A STUDY OF THE EIGHT LAST THINGS:
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD TO ETERNITY
PART VI: THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
Your Son promised He would return to collect His Bride, the Church and to raise the dead to life. We, Your holy people, wait in anxious anticipation for that time altering event when the dead shall arise and the Church glorious, suffering, and militant will be joined as one united covenant family in Christ. Give us, Lord, the vigilance we need that like the 5 faithful virgins of Jesus' parable we will be ready for the return of the Bridegroom. Send Your Holy Spirit to guide us in our study of the return of the King and the Resurrection of the dead. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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And then the sign
of the Son of man will appear in heaven; then, too, all the peoples of the
earth will beat their breasts; and they will see the Son of man coming on the
clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with
a loud trumpet to gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven
to the other.
In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the dead, as the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. As it was by one man that death came, so through one man has come the resurrection of the dead. Just as all die in Adam, so in Christ all will be brought to life; but all of them in their proper order: Christ the first-fruits, and next, at his coming, those who belong to him. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
We can tell you
this from the Lord's own teaching, that we who are still alive for the Lord's
coming will not have any advantage over those who have fallen asleep. At the
signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord
himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the
first to rise, and only after that shall we who remain alive be taken up in the
clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. This is the way we
shall be with the Lord for ever. With such thoughts as these, then, you should
encourage one another.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
In Sacred Scripture the Greek word parousia is the word most often used in reference to the "coming" of the Lord Jesus. In the Greek this word means "presence" or "arrival" and was used primarily in the sense of the ceremonial visit of a ruler or his representatives to a city or province over which he ruled to determine the faithfulness of his vassal peoples. In the New Testament this Greek word is used to designate the coming of Jesus at the end of the Age of Man, a time often referred to as "The Second Coming" or "The Second Advent" of Jesus Christ.
The concept of the "coming" of God to judge man is not limited to New Testament theology. In the Old Testament God came in judgment when His covenant people continually and persistently failed in their covenant obligations and oppressed the poor and afflicted. This "coming" in divine judgment was preceded by the proclamation of a "covenant lawsuit" by God's covenant representative, the holy prophet [see Isaiah 3:13-15; Jeremiah 1:16; 11:1-8; Ezekiel 17:19-21; Hosea 4:1; Micah 1:2; 6:1]. This is the way God "came" in judgment on the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722BC and on the Southern Kingdom of Judah in 587/6BC. However, even in the Old Testament the concept of a Final Judgment is rooted in the New Testament parousia at the End of the Age of Man [see Daniel 7:13-14].
In addition to one final and determinative parousia of Jesus Christ the King of kings, there have many parousia or comings of the Lord Jesus Christ since His Ascension. He came in judgment to the city of Jerusalem as He promised in Matthew 23:26-24:3, 14, and 22. This was a prophecy which was historically fulfilled in the destruction of Judah, Jerusalem and the Old Covenant Temple by the Roman army in 70AD, a judgment which was a repeat of the judgment against those who failed in their covenant obligations in 587/6BC when the Babylonian army destroyed Judah, Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple as prophesized by God's holy prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. He also "comes" to us repeatedly in the celebration of the Eucharist as He promised the faithful when He said I promise, you shall not see me anymore until you are saying: Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord! After we proclaim these words in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the priest speaks the word of consecration and through the work of the Holy Spirit Christ is present on the altar, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Jesus Christ also comes to every man and woman in judgment at the end of their early lives when the soul departs the body and stands before the court of the heavenly Sanctuary to face the individual or particular judgment.
But Jesus will also come again at the end of the Final Age of Man as He promised in Matthew 25:31-46 to judge the living and the dead. The vision of the prophet Daniel in Daniel 7:13-14 is not only a vision of the Ascension, which was witnessed by the Apostles and disciples in Acts chapter 1, but also a promise of the final Parousia at the end of time. In Daniel 7:13-14 Daniel views the coming of the divine Son of Man as the last scene in world history which concludes the Age of Man as we know it When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as the shepherd separated sheep from goats [Matthew 25:31-32].
The Coming of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels
Question: How is the Second Coming of Christ described in these passages from the Synoptic Gospels?
Answer: In the Synoptic Gospels the Parousia of Christ is usually described as the coming of the Son of Man in glory, accompanied by angels, to judge mankind: And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven; then, too, all the peoples of the earth will beat their breasts; and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet to gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. [Matthew 24:30-31 quoting Daniel 7:13-14]
Question: In addition to angels and the sound of trumpets what else will signify His coming in power and glory?
Answer: He is also described as coming in the Shekinah or "Glory Cloud" with power and glory.
Question: What signs will precede His coming?
Answer: There will be signs in the heavens. The celestial bodies in the heavens were used in ancient times to mark the seasons of the year, etc. This sign may be a literal sign or may only signify that time itself will be disrupted.
Question: What other sign is associated with Christ's coming in these passages?
Answer: There will be flashes of lightening but this sign probably refers to the suddenness of His appearance'suddenly and without warning; as well as coming in the brilliance of heavenly light.
Question: What information concerning Christ's return did the angels give to the Apostles and disciples in Acts 1:11?
Answer: Christ will come in the same manner in which He departed and from the same site, the Mount of Olives. This is why the earliest Christian Churches of Europe faced toward the East, the Mount of Olives is east of the city of Jerusalem.
Answer: It is a secret; no one except God the Father knows the day and the hour. CCC# 673 declares: Since the Ascension of Christ's coming in glory has been imminent, even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority." This eschatological coming could be accomplished at a moment. Even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are "delayed."
Answer: God is patient in calling all humanity to the Gospel of life in Jesus Christ, including the first covenant people who rejected Him in His first coming.
Question: What warning did Jesus give His disciples concerning being ready for His coming in the parables found in:
Answer: The message is to be ready at all times because He will come when you least expect Him.
The Parousia of the Christ in the Letters of the New Testament
Question: What does St. Paul call this event in 1 Corinthians 1:8?
Answer: Paul calls the "end" the "Day of the Lord."
Answer: Jesus will come with an army of holy Saints and angels!
Question: Did the Old Covenant Church believe in the Resurrection of the dead? What did Jesus teach concerning the Resurrection? See 2 Maccabees 7:9-29; Daniel 12:1-12; Mark 12:24-27; John 11:25; Matthew 22:23-33
Answer: Yes. The Maccabean martyrs confessed their belief in a resurrection:
The Pharisees of Jesus time also believed in the Resurrection but the Sadducees did not. Jesus affirmed the truth of a final Resurrection and linked faith in the resurrection to Himself when He said I am the Resurrection and the life. On the Last Day when He comes again in glory Jesus will raise up those who have been reborn into the family of God and who have eaten his Body and drunk His precious Blood. It is then that we will truly be "alive" in the fullness of the Most Holy Trinity.
Question: What event in the crucifixion and death of the Lord Jesus Christ prefigures the Resurrection of the dead which occurs simultaneously with the Final Parousia of Christ? See Matthew 27:52-53.
Answer: Some of the dead "holy ones" came out of their tombs, prefiguring the resurrection of the dead.
Question: Paul uses two Greek words to describe the final coming the Jesus Christ. What does St. Paul call the Parousia in 1 Corinthians 1:7; and 2 Thessalonians 1:7? What is another Greek word which is used for this English word? What other word does St. Paul used to describe the Parousia in 1Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8 and Titus 2:13?
Question: The celebration of the Eucharist proclaims what two great events associated with the Christ, one in the past and the second in the future? Can you give some examples from the Liturgy of the Eucharist?
Answer: The Liturgy of the Eucharist proclaims both Christ's death and the promise of His future Parousia. In 1 Corinthians 16:22 St. Paul uses the Aramaic word marana tha. The sense which he is probably using marana tha in this passage, is association with a curse directed toward unbelievers when he says let them [unbelievers] be "anathema;" he is therefore calling on the Lord to come in judgment is using marana tha in the sense of "Lord, come!" It is believed this expression was part of early Church liturgy as a cry that sprang from the hearts of Christians calling for Christ's return in glory and judgment. This Aramaic word can also be spoken as maran atha, meaning "our Lord has come"'referring to Jesus' first coming or to His presence in the Eucharist. This same word is also found in Revelation 22:20: Amen, marana tha, calling for Christ's immediate Parousia.
Question: How do the prayers of the Holy Mass reflect the Church's long view of Christ's role in salvation history past and future:
The same concept of the Second Advent of Christ coming in judgment in the Final Days of man is also found in the Catholic letters of the New Testament:
There is virtually no mention of the Second Advent of Christ in the Gospel of St. John. Each of the Synoptic Gospels contains a mini-apocalypse which John's Gospel lacks but if John is the author of the Book of Revelation, that New Testament book's theme is the coming of Christ in judgment, both as an imminent judgment which was the judgment upon Jerusalem in 70AD [see Revelation 3:11 and 22:20] and references a Final judgment at the end of the ages in 15:12-58Revelation 20:11-15. In Revelation both the Parousia of Jesus in judgment on Jerusalem and the Second Coming and Final Judgment merge.
Question: What is the resurrection of the dead a necessary component of the final phase of salvation history? How does St. Paul answer to Corinthian's questions concerning the resurrection of the dead? See 1 Corinthians 15:12-58.
These questions evidently raised by the Corinthians indicate a difficulty accepting the doctrine of the resurrection at the Second Advent of Christ [see verse 12]. Paul answers that Christ's resurrection was the "firstfruits" of the great harvest that is to come in the resurrection of all humanity at the end of time. Humanity's active role in unfolding salvation history is corporate, both naturally as descendants of the family of Adam and spiritually as sons and daughters of the One True God through the rebirth made possible by the self-sacrifice of the New Adam, Jesus Christ. There is a solidarity that marks the beginning of man and must also mark the end of man's Final Age. Paul focuses on this solidarity and the corporate nature of mankind: In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the dead, as the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. As it was by one man that death came, so through one man has come the resurrection of the dead. Just as all die in Adam, so in Christ all will be brought to life; but all of them in their proper order: Christ the first-fruits, and next, at his coming, those who belong to him [1 Corinthians 15:20-23].
Those reborn spiritually through the saving work of the New Adam must follow Him in life, in death, and in resurrection. Just as Christ is resurrected to new life in incorruptible gloried flesh so must those reborn as the New Covenant people of God put on incorruptible gloried flesh.
Question: What analogy does St. Paul use to explain the death of the old and the rebirth of the new?
Answer: In 1 Corinthians 15:36-44 St. Paul uses the analogy of the seed in which there is a change of attributes from the old life that is the seed and the new life which is born when the seed "dies" and begins new life as a plant. The old life must be given up in order for the new life to take "root". The "new life" which takes "root" is the resurrected flesh born when the earthly flesh dies and Christ calls the soul to new life reunited with a body of gloried flesh.
In 1 Corinthians 15:45 Paul returns to the analogy of the "First Adam" by quoting from Genesis 2:7: Yahweh God shaped man from the soil of the ground (adamah) and blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a living being. St. Paul writes: So the first man, Adam, as Scripture says, became a living being.." But notice that Paul alters the citation by adding the adjective "first" and by using the Hebrew word 'adam as a common noun for "man" as well as a proper noun for the name of the first man "Adam." The Hebrew word 'adam not only means "man" but "ground" or "dirt", recalling the origin of man. Paul continues the passage by writing: ...and the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. But first came the natural body, not the spiritual one; that came only afterwards. The first man, being made of earth, is earthly by nature; the second man is from heaven. The earthly man is the pattern for the earthly people, the heavenly man for heavenly ones. And as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so we shall bear the likeness of the heavenly one [1 Corinthians 15:45b-49].
Paul addresses the similarities and the differences between the two Adams-one fully human and the other both human and divine:
1. The first Adam was from the earth and is therefore earth bound
2. The second Adam/Christ is from heaven and is not bound by earth but destined for heaven
Then in verse 49 Paul gives the entire reason for the resurrection event: Just as we have all borne the image of the earthly Adam so we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Adam/Christ and like Him, bearing His image, we are also destined for heaven.
Question: Why according to St. Paul must Christians bear the physical and spiritual image of the resurrected Christ? See 1 Corinthians 15:50-56.
Answer: If we are to inherit the incorruptibility of the heavenly existence we must bear the incorruptible nature of Christ the second Adam not the corruptible flesh of the first Adam.
Question: What world events will transpire before Christ comes again? See Matthew 24:12; Luke 18:8; 21:12; John 15:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:4-12; 1 John 2:18, 22; 2 John 7; and CCC# 675-76.
Answer: The world will face one final great test in the deception of the Antichrist. Many will be deceived, even the elect. There have been many false messiahs since Jesus' Ascension, but there will be one final great deceiver. It will be the last battle in the Age of Man: Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children who obey God's commandments and have in themselves the witness of Jesus.
The word "antichrist," antichristos, is only used four times in Scripture and only by St. John. This word is not found in the Book of Revelation:
This Greek word means "the adversary of Christ". There is also a reference to this adversary of goodness and salvation in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12: But the coming of the wicked One will be marked by Satan being at work in all kinds of counterfeit miracles and signs and wonders, and every wicked deception aimed at those who are on the way to destruction because they would not accept the love of the truth and so be saved. And therefore God sends on them a power that deludes people so that they believe what is false, and so that those who do not believe the truth and take their pleasure in wickedness may all be condemned [2 Thessalonians 2:9-12]. While St. John speaks of Antichrist in the singular as well as in the plural in 1 John 2:18, Sts.
While St. John speaks of Antichrist in the singular as well as in the plural in 1 John 2:18, Sts. Irenaeus, Augustine and Pope St. Gregory the Great believed in the Last Days of Man a single individual of great wickedness would usher in a time of great tribulation for the Church which would only end with the Parousia of the Lord.
It is interesting that the first time the world was destroyed in the Great Flood the instrument of destruction was water, in the next universal destruction the instrument of destruction will be fire: symbols of baptism and the purifying holy fires of Purgatory.
This great time of testing will be the Church's last Passover: The church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world. CCC# 677 [also see Revelation 19:1-9; 13:8; 20:7-12; 21:2-4; 2 Peter 3:12-13.
Also see Matthew 13:4-9; 16:27; 22:29-32; 24:3, 27, 31-32, 37-39; 25:34; 1Corinthians 4:5; 11:25-26; 15:23; 16:22; 2Cointhians 7:6-7; John 2:28; 5:28-29; 1Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2Thessalonians 1:7; 2:1, 8-9; James 5:7-8; 14:1-3; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; Revelation 8:2; 22:17, 20.
The Second Coming and the Resurrection of the Dead
522-24: preparation of Christ's coming
542: all men called to follow Christ's resurrection
556: Christ's coming in glory in the Transfiguration prefigures His Second Coming
673-74: uncertainty of time of Christ's coming
769: Coming of Christ and the perfection of the Church
992-1004: resurrection of man
1040: coming of Christ and Last Judgment
2772: unknown hour or day of Christ's coming
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