From the very beginning the Watchtower Society has taught that Jesus returns invisibly; in fact, one of Russell’s first and most widely circulated articles back in the 1877 was entitled: “The Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return.” This first week of April (2014) all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be considering the information on the Reasoning from the Scriptures handbook in the Theocratic School on the topic of the manner of Jesus’ return.
Will Christ return in a manner visible to human eyes?
In the context of Jesus’ remarks in the 14th chapter of John Jesus was specifically talking about his return. In fact, in the verse immediately preceding, he said: “I will not leave you bereaved. I am coming to you. In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me…”
Obviously, the original apostles of Jesus will not be alive when Jesus comes. They will be resurrected into the spirit realm, where they will see Jesus and ultimately Jehovah himself. However, Jesus was also speaking to those who would be alive at his coming. And according to the words of the apostles Christ will manifest himself to them. The topic of the manifestation of Jesus is taken up in various articles, one being the chapter called Parousia. Also, The Revelation of Christ and the Two Witnesses.
Interestingly, after Jesus was resurrected he appeared to upward of five hundred disciples. However, not a single unbeliever was allowed to see him. Hence, the world saw him no more, but his bereaved disciples saw him in various incarnations up until he ascended into the heavens.
Acts 13:34: “He[God] resurrected him [Jesus] from the dead destined no more to return to corruption.” (Human bodies are by nature corruptible. That is why 1 Corinthians 15:42, 44 uses the word “corruption” in parallel construction with “physical body.” Jesus will never again have such a body.)
The apostle Paul, while he was the Pharisee Saul, saw Jesus after his glorification. He is the only human to have done so. Because of that Paul explained that he had been born prematurely. What did he mean by that? He meant that he had a glimpse of Christ the way all of the 144,000 will see him when they are born again into spirits.
But the important point is Saul was quite human when he was blinded by Christ’s superhuman glory. So, of course Jesus does not have a physical, corruptible body since his resurrection, but that did not prevent Saul from seeing his manifestation, did it?
Furthermore, the apostle Peter explained that the Transfiguration was a display of Christ’s power and presence (parousia), of which they were eyewitnesses. If the three apostles were eyewitnesses to a foregleam of Christ’s coming in glory, why is it that the Watchtower uses the phrase “invisible parousia”?
John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (Having given it, Jesus does not take it back again. He does not thereby deprive mankind of the benefits of the sacrifice of his perfect human life.)
Again, this is childish reasoning. Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, did he not? Did his doing so nullify the ransom sacrifice?