Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Apostles' Expectations

An atheist was said to have abandoned his Christian profession when he concluded that Jesus and all the New Testament writers were false prophets whose expectations have been shown by history to have been false.

But I think it's not correct to say the New Testament writers insisted that the second coming had to be in their lifetimes.

Paul never said Christ had to return in his own lifetime. He conceded the possibility that he could be martyred beforehand.

Peter wrote that the time had come when he soon had to put off the earthly tabernacle of his body, despite the Lord having not returned yet.

He even wrote a theology about the delay - by saying a thousand years is with the Lord as one day, and saying the Lord was allowing space to repent.

Jesus Himself conceded that no-one knows that day nor hour, not even the Son of Man Himself.

And although He said the sign of His coming would be seen immediately after the tribulation of 'those days', it's possible that not all of those tribulations have concluded yet.

Although Jesus couldn't quantify the timespan from start to finish, He did include descriptions which implied a timespan.

For example:
  • Jews being deported all over the world
  • Jerusalem trodden underfoot by Gentiles
  • The 'times' (years) of the Gentiles
  • The Gospel being preached to all nations 

All of that's got to take some time, right? Not just a day! And it hasn't all exactly finished yet.

There was a fulfilment in the first century AD of many of Jesus' predictions - but as for the consummation, Jesus Himself stated categorically that He could not give a timeframe for that.

After His resurrection, when the disciples asked Him again about timing, Jesus repeated that it was not for them to know the times.

Jesus and the Apostles never asserted a timeframe for the end of the end.

The blessed hope still stands.

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