Destroy with Brightness?

Correctly understanding these terms leads to a better
understanding of the character of God and the Gospel.

Destroy with the brightness of His coming? Are the lights turned up so bright when Jesus comes that it kills people? Could that possibly be the meaning?

Traditional Legal Model – It is commonly understood that devouring fire at Christ’s Second Coming will burn up those who have rejected Him and managed to survive the seven last plagues.

Biblical Healing Model – The fire of His presence, a manifestation of His love, will so pierce the consciences of those who have rejected Him that they would prefer to be buried by rocks and mountains rather than behold the loving face of Jesus.

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:” (2 Thess 2:8)

“Brightness is from the Greek word “epiphaneia” from Strong’s G2015:

2015 ἐπιφάνεια epiphaneia ep-if-an’-i-ah
from 2016; n f; TDNT-9:7,1244;
AV-appearing 5, brightness 1; 6
1) an appearing, appearance

It is usually translated as “appearing” and we get our English word “epiphany” from this Greek word. “Epiphany” is defined as:

“An appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.” (

The word “coming” is:

3952 παρουσία parousia par-oo-see’-ah
from the present participle of 3918; n f;
AV-coming 22, presence 2; 24
1) presence
2) the coming, arrival, advent
2a) the future visible return from heaven of Jesus, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God

So, we essentially have: “appearing of his coming.” It sounds like “what His coming will look like.”

What Will He Look Like?

One study on the Lion of the Tribe of Judah includes this quote:

“At His first coming Jesus came as a Lamb.  … At His second coming Jesus will come as a Lion. He will appear in the heavens as the almighty King dressed in a blood-dipped robe, sitting upon a white horse, His eyes like a flame of fire. In righteousness He will judge and make war. He will strike down the ungodly nations and rule them with a rod of iron. He will execute the full measure of the fury of God’s wrath.” (

On closer investigation (see the study on this site), it was discovered that the lion was more like a lion cub, even a still-nursing lion cub – about as harmless as a lamb. Another verse describing His coming is:

“And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” (Rev 6:2)

A bow shoots arrows and the Bible uses arrows symbolically as appeals to the conscience.

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Heb 1:3)

“Brightness” in Hebrews 1:3 is from a different Greek word:

541 ἀπαύγασμα apaugasma ap-ow’-gas-mah
from a compound of 575 and 826; n n;
AV-brightness 1; 11) reflected brightness
1a) of Christ in that he perfectly reflects the majesty of God
2) effulgence
2a) shining forth, of a light coming from a luminous body (Vine)
2b) to radiate, emanate (Vincent)

It is used only once and in the sense of Jesus revealing what the Father is like. The word “glory” refers to character and “express image” is similar. It does not mean they look the same but that they are the same, even identical in character. Mankind also was originally in the image of God.

It is interesting to compare the terms “brightness” and “word:”

brightness of the Father’s glory: Jesus is how we see the Father
the Word of God: Jesus is how we hear the Father

The “brightness” of His coming therefore has to do with a manifestation of character. The effect of this in connection with people calling on the rocks and mountains to fall on them is discussed here.

See a video of a group study on the meaning of the term brightness.

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