After the Lord Jesus arose from the dead, he appeared on numerous occasions to His disciples and other followers. He was seen on the road to Emmaus by "two of them" (Luke 24:13) and spoke with them and broke bread. The Lord eventually "vanished out of their sight" (Luke 24:31) returning to heaven.
Mary Magdalene on resurrection morning, while visiting the sepulcher where Jesus was buried "saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus" (John 20:14). After the Lord called her name she recognized Him and the Lord said, "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father" (John 20:17) indicating that He had not yet ascended to heaven after His resurrection.
"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you." (John 20:19)
He then showed His followers His hands and His side but one of His disciples, Thomas, was absent. He eventually left them and returned to heaven. Eight days later He appeared unto them again, Thomas included, and showed His wounds to Thomas:
"And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and My God. Jesus said unto Him, Thomas, because thou has seen Me, thou has believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:28,29). The Lord once again returned to heaven.
"After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed He Himself." (John 21:1)
The account continues with the Lord and the disciples on the seaside and the Lord calls them to "come and dine" (John 21:12), followed by the account of the Lord's conversation with Peter concerning feeding His sheep. Mark 16:9-20 also tells of these appearances of the Lord after His resurrection, to Mary Magdalene, to the two on the road to Emmaus, and to the eleven as they sat eating, eventually ascending into heaven. After each of His post-resurrection appearances He returned to heaven, now being exalted at the right hand of the Father.
However, He was in His glorified resurrection body and was able to appear on earth at one moment and then vanish, returning to heaven the next. While there are no specific texts indicating exactly where the Lord went when He disappeared during His post-resurrection ministry, it is logical to assume that during the time between appearances He went to His home in heaven where all of those with glorified bodies like His will spend eternity.
So it will be with His Second Coming. He will appear and fulfill what has been written and then return to heaven until the entire work of His Second Coming is complete and He comes to physically rule and reign upon earth for 1,000 years which is also known as the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-4). His Second Coming will unfold in these three major appearances:
Jerome's Latin translation called the Vulgate (5th Century A. D.) was translated from the Greek New Testament and the Greek Old Testament called the Septuagint. The Latin Vulgate was the first translation to use the terms rapture and advent.
-rapture: To seize (Lat.) from the Greek harpazo: To catch away
-advent: Arrival (Lat.) from the Greek parousia: An arrival and continuing presence
These two Latin words are not adequate to describe in English the true meaning of the Greek words for they lack the Biblical precision necessary to completely convey the truth. This inadequacy has contributed greatly to the confusion surrounding the return of Christ, its timing and events associated with His coming.
Many falsely believe in two distinct future comings or advents of Christ. They say that the parousia in I Thessalonians 4:15 and the parousia found in Matthew 24:3 are two different events. They also claim that the I Thessalonians 4:15 parousia is the rapture at the beginning of the 'tribulation period', and the Matthew 24:3 parousia refers to the 'second advent' at the end of the 'tribulation period'.
But parousia is a precise, technical Greek word. It refers to Christ's arrival and continuing presence throughout a period of time which begins at the rapture of the Church continuing through the Day of the Lord's final event the battle of Armageddon which is followed by His 1000 year earthly reign called the Millennium. Therefore, it must be understood that parousia which is a precise, technical Greek term has the same meaning every time the word is used.
-Deissman: From the 2nd century B.C. parousia was used to describe an arrival and visit of a king or emperor.
-Reiter: Prior to 1940's parousia, epiphaneia, and apokalupsis were considered technical terms specifying distinct phases of the Lord's return by pretribulationists. Parousia was described as Christ's appearance in the sky to rapture and epiphaneia/apokalupsis referred to the return of Christ following the Great Tribulation.
However, as the following definitions indicate, the pretribulationist's assertions were not founded upon the ages-old accepted definitions which are cited in Thayers Greek Lexicon. This lexicon provides the following definitions:
Thayers Greek Lexicon (1896)
-Parousia: Presence, coming, arrival, advent-The future visible return from heaven of Jesus, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God
-Epiphaneia: To make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown
-Apokalupsis: To uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up; to disclose, make bare
The first Greek word, parousia, is found in the New Testament twenty-four times. Four times in the Lord's Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39, fourteen times in Paul's letters: I Corinthians 15:23, 16:17; II Corinthians 7:6, 7, 10:10; Philemon 1:26, 2:12; I Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 4:15, 5:23; and II Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9, two times in James 5:7, 8, three times in II Peter 1:16, 3:4, 12 and once in I John 2:28.
The Lord Jesus, James, Peter and John used the word exclusively to indicate the Second Coming while Paul also uses the word to describe the coming of Stephanas, the coming of Titus, his own coming, the coming of the Antichrist and the Second Coming of the Lord. An arrival and continuing presence is the meaning in each of the passages where parousia is found in the Word of God.
The second Greek word, epiphaneia, is used exclusively by Paul on six different occasions. Once in II Thessalonians 2:8 with the other occurrences recorded in the three Pastoral Epistles: I Timothy 6:14, II Timothy 1:10, 4:1, 8 and Titus 2:13. These references utilizing the word epiphaneia focus upon the glorious manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ at His coming.
The third Greek word, apokalupsis is a noun appearing eighteen times in the New Testament. The verb form appears twenty-six times but only one of these twenty-six occurrences: "when the Son of man is revealed" (Luke 17:30) refers to the Second Coming of Christ.
However, the noun apokalupsis is used five times (I Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 1:12; II Thessalonians 1:7; I Peter 1:7, 13, 4:13) to indicate the Lord's return and the emphasis centers upon the unveiling or uncovering of the Lord when He comes.
Therefore, the Word of God clearly utilizes three different Greek words to describe three definite aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ's Second Coming. Parousia, the most used Greek word for the Lord's Second Coming indicates His arrival and continuing presence. Epiphaneia on the other hand emphasizes His glorious manifestation while apokalupsis focuses upon the unveiling or uncovering of the Lord.
'The unveiling [apokalupsis] and glorious manifestation [epiphaneia] of His coming [parousia] will occur in the clouds.' is a simple sentence that demonstrates how all three words can be rightly used to combine the Greek terminology that defines the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.