body—until the coming (G3952) of the Lord (1Thessalonians 5:23; cf. 2:19 & 3:13).

It appears as though Paul also taught that the coming of Christ would be sudden, catching people unawares, but we wouldn’t have to wonder about the times. Everything would be clear enough for folks to understand as things developed. Paul did add that, when Christ would come, the resurrection of believers would also occur (cf. 1Corinthians 15). In 1Corinthians Paul argued against those who tried to say there was no resurrection for a certain group of dead ones. He concluded that, if there were no resurrection of all the dead, both he and the other Apostles were false witnesses (1Corinthians 15:15).

Jesus rose from the dead and became the Firstfruit of them who were dead (1Corinthians 15:20), for, as the Scriptures conclude, there is an order of the harvest. First, Christ rose, then they who have died in Christ will rise and be caught up with him (1Corinthians 15:23; cf. 1Thessalonians 4:13-15). This is pictured in the Old Testament in the Wave Sheaf Offering (Christ), which had to be offered before anything else could be harvested from the fields. This was the offering that blessed or sanctified the whole harvest (see Leviticus 23:9-14). The Wave Sheaf Offering pictured Christ’s sacrifice being accepted by God. It was offered on the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and occurred on the Sunday during the Passover season.

In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians he again wrote of the coming (G3952) of Christ, saying the day would not arrive until the great falling away would occur (2Thessalonians 2:1, 3; cf. Matthew 24:9-10), and the Man of Sin would be disclosed—that is, he would bring destruction upon the Jews, for he is the Son of Perdition (destruction). His works had remained hidden, but he is responsible for the abomination that brought desolation to Jerusalem and the Temple. Paul concludes that this evil one would be destroyed in the unveiling of the Lord’s coming (2Thessalonians 2:8), which occurred cir. 66-70 AD. He was killed on the first day of the Jewish rebellion against Rome on the sixth day of the sixth month after serving 60 years as high priest.

We can see, therefore, that Paul was in complete agreement with the Apostles and James who also wrote about the coming of Christ. Jesus’ coming occurred in his judgment of the Jewish leadership and those who believed them rather than the Apostles and prophets, whom Jesus sent to the nation. The Jews, as a whole, rejected Jesus as their Messiah, and the nation was ultimately judged for their rebellion by being brought to rebel against Rome. The Lord’s judgment was brought about, just as it had always been under the Old Testament, when other nations were used to carry out the judgments of God.

What Paul does in his epistles is show the Man of Sin is connected with the Abomination of Desolation. Both brought destruction upon the nation. The Lord and Daniel point to the sin, but Paul points to a particular Man of Sin—the leader who brought the nation to sin. He was the Son of Perdition (or destruction). Moreover, Paul indicates that the time of the Lord’s coming was also the time of the resurrection of those who had died in Christ. This would also have included the righteous that had died under the Old Covenant and lived before the time of Christ. All looked forward to him and are found in him. So, even though Paul explains a little more about the coming of Jesus, his teaching is in basic agreement with that of the other Apostles.

May the Lord help us to see these things and keep us from falling into the errors of those who go about today preaching we can know the day and hour of our Lord’s return.


Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Last Days


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4 responses to “Jesus’ Coming and Paul

  1. Eddie

    September 2, 2015 at 10:43

    Greetings Eric, and thank you once more for you comment and reading my blog.

    How I understand the parousia is the it points to Christ’s return. However, it seems his return is in two phases. The first began with the Jewish war in 66-70 AD. Christ has returned in the sense that he has disarmed Satan and taken over his throne. That throne is referred to in Genesis 1:26 as the throne God gave to Adam. Christ is called the Last Adam in 1Corinthians 15:45, 47. His parousia is described as unexpected and occurs while men carry out their daily affairs (Matthew 24:37, 39), which pointed to the Jewish war (66-70 AD). However, it also describes the time of his coming when all are caught up to be with him (cp. 1Corinthians 15:23 & 1Thessalonians 3:13). Therefore, I believe the parousia is divided into a time when Christ is not readily seen (viz. coming in the clouds of judgment upon the Jews in 66 AD to 70 AD) and when he will appear to us after our change (1John 3:1-2). Perhaps, in a greater sense Jesus’ parousia or coming is not so much in two parts as it is that we cannot see him at present, but we shall see him as he is when we are changed. In other words, I don’t think parousia can be separated from Acts 1:10-11. I used to think so, but I don’t any longer. I think our flesh hides a lot from us that has already taken place. Of course, many things must yet occur, but our flesh hides from us what has occurred.

    Lord bless you, Eric, and guide you in your walk with Him.

  2. Eric Wetzel

    September 1, 2015 at 22:02

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and well-informed reply. I understand the parousia and the connection with Christ’s coming in the wrath and judgment of A.D. 70, which I do not confuse with His return at the last day (still future), but I wonder in what sense the meaning of parousia (presence) is to be applied to the events during the Jewish War. Why use that word to describe it?

    Just speculation, perhaps, but it seems like that word might better apply to what we see in Rev. 7, where the saints are sealed and the great crowd is seen in the “presence” of Christ before the throne in the heaven realm, perhaps in a way not previously possible. This occurring just as, or just prior to, all hell breaking loose on Jerusalem in Rev. 8 (the Jewish War c. A.D.70). James 5:7 likens the parousia to “precious fruit” the farmer waits for, which doesn’t seem to fit the destructive event as such. This presence in heaven idea also seems to make more sense given 2 Thes 2:1 connects the parousia with “our being gathered together with Him.” It also seems to make sense with the resurrection event and the “so we shall always be with the Lord” described in 1 Thes 4:15-17.

    Thus the parousia seems more to describe the heavenly events than the earthly events, though each happened concurrently, or nearly so.

    After considering your thoughts about the Transfiguration, I see your point that it is more a glimpse of Christ with the “veil of flesh” momentarily removed. Thanks for the correction.

  3. Eddie

    September 1, 2015 at 19:51

    Greetings Eric and thank you for your kind words and for your question.

    I hesitate to say that the Transfiguration corresponds to the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord. Perhaps, indirectly so, but not a one to one relationship. If we consider 1Timothy 6:14-16 we see that Jesus is the only Potentate and King of Kings and he dwells in the Light (God–the Father) whom no one can approach or see or can see (cp. also John 1:18). Before the One who became Jesus came to this earth, his form (body) was equal with the Father’s (Philippians 2:6). If we compare this with 1Timothy 6:16 we are able to understand that the form Jesus had before he was born was Light. During the Transfiguration, it seems that the veil of the flesh began to be removed, and the three disciples saw Jesus approaching his former glory–the glory which he presently enjoys with the Father (cp. John 17:5).

    Concerning witnessing the post-resurrection glorification and ascension of Christ, I presume Paul is a witness of Jesus in that state (Acts 9:3-8; 22:6-11; 26:13-19). Moreover, Jesus told the high priest (Annas) that he would live to see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God and coming in the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:64). Jesus refers to this judgment as his coming/parousia in Matthew 24:27, 37, 39). So, although the high priest (Annas) didn’t actually “see” Jesus, he “witnessed” his coming/parausia and was killed on the first day of the Jewish War with Rome in 66 AD.

    I have to confess that there is much I believe I don’ t know about all this, but I love God’s word and look for him to reveal more.

    Perhaps I misunderstood your question, if so, I apologize, but if you reword it and perhaps reveal what you are seeking to reconcile, I might be able to reply better.

    Lord bless you, Eric, in all your studies and in your walk with Him.

  4. Eric Wetzel

    September 1, 2015 at 18:04

    Greetings! I’m new to your blog, but I have greatly enjoyed what I’ve read. Now my question–

    In 2 Peter 1:16-18, Peter tells his readers that he “did not follow cleverly devised myths” when he (“we”) made known to you the power and coming [Gk: parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 16). His description in verses 17-18 confirm that he is talking about the transfiguration event on (likely) Mt. Tabor (Matt. 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). Do you think this glimpse of the parousia corresponds with the post-resurrection glorification and ascension of Christ, and assuming so, how do you believe this was manifested in a way that could be witnessed–or was the vision of John in Revelation the only earthly witness due to it occurring in the heavenly realm? I am trying to reconcile this with other things that are said regarding the parousia.

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