Concerning the false prophets who will be empowered to perform great signs and wonders during the tribulation, why did Jesus say “if possible, even the chosen ones” would be deceived —implying that it will not be possible? What factor will make it impossible for the chosen ones to be taken in by the deception that will mislead many?
Consider the experience of the apostles and others who saw the resurrected Christ. The Jewish authorities were determined to prevent the Jews from putting faith in Jesus. Even after the entombed body went missing the lie was spread about that his disciples had stolen it. But it was not possible for Jesus’ disciples to be deceived for the simple reason that they knew Jesus was alive. They saw him. They spoke with him. They touched him. They even shared a meal with him. And after they were filled with the spirit they became his indomitable witnesses. Many of them died for the witness they bore concerning him.
Keep in mind that the great deception will come about in the future —during the tribulation. That is the setting for Jesus’ remark: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ…”
Now consider the 17th chapter of Luke, where on a different occasion Jesus spoke of his second coming. Although not specifically mentioning the great tribulation Jesus used the same illustrations as he did when discussing the conclusion of the system in the 24th chapter of Matthew, saying: “And people will say to you, ‘See there!’ or, ‘See here!’ Do not go out or chase after them. For just as lightning flashes from one part of heaven to another part of heaven, so the Son of man will be in his day.”
“In his day” is obviously the same as the Lord’s day, which is when the revelation comes about. Jesus next compared the day of the Son of man with the day of Noah and Lot, just as he also did when discussing the conclusion. However, Luke 17:30 records something unique. It reads: “It will be the same on that day when the Son of man is revealed.” The question ought to arise, how will the Son of man be revealed and to whom?
Following the pattern of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances in the first century we may expect Christ to reveal himself to those who have been called. His manifestation to them will signify their acceptance into the Kingdom —otherwise known as the sealing. The manifestation is the same as his coming alongside —the parousia. In this way the Son of man will be revealed and his revelation will have a transformative effect upon those to whom he is revealed.
Throughout the Christians Greek Scriptures the parousia is presented as the ultimate goal —the end of our faith —the realization of the heavenly hope. Likewise, the manifestation and revelation of Christ are spoken of in the same manner. For example, in his first letter to the Thessalonians Paul wrote concerning the presence of Jesus: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of exultation—why, is it not in fact you?—before our Lord Jesus at his presence?” — 1 Thessalonians 2:19
“Moreover, may the Lord cause you to increase, yes, make you abound, in love to one another and to all, even as we also do to you; to the end that he may make your hearts firm, unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the presence of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.” — 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
In the passages above the apostle makes it clear that standing before God in blamelessness at the presence of the Lord Jesus is the end of it. That is when the Christians realize the hope to which they were called. That is when they receive their crown. Paul referred to the same outcome at the revelation of Jesus, where he wrote: “So that you do not fall short in any gift at all, while you are eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also make you firm to the end, that you may be open to no accusation in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — 1 Corinthians 1:7-8
Likewise, the inspired apostle revealed that the manifestation is the end of it, saying: “I give you orders that you observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. This manifestation the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times…”— 1 Timothy 6:13-15
In the passages above Paul spoke of being “unblamable in holiness” at the parousia, as well as being “open to no accusation” at the revelation and day of Jesus Christ and being “spotless and irreprehensible…until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Being unblamabale, irreprehensible and open to no accusation are interchangeable. That being true, it is evident that parousia, manifestation and revelation are corresponding terms.
The problem is, while downplaying the manifestation and the revelation as being in the future, Bethel’s teachers are certain that the parousia began in 1914. And an invisible parousia at that.
If Jehovah’s Witnesses do not wish to be deluded any longer on this vital matter they would do well to accept the Scriptures at face value —recognizing that the presence of Christ, the manifestation of Christ and revelation of Christ are the same as the revealing of the Son of man. And the revealing of the Son of man is the climax of Christianity.
Furthermore, the revealing of Jesus takes place in the Lord’s day, otherwise known as the day of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s day does not transpire over multiple generations. And just as Paul spoke of the presence, manifestation and revealing as being the realization of our faith, so too, in his letter to the Philippians the day of Jesus is the completion of the work Christ began —the end of the Christian system: “For I am confident of this very thing, that he who started a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” —Philippians 1:6
Returning to the 17th chapter of Luke, Jesus prefaced his remarks concerning the revealing of the Son of man in response to a question put to him by the Pharisees as to when the Kingdom of God was coming. In answer Jesus said to them: “The Kingdom of God is not coming with striking observableness; nor will people say, ‘See here!’ or, ‘There!’ For look! the Kingdom of God is in your midst.”
It is understood that the Kingdom of God was in their midst due to the fact Jesus was the designated King and he walked among them. In the larger context, however, Jesus was speaking of his second coming —what Paul referred to in the ninth chapter of Hebrews (vs 28) as “the second time that he appears.” In what way will the Kingdom of God be in your midst at the second coming?
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been conditioned to think of the Kingdom as a heavenly government, which, of course, it is. Jesus frequently referred to it as the Kingdom of the heavens. Still, relegating all matters to the invisible realm abrogates the purpose of the second coming and distorts the meaning of basic concepts like manifestation and revealing of Christ. For example, the Greek word translated as “manifestation” in the New World Translation is “epiphaneia.”
The English word “epiphany” is derived from epiphaneia. In Greek the word literally means an “appearance.” And to be sure, the Scriptures speak of Jesus’ manifestation in the flesh, including after his resurrection. For example, the 21st chapter of John opens with these words: “After this Jesus manifested himself again to the disciples, at the Sea of Tiberias. He made the manifestation in this way.”
But epiphaneia also carries the connotation of “brightness,” being derived from the Greek verb “epiphaino,” which means, “to shine forth”—suggesting a glorious, brilliant appearance. Interestingly, the King James Version renders some passages “the brightness of his coming.” The expression “brightness of his coming” ought to put us in mind of the transfiguration, which was a foregleam of the Son of man coming in his Kingdom. A few days before Jesus was transfigured he said to his apostles: “Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here who will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.” —Matthew 16:28
Some of those standing there proved to be Peter, James and John, as the account goes on to say: “Six days later Jesus took Peter and James and his brother John along and led them up into a lofty mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone as the sun, and his outer garments became brilliant as the light. And look! there appeared to them Moses and Elijah conversing with him.”
Years later Peter wrote about his experience on the mountain that night. He reminded the brothers about it, saying: “No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we made known to you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather, we were eyewitnesses of his magnificence.” —2 Peter 1:16
Discerning Bible students take note: The magnificent transfiguration of Jesus was a portent of the parousia and served as a guarantee –a demonstration if you please –of how the Son of man will be revealed and to whom.
As Jesus himself said, some of those among his followers were going to see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom. And Peter saw Jesus in the brightness of his coming —so-to-speak. He and his fellow apostles were eyewitnesses of an event that was a foregleam of the coming of Christ in his Kingdom. The fact that Peter, James and John witnessed it proves that the Watchtower’s invisible parousia is an artfully contrived false story —exactly what the inspired apostle anticipated.
The transfiguration demonstrates how the Kingdom of God will not come with striking observableness. It will exclusively reside in the midst of the chosen ones during the finale.