The “coming” of Jesus will mean the vindication of the righteous, and the judgment and condemnation of the wicked.
In the New Testament, several Greek terms are applied to the return of Jesus at the end of the present age, including parousia (“arrival”), erchomai (“coming”), and epiphaneia (“appearance”). Regardless of which term is used, in each instance, it is found in the singular number; it describes only one “coming” of Jesus. Each passage provides only a limited amount of information about the event.
The term parousia applied to the future “arrival” of Jesus is found on his lips in the Gospel of Matthew:
- “For just as the lightning flashes forth from the east and shines into the west, so shall be the arrival of the Son of Man” – (Matthew 24:27-28).
He will arrive “upon the clouds with great power and glory,” then he will dispatch his angels to gather his disciples, and–:
- “He will come in the glory of his Father with his angels to render to each man according to his deeds.”
Thus, his coming will be a time of gathering, some men for punishment, others for reward. Likewise, in his parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus gave a pictorial representation of the judgment on that day:
- When he “arrives in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his throne of glory. And there will be gathered before him all the nations, and he will separate them one from another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” – (Matthew 25:31-46).
To the godly, he will declare, “come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But to the ungodly, “depart from me into everlasting fire, which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels!”
His “arrival” will be “just as in the days of Noah,” when people were “eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage,” and otherwise going about their daily business, as if nothing catastrophic would ever occur. However, “they observed not until the flood came and took them all away.” Thus, also, will it be when the Son of Man “arrives,” a day that will bring “sudden destruction” on the wicked – (Matthew 24:37-39).
The unprepared will be overtaken by the unexpectedness of that day. His “arrival” will result in the separation of the godly from the ungodly. Two will “be in the field, one is taken near, one is left behind. Two women grinding at the mill, one is taken near, and one is left behind.”
The Apostle Paul described the same event. That day will bring destruction to the wicked, but glory to the saints:
- (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) – “And to you that are afflicted release with us by the revealing of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his angels of power, in fiery flame; holding forth vengeance against them that refuse to know God and them who decline to hearken to the gospel of our Lord Jesus, who, indeed, a penalty shall pay, everlasting destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, whensoever he shall come to be made all-glorious in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who believed, because our witness to you was believed, in that day.”
At his parousia, the church at Thessalonica will be Paul’s “crown of boasting.” Faithful disciples will find themselves wholly sanctified and “blameless,” in contrast to the unprepared and the wicked. Dead believers will be resurrected and reunited with fellow believers who remain alive. Together, they will be “seized on clouds for a meeting of the Lord in the air” as he descends from heaven, and thus, will they be with him “forevermore” – (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 5:23, 4:13-18).
His “arrival” from heaven will not occur until after the “apostasy” and the “revelation of the man of lawlessness”:
- “Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him; to the end that you be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand; let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the apostasy come first, and the man of lawlessness be revealed… Whom Jesus will slay with the Spirit of his mouth and paralyze with the manifestation of his arrival” – (2 Thessalonians 2:1-9).
Thus, this wicked one will be destroyed on the same day that Jesus gathers his elect to himself; that is, on the “day of the Lord.”
In Corinth, Paul responded to church members who were denying the future resurrection by presenting arguments that demonstrated the necessity for the resurrection. In the process, he listed several things that will occur at the “arrival” or parousia of Jesus, including the final subjugation of all his enemies, AND the resurrection of the righteous dead. And the resurrection will mean the end of the “last enemy, death” – (1 Corinthians 15:20-57).
According to Peter, his “arrival” or parousia will bring with it the “day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” This is to occur on the “day of the Lord,” at which time “the heavens will pass away with a rushing noise… and the earth and the works therein will be discovered.” Any apparent “delay” in that day’s arrival is not what it appears. Instead, the long wait is due to God’s mercy and patience. He “is not minded that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The arrival of that day will bring with it the judgment and the New Creation – (2 Peter 3:3-13).
Finally, Christians must “abide in him” so that, at his parousia they “may have boldness and not be put to shame.” An inference is that anyone who does not “abide in Jesus” will suffer loss – (1 John 2:28).
In summary, the“arrival” of Jesus will be a universal event that will affect all humanity and the entire creation. That day will be marked by terrestrial and celestial upheaval. Jesus will send his angels to gather his people to himself “forevermore,” and they will inherit “everlasting life.” In contrast, the wicked will be rounded up to face judgment. They will receive “everlasting destruction.”
Thus, the “day of the Lord” will mean vindication and life for some, but condemnation and disaster for others. Both results occur when Jesus “arrives” from heaven in great power and glory at the end of the age. For all concerned, it will be a day of great finality.