“. . . the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night . . . But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:2-4.
To many Christians, the second coming of Christ is an earth shattering event. If so, how do we explain the above text describing his return “as a thief in the night?” We suggest that the second presence of Christ is not a cataclysmic event, but a period of time during which he accomplishes the preparation of the world for his Messianic Kingdom.
The text above indicates that the true Christian would be alert and searching for evidence of Christ’s return. When his disciples asked Jesus, “…what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world,” he did not leave them clueless, but proceeded to list many evidences which would be indications of this time. Matt. 24:3
MISTRANSLATIONS FOSTER MISUNDERSTANDINGS
The word “coming” in Matthew 24:3 is a misleading translation of the Greek word “parousia” — para, meaning beside or along side of, and ousia, a form of the verb “to be.” The thought is to be beside another or in their presence. When the roll is called in the schools of Greece, the proper response to one’s name being called is to reply “Parousia,” that is,
“Present.” Thus, the Scripture would be more properly translated: “. . . what shall be the sign of thy presence . . .”
The second part of the disciples’ question was, “What shall be the sign . . . of the end of the world.” The Greek word for world is “aion” and means age. Therefore, Jesus’ answer would indicate the conclusion of the time period in which he would return.
Proper translations are critical, because mistranslations lead to false expectations. For example, many Christians have the impression that the literal end of the world is coming at Christ’s return. This contradicts the thought that “the earth abideth forever.” (Eccl. 1:4) How comforting to know that Jesus was not referring to the end of the world, but the end of the Gospel age.