Saturday, June 24, 2006

Parousia for Paranesis

What function does the parousia (second advent or return of Christ) have in sections of the NT? I am convinced that it is not simply an encourgement for people to buy fire insurance so that they will spend eternity playing volley ball on the clouds with the angels in heaven. It is about the consummation of God's justice in a world that is brutal and dark. It is an encourgement to the oppressed and downtrodden. It is an exhortation to discipleship and perseverance. Consider these two exhortations from two different writers:

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." (1 Thess. 4.16-18)

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb. 10.24-25).

I wonder how the parousia fits into a view of Christian discipleship and ethics without lapsing into a Left-Behindesque fiasco?


JayWoodhamTheMan said...

I can't speak to the exegetical intricacies of how the parousia relates to the idea of discipleship and faithfulness in the NT, but on a here-and-now level here's some of what I think.

The second coming tells us to listen to our heart when it is unhappy and unsatisfied with things as they are here and now, but to channel those feelings towards the One who is coming back; not in a pie in the sky sense, but in the One who is coming to liberate creation (and our mortal bodies) from bondage to decay and slavery to sin.

If one were to preach on this theme, I suppose one would say that in the end that in the end "Lord deliver me" and "Lord come!" (c.f. Rev. 22:17) are the same prayer.

Corn on the Robb said...
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Corn on the Robb said...

As Wright constantly notes, the parousia is the impetus for Christian ethics and discipleship. That's why Paul is constantly urging the churches to purify themselves, as they may be a pure bride for Christ when he returns. It's also interesting that Paul's lengthy section in 1 Cor on the resurrection is ended with

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

It's because of the parousia that we keep on pushing, knowing not that Christ will one day snatch us away, but that we need to make ourselves and the world more Christ-like, knowing that one day Christ will set the world straight.

byron said...

This has been one of the big themes theologically in the work of Jürgen Moltmann.

Bradley said...

Many of the parousia pericopes have to do with the destruction of Jerusalem, are related to Jesus' establishment of the new order (the new covenant) and the abolishment of the old covenant in judgment. The temple stood for the "old" way, and the leaders and guarders of the old way that rejected Jesus' "new teaching" in favor of protecting the "old."

Most evangelical interpretations of the passages which speak of the parousia as coming "soon" are a joke. It's been over 2000 years. If 2000+ is "soon," we must abandon historical lingustic realism. This is why our understanding of the parousia and it's role in discipleship must be tied to the person and work of Christ, and I don't just mean that he is God and died for our sin. I'm talking about the Messiahship of Jesus and the establishment and fulfillment of OT prophecy in Him.