SPECIAL TOPIC: NT TERMS FOR CHRIST'S RETURN
The eschatological emphasis of a special coming day when humans will meet Jesus (as Savior and Judge) goes by several designations in Paul's writings.
1. "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. 1 Cor. 1:8)
2. "the day of the Lord" (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2)
3. "the day of the Lord Jesus" (cf. 2 Cor. 1:14)
4. "the day of Jesus Christ" (cf. Phil. 1:6)
5. "the day of Christ" (cf. Phil. 1:10; 2:16)
6. "His day (Son of Man)" (cf. Luke 17:24)
7. "the day that the Son of Man is revealed" (cf. Luke 17:30)
8. "the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. 1 Cor. 1:7)
9. "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven" (cf. 2 Thess. 1:7)
10. "in the presence of the Lord Jesus at His coming" (cf. 1 Thess. 2:19)
There are at least four ways in which the NT authors refer to the return of Jesus.
1. epiphaneia, which refers to a dazzling brightness which is theologically (though not etymologically) related to "glory." In 2 Tim. 1:10; Titus 2:11 and 3:4 it refers to Jesus' first coming (i.e., incarnation) and His Second coming. It is used in 2 Thess. 2:8, which includes all three major terms for the Second Coming: 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1,8; Titus 2:13.
2. parousia, which implies presence and originally referred to a royal visit. It is the most widely used term (cf. Matt. 24:3,27,37,39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1,8; James 5:7,8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28).
3. apokalupsis (or apocalypsis), which means an unveiling for the purpose of revealing. It is the name of the last book in the NT (cf. Luke 17:30; 1 Cor. 1:7; 2 Thess. 1:7; I Pet. 1:7; 4:13).
4. phaneroō , which means to bring to light or clearly reveal or manifest. The term is used often in the NT for many aspects of God's revelation. It, like epiphaneia, can refer to Christ's first coming (cf. 1 Pet. 1:20; 1 John 1:2; 3:5,8; 4:9) and His second coming (cf. Matt. 24:30; Col. 3:4; 1 Pet. 5:4; 1 John 2:28; 3:2).
5. The very common term for "coming," erchomai, is also used occasionally for Christ's return (cf. Matt. 16:27-28; 23:39; 24:30; 25:31; Acts 1:10-11; 1 Cor. 11:26; Rev. 1:7,8).
6. It is also used with the phrase "day of the Lord" (cf. 1 Thess. 5:2), which is an OT title for God's day of blessing (resurrection) and judgment.
The NT as a whole is written within the worldview of the OT, which asserted
a. a current evil, rebellious age
b. a coming new age of righteousness
c. an age brought about by the Spirit's agency through the work of the Messiah (Anointed One)
The theological assumption of progressive revelation is required because the NT authors slightly modify Israel's expectation. Instead of a military, nationalistic (Israel) coming of the Messiah, there are two comings. The first coming is the incarnation of deity in the conception and birth of Jesus of Nazareth. He came as the non-military, non-judicial "suffering servant" of Isaiah 53; also the mild rider on the colt of a donkey (not a war horse or kingly mule), of Zech. 9:9. The first coming inaugurated the New Messianic Age, the Kingdom of God on earth. In one sense the Kingdom is here, but of course, in another it is still far off. It is this tension between the two comings of the Messiah which, in a sense, is the over-lapping of the two Jewish ages that was unseen, or at least unclear, from the OT. In reality, this dual coming emphasizes YHWH's commitment to redeem all humanity (cf. Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Exod. 19:5 and the preaching of the prophets, especially Isaiah and Jonah).
The church is not waiting for the fulfillment of OT prophecy because most prophecies refer to the first coming (cf. How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth, pp. 165-166). What believers do anticipate is the glorious coming of the resurrected King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the expected historical fulfillment of the new age of righteousness on earth as it is in heaven (cf. Matt. 6:10). The OT presentations were not inaccurate, but incomplete. He will come again just as the prophets predicted in the power and authority of YHWH.
The Second Coming is not a biblical term, but the concept is the worldview and framework of the entire NT. God will set it all straight. Fellowship between God and mankind made in His image will be restored. Evil will be judged and removed. God's purposes will not, cannot, fail!
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