A couple weeks until we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, I’m going to try and sum up roughly three chapters of Surprised by Hope in about fifteen minutes.
About the second coming of Jesus (Theology nerds call this the parousia), it will be the time what God will renew all of creation and Jesus will take his full rule as King. Much ink has been spilled over this hotly debated subject, in America, it has led to best selling books and failed movie franchises alike. Wright clears up a couple details for his readers. In the study of eschatology (regarding the end), he does not simply mean “the second coming”, instead he means, “the entire sense of God’s future for the world and the belief that the future has already begun to come forward to meet us in the present” (122). He goes on to say that some of the texts that have been used to support premillenial dispensationalism have been taken out of context. Again, like a kaleidoscope of metaphors, the Bible uses a variety of language and imagery to talk about “the truth that Jesus and his people will one day be personally present to each other as full and renewed human beings” (125). So he does not deny that Jesus will come again, but he has problems with the “fundamental” theory about how it will happen.
First, he suggests that we have to read those passages concerning the parousia in context, whether in Daniel 7, or in 1 Thessalonians. We must also consider the audience that has experienced exile after exile and the destruction of the Temple. We also have to consider the meaning of parousia in it’s context:
- “presence of a god or divinity… particularly when this god is revealed in healing”
- “when a person of high rank makes a visits to a subject state, particularly when a king of emperor visits a colony or province.”
With these connotations in mind, Paul and the early church used this language to saw two things: Jesus is currently present in spirit, but absent in body, but would one day be present in body and when that happens the world would “know the sudden transforming power of that presence” (129). In using this terminology, Wright suggests that we was uniting two story lines: the Jewish story line and the Greco-Roman story line, but ultimately Jesus will transform both and write a new story.