To understand the Bible, we need to harmonize all the scriptures on a specific topic. For example, Jesus said, “sell your possessions and give to the poor,” Matthew 19:21. Does Jesus really want us to sell all? Then we will become one of the poor. But the Apostle Paul says, “if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” 1 Timothy 5:8. To harmonize these two verses, we recognize God is instructing us to prioritize our spending: first for the family, then for others. Both scriptures are true.
Other scriptures about our Lord’s return present the opposite thought of returning as a thief. “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God…” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) Do we disregard one scripture over another or force an interpretation to fit our thoughts? No, we need to look at all the scriptures. Let them speak.
To harmonize all the scriptures, consider the Greek words associated with our Lord’s return: “parousia” and “apokalupsis.” Vine’s defines parousia as: “a presence,” para, “with,” and ousia, “being,”. Matthew 24:37-39 uses this word. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming (parousia, presence) of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying…until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming (parousia, presence) of the Son of man be.”
The world carried on its normal activities. They were unaware of the coming trouble. So during our Lord’s return, the world will be unaware. This is during the hidden, thief-like stage of our Lord’s return. (However, the scriptures show true believers would see the signs of this stage.)
A further stage is characterized by “apokalupsis.” Luke 17:26-30 is a parallel account of Matthew 24. Another comparison is made with the days of Noah and the days of the Son of Man. Noah was present in his day, so Jesus would be present in the days of the Son of Man. Eventually, the flood came and destroyed Sodom. Luke compares it to a day when Jesus is revealed (verse 30) “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed (apokalupto).” Apokalupto means “to take off the cover, disclose” – to reveal something previously hidden. At this stage of the Lord’s return, Jesus’ presence would be revealed to all. Just as the flood and the destruction of Sodom were manifest to all.
We suggest you continue studying with the help of a booklet on our web site. https://chicagobible.org/product/i-will-come-again/