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Three historians refer to the appearance of Jesus with His armies over Jerusalem in 66CE

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1. Introduction

We hear many references to Jesus’ Comings. In particular, we hear references to the Second Coming (the parousia) of Jesus Christ, as if parousia is Jesus’ Final Coming. In this lesson, we will learn that the word parousia is not limited to Jesus’ final return. One of the assumptions is that there are only two comings of Jesus. We will test this and find it is a false assumption.
If we quickly search In the Bible for the words Second AND coming, we will find no mention. So how many comings (parousia) are there? Commonly taught, there are two comings of Christ in the New Testament. However, there are much more than two – there are six!

Awakening Impact Ministries believes that Jesus will return at the end of this age and hand the kingdom back to the Father.

2. What Does Coming in the Greek Language Mean?

A. Erchomai

ἔρχομαι erchomai; to come or go (in a great variety of applications, literally and figuratively): — accompany, appear,
bring, come, enter, fall out, go, grow, x light, x next, pass, resort, be set.

For example:

Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Matthew 26:64

This word is used 599 times in the New Testament and refers to many different comings, not only to Jesus.

B. Parousia

The second word for coming in Greek is Parousia, which is more specific;

παρουσία parousia; being near, i.e. advent (often, return; especially, of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked); (by implication) physically, aspect: — coming, presence.

Parousia refers to a conquering army general coming into the capital city.
Parousia is used 24 times in the New Testament to refer to different comings (advents), not just the Second Coming of Christ.

3. Erroneous Teaching Around the Final Coming of Jesus.

A. Error #1. Parousia Ony Refers to Jesus’ Final Return

As we examine the different times of parousia, we will see that parousia does not only refer to Jesus’s final return.

Many theologians and teachers describe the Futurist view as biblically naive, inaccurate, and dangerous to the kingdom of God.

B. Error #2. The Final Parousia of Jesus Christ Occurred in 70CE

Preterists believe that Jesus’ Second Parousia, the resurrection of the dead, and Judgment Day have all occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem.

We will now look at the parousia through a partial preterist mindset, which I believe is a biblically accurate view.

4. Parousia: Used for Ordinary People.

Contrary to what some people say, parousia not only refers to His Second coming. Like erchomai, parousia describes ‘coming’ in a very usual way:

A. Friendship

I am glad about the parousia of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied.

1 Corinthians 16:17

B. Ministerial Support

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts; inside were fears. Nevertheless, God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the parousia of Titus,

2 Corinthians 7:5-6

C. Paul’s Presence Amongst Believers

“For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily parousia is weak, and his speech contemptible.”

2 Corinthians 10:10

D. The “Parousia” of the Lawless One

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The parousia of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,

2 Thessalonians 2:8-9

So we see that parousia was a common word NOT SPECIFIC to Jesus’ physical appearance at the end of the age.

5. Jesus’ Comings

Now that we have determined that neither parousia nor erchomai is specific to Jesus’ return at the end of the age, we can examine the different times Jesus came.

A. His Virgin Birth.

All faithful theologians agree that Jesus’s first coming as the Son of God was at His birth in a manger. Jesus’s first coming occurred during Herod’s reign and before 2 BCE, the time of Herod’s death.

B. The Commencement of His Ministry

The next coming of Jesus was when He started His earthly three-and-a-half-year ministry in 27 CE.

From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus— after John had first preached, before His coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

Acts 13:23-24

We know this reference to Jesus’ coming is not His birth because it occurs after John commenced his ministry. The context and timing are related to Jesus’ baptisms.

C. His Coming at the Transfiguration

Here, Peter refers to Jesus, glorious transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13).

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

2 Peter 1:16-18

Some have disputed that Peter indeed wrote this epistle. In 2 Peter, Peter writes that he was on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter wrote this epistle before his death in 64 CE. Therefore, like John’s epistles, the epistle dates before the destruction of Jerusalem. Understanding this is vital because Peter refers to being in the last days, which ended in 70 CE.

knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,

2 Peter 3:3

D. Jesus’ Coming for His Enthronement

Thrones (Dan 7 v10ff) were set in place for His ascension and enthronement after His resurrection in 30 CE.

“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.

Daniel 7:13

E. Jesus Parousia in Judgment on Israel in 66 CE.

Jesus said He would return on the clouds of glory within one generation of His prophecy.

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

Matthew 24:27-28

Saying this scripture refers to a future event is saying Jesus is a false prophet. Jesus links it to the armies surrounding Jerusalem in 67 CE and 70 CE. The eagle refers to the Roman armies.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.

Luke 21:20

F. Jesus Returns in the Future

so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

1 Thessalonians 3:13

Here are some other references to His final coming in the future.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

1 Corinthians 11:26

There are many other references to the future return of Jesus, including 1 Cor.
11:26; 15:23–24; 1 Thes. 4:14–17; 2 Thes. 1:7–8; 2 Tim. 4:1; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28
We need to be careful not to assume that what we have understood about the coming of
Jesus is correct. We do know He is coming again.

6. Three Historians Account of Jesus’ Coming in 66 CE

Jesus appeared over Jerusalem during Passover, three and a half years before its destruction in September 70 CE. We will look at His coming in detail in a separate study, but here are three accounts by different historians:

A. Josephus

On the twenty-first day of the month of Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities

Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3

B. Tacitus

“In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.”

Tacitus The Histories 5.13

C. Pseudo-Hegesippus

“A certain figure appeared of tremendous size, which many saw, just as the books of the Jews have disclosed, and before the setting of the sun there were suddenly seen in the clouds chariots in the clouds and armed battle arrays by which the cities of all Iudaea and its territories were invaded.”

Pseudo-Hegesippus 44.

7. Summary of Jesus’ Comings

  • Jesus has come five times.
  • Jesus is yet to return for His final return.
  • Parousia is not limited to the Second Coming.
  • Jesus came on the clouds with His armies over Jerusalem as He prophesied He would within one generation, seen by Caiaphas as He promised.

© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries/Dr Neville Westerbeek van Eerten D.Miss. 2024

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