Friday, December 18, 2009

The "Coming" of Jesus

As mentioned in my previous post, if Jesus was a historical person then we would expect the authors of the epistles to refer to the future appearance of Jesus as a return, a second coming, or a re-appearance. If however Jesus was regarded by these authors as a person that didn't walk the earth as a real physical human we would expect them to refer to the future appearance as a "coming", and "appearance", or perhaps a "revealing". Remember that you can't "reveal" things twice. The word "revelation" connotes something that is understood for the first time.

In light of this, consider the following biblical texts. Did these writers regard the coming appearance of Jesus as something that was about to happen for the first time or as something that would be understood to be a return of Jesus?

1 Thessalonians 2:19

19For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?

1 Thessalonians 3:13

13so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

James 5:7

7Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.

James 5:8

8You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

2 Thessalonians 1:10

10when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed--for our testimony to you was believed.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2

1Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,

2that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

2 Thessalonians 2:8

8Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

Hebrews 10:37


Revelation 1:4

4John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,

Revelation 2:16

16'Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.

Revelation 2:25

25'Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.

Revelation 3:3

3'So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

Revelation 22:20

20He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly " Amen Come, Lord Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 1:10

10and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

Philippians 1:6

6For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:10

10so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;

1 John 2:28

28Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

Colossians 3:4

4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

1 Peter 5:4

4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

1 Timothy 6:14-16

14that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

16who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

2 Timothy 4:1

1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:

Titus 2:13

13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

1 Peter 4:13

13but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

1 Peter 5:1

1Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,

2 Thessalonians 1:7

7and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,

2 Thessalonians 2:6

6And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.

1 Peter 1:13

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:7

7so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

All of this is compilation of work done by Truthsurge.


DagoodS said...

Hmmm…I’m not convinced yet.

The “coming of the Lord” was to be the parousia--not merely a “return visit” like the in-laws coming back for Sunday dinner next week. This was THE event—the moment where the Christians rise, are justified and vindicated; where Jesus Christ displays his entire theistic array.

This may be more a language difference. (For a stupid, but timely example: We say, “Christmas is coming” not “Christmas is returning.” A person not conversant in our language or culture, 1000 years from now, could read the literature of December 2009 and make a similar claim. Because all the advertisements say “Christmas is coming” not “Christmas is returning,” it must mean we never had Christmas before!)

The term parousia is used in 2. Cor 7:6-7, which may be a return of Titus. The term parousia is clearly used on a return visit of Paul in Philippians 1:26, “…my paousia to you again…”

The question (in my opinion) should focus on whether the Christians of the First Century considered Jesus’ appearance as incarnated deity as different, with a different named event, as Jesus returning as a God. If so, they wouldn’t refer to it as a “return,” as it was two different visits with two vastly different purposes.

I think the stronger argument is that the New Testament writers’ expectation of Jesus coming to earth within their near future was to be a parousia--an event, a stately appearance. Not just a “return” to say “Howdy” to the boys.

Jon said...

I wouldn't disagree with your reasoning. But it's still evidence for mythicism and here's how. Maybe you've heard Draper's debate with WL Craig where he uses a jelly bean illustration and I'm going to use that.

I have two jars of jelly beans. One has an equal number of red beans and blue beans. The other is entirely red beans. One jar is sealed tight and you can't tell which one it is. I'm going to shut of the lights and select a bean. I do so, place the bean on the table, turn on the lights and you see it's a red bean.

Could have come from either jar. Let's suppose I do it again. Another red bean. Again, could have come from either jar, but this is evidence that it came from the jar of only red beans. That is the greatest likelihood.

Let's suppose I do it 41 times and I present 41 red beans. This is a pretty solid case. They might all be coming from the red and blue jar, but that's not likely.

This is analogous because on your view the appearance references could either be "return" or "appear" whereas on my view they can never be "return". It appears just as it must appear if mythicism is true, whereas on your view it could just as easily have been either way.

I understand there is the one Hebrews text that at first blush looks like a blue bean, so that does weaken my case. As you probably know the mythicist says it's really not blue.

Dave Rattigan said...

I'm with DagoodS's "Hmm... I'm not convinced yet."

If we take the English words "arrival," "coming," "appearance," and "visit," for example, none of these to me indicate anything about whether there might have been previous visits etc. So I'd need some reason why roughly equivalent terms in Greek are significantly different in some particular way.