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In Christianity, Parousia means the presence of Christ. In the Greek language parousia means "presence," and in the ancient Greco-Roman world it referred to official visits by royalty. It was appropriated by Christians as a specialized term for Jesus' glorious presence on earth—primarily his final return at the end of the world, but also his return upon the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Gospels contain several apparent predictions of Jesus regarding his return at the end of the world. These include: Matthew 16:27, 24:26-28, and 24:37-41; Luke 17:22-37; John 14:3. Jesus says that he will "come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will reward each one according to his behaviour," (Matt 16:27) and that this will occur suddenly, "like a lightning strike in the east and flashing far into the west" (Matt 24:27).

It is sometimes argued that Jesus mistakenly stated that his return would occur during the lifetimes of some of those in his audience because both Matthew and Mark include the statement, "before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place" (see Wandering Jew) Indeed, C.S. Lewis called this "the most embarrassing verse in the Bible" (although he also considered Jesus' contiguous statement, "But as for the day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father," to be exonerating). However, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus' prediction of the destruction in AD 70 of Jerusalem, including the Temple—marking the end of the Old Covenant, and the beginning of Jesus' messianic kingdom on earth (the Church)—appear to be conjoined, and possibly confused, with his statements regarding the end of the world. References to the two events are not kept distinct. Also, in all three synoptic Gospels, the destruction of Jerusalem is described in highly symbolic apocalyptic language, in keeping with prophecies of the Old Testament, thus increasing the likelihood of misinterpretation.

The study and use of the term parousia was revived in the late 19th century with the growth of preterism and the publishing of James Stuart Russell 's book The Parousia, A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming.


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