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.