The Parousia

THE PAROUSIAI saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16)

The Rider on the White Horse – This passage portrays the physical second coming prophesied in Acts 1:9–11. The full preterist view, claiming that Christ already came in spirit and power in the judgment of Jerusalem in 70 AD and that there is no future second advent, are hard to justify when viewing this scene.(1)

As John gazed into Heaven,
he saw Christ on a white horse. Though some have identified this rider with the rider in Revelation 6:2 (one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse), the context is entirely different. In Revelation 6:2 the rider is likely the world ruler (the anti-Christ) of the Great Tribulation, while here the rider is a ruler who obviously comes from Heaven itself. The white horse is a sign of His coming to triumph. It was customary, upon his return from battle, for a triumphant Roman general to parade on the Via Sacra (a main thoroughfare of Rome), followed by his spoils of war in the form of treasures and captives (2 Corinthians 2:14). The white horse is thus a symbol of Christ’s triumph over the forces of wickedness in the world.(2) The emperor Domitian had himself ridden a white horse behind his father and brother in their Judean triumph after the Jewish war of AD 66–70.(3)

In this case, Christ is riding a white horse to make war and execute judgment. Contrast this with the donkey He triumphantly rode into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1–7) on Palm Sunday. The horse was ridden to war, and here He is going forth to war with the beast. The donkey is for peace. His riding on it into Jerusalem symbolized His reign in Jerusalem over the earth, as the Prince of Peace, after all hostile powers are overthrown. When the course of history sinks to its lowest point, Christ will return to judge the world in vengeance, rescue His saints and establish His kingdom on earth.(4) Because His victory is certain, He is able to ride the white horse into battle, rather than waiting until the battle is won. Such a display would be presumptuous of anyone other than the King of king and Lord of lords

This description of Christ should thrill us. He is no longer on a humble donkey, but on a white charger. His eyes are not filled with tears, as when He beheld and wept over Jerusalem, rather “His eyes are like blazing fire.” He is not wearing a crown of thorns, instead “on His head are many crowns.” Instead of being stripped by His enemies, “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood,” signifying judgment and victory. When on earth, He was abandoned by His followers. Here “the armies of heaven were following” Him in conquest. His mouth does not speak words of grace (Luke 4:22), but rather the Word “out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations,” with victory and justice (Isaiah 11:4). He comes to rule with “an iron scepter” (Psalm 2), not a shepherd’s staff. He is not coming to bear the wrath of God on the cross, rather to execute God’s wrath as “He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty” at the Battle of Armageddon. He is indeed the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Bear in mind that the armies of the east have gathered in Palestine to oppose the Beast and his armies. Upon seeing the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens, all will unite to oppose Christ in the battel of Armageddon. Read again Revelation 16:12–16 and 14:14–20.(5)

Names He is Called – Note the emphasis on Jesus’ names.

Faithful and True – He is “Faithful and True,” in contrast to the anti-Christ who was unfaithful (he broke the covenant with Israel) and false (he ruled by means of deception and idolatry). Suffering saints need to be reminded that God is faithful and will not desert them, because His promises are true.

New Name – Perhaps His secret name is the same as the “new name” referenced in Revelation 3:12. Not knowing what this name is, we can only speculate. But it is exciting to know that even in Heaven, we shall learn new things about our Lord.

The Word of God – His name is also “the Word of God,” and is one of the familiar names of Christ in Scripture (John 1:1–14). Just as we reveal our minds and hearts to others by our words, so the Father reveals Himself to us through His Son, the incarnate Word (Revelation 14:7–11).

Alpha and Omega – A word is made up of letters, and Jesus Christ is the “Alpha and Omega” (Revelation 21:6; 22:13). He is the beginning and the end of the divine alphabet of God’s revelation to us.

Living and Powerful – The Word of God is “living and powerful” (Hebrews. 4:12), and it fulfills His purposes on earth (Revelation 17:17; note also Revelation 6:11; 10:7; 15:1). God the Father says, “I am watching to see that My Word is fulfilled” (Jeremiah 1:12). Just as the Word was the Father’s agent in creation (John 1:1–3), so the Word is also His agent for judgment and consummation.

King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Christ’s most important name is “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” This is His victorious name (Revelation 17:14), and it calls to mind references such as Daniel 2:47 and Deuteronomy 10:17. Paul used this same title for Jesus in 1Timothy 6:15. The title speaks of Christ’s sovereignty, for all kings and lords must submit to Him. No matter who has occupied the throne of the “Babylon,” Jesus Christ was his King and Lord!(6)

How He is Described – The greatness of Christ is seen not only in His names, but also in John’s description of the conquering King.

His Eyes – The eyes “like blazing fire” symbolize His searching judgment that sees all (Revelation 1:14).

His Crown –The “many crowns” (diadems) indicate His magnificent rule and sovereignty.

His Raiment – The “robe dipped in blood” speaks of judgment and probably relates to the conquest of His enemies (Isaiah 63:1–6 and Revelation 14:20).

His Weapon – This time it is not His blood that marks His vesture, but that of His foes. The “sharp sword” is a symbol of God’s Word (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16). This is in keeping with the fact that Christ will consume the enemy “with the spirit of His mouth” (2 Thessalonians 2:8; note also Isaiah 11:4).

His Scepter – We have seen the “iron scepter” before (Revelation 2:27; 12:5) as a symbol of His justice as He rules over the earth. The image of “He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty” must be associated with the judgment at Armageddon (Revelation 14:14–20; see also Isaiah 63:1–6).(7)

The Armies of Heaven – At His trial, Christ said that the Father could send legions of angels to deliver Him; and here the Lord rides forth with “the armies of heaven.”(8) Certainly the angels are a part of this army (Matthew 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7). So are the saints (1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:10), which are comprised of the Raptured Church and the martyrs of the Great Tribulation. Jude describes this same scene (Jude 14–15) in his epistle. Like the army of Jehosophat, it will be unnecessary for this army to fight. Christ Himself will defeat the enemy.(9)

Contrasted with the Rapture – Interpreters of the Bible almost universally recognize the Parousia (second coming) as a yet-future physical event (as opposed to the preterist view described above). This is affirmed in the various creeds throughout the history of the Church.

Just as the first coming of Christ was literal and was fulfilled in history, so the second coming of Christ which is yet to come will be fulfilled in the same literal manner. Among conservative interpreters, however, the question has been raised whether the Rapture of the Church, as revealed in such major passages as 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51–58, is fulfilled at the same time as the second coming of Christ to the earth (post-tribulationist view), or as a separate event three and a half years or seven years before His formal second coming to the earth (mid-tribulationist and pre-tribulationist views). Figure 23.1 illustrates these three viewpoints of the rapture

Screenshot (323)In Revelation, Christ definitely returns to the earth physically, while none of the so-called Rapture passages appear to describe Him as coming to earth. Rather the saints meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). In Revelation Chapters 19–20 there is no explicit mention of any Rapture of living saints. If the Rapture were included in the second coming of Christ to the earth, one would expect to find reference to such a major event in Revelation 19. But no such reference is to be found. In fact, the implication of the passage, is that saints who are still on earth when Christ returns will remain on earth to enter the Millennial Kingdom in their natural bodies (not the glorified body that happens in the twinkling of an eye in the Rapture).

For these and many other reasons chapter 19 is viewed by many (but not all) as a confirmation of the teaching that the Rapture of the church is a separate earlier event and that there is no Rapture of the living at the time of His second coming to the earth.(10) Christ is not coming in the air to take His Church home (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18), but to the earth with His Church, to conquer His enemies and establish His Kingdom.(11)

Up Next – ARMAGEDDON.

__________________

References

  1. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1912). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 976). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 19:11). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 596). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  5. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (pp. 850–851). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 617–618). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 618). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 850). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 618–619). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 976). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 617). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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