by Joseph L. Watkins
We have often said the study of the Word of God is the study of the words of God. Yes, the very words of truth were, and are his own personal selections. Words of truth could and would most correctly express the truth He desires to express to the one He had in view. The ones needed to know and understand each truth. So as I see it, one of the best and most God-honoring methods of Bible study is word study, and our number one enemy knows the truth very well so he works, as only he can work, in and through men, religious-minded men. He works to encourage them to change, or to exchange one key word for another word.
As the 70 men were called on to do the work of translating the Greek into the English of the King James Bible, came to the words baptize (Strong’s #907), baptism (#3908), baptismos (#909), and baptistes (#910), they soon saw that they had a real difficult problem – they could not find an English word that expressed what was being said in the Greek words; so they took the sounds of the Greek letters to make a new English word. So we now have new words ‘baptism’ and other like-sounding words.
Without any question this is the manner the word we have before us should have been dealt with. We would then have the Greek word parousia had the translators given the world this word at the first; we would have grown up with the right understanding.
Yes, without question, one of the most maligned and sinister mishandling of God’s holy Words of Truth must be the translating work of this Greek word parousia (#3952), which is pronounced par-oo-see-ah. We find this word twenty-four times in all: four in Matt., twice in 1 Cor., three times in 2 Cor., twice in Phil., four times in 1 Thess., three times in 2 Thess., twice in James, three times in 2 Peter, and one time in 1 John. On twenty-two occasions the translators rendered it with our English word coming; two other times they used our word presence – numbers 561, 1715, 1799, 2714 and 4384.
Most of the time the word coming has been used, and most often this word has in view His coming into the world as King of kings, and Lord of lords. But not so much His coming, but His being here on earth in His Kingdom, and yes, He is to be personally present. However, we must know this word is parousia is saying a lot more. Read Dr. E.W. Bullinger’s note in the Companion Bible on Matt. 24:3, and page 111 of Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament. We find many of the word-study books make it very clear that this word parousia is a very technical word; however, few of them seem to offer us little or no help in our efforts to a better understanding of the technicalities of this very important word, so let us try if we might.
Say a person comes to another person’s home to visit. This person can be said to be present, even as some folks would have it, however, we could not rightly say he was in parousia, for this word is only to be used as he is there in some official or formal capacity. An example: I have been engaged in the job of building houses for a number of years; my neighbor, as a friend, often comes by the job to see what we’re working on or just to visit. One day he wins the election for township tax assessor, and the day came that he came to the house I was working on, but this time he was there officially as tax assessor. He was there to be and to do both what he is and what he is to do. Yes, it could be said he was there in his parousia. And believe me, when the Lord Jesus Christ comes to the earth again as the King of kings and Lord of lords, it is to be very formally and very officially. He is to be in His parousia, and He is to be in His parousia for 1,000 years.
What they saw was not so much as His coming, but the judgment that they said was to come, at what they said would be the end of the world. See Matthew 24:3: the word world has been wrongly put here when it should have been the word age (#165). The parousia of the Lord, or His Kingdom, is to mark the consummation of the age. Yes, it is to be these 1,000 years that are to complete His workings on this old world. The coming of Christ Jesus into the world soon just became “the coming judgment.” One man would be taken into God’s heaven, another would be sent into the endless punishing of Satan’s hell-fire; these men thinking the death of men was to become a death-life without end or an immortal living death. Oh my, what a gross contradiction of terms.
About 150 years ago, some misguided folks began to on some (note I said “on some”) occasions, for these folks knew they could never change all of the occasions of the word parousia, nor did they desire to, for it would better serve their evil purpose to keep most of these occasions as the second coming of Jesus Christ.
However, they wanted to say this word, at times, was talking of what they said was the rapture of the church or meeting the Lord in the air. They had no scripture for any such rapture, but never mind that, such evil men do not need any, they just put their own spin on some of the occasions of this word.
The One Spirit of Truth has given us a wonderful picture of “His coming parousia” in Matt. 21:1-16, Luke 19:30-38, and also Zach. 9:9. We also can read the same event in 1 Thess. 4:13-18.
Today some men are trying to say that His parousia has already taken place. This thinking has His return to earth some time around AD 70, and then it must have run until 1070 AD for he is to be in His parousia for 1,000 years; after that He is to deliver up the Kingdom to the Father, death having been destroyed that God may be all and in all. However, it seems most have just missed out on this great news.
by Joseph L. Watkins