His Appearing

When Jesus “appears,” faithful believers will rejoice exceedingly and participate fully in the glories of that day

In his first epistle, John exhorted his congregations to “abide” in Jesus so that “when he appears, we may have boldness and not be shamed away from him at his arrival.” John was summoning believers to holy living in consideration of the inevitable “arrival” of Jesus and the rewards that he will bring with him – (1 John 2:28–3:3).

When he does “appear,” faithful believers will be found “like him,” for they will “see him just as he is.” If anyone has this hope, he or she will work to “purify himself” just as Jesus is “pure.” All too easily, daily life dulls our spiritual wits. Fixing our attention on his return keeps them sharp by reminding us of our real priorities.

In the passage, the English term “arrival” represents the Greek noun ‘parousia,’ the term applied frequently by Paul to the “coming” or “arrival” of Jesus (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

But here, John also applies the verb “appear” or ‘phaneroô’ to his return. This Greek word means “to appear, manifest, show” (Strong’s - #G5319), and there is no doubt that John applies both “appear” and “arrival” to the same final event.

The return of Jesus is not one of the main subjects of John’s letter. However, several times he applies the same verb, ‘phaneroô,’ to the first “appearance” of Jesus. He was the “word of life,” and in him “life appeared.” He “appeared” to “take away sins,” for the “Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the Devil” – (1 John 1:2, 3:4-8).

The term ‘phaneroô’ does not, in and of itself, refer to the return of Jesus. It means nothing more than to “appear,” to “manifest.” However, in context, John’s usage suggests a day of evaluation when the faithfulness of believers will be rewarded, and alternatively, the unfaithful will suffer loss. That does not mean their destruction, but they will know “shame” at his “arrival.”

In his earlier letters, Paul often referred to Christ’s “arrival” (‘parousia’), his “coming” (‘erchomai’), and his “revelation” (‘apocalypsis’). He only used the term “appearance” or ‘phaneroô’ in his later letters. For example, he wrote to the Colossians that when Jesus “appears” our life will “appear in glory.” Consequently, believers must avoid “fornication, impurity, passion, lust, and greed, which is idolatry” – (Colossians 3:4).

Paul did use the related compound noun ‘epiphaneia’ once for the “appearance” of Jesus at his “arrival” (‘parousia’). At that time, he will destroy the “man of lawlessness.” As with John, his usage confirms that both terms refer to the same event - (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).

Paul “charged” Timothy to keep the “commandment without spot and without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Throughout this life, the Christian must strive for obedience and faithfulness right up until the moment Jesus “appears” – (1 Timothy 6:14).

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul “charged” him “in the sight of God and Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and at his appearing,” to preach the gospel. Doing so is paramount since the time is coming when men will not “endure the sound doctrine,” and they will “turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside to fables.” Here, Paul is predicting the future apostasy from the faith. Only the truth of the gospel, the “sound teaching,” will prevent believers from apostatizing – (2 Timothy 4:1-8).

Likewise, with Titus, Paul exhorts him to “speak the things that befit sound teaching,” including principles on proper conduct between people. This will serve to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things,” for His grace “appearedbringing salvation for all men.”

Considering this, the saints must “live soberly and righteously in the present world, awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God, and our of Savior, Jesus Christ.” If they do so, they will experience great glory and blessedness on that day. But if not, they will suffer loss – (Titus 2:1-13).

In Titus, two “appearings” are mentioned. First, the “appearing” of salvation and grace in the life, ministry, and death of Jesus, and second, his “appearing” in great “glory” in the future. With the latter in mind, believers must live righteously, which indicates they will be held accountable when he does “appear.”

The Apostle Peter also refers to the “appearing” of Jesus in his first epistle. Considering the “glory that is going to be revealed,” he exhorts elders to “shepherd God’s flock” with great care and humility. Elders who do so will receive an “unfading crown of glory” on the day when the “Chief Shepherd shall appear.”

Peter’s choice of words may reflect the larger context. From the outset of his letter, he has referred to the future “revelation” of Jesus, his ‘apocalypsis.’ When he comes, “salvation will be revealed in the last season.” Faithful Christians will receive praise, glory, and honor at the “revelation of Jesus.” They must remain sober and set their hopeon the grace that will be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” That is why beleaguered believers can rejoice “in fiery and manifold trials,” for when he is “revealed in all his glory, the faithful will “rejoice with exceeding joy  – (1 Peter 1:6-13, 4:13).

When the Lord Jesus is “revealed,” he will “appear” in his glory for all to see. Saints who have remained faithful despite trials and persecutions will rejoice and participate in the glories of that day. However, for believers who do not persevere by living soberly and righteously, his “appearance” will mean “shame” and loss.



The Living Word

The Suffering Servant