The Parousia is a theological concept that comes from the Greek word parousia meaning "coming" or "presence." In the study of Bible prophecy, the term Parousia is used in reference to the Coming of Jesus Christ.
In some cases, the Parousia is used in reference to the time when Jesus Christ comes to rapture His people to be with Him. For example, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 says, "For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." At any moment, the dead in Christ will rise followed by those alive in Christ to be with Christ forever (also 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 5:23; James 5:8; 1 John 2:28).
In other cases, the Parousia refers to Christ's return at the end of the seven-year tribulation period. Revelation 19:11-21 speaks at length about this event. Jesus will return in victory and defeat His enemies at Armageddon, beginning His reign upon David's throne in Jerusalem with His people.
It is important to understand that the Bible speaks of two different "comings" of Jesus Christ. Some believe Christ will return only once, at the end of the seven-year tribulation. However, a study of the passages that refer to Christ's coming note many differences between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. Most notably, at the rapture Jesus will come on the clouds to take His people to be with Him. This will take place at any moment and before the seven-year tribulation period. At His second coming, Jesus will come down to earth with His people to defeat His enemies and begin His reign in Jerusalem for the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:1-7). The following (adapted from www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-DifferencesBetweenTheRapt.pdf
) highlights many of these key differences:
• Translation of all believers
• Translated saints go to heaven
• Earth not judged
• Imminent, any-moment
• Not in the Old Testament
• Believers only
• Before the day of wrath
• No reference to Satan
• Jesus comes in the air
• Jesus claims His bride (the Church)
• Only His own see Jesus
• Tribulation begins
• No translation
• Previously translated saints return to earth
• Earth judged and righteousness established
• Follows definite predicted signs, including tribulation
• Predicted often in Old Testament
• All people impacted
• Concluding the day of wrath
• Satan bound
• Jesus comes to the earth
• Jesus comes with His bride (the Church)
• Every eye will see Jesus
• Millennial Kingdom begins
The Parousia is an essential part of the study of biblical prophecy. In discussing the Parousia one should be careful to define to which coming of Christ he or she is referring and to note many of the important, significant differences between the rapture and return of Christ.
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