Parousia is an ancient Greek word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit.

Classical usage

From the Ptolemaic period to the second century of the common era "parousia" was used in the East as a technical expression to denote the arrival or visit of a king or emperor, and celebrated the glory of the sovereign publicly. In memory of the visit of Emperor Nero to the cities of Patras and Corinth, advent coins were struck that carried the legend Adventus Augusti Corinth. The Greek word parousia here corresponded to the Latin word advent. The numerous journeyings of the Emperor Hadrian were celebrated by many advent coins, and often new eras were reckoned from date of the parousia.
  1. Physical presence, arrival – The main use is the physical presence of a person, the prospect of the physical arrival of that person, especially the visit of a royal or official personage and sometimes as an extension of this usage, a formal "occasion". In astrological usage it refers to the presence of a planet at a point on the zodiac.
  2. Property – A less common and distinct secondary meaning is to refer to a person's material substance, property, or inheritance, including contribution in money.


The term occurs only twice in the Septuagint in its ordinary meaning of arrival. The verb πάρειμι meaning "to come" occurs in the Septuagint and the writings of Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion over 70 times.

New Testament

The word is used 24 times in the New Testament. Of these, six uses refer to the coming of individuals: Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, Titus the physical "presence" of Paul himself, and a 7th use to the "coming of the lawless one". The other seventeen uses refer to the Second Coming of Christ, except the one case in which it refers to the coming of the "Day of God".
The word parousia is found in the following verses: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,8,9; James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28.

Theological usage

The word parousia is mainly used in Christian theology to refer to the second coming of Christ. Some sources, specifically cite that the term refers to the rapture, the first of the three stages of the return. Other scholars interpret it as Christ's spiritual presence in the church.
Twentieth-century theologian Karl Barth suggested that the parousia includes not only Resurrection Sunday but also Pentecost as well. As such, Barth concluded that the New Testament parousia is not limited to Christ's final return.

Related terms

The following Greek-English words may be related to, and can be distinguished from, parousia: