Number 39 February 23, 2003
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15
The Hope of Christ's Return - Part II
By Jack Northart
In continuing our quest for a better understanding of the of the hope of Christ's return, there are some basic Greek words that need to be understood. These words are: parousia, sunteleia, telos and apokalupsis. The definitions are as follows:
parousia- Translated "coming", and implies "the actual personal presence of the one coming."
sunteleia- Translated "end", means "movement toward the final end."
telos- Translated "end", means "the end of the end."
apokalupsis- Translated and means, "revelation", "appearing", "coming", and "be revealed."
To best illustrate the difference between sunteleia and telos, we could describe it like a train. At the end of the train used to be a train car called the caboose, the very last car on the train. This would be the sunteleia. The telos, would be the very back of the caboose where the last coupler and little red light would be the end of the end. The end of the end.
Part of the confusion that has crept in on this subject, has been when we do not reconcile the difference between Christ's description of his second coming in Matthew 24, and the record of his second coming in I Thessalonians 4:13-18. In order to understand the prophesies of Christ's second coming, let's take a look at the records in the Old Testament that describe his first coming.
Micah 5:2 prophesies of Jesus' coming forth from Bethlehem. This event actually takes place in Matthew 2:1. Zechariah 9:9 describes Christ's coming into Jerusalem, which is recorded in Matthew 21:1-10. Christ's birth, his ministry upon earth, his death and resurrection, and his ascension are all included as part of his first coming. Just as Christ's first coming spanned a period of time, so does his second coming, the parousia.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [parousia], and of the end [sunteleia] of the world (age)?
The events of the end, the sunteleia, include: 1) Christ's coming for his saints, 2) the events recorded in the book of Revelation, 3) the first and second resurrections, and finally 4) the final end, the telos, when death is destroyed and all things are subdued to God. As with the first coming of Christ, so his second coming, his parousia, has two basic parts. Logically, as the first coming spans a period of time, so does the second coming. The student of the Bible must distinguish between these in order to avoid serious error.
The first part of his parousia is when Christ returns FOR his saints (I Thessalonians 4:13-17). This begins at the time that the Bible calls …"our gathering together unto him." Many refer to this as "the rapture."
II Thessalonians 2:1
Now we beseech you brethren, by the coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.
It is important to note, that the gathering together affects only those who are born again of God's Spirit during the age of the Church of the Body of Christ, which is the age or the period of time between the Day of Pentecost and the first part of the parousia. All others before and after this age of the Church of the Body, the Age of Grace, will be resurrected when Christ returns WITH his saints.
As we discussed in Part I of this study in the last issue of The Grapevine, at the time of the gathering together, those events that are recorded in I Corinthians 15 take place.
I Corinthians 15:51-54
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
Those who are born again of God's Spirit have Christ living within them. This age in which we live is tremendous and dynamic because of the power that we have now, and of this wonderful glory that we joyfully anticipate at his second coming, his parousia.
...which is Christ in you, the HOPE of glory.
II Thessalonians describes the second part of the second coming of Christ.
II Thessalonians 1: 7-10
And to you who are [were] troubled rest with us, when [at the time] the Lord Jesus shall be revealed [apokalupsis] from heaven with his mighty angels [or messengers of power, which would include angels and Church saints]. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from [away from] the presence of the Lord, and from [away from] the glory of his power; When [after] he shall [have] come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day.
After the gathering together the sixth administration begins, which is the Appearing or Revelation Administration. (See The Grapevine, Issues 15a and 15b). It is after a period of time in this administration that the second part of Christ's parousia takes place. He will come back WITH his saints upon earth, and at this time, Christ will do the judging upon earth. The first time he came, he was born in a lowly manger. He was whipped, spat upon, beaten, tortured beyond any man, and crucified. When he comes back the second time, that is not going to happen. The Word of God says that he is coming back as King of kings, and Lord of lords! And he will take vengeance on his enemies. This is the time of the resurrection of the just and the unjust where death is finally destroyed and Christ will deliver up the kingdom to God.
I Corinthians 15:24-26,28
Then cometh the end [telos, the final point], when he [Christ] shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
This is all part of our hope of Christ's return.
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