The Parousia Versus The Second Advent -- By: Arthur Metcalf

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 064:253 (Jan 1907)
Article: The Parousia Versus The Second Advent
Author: Arthur Metcalf

The Parousia Versus The Second Advent

Rev. Arthur Metcalf

That the apostles and the early church were in some measure mistaken about the Second Advent can hardly be doubted in view of the uniformity and weight of the evidence. That they expected to see an apocalyptic Day of the Lord before death should close their eyes, and that their expectations were unfulfilled, is a matter of New Testament record. To meet the cruel disappointment created thereby, certain passages in the New Testament were written; so that the disappointment which has been the lot of the church until our own day certainly began while the apostles themselves were yet alive. A closer examination of the New Testament sources of the strange faith which still holds the allegiance of a large section of the Christian church, should show its votaries that in clinging to the letter they have missed the spirit of the Parousia their Master taught. Experience should correct, as well as steady, faith.

Our doctrine of the Second Advent grew indirectly out of the apocalyptic Jewish literature, which never had a place within our canon, rather than out of our New Testament writings. Indeed, the bulk of the New Testament was not written until experience had shown the earliest conceptions of the doctrine to have been faulty. It should be noted that the Book of Revelation, which lends itself most to the traditional Advent, and which alone, of New Testament writings, teaches the millennial reign, was the last to gain admission within the

canon, and has had, perhaps, the most difficulty in maintaining its position there.

At best, the New Testament teaching on the Parousia is conflicting and uncertain. The time is very near: it is unknown: it recedes with the passing years. It will be within the present generation: before the gospelers shall have completed their tour of the cities of Israel: at the end of the age: at the consummation of the world. The Parousia is the appearance of Jesus to his disciples after the resurrection: at the disciples’ death: personally to his judges, who shall see him in great glory: at a time when “every eye shall see him.” One of the Gospels falls but little short of distinctly identifying the Parousia with the Paraclete. Sometimes to die seems to be to realize the Parousia immediately. Still again the kingdom to be established will be spiritual, invisible, without pomp; or it will be established by a most spectacular invasion of the earth by angelic legions, whose supernatural prowess will conquer and chain the powers of evil—a world-power carnal as that of Rome. The new power will work in society quietly as leaven: will develop naturally as a seed: or will be a violent inruption from another world. The Fou...

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