Does John 14:19 Prove the Return of Christ Will Be Invisible?

John 14:19 is before us: ‘Yet a little while and the world beholds me no more.’ It is suggested by some sincere Bible students that this remark by the Nazarene proves the Parousia of the Son of Man is invisible. Of course, we need to compare the context as well as other related verses dealing with the subject of the Return or Arrival of Christ. First, consider the context. The previous verses set the subject at hand: ‘Shortly you will behold me no longer; and again, shortly you will see me. . . I shall not leave you as orphans. I am returning to you.’ (John 14:16, 18) Is it possible, and fair to state, that Jesus may be referring to his appearance after his resurrection? John 14:21 infers the same: ‘I shall love him and manifest myself to him.’ This word "manifest" is the Greek EMPHANISO and is variously rendered: manifest, make apparent, disclose, show, reveal. This same word group occurs in the Gospel of John after the Nazarene is resurrected. Note John 21:1, ‘After all of this, Jesus manifested himself to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He made the manifestation in this way.’ Would this not seem to confirm that John 14:19 is talking about that period following the Resurrection and before the Ascension?

Peter reveals this truth at Acts 10:40, 41, ‘God raised up Jesus the third day and granted him to become manifest not to all the people but to witnesses previously appointed by vote.’ Paul agrees with this, for he writes to the Corinthians: ‘After he was seen by upward of five hundred brothers.’ (1 Corinthians 15:6) Thus, it seems fair to conclude that John 14:19 is talking about the appearances of Jesus between his resurrection and ascension.

Did the Nazarene ever appear to unbelievers in the world following his resurrection? Paul says, yes. 1 Corinthians 15:7 reports: ‘But last of all Jesus was also seen by me.’ Is it fair to ask: in what state was Paul when the Lord appeared to him? As part of the world? Judging from the three accounts of Paul’s experience on the Damascus road we would have to answer that someone in the world did see the glorified Lord after his ascension. Regarding this Paul reminds the Corinthians: ‘Have I not seen the Lord?’ (1 Corinthians 9:1) However, we ask our sincere Bible student: What did Jesus the Nazarene say elsewhere regarding his Parousia? Would it be visible or invisible?

Did Jesus clearly state that his Parousia would be visible or invisible?

Read the following and ask yourself how the Nazarene could make it any clearer: ‘And people will tell you: "See there!" and "See here!" Do not follow them! For as lightning flashes from under heaven to another part under heaven, so the Son of Man will be. . . So, it will be when the Son of man is unveiled. ... I tell you: in that night two will be on one bed; one will be received home and the other abandoned. There will be two grinding at the same mill; one will be received home and the other abandoned. ... For just as lightning arrives from the East and shines until the West, so the Parousia of the Son of Man will be... And then will appear in the atmosphere the Sign of the Son of Man and all the tribes of the earth will lament in grief. They will see the Son of man arriving on the clouds of the atmosphere.’ (Luke 17:23, 24, 3, 34, 35; Matthew 24:27, 30)

How does this seem to read to you? In all fairness, reading the prophecy as it is presented without severe manipulation? Will mankind on the globe at the time of the Parousia not "see" this foretold Return? Do not all tribes lament in grief at the same time because they do "see" something? The Nazarene’s example of two cases alive at his Coming, one at sleep and one at work, would seem to argue this Appearing occurs within a single day when its day on one side of the earth and night on the other. Compare Mark 13:35 where this time may be within any of four time periods: late afternoon, midnight, cock-crowing, or sunrise. This would compress the possibilities within a twelve-hour period!

For these reasons we cannot view John 14:19 as proof of an invisible Return of Christ.

The above should offer a strong bias that the Parousia is visible to the world in general and that John 14:19 does not prove an invisible Return but rather is dealing with those private appearances of the Lord following his resurrection and before his ascension.

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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