Note To Chapter 24

Philippians 2:12  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 11
PAROUSIA: Presence;
A little book called “From Egyptian Rubbish Heaps,” by Dr. J. H. Moulton, gives a very brief account of how some 60 years ago hundreds of thousands of old bits of paper were found in the sands of Egypt: some had been used to stuff embalmed crocodiles. There were old letters, children’s exercise books written at school, and no end of other papers that had been thrown away as useless. Many of these were written at just about the same time as the Greek New Testament; and from these old papers we have been enabled to learn a great deal about certain words in the Greek New Testament, that we never properly understood before.
We hope now to ponder the 12th verse of the 2nd of Philippians, and in that verse we will find two words that have had a flood of light thrown upon them from these old documents from Egypt. They are the Greek words parousia, meaning “presence,” or, “coming”: and katergazomai, meaning “work out.” The first word katergazomai, literally means “being-alongside-of,” and in our verse in Philippians means “presence.” In 2 Cor. 10:1010For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. (2 Corinthians 10:10): “his bodily presence is weak,” it is the same word: but everywhere else in the New Testament it is translated “coming,” generally it is reserved for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have a very valuable old Greek Lexicon by Dr. Cremer, dated 1880, in which he speaks of this meaning of the word: he says: “It is not easy to explain how the term came to be used in this sense.” Listen while Dr. Moulton tells us what Dr. Cremer would so much like to have heard some 35 years earlier: “Our Lord in speaking of His coming again uses the word parousia, which in the later parts of the New Testament becomes almost a technical term. Now that word so used, denoting ‘advent’ or ‘presence,’ had something very much deeper in meaning. Egyptian papyri of the third and second centuries B.C. give some allusions which utterly puzzled the first editors.... Two words came together stephanouparousias, which we have now learned to read. The Ptolemies, kings of Egypt after Alexander’s time, were not popular, generally speaking, and I must say I do not think they deserved popularity. The British sovereign, King George, was once up in Lancashire, rode all around the country, went into the cottages and talked with the people, and left behind him the most gracious memories. That was one sort of a royal visit. But the royal visits of the Ptolemies were quite different. When they came to distant parts of the country there were appropriate manifestations of enthusiasm, but it was all worked up beforehand. The tax-collector came round and extracted from people’s pockets money for what was called a ‘crown tax.’ A free-will offering of a golden crown was made to the king on such occasions, to represent the spontaneous loyalty of the people. That was the type of thing that gives the setting for this word parousia. By getting the meaning of ‘royal visit,’ unconsciously the word was prepared beforehand for the time when the King of kings came in great humility, and they called His coming the Parousia. And we are relying faithfully upon the promise of another visit, the last and greatest, some day, we know not when.”
How lovely that the Spirit uses this word for my Lord’s coming again: He is coming to be “present” with me: to be “alongside-of” me: and I will be “alongside-of” Him. In Philippians 2:1212Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) Paul had been along-side of his beloved converts in Philippi; but now he is absent. The word to be ‘present,’ is parousia: the word for ‘absent’ is ap-ousia: ‘being-away from.’ In one sense our Lord is now `ap-ousia,’ but soon, very soon, ‘yet a very little while,’ and He will be ‘par-ousia.’
We must speak more fully of the remaining word, katergazomai, so will not try and describe it here, but leave it till we speak of verse 12.