The belief that an invisible presence of Christ began in 1914 is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the Watchtower Society’s teachings. The importance of the parousia doctrine to the theology of Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot be understated. It is,  in fact, the basis for the Watchtower Society’s ecclesiastical authority, as well as the organization’s very existence.   

It is a compelling notion, to be sure. After all, what could be more profound than the unseen return of Jesus?  But is it true? Has the presence of Christ already commenced? And is an invisible presence even a biblical teaching? Whereas numerous articles on e-watchman have held the 1914 doctrine up to scriptural scrutiny, this article will undertake to consider the actual purpose of  Christ’s presence, as well as the scriptural validity of the concept of an invisible presence. Aside from Jesus’  own reference to his parousia in the context of discussing the sign,  Christian writers referred to Christ’s presence about a dozen times.  Each will be briefly considered in this article.

It should be noted that the word parousia is also used in the Bible in a general way and not always with reference to Christ. The fact of the matter is,  though, most translations do not consistently translate the Greek word parousia. (“Parousia” is itself a  transliteration of the Greek word.)  Sometimes they translate parousia as “coming”  and sometimes as  “presence.” But, by reasoning on each passage, it becomes  apparent that  the New World Translation is correct in translating parousia as “presence.” At least the translators of the NWT were consistent.

But since most translations render parousia as “coming” a question arises whether the concept of an ongoing period of a parousia, as understood by Jehovah’s Witnesses, is even valid.

Consider, for example, the usage of  the term parousia at 2 Corinthians 7:6 & 7, which the New  American Standard Version renders thusly: “But  God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and  not only by his coming,  but also by the comfort with which he was  comforted in you, as he  reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal  for me; so that I  rejoiced even more.”

The reader naturally understands that the mere “coming” of Titus is not what comforted the brothers. It was his presence, while there, that comforted Paul and his companions. In this instance, the reader understands “coming” in the past tense, in the sense that “the coming of Titus” had already occurred and subsequent to that his having been present as a comforter.

However, the New  American Standard  (and most all other translations) does not  consistently render parousia as  “coming.” For example, at Philippians  2:12 parousia is rendered as “presence” : “So then, my beloved, just as you have always  obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work  out your salvation with fear and trembling…”

Paul was obviously  contrasting his  being present with the Philippians with his absence  from them, which is why in  this instance the translators chose to use  “presence,” as opposed to their  usual preference of “coming.”

Another example of    inconsistency among translators is 1 Corinthians 16:17, which the New  American  Standard Bible renders as: “I rejoice  over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they  have supplied what was lacking on your part.”

However, the New International  Version says: “I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from  you.”

In all instances,  though, whether parousia is translated as “coming,” “arrived,” or  “presence,” it is evident that it involves a period of indeterminate duration – an interval after someone arrives when they are actually present among others. For that and other reasons, the parousia of  Christ ought to be understood as occurring over a period of time and not in a moment. The word “presence” more accurately conveys that  concept,  as opposed to “coming.” In that respect, the notion of an ongoing presence of  Christ finds some support in the Scriptures.  Still, that does not necessarily mean that Jesus’ presence began in  1914.

Apart from the Gospel, the first reference to the presence of Christ is at 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, where Paul wrote: “For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each one in his own rank: Christ the firstfruits, afterward    those who belong to the Christ during his presence.”

In this instance, most Bibles say “at his coming” instead of “during his presence.” Again,  which is correct? Even allowing for some diversity in translating such phrases, 1  Thessalonians 4:15-17 sheds light on the nature of the presence of Christ. That span of verses reads: “For this is what we tell you by  Jehovah’s word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the  Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; because the  Lord himself will descend from heaven with a  commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with  Christ will rise first. Afterward we  the living who are surviving will, together  with them, be caught away  in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we  shall always be  with the Lord.”

Whereas the 15th  chapter of 1st Corinthians does not go into detail, Paul’s letter to the  Thessalonians reveals that the heavenly resurrection does not occur instantaneously upon Christ’s arrival. The dead in union with  Christ rise first – during the initial phase of his presence. Then, afterward, the living, who subsequently die “during his presence” are resurrected instantaneously – in the twinkling of an eye. So, it is apparent that the parousia of Christ occurs over an interval of some duration, during which time the saints are raised in two stages – first, those who died prior to the beginning of the parousia are raised up and then those who die during the parousia are resurrected afterward.

In view of the fact that Paul used the term “parousia” in both of his discussions on the heavenly resurrection, it is apparent that the primary purpose of the parousia is the gathering of the sons of the kingdom into a  unified heavenly organization.

Yes, the writings of Paul indicate that Christ accomplishes the glorification of his  “church” – the anointed congregation – during the parousia. Paul refers to the parousia four times in his 1st letter to the  Thessalonians, one of which was quoted above.  The other three  references are at 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:12-13 and 5:2, which  say,  respectively:

“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? You certainly are our glory and joy.”

“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.”

“May the very God of peace sanctify you completely. And sound in every respect may the spirit and soul and body of you brothers be preserved in a  blameless manner at the presence of our Lord  Jesus Christ. He who is  calling you is faithful, and he will also do  it.”

It is apparent from the texts above that the presence of Christ is the conclusion of the Christian era; in that, the parousia accomplishes the purpose of the new covenant, which is to present to  God an unblemished,  sanctified and holy congregation of 144,000 persons bought from the earth. That can only take place after Christ comes as a refiner and judge and expels those deemed to be evil and sluggish slaves. Only then will the earthly congregation perfectly reflect the unseen reality of the heavenly kingdom.

The fact that Jesus’ presence is in company with “all his holy ones,” as  Paul wrote in his letter to the  Thessalonians, indicates that the parousia is not a long-drawn-out period of preaching, teaching and disciple-making, during which time the spiritual temple  of God is said to be under construction. Jesus can only be present “with all his holy ones” at the conclusion of the system – during the harvest – when all of the holy ones are finally collected together and presented to God as a  consecrated temple for divine habitation. That is when all the chosen ones will be given the crown of exultation and glory. That is the primary purpose of the parousia.

Although not an  instantaneous  arrival or coming, neither does the parousia stretch out  over decades of time,  as Jehovah’s Witnesses now suppose. It is a  relatively brief period of time,  reflective of his three and one-half year-long earthly ministry, during which time Christ will present  himself to all the holy ones – both those who have  died, via the  resurrection, and those who are surviving, by means which will be discussed.


That the purpose of the parousia is the gathering of the chosen ones is confirmed by  Paul’s remarks regarding the presence of the man of lawlessness in his  2nd letter to the  Thessalonians, where he wrote: “However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a  letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. Let no  one seduce you in any manner, because  it will not come unless the apostasy comes  first and the man of  lawlessness gets revealed, the son of  destruction.” – 2 Thessalonians  2:1-3

Paul indicated that prior to “our being gathered together to him” lying announcements will be circulated among the brothers declaring that the parousia of Jesus Christ has already begun.

In his previous letter to the  Thessalonians Paul used the expression “we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord”; placing himself on earth among those on hand when the parousia begins.  Needless to say, though, Paul did not survive unto the presence  of the  Lord. But by inspiration it is as though he were alive then too; during the time when Christians would be subjected to an insidious propaganda campaign promoting a phony parousia.  The inspired apostle alerted  Christians to the need  to be on guard against accepting letters that  purportedly were written by the apostles, or with the authority of the apostles. (“as though from  us”)

Jesus also issued a  warning to his  followers of the dangers of being deceived by those  who would come in his name  immediately prior to the actual parousia,  announcing that “the due time has  approached.”

Although it may be  difficult for  Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept, the Watchtower Society  certainly fits the profile  of those coming in the name of Christ  proclaiming that “the due time has  approached.” In fact, for  more than 100 years the Watchtower has been the  source of  quasi-inspired expressions, as well as verbal messages delivered to    mass audiences and official letters from God’s purported “earthly  mouth-piece,”  declaring that “the day of Jehovah is here.” For instance, the second  volume of the so-called Studies in the Scriptures was entitled The Time is at  Hand – implying that the day of Jehovah was at hand more than a century ago.    More recently, in 1973, the Watchtower Society even published a book  with the  title: “God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years has Approached.”

The institution of  the Governing  Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is undeniably modeled after  the 1st-century body of apostolic overseers and older men that were  headquartered in  Jerusalem. And prior to the establishment of the  Governing Body, the presidents  of the Watchtower Society were given  apostle-like status.

As an example of  their authority, I  personally recall an occasion at an assembly when a  representative of the  Watchtower Society introduced himself from the  platform by saying: ‘The apostle  Paul couldn’t make it, so he sent  me!’

And indeed, the  pronouncements and writings of the Governing Body and their  representatives are given the same  weight as if coming from the very  apostles of Christ. That being the case, who can deny the fact that the early Bible Students, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses more  recently, have been “quickly shaken from [their] reason” on many occasions; being led to believe that the due time of Armageddon has arrived due to the teachings and pronouncements of the Watchtower  Society?

As an example of  those who were  shaken from their reason, back in the autumn of 1914  some Bible Students were so  convinced that the due time had approached  that they sold their winter clothes,  imagining that they would be  gathered together to Christ before winter. It must  have been a cold  winter for them. 

More recently,  prior to 1975  Jehovah’s Witnesses were ‘excited by an inspired  expression’ to the extent that  some brothers sold their homes and  businesses in the belief that the day of  Jehovah had arrived.

Not that there is  anything wrong  with staying in wakeful anticipation of Jehovah’s day  and repudiating  materialism in favor of spiritual pursuits, but if  Christians made irresponsible  life-altering decisions based upon the  Watchtower Society’s 1975 Armageddon  scenario, then the Society is  responsible for misusing their acquired apostolic  authority to excite  and seduce Jehovah’s Witnesses into accepting a false dawn,  which many  did only to become disillusioned and stumbled. Isn’t that exactly    what the apostle Paul warned against?

That the parousia  deception is  specifically directed towards God’s holy ones from a  trusted source within the  accepted Christian arrangement is  self-evident, which is why Paul issued the  warning to be on guard  against seemingly inspired expressions, verbal messages  and  letters,  as though from the apostles, announcing that “the day of  Jehovah is here.”

Given the context of Paul’s warning,  it is apparent that the campaign to convince  Christ’s followers that the  presence of the Lord has already begun  emanates from the man of lawlessness,  who, as Paul warned, would be firmly ensconced in the spiritual “temple of  The God” when the actual manifestation of the presence of Christ exposes and destroys him. 

In view of the  obvious falsity of  the 1914 parousia doctrine we might wonder why the  Watchtower Society is so  convinced of it. Undoubtedly, like the  presence of the man of lawlessness, the  faux parousia propaganda is  also “according to the operation of Satan with every  powerful  work and lying signs and portents and with every unrighteous    deception.” The  reason millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses whole-heartedly embrace the Society’s  1914 teaching is because of “the operation of  Satan,” which supports “an operation of error” that Jehovah allows to  go to those who otherwise know the truth, but who fail to “accept the love  of the truth that they might be saved.”

A satanic operation of falsehood  certainly explains why the First World War and the Spanish Flu convincingly appear to be the sign confirming the cryptic chronologic calculations    pointing to 1914 as the beginning of Christ’s presence. Developments  within the  Watchtower Society since then have been cleverly spun to be  the supposed  fulfillment of dozens of prophecies; making up to be  what Paul describes as “every  powerful work and lying signs and portents and…every unrighteous deception.”

The Devil’s  deceptions are clever  indeed. Although he would seemingly prefer to influence everyone in the world to become a ridiculer of the notion of  there even being a “promised presence of  his” and a judgment  day of Jehovah, he is aware that there are genuine  children of faith  who believe the Scriptures and who are in anticipation of the    fulfillment of God’s promise. So, for them Satan actually promotes a  false  presence of Christ in order to acquire influence over them. No  wonder Paul sternly warned us: “Let no one  seduce you in any manner.”

In view of the  long road many of us  have traveled to arrive at this point, we ought  to be imbued with a deeper  appreciation for the exhortation given in  the letter of James regarding the  parousia: “Exercise patience, therefore, brothers, until the presence of the Lord. Look! The farmer keeps waiting for the precious fruit of  the earth,  exercising patience over it until he gets the early rain  and the late rain. You  too exercise patience; make your hearts firm,  because the presence of the  Lord has drawn close.”

As James indicates, the “presence  of the Lord” is the end of our faith. The parousia does not commence another  extended period when Christians must continue to “exercise patience.” No,  the parousia is when Christians realize their precious hope.

Encouragingly, though, there is  reason to believe that the actual “presence of the Lord has drawn close.” The  very fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been forced to wait patiently    for the harvest time; experiencing what may be compared to “the early rain  and the late rain,” in the form of Jehovah’s instruction, is evidence of  God’s discipline to “make your hearts firm.”

And because we have been tempted by  the Sirens’ pseudo-parousia and have periodically  had our reason shaken and been excited through what we mistakenly  thought were biblically inspired expressions proclaiming that the day  of Jehovah is here, Jehovah’s Witnesses have seemingly been subjected to the foretold “operation of error,” and now stand poised  to give proof of our faith during the advent of the authentic presence of the  Lord Jesus Christ.

But in view of the  fact that  Jehovah’s Witnesses are so thoroughly convinced of what has  turned out to be a  false presence, it is all the more necessary that  we reconsider all aspects of  our presently held assumptions regarding  the parousia. So, let us now consider the question: Is the presence of  Christ visible or invisible?


While an ongoing  parousia of Christ  of some duration is a scripturally-based teaching,  nowhere in the Bible do we  find any reference to an invisible presence.  Quite the contrary,  apparently the transfiguration prefigures  something that up until now is  entirely inconceivable; namely, there  are going to be eyewitnesses, not just to  the sign of his presence,  but to the actual person of Christ. In view of the fact that Peter  (along with James and John) had the unique privilege of being an eyewitness to the glorious transfiguration of Jesus Christ, we ought to closely consider the implications of that historical occurrence.   

transfiguration of JesusHaving been  ordered by the Lord not  to disclose the vision to anyone until after  his death, it was only years afterward that Peter put-to-pen the  significance of the transfiguration,  writing at 2 Peter 1:16: “No, it was not by following artfully  contrived false stories that we acquainted you with the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it was by having become eyewitnesses of his magnificence.”

In accord with  Paul’s inspired  warning – cautioning us not to give heed to the  prematurely announced arrival of  the day of Jehovah – Peter also seems  to have anticipated the Watchtower  Society’s imitation parousia by  using the apt expression of “artfully  contrived false stories.” And surely, an invisible presence lends itself to the fabrication of fanciful stories, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses 1914 dogma;  which insidiously contravenes the apostle’s teaching regarding the transfiguration.

How does it do that?

The apostle Peter  illustrated the  need for Christians to continually pay attention to prophecy by comparing God’s  prophetic word to a lamp shining in a  darkened place. In the literal darkness a  lamp is most useful.  However, after the dawning of day a lamp becomes  unnecessary. The  apostle’s illustration specifically applies to Christ’s presence – the transfiguration being a prefiguration of it. But until the  dawning of  Christ’s parousia Christians are exhorted to pay close attention to prophesy, as to a lamp in a dark place. However, the presence of Christ  is like  the dawning of a new day. Then Christians will no longer need  to walk by the  lamp of prophecy because prophecy will have come to a  complete realization by  the very presence of Christ. Anointed  Christians will then be enlightened by the  magnificent presence of  Christ – arising in their own hearts like the ascending  Daystar.

Regrettably, Bethel’s “artfully contrived false stories” have convinced millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses that  the glorious  Daystar has already risen and that the power and presence of Christ can be witnessed by means of cleverly-concocted chronological calculations divining the day and hour of his presence, (October 1st,  1914) and collaborated by photocopies of newspaper clippings of  yesteryear regarding the historical significance of the First World  War and the Spanish Flu pandemic of  1919, and so forth and so on.   Consequently, Jehovah’s Witnesses have not yet become acquainted with the power and presence of Christ.

Although the apostle said precious little regarding the transfiguration, what he wrote is profound. The  transfiguration was a foregleam of the  parousia; it is a prophetic drama  intended to acquaint us with the “power and presence of our Lord Jesus  Christ.”

What is the significance of Peter,  James and John having been eyewitnesses to the transfiguration? The very fact that a representative number of  Christ’s apostles were eyewitnesses to an inspired enactment of the parousia establishes the vital truth that Jesus Christ will visibly appear to his anointed disciples on earth during the parousia. The apostles’ eyewitness testimony to the transfiguration acquaints us with the powerful presence of Christ by establishing a pattern of what is to  come; namely, that the holy ones on earth at that time will not only become eyewitnesses to the otherwise invisible presence of the  glorified Jesus, they will become participants in it, as were the apostles. 


Jesus likened the surprising suddenness of the commencement of his presence to the unexpected visit from a  thief in the middle of the night. It would be vital that his disciples stay in expectation of his stealthy arrival or else be caught off guard and unprepared for his surprise  inspection. Therefore, Christ lovingly offered the following exhortation at Luke 12:35-40: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps be burning, and you yourselves be like men waiting for their master when he returns from the marriage, so that at his arriving and knocking they may at once open to him. Happy are those slaves whom the  master on arriving finds watching! Truly I  say to you, He will gird  himself and make them recline at the table and will  come alongside and  minister to them. And if he arrives in the second watch, even  if in  the third, and finds them thus, happy are they! But know this, that if  the  householder had known at what hour the thief would come, he would  have kept  watching and not have let his house be broken into. You  also, keep ready,  because at an hour that you do not think likely the  Son of man is  coming.”

According to the Insight volume, the Greek word “parousia,” is formed from para (alongside) and ousia (being; derived from eimi, meaning “be”). Hence, parousia  means, literally, “being alongside,”  that is, a “presence.” Although Jesus did  not use the Greek word  “parousia” in the text quoted above, he apparently used a  similar  expression that has been translated to read “come alongside.”

Although most translations simply say the master will “come” and serve them, since  Jesus assured his true  disciples that he would be with them “all the days until the conclusion of  the system of things,” his coming “alongside to minister to them” must inevitably be something that anointed Christians have heretofore  not  experienced. Given that the immediate context of the above span of  verses is in  regards to the reward yet to be given to those judged to  be faithful and  discreet slaves, Christ’s coming alongside his  anointed followers to minister to  them must be an extraordinary  affair.

But if Christ’s presence began in  1914, what evidence is there that he has “come alongside to minister to  them” in any special way? And, clearly, Jesus was not speaking about ministering to those resurrected to heaven. Why would immortals need to be ministered to by Jesus?

To better anticipate how Jesus might minister to his faithful slaves in the  future; consider how Jesus came alongside  his disciples after his  resurrection. The night of his arrest Jesus told his  apostles “I  shall not leave you bereaved. I am coming to you. A little longer  and  the world will behold me no more, but you will behold me, because I  live and  you will live. In that day you will know that I am in union  with my Father and  you are in union with me and I am in union with  you.”

True to the Lord’s  word, after his  death the world has not beheld Jesus. But his  apostles and 500 believers did.  How so? Jesus revealed himself to them  on numerous occasions after his  resurrection.

As an example, on  one occasion Jesus  appeared as a sojourner and came alongside two  disciples as they journeyed down  the road. He pretended not to know  what had taken place in Jerusalem days  earlier, but then he took the  opportunity and began teaching them the  Scriptures. They begged him to  stay the evening with them. Having accepted their  invitation Jesus  made them recline at a table and began to minister to them,  just as he  foretold that he would in the parable in the 12th chapter  of Luke.  Jesus apparently broke bread in some fashion, perhaps similar to the    manner in which he served the evening meal to the apostles a few days  prior, by  means of which they recognized that the man they were  entertaining was Jesus.

There was another  instance when  Jesus appeared to the apostles on the Sea of Galilee.  After they had been  fishing all night and caught nothing a stranger on  the shore yelled out and  instructed them to toss their net on the  right side of the boat. Suddenly they  netted a huge school of fish. At  that point they recognized it was Jesus because  that was one of the  first miracles Jesus performed several years earlier when  the apostles  were first introduced to him. When they came ashore the account say    that no one had the courage to ask him if he was Jesus because they knew  he was.  Their not having the courage to ask if he was Jesus only  makes sense if Jesus  did not appear as he had before.

In each instance  that the  resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples evidently they  did not recognize him  initially. They had to exercise faith in what he  said or did. Only then were  they allowed to behold Jesus. On each  occasion, too, Jesus ministered to his  disciples by teaching,  encouraging and strengthening them, and on two occasions  even feeding  them.

Most notably,  Jesus controlled who  saw him and who did not. To the world he remained  invisible. He became visible  to the future sons of the kingdom only.  Peter worded it this way, as recorded in  the 10th chapter of the book  of Acts: “God raised this One up on  the third day and granted  him to become manifest,  not to all the people, but to  witnesses  appointed beforehand by God, to us, who ate and drank with him after    his rising from the dead.”

Because Jesus is  now an immortal  spirit being he is not bound by any earthly or human  considerations. He is fully  capable of revealing himself  simultaneously to individuals around the globe. It  is, therefore, not  necessary that his disciples be gathered to a single  geographic  location in order to behold Jesus. Apparently that is why Christ    forewarned his followers not to give heed to proclamations declaring  that Jesus  is here or there. Jesus’ supernatural presence will be  manifested to his  disciples like lightening that brightens the entire  sky, as Christ himself  explained: “For just as the lightning comes out of eastern  parts and shines over to western parts, so the presence of the Son of man  will be. Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered  together.”

It is noteworthy that on the  occasion of the evening meal Jesus made his disciples recline at a table, then “he  took a cup and, having given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: ‘Drink    out of it, all of you; for this means my ‘blood of the covenant,’  which is to be  poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.  But I tell you, I will by  no means drink henceforth any of this  product of the vine until that day when I  drink it new with you in the  kingdom of my Father.’”

After the evening  meal Jesus girded  himself as a slave and washed the feet of his  disciples. We are reminded of that  occasion at Luke 12:37, where Jesus  said “He will gird himself and make them  recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them.”

It is no  coincidence that Jesus  invoked the imagery of the evening meal when  discussing his parousia.  In view  of the fact that Jesus’ words in the  12th chapter of Luke are  directly addressed to the “little flock” of  kingdom heirs, Jesus’ future  parousia is when he symbolically drinks  the wine of the new covenant again with  his disciples – meaning they  will finally be united together in his kingdom.  What a joyous occasion  that will be!

It is appropriate  that Jesus alluded  to the institution of the memorial of his death and  the inauguration of the new  covenant because the parousia is when the  new covenant is concluded; culminating  with the first resurrection  and the sealing of the earthly sons of the kingdom.  Jesus’ sacrifice  and mediation in behalf of the little flock will have fully    accomplished its purpose. That’s why at 1 Corinthians 11:26 Paul  foretold that  the celebration of the evening meal and the proclamation  of the Lord’s death  would continue only “until he arrives.”

We should not suppose, however, that  Jesus will appear to the remnant of the little flock as a man, as he did after his resurrection. Since his ascension to heaven Jesus is a glorious spirit creature. The visible manifestation of Jesus will likewise be glorious –  magnificent – as  Peter described the vision of the transfiguration.





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