A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of our Lord’s Second Coming, By James Stuart Russell
By James Stuart Russell
Originally digitized by Todd Dennis beginning in 1996
TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIGH PRAISE FOR "THE PAROUSIA"
PREFACE TO THE BOOK
THE LAST WORDS OF OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY.
THE BOOK OF MALACHI The Interval between Malachi and John the Baptist
THE PAROUSIA IN THE GOSPELS.
THE PAROUSIA PREDICTED BY JOHN THE BAPTIST
The Teaching of our Lord Concerning the Parousia in the Synoptical Gospels:-
Prediction of Coming Wrath upon that Generation Further allusions to the Coming Wrath Impending fate of the Jewish nation (Parable of the Barren Fig-tree) The End of the Age, or close of the Jewish dispensation (Parables of Tares and Drag-net) The Coming of the Son of Man (the Parousia) in the Lifetime of the Apostles The Parousia to take place within the Lifetime of some of the Disciples The Coming of the Son of man certain and speedy (Parable of the Importunate Widow) The Reward of the Disciples in the Coming AEon, i.e. at the Parousia
Prophetic Intimations of the approaching Consummation of the Kingdom of God:-
i. Parable of the Pounds ii. Lamentation of Jesus over Jerusalem iii. Parable of the Wicked Husbandman iv. Parable of the Marriage of the King's Son v. Woes denounced on the Scribes and Pharisees vi. Lamentation (second) of Jesus over Jerusalem vii. The Prophecy on the Mount of Olives
The Prophecy on the Mount examined:-
I. Interrogatory of the Disciples II. Our Lord's Answer to the Disciples:-
(a) Events which more remotely were to precede the Consummation (b) Further indications of the approaching doom of Jerusalem (c) The Disciples warned against False Prophets (d) Arrival of the 'End,' or the catastrophe of Jerusalem (e) The Parousia to take place before the passing away of the Existing Generation (f) Certainty of the Consummation, yet uncertainty of its precise date (g) Suddenness of the Parousia, and calls to watchfulness (h) The Disciples warned of the suddenness of the Parousia (Parable of the Master of the House) (i) The Parousia a time of Judgment alike to the friends and the enemies of Christ (Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins) (k) The Parousia a time of Judgment (Parable of the Talents) (l) The Parousia a time of Judgment (Parable of the Sheep and Goats)
Our Lord's declaration before the High Priest Prediction of the Woes coming on Jerusalem Prayer of the Penitent Thief Apostolic Commission, the
THE PAROUSIA IN THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN.
The Parousia and the Resurrection of the Dead The Resurrection, the Judgment, and the Last Day The Judgment of this World, and of the Prince of this World Christ's Return (the Parousia) speedy St. John to live till the Parousia Summary of the Teaching of the Gospels respecting the Parousia
APPENDIX TO PART I.
Note A.-On the Double-sense Theory of Interpretation Note B.-On the Prophetic Element in the Gospels
THE PAROUSIA IN THE ACTS AND THE EPISTLES.
IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
The 'going away' and the 'coming again The Last Days come The Coming Doom of that Generation The Parousia and the Restitution of all things Christ soon to judge the World
THE PAROUSIA IN THE APOSTOLIC EPISTLES.
IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS:-
Expectation of the Speedy Coming of Christ The Wrath coming upon the Jewish people Bearing of the parousia upon the disciples of Christ Christ to come with all His holy ones Events accompanying the Parousia Exhortations to watchfulness in prospect of the Parousia Prayer that the Thessalonians might survive until the coming of Christ
IN THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS:-
The Parousia a time of judgment to enemies of Christ and of Deliverance to His people Events which must precede the Parousia
The Apostasy The Man of Sin
IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS:-
Attitude of the Christians of Corinth in relation to the Parousia Judicial character of the 'Day of the Lord' (I Cor. iii. 13) Judicial character of the 'Day of the Lord' (I Cor. iv. 5) Nearness of the approaching Consummation The End of the Ages already arrived Events accompanying the Parousia The Living (saints) changed at the Parousia The Parousia and the 'Last Trump' The Apostolic Watchword, 'Maran-atha'
IN THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS:-
Anticipations of 'the End' and 'the Day of the Lord' The Dead in Christ to be presented along with the living at the Parousia Expectation of Future Blessedness at the Parousia
IN THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS:-
'The present Evil Age, or AEon' The two Jerusalems-the Old and the New
IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS:-
The Day of Wrath Eschatology of St. Paul Nearness of the Coming Salvation Prospect of Speedy Deliverance
IN THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS:-
Approaching Manifestation of Christ The Coming Wrath
IN THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS:-
The Economy of the Fulness of the Times The Day of Redemption The present Aeon and that which is coming The 'Ages [Aeons] to come
IN THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS:-
The Day of Christ Expectation of the Parousia Nearness of the Parousia
IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY:-
Apostasy of the Last Days Eschatological Table, or Conspectus of Passages relating to the Last Times Equivalent Phrases referring to the Last Times Table of Passages relating to the Apostasy of the Last Times Conclusion- respecting the Apostasy Timothy and the Parousia The Apostasy already manifesting itself
IN THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY: -
'That Day'-viz. the parousia-anticipated The Apostasy of the 'Last Days' imminent
IN THE EPISTLE TO TITUS :-
Anticipation of the Parousia
IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS:-
The Last Days already come The Aeons, Ages, or World-periods The World to come, or the new order The End, i.e., of the Age, or AEon The Promise of the Rest of God The End of the Ages Expectation of the Parousia The Parousia approaching The Parousia imminent The Parousia and the Old Testament saints The great Consummation near Nearness and finality of the Consummation Expectation of the Parousia
IN THE EPISTLE OF ST. JAMES:-
The Last Days come Nearness of the Parousia
IN THE FIRST EPISTLE OF ST. PETER:-
Salvation ready to be revealed in the last time The approaching Revelation of Jesus Christ Relation of the Redemption of Christ to the Antediluvian World Nearness of Judgment and of the End of all things The good tidings announced to the Dead The Fiery Trial and the coming Glory The Time of Judgment arrived The Glory about to be revealed
IN THE SECOND EPISTLE OF ST. PETER:-
Scoffers in the 'Last Days' Eschatology of St. Peter Certainty of the approaching Consummation Suddenness of the Parousia Attitude of the Primitive Christians in relation to the Parousia The New Heavens and New Earth Nearness of the Parousia a motive to diligence Believers not to be discouraged on account of the seeming delay of the Parousia Allusion of St. Peter to St. Paul's teaching concerning the Parousia
IN THE FIRST EPISTLE OF ST. JOHN:-
The World passing away: the last hour come The Antichrist come, a proof of its being the last hour Antichrist not a person, but a principle Marks of the Antichrist Anticipation of the Parousia
IN THE EPISTLE OF ST. JUDE
APPENDIX TO PART II.
Note A.-The Kingdom of Heaven, or of God Note B.-On the ' Babylon' of 1 Peter v. 13 Note C.-On the Symbolism of Prophecy, with special reference to the Predictions of the Parousia Note D.-Dr. Owen on 'the Heavens and the Earth' (2 Pet. iii. 7) Note E.-Rev. F. D. Maurice on 'the Last Time' (I John ii. 18)
THE PAROUSIA IN THE APOCALYPSE.
Interpretation of the Apocalypse Limitation of Time in the Apocalypse Date of the Apocalypse True significance of the Apocalypse Structure and plan of the Apocalypse The number Seven in the Apocalypse The Theme of the Apocalypse The Prologue
THE FIRST VISION.
THE MESSAGES TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES
THE SECOND VISION.
THE SEVEN SEALS
Opening of the First Seal Opening of the Second Seal Opening of the Third Seal Opening of the Fourth Seal Opening of the Fifth Seal Opening of the Sixth Seal Episode of the Sealing of the Servants of God
THE THIRD VISION.
THE SEVEN TRUMPETS
Opening of the Seventh Seal The First Four Trumpets The Fifth Trumpet The Sixth Trumpet
Episode of the Angel and the Book Measurement of the Temple Episode of the Two Witnesses
The Seventh Trumpet
THE FOURTH VISION.
THE SEVEN MYSTIC FIGURES
1. The Woman clothed with the Sun 2. The Great Red Dragon 3. The Man Child 4. The First Wild Beast The Number of the Beast 5. The Second Wild Beast 6. The Lamb on Mount Sion 7. The Son of Man on the Cloud
THE FIFTH VISION.
THE SEVEN VIALS
THE SIXTH VISION.
THE HARLOT CITY
Mystery of the Scarlet Beast The Seven Kings The Ten Horns of the Beast (NOTE ON REVELATION XVII.) The Fall of Babylon Judgment of the Beast and his confederate Powers Judgment of the Dragon Reign of the Saints and Martyrs Loosing of Satan after the Thousand Years Catastrophe of the Sixth Vision
Note A.-Reuss on the Number of the Beast Note B.-Dr. J. M. Macdonald's 'Life and Writings of St. John' -Bishop Warburton on 'our Lord's Prophecy on the Mount of Olives,' and on 'the Kingdom of Heaven'
AFTERWORD BY RUSSELL
DOLLINGER ON "The Man of Sin" THE BABYLON OF THE APOCALYPSE JERUSALEM A SEVEN-HILLED CITY THE CRUCIAL QUESTION THE TRUE SOLUTION
HIGH PRAISE FOR “THE PAROUSIA”
Reviewed by: C.H. Spurgeon & R.C. Sproul [Reprinted from the October 1878 issue of The Sword and the Trowel Magazine]
"The second coming of Christ according to this volume had its fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem and the establishment of the gospel dispensation. That the parables and predictions of our Lord had a more direct and exclusive reference to that period than is generally supposed, we readily admit; but we were not prepared for the assignment of all references to a second coming in the New Testament, and even in the Apocalypse itself, to so early a fulfillment. All that could be said has been said in support of this theory, and much more than ought to have been said. In this the reasoning fails. In order to concentrate the whole prophecies of the Book of Revelation upon the period of the destruction of Jerusalem it was needful to assume this book to have been written prior to that event, although the earliest ecclesiastical historians agree that John was banished to the isle of Patmos, where the book was written, by Domitian, who reigned after Titus, by whom Jerusalem was destroyed. Apart from this consideration, the compression of all the Apocalyptic visions and prophecies into so narrow a space requires more ingenuity and strength than that of men and angels combined. Too much stress is laid upon such phrases as 'The time is at hand,' 'Behold I come quickly,' whereas many prophecies of Scripture are delivered as present or past, as 'unto us a child IS born,' &c., and 'Surely he HATH borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.' Amidst the many comings of Christ spoken of in the New Testament that which is spoken of as a second, must, we think, be personal, and thus similar to the first; and such too must be the meaning of 'his appearing.' Though the author's theory is carried too far, it has so much of truth in it, and throws so much new light upon obscure portions of the Scriptures, and is accompanied with so much critical research and close reasoning, that it can be injurious to none and may be profitable to all."
For a closer look at Spurgeon's Preterist statements, please see : Commentary Excerpts: Charles H. Spurgeon
"The Kingly Prophet foretold the time of the end: "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." It was before that generation had passed away that Jerusalem was besieged and destroyed. There was a sufficient interval for the full proclamation of the gospel by the apostles and evangelists of the early Christian Church, and for the gathering out of those who recognized the crucified Christ as their true Messiah. Then came the awful end, which the Savior foresaw and foretold, and the prospect of which wrung from his lips and heart the sorrowful lament that followed his prophecy of the doom awaiting his guilty capital." (Commentary on Matthew, in loc.)
"Russell's book has forced me to take the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem far more seriously than before, to open my eyes to the radical significance of this event in redemptive history. It vindicates the apostolic hope and prediction of our Lord's close-at-hand coming in judgment. My view on these matters remains in transition, as I have spelled out in The Last Days According to Jesus. But for me one thing is certain: I can never read the New Testament again the same way I read it before reading The Parousia. I hope better scholars than I will continue to analyze and evaluate the content of J. Stuart Russell's important work." ("Forward," in The Parousia (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999)
Ovid Need Jr., on The Parousia
First, The Parousia, A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of our Lord’s Second Coming, By James Stuart Russell (1816-1895). It contains 561 pages, soft-bound. I miss an index not being in it, but it does have a comprehensive Table of Contents. He "served as pastor of the Congregational Church in Bayswater, England during the years 1862-1888. He earned his M.A. degree from King's College, University of Aberdeen. Then after this book was published, they honoured him with a D.D. degree. Two editions were published, the first in 1878 and the second in 1887, both in London. This is the most popular introduction to and defense of the preterist view of Bible Prophecy in print today. It is a 1996 reprint by Kingdom Publications, 122 Seaward Ave, Bradford, PA 16701. $17.00 post paid from Kingdom Publishers" toll-free, (888) 257-7023, and they accept MasterCard and VISA.
Mr. Russell convincingly presents the Preterist view from the many New Testaments - from Malachi and Matthew through the Revelation - passages we hear used in "Prophetic" teaching today. (It appears to me that most prophetic teachers fail to realize that prophecy is from the time the passages are written, not from the time they are read.) Though Russell goes further in some areas than I would (spiritualizing some things I would not), I must admit that he deals with the many New Testament "Prophetic" passages in the most consistent manner I have encountered: His arguments concerning the "Prophetic" passages are hard, if not impossible, to refute by those of us who accept Scripture as the final authority - that is, who use Scripture rather than history to interpret Scripture. An usual point I found about Mr. Russell, not often found in Bible teachers, is that when he encounters a passage he cannot answer, he tells us he has no answer. Many teachers seem to think that when they admit they do not have all the answers, they have lost their ability to teach.
I am thankful to the man who brought this book to my attention, and I can readily recommend it to any interested in serious study of Scripture. "Parousia" is an excellent book for those disillusioned by "date setting."
I suppose that Mr. Russell wrote "Parousia" to counter the then rising tide of dispensational millennialism that started gaining worldwide momentum after about 1850.
No Attentive reader of the New Testament can fail to be struck with the prominence given by the evangelists and the apostles to the PAROUSIA, or 'coming of the Lord.' That event is the great theme of New Testament prophecy. There is scarcely a single book, from the Gospel of St. Matthew to the Apocalypse of St. John, in which it is not set forth as the glorious promise of God and the blessed hope of the church. It was frequently and solemnly predicted by our Lord; it was incessantly kept before the eyes of the early Christians by the apostles; and it was firmly believed and eagerly expected by the churches of the primitive age.
It cannot be denied that there is a remarkable difference between the attitude of the first Christians in relation to the Parousia and that of Christians now. That glorious hope, to which all eyes and hearts in the apostolic age were eagerly turned, has almost disappeared from the view of modern believers. Whatever may be the theoretical opinions ex- pressed in symbols and creeds, it must in candor be admitted that the 'second coming of Christ' has all but ceased to be a living and practical belief.
Various causes may be assigned in explanation of this state of things. The rash vaticinations of those who have too confidently undertaken to be interpreters of prophecy, and the discredit consequent on the failure of their predictions, have no doubt deterred reverent and soberminded men from entering upon the investigation of 'unfulfilled prophecy.' On the other hand, there is reason to think that rationalistic criticism has engendered doubts whether the predictions of the New Testament were ever intended to have a literal or historical fulfilment.
Between rationalism on the one hand, and irrationalism on the other, there has come to be a widely prevailing state of uncertainty and confusion of thought in regard to New Testament prophecy, which to some extent explains, though it may not justify, the consigning of the whole subject to the region of hopelessly obscure and insoluble problems.
This, however, is only a partial explanation. It deserves consideration whether there may not be a fundamental difference between the relation of the church of the apostolic age to the predicted Parousia and the relation to that event sustained by subsequent ages. The first Christians undoubtedly believed themselves to be standing on the verge of a great catastrophe, and we know what intensity and enthusiasm the expectation of the almost immediate coming of the Lord inspired; but if it cannot be shown that Christians now are similarly placed, there would be a want of truth and reality in affecting the eager anticipation and hope of the primitive church. The same event cannot be imminent at two different periods separated by nearly two thousand years. There must, therefore, be some grave misconception on the part of those who maintain that the Christian church of to-day occupies precisely the same relation, and should maintain the same attitude, towards the 'coming of the Lord' as the church in the days of St. Paul.
The present volume is an attempt, in a candid and reverent spirit, to clear up this misconception, and to ascertain the true meaning of the Word of God on a subject which holds so conspicuous a place in the teaching of our Lord and His apostles. It is the fruit of many years of patient investigation, and the Author has spared no pains to test to the utmost the validity of his conclusions. It has been his single aim to ascertain what saith the Scripture, and his one desire to be governed by a loyal submission to its authority. The ideal of Biblical interpretation which he has kept before him is that so well expressed by a German theologian - 'Explicatio plana non tortuosa, facilis non violenta, eademque et exegeticce et Chistanae conscientium pariter arridens.' (1)
Although the nature of the inquiry necessitates a somewhat frequent reference to the original of the New Testament, and to the laws of grammatical construction and interpretation, it has been the object of the Author to render this work as popular as possible, and such as any man of ordinary education and intelligence may read with ease and interest. The Bible is a book for every man, and the Author has not written for scholars and critics only, but for the many who are deeply interested in Biblical interpretation, and who think, with Locke, 'an impartial search into the true meaning of the sacred Scripture the best employment of all the time they have.' (2) It will be a sufficient recompense of his labour if he succeeds in elucidating in any degree those teachings of divine revelation which have been obscured by traditional prejudices, or misinterpreted by an erroneous exegesis.