Typically, the coming of the Lord is seen as a single historical event. However, the Greek word parousia, upon which the English is often rendered simply as ‘coming’, suggests much more. The simple identification of the origins of the word parousia offers a tremendous opportunity to cut through centuries of error in order to comprehend the prenatal work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
PAROUSIA SERIES: PAR + OUSIA = WITH ESSENCE
And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer; and he filled it with the fire of the altar and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Typically, the coming of the Lord is seen as a single historical event. However, the Greek word παρουσία, upon which the English is often rendered simply as ‘coming’, suggests much more.
The simple identification of the origins of the word parousia offers a tremendous opportunity to cut through centuries of error in order to comprehend the prenatal work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer yesterday, today, and into the age.
When approaching the New Testament word parousia, one should become familiar with the constituent parts of that compound Greek word. Par is literally translated as ‘with’. Ousia is literally translated as ‘essence’. Therefore, parousia should be understood as being ‘with essence‘ or, as it is sometimes translated into English, as being with ‘presence‘.
Instead of suggesting an external and material event, we will endeavor to show that the word has supported the exact opposite idea from antiquity. And instead of implying an event of history, the word will be shown to refer to a process of generation.
The ancient identification of parousia as being internal and immaterial in nature is key for a number of reasons. One is that the true form of the coming of Christ is not material in nature. Another key is that the word ties directly into the well-known Christian concept of homousia (a similar essence) with the Son, as is common in scripture and theology.
DELIVERY OF THE PRENATAL CHILD
Very often throughout the centuries, salvation has been regarded as a union between God and man. In Old Testament times, the temple rituals were seen as a demonstration of the unifying of heaven and earth through the smoke of the sacrifice. This is why the temple is considered heaven on earth. Biologically, this concept of the unity of two bodies in one is displayed by the umbilical cord that connects mother and child, nourishing the unborn (yet very alive) body until its full delivery. Theologically, this concept will be shown to refer to our life in this world until that day when we are fully delivered from the womb to the world to come. Scripturally, this concept will be shown to have objective reference to the birth of Christianity out of the womb of Judaism. The wanderings of the Old Testament church in the wilderness will be referenced similarly.
Therefore, those who assume that parousia refers to an objective event at one single chronological date have strayed far from the ancient origins of the word and have accommodated it into their previously held assumptions about the nature of Christ’s coming.
When Jesus spoke of His coming to be with His people, it was in terms of the Holy Spirit acting as an agency of that union. Accordingly, when coupled with John 14 and the underlying Greek of the word parousia, we will see that the coming of Christ to Earth is, in the first part, the implanting of the Holy Spirit to indwell the people of God. During the transition period of our prenatal development, we will see the generative work of the Holy Spirit. At the completion of our prenatal development, we will see our coming birth into the heavenly kingdom of God and Christ.
In the coming weeks, particular attention will be given to the Greek word ousia and how it has been interpreted by Christians throughout the centuries. As a proof of the meaning of ousia, as it relates to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, our study will proceed farther into ancient history, presenting works that predate Christianity. It will be seen that the interpretations of ousia and parousia common in Christianity today are completely anachronistic, in that they force modern ideas on settled ancient concepts.
IONIAN ROOTS OF GREEK WORDS
By tracing the earliest origins of Greek words and concepts, we will be fully informed in our understanding of parousia as it applies to our lives today.
Therefore, in order to lay a foundation for our investigation into the meaning of parousia and ousia, we will start in the Ionian era of near antiquity. This period is generally dated to begin around the year 1200 B.C. with the migration of the Ionian people to the area of Ephesus. From that era we can pick up the thread of man’s attempt to understand the uniting of heaven and earth through an invisible substance of new creation.
Though this study will begin as an exploration of ancient philosophy and philology, it will eventually tie directly into New Testament Greek and the battles of the Jerusalem church to be presented to the world as a fully formed body. Following this, we will see the theological battles of the Ante-Nicene Period over the word ousia as it relates to the nature of Jesus Christ and His eternal body.
The concepts revealed through the study will inform a number of other New Testament passages, including (ultimately) Matthew 24:34’s double usage of the root word γεν, as applied by Jesus to γενεὰ and γένηται.
Once the study is complete there will be no doubt whatsoever about the true meaning of the word parousia. The full force of the explanation of God’s work in His people will be shown as the answer to not only mankind’s earliest and deepest yearnings, but also to those of the reader.
Blessings and success be upon your studies!
James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.