Is Jesus Present or Yet To Come?

A treatise on the Invisible Presence Doctrine
of Bible Students and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Coming on the Clouds

"At that time men will see the Son of Man
coming in clouds with great power and glory." – Mark 13:26

©Copyright 1998 – Andy Weeks ()

Abbreviations used in this Treatise

Using Logical Analysis

Matthew 24: the parousia and the 2 Questions

Why did Matthew choose the word parousia?

Dictionary Definitions of parousia

Matthew’s Use of the word Parousia

Other Uses of parousia in the NT

Instance of parousia meaning "Arrival and Subsequent Presence"

Instance of parousia meaning "Arrival"

The Two Questions in Matthew 24

His parousia: Visible or Invisible

Every Eye Shall See Him

All uses of optanomai in the New Testament

"The World Seeth Me No More…"

The Son of Man

How Should We Interpret Segments of this Prophecy?

Have Earthquakes increased?

Gospel Preached in the Whole World

The Parable of the Fig Tree

Lightning or Bright Shining or Both?

Behold I Come as a Thief

But of that Day and Hour, No One knows

As in the Days of Noah

Proper Methodology: Comparing Parousia with Parallel accounts of Mark & Luke

He Shall Come in Like Manner

Gradual Revealing of His Invisible Presence?

ABS Interpretation of parousia, epiphania, apokalupsis.

parousia

epiphania

apokalupsis

The Use of These Greek Words in the NT

Summary of the Greek Words

Summary

Conclusion

Appendix

A. All instances of parousia in the NT

B. The Parallels of Matthew, Mark, & Luke

C. Definition Table

(See) Optanomai

(See) Horao

(See) Eido

(See) Idou

(See) Theaomai

Synonym

Synonyms

(Coming) Eperchomai

(Coming) Erchomai

(Come) Heko

(Come) Ephistemi

(Revealed) Apokalupto

D. Son of Man

Colorful_SquiggleB153.gif (558 bytes)

 

Is Jesus Present or Yet to Come?

Abbreviations used in this Treatise

Using Logical Analysis

Explicit Reasoning -to come to a conclusion based on fully revealed or expressed data. Without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity: leaving no question as to meaning or intent.

Implicit Reasoning - to come to a conclusion based on being understood from something else though unexpressed: implied.

Matthew 24: the parousia and the 2 Questions

Why did Matthew choose the word parousia?

Perhaps the most defining difference between all Christians and the ABS and the Watchtower view of the Lord’s return is the manner of his arrival and presence. The ABS belief is that he arrived invisibly in 1874 (Watchtower in 1914) and has been carrying on the work of tearing down the world systems and preparing the last members of his bride. The pivotal point of this contention is the Greek word parousia. It is well known that this word in its simplistic sense means ‘presence.’ Let’s look at the definitions given by some well-known Bible scholars.

Dictionary Definitions of parousia

Parousia - lit., "a presence," para, "with," and ousia, "being" (from eimi, "to be"), denotes both an "arrival" and a consequent "presence with." For instance, in a papyrus letter a lady speaks of the necessity of her parousia in a place in order to attend to matters relating to her property there. Paul speaks of his parousia in Philippi, Phil. 2:12 (in contrast to his apousia, "his absence;" see ABSENCE). Other words denote "the arrival" (see eisodos and eleusis, above). Parousia is used to describe the presence of Christ with His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, 2 Pet. 1:16. When used of the return of Christ, at the Rapture of the Church, it signifies, not merely His momentary coming for His saints, but His presence with them from that moment until His revelation and manifestation to the world. In some passages the word gives prominence to the beginning of that period, the course of the period being implied, 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1; Jas. 5:7,8; 2 Pet. 3:4. In some, the course is prominent, Matt. 24:3,37; 1 Thess. 3:13; 1 John 2:28; in others the conclusion of the period, Matt. 24:27; 2 Thess. 2:8.

parousia ... the coming, arrival, advent ... of a return ... the future, visible, return from heaven of Jesus.

Coming, advent as the first stage in presence.... The official term for a visit of a person of high rank, esp. of kings and emperors visiting a province.

Matthew’s Use of the word Parousia

Matthew’s use of parousia seems very odd when comparing to the parallel accounts of Mark & Luke. Why would he choose this parousia as opposing to erchomai (see Definition Table)? There could be at least 2 very good reasons. Matthew was not just interested in telling an account of Jesus’ life but also helping us see him from a particular point of view. He was interested in showing Jesus as the King. For more information on this point please see the provided references1. For those who are familiar with this view of Matthew it is no surprise that he would pick the word for coming as described in The Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, page 898:
1 See ‘The Gospel of Matthew’ by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Fleming H. Revell publishing;
See ‘The Four Views of Christ’ by Andrew Jukes;
See "Jesus as King’ by Andrew Weeks,

"Parousia means, on the one hand presence. ... Technically the noun is used for the arrival of a ruler a king, emperor, ruler... The corresponding adventus ... The cities of Corinth and Patras struck advent coins commemorating the visit of Nero. ... The noun parousia denotes generally presence and arrival." (Bold added for emphasis)

This is the perfect choice for describing Jesus' coming. The accounts in Mark and Luke use the standard word for coming. Later we will go into more detail about the word parousia.

Other Uses of parousia in the NT

In order to understand the use of parousia, we must look at how it is used throughout the NT instead of only dwelling with its use in Matthew 24. The point to be made is that parousia is not strictly used as "presence" but also as "arrival." The dictionary definitions presented in the previous section are good (arrival and subsequent presence.) But, as will be easily shown, the word can mean both "presence" as well as strictly "arrival."

Instance of Parousia meaning "Arrival and Subsequent Presence"

1 Corinthians 16:17 - I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. (NIV)

I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied . (KJV)

Meaning: Paul was glad that these brethren arrived and stayed with the Corinthians .

2 Corinthians 7:5-7: For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn--conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

Meaning: Paul was harassed by conflicts and fears but God comforted him by the arrival and presence of Titus. When he arrived he comforted Paul by telling him of the Corinthians' concern.

Instance of parousia meaning "Arrival"

Philippians 1:24-26: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh [is] more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Meaning: Paul, if he abides in the flesh, will make the Philippians joy great when he comes to them again.

The Two Questions in Matthew 24

As every Bible Student knows, the first place to turn in the Bible to understand Jesus' return is Matthew the 24th chapter. The reason for this is the Greek word parousia. In this wonderful chapter, a great amount of detail is laid out before our eyes. Unfortunately, many broadly different interpretations are given from its wondrous contents. In order to understand this chapter, the very premise of its existence must be explored or the interpretation built upon it is suspect. So, why did Jesus give us all these details? It stems from 2 questions asked by the disciples.

If we are to understand Jesus words, we must understand that he is answering two very specific questions asked by his disciples. The first question, "when will this happen…" is an answer to their awestruck response of gazing at the temple.

Verse 1 - Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings .

Jesus responds to their misplaced affection by saying in verse 2:

"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

The key to understanding why the ABS Interpretation is incorrect is that the position never takes into account the first question asked of the disciples. When would the temple be destroyed? ABS launch right into a Second Advent interpretation without giving any biblical rationale. Given that fact that Luke 21 applies the context solely to the destruction of Jerusalem, this is indeed hard to fathom. Luke 21 states plainly:

5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down." 7 "Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?" 8 He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am he,' and, `The time is near.' Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away." 10 Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. 12 "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict…

Clearly Luke applies these verses to the destruction of Jerusalem. Matthew’s account is simply combining the two separate accounts (Luke 17 & Luke 21/Mark 13) for simplicity sake. It is hard to imagine a biblical basis for drawing the conclusion that Matthew 24:1-14 should be applied to the Gospel age. What is the basis for telescoping items in this context? For example, the interpretation of "being delivered to the synagogues" is used as a gospel age application based on Matthew's account. All of Luke's account clearly takes place at or near the destruction of Jerusalem.

Here are two examples from Pastor Russell’s writings, which take these verses in Matthew and apply them to the gospel age:

"Our Lord's reply in `verses 1 to 14` covers the entire Gospel age; and his words in `verses 15 to 22` have a double application --literally to the close of the Jewish age, and figuratively to the end of this Gospel age, of which the Jewish age was a shadow. `Verses 23-26` contain words of warning against false Christs, and in `verse 27` he reaches their question regarding his parousia, and declares [properly translated], "as the bright shining [the sunlight] cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall the parousia [the PRESENCE] of the Son of man be." The sunlight becomes present instantly, yet noiselessly; and it is first discerned by those who are first awake."2
2 The Time is at Hand, Page 160 (Bold and Italics added for emphasis)

And also:

"Altogether, there have probably been fifty or more false Christs, male and female, and many of them undoubtedly demented--possessed of evil spirits. But none of these, nor all of them together, can be said to have "deceived many." Yet it is against the kind which "deceive many" that our Lord cautions us here, and again, later on in his prophecy, in which connection we will examine particularly the antichrists which have deceived many.

The History of Eighteen Centuries Briefly Foretold

--`Matt. 24:6-13`; `Mark 13:7-13`; `Luke 21:9-19`--

"And ye shall hear of wars and rumors [threats, intrigues] of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are primary sorrows." `Matt. 24:6-8`

Thus briefly did our Lord summarize secular history, and teach the disciples not to expect very soon his second coming and glorious Kingdom. And how aptly: surely the world's history is just this--an account of wars, intrigues, famines and pestilences--little else. Our Lord separates the history of the true Church and states it with similar brevity, thus:

"Then [during that same period, the Gospel age] they shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations [peoples] for my name's sake. And then [during that same period] many shall be offended…"3
3 The Battle of Armageddon - Page 467 (Bold and Italics added for emphasis)

This kind of reasoning falls dangerously close to the saying that ‘The Bible is a fiddle for any tune may be played upon it.’ Is there some other Biblical passage that would support this interpretation, to allow anyone to ignore the disciples first question and to draw such a conclusion about Matthew 24:6-13?

The reason for bringing this apparently faulty interpretation is to point out other baseless reasoning in Matthew 24. Before we go on to the parousia, we must consider one of the "firm evidences" brought to bear that Jesus must have returned; his predicted earthquakes. Remember that the earthquake scenario belongs to the destruction of Jerusalem. But if the reader is not convinced of this, there is other evidence to disregard the earthquake evidence thoughts that will be presented later.

His parousia: Visible or Invisible

Every Eye Shall See Him

One of the biggest contentions that is made by believers in the invisible presence is that the Greek word for ‘see’ in the context of Matthew 24 and Revelation 1:7 would better be translated as discern. This translation helps keep the invisible nature of Jesus presence intact. Here is a seemingly impressive reference from an ABS booklet4 that summarizes well the ABS position:
4 New Brunswick Bible Student Publications, "I Will Come Again"

"These four scriptures (John 14:19, 1 Timothy 6:16, Acts 22:6-8 and 11-14, Luke 17:20) show that the glorified Christ will not and cannot be seen at his return. Yet Revelation 1:7 and Matthew 24:30 seem to indicate that all mankind will see the returned Lord. Will this be by literal sight or by mental perception (as for example, when we say, "I see [understand] what you mean")? As Christians, we cannot afford to base our conclusions upon one set of scriptures that do not fit with our views. We must accept the challenge: "Study to show thyself approved unto God…rightly dividing the Word of Truth." The only valid way to ascertain the correct view of any Biblical doctrine is to collate all the scriptures on a given subject and then rightly divide them, that is, harmonize them. Only then can we be sure of the correct understanding. When all the scriptures on a given subject are brought together, they will harmonize. They will not contradict….

Now, for a consideration of the other set of scriptures (Matt. 24:30-31 and Rev. 1:7), which speak of all mankind seeing the returned Lord. Are they literal or symbolic? In both texts, the Greek word translated "see" is optanomai. The following definition is from An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W. E. Vine:

OPTANOMAI—to see; used a) objectively, with reference to person or thing seen, or b) subjectively, with reference to an inward impression or a spiritual experience or a mental occupation.

Thus we see optanomai can mean either literal sight or mental perception. The following are examples of how the Greek word optanomai is used in Scripture to denote mental understanding…

Three more examples of optanomai are found in the following:

Revelation 19:10—"And he said unto me, See [optanomai] thou do it not."

Matthew 24:4—"…And they said…see [optanomai] thou to that."

Matthew 24:24—"…I am innocent…see [optanomai] ye to it."

These scriptures reveal that the Bible does use optanomai, translated "see" in Matthew 24:30-31 and Revelation 1:7, in a symbolic sense to denote mental understanding." (Italics and Bold added for emphasis)

On the surface, a student may be easily convinced of the asserted thoroughness of this presentation on the Greek word optanomai. But a deep investigation into its use throughout the Bible and especially in the context of Matthew 24 is imperative to get its correct meaning. While the aforementioned booklet does not lie about the definition of optanomai, it would be an incorrect assumption to believe that ‘discern’ would be the best translation throughout the Bible.

Consider how familiar the word optanomai sounds to the English language. When you go to get your eyes checked, to whom do you go? The Optometrist, of course! The major definition optanomai is born out in our own language. If we want to optanomai better, we go to the Optometrist. Even so, we must get a broad Biblical view to best understand the major meaning of the word.

Optanomai is used 57 times in the NT and without any uncertainty, almost all have to be translated as seeing with the literal eye! To be sure that we have the complete view, the following section lists every scripture where optanomai appears in the NT.

All uses of optanomai in the New Testament

Matthew 5:8 Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Matthew 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Matthew 27:4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What [is that] to us? see thou [to that].

Matthew 27:24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but [that] rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it].

Matthew 28:7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Mark 9:4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

Mark 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Mark 16:7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

Luke 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

Luke 3:6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Luke 9:31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

Luke 13:28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you [yourselves] thrust out.

Luke 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Luke 22:43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

Luke 24:34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

John 1:50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

John 1:51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

John 16:16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.

John 16:17 Then said [some] of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?

John 16:19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?

John 16:22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

John 19:37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Acts 1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

Acts 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Acts 7:2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,

Acts 7:26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

Acts 7:30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.

Acts 7:35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send [to be] a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 13:31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

Acts 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

Acts 18:15 But if it be a question of words and names, and [of] your law, look ye [to it]; for I will be no judge of such [matters].

Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
Acts 26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

Romans 15:21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

1 Corinthians 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

1 Corinthians 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

1 Corinthians 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

1Tim 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Hebrews 13:23 Know ye that [our] brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

1Joh 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Revelation 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Revelation 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

Revelation 12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Revelation 22:4 And they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] in their foreheads.

Can there be any question that optanomai has direct ties to physical sight? Can an honest student draw a different conclusion? If this look at the word is not convincing enough, there is still one more factor to be considered in its use. If we can find another Greek word in the NT that is roughly translated as ‘mental perception’ then we might be further convinced that optanomai signifies literal sight. Better still would be if a different word is used as ‘discern’ in the Great Prophecy context. Indeed as we will see, this is the case.

There are four other Greek words that are translated ‘see’ in the NT. The definitions are presented in Appendix C., Definition Table. IN fact, all 4 of the 5 words are used in the Matthew and Luke accounts, and sometimes in the same verse. Two of the words, eido and Horao are used extensively in the context and sometimes in the same verse. So, let us examine the uses of these words in our context first.

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour Horao no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

In other words, no man can discern the day and hour.

Matthew 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: horao that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

In other words, take heed that you are not troubled.

When ye therefore shall eido the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

In other words, when you discern abomination of desolation...

Matthew 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall eido all these things, know that it is near, [even] at the doors .

In other words, when you discern all these things...

Here are the other uses of these words in the context:

Mark 13:29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see (eido) these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, [even] at the doors.

Luke 17:22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see (eido) one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see (optanomai) [it].

Luke 17:23 And they shall say to you, See (idou) here; or, see (idou) there: go not after [them], nor follow [them].

If these words were not used in the context of Our Lord’s great Prophecy, then we would have a slight chance of interpreting optanomai as ‘discern.’ But, given the fact that other words are chosen by the writers to show discernment, there is absolutely no basis for drawing the conclusion that optanomai means ‘discern.’ Looking further at optanomai, we can easily discern that the writers want us to know that the world as well as Jesus’ followers will visibly see him when he returns. Consider all the uses of these words in the prophecy to help mold your own answer to the use of optanomai the 22nd verse of Luke 17:

Luke 17:22-23 And he said unto the disciples, "The days will come, when ye shall desire to see (eido) one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see (optanomai) [it]." And they shall say to you, "See (idou – Behold in the second person) here; or, see (idou) there:" go not after [them], nor follow [them].

Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see (optanomai) the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Mark 13:26 And then shall they see (optanomai) the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

Mark 13:29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see (eido) these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, [even] at the doors

Lastly, bringing your attention back to the ‘I Will Come Again’ booklet, the argument is employed that the use of optanomai when used as "see ye to it" does not mean to literally see. But in fact, that is a wrong conclusion. If someone tells you to see to a task, (as Pontious Pilot tried to do the Jews) you are literally seeing that your own hand does it. To try to divorce literal sight from this phrase is not an especially convincing tactic.

"The World Seeth Me No More…"

Another argument against a visible return of Jesus is interpretation of John 14:19 which says:

Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more;
but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

Now that we have covered the definitions of ‘seeing’ and ‘discerning’ in the previous section, all we need to do is see if the word optanomai is used here. To no surprise, the word is optanomai. How could it be if Jesus wanted the disciples to know that the world would view him with the literal eye? The word used by John here is theaomai, which means both to see with the eye and to take view of, or perceive (See definition Table, Appendix C).

Jesus wants to impress on his disciples that they shall see him not because they will look upon him but that he will live in them. We see Jesus now even though the world cannot see him. That is the point Jesus is impressing on the disciples and upon us.

The Son of Man

An often-overlooked fact in the context of Matthew 24 is that Jesus chooses the phrase "Son of Man" when describing his return.

Matthew 24:27 - For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:30 - "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

Matthew 24:37 - As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:39 - and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:44 - So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

The short of it is this: Jesus wanted his listeners to understand that he was not just sent as a Son of God to redeem the world but that he is also a son of man. As all Bible Students agree, Jesus was fully man and the title, "Son of Man" hammers this point home. Now if Jesus has returned as an invisible Spirit, would not another title be more appropriate? He emphasizes six times to the disciples that he is returning in the form of man. While this argument is not explicit in nature, it certainly is much more than mildly implicit, is it not?

How Should We Interpret Segments of this Prophecy?

Have Earthquakes increased?

As we have seen, there is no basis for concluding that the early part of Matthew 24 should apply to the gospel age or the Lord’s return. So much is made of proofs of Jesus’ invisible presence regarding the increase of earthquakes and wars. But given the real context, these events apply to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction and not any other time period.

Putting that aside, scientific studies of earthquakes on the perceived rise is directly due to the communication advances in the 19th and 20th centuries. In reality, the rate of earthquakes has not risen in the last 2 millennia5 and has, in fact, decreased since the early part of our century. The burden of proof must be scientific and driven by data collected. We can't draw the conclusion that the frequency of earthquakes is on the rise just because we hear about them more easily than in previous centuries. If any are going to use this text as proof that Jesus has returned because earthquakes have increased, then the evidence must be shown from the data collected. The WTS has attempted to use data to prove that earthquakes have indeed increased but have grossly misused the available data and distorted the facts.6
5 "Most certainly, there has been no increase in the seismic activity of the Mediterranean during this century. Quite the contrary, in the Eastern Mediterranean the activity of this century has been abnormally low when compared with that of the 10th-12th and 18th centuries." – Professor N. N. Ambraseys in a private letter to Carl Olof Jonsson

"I feel strongly that the seismicity has been stationary for thousands of years. . . . Excellent geological evidence for the stationarity has been obtained by Prof. Kerry Sieh of Caltech, for the San Andreas fault." – Seismologist Keiiti Aki, professor at the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles in a private letter to Carl Olof Jonsson

For a full treatment on the subject, see Signs of the Last Days – When? By Carl Olof Jonsson and Wolfgang Herbst, Commentary Press, P.O. Box 43532, Atlanta, GA 30336. 1987

6 ibid.

Here is a quote from the National Earthquake information Center - World Center A for Seismology:

"Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?

We continue to hear from many people throughout the world that earthquakes are on the increase. Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant throughout this century and, according to our records, have actually seemed to decrease in recent years.

A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year. This is because of the tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world and the many improvements in global communications. In 1931, there were about 350 stations operating in the world; today, there are more that 4,000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by telex, computer and satellite. This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years, and we are able to locate earthquakes more rapidly. The NEIC now locates about 12,000 to 14,000 earthquakes each year or approximately 35 per day. Also, because of the improvements in communications and the increased interest in natural disasters, the public now learns about more earthquakes. (italics added for emphasis)"7
7 http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/increase_in_earthquakes.php

Fig. A - Number of Earthquakes Greater than 7.0 from 1900-1995

Total 1900-1995 = 1921 events = 20 per year (average). Statistics were compiled from the Earthquake Data Base System of the U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center, Golden CO

Gospel Preached in the Whole World

Matthew 24:14 ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Another argument for the context of Matthew 24 being at our end of the age verses the beginning is that Gospel was not preached to the world until the Bible Societies put out Bibles in the late 19th century. Quoting Pastor Russell:

"But witnessing to the world does not imply the conversion of the world. The text says nothing about how the testimony will be received. This witness has already been given. In 1861 the reports of the Bible Societies showed that the Gospel had been published in every language of earth, though not all of earth's millions had received it… But we answer, the printed gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have gone to them brimming full of the Kingdom tidings, just as we have them.

Thus our Lord briefly summed up the eighteen centuries of trials and persecutions upon his Church, and the fruit of their labor in successfully witnessing to all nations."8
8 The Battle of Armageddon, Page 569

But is this what Jesus was talking about? Was he referring to the end of the age or to the destruction of Jerusalem? If we go by logic alone, it would indeed be proper to consider the quotes above as being correct. But if we can find a scripture that would apply the preaching of the gospel to the beginning of the Gospel age then we can put aside the argument presented in the Scripture Studies. Consider Romans 10:15-18:

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

Paul asserts that in his own day that the gospel had indeed gone unto the ends of the earth, well before the destruction of Jerusalem! And again in Romans:

1:8 - First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Colossians 1:6 - All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.

Colossians 1:23 - if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Obviously there is enough evidence in the scriptures that the whole world had been preached to. Apparently the phrase was meant in a general sense and not the literal sense as we could apply it. Who are we to argue with Paul?

The Parable of the Fig Tree

Matthew 24:32-33

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer [is] nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, [even] at the doors. (KJV)

This verse is a very important one in identifying the ABS position regarding where we are in the stream of time. This verse in Matthew 24 has been interpreted by ABS as Jesus pointing to a time when Israel would begin to be restored as a nation. Quoting Pastor Russell:

"Ever since that time, the Jews have been desolate and blighted as a nation. But there is a promise that this blighted fig tree shall again become a living tree--a living nation. They are to be restored to Divine favor, after their "double" of disfavor has been fulfilled. [See STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. 2, pp. 217-230.] This "double" we understand has been accomplished, and this is the meaning of the great awakening now among the Jews, and of the great Zionist movement.

Speaking of the time of His Second Advent and of the nearness then of the Kingdom, Jesus said, "Learn a parable of the fig tree: When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near; so ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors." (`Mark 13:28,29`.) The Jewish nation has been having a long winter time. But the spring time of this nation is now at hand. We already see this fig tree putting forth leaves. So we see that the lesson of the blighted fig tree was not merely a lesson for an hour, but a lesson to all the Lord's people from that time even until now."9
9 Reprints of Zion's Watchtower, pg. 5921

It is not the intent of the author to discredit the interpretation of the Fig Tree as representing Israel. Perhaps it is. However, we must examine the context of Jesus' words and see if he is really making a point of the rebirth of Israel or just using a simple word picture to help the disciples understand when he would be returning.

The first consideration should be the question of whether or not it was Jesus' intent to identify the fig tree as the nation of Israel. The answer can be, maybe. Jesus had cursed the fig tree a few days before and identified it as Israel's lack of fruitage. But it is a tenuous position to insist that is the implication of Jesus words. Consider Revelation 6:13:

And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

Is the point that the fig tree represents Israel or is it a word picture to help us envision the falling of the stars of heaven? Obviously, applying this verse to Israel would not be appropriate. Could it be that in Matthew 24, Jesus is just creating a word picture for us? Draw your own conclusion. Looking in Romans we can emphatically conclude that the olive tree (Romans 11:11,17-19) represents Israel. But there are no other direct scriptures indicating that the fig tree represents Israel in Matthew 24. The argument is implicit and therefore, can not be considered absolute.

Another point to consider is Jesus statement of " ye shall see all these things…" The question we should ask is "what are these things?" Jesus is referring to the previous verses:

24:29-30 - Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (KJV)

It is if he is saying, "When you see the tribulation of those days, the sun darkened, moonlight being blocked, etc. then you shall know that I am about the reveal myself. I will reveal myself not just to you but to the whole world. It is not to say you will know that I am present because of the rebirth of Israel but I am about to arrive when you see the signs I just mentioned previously."

Even if the conclusion is that Israel is the fig tree is correct, one should not conclude that it proves that he is present but that he is about to arrive. The "flood" is about to hit the earth (verses 27-38.)

Lightning or Bright Shining or Both?

Matthew 24:27 - For as the lightning goes forth from the east and shines to the west, so shall be the coming of the Son of man - Darby Translation

Luke 17:24 - For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other

Much has been made over the lightning as described in Matthew 24, and rightly so. Does the word for lightning (astrape) in this context mean lightning or simply, bright shining? The center of the argument is the fact that in Matthew’s account, Jesus uses the word ‘east.’ One can interpret this as the rising (bright shining) of the sun. The fact that Jesus mentions the ‘west’ would seem to indicate that it would show the path of the sun, but why would Jesus use a path for lightning when in fact, lightning is so unpredictable? To get the full import of this argument we quote from Br. Russell:

"Our Lord furnished us a most beautiful illustration of the manner in which his presence will be revealed, when he said, "As the bright-shining emerges from the east, and illuminates even unto the west, so will be the presence of the Son of man." (`Matt. 24:27`) That most translations of this verse are faulty in using the word lightning, where sunlight is meant, is evident; for lightning flashes do not come out of the east and shine unto the west. They just as frequently come from other quarters, and rarely, if ever, flash clear across the heavens. The Lord's illustration, and the only one which will comport with his words, is the sun's brightness, which does invariably emerge from the east and shine even unto the west. The Greek word astrape, here used, is thus shown to be improperly translated in this text, and also in the account of the same words by `Luke (17:24)`. Another instance of the use of this word astrape by our Lord is found in `Luke 11:36`, where it applies to the brightness of a candle, and in the common version is rendered "bright-shining."

Incorrect ideas of the manner of our Lord's coming and revealing, firmly fixed in the minds of translators, led them into this error of translating astrape by the word "lightning." They supposed that he would be revealed suddenly, like a flash of lightning, and not gradually, like the dawning sunlight. But how beautiful is the figure of sunrise, as illustrating the gradual dawning of truth and blessing in the day of his presence."10
10 The Time is at Hand - Study 5 - Manner of the Second Advent Pg. 155-156 (italics and bold added for emphasis)

Here, Pastor Russell presents only two interpretations, the sun and the lightning that travels from one side of the sky to the other. Are either of these interpretations correct? First we must deal with the concept of the sun.

As Pastor Russell points out in this and other of his writings, the word astrape must be translated according to the setting. In Luke 11:36, the illustration of the candle demands ‘bright shining.’ In other accounts, the setting demands that it be translated lightning:

Luke 10:18 - He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

Bright Shining would not make a great deal of sense here. The picture is suddenness of his fall.

Revelation 4:5 - From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.

Lightning must be used in this and other places in Revelation.

What about Matthew and Luke’s account of Jesus’ words? Why would not Jesus say, "As the sun (Helios) shines (astrape) from the east even unto the west…" Would this not be a better illustration of the sun? What does this passage really mean then?

The Real Meaning of Matthew 24:27

A third rendering of this account is usually never discussed. The lightning in this text is not meant to illustrate its own travel from the east to the west. It is meant to show that lightning in the east lights up even the western sky. The NIV translation of Luke’s account renders this perfectly!

Luke 17:24 - For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.

The idea is that all can see the sky lit up from a flash of lightning, unless of course you are sleeping and not watching for it. The lightning fits in with all the other accounts of our Lord’s return showing suddenness and terror for those who are not awake.

Matthew 24:27

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Luke 17:24

For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other

Behold I Come as a Thief

The arguments about Jesus having to arrive invisibly have some implicit scriptures to possibly support them. But the argument can just as easily be turned around to defend a visible presence as well. Such is the case with the analogy of the "Thief in the Night." The argument for the invisible presence is a simple one, with which all ABS are familiar with. Here is one example from Pastor Russell:

"These scriptures plainly state and illustrate the manner of the Lord's coming. They show that he will be present unseen, doing a work of which the world for a time will be entirely unaware. His arrival must therefore be in a quiet manner, unobserved, and entirely unknown to the world, just "as a thief" would come, without noise or other demonstration to attract attention."11
11 The Time is at Hand, pg. 144

As previously stated, if this were the only scripture that define how our Lord would return, we could make a case for an invisible presence. But we can easily make a case for a visible one, as well. The thought is that Christians must not be caught up in the cares of this world (e.g. sleeping), but must be active and looking for his appearing in the clouds. Jesus states this nicely in Matthew 24:43-44:

"But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

The idea is shown that the owner of the house (any individual member of his body) must keep watch so the thief (Jesus) doesn't take us by surprise when he arrives, for he will erchomai (come) at an unanticipated hour, an hour that can't be known.

So, as we can see, there is no definitive or explicit interpretation of the thief in the night but must be considered together with the subject as a whole. Jesus chooses this illustration to impress the suddenness of his arrival. There will be no going back to fix things we should have done before. It will be too late.

But of that Day and Hour, No One Knows

Matthew 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Perhaps this scripture is one of the most explicit in terms of knowing about Jesus' return. It says plainly that no one can estimate the year or day or hour of Jesus' return to earth. To do so requires another scripture that allows us to interpret this scripture as applying only to the disciples of that day and not to other periods of time in the future. Here is a quote from Pastor Russell countering the argument:

"But of that day and hour knoweth no man; no not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but my Father only." (`Matt. 24:36`, Sinaitic MS. Compare `Mark 13:32,33`.) "Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is." To many these words seem to imply much more than they express: they think of them as though they put a lock upon and made useless all the prophecies of the Bible--as though our Lord had said, "No man shall ever know," whereas he merely said, "No man [now] knoweth," referring only to the persons who heard him--to whom the exact times and seasons were not due to be revealed. Who can doubt that the "angels of heaven" and "the Son" now know, fully and clearly, matters which have progressed so nearly to fulfillment? And if they are not now hindered from knowing by the statement of this verse, neither now are God's saints hindered or restrained by this verse from seeking an understanding of all truth "written aforetime for our learning." Indeed, it was in great measure because it was not the Father's will that his people then, nor down to the time the "seals" were broken* should know the date, that our Lord delineated the course of events, and assured them that if they would watch and pray and thus continue faithful..."12
12 The Battle of Armageddon, pg. 605

This argument sets a dangerous precedent. If we were to follow through on this line of reasoning we would then be allowed to set aside other of God's words as applying only to the listeners who were present. Indeed, this is the precedent which the "Health and Wealth" gospel comes from. They lay aside the concept of giving up your all to serve because that was then and this is now.

Again, we need a scripture from Jesus saying that we would have access to the Father's timetable. However, there is none. In fact, the opposite is stated in Luke 12:40:

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

In other words, do not look for him to arrive at an expected time because he will not announce himself. We have to assume that Jesus' words to his disciples are timeless. We can't just pick and choose what applies to us because it is convenient to do so.

What the angels know and don't know is outside our knowledge and responsibility and really has no bearing upon this scripture.

As in the Days of Noah

Matthew 24:37-39 & Luke 17:26-30

37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 26 "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.
38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
  28 "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.

29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 30 "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

 

 

To understand why Jesus used the comparison of Noah’s days to His days, one must carefully look at the reasoning with the surrounding verses. A cursory glance makes it seem that the compared "days" are between the days of Noah before the flood and the days of Jesus’ presence. If we are to follow this interpretation through to its end, it falls apart in light of Luke’s account of Sodom and Gomorrah.

As previously shown, parousia means "arrival and subsequent presence." The key to understanding these verses is understanding the central focus of Jesus' analogy. It is dealing with the consequences of ignoring the oncoming flood ("for in the days before the flood".) In any case, it seems that either side of the "presence" or "coming" points of view cannot be clearly determined from this context alone given the implicit nature of the arguments. But, when adding Luke’s Sodom and Gomorrah’s passage, the point becomes a little clearer. "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. (Apokalupto)"

If we are to take an equal comparison of Noah and Jesus, then the people of Noah’s time must not have been aware of Noah. Obviously, this does not make a lot of sense. Taking the analogy to the fullest extent and Jesus’ invisible presence were only known to the faithful at this time, then no one other than Noah's family should have been aware of Noah’s presence.

We should also consider contrasting the analogy of Sodom and Gomorrah with the analogy of Noah’s day. Is this an analogy of Jesus' invisible presence? Nothing in these verses can be used to make a comparison to an invisible presence. The comparison is the suddenness of these cities destruction. God came upon those cities suddenly with his entire wrath. God came upon all the people in Noah’s day suddenly with the flood. Jesus will come upon the ungodly immediately upon his arrival. It is the simplest and most consistent way to read all the accounts of his arrival.

Proper Methodology: Comparing Parousia with Parallel accounts of Mark & Luke

One of the most interesting observations regarding ABS discussions of the invisible return of our Lord is that 95% of the time, only Matthew 24 is used. Almost never is Luke and Mark referenced. Why is that? Because the crux of an invisible presence presentation has to do with the word parousia. Interestingly, parousia is never used by Luke and Mark. In fact, Revelation (Jesus only letter) doesn't use it either. Mark and Luke use other synonyms that consistently mean coming or arrival. In fact, if Matthew had not chosen the word parousia, there would be little discussion surrounding an invisible presence. One point to keep in mind is that Matthew's gospel was written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek.13 So, in fact, the word parousia was not used by Jesus directly. Now, that is not to say that parousia isn't the appropriate Greek word for Matthew's overall theme, but if it were important to convey the invisible presence, then why didn't Mark and Luke use it? Wouldn't it be prudent to give the "intended" meaning of Jesus' coming as invisible?
13

The question of authenticity assumes an altogether special aspect in regard to the First Gospel. The early Christian writers assert that St. Matthew wrote a Gospel in Hebrew; this Hebrew Gospel has, however, entirely disappeared, and the Gospel which we have, and from which ecclesiastical writers borrow quotations as coming from the Gospel of Matthew, is in Greek. What connection is there between this Hebrew Gospel and this Greek Gospel, both of which tradition ascribes to St. Matthew? Such is the problem that presents itself for solution. Let us first examine the facts.

- From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Electronic version copyright 1996

The next section will go into great detail about the Greek words for "coming" in the NT but we should look at how the gospels use the words as well. In Matthew 24:39, Jesus is making the comparison of his parousia with the flood of Noah; "That is how it will be at the parousia of the Son of Man." Now compare the same phrase as recorded in Luke's account concerning Noah and the additional analogy of Lot's days. Luke 17:29-30 "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is Apokalupto." Luke apparently feels free to use a different word for coming as interchangeable with parousia. This should signal to the reader the strong evidence that Matthew's use of parousia is meant to signal arrival or coming.

He Shall Come in Like Manner

Another important scripture to deal with is Acts 1:9-11 which deals with Jesus leaving his disciples.

Acts 1:9-11: After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

Important arguments are made by Pastor Russell about this passage that need to be answered. The following quote contains many points that need to be dealt with immediately, so I will be interpreting the context.

"In Like Manner14
14 The Time is at Hand, Pg. 253-256

What, now, is taught by the statement of the angel at the time of our Lord's departure--`Acts 1:11`--"This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come, in like manner, as ye have seen him go into heaven"?

A careful examination of this text will manifest its harmony with the foregoing. Many seem to think the passage reads, As you see the Lord ascend into heaven, so, in like manner, you shall see him come again. Such should read it again and again, until they note the fact that it does not say that those who saw him go will see him come, nor that any one else will see him come."

Here the pastor asks a series of good questions and assertions that need to be answered one by one. Let's take them in order:

    1. "As you see the Lord ascend into heaven, so, in like manner, you shall see him come again…until they note the fact that it does not say that those who saw him go will see him come, nor that any one else will see him come."
    2. The obvious question should be "What is the angels' point?" Very simply, Jesus will return again visibly. The Greek word for "will see" is theaomai, which means: 1) to behold, look upon, view attentively, contemplate (often used of public shows) (See Definition table in the Addendum). There can be no doubt that they choose the words that are tie to literal visible seeing with the eyes. The angels are stating the point that his return will be visible, nothing more!

    3. "What it does say is, that the manner of his coming will be like the manner of his going. What, then, was the manner of his going? Was it with great splendor, and with great demonstration? Was it with trumpet sound and voices and a great shout rending the air, and the Lord's person shining in supernatural glory and brightness? If so, we should expect his coming again to be "in like manner.""

    4. This kind of reasoning is suspect from beginning. Did the angels have to give a whole dissertation on the subject of the Lord's Return, including the descent with a trumpet and a shout? I doubt if the angels knew anything more than what they told the disciples anyway, given that angels long to look into the things of the bible. This is what is known as avoiding the issue. Their point is that the same visible way he ascended into heaven will be the same way he descends again.

    5. "On the other hand, was it not as quietly and secretly as was possible, consistent with his purpose of having thoroughly convinced witnesses of the fact? None saw him, or knew of the fact, except his faithful followers."
    6. A grand show at his ascension would be counter to the words of Acts 10:40 and would not serve any logical fulfillment anyway.

      "but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead." (NRSV)

      Why does this scene require absolute parallel in every respect of his return? If we were to take this argument to its conclusion, then there should have been a trumpet and a shout here as well as at his return. (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18)

    7. "His statement (`John 14:19`), "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more," has never yet been disproved; for none but the brethren saw even his manifestations after his resurrection, and no others witnessed his ascension. And in like manner as he went away (quietly, secretly, so far as the world was concerned, and unknown except to his followers), so, in this manner, he comes again."
    8. In simple terms, the comparison is to the visible return. To insert anything else is sheer speculation.

    9. And as when he went away he lifted up his hands and blessed them, so, when he comes again, it is that their joy may be full, as he said: "I will come again, and receive you unto myself"; "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." `Luke 24:50,51`; `John 14:3; 16:22` The angel seemed also to give special emphasis to the fact that the coming again would be the coming of this very "same Jesus"--the same one who left the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and became man-- became poor that we might be made rich; the same Jesus that died on Calvary; the same Jesus that arose a quickening spirit the third day; the same Jesus that had manifested his change during the forty days--THIS same Jesus now ascended upon high.

That is an amazing amount of interpretation to read into a simple and easily comprehensible sentence. On what basis can we conclude these thoughts? A simple rendition is as follows: he was caught away from their sight. If he now returns in the "same manner" he would reverse this vision -- like rewinding the film -- and become visible among the clouds.

Again, the phrase "In like Manner" carries no basis for assuming that his ascension must have the exact same events as his return, including the apostles being present as men on earth. This at best is fanciful thinking and not even implicit reasoning in nature.

Gradual Revealing of His Invisible Presence?

ABS Interpretation of parousia, epiphania, apokalupsis.

parousia

Jesus invisible presence known not to the world but only to his saints

epiphania

The shining forth, the revelation of the King of Glory

apokalupsis

The same as epiphania perhaps includes some additional features such as the plagues of Revelation.

The Use of These Greek Words in the NT

The main assertion by ABS is that the three Greek words (parousia, epiphania, and apokalupsis) are used by NT writers as a gradual progression which reveals Jesus return from an invisible phase known only to his saints to a revealing to the world in general (though not visibly). To see if this assertion is true, it should be a very simple matter when investigating the NT writings. Simply put, we should see no interchangeability of these words. For instance, when speaking of Jesus' revelation to the world, only epiphania and apokalupsis should be used. Whenever the church is the subject of Jesus' return, only parousia should be used. Here are some supporting quotes from Pastor Russell:

"These Bible students call our attention to the fact that the Bible distinctly differentiates between the parousia of Christ and His Epiphania, at His Second Coming. The word parousia signifies presence, without in any sense of the word indicating that the presence is visible. The word Epiphania signifies the revealing of one who is already present. These Bible students claim that in the end of this Gospel Age Christ will be present, invisible to men, during a period of forty years, doing a work especially in His Church--rewarding the faithful, as shown in the parables of the Pounds and the Talents, and receiving the "wise virgins," as in the parable of our lesson.15
15 Reprints of Zion's Watchtower, pg. 5523

"The Scriptures indicate that the Gentile governments will receive from their own peoples their first notice that their lease of power has expired. The people will take note of the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens. The judgments of the Lord will begin to be manifest in the world, and will run counter to many of their interests. This manifestation of His presence is Scripturally called the Epiphania, the shining forth, the revealment, of the King of Glory. "He shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." (`2 Thessalonians 1:7- 10`.) As a result, the nations of earth will be broken to pieces like a potter's vessel.--`Psalm 2:8,9'. "16
16 Reprints of Zion's Watchtower, pg. 5527

"At what time the Lord's people will be taken beyond the veil the Lord has not fully indicated. But we have the assurance that when He shall appear, be manifested--when His Epiphania shall occur--we shall be with Him, we shall be like Him and see Him as He is. He will not begin His great work of establishing the Kingdom until the Church shall be with Him."17
17 Reprints of Zion's Watchtower, pg. 5555

"Our Lord's parousia and the gathering of the elect, we understand, has been in progress since October, 1874. It will continue until all of the "elect" shall have been gathered and glorified. In one sense our Lord will continue to be present as the world's King to the conclusion of the Millennial Age; but his parousia, in the sense of secrecy of presence, will terminate when, as the Scriptures declare, "He shall be revealed in flaming fire (judgments), taking vengeance on all who will not obey the Truth," but enlightening and revivifying all who will hear and, to the extent of their opportunity, obey his message. The parousia is to the Church and for the Church only. The epiphania or apokalupsis of the Lord in power and great glory is not to the Church nor for the Church, but to the world and for the world. "When he shall thus appear we also shall appear with him in glory," the Apostle declares. --`Col. 3:4`.""18
18 Reprints of Zion's Watchtower, pg. 4544

"Now, in the harvest time, he is present to gather the sleeping ones and to further test and perfect "us who are alive and remain." The High Priest is doing no work outside of the "holy" of the antitypical Tabernacle. His presence is unknown to the world. Soon Bridegroom and Bride will be ushered into the presence of the Father in eternal glory. The "marriage supper of the Lamb" will be celebrated, and then Bride and Bridegroom, Head and members complete in glory, will come forth to bless the world. That crowning day of joy to the Church will be followed by our Lord's apokalupsis and epiphania. To the world he shall be revealed in flaming fire of the time of trouble, but nevertheless with power and great glory, "and all his saints with him.""19
19 Reprints of Zion's Watchtower, pg. 4544

"Another parable also shows that before revealing himself in any manner to the world, he calls first his own servants and reckons with them. (`Luke 19:15-27`.) Ah! dear brethren what a holy awe it brings to our hearts to know that we are now living in the presence of the Son of Man; that now the "wheat" is being gathered and the "tares" being bundled;--that now the servants are reporting their use of the pounds and talents entrusted to them, while the world sees nothing and enquires, "Where is the promise of his presence, while all things continue as they were from the beginning?" Nor can any but the few hear and appreciate the evidences, or understand the Master's words that as the world knew not in the days of Noah, even thus shall it be in the presence of the Son of Man (`Matt. 24:37`) --they shall know not, and the ordinary avocations of daily life shall continue,--until disturbed by the commotion and trouble of the Epiphania, the Apokalupsis of the King in the pouring out of the seven last plagues--when the judgments of the Lord shall be abroad in the earth and the inhabitants of the world shall learn righteousness, and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord's house. He shall teach us of his ways and we shall walk in his paths."--`Isa. 2:3`."20
20 Reprints of Zion's Watchtower, pg. 2957

Now let us give the premise of linear use of these words a thorough examination.

Identifying the words as Nouns and Verbs

Identifying our many words as verbs or adverbs may sound silly, but it is helpful in understanding why authors choose the words they do. Studying these carefully will give some insight on why certain words had to be used over others. This is a summary of Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

Nouns -

parousia - arrival and subsequent presence

Apokalupsis - an uncovering

Epiphania - a shining forth upon

Verbs -

Apokalupto - To uncover

Erchomai - the act of coming, stressing arrival

Phaneroo - (Similar to Phanio)

Phanio - to shine

Epiphaino - to shine upon

 

Parallel accounts interchanging the words

Matthew 24:39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the parousia of the Son of Man. LUKE 17:30 "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is Apokalupto.

 

 

Here we have a parallel account of the flood of Noah (Luke also adds the Sodom analogy) that describes the same event using two different words. We can conclude that parousia is equal to apokalupto, the root of apokalupsis.

Scriptures concerning the Church's reward

1 John 2:28 - And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears (phaneroo) we may be confident and unashamed before him at his (parousia) coming.

Interpretation: Our salvation occurs at Jesus' revelation.

1 Peter 1:5 - who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed (Apokalupto) in the last time.

Interpretation: Our salvation occurs at Jesus' revelation.

2 Thessalonians 2:1 - Concerning the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers,

Interpretation: We are gathered to Jesus at his presence/coming.

2 Thessalonians 1:7 - and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed (apokalupsis) from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

Interpretation: Our relief comes when Jesus is revealed when he comes with his powerful angels.

1 Peter 1:13 - Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed (apokalupsis).

Interpretation: We receive our reward at Jesus' revelation.

1 Timothy 6:14 - to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing (epiphania) of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Interpretation: Stay obedient until his appearing.

1 Peter 1:7 - These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (apokalupsis).

Interpretation: We are judged worthy at his revelation.

2 Timothy 4:8 - Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (epiphania).

Interpretation: We receive our crowns at his appearing.

Titus 2:13 - while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing (epiphania) of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Interpretation: Our blessed hope occurs at the appearing of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Scriptures concerning the Judgment of Earth and Systems

Luke 17:30 - It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed (apokalupto).

Interpretation: The wicked will be swept away when Jesus is revealed.

2 Peter 3:12 - as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming (parousia). That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

Interpretation: His arrival and presence will bring about the destruction of the heavens.

2 Thessalonians 2:8 - And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (parousia).

Interpretation: The lawless will be destroyed by the splendor of his arrival and presence.

2 Timothy 4:1 - In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing (epiphania) and his kingdom, I give you this charge:

Interpretation: Judgment takes place at his appearing.

Summary of the Greek Words

As we can easily see, the words are used interchangeably depending on the grammatical structure of the sentence. To make a case for a progressive revealing of Jesus' invisible presence is barely implicit in nature and has too many inconsistencies to hold as a necessary doctrinal stance. Summing up, this question from a CMF tract21 must be answered in full by wanting to make sense the "progressive revealing of Jesus' invisible presence:"
21 Christian Millennial Fellowship: The Second Coming of Our Lord.

"…why would Paul tell the Thessalonians to wait for the Lord's parousia, tell Timothy to wait unto the Lord's epiphania, the Corinthians to wait for the Lord's apakalupsis, and the Colossians for the Lord's phaneroosis, ect?"

Summary

The Biblical evidence rests squarely on the future visible return of our Savior. A careful and objective look at the Bible without looking through the eyes of Pastor Russell clearly shows the appearing of Jesus is visible, not invisible. Although I believe Matthew 24:4 can be taken to an unnecessary extreme, Jesus' warning should be followed:

Matthew 24:26 - "So if anyone tells you, `There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, `Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.

The concept of the invisible presence is an "inner room" (cannot be seen by any except the chosen ones) and is something not to be believed. The danger is that we put so much confidence in the writings of a man (who had many very good writings) who unsoundly used certain scriptures to maintain a doctrine. I know this stings those who strongly believe in the invisible presence of Jesus and in way I am sorry for this, even if it is needed. I love all my brethren, whether they believe in the visible or invisible presence of Jesus. My hope is that we all will take an objective look at the Bible, let the Holy Spirit guide us and alleviate our fears, and press on toward what is true and both see (optanomai) and discern (Horao) for ourselves.

Conclusion

This question of Jesus' arrival for a second time divides the Bible Student Camp directly in two, and it is easy to understand why. Perhaps the real reason for this division is not clear. Taking a stand that differs in the slightest from the position that Jesus invisibly returned in 1874 dictates an almost immediate loss in fellowship. Not because of the doctrine itself but because of the implications of Charles T. Russell not being "that Wise and Faithful Steward." This clearly is the cause of the division. There may be nothing that can remedy this rift. It seems to me that can never be mended unless those who believe Pastor (Charles T.) Russell filled that role relent in some degree. It is this wall that makes me grieve the most. I believe fellowship is proper between the two camps. Working side by side in Christ's service obviously is a different matter, but this difference need not prevent any fellowship..

I also want to state that I have drawn the conclusions in this treatise on my own with no influence from Bible Students. I have not discussed this subject with any FBS to avoid having the stigma of being "led astray" by false brethren. This treatise stands on its own merit with some help from other books and various documentation from ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who also questioned the Watch Tower Society's position on the 1914 date as the invisible return of Jesus.

My hope, prayer and plea are that those who hold the opposite position than myself don’t disfellowship in practical terms. Keep the lines of communication open. Don’t shut them off if the hand of fellowship is extended. I beg you to pray about this and consider the words of 1 John 3:

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love [his] brother abides in death. 15 Every one that hates his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby we have known love, because he has laid down his life for us; and we ought for the brethren to lay down [our] lives. 17 But whoso may have the world's substance, and see his brother having need, and shut up his bowels from him, how abides the love of God in him? 18 Children, let us not love with word, nor with tongue, but in deed and in truth. (Darby)

Appendix

A. All instances of parousia in the NT

Matthew 24.3

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?"

Matthew 24:27

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:37

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:39

And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

1 Corinthians 16:17

I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.

2 Corinthians 7:5

For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn--conflicts on the outside, fears within.

6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,

7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

2 Corinthians10:10 For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing." Phillipians 1:26 (NKJV)

that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

Pahillipians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 1 Thessalonians 2:19

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

1 Thessalonians 3:13

May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

1 Thessalonians 4:15

According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

1 Thessalonians 5:23

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:1

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.

2 Thessalonians 2:8

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming

2 Thessalonians 2:9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders
James 5:7

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.

8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.

2 Peter 1:16

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

2 Peter 3:4

They will say, "Where is this `coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."

2 Peter 3:12

as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

B. The Parallels of Matthew, Mark, & Luke

MATTHEW 24

MARK 13

LUKE 17 & 21

1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 1 As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!" 21:5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said,
2 "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." 2 "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." 21:6 "As for what you see here, the time will Erchomai when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your parousia, and of the end of the age?" 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately,

4 "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?

21:7 "Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?"
4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.

5 For many will Erchomai in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ,' and will deceive many

5 Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you.

6 Many will Erchomai in my name, claiming, `I am he,' and will deceive many.

21:8 He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will Erchomai in my name, claiming, `I am he,' and, `The time is near.' Do not follow them.
  7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 21:9 When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away."
7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. 21:10 Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom

21:11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

8 All these are the beginning of birth pains    
9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 9 "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 21:12 "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.
  11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 21:13 This will result in your being witnesses to them.

21:14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.

21:15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 12 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.

13 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

21:16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

21:17 All men will hate you because of me.

    21:18 But not a hair of your head will perish.

21:19 By standing firm you will gain life.

21:20 "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near

11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,

13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

 

 

 

.

 
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will Heko.
10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations  
15 "So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--

16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

17 Let no one on the roof of his house Katabaino to take anything out of the house.

 

14 "When you see `the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong--let the reader understand--then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

 

 

 

 

21:21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.

    21:22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written
15 "So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--    
 

 

18 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak.

15 Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out.

16 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak

17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!

17:31 On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.

21:23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.

20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter,  
    21:24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
  19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now--and never to be equaled again.  
22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 20 If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them  
23 At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!' or, `There he is!' do not believe it. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!' or, `Look, there he is!' do not believe it.  
24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible 22 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible.  
25 See, I have told you ahead of time 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.  
    17:22 Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it
26 "So if anyone tells you, `There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, `Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.   17:23 Men will tell you, `There he is!' or `Here he is!' Do not go running off after them.
27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the parousia of the Son of Man.   17:24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other
    17:25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation
28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.   17:37 "Where, Lord?" they asked. He replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.
29 "Immediately after the distress of those days "`the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' 24 "But in those days, following that distress, "`the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;

25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'

21:25 "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.

21:26 Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man Erchomai on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 26 "At that time men will see the Son of Man Erchomai in clouds with great power and glory. 21:27 At that time they will see the Son of Man Erchomai in a cloud with power and great glory.
    21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.  
32 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near 28 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near 21:29 He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees.

21:30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.

33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door 21:31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened 30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 21:32 "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away 21:33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away
    21:34 "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will Ephistemi on you unexpectedly like a trap

21:35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.

21:36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  
  33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.  
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the parousia of the Son of Man.   17:26 "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.
38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;   17:27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
    17:28 "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.

17:29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the parousia of the Son of Man.   17:30 "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is Apokalupto.

 

    17:32 Remember Lot's wife!

17:33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

    17:34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left
40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.   17:36 Two [men] shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left   17:35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.
42 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will Erchomai 34 It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch  
  35 "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.

36 If he Erchomai suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.

37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: `Watch!'"

 
43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was Erchomai, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.    
44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?

46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.

47 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, `My master is [not yet] Erchomai a long time,'

49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.

50 The master of that servant will Heko on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

   

C. Definition Table

Optanomai (See)

Lexicon Greek 3700

3700 optanomai {op-tan'-om-ahee} or optanomai {op-tom-ahee}

a (middle voice) prolonged form of the primary (middle voice)

optanomai {op'-tom-ahee}, which is used for it in certain

tenses, and both as alternate of 3708; TDNT - 5:315,706; v

AV - see 37, appear 17, look 2, show (one's) self 1, being seen 1; 58

1) to look at, behold

2) to allow one's self to be seen, to appear

Horao (See)

Lexicon Greek 3708

3708 horao {hor-ah'-o}

properly, to stare at [cf 3700]; TDNT - 5:315,706; v

AV - see 51, take heed 5, behold 1, perceive 1, not tr 1; 59

1) to see with the eyes

2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know

3) to see, i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience

4) to see, to look to

4a) to take heed, beware

4b) to care for, pay heed to

5) I was seen, showed myself, appeared

For Synonyms see entry 5822

Eido (See)

Lexicon Greek 1492

1492 eido {i'-do} or oida {oy'-da}

a root word; TDNT - 5:116, *; v

AV - know 282, cannot tell + 3756 8, know how 7, wist 6, misc 19,

see 314, behold 16, look 5, perceive 5, vr see 3, vr know 1; 666

1) to see

1a) to perceive with the eyes

1b) to perceive by any of the senses

1c) to perceive, notice, discern, discover

1d) to see

1d1) i.e. to turn the eyes, the mind, the attention to anything

1d2) to pay attention, observe

1d3) to see about something

1d31) i.e. to ascertain what must be done about it

1d4) to inspect, examine

1d5) to look at, behold

1e) to experience any state or condition

1f) to see i.e. have an interview with, to visit

2) to know

2a) to know of anything

2b) to know, i.e. get knowledge of, understand, perceive

2b1) of any fact

2b2) the force and meaning of something which has definite meaning

2b3) to know how, to be skilled in

2c) to have regard for one, cherish, pay attention to (1Th. 5:12)

For Synonyms see entry 5825

Idou (See)

Lexicon Greek 2400

2400 idou {id-oo'}

second person singular imperative middle voice of 1492;; particle

AV - behold 181, lo 29, see 3; 213

  1. behold, see, lo
Theaomai (See)

Lexicon Greek 2300

2300 theaomai {theh-ah'-om-ahee}

a prolonged form of a primary verb; TDNT - 5:315,706; v

AV - see 20, behold 2, look 1, look upon 1; 24

1) to behold, look upon, view attentively, contemplate (often used of public shows)

1a) of important persons that are looked on with admiration

2) to view, take a view of

2a) in the sense of visiting, meeting with a person

3) to learn by looking, to see with the eyes, to perceive

For Synonyms see entry 5848

Synonym

Lexicon Greek 5848

Synonyms

See Definition for 2300

See Definition for 2334

2334 - word not used of an indifferent spectator, but of one who looks at a thing with interest and for a purpose; would be used of a general officially reviewing or inspecting his army

2300 - is used of a lay spectator looking at a parade. 2334 denotes a careful observation of details whereas 2300 denotes only perception in general

Eperchomai (Coming)

Lexicon Greek 1904

1904 eperchomai {ep-er'-khom-ahee}

from 1909 and 2064; TDNT - 2:680,257; v

AV - come 6, come upon 2, come on 1, come thither 1; 10

1) to come to arrive

1a) of time, come on, be at hand, be future

2) to come upon, overtake, one

2a) of sleep

2b) of disease

2c) of calamities

2d) of the Holy Spirit, descending and operating in one

2e) of an enemy attacking one

Erchomai (Coming)

2064 erchomai {er'-khom-ahee}

middle voice of a primary verb (used only in the present and

imperfect tenses, the others being supplied by a kindred

[middle voice] eleuthomai {el-yoo'-thom-ahee}, or [active]

eltho {el'-tho}, which do not otherwise occur); TDNT - 2:666,257; v

AV - come 616, go 13, misc 13, vr come 1; 643

1) to come

1a) of persons

1a1) to come from one place to another, and used both of

persons arriving

1a2) to appear, make one's appearance, come before the public

2) metaph.

2a) to come into being, arise, come forth, show itself, find

place or influence

2b) be established, become known, to come (fall) into or unto

3) to go, to follow one

For Synonyms see entry 5818

Heko (Come)

2240 heko {hay'-ko}

a primary verb; TDNT - 2:926,306; v

AV - come 27; 27

1) to have come, have arrived, be present

2) metaph.

2a) to come to one, i.e. to seek an intimacy with one, become

his follower: to come upon one (unexpectedly)

2b) to come upon one, of things endured

 

Acts 1:10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner (the same) as ye have seen (theaomai) him go into heaven

Katabaino (Come)

Lexicon Greek 2597

2597 katabaino {kat-ab-ah'-ee-no}

from 2596 and the base of 939; TDNT - 1:522,90; v

AV - come down 41, descend 18, go down 17, fall down 1, step down 1,

get down 1, fall 1, vr come down 1; 81

1) to go down, come down, descend

1a) the place from which one has come down from

1b) to come down

1b1) as from the temple at Jerusalem, from the city of Jerusalem

1b2) of celestial beings coming down to earth

1c) to be cast down

2) of things

2a) to come (i.e. be sent) down

2b) to come (i.e. fall) down

2b1) from the upper regions of the air

3) metaph. to (go i.e.) be cast down to the lowest state of

wretchedness and shame

Ephistemi (Come)

Lexicon Greek 2186

2186 ephistemi {ef-is'-tay-mee}

from 1909 and 2476;; v

AV - come upon 6, come 4, stand 3, stand by 3, misc 5; 21

1) to place at, place upon, place over

1a) to stand by, be present

1b) to stand over one, place one's self above

1b1) used esp. of persons coming upon one suddenly

1b1a) an angel, of the advent of angels

1b1b) of dreams

1b2) of evils coming upon one

1c) to be at hand

1c1) be ready,

1d) of time

1d1) to come upon

1d1a) of rain

Apokalupto – (Revealed)

Lexicon Greek 601

601 apokalupto {ap-ok-al-oop'-to}

from 575 and 2572; TDNT - 3:563,405; v

AV - reveal 26; 26

1) to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up

1a) disclose, make bare

2) to make known, make manifest, disclose what before was unknown

For Synonyms see entry 5812

 

D. Son of Man

This first section is for the reader to get familiar with the phrase "Son of Man." The following was a result of personal correspondence with Mark Miller regarding the humanity of Jesus.

The designation "son of man" occurs 203 times in the Bible with the first possible occurrence at 1 Samuel 15:29 -- "And, besides, the Excellency of Israel will not prove false, and He will not feel regrets, for He is not an earthling man [Sy, "son of man."] so as to feel regrets." It is interesting what this text would bode for the Trinity doctrine: Yahweh is not "a son of man" as the Aramaic version renders this first possible use of "son of man."

The designation "son of man" occurs most often (95 x) in Ezekiel as a phrase directed to the prophet. A contemporary of Ezekiel, the prophet Daniel uses the phrase -- like that in 1 Samuel 15:29 -- two times, once in reference to himself.

In the Christian Bible the designation "son of man" occurs 31 times in Matthew, 14 times in Mark, 25 times in Luke, and 13 times in John. These are always out of the mouth of the Nazarene. In the majority of these cases Jesus refers to himself, then in the flesh, as "the Son of man."

There is one particular use which seems to make it sure Jesus has borrowed the phrase from Daniel 7:13. It is found at John 6:61, 62, "Does this stumble you (apostles)? What, therefore, if you (apostles) should behold the Son of man ascending to where he was before?" The language seems to echo Daniel 7:13 where the prophet sees someone "like a son of man" ascending to heaven to receive a kingdom. Matthew 10:23 may have this in mind also as the Son of Man "arrives" in heaven upon his ascension.

Was this a real human being -- actually flesh and blood -- or was he "someone like a son of man" for the purposes of the vision to Daniel? Jerome, in his fourth century Latin Vulgate uses the term quasi hominid -- not an actual human being.

Several times Jesus uses a conflate of Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1 in combination which would seem to indicate this ascension to heaven to be seated (or, standing) at the right hand of God means "the son of man’s" taking up ruling power. (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69) This "son of man" promises to return (John 14:1-3) and thus become present (parousia) with his loyal disciples again. This will be at a period of judgment upon those within the Son’s realm or kingdom. (Matthew 13:41, 42; 25:31-46) So, there are texts, even from Jesus, which describe the Son of man returning as King to judge his own household. (Matthew 24:27, 29-31, 37, 39, 44)

Two other inspired disciples of the Nazarene profess seeing the "son of man" in heaven as enthroned. Stephen confesses such at Acts 7:55, 56 where he alludes also to Psalm 110:1. John writes what amounts to a prayer or hymn at Revelation 1:7 alluding to Daniel 7:13 and then in 1:13 he uses the exact Greek phrase found in the Septuagint at Daniel 7:13 referring to the Risen Christ.

Paul never uses the phrase "son of man" in the context of Daniel 7:13 though he does use the phrase. At Hebrews 2:6-9 Paul quotes Psalm 8:6 from the Jewish Septuagint applying its "son of man" to Jesus who was made less than angels.

All things considered, the designation "son of man" would seem to prove our Lord Jesus the Nazarene was born a real man, an anthropoid, less than any elohim. (As the Hebrew of Psalm 8:6 has it.) In all cases the designation is consistent with Bible teachings: a heavenly being (designated by John as the Logos, John 1:1), who had his existence with the Father (John 6:64; 17:4, 5), descended to earth and became a hominid or anthropoid (Ephesians 4:8, 9; Romans 5:14), and on earth served his Father as a real human being -- a Son of Man -- then, spent three days in the grave (Hades) as "the Son of man", ascending back to heaven where he had been before. (John 6:64; Acts 1:6-11)

Daniel sees this quasi human being, someone who looked "like a son of man" -- not meaning this one was literally a human being of flesh and blood -- ascending back to heaven to be presented by angelic throngs before the throne of his Father, there to receive his kingship. (Daniel 7:13) This same one will visibly return, descending from heaven again, as the one now forever designated "the Son of Man." (Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

Though a spirit life-form since his resurrection and ascension (1 Corinthians 15:50; q1 Peter 3:18), we like Pilate, do not hesitate to refer to one among all mankind as, "the Man!" (John 19:5)

The humanity of Jesus, as Son of Man, is likely stressed more in the gospel of Mark than any other. The Jesus of Mark, is clearly a human figure. He knows and expresses human emotions (Mk 3:5; 6:6; 8:2,12; 9:19; 10:14). He requests information (6:38; 8:27; 9:21) and professes his ignorance of detail regarding the outworking of God's plan (13:32). As Son of Man (Adam) he is a servant who came 'not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many' (10:45). As Son of Man he experiences rejection, suffering, death, and resurrection (8:31; 9:12; 10:33; 12:7). The prominence Mark has given to the crucifixion and the human suffering endured by Jesus is noteworthy. Mark more than the other Gospel reveals the grim realism and unspeakable horror of the Passion scene. Almost a third of Mark's gospel is the Passion story and indications of the approaching event are seen as early as 2:20 and 3:6. The book explicitly predicts the Passion three times (8:31; 9:31; 10:33) and contains allusions to the way Jesus expected his ministry to turn out (9:12; 10:45). In Markan Christology, Jesus is the true Servant Son who offered to God obedience to death and is thus honored by him in resurrection glory. [H.R. Weber, The Cross: Tradition and Interpretation, 1979]

Colorful_SquiggleB153.gif (558 bytes)

The Friends of the Nazarene Copyright 1997. All Rights Reserved.

c/o Shawn Mark Miller
177 Riverside Ave
Newport Beach, California 92663 USA
email:

Colorful_SquiggleB153.gif (558 bytes)

Back to the FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE Publications Page