CHRIST'S "PAROUSIA," OR PRESENCE. "PAROUSIA" AS THE REAPING PERIOD. "PAROUSIA" AS THE ENTIRE HARVEST. "PAROUSIA" AS THE ENTIRE MILLENNIUM. CHRIST'S "EPIPHANEIA," OR MANIFESTATION. THE BIBLICAL USE OF THE WORD "EPIPHANEIA." OCCURRENCES OF THE VERB "EPIPHAINO." OCCURRENCES OF THE NOUN "EPIPHANEIA." THE "EPIHANEIA" AS AN ACTION. THE "EPIPHANEIA" AS A PERIOD, OF TIME. CHRIST'S "APOKALUPSIS," OR REVEALING. OCCURRENCES OF THE VERB "APOKALUPTO." OCCURRENCES OF THE NOUN "APOKALUPSIS." CHRIST'S "BASILEIA," OR KINGDOM.
NOT only the object and manner of our Lord's Return, as described, e.g., in the previous chapters, but also the stages through which His Second Advent progresses, are of deep interest to all "that love His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8).
We must not expect that at the Second Advent, any more than at the First Advent, all the pertinent prophecies mark one particularly eventful moment, viz., that of our Lord's arrival. His First Advent was not marked by any sudden or surprising demonstration, out of the usual order of things, but it was manifested and proven by the gradual fulfillment of prophecy, which showed to thoughtful observers that the events then to be expected were being accomplished on time.
And thus it is at the Second Advent: it is of less importance that we discover the exact moment of His arrival than that we discern the fact of His presence after He has arrived, even as at the First Advent it was less important to know the exact date of His birth than it was to recognize His presence after He was already present (John 1:26). In considering the Second Advent, the act of coming and the moment of arrival are too frequently emphasized, whereas it should be thought of as a period of presence, as was the First Advent. The precise moment at which that presence begins would then seem less important, and His object and work during the period of His presence would receive the greater consideration.
Because those who are "watchers" (Matt. 24:42; Mark 13:37) are not heedless, careless, indifferent servants of the King, they have on this, as on other subjects, scrutinized the Scriptures, and, as a result, they discern that four different Greek words, viz., parousia, epiphaneia, apokalupsis and basileia, are used to indicate the three different stages of our Lord's Second Advent.
Let us now examine these Greek words and their use in the Scriptures in relation to the Second Advent.
CHRIST'S PAROUSIA, OR PRESENCE
Nearly all Greek dictionaries and Greek scholars are a unit in the thought that the word parousia means presence, as can be seen, e.g., from the marginal note, "Greek, presence," in the English and American Revised Versions, wherever the word parousia occurs and is not rendered "presence" in the text (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:23; Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39); from Rotherham's translation (see also Appendix note on p. 271, third edition), Panin's Numeric New Testament and Young's Literal Translation, all of which uniformly render the word parousia by "presence" in every one of its 24 occurrences, the word "coming" as a proper translation of parousia being set aside; from The Emphatic Diaglott and Fenton's translation, which also render the word parousia by "presence" (e.g., in Matt. 24:3, 27), etc. Even the King James Version sometimes properly renders the word parousia by "presence," as can be seen from 2 Cor. 10:10 and Phil. 2:12.
The word parousia is derived from the feminine participle (parousa, being present) of the Greek verb pareimi, i.e., I am present. Hence the noun parousia means presence, and that in every place where it occurs in the New Testament. The word parousia does not mean coming, approaching or drawing nigh, as of one's being on the way, but rather a stay at a place after one's arrival there—a being near in the sense of presence as distinct from absence (see, e.g., Phil. 2:12, where the Apostle Paul contrasts his parousia, his presence,
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
with his apousia, his absence). Nor does it mean arrival, for it presupposes an arrival. To mean coming in the sense of approaching or drawing nigh, it would have to be derived from another verb than pareimi (I am present), e.g., from eggizo (come near, approach, as used in Luke 21:8—"the time draweth near," and in v. 20—"the desolation thereof is nigh—"has approached"). And to mean arrival, it would have to be derived from some such verb as heko (arrive, as used, e.g., in Matt. 24:14—"then shall the end come," and in v. 50—"the lord of that servant shall come"). Thus the etymology proves that the word parousia means presence. Those Greek scholars and dictionary-makers who hold that parousia means coming or arrival do so in almost every case because of their creeds' teaching that Jesus' Second Presence lasts only a part of a 24-hour day.
It is quite generally accepted by the ripest Biblical scholarship of our day that the first part of our Lord's stay on earth after His return from heaven is a secret one, the world at first not being at all aware of it, only His prospective Bride knowing of it through the light of the Bible and the signs of the times (1 Thes. 5:1-5). Note carefully how in these verses we are shown that the period of Jesus' Second Advent will have come stealthily upon the unsuspecting world, while God's faithful people will not be in ignorance of His presence.
From the descriptions given in Matt. 24:23-41 and Luke 17:20-37, we conclude that in this first stage of our Lord's Second Advent His special activities would be: (1) gathering His Elect Bride into closer fellowship with Himself through His Spirit and Word (Psa. 50:5; Mal. 3:17; this is described as Gospel-Age Harvest reaping in Matt. 13:30, 39; Rev. 14:14-16), preparatory to her deliverance from the earth, and her glorification with Him (Col. 3:4); and (2) preparing for the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21, 22; Dan. 12:1; Luke 17:26-30; 21:25, 26; Rev. 19:11-21),
during which the epiphaneia, or apokalupsis, the manifestation or revelation of our Lord as present in His Second Advent takes place—He reveals Himself to the world as the overthrower of Satan's empire and the establisher of God's kingdom, and to the Great Company as their cleanser and deliverer (Mal. 3:2, 3; Matt. 7:26, 27; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; Rev. 7:14); also, He develops the Youthful Worthies as a class for their place in the kingdom.
We use the anglicized form, Parousia, to designate this secret first stage of our Lord's Second Advent (in which the Gospel-Age Harvest reaping takes place), especially in contrast with the Epiphany (epiphaneia), or Apocalypse (apokalupsis), the trouble time, and the Kingdom (basileia) period, which follow it, even though, as we shall see, the Scriptures sometimes use the Greek word parousia in a second and wider sense, to include not only the reaping time, but also the trouble time (the epiphaneia, or apokalupsis), and also in a third and still wider sense, to include not only the reaping and trouble times, but also the Kingdom period (the basileia). A study of all the passages which use the Greek word parousia in reference to our Lord's Second Advent will show that this word is used in these three senses. We will now examine these passages, quoting them from the A.R.V. and substituting for "coming" the proper translation "presence," as given in the margin.
PAROUSIA AS THE REAPING PERIOD
First we will prove that the word parousia is used in certain passages with specific reference to the period during which the Gospel-Age Harvest reaping takes place, and during which the world as such is ignorant of Jesus' Second Presence.
Matt. 24:3: "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy presence, and of [margin] the consummation of the age?" It is because of the secret character of this first phase of our Lord's
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
Second Presence that the disciples asked for the sign of His parousia—the reaping time (Matt. 24:39)—and of the end [consummation] of the Age (Matt. 13:39); for if this phase of it were visible and publicly manifest, it would have required no sign to prove its having set in; the visibility of it would be proof positive that it had set in. The sign that Jesus gave to prove, not to men's natural eyes, but to His faithful watchers' eyes of understanding, that His presence had set in, was the symbolic sunlight—the Truth on religious and secular matters, which in the harvest picture is the reaper's sickle (Matt. 24:27, 28, 30, 31; Luke 17:34-37).
Matt. 24:27: "For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen [shineth] even unto the west; so shall be the presence of the Son of man." Here the Greek word astrape is translated lightning, one of its meanings; the other is light. Both of these meanings occur in the Bible and in classic Greek, as Thayer and Liddel & Scott show. The thought of lightning certainly does not fit here, for it is not a peculiarity of lightning to shoot across the whole heaven, nor to start from the east and go even to the west. It is as liable to start from the north or south or west or any point between these as it is to start from the east, and also as liable to go in other directions than the west; and usually it shoots over only a fractional part of the sky, not over the whole sky, as would be implied, if lightning were here meant. Certainly the word astrape in Luke 11:36 does not mean lightning; for that does not come from either a literal lamp or figurative lamp, the latter of which the Bible is to us (Psa. 119:105). Here it evidently means light. The word astrape, when used of the angel's appearance in Matt. 28:3, evidently means light, and not lightning; for rapid electrical motion, and that away from the starting point, is always associated with lightning, and this cannot be identified with the appearance of a sitting angel, which in this case
was of very bright light. These three passages show that astrape also means light in the New Testament, as it often does in classic Greek.
On the other hand, it is a peculiarity of the sunlight to shine out of the east even unto the west. Hence in Matt. 24:27 the light of the sun as an evidence of the sun's presence is used as a simile; illustrating that the Truth—figurative light—is the sign—proof—of the initial stage—the reaping period—of the Second Presence of the symbolic sun, our Lord Jesus. It is because this initial stage of Jesus' Second Presence will thus be recognized only by the eyes of understanding, not by those of the natural body, that Jesus warned His Faithful against being deceived by those who would, as certain fanatical believers have for years been doing, ask them to go to certain mountains or deserts to see the Lord, and as others, Spiritists, have been doing, ask them to enter séances ("secret chambers") to see Him in His Second Advent (Matt. 24:24-26).
Matt. 24:37-39: "And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the presence of the Son of man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the presence of the Son of man."
The unbelief as to, and consequent ignorance of, the coming flood, on the part of the world during the days of Noah's presence before the flood, while the world was going about the ordinary affairs of life, are here paralleled with a similar unbelief and ignorance on the world's part while it would be going about the ordinary affairs of life during the Parousia of our Lord, the first day, the "one of the days of the Son of man" before the trouble (Luke 17:22). This stage is the first one of His Second Advent; for it is through the trouble of the second stage (in part included in Luke 17:26, 27) that the world toward its end learns of His presence.
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
While the comparisons in Matt. 24:37-39 are those brought out above, those in Luke 17:26-30 differ somewhat from them. There is in this passage, unlike in Matt. 24:37-39, no comparison between the unbelief and ignorance during the days of Noah before the flood and during the Parousia, before the trouble. Nor is any more than one of the days of Luke 17:26-30 directly implied in Matt. 24:37-39, and directly mentioned in Luke 17:22, that one being the Parousia day, desired to be seen by the disciples during their lives and not seen by them (Luke 17:22); for it was not the trouble day—the epiphaneia, the apokalupsis—of the two days of the Son of Man, but the arrival day, the Harvest reaping day—the Parousia—of the Son of Man that the disciples desired to see and did not see in their lifetime.
The comparisons of Luke 17:26, 27 with the above-noted differences as between them and the one day—the Parousia day—of Matt. 24:37-39 are as follows: (1) The people going about the ordinary affairs of life in the type until the day Noah entered the Ark before the flood, and in the antitype the world going about the ordinary affairs of life, until the entire Christ class entered the antitypical Ark before the Time of Trouble; (2) the coming of the flood and the coming of the great tribulation; (3) the destructions of the flood and the destructions of the great tribulation. Point (1) in the antitype occurred during the parousia of Matt. 24:37-39, the first day of Luke 17:22, 26 and the one day of Luke 17:22; and points (2) and (3) occur during the epiphaneia, or apokalupsis, the second day of the two, that of Luke 17:30.
The second type, that of Lot, etc. (Luke 17:28-30), has the following comparisons: (1) In the type up to very shortly after Lot left Sodom the people going about the ordinary affairs of life, and in the antitype up to shortly after the Lot section of the Great Company would leave symbolic Babylon (Rev. 11:8; comp. 17:1-6, 18), just before the trouble would break out, the
people of antitypical Sodom going about the ordinary affairs of life; (2) Lot leaving Sodom in the type, and in the antitype the Lot section of the Great Company leaving Babylon; (3) the rain of fire and brimstone in the type, and the activity of the destroying agencies of the Time of Trouble in the antitype; (4) the destruction of Sodom and its people in the type, and the destruction of Babylon and its partisan adherents as such in the antitype. We note that v. 30 proves also that as on the pertinent day the Sodomites continued in their ordinary affairs until the destruction overtook them, so would the Babylonians continue in the day of the epiphaneia, or apokalupsis ("in the day when the Son of Man is revealed"), the ordinary affairs of life until the destruction reaches them. The fulfillment is in harmony with this; for not only up to the end of the Parousia day, 1874-1914, did the Babylonians continue in their ordinary pursuits, but they have persisted therein into the epiphaneia, or apokalupsis, until the destruction overtakes each one of them. We trust that in the preceding and in this paragraph the comparisons of each of these passages in itself, and also the comparisons and contrasts between them, now stand out clearly.
2 Thes. 2:1: "We beseech you, brethren, touching the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him." Here the initial stage of our Lord's Second Presence is evidently referred to: (1) because the Thessalonians had been deceived into believing that the Lord had returned, and (2) because St. Paul then proceeds to prove that the Second Advent had not yet set in, by showing that a preceding sign, not yet fulfilled, must first set in—Antichrist's rise, reign, revelation and consuming. If St. Paul and the Thessalonians had believed that Jesus' Second Advent was to be visible, not having seen Him, the latter would not have believed the error that it had already set in, and the former would have appealed to their sense of sight in disproof of their error; for St. Paul's
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
method of disproving their view would have been very clumsy, if the proof from sight had been applicable; for his quick and logical mind would have seized upon so pertinent an argument, had it been available. His not using so patent an argument, and his resorting to afar less patent one to disprove the error, are proofs that it was not available.
Thus we have proved that in Matt. 24:3, 27, 37-39, and in 2 Thes. 2:1, the parousia is the secret first stage of Jesus' Second Advent, the reaping period, during which He reaps the wheat and the tares, while the world as such is ignorant of His Second Presence. Using other figures—eagles and a carcass—than that of the harvest, whose sickle is the Truth, the connection between Matt. 24:27 and 28 proves the same thing, as also Luke 17:34-37 under those figures and still others proves the same thing. The figurative light of v. 27 is the same as the figurative carcass of v. 28, and both are the Truth (Matt. 24:27, 28); and Jesus shows that the gathering (harvesting) of the Lord's people, the taking from one bed, from one field, and from co-grinding at one mill, would be to the symbolic carcass, the Truth, even as Palestinian eagles gather to a carcass, a body, for food. Thus the Truth as the light attracting their attention to His Second Presence, and the Truth as the food gathering them together, and the Truth as the sickle reaping them, is the first means that our Lord in the first stage of His Second Advent used to manifest His Parousia and to do the Harvest reaping work. Hence the Truth is emphatically the sign of His Parousia, the reaping time.
PAROUSIA AS THE ENTIRE HARVEST
We now proceed to the proof that both the first and second stages of our Lord's Second Advent are covered by the term parousia. The second stage of His Second Advent is the trouble time, the Day of Wrath (which is the Epiphany or Apocalypse, as a period); and this Time of Trouble precedes the third stage, the basileia, of our Lord's Second Presence. That the
trouble—wrath—time laps slightly into the reaping time and then succeeds it for a period, is evident from many Scriptures (Amos 9:13; Matt. 13:42; Rev. 6:9-11 [wait until the last member will have consecrated himself]; Rev. 7:1-3; 14:19, 20). Briefly would we now explain those passages in which the word parousia includes, with the first, the second stage of our Lord's Second Advent. It is a peculiarity of these particular passages that they include both the reaping and the wrath periods, i.e., they apply to the Harvest in the wide sense of the word.
1 Thes. 2:19: "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his presence?" St. Paul, acting as the mouthpiece of all the faithful teachers of the Body of Christ during the Gospel Age, here says that those whom they win for our Lord's own, will be their hope, joy and crown of glorying during our Lord's parousia. Since the sleeping saints were to be raised from the dead first (1 Thes. 4:13-17) and the last ones of the remaining saints were not to get their deliverance until "caught up together with them in the clouds" of trouble in the great Time of Trouble, and since all of such faithful teachers, to have the above-mentioned privilege with all those whom they won, must be with the Lord, it follows that the word parousia in this verse covers, not only the first, but also the second stage of our Lord's Second Advent, His epiphaneia, or apokalupsis.
1 Thes. 3:13: "To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the presence of our Lord Jesus with all his saints." In order for all of the saints to be present with God and Jesus during the parousia mentioned here, it must cover also the time of His epiphaneia, the time of His appearing, when all the saints appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4).
1 Thes. 4:15: "We that are alive, and that are left unto the presence of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep." As already shown, the
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
connection proves that all the saints are included in this description. Hence in this, as in the preceding two passages, the word parousia covers not only the first, but also the second stage of His presence, the epiphaneia, or apokalupsis.
1 Thes. 5:23: "May your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ." For the same reasons as given above, this passage should be placed into the same category.
2 Thes. 2:8, 9: "Then shall be revealed the lawless one [the Antichrist], whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation [bright shining, epiphaneia] of his presence; even he, whose presence is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." Here the first and second stages of our Lord's Second Advent are meant, because Antichrist—the papacy—is to be destroyed in the time of wrath (Dan. 7:8-11, 26; 12:1; Matt. 24:21, 22; Rev. 18 and 19), which is the second stage of our Lord's Second Advent, as an effect of the Truth shining during both of these stages. In v. 9 the word presence does not refer to Antichrist's, but, as indicated by the relative pronoun, whose, having as its antecedent the pronoun, His, to our Lord's presence, which is here shown by the facts to be in its first and second stages, during the working of every kind of delusion of Satanic origin. This frenzy of delusion is an allusion to the deluge of error in the world which set in during the past century, when the darkening of the symbolic sun (the New Testament) and moon (the Old Testament) began, and especially since the first of the six great Harvest siftings began, in 1878. We are now in the sixth of these in which there is an abundance of delusions on all hands (vs. 9-12). Hence the word parousia in 2 Thes. 2:8, 9 refers to the first and second stages of our Lord's Second Advent.
James 5:7, 8: "Be patient therefore, brethren, until
the presence of the Lord … Establish your hearts: for the presence of the Lord is at hand." Here we have two other occurrences of the word parousia, used with reference to the first and second stages of our Lord's Second Advent, because before all the brethren will have exercised the longsuffering here inculcated, the second stage (the epiphaneia, or apokalupsis) will have set in; for not until then do all the saints receive their eternal reward (Col. 3:4; 1 Pet. 1:7, 13; 4:13)
2 Pet. 3:3, 4: "In the last days mockers [scoffers] shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his presence? for, from the day the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." The use of the expression, "last days" (the first of which is the reaping day, or the Parousia, and the second of which is the wrath day, or the Epiphany, the Apocalypse day), proves that the scoffing at the Lord's Presence here is with reference to its first and second stages. These scoffers, generally speaking, having been mistaught to expect our Lord's Second Presence to be visible to men's natural eyes and to last only a part of a 24-hour day, have (ever since 1874, when its invisibility was first in the end of the Age preached, and ever since somewhat earlier, when its age-lasting duration was first in latter times explained) been scoffing about such a presence, demanding where it has been promised, unbelievingly pointing to matters proceeding as formerly and to the absence of Christ's visibility to men's natural eyes, as proofs that His Second Presence has not yet set in.
2 Pet. 3:12: "Looking for and earnestly desiring the presence of the day of God." The expression, "presence of the day of God," is synonymous with the first and second stages of our Lord's Second Presence; for its first stage prepared the symbolic heaven and earth—in bundling the symbolic tares—for the wrath of its second stage, which wrath certainly burst out in the World War (Phase I) in 1914.
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
1 John 2:28: "My little children, abide in him; that, if he shall be manifested, we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his presence." Here we have a reference to the confidence that all the Faithful will have before the Lord during His parousia, at His shining forth. This doubtless limits the use of the word parousia in this passage to the first and second stages of our Lord's Second Advent; for then, first, the Body members all come to be with Him (Col. 3:4; 1 John 3:2).
PAROUSIA AS THE ENTIRE MILLENNIUM
We will now explain the passages in which the Kingdom (basileia) phase of our Lord's Second Advent is included under the word parousia.
In 1 Cor. 15:23 we meet the first example of this use of the word: "Then they that are [who will become] Christ's at [during] His presence [shall be made alive]." It will be noticed that in v. 22 the Apostle explains that all in Christ shall be made alive, not simply be awakened, but experience resurrection, perfection; for he uses this part of v. 22 to prove that by a man (v. 21) shall come the resurrection. In v. 23 he specifies two companies that shall be made alive, perfect, calling the first, "Christ, a firstfruit." Evidently Jesus is not here meant, for St. Paul is here explaining the order in which all in Christ will be made alive, and is referring to an event future to his time, while our Lord was resurrected over 20 years before St. Paul used this language. The connection shows that the future verb, shall be made alive, carried over from v. 22, is the predicate in v. 23; therefore, the expression, Christ a firstfruit, must refer to the Church, the other firstfruit than Jesus (v. 20). By the expression, Christ a firstfruit shall be made alive, the first resurrection is, accordingly, referred to (Phil. 3:11; Rev. 20:4, 6). Who else in Christ shall be made alive? The passage says: "They that are [who will become] Christ's at [during] His presence." When will it be that the obedient of mankind (consecration to Him maintained
in obedience is the sense in which in the next Age the obedient world will be in Christ) will be made alive? We answer that according to the Bible it will be during the Millennium (Psa. 22:28, 29; Isa. 45:22, 23; compare with Gen. 22:16, 18 and Phil. 2:10, 11; Rom. 14:9-11; 2 Tim. 4:1). Accordingly, the word parousia in 1 Cor. 15:23 refers to the Kingdom stage of our Lord's Second Presence.
2 Pet. 1:16: "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ." Here the word presence (parousia) is evidently used of all three phases, because the vision (Matt. 17:9) of the transfiguration on the mount was a tableau of the Kingdom in its widest sense, according to Jesus' statement forecasting its sight by some of His disciples before their death (Matt. 16:28) and according to St. Peter's explanation given in 2 Pet. 1:16-18. In that part (Matt. 17:2) of the vision in which Christ alone is the first one seen in light, the parousia and the epiphaneia, or apokalupsis, phases are implied; and in that part (Matt. 17:3) of the vision in which Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus, the basileia phase of the parousia (in the widest sense) is implied.
Above we have discussed every occurrence of the word parousia connected with our Lord's Second Advent and we find that it is used with reference to three time stages of His Second Presence. We use it like the Scriptures in these three senses; and frequently, by way of distinction, we use it with reference to the first of these three stages, thus calling the reaping stage the Parousia, especially in contrast with the wrath stage, the Epiphany, or Apocalypse, which follows the Parousia, and the Kingdom (basileia), which follows the Epiphany, or Apocalypse.
CHRIST'S EPIPHANEIA, OR MANIFESTATION
We come now to a consideration of the epiphaneia (Epiphany, or Apocalypse). As a period it is the second time stage of our Lord's Second Presence. As already
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
ready stated, it is the Time of Trouble (Matt. 24:21, 22; Dan. 12:1; Luke 17:26-32; 21:25, 26; Rev. 19:11-21), during which a less faithful, overcharged Spirit-begotten class, the Great Company, is delivered (Mal. 3:2, 3; Matt. 7:26, 27; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; Rev. 7:14), and the Youthful Worthies as a class are developed.
The ablest Bible students of our day are more and more coming to the conclusion that we are now in the Great Tribulation, and that we have been in it ever since the outbreak of the World War (Phase I) in 1914, with its accompanying famines and pestilences. This they construe from the prophecies, the signs of the times and the world-troubles on all hands. We agree with this view, and therefore believe that we are now in the Epiphany, and that shortly in the clouds of trouble that involve our social earth, and that darken our ecclesiastical heavens, the presence of the Son of Man will be recognized by the world of mankind (Matt. 24:30; Luke 21:25-28; Rev. 1:7). I f we are among God's watching people, we will recognize this before others see it; and thus the Day will not overtake us unawares.
THE BIBLICAL USE OF THE WORD EPIPHANEIA
We now desire to investigate the Biblical use of the word epiphaneia and some of its related thoughts.
While we note the fact that the word Epiphany, though frequently used in English, does not occur in the English Bible, we should recognize that the Greek word epiphaneia, from which it is derived, does occur in the original Greek of the New Testament. In all it is found in six passages, which we herewith cite: 2 Thes. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1, 8 and Tit. 2:13. In arriving at an understanding of its meaning, the consideration of a few things will prove helpful: (1) the word epiphaino, from which epiphaneia is derived; (2) the meaning of' its basic part, phaino; (3) the meaning of the preposition epi with which phaino
is compounded; (4) the force added to the word phaino by this preposition; (5) all the occurrences of epiphaneia in the Bible; (6) its various uses in the Scriptures; and (7) the general trend of Scriptural thought connected with the word.
We remark, on the first point, that the word epiphaneia is derived, not from a simple, but from a compound word—epiphaino—which is formed by uniting the preposition epi, meaning on, upon, over, at, etc., with the verb phaino, meaning to shine, to manifest. Epiphaino derives its basic meaning from the verb phaino, and the preposition epi intensifies the meaning of phaino in the compound word, so that epiphaino means to shine brightly, to manifest clearly. These remarks help us to understand that, in harmony with Greek dictionaries, the noun epiphaneia primarily means bright-shining, clear manifestation. As a rule it refers to making an obscure or unseen thing very apparent to the physical or to the mental eyes. As we study its occurrences in the New Testament, we will be able clearly to see this.
OCCURRENCES OF THE VERB EPIPHAINO
We precede the study of the six passages in which the Greek word epiphaneia occurs, by the quotation and a brief explanation of the four passages in which epiphaino, its root word, is found in the New Testament, italicizing the English words that translate it
(1) "The dayspring [margin, sunrising, i.e., Christ] from on high hath visited us, to give light [to shine upon—A.R.V.; to give the bright shining of the Sun of Truth] to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:78, 79). Here manifestly Jesus (John 1:9; 8:12; 9:5) is referred to as the One who clearly manifests God's ways to sinners and to saints.
(2) "And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away" (Acts 27:20).
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
Here the bright shining of the heavenly bodies is referred to as unseen.
(3) "The grace [favor] of God that bringeth salvation for all men hath appeared, TEACHING us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly" (Tit. 2:11, 12). Here the thought seems to be that the Gospel Message, which is an expression of God's favor, has been clearly manifested as salutary for all mankind, and, as such bright light, teaches especially God's people to live holy lives.
(4) "After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared" (Tit. 3:4). Here the Gospel is referred to as causing the kindness and love of God toward man to shine brightly before us.
In all of the four above passages it is apparent that the definition of epiphaino given above is correct: it means to shine brightly, to manifest clearly.
OCCURRENCES OF THE NOUN EPIPHANEIA
A careful and reverent study of the six passages in which the word epiphaneia is found will reveal the fact that the New Testament uses it in two different ways: (1) as the act of manifesting persons, principles and things, previously obscure or hidden, by the Truth shining with special brightness; and (2) as that period of our Lord's second stay on earth in which the Truth will shine in special brightness, manifesting persons, principles and things hitherto obscure or hidden (1 Cor. 4:5). In the order of their clearness we present with brief comments first the four passages in which epiphaneia, whose English equivalents in the respective passages we italicize, is used to mean "the act of manifesting persons, principles and things, previously obscure or hidden, by the Truth shining with special brightness"
THE EPIPHANEIA AS AN ACTION
(1) "Who [God] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling … according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the
world began, but [which] is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath … brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:9, 10). In this passage the Plan and favors that God prepared for His people before the world began are spoken of as being clearly revealed by the epiphaneia, the bright-shining: the clear teaching, of Jesus respecting persons, principles and things. Among the things clearly manifested by Jesus through the Gospel, God's Truth, St. Paul mentions life and immortality. This passage is very clear as proving our first definition of the New Testament use of the word epiphaneia. It will be noted that in this passage the epiphaneia, the clear manifestation, is not connected with our Lord's Second Presence, but with the Harvest of the Jewish Age.
(2) "Looking for the blessed hope [of seeing, and being with and like our Lord, Col. 3:4; 1 John 3:2] and appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13, A.R.V.). By the expression, "the glory of the great God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ," we are not to understand that, as some think, a dazzling natural light is meant, but rather the brightness of Their perfect characters shining resplendent in supreme wisdom, power, justice and love (Isa. 6:3; Psa. 72:19; Num. 14:21; Rev. 4:8; 15:3, 4). This passage says that the saints are expecting two things in connection with our Lord's second stay on earth: (1) the realization of their hopes of seeing, and being with and like Him, and (2) a clear manifestation of the resplendent characters of God and of Christ Jesus throughout the earth, even as heaven is now full of Their glory. Thus a manifestation of the glorious characters of God and of Jesus Christ by the Truth shining with special clearness is referred to in this passage. And this, according to the passage under consideration, is to accompany Jesus' second stay on earth. Accordingly, this passage refers to His entire Second Advent period.
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
(3) "Then shall that Wicked [one, the Antichrist] be revealed [manifested], whom the Lord [Jesus] shall consume with the spirit [power] of his mouth [the Bible, the Truth (John 17:17), is the Lord's mouth, that through which He speaks], and [whom the Lord Jesus] shall destroy with the brightness of his coming [His Second Presence on this earth]" (2 Thes. 2:8). This passage shows us that the glorious and powerful Truth of God will shine so brightly that through its manifestation of the papacy, in its teachings, character and effects, the Lord will accomplish at His Second Advent the annihilation of the Antichrist, the papacy, the Romanist hierarchy as such, of course, and not its adherents.
(4) "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day [the judgment Day]; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8). This passage undoubtedly refers to our Lord's second stay on this earth, on the Last Day, when He will reward all God's servants (Rev. 11:18), who with yearning, love and delight have looked forward to that Day, in which Jesus, when rewarding His faithful followers, will manifest Himself in His glory by the brightness of His Word and works.
Our brief examination of the above four passages shows that the word epiphaneia means the act of manifesting persons, principles and things, by the Truth shining with special brightness.
THE EPIPHANEIA AS A PERIOD OF TIME
The word epiphaneia is used in the other two passages in a slightly different sense, viz., as the period of time during our Lord's Second Presence in which He will manifest persons, principles and things by the Truth shining with special brightness, even as a consideration of these two verses will show
(1) "Keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which [appearing] in his times [in its own seasons] he
shall shew, [He] who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (1 Tim. 6:14, 15). St. Paul here could not have meant to give this injunction to Timothy as an individual, because Timothy died at least 18 centuries before the Epiphany was due to set in. As Jesus frequently addressed His followers throughout the Gospel Age in the Apostles, their representatives, so here St. Paul seems in Timothy to address the Lord's people generally, especially the Truth servants, encouraging them to be faithful, until that period of our Lord's Return which he here calls Jesus' appearing, His Epiphany (Col. 3:4; 1 John 3:2), which this passage shows He will manifest in its separate time periods, when, as King of kings and Lord of lords, He takes to Himself His great power and prepares to reign in Millennial glory over the earth (Rev. 11:15-18; 19:6-16; 20:4-6).
(2) "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at [during] his appearing and his kingdom [basileia]" (2 Tim. 4:1). The Scriptures assure us that Jesus with His Elect Bride will judge the dead during the thousand years' reign. By the dead of this verse we understand Adam's condemned children to be meant, regardless of whether they are in the dying process or in the death state (Matt. 8:22; 2 Cor. 5:14). These are to have their judgment—trial for life—during the Kingdom, the basileia period, as 2 Tim. 4:1 teaches (see also Psa. 72:1-19; 22:27-29; Rom. 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:23-26; 6:2; John 5:25-29; Isa. 29:18, 24; 45:22, 23; Phil. 2:9-11; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:4, 6; Matt. 19:28; 20:21; Luke 2:34; 22:29, 30; Obad. 17, 21; Rev. 14:1). The quick, the living (the fallen angels and new creatures, none of whom, as such, have ever been under death sentences), therefore, will be judged, according to this passage, during His appearing, His Epiphany; hence it is a period of time connected with our Lord's Second Advent, even as the basileia also
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
is a period of time connected with our Lord's Second Advent.
The two foregoing passages, therefore, teach that the word epiphaneia, from which we derive our English word Epiphany, also means a period of time connected with our Lord's Return that will be accompanied by a flooding of the earth with His all-exposing Truth, to set in after His return, and before He and His Bride begin their Millennial reign. Accordingly, we see that both of our definitions for the word epiphaneia are correct: (1) the act of manifesting persons, principles and things by the Truth shining with special brightness and (2) the period of time connected with our Lord's Return in which there will be a special manifestation of persons, principles and things by the Truth shining with special brightness.
From the above study of the word epiphaneia we see that of its six occurrences in the New Testament, one is used in connections shoving that it refers to activities of Jesus during the Jewish-Age Harvest; and the other five to activities and times connected with His Second Advent. These thoughts on the meaning of the word Epiphany will prove helpful for our better understanding of the other phases of our Lord's Second Advent.
CHRIST'S APOKALUPSIS, OR REVEALING
The Greek noun apokalupsis is derived from the compound verb apokalupto, which is made up of apo (off, away from) and kalupto (to cover, hence to hide or conceal, as used, e.g., in Jas. 5:20 and 1 Pet. 4:8 "shall hide [cover] a multitude of sins"). Hence apokalupto means to take off the cover, i.e., to disclose, or reveal, as used, e.g., in Matt. 10:26; Luke 12:2—"there is nothing covered [the Greek root word here used being kalupto] that shall not be revealed [uncovered, the Greek word here used being a future form of apokalupto]." The noun apokalupsis, therefore, signifies an uncovering, disclosure, revealment or unveiling
(as of a thing previously present but hidden). The name of the last book of the Bible is "APOKALUPSIS"—we call it "The Apocalypse," or "Revelation."
Thus we see that the primary meaning of the word apokalupsis (uncovering, revelation) is very similar to that of the word epiphaneia (bright shining, manifesting persons, principles and things). Both words imply a manifestation, a revealment of that which would otherwise be concealed or hidden. Thus our Lord now epiphanizes or apokalypsizes Jehovah, Himself, the Church, the Great Company, the Truth, the hidden things of darkness, the counsels of hearts—in a word, brings all pertinent persons, principles and things to bright light and uncovers or reveals them in their real character, in so far as this is necessary at the present stage of God's Plan. Hence the epiphaneia, the apokalupsis, of our Lord means, not His making Himself visible to men's natural eyes, nor simply His making Himself known, but (1) His making also every other person and every principle and every thing clearly known that is to be made clearly known, especially in the end of this Age. Apokalupsis, like epiphaneia, also refers to (2) the second stage or period of our Lord's Second Advent, the Time of Trouble, the Epiphany, or Apocalypse, the special time of such epiphanizing or apokalypsizing.
We now list, with some pertinent comments, passages where the noun apokalupsis, and its verb, apokalupto, are used with reference to our Lord's Second Advent, italicizing the English words that translate them.
OCCURRENCES OF THE VERB APOKALUPTO
We list first those which use the verb apokalupto:
(1) Matt. 10:26: "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known" (see also Luke 12:2). The exposures of evil in all walks of life are manifestations of the judging work of our Lord's Second Advent (comp. 1 Cor. 4:5).
(2) Luke 17:30: "But the same day that Lot went
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." Sodom represents symbolic Babylon and Lot represents a section of the Great Company (Rev. 11:8; 2 Pet. 2:6-8). The destruction of Sodom by fire and brimstone represents the complete destruction of Babylon (Jude 7), which will take place in the great tribulation (Rev. 16:18-20; 19:20). Jesus' remark in v. 30 that the antitype of the raining of fire and brimstone upon Sodom will take place in the day in which the Son of man is revealed, proves that He will be revealed, i.e., manifested, in the Time of Trouble, the Epiphany or Apocalypse period, which began in 1914.
(3) Rom. 8:18: "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
(4) 1 Cor. 3:13: "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." Here the reference is to the testings of the Lord's people during His Second Advent. The day is the day of trouble, the Epiphany or Apocalypse period.
(5) 1 Pet. 1:4, 5: "An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
(6) 1 Pet. 5:1: "A partaker of the glory that shall be revealed." This and (3) and (5) above are among the texts which show that when Jesus is revealed in His Second Advent in power and glory—as these shall be made known, uncovered or revealed to the world—His Church will be with Him and will be revealed or manifested at the same time and in the same manner.
OCCURRENCES OF THE NOUN APOKALUPSIS
The following texts contain the noun apokalupsis:
(1) Rom. 2:5: "The day of wrath and revelation
of the righteous judgment of God." This refers to the time of our Lord's Second Advent, when, during the Time of Trouble (His Epiphany, or Apocalypse), He will judge the "quick" and, during His Kingdom (the Basileia), He will judge the "dead" (2 Tim. 4:1), for it is then that He "will render to every man according to his deeds" (Rom. 2:6; Matt. 16:27; Rev. 24:12; 22:12).
(2) Rom. 8:19: "For the earnest expectation of the creature [mankind] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God [the Church]." The context shows that this has reference to the manifestation of the Christ class in kingdom glory. Hence in this passage apokalupsis applies to the Basileia, or Kingdom phase, of our Lord's Second Advent.
(3) 1 Cor. 1:7: "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Lord's people are here exhorted to keep active, watching and waiting for the great blessing until the manifestation or revealment of the Lord, though if Watchers, they are made aware of His presence and the work of "harvest" beforehand and share in the revealment.
(4) 2 Thes. 1:7, 8: "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance." Through the unparalleled tribulation of the great Time of Trouble Jesus will be manifested to the world as present in His Second Advent, as the destroyer of Satan's empire and the establisher of God's kingdom.
(5) 1 Pet. 1:7: "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." By the time the apokalupsis, or epiphaneia, the second stage of our Lord's Second Advent, is over, the entire Little Flock is beyond the veil with Jesus, even as St. Paul assures us in Col. 3:4. Then their purified and refined faith is found to be unto God's and Christ's praise and their own honor and glory.
The Stages of Our Lord's Return.
(6) 1 Pet. 1:13: "Hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." This has much the same significance as 1 Pet. 1:7.
(7) 1 Pet. 4:13: "Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." At the time of Jesus' revealing, His Church is with Him and is revealed or manifested at the same time and in the same manner.
From these passages it becomes evident that in relation to our Lord's Second Advent, the word apokalupsis, like epiphaneia, has two meanings: (1) the act of revealing or uncovering, whereby persons, principles and things, previously hidden or obscure, are made manifest; in this sense apokalupsis, like epiphaneia, has a wide time application as respects our Lord's Second Advent, stretching from our Lord's arrival until the end of the Kingdom, even as we have seen that the word parousia in application to the Second Advent indicates His presence in any of its three phases and in all of them from His arrival until the end of the Kingdom of God and His Christ; (2) the period of the Great Tribulation, in which emphatically there is a special revealing or uncovering of persons, principles and things, previously hidden or obscure.
CHRIST'S BASILEIA, OR KINGDOM
The third stage of our Lord's Second Presence on earth is, of course, the Kingdom, called in Greek the basileia (2 Tim. 4:1). We will not discuss it here, since we have given many details on it in Chapter V.
The three stages of Christ's stay on earth, the Parousia, the Epiphany, or Apocalypse, and the Basileia, or Kingdom, are very important for us to keep in mind, if we would see clearly on the subject of Christ's Second Advent. In a word, the Parousia is preparatory for both the Epiphany, or Apocalypse, and the Basileia, the Kingdom; and the Epiphany, or Apocalypse, carries forward the results of the Parousia, and introduces the Basileia, the Kingdom.
CHRIST'S GLORIOUS REIGN
Hail to the Lord's Anointed,
Jehovah's blessed Son!
Now is the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
To set the captives free,
To take away transgression,
And rule in equity.
He comes with succor speedy
To those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy,
And bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing,
Their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying,
Were precious in His sight.
He shall descend like showers
Upon the fruitful earth;
And love and joy, like flowers,
Spring in His path to birth;
Before Him, on the mountains,
Shall peace, the herald, go;
And righteousness, in fountains,
From hill to valley flow.
To Him let praise unceasing
And daily vows ascend;
His kingdom, still increasing,
Shall be without an end
The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove;
No; it shall stand forever,
A pledge that God is love.