Getting An Understanding - The Parousia

By Joseph L. Watkins

As the 70 men that 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 four new words “baptism” and other like-sounding words.

Without any question this is the manner that the word we have before us should have been dealt with. We would then have the word “parousia” had the translators given the world this word at the first perhaps. We would have grown up with the correct word, and 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 24 times in all - 4 in Matthew, 2 in 1 Cor.; 3 in 2 Cor.; 2 in Ph'p.; 4 in 1 Thess.; 3 in 2 Thess.; 2 in James; 3 in 2 Peter; and 1 time in 1 John. On 22 occasions the translators rendered it with our English word coming. The other two times, 2 Cor. 10:10 and Ph'p 2:12, they used our word presence - “Not in my presence only, but now much morein my absence, work out your own salvation” - and - “But his (Paul's) bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” Now using this word these two time was an improvement, but not much, for there are already five other Greek words for our word presence - #561, #1715, #1799, #2714 and #4384.

Most of the time the word “coming” has been used, and most of the time this word has His coming into the world as King of kings, and Lord of lords in view. But, it is not so much His coming, but His being here on earth in His Kingdom, and yes, He is to be personally present, but however we must know this word parousia is saying a lot more than that.

Read Dr. E.W. Bullinger's note in the Companion Bible on Matt. 24:3, and Vine's Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament, page 111. We find that many of the word study books do make it very clear that this word parousia is a very technical word, however, few of them seem to offer us but little or no help in our efforts to have 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 just visit, now this person can be said to be present, even as some folks would have it, however, we could not rightly say that he was there 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 my friend, often comes by the job to see what we are working on and 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 formally, officially as the 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 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 Hisparousia and He is to be in His parousia for 1,000 years.

The word “coming” has been in itself the target of malicious misuse for years. As some of the more religious-minded theologians seized upon this word very early, for always and in all ways, such men are seeking ways to keep other men under their own control and authority, especially if that man happened to be a member of his church.

The coming of the true Christ of God, of course, was of little or no real interest to such men. But what they saw was not so much “His” coming, but the judgment that they said was to come, at what they said would be the end of the world. See Matt. 24:3 where the word world has been wrongly put here; It should have been our word age (#165). The parousia of the Lord or His Kingdom is to mark the consummation or end of the age. Yes, it is to be these 1,000 years that are to complete His workings on this old world. So 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; in these men's 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 or so ago, some very misguided folks began to “on some” - and 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 much better serve their evil purpose to keep most of these occasions, as the second coming of Jesus Christ. But, however they wanted to say that this word at times was talking of what they said was the rapture of the church. 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 other occasions of this word.

However, 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 in Zach. 9:9. And we also can read of this same event in 1Thess. 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 A.D. 70 and then it must have run until 1070 A.D. for He is to be in “His parousia” for 1,000 years; and 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 of us just missed out on this great news somehow.