The Bible’s Viewpoint
Christ Is Present!
“MANDELA is coming! Mandela is coming!” sang the children of Soweto, South Africa. Nelson Mandela’s release from prison on February 11, 1990, was greatly anticipated as the beginning of change in South Africa. However, for many years before he got out, his presence was felt. While still in prison, he had actively waged an “unrelenting crusade to abolish apartheid.” As one international newsmagazine noted, the 27 years of imprisonment had not “diminished his presence—or his militancy.” His release from prison well illustrates the difference between a coming and a presence.
Similarly, with reference to Jesus Christ’s taking up his kingly power, the first-century Bible writers make a distinction between his coming and his presence. Christ Jesus’ presence in kingly power would be felt and recognized many years before his “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30) Christ’s invisible presence (Greek, pa·rou·siʹa) would precede this coming (Greek, erʹkho·mai) to execute judgment against a rebellious and wicked generation.
Pa·rou·siʹa—What Does It Mean?
The Greek word pa·rou·siʹa literally means a “being alongside” and “became the official term for a visit of a person of high rank, esp[ecially] of kings and emperors visiting a province.” The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament states: “[Parousia] denotes esp[ecially] active presence.” And concerning the presence of Christ Jesus, the book The Parousia states: “The Scriptures never speak of a ‘second Parousia.’ Whatever was to be its nature, it was something peculiar, having never occurred before, and being never to occur again. It was to be a presence differing from and superior to all other manifestations of himself to men.”
Commenting on Jesus’ prophetic words in answer to the questions asked by the apostles on the Mount of Olives, Professor A. T. Robertson in Word Pictures in the New Testament writes that Jesus was “using the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem which did happen in that generation in A.D. 70, as also a symbol of his own second coming and of the end of the world . . . or consummation of the age.” What were these questions, and how did Jesus answer?
The Sign of Christ’s Presence
As recorded at Matthew 24:3, the apostles asked: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” In his answer, Jesus gave the disciples a sign that would be visible proof of his invisible presence in Kingdom power. The complete sign included unprecedented wars, widespread food shortages, devastating earthquakes, pestilences, and an increase in crime and fear. Christ’s presence would be a time of global turmoil and anxiety. Human governments and world leaders would be unable to cope successfully with a collapsing system.—Matthew 24:7, 12; Luke 21:11.
Confirming the reality of Jesus’ prophetic words, a professor of political studies, John Meisel, stated: “A major epoch is coming to an end, to be replaced by one whose contours are still only dimly understood.” After commenting on the death of Communism, the failure of Socialism, and the inadequacy of capitalism, Professor Meisel continued: “Many human dilemmas are beyond the realm of the social sciences and need to be solved by other means.” And what does that mean? “The ideological underpinnings of the contemporary world are collapsing and need to be replaced.”
Christ’s Active Presence
Despite the desperate conditions of a deteriorating world scene, Jesus’ presence in kingly power began over 75 years ago and has been felt in an unmistakable and positive way.* In spite of the ruin caused by two world wars, the enthroned King, Christ Jesus, has actively participated in forging a new nation of people—a people for Jehovah’s name “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” Christ’s active presence has stimulated a worldwide preaching and teaching program that has touched the hearts of millions of rightly disposed individuals. They have been moved to take their stand on the side of Jehovah’s Kingdom in the hands of Christ Jesus.—Revelation 7:9, 10.
In the face of increasing daily evidence that the multifaceted sign of Christ’s presence is being fulfilled, it is evident to alert Christians that we are facing the end of an epoch. Now is the time to “pay more than the usual attention” to the enthroned King, Christ Jesus. (Hebrews 2:1) He admonishes us: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:36.
Jesus Christ’s kingly rule began in 1914. For a more detailed explanation of this subject, see chapters 16 to 18 of the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, published in 1982 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.