So…What Happened?

This is a continuation of the post, Soon. In summary, the apostles all seemed to believe, based on their letters, that Jesus was returning soon, within their generation, and some of them would live to see it. This notion, as alluded to from the former post, seemed to have been instilled in them by Jesus. So, what actually happened?
There’s three ways to look at this. The first unlikely scenario is that both Jesus and the apostles were wrong. I don’t think this needs much refutation to Christians.
A second view is that they meant something else. However, the soon language is so prevalent throughout the New Testament and Jesus’ second coming seems to be alluded to, if not outright stated, in almost every letter of all the apostles, that this scenario also seems heavily unlikely.
The third view is that both Jesus and the apostles were right and something significant and literally world altering happened in the 1st century after Jesus’ ascension.
If we argue for the first view, then atheist have every right to disregard scripture. If Jesus and the apostles were wrong about one thing, how much else were they wrong about?
If we argue for the second view, then we can make scripture say anything we want by twisting the wording to our own desires. Sadly, this happens a lot in modern Christianity.
If we take the third view, and consider that something apocalyptic happened in the first century, then it better aligns with the rest of scripture.
We can skew the Bible to mean anything, but if we do that, then we in turn invalidate the Word. If we take it for what it says, relevant to the people it was written to (most of it wasn’t about us today), then we can begin to come to a better understanding of what the Bible is for and what relevance and application it actually does have in our lives today. This can be a far greater and more beautiful meaning than we ever hoped to dream by our current views.
A note, I don’t tend to write on Saturdays unless God lays something on my heart that I just can’t shake. This topic goes far deeper and I encourage research by anyone viewing this. Just what was going on in the 1st century that would have made everyone believe that Jesus was returning very soon? What type of end of the world, or age, event took place? The answers to these questions may be astounding when uncovered.
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6 thoughts on “So…What Happened?

  1. John, I’m just catching up with this series of posts, beautifully written. I’ll wait to comment fully until your next post, but I think part of what was happening was that there is an “already/not yet” context that was difficult to grasp. Heck, it’s difficult for us to grasp today. Jesus started something with his ministry, but he didn’t complete it; it won’t be complete until he comes again.

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    • Thanks Susan. This is a subject I’ve been struggling with for at least a few weeks now and to some extent, since I was 4 or 5 years old. As God has guided me, and I’ve been less obstinate in his direct guidance, I’ve been writing. There are many things he’s been showing to me in the Bible, but I only tend to write about them when he gives me the words. I admit, with every post, one of my biggest fears is being accused of heresy, but I just go with what God seems to lay on my heart. I believe wholeheartedly that God wants us to ask the hard questions and challenge our traditional beliefs so we grow to know him more. This has increasingly drawn me closer to Jesus as I’ve been more free to seek.

      I’m not sure when or if I will write more on this topic based on the direction God shows me. Sometimes, he just spins me off on a completely different path, at least for a time. All in all, I can only write anything at all based on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I’ve never been too terribly good at writing sporadically like I tend to do now.

      One of the main goals it seems that God is leading me to is an overall understanding of the Bible. It’s always been disjointed to me. As I study it now, it starts making a lot more sense as an overall story that God is working out through humanity’s choices.

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      • Don’t know if I’ve ever recommended a book to you, but it helped me tremendously in understanding the concept . It’s called Understanding Eschatology by Rob Dalrymple. In a nutshell, Jesus began the New when he came to earth. It’s the “already” part – the Immanuel. He is in us through the Holy Spirit. He has already and is changing, transforming everything. We are only aware of those things within our sphere. The “not yet” part is his second coming. We have to hold those two concepts together at the same time. As humans, we’re not used to that, so it’s kind of mind blowing. It’s a huge reality to hold. And, of course, it’s God’s reality, which is why it’s so difficult for us. But we have to wrestle with it, each in our own way. I think the more we do, the more we are able to discern His love in it all.

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      • This is the concept that I’ve also believed most of my life, but as I researched it in the Bible, I found the meaning more simple and direct as relevant to the 1st century Christians. I personally can’t except that Jesus would use terminology to confuse his already confused disciples. I believe when he said soon and within that generation and that some would in no way taste of death—he was being direct and letting them know the time frame. The day and hour seemed to be variable as would be with beings under free will, but the timing is reiterated as that generation.

        I’m just finishing a post in correlation to these concepts, but I only just barely scratched the surface based on the numerous amounts of scripture I’ve been seeing in a whole new light. I’m wrapping that post up as I generally try to restrain myself to a 1000 word limit on each post :).

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  2. Pingback: The Day of the Lord | Christian INTP

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