“In Like Manner”
What, now, is taught by the statement of the angel at the time of our Lord’s departure–Acts 1:11–“This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come, in like manner, as ye have seen him go into heaven“?
A careful examination of this text will manifest its harmony with the foregoing. Many seem to think the passage reads, as you SEE the Lord ascend into heaven, so, in like manner, you shall SEE him come again. Such should read it again and again, until they note the fact that it does not say that those who saw him go will SEE him come, nor that any one else will SEE him come. What it does say is that the MANNER of his coming will be LIKE the MANNER of his going.
What, then, was the manner of his going? Was it with great splendor, and with great demonstration? Was it with trumpet sound and voices and a great shout rending the air, and the Lord’s person shining in supernatural glory and brightness?
If so, we should expect his coming again to be “in like manner.” On the other hand, was it not as quietly and secretly as was possible, consistent with his purpose of having thoroughly convinced witnesses of the fact? None saw him, or knew of the fact, except his faithful followers.
His statement (John 14:19), “Yet a little while and the world sees me no more,” has never yet been disproved; for none but the brethren saw even his manifestations after his resurrection, and no others witnessed his ascension.
And in LIKE MANNER as he went away (quietly, secretly, so far as the world was concerned, and unknown except to his followers), so too, in LIKE MANNER, he comes again. And as when he went away he lifted up his hands and blessed them, so, when he comes again, it is that their joy may be full, as he said: “I will come again, and receive you unto myself “; “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you.” Luke 24:50, 51; John 14:3; 16:22
The angel seemed also to give special emphasis to the fact that the coming again would be the coming of this very “same Jesus“–the same one who left the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and became man– became poor that we might be made rich; the same Jesus that died on Calvary; the same Jesus that arose a quickening spirit the third day; the same Jesus that had manifested his change during the forty days–This same Jesus now ascended upon high. Yes, it is the same Jesus who has experienced two changes of nature–first from spirit to human, and then from human to divine. These changes of nature have not destroyed his individuality. His identity was preserved, as the angel thus assures us, whether the philosophy of that fact be understood or not; and though we shall know him no more after the flesh (as a man), but should remember his exaltation, that he is now of the divine, spiritual nature, and should anticipate his coming in harmony with this change and exaltation, yet we may remember that he is the same loving Jesus, and not changed in this respect.
It is “this same Jesus,” who, though present forty days after his resurrection, was seen of the disciples only, and by them but briefly, who in his second presence will be as invisible to the world as during the forty days preceding his ascension. We must remember that he does not come to give himself as a sacrifice, and hence that he has no further use for a human body prepared for sacrifice. (Heb. 10:5) That is all over now: he dies no more, but now comes to rule and bless and uplift the redeemed race.
Our Lord furnished us a most beautiful illustration of the manner in which his presence will be revealed, when he said, “As the bright-shining emerges from the east, and illuminates even unto the west, so will be the PRESENCE of the Son of man.” (Matt. 24:27)
That most translations of this verse are faulty in using the word lightning, where sunlight is meant, is evident; for lightning flashes do not come out of the east and shine unto the west. They just as frequently come from other quarters, and rarely, if ever, flash clear across the heavens. The Lord’s illustration, and the only one which will comport with his words, is the sun’s brightness, which does invariably emerge from the east and shine even unto the west. The Greek word “astrape”, here used, is thus shown to be improperly translated in this text, and also in the account of the same words by Luke (17:24). Another instance of the use of this word “astrape” by our Lord is found in Luke 11:36, where it applies to the brightness of a candle, and in the common version is rendered “bright-shining.”
Incorrect ideas of the manner of our Lord’s coming and revealing, firmly fixed in the minds of translators, led them into this error of translating “astrape” by the word “lightning.” They supposed that he would be revealed suddenly, like a flash of lightning, and not gradually, like the dawning sunlight. But how beautiful is the figure of sunrise, as illustrating the gradual dawning of truth and blessing in the day of his presence. The Lord associates the over-comers with himself in this figure, saying, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father.” And the Prophet, using the same figure, says, “The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams.” The dawning is gradual, but finally the full, clear brightness shall thoroughly banish the darkness of evil, ignorance, superstition and sin.
An imperfect translation of the word “parousia” has further tended to obscure the sense of this passage. In the Emphatic Diaglott and in Professor Young’s translation it is rendered PRESENCE; in Rotherham’s it is ARRIVAL; while in the common version it is rendered COMING.
And though the text of the Revised Version retains this last erroneous rendering–coming— yet in the marginal reading it acknowledges “PRESENCE” to be the true definition of the Greek.
The Greek word “parousia” (Strong’s # 3952), invariably signifies personal presence, as having come, having arrived; and it should never be understood as signifying to be on the way, as the English word coming is generally used. The text under consideration therefore teaches that as the SUNLIGHT gradually dawns, so shall the PRESENCE of the Son of man be gradually manifested or revealed.
Together with this illustration, our Lord coupled words of caution to guard us against certain errors, which would be advanced about the time of his second advent, calculated to lead his Church astray.
“Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the bright shining [sun] cometh out of the east and [gradually] shines even unto the west so shall be the PRESENCE of the Son of man.” Matt 24:25-27
Thus does our Lord put us on guard against TWO ERRORS RAPIDLY GROWING IN OUR DAY.
One is the claim that our Lord will come in the flesh, in the wilderness or desert of Palestine; and, so believing, many have gone thither, and are waiting to see Jesus in the flesh. Expecting him as he was, and not “as he is,” they seriously err, and blind themselves to the truth, as did the Jews at the first advent. These false expectations lead this class to interpret literally the statement of the prophet (Zech. 14:4), “His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives,” etc. Blinded by false expectations, they do not see that the “feet” in this passage are figurative, as truly as in Psa. 91:12; Isa. 52:7; Psa. 8:6; 110:1; Eph. 6:15; Deut. 33:3; and in many other passages. If they knew WHAT to expect, they would know not to go to Jerusalem (or for that matter anywhere) to look (with their literal eyes) for THE MAN Christ Jesus; for the highly exalted king comes as the sunlight, making his Presence and influence felt the world over. Wherefore, “Go not forth.”
The other error,
“If they shall say, Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” SPIRITUALISM, ever ready to deceive by counterfeits, and ever ready to use advanced truths as a garment of light (2 Cor. 11:13, 14), has not hesitated to claim that we are in a period of dispensational change, the dawning of a glorious age. Among other such things, some of them even teach that Christ is present, and, we doubt not, ere long they will give séances at which time they will claim to show him in the SECRET CHAMBERS.
Should the error present itself in this form, or any other, let us remember our Lord’s words and repudiate all such claims as false, knowing that not thus will he reveal his presence, but “as the sunlight,” emerging gradually–” the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams.” (B153-158)
Once again we will continue shortly.