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Parousia (/pəˈrziə/; Greek: παρουσία) is an ancient Greek word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit.[1][2]

Classical usage[edit]

From the Ptolemaic period to the second century of the common era "parousia" was used in the East as a technical expression to denote the arrival or visit of a king or emperor, and celebrated the glory of the sovereign publicly. In memory of the visit of Emperor Nero to the cities of Patras and Corinth, advent coins were struck that carried the legend Adventus Augusti Corinth. The Greek word parousia here corresponded to the Latin word advent. The numerous journeyings of the Emperor Hadrian were celebrated by many advent coins, and often new eras were reckoned from date of the parousia.[3]

  1. Physical presence, arrival – The main use is the physical presence of a person,[4] the prospect of the physical arrival of that person,[5] especially the visit of a royal or official personage[6] and sometimes as an extension of this usage, a formal "occasion".[7] In astrological usage it refers to the presence of a planet at a point on the zodiac.[8]
  2. Property – A less common and distinct secondary meaning is to refer to a person's material substance, property, or inheritance,[9] including contribution in money.[10]


The term occurs only twice in the Septuagint (2 Maccabees 8:12 and 15:21) in its ordinary meaning of arrival.[11] The verb πάρειμι (páreimi) meaning "to come" occurs in the Septuagint and the writings of Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion over 70 times.[12]

New Testament[edit]

The word is used 24 times in the New Testament.[13] Of these, six uses refer to the coming of individuals: Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (1Co.16:17), Titus (2Co.7:6 & 7) the physical "presence" of Paul himself (2Co.10:10, Php.1:26, 2:12), and a 7th use to the "coming of the lawless one" (2Thess.2:9). The other seventeen uses refer to the Second Coming of Christ, except the one case in which it refers to the coming of the "Day of God" (2Pe.3:12, see also The Day of the Lord).

The word parousia is found in the following verses: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,8,9; James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28.

Theological usage[edit]

The word "parousia" is mainly used in Christian theology to refer to the second coming of Christ.

Twentieth-century theologian Karl Barth suggested that the parousia includes not only Resurrection Sunday but also Pentecost as well. As such, Barth concluded that the New Testament parousia is not limited to Christ's final return.[14]

Related terms[edit]

The following Greek-English words may be related to, and can be distinguished from, parousia:

  • epiphany "appearing": The Greek word epiphaneia was often used by Greeks to describe the glorious manifestation of the gods, and by the Romans as a title for the Emperor.[15]
  • apocalypse, "revealing", "revelation": To disclose what is invisible.[16]


  1. ^ Entry for parousia in the Liddell–Scott lexicon
  2. ^ James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, Eerdmans 2006 p. 299. "They themselves are his "hope, joy, and crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming (parousia)" (2.19). ... The parousia imagery here and in the subsequent passages is probably that of the visit of a high-ranking official or ruler to a "
  3. ^ Adolf Deissmann: Light from the Ancient East. Hodder and Stoughton. London. 1927.
  4. ^ LSJ A. presence, of persons, δεσπότου, etc., A.Pers. 169, etc.; ἀνδρῶν π., = ἄνδρες οἱ παρόντες, E.Alc.606; πόλις μείζων τῆς ἡμετέρας π., = ἡμῶν τῶν παρόντων, Th.6.86; παρουσίαν μὲν οἶσθα . . φίλων, ὡς οὔτις ἡμῖν ἐστιν, i.e. that we have no friends present to assist us, S.El.948; of things, “κακῶν” E.Hec.227, Ar.Th.1049; “ἀγαθῶν” Pl.Grg.497e : abs., παρουσίαν ἔχειν, = παρεῖναι, S.Aj.540; “τὰ τῆς τύχης . . κοινὰς [ἔχει] τὰς παρουσίας” D.Prooem.39; “αὐτὸ τὸ ἀγαθὸν [αἴτιον] τῇ π. τοῖς ἄλλοις τοῦ ἀγαθὰ εἶναι” Arist.EE1217b5, cf. Pl.Phd. 100d, etc.
  5. ^ LSJ "2. arrival, ἡμῶν κοινόπουν π. S.El.1104, cf. E.Alc.209, Th.1.128; “εἰς Ἰταλίαν” D.H.1.45
  6. ^ LSJ "βασιλέως, etc., PTeb.48.14 (ii B. C.), IPE12.32A85 (Olbia, iii B.C.), etc.; of a god, IG42(1).122.34(Epid.).
  7. ^ LSJ "3. occasion, v.l. in S. El.1251. 4. π. τισὶ ποιεῖσθαι entertain them on their official visits, OGI139.9 (Philae, ii B.C.).
  8. ^ “ἤτοι κατὰ παρουσίαν ἢ κατὰ συμμαρτυρίαν” Vett.Val.49.26.
  9. ^ “ὡς . . ἔχομεν παρουσίας” Pl.Com.177, cf. Men.471; “π. χρημάτων” Crates Com.16.
  10. ^ Sch. Luc.Phal.1.3 (pl.).
  11. ^ Warren, Israel Perkins (1879). "The Term and Signification". The Parousia. pp. 2–16. It is found but twice in the Septuagint (2 Macc. 8:12; 15:21), and there only in its ordinary secular meaning.
  12. ^ Kittel, Gerhard. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Michigan: Eerdman's Publishing Company.
  13. ^ New Testament usages 24x
  14. ^ Mangina, Joseph L. (2004). "Reconciliation has eschatological force". Karl Barth: theologian of Christian witness. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-7546-0458-7. This will occur at Christ's final coming or parousia. Yet Barth expands the category of parousia to include Easter and Pentecost as well; the parousia is not limited to his final return (IV/3, 293 ff.)"
  15. ^

    Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

    — II Timothy 4:8

    Awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

    — Titus 2:13
  16. ^

    So that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    — I Corinthians 1:7–8

    And to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that Day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all who have believed.

    — II Thessalonians 1: 7 ff.

    You have to suffer various trials so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes yet refined with fire, may be found to the praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love.

    — I Peter 1: 7


  • Erich Grässer, Das Problem der Parusieverzögerung in den synoptischen Evangelien und in der Apostelgeschichte, Berlino, Walter de Gruyter, 1977.
  • A. L. Moore, The Parousia in the New Testament, Leiden, Brill, 1996.
  • J. S. Russell, The Parousia. A critical inquiry, London: Daldy, Isbister & Co, 1878.