How Many Second Comings?
Partial preterists see multiple “Second Comings” of Jesus—one “in judgment” in AD 70 (per the Olivet Discourse), and a final “consummate” coming at the end of history. To find this meaning they may pick and choose passages that they think refer to the different “comings,” or they may see dual fulfillment of the same passages. But the Bible speaks of only one Second Coming of Jesus.
The primary Greek word to describe the Second Coming is Parousia. This noun is used twenty-four times in the New Testament, including sixteen times in reference to the Second Coming of Jesus. Fifteen of those sixteen times, it is translated with a definite article: the, or his, or your. In the sixteenth usage (2 Peter 1:16) a definite article is implied. It is noted that The Parousia is found in the Olivet Discourse as well as in 1 Corinthians 15 (the resurrection) and 1 Thessalonians 4 (the rapture). It seems clear enough that the New Testament writers, who all wrote in the same generation, spoke of only one Second Coming of Jesus—THE PAROUSIA.
I have, on numerous occasions, asked partial preterists to tell me which of the 16 of Christ’s Parousia’s they think are past, and which are future. Most of the time they refuse to answer. But if they do, there is no consistency to their answers, which reveals the confusion about this in the partial preterist camp. For the record, here are the sixteen mentions of Christ’s Parousia in the New Testament: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4; 1 John 2:28.
As to the idea of dual fulfillment or double meaning of a New Testament prophetic passage, James Stuart Russell had strong thoughts about this hypothesis:
“The first objection to this hypothesis is that it has no foundation in the teaching of the Scriptures. There is not a scintilla of evidence that the apostles and primitive Christians had any suspicion of a twofold reference in the predictions of Jesus concerning the end. No hint is anywhere dropped that a primary and partial fulfillment of His sayings was to take place in that generation, but that the complete and exhaustive fulfillment was reserved for a future and far distant period. The very contrary is the fact.
“What can be more comprehensive and conclusive than our Lord’s words, ‘Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till ALL these things be fulfilled’? What critical torture has been applied to these words to extort from them some other meaning than their obvious and natural one! How has genea [generation] been hunted through all its lineage and genealogy to discover that it may not mean the persons then living on the earth! But all such efforts are wholly futile.
“While the words remain in the text, their plain and obvious sense will prevail over all the glosses and perversions of ingenious criticism. The hypothesis of a twofold fulfillment receives no countenance from the Scriptures. We have only to read the language in which the apostles speak of the approaching consummation, to be convinced that they had one, and only one, great event in view, and that they thought and spoke of it as just at hand.”
There are other Greek words used for Christ’s Second Coming, including the verb erchomai (to come). I show in my book how the partial preterist confusion is magnified when the discussion is expanded to include the other Greek words. For more detail, see my book CHRISTIAN HOPE THROUGH FULFILLED PROPHECY, available at Amazon.com.