Awaiting The Unveiling

by A.E. Knoch

IN SPIRIT our Lord Jesus Christ has revealed Himself to us, and is present with us. We have already experienced His apocalypse and His parousia. But we eagerly look forward to the day when He will be actually unveiled before our wondering eyes, when we shall enjoy His presence and be with Him always. Like all great truths in God's Word, this has suffered from human manipulation and our mental disabilities. Some insist that we have no part in His apocalypse, that it is reserved for Israel alone. The only possible conclusion is that He will not reveal Himself to us at all. That can never be! So also they insist that His parousia does not concern us, for it is not in Paul's prison epistles. According to this we will never enjoy His presence! May it never come to that!

Only those who do not wish or expect Christ to reveal Himself to them, or to be present with Him, have a right to claim that they will not have part in His apocalypse, or a place in His parousia. These terms are filled with meaning, and descriptive of a marvelous act and fact which no saint would intelligently thrust from him. It is only because the precious contents have been emptied out of them, and the Greek shell has been forcibly confined, in theological debate, to a single event, that saints have actually gone to such extremes as to claim that there is no apocalypse for "body-members," and no parousia for those in the present administration of God's grace. Are they willing to face the future without a revelation of Him, and apart from His presence? If not, then they must await an apocalypse and welcome a parousia.

That Christ will reveal Himself to others, to Israel and the earth, is beyond question. But that does not hinder Him from unveiling Himself to us at a different time. And if, in each case, there is the act of revealing, why should not the same name apply? The "apocalypse" is not a proper noun in the Scriptures, limited to one time and place. It is not even confined to Christ. God's sons (Rom.8:19), and God's righteous judgment (Rom.2:5) will also have an apocalypse. Paul has already had an apocalypse of the Lord (2 Cor.12:1). And so those who have their allotment with Him among the celestials will also have an apocalypse of Christ before He unveils Himself to Israel and to the world.

In order to aid in ridding our minds of this false notion that there is only one "apocalypse" of Christ, that to Israel and the earth, with which we cannot be associated, let us broaden our minds by considering the word in all its contexts as it appears in the Scriptures.

apokalupsis, FROM-COVERING, revelation, unveiling

Luke 2:32   A Light for the revelation of nations (to lighten)
Rom. 2: 5 revelation of the just judgment of God
8:19   the unveiling of the sons of God (manifestation)
16:25   the revelation of a secret hushed in times eonian
1 Cor. 1: 7   awaiting the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ (coming)
14: 6   speaking either in revelation
26   each of you...has a revelation
2 Cor. 12: 1   apparitions and revelations of the Lord
: 7   transcendence of the revelations
Gal. 1:12   through a revelation of Jesus Christ
2: 2   I went up in accord with a revelation
Eph. 1:17   giving you a spirit of wisdom and revelation
3: 3   the secret is made known to me by revelation
2 Thess. 1: 7   ease with us, at the unveiling of the Lord Jesus (when...shall be revealed)
1 Peter 1: 7   at the unveiling of Jesus Christ (appearing)
:13   in the unveiling of Jesus Christ (revelation)
4:13   exulting in the unveiling of His glory (when... shall be revealed)
Rev. 1: 1   the unveiling of Jesus Christ (revelation)

It may help to have the renderings of the Authorized Version, so we have added these in parenthesis where they differ. It will be seen that we have always rendered it revelation, except when referring to persons. The revelation of a person, in English, is vague, and suggests that this person reveals rather than is revealed. Hence unveiling is necessary in such cases.

The great variety of renderings in the Authorized Version -- lighten, manifestation, coming, appearing, as well as revelation--has helped to confuse our thoughts, especially in regard to the unveiling of persons. It is important to remember that this word is a negative, an uncovering. A cover was or is over everything which was or is uncovered or revealed. Such words as coming and appearing fail to suggest this fully. In this point unveiling is better than revelation.

When we deal with revelations other than that of our Lord's unveiling, we find ourselves handling them much more sensibly. Should we ask, When was God's truth revealed? No one would fix on one event and ignore all the other occasions. There had been many an apocalypse of truth before Paul's day, and he had several of them himself. He received his evangel through one apocalypse (Gal.1:12), the secret of the evangel through another apocalypse (Rom.16:25), this secret administration in another apocalypse (Eph.3:3), as a matter of fact the word apocalypse, instead of having no place in the grace which is ours in Christ Jesus, is used oftener in connection with this secret administration than with all the rest combined, simply because this secret was covered as no other was, and needed to be uncovered more than the rest.

Nowhere is there any ground for the position that the apocalypse of Christ is confined to His coming or advent to Israel. Even with reference to His return to earth, the spirit of God uses this term of a whole scroll, which includes much more than His actual descent to earth. He is revealed in the previous judgments as well as in His personal presence. And there is a sense in which His revelation is not complete until He has finished His mediatorial work at the consummation.

Two phases of our Lord's unveiling especially concern us: when He is revealed to us (1 Cor.1:7), and when He deals out vengeance through messengers and is revealed and glorified in us to the world. They are entirely different in their setting and occur at distinct times. We are awaiting the one, and we look for rest at the other. The background in Thessalonians is the suffering and affliction which they (and we) have from the world. In contrast to this we look for the tables to be turned, when the world will be afflicted and we are at ease. Our trials in the world arise from the fact that He is unknown to them. The trials will be over when He is unveiled to the world. Do we long for rest? Then we simply cannot help having an earnest desire for the time of His apocalypse to the world, even though it is not for us.

In giving thanks for the grace given to the Corinthian saints, Paul ends up with "awaiting the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor.1:7). The knowledge and the gifts, which they had, possibly exceeded those of any other ecclesia at the time but they could never attain their consummation until the time when Christ will be revealed to them. This introductory thought is fully developed in the latter part of the epistle, and is further enlarged by revealing the secret of the resurrection. This is to be at the last trump, in an instant, when Christ Himself trumpets and calls the dead to life. The seventh trumpet which ushers in the kingdom is blown by a messenger, and leads to sore judgments, and a resurrection does not take place till some months later. The apocalypse Paul speaks of is to the Corinthians, not to the world, although both will occur in the great crisis in the world's history between this eon and the next, and His revelation in all of its phases is welcome to our hearts.

To escape the supposed teaching of this verse, that the Corinthians would remain on earth until Christ comes to Israel, it has been suggested that the word awaiting should be differently rendered, so as to give the idea of away from the unveiling, for the elements of the word are FROM-OUT-RECEIVING. But it is always unwise to conform a translation to an interpretation. That is the reverse of the concordant method. It leads to diversity in rendering, while an examination of all of the contexts leads to uniformity and agreement. Nor is it well to stress the elements of a word of this character. For instance, FROM-RECEIVED apodechomai means welcome. The FROM apo does not convey the thought of away from. Why then should it in FROM-OUT-RECEIVE? The only safe and dependable course is to examine all of the occurrences:

apekdechomai, FROM-OUT-RECEIVE, await

Rom. 8:19   creation is awaiting the unveiling of the sons of God (waiteth for)
:23   awaiting the sonship, the deliverance of our body (waiting for)
:25   what we are not observing we are awaiting (wait for)
1 Cor. 1: 7   awaiting the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ (waiting for)
Gal. 5: 6   we are awaiting, in spirit, the expectation (wait for)
Phil. 3:20   heavens, out of which we are awaiting a Saviour (look for)
Heb. 9:28   will be seen a second time, by those awaiting Him (that look for)
1 Peter 3:20   when the patience of God awaited in the days of Noah (another reading)

This word presents a problem in translation. The word OUT- RECEIVE ekdechomai clearly denotes wait (AV wait 1 Peter 3:20, wait for John 5:3, Acts 17:16, James 5:7, tarry for 1 Cor.11:33, look for 1 Cor.16:11, Heb.11:10, expecting Heb.10:13). How does the prefix FROM affect it? The word FROM- RECEIVE (apodechomai) means welcome. So we seem to have a combination here of waiting for what is welcome, according to the elements. This is borne out by the contexts. For this there seems to be no definite English word available. But there is the special form await, which tends to take on this meaning. The most practical solution seems to be the use of this term in these contexts exclusively, for there are enough passages to fix its exact force.

Let our attitude, then, be that of welcome waiting for the apocalypse of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He will be revealed to us in fact as He is now in faith. And let us also exult in His apocalypse to Israel and the earth, when He will be glorified in us, and we, being like Him, shall have a share in revealing Him. Indeed, all that we long for and all that this world needs is all involved in His unveiling. When the cover is lifted from the hidden Christ, there will flow forth blessing for us and for all, and the knowledge of God will spread throughout the universe until He becomes All in everyone. Since He will be revealed to all, then all, at some time and place, must enjoy His apocalypse.

[Return to main indexpage]